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Historyczne Bitwy - Fuengirola 1810

Lord Blayney's Narrative – wersja oryginalna

Volume I, Preface

It is the common custom of travellers to publish their Journals with a prefatory apology for their literary faults, on the ground of their not having been intended for publication; but although the author of the following pages is truly entitled to plead this excuse in bar of severe criticism, he waves that right, convinced that it can neither add to the merit of the work nor efficiently apologize for its defects. He begs the reader, however, to bear in mind, that though the peculiar situation in which he was placed frequently deprived him of the opportunity of immediately putting pen to paper, yet he has endeavoured from recollection to supply that deficiency though perhaps at some distance of time after the circumstances happened. This, he trusts, will excuse any inaccuracies that may be met with; for, without affectation, he must declare that he had not originally any idea of offering this narrative to public notice.

Nor is it his intention to enter into the circumstances, which from enemies united Great Britain and Spain in one common cause, the glorious one, of Justice, Humanity, and the Independence of all Europe. It is sufficient to say, that the sympathising generosity of the English nation could not contemplate the freedom of a gallant people, in danger of being annihilated, without affording its assistance to snatch them from the abyss. The system of operations laid down for the conduct of the war in Spain, at the time this Narrative commences, being to distract the enemy’s attention by calling it towards as many distant points as possible, the author was in consequence appointed to the command of a detachment of British and foreign troops in the English service, and a Spanish regiment, intended to make a diversion on the coast of Andalusia; and though this object unfortunately failed, owing to circumstances which he could not foresee, and consequently could not provide against, he dares assert, with confidence, that no blame can be attached to himself, or to the officers in general who served under him; and therefore he feels comparatively happy in the consolatory reflexion that though he could not “command success,” he endeavoured to “deserve it,” which was all that depended on himself.

Although a prisoner, the author’s rank entitled him to a degree of personal liberty while travelling, and procured him a familiar intercourse with the first classes of society, both French and Spanish, which afforded him opportunities of observation that could scarcely have occurred to an officer of inferior rank. The result of these observations the author now presumes to offer to the public; and though he is far from expecting that his work will entirely satisfy those who seek for instruction alone, he hopes it will not be found destitute of reflections, interesting to the politician and the patriot, and that it will also afford to the most numerous class of readers, that amusement which they principally look for in works of this nature.

Lord Blayney's Narrative Volume I, Chapter I

Motives of an expedition from Gibraltar to the vicinity of Malaga . . . . Situation of the enemy’s detachments in Andalusia . . . . Embarkation of the troops . . . . Arrival at Ceuta . . . . Spanish military negligence . . . . Sail for the coast of Spain . . . . Proposal to attack Malaga . . . . Reasons for declining it . . . . Land at Calle de la Moralle . . . . Digression respecting military orders and distinctions.

1810.

Cadiz being closely invested by the army of the Duc de Bellune, it appeared from the geographical position of the neighbouring country, that the most effectual mode of interrupting the siege, and harassing the enemy, would be to send detachments to various parts of the Spanish coast; which, by occupying their attention, would oblige them to weaken the besieging army, in order to succour the points menaced with attack.

It was also at this time of the utmost moment to support and keep alive the animosity of the peasantry, by affording them every possible assistance; without which, their exertions would certainly grow weaker; and it was even to be feared that they might ultimately surrender themselves to the French in despair. Besides, the French army before Cadiz drawing its supplies chiefly from Seville, the seranos (or mountaineers) of the Sierra de Xeres, and of the chain of mountains extending from Ronda Xeres, and from hence in a southeast direction by Mijas and Fiangerolla, were particularly to be encouraged, in order to induce them to act with vigour in cutting off the enemy’s supplies.

To these circumstances must also be added, that in the beginning of October, information was received at Gibraltar, through various channels, that at Ronda the enemy’s force consisted of only nine hundred men, viz. one company of grenadiers, one of riflemen, and eighty dragoons, in all two hundred and forty French; the remaining six hundred and sixty being composed of Germans, Poles, &c, upon whom little dependance could be placed. The same information stated that at Fiangerolla the enemy had but two hundred men, at Mijas but forty, and at Ronda one hundred, chiefly dragoons; while the country surrounding these ports, was said to be in the possession of a body of well armed, fierce, and exasperated mountaineers, nearly capable of keeping the French in check, having already obliged them several times to abandon St. Roque and Algeziras, with considerable loss.

The vicinity of these mountaineers, as well as the extreme badness of the road between Ronda and Fiangerolla, appeared to render it very difficult, if not impossible, for the enemy to send any reinforcement from the former to the latter place; while at the same time it was understood that much dissatisfaction reigned in Malaga, and that the inhabitants would readily unite their efforts with any force that might be sent to assist them in driving the French out of the town. Such was the situation of the enemy’s detached forces, while they were carrying on the siege of Cadiz with vigour, having completed several batteries opposite the town, from whence, by means of very large mortars, they threw shells much farther than the usual distance, and thereby rendered the anchorage of our shipping very insecure.

The most certain means of checking the progress of the siege, was, as I have already observed, to call the attention of the enemy to other points; and, with this idea, several expeditions had been already sent to various places with different degrees of success. In furtherance of this principle, and after a communication between the Lieutenant-Governor of Gibraltar and the Spanish Government at Cadiz, it was determined to send a force from the former place against the ports already named, as well as to co-operate with the loyalist party in Malaga. His Excellency Lieutenant-General Campbell did me the honour of confiding to me the conduct of this expedition; and on the 10th of October I accordingly received orders to prepare for secret service, and to take under my command four companies of His Majesty’s 89th regiment, amounting to three hundred rank and file, together with five hundred German, Polish, and Italian deserters. With this force I was directed to proceed to Ceuta, where it was to be increased by the Spanish regiment of Toledo. As dispatch was an object of the first consequence, not a moment was lost, and the whole detachment was clothed, accoutred, and embarked on the same day and as soon as I received my final instructions, I repaired on board His Majesty’s ship Topaze, from whence I issued the necessary orders and instructions, and also prepared an address to the people of Malaga, which will be found in the Appendix.

Early in the morning of the 11th October, the squadron weighed and stood across for Ceuta; but light airs preventing our anchoring there until a late hour in the evening, I was obliged to defer going on shore till the morning. That no time might however be lost, I acquainted Major-General Frazer of my arrival by letter, and requested him to expedite the embarkation of the Spanish regiment. The following morning I proceeded on shore, and breakfasted with the General, but found it impossible to prevail on him to interfere in any manner, with respect to the object of my orders; and I was therefore under the necessity of applying personally to the Spanish Governor, who received me most politely, and chearfully assured me of every assistance in his power. I must here observe, that the Spaniards of Ceuta looked on the English with the most jealous suspicion, and though General Frazer’s force consisted of but one weak regiment (the second battalion of the fourth), the guns of the citadel, in which it was quartered, and which commands the town, had been all removed.

The embarkation of the Spanish troops being completed in the forenoon, I visited several of the transports, and in some of them found the Spaniards much dissatisfied with the nature of their provisions, owing entirely to the masters adhering literally to their instructions, and issuing meat an a maigre day, when common sense should have pointed out to them, the propriety of serving out other species in lieu. Indeed, I have frequently observed that foreign soldiers are dissatisfied with the species of provisions they receive on board our ships; and as these complaints could be so easily remedied, it seems extraordinary that no attention has been hitherto paid to them.

The regiment of Toledo being better cloathed, and apparently composed of a more orderly set of men than the generality of Spanish soldiers at this time, I paid their Colonel some compliments on their appearance, and requested to be informed if they were compleat in every respect, which he assured me they were. Aware, however, of the astonishing neglect which pervaded every part of the Spanish military affairs, I did not choose to put implicit confidence in this assertion; and on enquiring minutely into the state of their arms and ammunition, I found a deficiency of one hundred and forty-eight firelocks, and that they had embarked literally without a single round of ammunition. I immediately wrote to the Spanish Governor, stating the impossibility of my supplying the latter, as our cartridges would not fit the Spanish arms. He returned a very polite answer, and the necessary ammunition was immediately sent off: the deficiency of muskets I supplied, together with one hundred cartridges for each.

Having delivered the Spanish Colonel his instructions, the squadron weighed and stood for the coast of Spain. The lightness of the wind rendered our passage tedious, and in the night of the 13th Captain Hall of the navy, commanding a detachment of gunboats under my orders, came on board from Gibraltar, with letters from his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor. Captain Hall expressed himself very sanguinely as to the possibility of carrying Malaga by a coup de main, and founded his opinion on information received at Gibraltar, that the guns on the Mole had been removed; he therefore proposed that the troops should occupy the enemy’s attention on the land side, while the ships bombarded the town to the eastward, and that the boats should at the same time push for the Mole, and throw a party into the town, to favour and assist an insurrection of the inhabitants. To this plan I found it impossible to give my approbation, well assured that no intelligence received from the Spaniards was to be depended on; and besides there being an extensive plain between the Rio Grande and Malaga, in which a large body of cavalry could act to the greatest advantage and as I had every reason to believe that the enemy could immediately collect a force of this description, it seemed to me highly imprudent to risque encountering it, with the motley troop of foreigners that composed two-thirds of my detachment. These seasons induced me to determine on proceeding to the Calle de la Morals [Cala de Mora], a small bay, one league east of Marabella and two west of Fiangerolla, with the intention of attacking the latter fortress, the possession of which would be of the greatest consequence to my future proceedings, as affording the means of receiving regular and certain information, as well as of organizing the peasantry, and commanding the neighbouring country.

On the morning of the 14th the Sparrowhawk joined the squadron, and I was informed that arms had been distributed to the peasants, pursuant to orders which I had previously given. At nine o’clock the squadron anchored in the bay of Calle de la Moralle, and the signals were immediately made to prepare for landing the troops, and for the boats to assemble alongside the Topaze. The shoalness of the water preventing the larger vessels from approaching the shore so as to cover the landing, the gunboats only were employed in that service; and having taken their station, at half past ten, the boats pushed for the shore, and the troops landed without accident or opposition on a fine sandy beach: indeed there did not appear to be any preparation whatever made by the enemy to oppose us. As soon as the troops were all formed on shore, I issued regulating orders for their movements, calculated to prevent the confusion that might arise from such a mixture of nations as composed my shall force, there being English, French, Italians, Spaniards, Poles and Germans. I therefore directed that all movements should be carried into execution by the sound of the bugle, and restricted the sounds to four. When tolerably perfect in this exercise, I gave orders to advance, but found the country so very mountainous, and without any road, that it was impossible the artillery could accompany us, and it was therefore of necessity sent by water.

Previous to marching I had some conversation with Captain Miller of the 95th regiment, who, with several other officers, had been latterly employed in organizing the Spanish peasants. He informed me that a considerable quantity of arms and ammunition had been distributed amongst them, and consequently that I might expect a number to join me immediately; in this however I was entirely disappointed, not more than ten or twelve making their appearance. One Spaniard I am, however, bound to notice, with the praise he deserves for the loyalty and fidelity with which he has always served the cause of his country; he is well known at Gibraltar, but at the present moment it would be improper and imprudent to name him. His loyalty was entirely disinterested, and indeed it is but doing justice to the Spaniards in general to observe that their zeal seems to proceed from real patriotism, without any hope or expectation of pecuniary emolument. The services rendered to the cause by the person above alluded to, certainly entitled him to a considerable reward from the English, yet his sole request was to be permitted to wear a sash similar to that of our officers,, which of course was granted, and from it he seemed to derive no small share of consequence in the eyes of his countrymen. Indeed, when I observed the delight expressed by the Spaniards at receiving the smallest honorary distinction, I was surprised that the finish loyal government had not created a military order of merit, to reward those who might be most a active and enterprising in the cause; the hope of acquiring such a distinction from their legal rulers, would not only increase emulation, but diminish the value of the distinctions conferred by the French on their partisans. The desire of chivalric distinctions is indeed universal throughout all Christian Europe: the cold phlegmatic German receives them with pleasure, and the Italian, burning with the ardour of a more genial climate, with delight; but it is in France, above all other countries, that they are sought after with the greatest avidity, and where they inspire their possessors with the greatest degree of vanity and self-consequence, as well as of military ardour, and the hopes of the croix d’honneur is perhaps the most powerful stimulant to the courage of the French soldier. When we reflect on this general feeling, we cannot account for the Junta’s and Regency’s having hitherto neglected the establishment of so certain and so cheap a mode of attaching the people to their cause.

Lord Blayney's Narrative Volume I, Chapter II

March to Fiangerolla, and attack of that fortress . . . . Mijus . . . . Observations on the persons employed by the English government to organize the Spanish peasantry; and on the application of the sums advanced by England . . . . Continuation of the operations against Fiangerolla.

The mountains and ravines which occupy the entire space between the Calle de la Moralle and Fiangerolla, rendered our march extremely fatiguing and tedious, so that we did not get sight of the fortress till two o’clock in the afternoon; when I immediately sent in a flag of truce with a summons, which was rejected. A projecting point of land to the westward of the castle, for some time covered the gunboats in their course along shore, but on passing this point, they became exposed to the guns of the castle, from which a heavy fire was immediately commenced on them. I now advanced close to the work with the foreign riflemen, supported by the four companies of the 89th, when a brisk fire commenced on both sides; ours being confined to musquetry, while the enemy had the advantage of firing grape from their artillery, by which Major Grant of the 89th was mortally wounded, while receiving my directions to take possession of a small ridge of hills, which extending to the beach would have afforded cover to the regiment. I felt severely the loss of this worthy officer, who after serving the best part of his life in the 86th regiment in the vast Indies, had returned in hopes of spending the remainder of his days in his native country; but finding it still required his service, he disdained to remain in idleness. He just lived to be landed at Gibraltar, where he was buried with all military honours; the whole garrison attending. the funeral, and paying the last melancholy tribute of respect to his remains. The fire from the castle continued on the gunboats, of which one was sunk, and several persons killed and wounded in the others; the troops, however, drawing a considerable part of the enemy’s attention (which indeed was my motive for advancing so close), the boats were at last enabled to take their stations.

The castle I found to be infinitely stronger than it had been represented, consisting of a large square fort, situated on a hillock, of which it occupies the entire summit. Circumstanced as we were, and having information of a large body of the enemy being on its march towards us, it would have been decidedly the most advisable plan, to have attempted an escalade, had there been any tolerable hopes of success; but, after a mature consideration of the subject, I was obliged to relinquish this idea, not only from its apparent impracticability, but also from the certain great loss of men that must have attended even its success, and which would have rendered me incapable of defending the conquest, or of any further operations.

Having succeeded in silencing the guns of the castle for a short time, I withdrew part of the troops that were too much exposed, and at the same time directed the Spanish regiment to occupy a good position on the summit of a rough commanding hill, with a difficult ravine in front, which, in the opinion of Captain Harding of the engineers and myself, was a sufficient protection from a sudden attack. The Spanish Colonel, however, now started an unexpected difficulty, namely that it was Sunday and that it was not their custom to fight on the Sabbath.* [* The same occurrence took place at Talavera.] I found also that there was much discontent amongst the men of this regiment, from the want of a clergyman to perform divine service. This circumstance I could only lament, and would have cheerfully offered to officiate, had I thought myself equal to the task. Here I must observe, that during the considerable period that I have commanded either a regiment or detachment in His Majesty’s service, I have always been extremely particular in enforcing a due observance of the Sabbath, not only from religious motives, but also because I have found it gradually create an orderly and proper deportrhent in the soldiers, which prevents the necessity of frequent punishment. On the present occasion I was, however, obliged to leave the church to pray for our success; and this I did with no small degree of confidence, when I reflected that the contest we were engaged in, was for the preservation of order, religion and liberty to a whole nation, against the unprovoked attacks of a people, whose constant aim and end, for the last twenty years, had been to complete their overthrow.

The vicinity of Mijas, which is but five English miles from, and in eight of Fiangerolla, making it necessary to endeavour to cut off the communication between them so, as to prevent assistance being sent from the former to the latter, I therefore prevailed on the Spanish commandant to detach four companies of his regiment, together with one hundred Germans, to execute this service, by occupying the angle where two roads or pathways meet, about half a mile from Mijas, and by which the enemy must pass, there being no other road, and the rocks on each side inaccessible. Captain Mullins, my Brigade Major, volunteered conducting this service, and though I gave him positive orders to act only on the defensive, the importunities of the Spaniards led him to exceed these orders and to make an attack on town, where, he met a most vigorous and unexpected resistance, that obliged him to fill back rapidly on the main body of the troops.

Mijus is a small town, containing about one thousand inhabitants, and the approach to it is so difficult that a very small force may defend it against a very large one. It is situated on the declivity of a rocky hill, the side of which, facing Fiangerolla, is inaccessible, except by a narrow and winding pathway, skirted on one side by a deep rocky ravine. A river runs at the foot of the hill, which divides into two branches, and at the point of separation is crossed by an inconvenient bridge.

The castle of Fiangerolla commanding every point of the beach where boats could put on shore, the landing of the artillery was obliged to be postponed till night, when it was accomplished in a thunder storm, accompanied by heavy rain, which continued to pour down the whole night, and increased every rivulet to the magnitude of a river. Neither difficulty nor danger could however depress the persevering ardour of the soldiers and sailors, who before day broke had compleated a battery of two twelve-pounders and a howitzer, at the distance of three hundred and fifty yards from the castle, and on the summit of a rocky hill, the ascent to which is difficult even to an unincumbered individual. Another battery was also compleated on the beach with one thirty-two pound carronade. The whole of the detachment suffered severely during this dreadful night, neither officers or men having shelter or rest; those only who have been accustomed to tropical rains can form an adequate idea of the torrents that poured down.

October 15. A little before daylight the advanced piquets were called in; and as soon as we could see each other, a heavy fire commenced on each side. A shell from our battery bursting killed most of the men at one of the enemy’s guns, and silenced it for some time; our shot also destroyed part of the parapet of the castle, and left the people much exposed to our musquetry, which evidently did great execution. The walls were, however, so solid, that our small artillery could make but little impression on them; and, indeed, it would have required twenty-four pounders to make a practicable breach; nevertheless, from the supposed smallness of the garrison, as at first represented, I hoped that our shells and musquetry alone would soon oblige it to surrender, unless it received very speedy reinforcements. I was therefore greatly mortified at learning that these reinforcements had been received previous to our arrival, and as I had therefore every reason to expect that a sortie would be made, my first object was to place the troops so as to meet it with the greatest possible advantage. At the same time I received information that General Sebastiani was marching from Malaga with a large force, and though again contradicted, this intelligence was soon positively confirmed.

Lieutenant-Colonel Basset, formerly of the 5th regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Warrington, and one or two other officers joined us from the Sierras, where they had been employed in an attempt to organize the peasants, the plan of which had been suggested to the British Government by the Duke of Infantado; and its advantages would in all probability have been extremely great, had proper attention been paid to the selection of the officers.

An officer entrusted with a service of this delicate nature, should not only possess an enterprising and active disposition, a knowledge of mankind, and a perfect acquaintance with the language of the country, but his circumstances should also be such as to make him totally dependant on his talents and exertions for advancement. Such persons would have been invaluable in Spain, and many such might doubtless have been found in London, languishing in involuntary idleness, who would have been happy to accept such an employment, and by whose exertions the peasantry might have been better organized, and roused to a more efficient resistance, which must have ultimately succeeded in delivering their country from its lawless and cruel invaders. The expulsion of the Moors affords the Spaniards a grand example of what their nation is capable of performing; and this example is deeply impressed on the minds of all classes. In that contest, as well as in the present, the Spaniards were at first defeated; but the loss of a battle served only to inspire fresh energy, while it taught them to correct their military faults, and the most perfect success crowned their perseverance. I cannot quit this subject, which perhaps has led me into too long a digression, without doing justice to Captain Miller of the 95th regiment, who being perfectly acquainted with the Spanish language, had been of the utmost service in uniting the peasantry, and had acquired an extended knowledge of the country in general, and of the strong passes of the mountains in particular. The reports of this officer, which I have had different opportunities of seeing, appeared to be very judicious.

Another circumstance, in some measure connected with the above observation, should not be passed over, namely, the large sums advanced by England for the Spanish cause, and over the expenditure of which no efficient control has been hitherto established, whence it is at least possible they may not be always applied to the intended purposes. When I was at Gibraltar a person named Moretti resided there, who assumed the title of General, and who was entrusted with the distribution of large sums, in which employment he contrived to enrich himself, until arousing the jealousy or suspicion of the Spanish government, he was recalled to Cadiz, to undergo an enquiry, of the result of which I am ignorant. This soidisant General I had formerly seen at Palermo, where he was one of the principal performers in the orchestra of the opera, and an excellent musician. I must do him the justice to say that he appeared to be active and intelligent in his new employment, and his musical talents rendered him peculiarly agreeable to the Spanish ladies, who are great admirers of that art. Here I must claim a general indulgence for the digressions I may be occasionally led into in the course of this narrative, which though not always immediately connected with the main subject, I trust will tend to enliven the otherwise dry recital of military operations.

On the certain confirmation of the intelligence that Sebastiani was marching against us with a large force, I considered the best means of opposing a successful resistance with my small and badly composed detachment. I therefore, in company with Captain Harding, minutely examined the ground; in doing which we were several times exposed to a heavy fire of musquetry from the castle. I found that the position we occupied was well suited for operations against the latter, but not so for defence against such a superior force as I had reason to expect, and which my intelligence stated to be four thousand seven hundred infantry, eight hundred cavalry, and sixteen pieces of artillery, commanded by General Sebastiani in person; while my whole force now amounted only to fourteen hundred infantry, and three pieces of artillery. The reason already assigned for not landing the artillery by daylight, namely, the exposure of the beach to the guns of the castle, operated in like manner to prevent its re-embarkation; and being determined not to abandon it, nothing was left but to make preparations for receiving the enemy in the best manner possible; for this purpose I intended to have made some alterations in our position by occupying a ruined tower, capable of containing about fifty men, having a ridge of hills extending on its right and the sea close behind it; time was not however allowed me to accomplish this intention.

At this moment His Majesty’s ship Rodney, with a Spanish line of battle ship, appeared off the coast, and I learnt that they had on board the 82d regiment, one thousand strong, which had been sent from Gibraltar to reinforce me; my anxiety to receive them was of course very great, and boats were immediately sent off to assist in landing them.

My principal fear was that the enemy’s cavalry would charge on the beach and gain our rear; to prevent which, if possible, I went with Captain Hall in a gunboat, with the intention of placing two boats on each flank so as to rake the beach; these boats were so close to the shore that I could have gone and returned in five minutes. During this arrangement, a desperate sortie was made from the castle by about six hundred and fifty infantry and sixty cavalry, and entirely directed to the left, where the Spanish and other foreign troops were posted, who fled with scarce any resistance, and abandoned the artillery to the enemy. At this moment I observed the boats with the troops had pushed off from the ships, and were fast approaching the shore, which gave we hopes of being still able to retrieve the day, both from the strength of our position, and from my confidence in the 82d regiment; I therefore immediately formed the 89th, and, though consisting of only two hundred and eighty men, retook the guns by the bayonet. In advancing to the charge my horse was wounded, and soon after killed by a second shot, so that I was obliged to charge on foot. After a short but very severe contest, the enemy wheeled and fled; at the same moment a strong body came running across us in front, drest precisely similar to the Spanish troops, and a cry of “they are Spaniards!” at the same time took place. I therefore ceased firing for a few minutes, both in order to form the troops more regularly, and to ascertain whether this body was really Spaniards or French, as well as to economize the ammunition which began to fall short. Unfortunately I was not supported by the artillery, now again in our possession, and the enemy had only blown up a part of the ammunition, leaving several loose rounds of grape in the battery, which, had they been employed, must have done great execution. Being dismounted I could not go to the left sufficiently quick to ascertain whether the approaching body were French or Spaniards: I soon, however, observed a column close in from the left, on whose caps I perceived the number 4 with an eagle, and which proved to be the quatrième Polonois. The troops with me, after firing a few rounds, charged this column, and a very severe conflict ensued, which unfortunately ended in my being made prisoner, having but nine men remaining of those that advanced with me.

Those only who have suffered a similar fate can form any idea of my sensations at being thus obliged to surrender to a ferocious banditti, who loaded me with every vile epithet, but in whose outrageous violence I in great measure found my personal safety, for they crowded so thick on me that they had not room to give force to their blows. They tore my cloaths, rifled my pockets, and attempted to pull off my epaulets, and the resistance I made to this last indignity procured me several blows from the butt ends of their muskets, that covered me with contusions. I was indeed probably indebted for my life to a Lieutenant Petit, of the Polish regiment, who opportunely came up on horseback; he was the only French officer in the corps, and his humane and gentlemanly conduct did honour to his country.

Lord Blayney's Narrative Volume I, Chapter III

Brutality of the Polish commandant . . . . Reflections on viewing our shipping . . . . Proceed to Mijas . . . . Return to Fiangerolla . . . . Interview with General Sebastiani . . . . Proceed for Malaga.

On entering the castle I was met by Captain Makosovitz, a Pole, who commanded, accompanied by several other officers; the former accosted me in the most brutal language, demanding “if it was I who had the insolence to send him in a flag of truce, and who had caused so much bloodshed,” at the same time pointing to three houses in which the dead bodies were collected. To this I replied, “that it was to prevent the effusion of blood that I had sent in a flag of truce, and that he would indeed have had reason to complain had I not done so.” The scene that presented itself at this moment can never be effaced from my memory; both officers and soldiers had all the appearance of those desperate banditti described in romances; their long moustachios, their faces blackened by smoke and gunpowder, and their bloody and torn cloaths, giving to their whole appearance a degree of indescribable ferocity. Makosovitz conducted me up stairs with the other officers made prisoners, and the scene here was worse than that below, the surgeons being employed in dressing the officers, of whom scarce one escaped without a wound or contusion. More melancholy from the thoughts of my captivity than from the pain of my bruises, which was however sufficiently acute, I went on the rampart, from whence I had a full view of the shipping. The fort was still firing at the Rodney, and at the boats with the troops, which approached close to the shore. A few minutes would have brought them to my assistance, and they would certainly have changed the fortune of the day in my favour; but fate ordered it otherwise. While thus absorbed in my own melancholy reflections, I could not help exclaiming, as I looked on the Rodney and Topaze, there is the ship where a few days since I dined in social friendship, and there the frigate which brought me to this shore, rejoicing in the sanguine hope of serving my country; all on board then, are free, while I am doomed to pass an indefinite period in captivity, deprived of the society of all those who are dear to me in the world! What, thought I, will my country say of my failure, or how will it appreciate my conduct in this unfortunate day? Will not the people, who too often estimate merit by success, will they not overlook the insurumountable difficulties I had to encounter, and consider want of success as want of merit: although hitherto fortunate in every enterprize with which I have been charged, and thought worthy the approbation of my superior officers, will not these successes be sunk in oblivion, while my present failure is alone remembered?

From the indulgence of this melancholy soliloquy I was roused by the Polish commandant slapping me violently on the shoulder, and addressing me with, “Allons, camarade, venez boire un coup d’eau de vie; vous n’êtes pas chez vous!” Indeed this observation was too literally true, for I never felt less at home in my life. I accompanied him however to a room, in which every thing was in disorder, and where officers and soldiers were promiscuously helping themselves to agua ardiente, from jars, while a succession of ruffians was every moment entering and displaying the spoils taken from our unfortunate soldiers made prisoners, or drest in the clothes and accoutrements stripped from the dead; the entrance of each of these plunderers was loudly applauded by bravos from the whole assembly. In order to shew their good fellowship, some one or other of this banditti would every moment slap me on the back, crying, “Allons, camarade, buvons, buvons!” The torment I suffered from my bruises, which produced a spitting of blood, was much increased by these acts of manual kindness; nevertheless, knowing I should meet no commiseration, I concealed my feelings and suffered in silence; and accepted some agua ardiente and water, which was the first thing I had tasted for twenty-four hours. As soon as all opportunity occurred of conversing with my fellow prisoners, we naturally began to enquire into the causes of our capture; when I learned that most of the Germans had deserted to the enemy. Having rested nearly two hours in the castle, I was, with the rest of the prisoners, ordered to Mijas, and after being paraded, we set off with a strong escort of cavalry and infantry; Ensign Hopper and the rest of the wounded remaining in the castle. Lieutenant Petit, of whom I have before spoken, provided me with a horse, and the other officers were furnished with mules or asses. On our arrival at Mijas the officers were sent to a public house, and the soldiers confined in the prison. I was particularly honoured by having four centinels placed over me, besides a Polish officer for a companion. The good people of the house in which I was billeted, were all kindness and humanity; they immediately brought me some vinegar to wash my contusions, and drest me some eggs. Whenever the Polish officer quitted the room, the mother and daughter would enter, and sympathising in my misfortune, would lament it with tears in their eyes. Here I passed the first part of a miserable night; for at three o’clock in the morning (October 16), I was called up to return to Piangerolla to meet General Sebastiani. Though in the greatest pain I was obliged to mount a horse, and was escorted by one hundred dragoons, and several officers, while the rest of the prisoners were ordered to proceed direct to Malaga. On approaching Piangerolla, I observed the General surrounded by a large body of troops, and was immediately presented to him. After the first salutation, he enquired what had become of my sword, and on my answering that I supposed some of the officers or soldiers had it in their possession, General Milhaw instantly took off his own and presented it to me, saying, “Monsieur le Général, here is one which has been employed in all the campaigns against the Austrians, Russians, and Prussians, and it is now much at your service.” This speech, though tinctured with the vanity natural to a Frenchman, was applauded by the bravos of both officers and soldiers who were within hearing; I accepted the sword, and indeed felt somewhat gratified at being paid such a public compliment by an enemy.

I begged permission of the General to visit the scene of action, which was readily granted, and two of his aides de camp, one of whom was his brother, were directed to accompany me. The scene was such as a recent field of battle usually exhibits; it was strewed with the naked and terribly mangled bodies of the soldiers of both parties. Such a scene would probably have lost much of its effect on my feelings, had fortune favoured instead of deserting me; but now the melancholy reflections on my situation, almost made me regret not having shared the fate of the gallant fellows that had fallen around me. On my return from the field I entered into conversation with the General, who, as well as his aides de camp, soon recollected me as having served in Egypt; and their attentions from this time were redoubled.

Quitting Fiangerolla we passed through a very mountainous country, and by a rugged pathway, not deserving the name of road, and which skirting the sea, I had still the mortification of contemplating our shipping cruising in the offing, and observed that they had been joined by the Circe frigate. The manner in which the French conveyed their artillery through this mountainous track is worthy of notice; two light pieces balancing each other are slung one on each side of a mule, their carriages are carried in like manner on another, and the ammunition boxes which are moveable on a third.

After passing through the romantic village of Belameda, we arrived at Torre a Molinas, a small town with about fifteen hundred inhabitants. Here we put up at the house of a priest, in which we found every thing clean and comfortable, and the General’s staff and some other officers, in all thirty-six persons, sat down to an excellent breakfast of cold and hot meats, pies, &c. At this place the detachment from Mijas joined us, and the officers signed a parole; this, however, seemed to be a very useless formality, for they were escorted by a strong detachment, in the centre of which they were placed; a necessary precaution, as it was affirmed, to prevent their falling into the hands of the brigands, whose parties were represented as formidable in this part of the country. Their concern lest I should straggle, and fall in with any of these bands was so great, that although I had also given my parole I was always attended by an officer, who repeatedly assured me that he accompanied me solely from this apprehension. It is easy to conceive how much I differed from him on this subject, for though I was well treated by the General and his staff, no condemned culprit ever looked with more anxiety to a rescue, than I did to the appearance of a formidable body of brigands coming to my relief. Discretion, however, directed me to conceal my hopes and wishes, and although I did not believe a word of my companion’s assurances, I replied to them all with a “Monsieur, vous êtes bien bon!” and on his repeating his expressions of care and tenderness for my safety, I could only change the note to “Monsieur, vous êtes bien aimable!” at which it was impossible for him to forbear smiling, while he persisted in his absurd declamations. However it may be with their other qualities, we must cede to the French the palm of dissimulation, in which indeed they are perfect masters, they not only justify and glory in the grossest deceit, but often gain the approbation of the spectators, by glossing it over with the name of finesse.

Within a few leagues of Malaga the country totally changed its appearance. Instead of the rugged mountains and barren rocks over which we had hitherto passed, we now entered a most luxuriant and highly cultivated plain, covered with gardens and vineyards, and dotted with handsome villas, of which the façades having generally a colonnade gave them a rich and, at the same time, a rural appearance. We crossed the Rio Guadajo by a ford, where the water was up to our saddle skirts, though at times it is nearly dry, being like all streams in the vicinity of mountains subject to very sudden rises and falls. At this river it was that Captain Hall proposed leading the troops to attack Malaga by a coup de main; I now found that my objections to this plan had been perfectly well founded, for here is an extensive plain in which cavalry could act to the greatest advantage, and the enemy had in and about Malaga, a large and well appointed force of that description.