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plates of their military caps were often the only marks of their having once been soldiers, or of the regiments to which they belonged. No one could go off the roads, nor lag behind the columns, without exposing himself to instant assassination, nor was it possible to place detached patroles, or send the sick by themselves to the hospitals. Sometimes it required whole battalions to carry an order of one division to amother distant one; and though the French were always conquerors when the Spaniards showed themselves in open field, yet every victory only produced a new conflict, and the mountaineers, always pursued, and often dispersed, rallying and recommencing their incursions immediately, never coming near to fight in close ranks, or body to body, retreated from position to position, from rock to rock, on heights, and in thickets, without ceasing to fire, even in flying. Victories had become useless, that reputation for invincibility was lost, which is often more powerful than real force itself; and the Freiich armies were consuming themselves for want of repose, in continual fatigues, mightly watchings, and anxieties. At Irun, a great number of the inhabitants of all ages assembled to see them enter the town, and then followed them with evident curiosity for some time: they thought, at first, that this was a mark of their joy at seeing them arrive; but afterwards learned, that the inhabitants of that, as well as those of all other frontier towns, kept an exact account of all the French who entered Spain, as well as of the wounded who guitted it, and that it was according to these reports that the partizans and guerillas directed their operations. At Campillos, while the French were on lorseback repulsing a crowd of the Serranos, who had made a charge from the neighbouring mountains, the inhabitants, persuaded that they were to be annihi. lated, murdered all the soldiers who had neglected to repair to the place appointed for rendezvous, in case of danger. At Ronda, a gallows was erected in the principal square, to punish such of the towns-people as had favoured the French; a poor tailor was thrown upon the rocks, and dashed to pieces, because he had served as interpreter to the soldiers; while as a proof that private animosities were sometimes satisfied under pretenee of public justice, a magistrate was on the point of being hanged, because he would not receive a bribe in a case of smuggling; years before. Marshal ‘Soult sent a column of 3000 men against the little town of Grazalema. Some smugglers had entrenched themselves in the market place, which is in the middle of the town; they had placed mattrasses before the windows of the houses in which they had shut themselves up. Twelve hussars and forty riflemen, who formed the advanced guard of the French division, arrived in the square without meeting any - - resistance; resistance; but they never returned, every one of them was struck by the fire which poured from the windows on all sides, and all who were sent to the same spot, perished immediately in like manner, without having done the slightest damage to the enemy. Nor was it only in the moments of success that this inveteracy was displayed. The following scene took place after the battle of Medellin. . .
“The hussars and dragoons, who had dispersed themselves as foraging parties, soon came back, driving in immense bodies of Spaniards, whom they delivered up to the infantry, to conduct to Medellin. The same men who had confidently promised us death before the battle, now marched with downcast looks, and with the precipitation of fear. At the first sign or menace of our people, they crowded together towards the middle of their columns, like sheep when they hear the voice of pursuing dogs. Every time they met any French troops, they cried aloud, “Long live Napoleon and his invincible troops I’ sometimes, too, one or two horsemen passing by, amused themselves with extorting the acclamations which were only due to the whole body of the conquerors.
“A certain colonel, who was a courtier and an aide-de-camp, and who was looking on as the prisoners passed in files before our regiments, ordered them to shout, in Spanish, “Viva il Re Joseph " The prisoners at first appeared not to understand, then, after a moment’s silence, they all together repeated the cry of “Long live Napoleon and his invincible troops " . The colonel then seized on an individual prisoner, and repeated the order with threats. The prisoner having then shouted, “Viva Joseph I’’ a Spanish officer, who, according to custom, had not been disarm
ed, came up to his countryman, and ran his sword through his
body. Our enemies had no objection to pay homage to our victorious arms, but they could never be brought to acknowledge the authority of a master not of their own choice, even in their lowest fortune.” P. 134. - - - - . . . .
: “One of the insurgent peasants of Arragon, among others, was seized by our skirmishers; he was only armed with a gun, and was driving before him an ass, laden with some months’ provisions. The officer who commanded the advanced guard took pity on him, and ordered him to be set at liberty, making signs to him to escape. The peasant at once appeared to comprehend; but, left to himself, he leaded his gun, and came back immediately to our ranks to fire at his deliverer. , Happily the ball missed. . This peasant hoped to die a martyr, sor killing one whom he had mistaken for one of our principal chiefs. On halting, he was brought before the colonel of the regiment. “We surrounded him from curiosity. A motion of one of our hussars persuaded him that he was going to be shot: he immedi. - ately,
ately, and proudly, knelt down, prayed to God and the Virgin Mary, and thus awaited his death. We raised him, and at night he was sent to head-quarters. If these men had known how to fight as well as how to die, we should not so easily have passed the Pyrenees.” P. 48.
Another obstacle, which presented itself at every step, was the difficulty of marching through a country abounding in defiles, without a single guide to give information concerning the road, or the position of the enemy. Believing theinselves to be close upon the rear of the Spanish forces, the French frequently marched night and day without stopping, in a directly contrary direction to that which would have led them upon their enemies, who once met in open field, were always defeated. Sometimes obliged to search for their cantonments by the aid of defective maps, they marched and counter-marched in mist and darkness and silence, halting at every hundred paces, while those who were at the head of the column, groped their way between the rocks: presently alighting and proceeding in file, they repeated by turns the warnings of holes or precipices, given in an under voice, in order not to awake a corps, whose half-extinguished fires appeared on the other side of a deep ravine, till at last the rising of the moon shewed them that they were nearly in the place from which they had set out thirty hours before, and they at length saw at the bottom of the valley, the village where they should have passed the night. Sometimes the very children were trained to mislead them. A young boy of eight years old was playing about among the horses; he offered himself as a guide, and led a small party of hussars straight to an ambuscade. When he reached it, he suddenly ran off towards the rocks, throwing up, his bonnet in the air, and crying with all his might, “ Long live our King, Ferdimand VII?” and the firing instantly commenced. Once a peasant was seen sitting in an olive tree, busily cutting the branches with a hatchet; the French were about two musquet shots from a dangerous pass, and M. Rocca galloped on before the detachment to ask him if he had not seen the Serranos; he answered, still eagerly continuing his work, that his employment did not leave him leisure to attend to what passed around him. They afterwards learned that he was one of them, and was cutting those branches to bar up the pass. Five minutes afterwards, in passing along a marrow and slippery path, bounded by very thick garden hedges, and where they were obliged to march one by one, the Serranos suddenly started from their anbuscade of brushwood, killed some of the detachment, and severely wounded in two places M. Rocca himself. At another time, the clergy and alcades of the villages through which they * * * I i passed vol. Iv. Novexsper, 1815.
passed, brought them refreshments with feigned zeal, in order to delay their march. There was not a peasant, of whatever age, who did not endeavour to deceive them, by declaring they had seen none of their partizans, while thousands were lying hid around them, wherever the nature of the ground favoured their concealment, ready to start up, like the ambushed warriors of Rhoderic Dhu, at the first instant which promised them a successful attack. Miseries of another kind were presented by the difficulty of procuring forage. At the approach of the French, every village was deserted, and before the departure of the peasants, they walled up all that they could not carry away with them. In time the soldiers became expert at discovering the hiding places of their retreating and invincible foe: they were in the habit of measuring the outer dimensions of the empty houses, and then the inner apartments, to discover if any space had been taken from them. Whenever the doors, which were always carefully focked, resisted the force of great stones or hatchets, the grenadiers fired pointblank into the keyholes. Sometimes they discovered provisions, or jars of wine, buried deep in the earth; but more commonly, to use their own expressions, “the mills were destioyed, the wine-casks stove in the streets, the corn burned, and even the furniture broken; they saw neither horse, nor mule, nor ass, nor cow, nor goat.” Moniteur, Nov.30, 1810. Thus they lived by chance as it were, passing whole weeks without bread, and without being able to procure barley for their horses, or even straw, without sending parties of thirty or forty hussars, three or four times a week, to cut it several leagues from their cantonment; and as their weakness did not permit them to escort the foragers, they were obliged te elude the vigilance of the peasantry, either by taking a different road every day, or by going a great way about, to avoid the dangerous bill passes. . At one time they fed upon the beasts of burthen which carried the baggage and biscuit with which they had been served for a limited number of days before they entered Portugal; and at Olbera, when the inhabitants were ordered to prepare rations for the troops, they brought an ass cut up in quarters, instead of a young ox;-the hussars thought the veal, as they called it, tasted very flat, but it was not till long afterwards that they learnt the trick from the mountaineers themselves, who used to ciy out, as they fired at them from their inaccessible fastnesses, Wous avez mangé de l'éne à Olberuthe greatest affront, in their opinion, that could be offered to Christians. The apparent good will of the peasants were even still more dangerous than their declared enmity : they would sometimes invite the French to a feast at their arrival in a town,
and would endeavour to intoxicate the soldiers: they then called in the partizans, and pointed out during the night the houses in which their enemies had imprudently trusted themselves. At Moron, says M. Rocca, *
“ Nous primes le parti de nous loger tous ensemble dams trois auberges voisines. Si mous mous étions dispersés, pour passer la nuit dans les maisons des habitans, comme mous pouvions le faire avec súreté dans les plaines, mous aurions probablement été tous égorgés pendant la nuit.”
Lord Wellington did not fail to profit by this spirit of the insurgents, as they were insolently called by men, who, in the strong and indignant language of the Junta, judging of the Spapiards by “ their own degraded hearts, found nothing in them but baseness when they were weak, and atrocity when they were strong.” He left the French to the vengeance of the invaded people, and by following a plan well and deeply calculated, made them struggle with hunger and disease, the eternal scourges of conquering armies, when they are not called upon and seconded by the wishes of the nation they invade. >
Not unfrequently the French would recognize among their unceasing annoyers, their hosts of the preceding night, for no sooner had the trumpets sounded the reveillée at sunrise, than the shepherd's horn was heard rousing the mountaineers on the tops of the neighbouring hills; these were soon joined by the inhabitants of the villages in the valley, who would go out of the town with their tools, as if they were going to work in the fields; and as soon as they were secure from observation, they sought their guns, which were buried, or safely hid in the farm-houses, would make use of them all day, and at night returned again to the town, and slept quietly in the midst of their unwelcome guests. This plan of burying their arms was universally practised; whenever the alcades were ordered to disarm a village, the useless weapons were readily given up, but such as were serviceable were carefully secreted and maufully used at the first favourable opportunity. The husbandman always guided his plough with one hand, and held his unsheathed sword in the other; and the popular pastime among the labourers of Ronda was to sit among the rocks in the olive groves at the end of the suburb, and smoke segars while they fired upon the French videttes. In Biscay and Navarre, the alcades, with the women and children, came out of the towns to meet them, as if all had been at peace, and no noise was heard but that of the smiths' hammers; but the moment they departed, all labour ceased, and the inhabitants seized their arms to harass the detachments among the rocks, and attack the stragglers and rear * - 1i 2 - guards.