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Title: Soldiers and Sailors
       or, Anecdotes, Details, and Recollections of Naval and
              Military Life, as Related to His Nephews, by an Old Officer.

Author: George Mogridge

Illustrator: John Gilbert

Release Date: September 14, 2018 [EBook #57903]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Richard Tonsing and Brian Coe, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
book was produced from images made available by the
HathiTrust Digital Library.)

Transcriber’s Note:

The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

S. & J. Bentley, Wilson, and Fley,
Bangor House, Shoe Lane.






Soldiers and Sailors.—Recruiting sergeant, officer and Jack-tar.—Generals and Admirals.—Which is the braver, the Red-coat or the Blue-jacket?—Cavalry and Infantry.—Engineers, Artillery, and Marines.—Not all sunshine with soldiers and sailors.—The old Soldier.—Different opinions about war.—When are sailors most steady?—A standing rule for a soldier. Page 1
A general rule for the conduct of a good soldier.—The beginning of sailors.—The origin of the British army.—The oldest regiment in the service.—Description of the life-guards.—British soldiers and sailors the best in the world.—The Flemish brig and the Deal galley.—The French sloop and the British fisherman.—The black trumpeter and the bold soldier.—A soldier should attend to his own duty. 12
viBritish sailors.—A hearty cheer.—Seamen are sad clumsy fellows in some things.—The pretended sailor.—Jack in the wherry.—A squall.—The chain cable.—The sailor’s marriage.—The arrival.—Banns.—Disappointment.—Doctors’ Commons.—Licence.—The church gates.—The robing-room.—The ceremony.—The Prayer Book.—The Bible.—Jack happy. 24
Discipline.—Standing in a proper position.—Young soldiers for the East Indies.—The Articles of War in the army and the navy.—The Sentinel and St. Paul’s Cathedral.—Mutilation among foreign troops.—The reckless Irishman.—His mad freak.—His lighthearted observation.—His sentence.—Discipline on board the Atalanta.—The selfish severity of a sea captain. 37
Alexander the Great.—Frederick the Great.—Charles XII.—Peter the Great.—Buonaparte.—Duke of Marlborough.—Hastings.—Bannockburn.—Cressy.—Poictiers.—Agincourt.—Bosworth Field.—Blenheim.—Culloden.—Prague.—Quebec.—Battles of Marathon, Thermopylæ, and the siege of Troy.—Preparation for a battle.—The battle array.—General De Zeithen.—Monument of Peter the Great.—Duke of Marlborough. 51
Uniforms.—Old Admirals in the Naval Gallery at Greenwich.—Admiral Forbes and the Duke of Bedford.—Dress of an admiral of the fleet.—Captains and commanders.—Full dress of the officers of the life-guards.—Dragoon-guards.—Light dragoons.—Lancers.—Hussars.—King George the Fourth and the life-guardsman.—Full dress of the officers of the foot-guards.—Infantry of the line.—Light infantry.—Fusiliers.—Highlanders.—Riflemen.—Sir Samuel Hood and the new-made boatswain. 65
viiWeapons of war.—Artillery.—Train of artillery.—Chevaux-de-frise.—Bows and arrows.—The old archer.—The musket.—The bayonet.—Captain Von Selmnitz.—Broad-swords.—Highlanders.—Artillery and stores sent to Spain.—James II. of Scotland.—Buonaparte and Colonel Evain.—Wooden cannon.—Brass twenty-four-pounder from the wreck of the Royal George.—The brass sixty-eight-pounder in the Tower, called the ‘Great Harry.’—A beautiful mortar.—The new destructive power. 80
The passionate soldier.—A blue-jacket paying his debts.—A monkey on board.—A ship.—Keel.—Decks.—Masts.—Sails.—Rigging.—Life-boat.—Cables.—Anchors.—Capstan.—Buoys.-Blocks.—Knotting.—Quadrant.—The Indian and his fine clothes.—His return home.—His relation of his adventures.—The indignation of his tribe.—His tragical end. 95
An engineer.—Mining.—Sappers.—Gunners.—The Surveillante.—Loss in the British army.—Furlough.—Muster-roll.—Punishment.—Poor Jack sent aloft.—Captain Hall on naval punishments.—Instance of injustice to a seaman.—The captain proved to be in the wrong.—Tribute to the brave.—Letter of a private soldier.—The Tenth and the Imperial guards. 112
viiiFortification.—Surprise of Bergen-up-Zoom.—Six hundred British troops lay down their arms from a want of knowledge of fortification.—Fortified places in England and abroad.—On the origin of fortification.—The battering-ram.—Parapets.—Embrasures.—Square towers.—Terraces or ramparts.—Bastions.—Horn-works.—Curtains.—Maxims in fortification.—Old plan of fortifying a place.—Modern plan.—Periods of attack.—Investment or blockade described.—Parallels.—Circumvallation and countervallation.—What is necessary to ensure the reduction of a fortress.—Blockade of Pamplona.—A bombardment, siege, and storming party described. 125
The tale-telling captain.—The heroic and kind-hearted officer.—The standard-bearer.—Flags.—The royal standard.—Flag of the lord high-admiral.—Flag of the admiral of the fleet.—Colours in the army.—Day signals.—Night signals.—Fog-signals.—Cipher flags and substitutes.—Telegraphs.—Alphabet for field signals.—Description of a sailor on shore. 138
Pillage.—Military surveying.—Tippoo Saib.—His armour and mantle.—Tippoo’s treachery.—Seringapatam attacked by British and native troops, commanded by Major-General Baird.—Colonels Dunlop and Sherbrooke.—A shot breaks the chain of the draw-bridge.—Terrible carnage.—Tippoo Saib killed.—Seringapatam taken.—The storming of Ghuznee.—The forlorn hope.—The gate of the fortress blown in.—Colonel Dennie leads on the stormers.—The mistake.—A retreat sounded.—Brigadier Sale advances.—Desperate struggle.—The place taken. 155
Tactics and stratagems of war.—Captain Bentley and Captain Baines.—The defiance.—Scaling the rock.—The stratagem of the boat.—Battle of Actium.—Duke of Saxe Weimar.—Breaking the line.—The Prussian General.—Ibrahim Pasha.—The old Dervise.—War terms.—Actions.—Attacks.—Attempts.—Battles.—Blockades.—Bombardments.—Descents.—Defeats.—Engagements.—Expeditions.—Invasions.—Sea-fights.—Storms.—Sieges.—Surprises.—Skirmishes.—Repulses.—Explosions.—Three-fingered Jack. 168
ixMotto for a soldier.—Glory.—Reply to a challenge.—The caricature.—Discharges.—A picquet, sentinel, vedette, advanced guard, and flag of truce.—Crossing rivers.—Presentations.—Camps of instruction.—Comfort of a cigar.—Tribute to the brave. 181
Algiers.—Admiral Keppel and the Dey.—The expedition of Lord Exmouth against Algiers.—The Christian slaves are set free, and such slavery abolished for ever.—The French at Algiers.—The taking of Jean D’Acre by Sir Robert Stopford.—The explosion of the powder magazine.—The mistake made by the garrison.—The operations of a siege.—The daring young soldier.—The siege of Antwerp, by Marshal Gerard.—Desperate defence of General Chassé.—The surrender. 197
The Duke of Wellington.—Remarks.—The Waterloo banquet at Apsley House.—Salter’s celebrated painting.—The names of the generals and officers at the banquet.—Anecdote of Apsley House.—George the Second and the old soldier.—The old apple-woman and the lord-chancellor.—The legacy.—The Duke of Wellington’s generosity.—Major-general Macdonnel’s noble conduct.—Sergeant-major Frazer. 212
xBuonaparte.—His principal plaything.—Napoleon’s grotto.—Buonaparte’s gratitude to his mother.—He goes to the Military School at Paris.—Made a lieutenant.—His first military service.—His address to the men under his command.—His conduct to poor tradesmen.—Reproof to his generals.—The Jaffa massacre.—Murder of the Duke d’Enghein.—Legion of honour.—Buonaparte threatens to invade England.—French invincibles.—An instance of generosity.—Napoleon’s bravery.—Battle of the Pyramids.—The battle of Lodi.—Napoleon’s return from Elba.—Campaign in Russia.—Allusion to Waterloo.—Buonaparte dies at St. Helena.—The 18th of October a remarkable day. 225
Captain-general of the army.—Commander-in-chief.—Lord high-admiral of the navy.—Field-marshal.—General.—Lieutenant-general.—Major-general.—Brigadier-general.—Colonel.—Lieutenant-colonel.—Major.—Adjutant.—Sergeant-Major.—Captain.—Lieutenant.—Ensign and cornet.—Sergeant and corporal.—A round-robbin.—Quarter-master.—Military saying.—Officer’s daughter.—Officers of the navy.—Marines.—Catamaran.—Crew of a first-rate.—Royal George. 240
Regimental bands.—Drum.—Trumpet.—Bugle.—Kettle-drum of the life-guards.—Kettle-drum of the royal artillery.—Qualities in British soldiers.—The Rhine! The Rhine!—Love of country.—Cowardice.—Death of Admiral Byng.—Native cavalry in India.—Daring intrepidity of a seaman.—Preparations for an engagement.—Battle of the Nile.—Superstitious seamen.—Saragossa.—Missolonghi. 254
Admiral Nelson.—The loss of his eye and his arm.—Struggle between Nelson’s barge and the armed launch.—Sykes the coxswain.—Nelson’s thanksgiving for his recovery.—His coolness in danger.—Battle of Copenhagen.—Hewson the seaman.—Battle of the Nile.—Nelson’s prayer before the battle of Trafalgar.—His signals on board the Victory.—His wound.—His death. 267
xiDe Ruyter.—Van Tromp.—Columbus.—Vasquez da Gama.—Villeneuve.—Tom of Ten Thousand.—Hawkins, Drake, Blake, Hawke.—Rodney.—A female soldier.—Vincent, on the 14th of February.—Duncan, off Camperdown.—Admiral Howe, and the glorious First of June.—Maitland’s generosity.—Viscount Exmouth, his courage and humanity.—Codrington and the battle of Navarino.—The flag of old England. 278
French generals.—Desaix.—Ney.—Lasnes.—Soult.—Suchet.—Augereau.—Berthier.—Rapp.—Macdonald.—Beauharnois.—Maret.—Jourdan.—Grouchey.—Vandamme.—Bertrand.—Gourgaud.—Junot.—Massena.—Davoust.—Moreau.—Lefebre.—Marmont.—Mortier.—Dupont.—Victor.—Oudinot.—Bernadotte.—Murat.—Soldiers of the army of Italy.—Battle of Marengo.—The Napoleon Pillar. 293
Personal courage.—Heroism.—A life-guardsman.—A corporal.—Private in Bland’s dragoons.—Lewis de Crillon.—Wolfe.—Abercrombie.—Colonel Gardiner.—Major André.—General Picton.—Sir John Moore.—Marquess of Anglesey.—Sir John Elley.—Colonel Colborne.—Colonel Ponsonby.—General Baird.—Sir Thomas Picton.—Sir James Macdonnel.—Lord Edward Somerset.—Sir Henry Hardinge.—Sir Colin Campbell.—General Evans.—Lord Hill.—The regimental surgeon and Sir William Carr Beresford. 305
Sailors must strike their colours, and soldiers surrender when they have death for an enemy.—A court-martial.—Shooting a soldier.—Naval execution.—Soldier’s burial.—Funeral at sea.—Battle of Waterloo.—First attack.—Second attack.—Third attack.—Defeat of Buonaparte.—Consequences of the battle of Waterloo.—Chelsea College.—Greenwich Hospital.—Old England for ever!—Conclusion. 327


Soldiers and Sailors.—Recruiting Sergeant, Officer and Jack-tar.—Generals and Admirals.—Which is the braver, the Red Coat or the Blue Jacket?—Cavalry and Infantry.—Engineers, Artillery, and Marines.—Not all sunshine with Soldiers and Sailors.—The old Soldier.—Different opinions about war.—When are Sailors most steady?—A standing rule for a Soldier.

“Well, boys, though I am your uncle, so busy has my life been, that I have seen but very little of you. During my present visit we shall become 2better acquainted with each other. You want to hear about soldiers and sailors. You have seen privates on parade, a recruiting sergeant with stripes on his arm, and an officer with epaulettes on his shoulder. You have seen, too, a jolly Jack-tar just come home from a cruise, rigged out in his holiday clothes, check shirt, blue jacket, and white trousers. You have read, perhaps, a little about engagements and sea-fights, and remember the names of a few famous generals and admirals, and now you want to hear more about soldiers and sailors. You shall know all that I can tell you; but, mind! let us have no confusion. Do not all of you ask me questions at once! Speak one at a time, or, if you like it better, let one of you be spokesman for the rest. You shall have all the information that I can give you.”

“Thank you!—thank you, uncle! That will be the very thing; for we know that you can tell us a great deal.”

“I am, as you know, neither commander-in-chief of the army, nor lord high admiral of the navy, nor do I see any likelihood at present of my being appointed either the one or the other; but having seen a good deal of the land and sea-service, and noticed the habits and conduct of men, from the raw recruit to the general officer;—from the sailor before the mast to the ‘Red Flag at the Fore,’—I must have been dull indeed to have picked up nothing. It becomes no man to be vain of 3his knowledge, and, therefore, I will not boast of mine; but ask me what you will, and I will answer to the best of my ability.”

“Please to tell us which are the bravest men, soldiers or sailors.”

“The bravest! That is a puzzling question, which the seven wise men of Greece, were they here, could not answer. Never yet did a red-coat go where a blue-jacket was afraid to follow, nor a son of Neptune brave a danger that a son of Mars would not, willingly, have faced before him. Weigh one golden sovereign against another in a pair of scales, and they will not give a more even balance than the bravery of a soldier weighed against that of a sailor.”

“How many kinds of soldiers are there?—for some are very different to others.”

“Why, let me see, in the cavalry there are life-guards, horse-guards, dragoon-guards, heavy dragoons, light dragoons, lancers and hussars; and in the infantry there are foot-guards, infantry of the line, light troops, fusiliers, highlanders, riflemen, and the staff-corps. I have said nothing of the engineers and artillery, nor indeed of the marines, who have more to do with the navy than the army.”

“They say that one Englishman can beat ten Frenchmen. Is it true?”

“Not a word of truth in it. A brave man is a match for a brave man of the same size all the 4world over, if he have equal skill. It is skill more than strength that enables one man to overcome another, and tactics more than bravery, (though both are necessary,) that enable an army or a fleet to obtain a victory. I will try to make this clear to you before I have done.”

“Now do tell us, uncle, all about soldiers and sailors, from the beginning to the end.”

“That would take me a month to do. I mean to give you anecdotes in abundance about military and naval commanders, that you may see the advantage of knowledge and skill; at the same time I will try to mingle with them many details that will be interesting to you, of the navy and the army.”

“Yes! That will be a good plan. Now for a little about soldiers.”

“If I were giving you my own history, I might be tempted to dwell on my own exploits, but as that is not the case I shall try to keep close to my subject,—Soldiers and Sailors. When a recruit is enlisted and sworn in before a magistrate he is put into the awkward squad for a time, and then he enters the ranks. He has much to learn before he becomes a thorough soldier, from standing at ease to the charge; from the single file to the battle array.”

“The sergeant must have something to do with the recruits that come from the plough-tail?”

“Indeed he has, but he very soon effects a 5change in their appearance. The first thing the recruit has to learn is to stand in a proper position. Then come facing, stepping, and marching, filing, wheeling, and with the manual and platoon exercise, forming; and, if in the cavalry, saddling, bridling, mounting, riding, and leaping, with the manœuvres of troops and squadrons, companies, battalions and regiments. What with carbine and pistol exercise, sword exercise and lance exercise, with parade, mounting guard, and keeping accoutrements, and perhaps, a horse in order, a soldier has many duties to perform.”

“And have sailors as much to do as soldiers?”

“Ay, that they have, and every change of wind brings them a change of duty. For some time I was in the marines, and saw a good deal of the wooden walls of old England. Officers, seamen, ordinary men, servants and boys, were all alive from stem to stern; from keel to sky-scrapers all things were in order. There were no skulkers among the blue-jackets. Everything was attended to; the decks were swabbed, the anchor weighed, the yards manned, the sails reefed, and the decks cleared for action.”

“Sailors seem to work hard and play hard then, for no people enjoy themselves more when they are away from their ship.”

“True. They work hard, play hard, and fight hard; but, say what you will, it is not all sunshine with soldiers and sailors. A soldier, on 6parade or on a review day, looks like a man of leisure, and in time of peace he is not overdone with his duty; but see him in war, marching through miry roads, panting with heat or numbed with cold, up early and late, sleeping on the bare ground in his wet clothes:—hunger pinches him, fatigue wears him, and the stormy fight with all its dangers awaits him,—yet, on he goes without a murmur.

“Neither does honest Jack lead a life of ease, or sleep upon roses. See him in the north, when the rigging of his ship is hung with icicles; in the east and west, when the deck is almost as hot as a baker’s oven; holding his weary midnight watch in the calm, and reefing the fluttering sail in the storm.

‘Jack never despairs—see, his bosom ne’er quivers
Though hurricanes cause every timber to start;
The tempest may rend a proud vessel to shivers,
But nothing can conquer a firm British heart.’

“Waves may dash and lightnings flash, but Jack flinches not from his duty. Aloft, below, at the mast-head or in the cockpit, he endures dangers and pain, and stands by his gun in the roar of the battle!”

“A great deal may be said about soldiers and sailors?”

“Yes,—and they have generally a great deal to say about themselves: the one fighting his battles over again, and the other spinning his yarns 7about cruises and privateering, and cutting out ships, and the winds blowing great guns in the Bay of Biscay. Soldiers are soldiers everywhere, and sailors keep up their character for courage, whether on the sea or in harbour, in a storm or a calm, in a battle or a breeze.”

“What was it that made you list for a soldier?”

“A thoughtless prank, my lads. In my youthful days I was fond of reading of knights armed cap-à-piè, mounted on fiery steeds,—lance in the rest, helmet on the head, vambrace on the arm, cuirass on the breast, cuisses on the thighs, greaves on the legs, and sabatynes on the feet. I loved to read, too, of ancient arms, clubs and slings, bows and arrows, swords, falchions, javelins, maces, battle-axes and battering-rams; and the portable arms when gunpowder came into use,—hand-gun, arquebus, haquebut, wheel-lock, caliver, petronel, dag, dragon and hand-mortar;—and these things led me on to a soldier’s life.”

“Ay, ay! Like us, you wanted to know everything.”

“Very true. My curiosity was excited, and I wished to hear all I could about modern arms, from the poniard to the pike, from the cutlass to the carbine, from the hand-grenade to the Congreve rocket, from the six-pounder to the big brass cannon at Bejapoor in Hindoostan, and from the horse-pistol in the houlster of a dragoon to the monster mortar used at the siege of Antwerp.”

8“And we wish to hear all about these things, too.”

“There was another circumstance, too, that did much towards leading me into the army. I chanced to form an acquaintance with an old soldier who knew everything about fortification, engineering, and gunnery. He had had his share of sieges and storming-parties, and seemed as familiar with trenches, ditches, fascines and scaling-ladders, as a schoolboy is with his peg-top and his kite. He used to describe to me the whole affair, from first breaking ground to the taking of a garrison, the glacis, scarps, and counter-scarps, ramparts, lunettes, bastions, batteries and citadel.”

“No wonder that you should listen to a man like him.”

“He was, indeed, wondrously interesting, and we talked together by the hour of Soldiers and Sailors. ‘Forward,’ and ‘Off she goes,’ were our mottoes. We advanced in double quick time with the red-coats, and only halted in a case of necessity. We shared the birth of honest Jack when buffeted on the billows, nor left him till he put into harbour, mingled his prize-money with his pig-tail tobacco, and sang ‘Britannia rules the waves.’”

“Did the old soldier describe a battle to you?”

“He did, and many of them, too. The plan of an engagement was unknown to me, and I had formed strange notions of one army attacking another. 9He explained to me the movements of the advanced guard, the main body, the wings, the reserve, and the artillery; and discoursed freely of sentinels, vedettes, patrols, piquets, and the general arrangements of an army in the field.”

“He would be quite at home there!”

“Such conversation as this led me to read of celebrated military and naval commanders, with the battles they had fought, and the victories they had won. Of Frederick the Great, of Prussia; Charles of Sweden; Peter the Great, of Russia; Buonaparte of France; and Marlborough and Wellington of England; with Hawkins, Drake, Frobisher, Rodney, Howe, Duncan and Nelson. At that time I knew nothing, or next to nothing, of a sea-fight, of the order of battle, of ships taking their stations, of signals, and the several duties of officers and men during the action; and of broadsides, raking, and boarding; but since then I have picked up some information on most of these points.”

“That old soldier must have known a great deal!”

“He did know a great deal, for he had mingled among sailors as well as soldiers, so that he could talk freely of actions, attacks, and attempts, battles, blockades, and bombardments, descents and defeats, engagements and expeditions, invasions, reductions, sea-fights and storms, sieges, surprises, skirmishes, repulses, and explosions.”

10“We do not wonder at your having entered the army, but a battle must be a terrible thing.”

“That is true, sure enough. It is one thing to hear or to read of a battle, and another to fight in the ranks. War is no child’s play, as every one knows who has seen service. There are different opinions about war: one man sees in it nothing but what is honourable and glorious; another maintains that it is in no case to be justified. It is not for me to decide between the two, seeing that I agree with neither, for while on the one hand I hold it wrong to plunge into war on light grounds when it can be avoided, or when it inflicts a greater evil than it undertakes to remove; on the other, I cannot see how war can be always evaded. If to oppress others be wrong, to allow ourselves to be oppressed can hardly be right; and though conquest and national glory will not justify those who draw the sword, yet, as a nation, we must be other than we are before we could give up what is dearer than life without an effort to defend it. However, my object is not to turn your heads with false notions of honour and glory, that you may long to become Wellingtons and Nelsons, but simply to give, according to your desire, what information I can about soldiers and sailors, and to explain to you the way in which they carry on war.”

“Ay, those are the very things! We want to know everything about them. We saw a sailor 11yesterday; and the road seemed hardly broad enough for him, he reeled about so much from one side to the other.”

“Jack-tars too often fall into this error; they are too often half-seas-over before they are out of port, and they are usually the most steady when being tossed about on the ocean.”

“That sounds comical, however.”

“Perhaps it does, but I wish to be pointed in my remarks, that there may be some likelihood of your remembering what I say. The army, from the commander-in-chief to the men in the ranks, should aim at respectability. A general should never be without a good private character, and a private should be generally acknowledged as a man of courage and sobriety. As a standing rule, a soldier under arms should not be above doing his duty: though he wears a red coat he must be a true blue, and peacefully preserve, in every situation, the articles of war.”



A general rule for the conduct of a good Soldier.—The beginning of Sailors.—The origin of the British Army.—The oldest regiment in the service.—Description of the Life Guards.—British Soldiers and Sailors the best in the world.—The Flemish brig and the Deal galley.—The French sloop and the British fisherman.—The Black Trumpeter and the bold Soldier.—A Soldier should attend to his own duty.

“Bear in mind, boys, that I shall tell you of many places where I have never been, and of 13battles that I have never seen. Much have I talked with old soldiers and sailors in my time and much have they told me. It may happen that in speaking of ships I may be, now and then, ‘out of my reckoning,’ and a little ‘disorderly’ at times, in describing things belonging to the army, for we are all of us liable to commit mistakes, and no doubt I make as many as other people.”

“The more you tell us of the army and navy the better.”

“Well, I will do my best for you. Let me here give you one of my general rules for the conduct of a good soldier. The advanced guard should fall back from every dishonourable action, and every rear-rank man should set a bold front against insubordination.”

“Yes, that is a capital rule. Please now to tell us what was the very beginning of soldiers and sailors?”

“That would puzzle the horse-guards and the Admiralty to tell you. Sailors I suppose began with ships; and father Noah, who commanded the good ship the Ark, was the first sailor that I ever heard of. As to soldiers, we must confine ourselves to our own country, for we know very little about the soldiers of the earliest nations of the world.”

“Please to tell us, then, the beginning of English soldiers?”

14“We must go back to the time when the Romans invaded England. The British soldier was then rude in discipline and dress, but intrepidity marked his every action, as it does now. As the Roman soldiers descended from their ships the undaunted Britons rushed into the sea to attack them, and the flower of Cæsar’s troops were astonished and fear-struck by their fierce and dauntless bearing.”

“Had they red coats and guns, as they have now?”

“No! no! their dress was of a very different kind: and the trade of gun-making was unknown among them. Their arms were clubs, short swords, and spears. Their cavalry had chariots, to the axles of which were fastened sharp pieces of iron, resembling scythe-blades; and their infantry went to war in long vehicles much like our waggons, from which they alighted and fought on foot, jumping into them again, and driving off, when it suited their purpose.”

“Had we any sailors at that time?”

“I fancy not: if we had they must have been very different to what British sailors are now, or they would have met their invaders on the deep, and not have allowed them to set their feet on the shores of old England unmolested. Offa, one of the Saxon kings, had a fleet, and King Alfred invited over from abroad ship-builders, to build vessels, and mariners to man them. The ships 15were, however, comparatively small. In the time of Henry VIII., and especially in that of Elizabeth, the British navy became formidable.”

“And when did soldiers begin to dress as they do now, and to have guns, and pistols, and cannon?”

“These things were brought about by degrees. I have read that the soldiers of the Anglo-Saxons were mostly foot-soldiers, though some of them fought on horseback; but when William the Conqueror came, soldiers were mostly cavalry. Under the feudal system, if a man held land to a certain amount, called a ‘knight’s fee,’ he was obliged to serve the crown a period of forty days every year at his own expense, finding a horse, a helmet, a coat of mail, a shield, and a lance. After that, spear-men, battle-axe men, cross-bow men, and archers made their appearance; but when gunpowder was found out, it made a wonderful difference in the army.”

“No doubt it did. Bows and arrows would not do against guns and cannon.”

“At first fire-arms were very imperfectly made, and then British bowmen, being strong, brave, and skilful, were very formidable; but the bravest archers that ever drew an arrow to the head would make a poor stand now against British soldiers. The Artillery Company of London had once a company of bowmen attached to them, but they have long since put down the bow, and taken up the musket.”

16“All boys remember about Robin Hood, and his merry men in Nottingham Forest; and about William Tell, the Swiss archer, shooting the apple off his son’s head.”

“No doubt they do. At the battle of Cressy, in France, two thousand British bowmen drew their shafts against as many French bowmen. But now for the beginning of the British army.”

“Ay, now for the British army!”

“The army began with the guards that attended the king, though their weapons and uniform were very different to those that the household troops now use and wear. Whatever armed attendants monarchs may have had around their persons from the earliest times, there was no regular body of armed men appointed as guards till the reign of Richard the First. Richard instituted a body of twenty-four archers, and called them the ‘sergeants-at-arms.’ Their duty was to keep watch round the tent of the king, clad in complete armour with a bow, arrows, and a sword. Henry VII. established, in 1485, a band of fifty archers, all chosen men, to attend him; they were called ‘Yeomen of the Guard.’ This body still forms part of the royal establishment.”

“The yeomen of the guard hardly look like soldiers.”

“True: the commencement of the present regular army may be said to be the corps of life-guards established by King Charles II. at the 17Restoration. To these he added a regiment of horse-guards, with two regiments of foot-guards. A regiment of foot-guards was raised also in Scotland. These corps are what are usually called the British household troops; and the additions of horse and foot soldiers since made, constitute the British army as it exists at the present day.”

“The guards, then, are the oldest regiment of any soldiers we have?”

“They are. In the year 1679 the corps of life-guards were thus described:—‘The guards of horse—which the Spaniards call guardes de á caballo; the French, guardes du corps; the Germans, leibguarde; and we, life-guards, that is the guards of the King’s body—do consist of six hundred horsemen, well armed and equipped; and are, for the most part, reformed officers, and young gentlemen of very considerable families, who are there made fit for military commands. They are divided into three troops, viz. the King’s troops, distinguished by their blue ribbons and carbine belts, their red hooses and houlster caps, embroidered with his Majesty’s cypher and crown. The Queen’s troop, by green ribbons, carbine belts covered with green velvet and gold lace; also green hooses and houlster caps, embroidered with the same cypher and crown. And the duke’s troop, by yellow ribbons and carbine belts, and yellow hooses, embroidered as the others. In each of which troops are two hundred gentlemen, besides 18officers. There are four gentlemen who command as officers, but have no commissions, viz. sub-corporals or sub-brigadiers.’ The ranks of the life-guards are not at the present time recruited with sons of the higher classes, aspiring to commissions, but with men of good repute, generally sons of persons in a respectable sphere of life.”

“The life-guards are fine looking fellows!”

“In 1716, when George I. visited Hanover, the Prince of Wales, who was then left guardian of the kingdom, reviewed the brigade of life and 19horse-grenadier-guards, in Hyde Park, November 21st, when he declared them to be one of the finest bodies of men in person, appearance, and exercise that the world had ever produced. A life-guardsman, as he is seen at the Horse Guards at the present time, is indeed an imposing sight. We must not, however, be led astray by the size of men, nor by their gay regimentals. Many a foot-soldier in his coarse grey great-coat, and his knapsack on his back, has a heart in his bosom as brave as that of a life-guardsman!”

“Ay! a little man may be quite as brave as a big man.”

“I have somewhere heard the remark that ‘all great men are little men,’ but there is not much truth in it, though many great military commanders have been of small stature: Alexander the Great, and Napoleon Buonaparte among them. The body, after all, let its stature be what it may, is of little value compared to the mind. The one is the leathern scabbard, the other the finely tempered sword. The poet has well expressed himself:

‘Were I so tall to reach the pole,
Or grasp the ocean with my span,
I must be measured by my soul;—
The mind’s the standard of the man!’

“In a military paper that I have seen, the regulation given by King Charles II. runs thus:—‘Each horseman to have for his defensive arms, 20back, breast, and pot; and for his offensive arms, a sword, and a case of pistolls, the barrels whereof are not to be under foorteen inches in length; and each trooper of our guards to have a carbine, besides the aforesaid arms. And the foote do haue each souldier a sword, and each pikeman a pike of sixteen foote long, and not under; and each musquetteer a musquet, with a collar of bandaliers, the barrels of which musquet to be about foor foote long, and to conteine a bullet, foorteen of which shall weigh a pound weight.’”

“How very particularly they are described!”

“When the war with Holland broke out in 1672, a regiment of dragoons was raised, when the soldiers therein were ordered to carry halbards, pistolls with holsters, matchlock, musquet, a collar of bandaliers, and one bayonet or ‘great knife.’ The arms of dragoons in 1687, (James II.’s reign,) were, snap-hanse-musquets, strapt with bright barrels of three foote eight inches long, cartouch boxes, bayonets, granado pouches, buckets, and hammer-hatchets.”

“They called a bayonet, then, a great knife?”

“They did. Since then, regiment has been added to regiment, till the army has arrived at its present state. It is now, perhaps, about a hundred and twenty thousand strong, and is spread over Great Britain, Ireland, and our possessions in other quarters of the Globe—undoubtedly the first soldiers in the world.”

21“Then we have got the best soldiers and the best sailors?”

“Indeed we have! I believe there are neither sailors nor soldiers in any quarter of the world that would be a match for an equal number of British blue-jackets and red-coats. If ever you should go on board a King’s ship you will be surprised at the order and discipline that prevail, from the figure-head to the rudder, from the main-mast head to the hold. Discipline is everything in the army and navy, and I shall give you, by and by, some striking instances that set forth its use and abuse.”

“What daring fellows sailors are!”

“If British sailors are daring in battle, they are equally so in braving all dangers to save the lives of others. A Flemish brig in a heavy gale struck on a shoal, to windward of Ostend harbour, and the crew clung to the rigging for safety, as the vessel was fast going to pieces. Several Flemish boats attempted to get to the wreck in vain, and the crew seemed doomed to destruction. It happened, however, that a Deal galley was in the harbour, and the little band of daring tars aboard her were somewhat more accustomed to such scenes. They launched their light bark, and though every sea hid them from view, and every breaker covered them with foam, they persevered, undiscouraged by repeated failures, until they reached the wreck, and saved every man that was found in her.”

22“Noble! noble! It is pleasant to hear of such things! It makes us think better of sailors.”

“Some time ago a French sloop was stranded near the port of Dover, when some English fishermen, who are half sailors, directly put off for the sloop and rendered effectual service. ‘Your opposite neighbours, the French,’ said a spectator afterwards, ‘are not quite so ready to help you.’ ‘Maybe not,’ replied the fisherman; ‘maybe not; but we do our duty to the unfortunate without troubling ourselves about that matter. An English seaman don’t learn his manners on the deck of a French ship.’”

“Well done, fisherman!”

“Presence of mind and intrepidity are qualities very common among British soldiers and sailors. I will give you an anecdote that I read the other day, of a soldier. ‘When Buonaparte was preparing his flotillas, and his soldiers, to invade Old England, we expected every day to hear of his being at sea, so we all kept ready at the barracks, to act at a moment’s warning. One night, when we were snugly tucked up in bed, news came suddenly, that the French had landed. One of our trumpeters was a black, a tall strapping fellow, more than six feet high, and he was so frightened that when he took up his trumpet to sound an alarm, he let it fall from his hand and fainted away. A bold fellow, who happened at the time to be at his elbow, snatched up the trumpet from 23the ground, and blew a blast that made the barracks and the barrack-yard ring again. Up we jumped, hurried on our clothes, ran to the stables, leaped on our horses, and in eight minutes and a half every man of us was drawn up in the barrack-yard ready for action.’”

“The poor black must have been half frightened out of his senses.”

“He certainly was; and it was all very well that, being unable to do his duty, another was ready to do it for him. On common occasions, however, a soldier should attend to his own duty, and not intermeddle with that of his comrades. A gunner may prove himself a good swordsman, a riding-master may be a capital walker, and a foot-soldier may know how to manage a horse, but let each keep to his own duty. It would be bad indeed for a drummer to be his own trumpeter, and still worse for a fifer to be drummed out of his regiment for bad conduct.”



British Sailors.—A hearty cheer.—Seamen are sad clumsy fellows at some things.—The pretended sailor.—Jack in the wherry.—A squall.—The chain cable.—The sailor’s marriage.—The arrival.—Banns.—Disappointment.—Doctors’ Commons.—License.—The church gates.—The robing-room.—The ceremony.—The Prayer Book.—The Bible.—Jack happy.

“What handy and hearty fellows sailors are, uncle; we have just seen one, and he gave us such a hearty cheer!”

“It has been said, that a British sailor can only 25give free vent to his feelings by a hearty cheer. It is his mode of thanksgiving for a benefit received; with a cheer he honours his friend, defies his enemy, and proclaims a victory. Sailors may be hearty, but how do you make them out to be handy? In many things they are the clumsiest fellows in the world.”

“Do you say so! What are they clumsy in doing?”

“Oh! in things without number. In the first place, they are bad hands at passing by a messmate in distress without relieving him; then they know nothing about running away from danger; you cannot teach them, any how, to forget an old friend; and they are the awkwardest fellows in the world in striking their colours when alongside an enemy.”

“You are right! you are right, uncle. About half an hour ago a sailor came up to us, and said that ‘Poor Jack’ was ‘in shallow water,’ and that, having nothing in his ‘bread-room,’ he would let us have a real India silk handkerchief for little or nothing.”

“And did you buy his handkerchief of him?”

“No, uncle. But we were so pleased with what he told us of his cruises, and battles, and shipwrecks, that we gave him all the money we had.”

“Ay, well, that would answer his purpose quite as well. It is possible that you may have fallen 26in with a ‘true blue,’ but I am very doubtful. It was but last week that a fellow accosted me with the old story about a ‘King’s ship.’ ‘The winds blowing great guns in the Bay of Biscay, O!’ ‘breakers ahead!’ a ‘lee shore and a wreck!’ but he had stumbled on a Tartar; for a few questions about sea affairs made him look all manner of ways at once, and it was a clear case that he would have willingly given up a part of his ill-gotten prize-money to have secured a retreat. At first I used him tenderly, treating him with only a few points of the compass backwards—north-by-west, north-north-west, north-west-by-north, north-west, north-west-by-west, and west-north-west. This was, as I well knew, all Dutch to him. Seeing him look rather queerish, I opened upon him with my ‘tiller-ropes,’ ‘gun-tackle,’ ‘mizzen-jears,’ ‘jib-halyard,’ ‘fore-braces,’ ‘deep-sea-line-blocks,’ ‘top-sail-sheet-bits,’ ‘main-top bow-lines,’ and ‘ringtail-booms,’ until he looked as frightened as if I had been a wild man of the woods. At last, seeing that he was preparing to scud before the wind, I poured in a broadside of ‘Brail up and haul down the main-top-mast stay-sail!’ ‘Bear a hand, my hearty!’ ‘Man well the lee-brail, and down haul!’ ‘Gather in the slack o’ the weather brail!’ ‘Let go the halyards!’ ‘Ease off the sheet!’ ‘Haul down, and brail up briskly!’ ‘There! let go the tack, and stop the sail to the lee-fore-rigging!’ ‘What! are you off? 27then up all hammocks!’ ‘Prepare for action!’ ‘Fire to the larboard!’ And away ran the rogue, forgetting how he had been wounded by a nine-pounder, as nimbly as though a press-gang had been at his heels.”

“It served him right, uncle! that it did.”

“A true-hearted sailor would rather take in a reef of the main-top-sail in a hurricane than skulk about in such a manner under false colours.

“Some time since a Jack-tar, seated in a wherry, was rowed up the river Thames, against wind and tide. He had just returned from India; and, sailor-like, was industriously disposed to get rid of his spare cash. He had a pipe in his mouth, and the clouds of smoke poured forth showed that the smoker was in earnest; while with his right hand he flourished a flexible bamboo. Behind him was a large shaggy Newfoundland dog, who appeared as well pleased as Jack himself. Before him sat a musician, with a huge drum and pandean pipes, playing away with all his power.

“As Jack passed the vessels in the river, and the wharfs, and the drinking-rooms overlooking the water, he was cheered continually. When he arrived at St. Katherine’s Docks he quitted the wherry, and hopped along on his real leg, for his other was a wooden one, as nimbly as a kangaroo, while the spectators, assembled to witness his landing, greeted him with a cheer. Jack and the Newfoundlander were soon stowed in a coach; the 28musician occupied the roof, striking up ‘Rule Britannia!’ and the crowd loudly cheered as Jack drove off, waving his hat good-humouredly from the coach window. What became of Jack afterwards is not known; but it is easy to imagine, that at the end of a few days’ cruise he would not have a single shot in his locker.”

“Then he would be off to sea again?”

“No doubt he would. Whether at sea or on land, seamen seldom keep out of squalls long together.”

“What is the real meaning of a squall?”

“A squall is a violent gust of wind, that comes on a ship suddenly, and sometimes does a great deal of mischief in a very little time. There are parts of the world where you are more liable to them than in others. The first time that I was in a squall in the Mediterranean it put the surprise upon me. There was a small black cloud to windward in the south, but I should have thought little of it, had not a bluff old tar pointed to it and said, ‘There’s a capful, my hearty.’ What he said was true enough, and we had it in quick time too. The course of the ship was altered, to scud before what was coming, and the hands went aloft to take in sail. By this time the cloud had spread and neared us, and all at once, without warning, the squall came. The sheets and ropes cracked and snapped in the wind, the fore-sail was torn to ribands, the rain fell like a torrent, and away went 29the ship, running almost gunwale down in the water. But if the squall came without notice, it quitted us without notice, for in half an hour the sky was clear, the wind down, and the ship all in order, making her way through the waves.”

“When a squall comes on, sailors should get out their anchors, and the strongest cables they have, to keep the ship steady.”

“The cables must be very long, boys, to enable them to anchor in the middle of the Mediterranean. Perhaps you have never read the account given by Captain Hall, of attempting to anchor in deep water with a chain cable!”

“No, never! Please to tell us all about it.”

“I have it at hand here, and will read it to you. He says, ‘The chain cable is difficult of management in deep water; that is to say, when the soundings are more than twenty or twenty-five fathoms. Nothing is so easy as getting the anchor to the bottom in such cases; it is the facilis descensus with a vengeance! But when the anchor is to be pulled up again, then comes the tug. I once let go my anchor, with a chain cable bent to it, in forty-five fathoms, without having calculated on the probable effects of the momentum. Though the cable was bitted, all the stoppers snapped like packthread; and the anchor, not content with shooting to the bottom with an accelerated velocity, drew after it more than a hundred fathoms of chain, in such fearful style that we thought the 30poor ship must have been shaken to pieces. The noise was like that of rattling thunder, and so loud that it was impossible to hear a word; indeed it was even difficult to speak, from the excessive tremour caused by the rapid and violent passage of the links, as the chain leaped, or rather flew up the hatchway, flashing round the bits, and giving out sparks like a fire-work. Finally, it tore its way out at the hawse-hole, till the whole cable had probably piled itself on the anchor in a pyramid of iron at the bottom of the sea. The inner end of the cable had, of course, been securely shackled round the heel of the main-mast, but the jerk with which it was brought up made the ship shake from end to end as if she had bumped on a rock; and every one fully expected to see the links fly in pieces about the deck, like chain-shot fired from a cannon. It cost not many seconds of time for the cable to run out, but it occupied several hours of hard labour to heave it in again. The ordinary power of the capstan, full manned, scarcely stirred it; and at the last, when to the weight of chain hanging from the bows there came to be added that of the anchor, it was necessary to apply purchase upon purchase in order to drag the ponderous mass once more to the bows.’”

“How it must have frightened them when the anchor and chain cable ran out in that way!”

“British tars are not very soon frightened, though I dare say that it made them look about 31them. If you are in the mood to listen to a laughable story, I can tell you a very curious tale of a sailor’s marriage that happened some time since. It was told me a few days after the ceremony.”

“Can you? Please to begin it at once. Please do!”

“Well, then, you shall have it without delay, as nearly as I can remember, in the language in which it was related to me. That the story has been a little embellished there can be no doubt.

“Some years ago, a certain church in the metropolis stood in need of repair; and the bishop gave order that such marriages only should be solemnized therein as had been, before commencing the repairs, proposed by banns three times, but that in cases where the banns had not been put up three times, the marriages should be deferred until they had been regularly proposed at a neighbouring church, recently erected. No wonder that this arrangement occasioned some sad disappointments.”

“Ay, that would disappoint those that came to the church to be married, and could not.”

“On Monday morning a jolly Jack-tar hove in sight, rigged out excellently; under his convoy was his sweetheart Poll, who bore down gallantly, her sky-scrapers fluttering in the wind. After a little heeling to larboard and starboard on the part of Jack, he came with Poll into safe moorings, entering the church door under a press of sail.”

32“We can just fancy that we see them.”

“As Poll stood up the middle aisle, with her pendants flying, she seemed a prize fit for an admiral, and Jack himself was as right and tight a bit of craft as could be seen on this side the Channel. Jack was not long in hailing Mr. Parson, and in giving him to understand that he was bound for Cape Matrimony!”

“That’s so like a sailor.”

“On looking over the banns-book, however, the worthy minister discovered that Jack’s marriage had been proposed twice at that church, and once at the new church, and, therefore, in conformity with the order of the bishop, the banns had to be put up twice more in the new church before the marriage could be solemnized.”

“What did the sailor say to that?”

“No sooner was this made intelligible to Jack than he began to overhaul the minister with a little of his old-fashioned lingo. ‘Wait a fortnight, Mr. Parson! No that I won’t for the West Indies; so you may just as well give over your palavering, and pick up your book. I came here to be spliced, and spliced I’ll be. Wait a fortnight! that’s a good un! Why, haven’t we made signals for three Sundays? how long would you keep us cruising about, while you are in snug quarters? The long and the short of it is this: Poll and me have come here to be spliced, and we’ll wait a fortnight for nobody.’”

33“The sailor spoke his mind pretty freely, however.”

“The minister, knowing the free habits of sailors, bore Jack’s observations with great good humour, but told him it was utterly impossible to marry him. ‘I am sorry for it,’ said he, ‘but if you were to give me the navy of England I could not marry you.’ This remark was a broadside that almost laid Jack on his beam-ends, but he plucked up his spirit, went on another tack, and instead of rashly boarding his opponent, tried to enter on a friendly parley. ‘Why, look you, Mr. Parson,’ said he, ‘I’ll tell you how the land lies. I shall be off in a few days on a cruise, and if I goes to sea, and leaves Poll in port, she’ll get spliced to somebody else, before I comes back again, so you see I can’t wait a fortnight.’”

“Oh! oh! oh! Then he was afraid to trust Poll, though he was going to marry her.”

“Jack’s rhetoric, however, was all in vain, for the minister told him, that if he must be married that day, there was no other way than going to Doctors’ Commons for a license. ‘And who’s Doctor Commons,’ inquired Jack; ‘and what will the shiners be?’ No sooner were these questions answered, than away goes Jack. ‘Never mind, Poll; never mind, Mr. Parson! I’ll soon be back.’ Saying this, he quits the church, jumps into a coach at the coach-stand near the church gates, and gets under weigh to Doctors’ Commons, telling 34the coachman, that if he did not sail right afore the wind he should get no shot out of his locker.”

“The sailor was in right earnest about the matter.”

“The morning was wearing away, and there was but little time to spare, but Jack came back in as fine style as if he were chasing an enemy’s frigate. Nimbly as a harlequin he skips along the churchyard, and makes for the altar, holding the license in his hand, crying out ‘All’s right, Poll! all’s right, Mr. Parson! Here’s the bit o’ paper! plenty of time. Never mind, Poll! all’s right!’ It was of little use that the clergyman tried to prevail on Jack to behave with the gravity and decorum fitting the place and the occasion, so much were his spirits excited. When the clergyman examined the paper, he found, so far from things being all right, that all was wrong, for the license set forth that the marriage was to take place at the new church, and not at the church they were then in. ‘Never mind, Poll! Never mind, Mr. Parson! plenty of time!’ cried out the undaunted sailor; and what with pushing Poll, and hurrying on the parson, he got them into another hackney coach, and set off for the new church—the distance was very short.”

“He deserved to be married, for all his trouble; surely he was not again disappointed?”

“It seemed as though poor Jack was to be weather-bound, for on every fresh tack the wind 35was against him. No marriages being expected that morning at the new church, the high iron gate was closed, and the sexton, who had the key, was not there. Now the iron gate would have been but a trifling impediment to Jack, but it was an effectual barrier to Poll and the parson.”

“Poor Jack would soon have mounted over the gate, no doubt, had he been by himself.”

“At last the key was procured, the clerk was in attendance, and the whole party proceeded with all necessary despatch down the long gravel walk to the church. Jack every now and then crying out, ‘Never mind, Poll! Never mind, Mr. Parson! plenty of time!’ The time, however, grew very short, and the worthy minister was obliged to do his best to prevent any disappointment taking place; but when he hurried to the vestry, where the robes were kept, the door was locked. There was no time to send for the key. It was a case of necessity, and the kind-hearted clergyman resolving to do all he could, proceeded to the altar without his surplice, that he might begin the service in time, for not a moment was there to lose. What was his annoyance to find that the Book of Prayer was not there. So closely was he driven for time that, after despatching a boy to a neighbouring house for a Prayer Book, he began the service trusting to his memory.”

“If he had not been a good-natured clergyman he never would have done all that.”

36“No doubt a Prayer Book might have been found in one of the pews, but there was nobody present who could be spared to look for one, and the time for beginning had been delayed till the last moment. To the great relief of the clergyman, the boy soon returned with the book he had brought, but when the worthy minister opened it he found that instead of a Prayer Book, it was a Bible!”

“We never heard of so many hindrances to anything before in our lives.”

“Further delay was out of the question; there was no time for him to go back for another book, so the clergyman, trusting to his memory, completed the ceremony without one, to the great joy of the married couple. No sooner was the ceremony over than Jack, who could not be restrained, capered about in a most indecorous manner. He danced his way along the aisle, slapt the kind-hearted minister on the back, called him a ‘true-blue,’ and a ‘hearty good fellow,’ and declared it would do him good if Mr. Parson would join him in drinking Poll’s health in a bumper.”

“Well, that is the oddest tale we ever heard. Poor Jack was married to Poll after all.”

“He was: but if you are to know anything about the military and naval duties of soldiers and sailors, I must not relate many such long and laughable stories.”



Discipline.—Standing in a proper position.—Young Soldiers for the East Indies.—The Articles of War in the Army and the Navy.—The Sentinel and St. Paul’s Cathedral.—Mutilation among foreign Troops.—The reckless Irishman.—His mad freak.—His lighthearted observation.—His sentence.—Discipline on board the Atalanta.—The selfish severity of a sea captain.

“I will now say a word or two on discipline, because without it an army of soldiers would be a lawless and uncontrollable mob; a mere reckless rabble, almost as dangerous to their friends as 38their enemies: nothing like steadiness and discipline! One slow step in the path of duty is better than the double march in that of insubordination. It is discipline that keeps the army and the navy of England in order.”

“What is discipline? Is it flogging those that do wrong and disobey orders?”

“Discipline is the instruction, as well as the control of soldiers, sailors, and marines. Bravery alone would never enable men to discharge their duty in the field; it is discipline which renders their strength, skill, and bravery efficient. A good soldier should have somewhat to hope; a bad one should have something to fear.”

“A soldier’s exercise is a part of his discipline; is it not, uncle?”

“It is, and a very important part, too; what may seem to you of no consequence, is of real value in the discipline of the army. Every, even the least, important movement in military affairs, is a link in the chain of discipline that cannot be dispensed with without loss. The act of standing in a proper position may be thought a trifle, yet, in military tactics, it is of great importance. If a soldier cannot stand properly he cannot step properly, and still less can he march, countermarch, face, wheel, and perform the various evolutions required of him; in which case he is not only less efficient himself, but also a hindrance to his comrades.”

39“We never thought standing properly was of half so much consequence.”

“If you reflect, boys, for a moment, common sense will tell you, that if one man stands upright and another crooked; if one takes up a little space, and another a great deal; if one makes a long step and another a short one; if one be quick in his movements and another slow, confusion must of necessity follow, and no officer can calculate either on the ground which the troops under him will occupy or the time they will take up in their marches and evolutions. If obedience be the first duty of a soldier, order is the second.”

“What is the next thing that is learnt by a soldier after position?”

“You must not expect me to explain all that is taught in the army. My account must be a sort of running fire; a touch and go on, or I shall never find time to tell one half that I have to say. I said, that a proper position was of consequence, and so it is. In whatever position, however, a soldier may be, he should never stand with his back to an enemy, and when his eyes are right, his heart never should be wrong.”

“Soldiers are sometimes very young. One that passed us yesterday was not above twenty.”

“Very likely. There are many that go abroad very young. Some time ago three hundred men, belonging to the 89th regiment of foot, came from 40Chatham to Gravesend, with their newly appointed officers. They all went on board the East India ship the Bombay, their destination being the East Indies. Among the whole three hundred not one was twenty years of age.”

“What are articles of war, uncle?”

“Articles of war are express rules and orders, drawn up for the navy, as well as for the army, that sailors and soldiers may know, if they commit an offence, what penalties they incur. The articles of war in the navy are enacted by act of parliament, and contain almost every possible offence that a sailor can commit. The articles of war in the army are not enacted by act of parliament, but have been framed from time to time at the pleasure of the Crown.”

“But do all soldiers and sailors know the articles of war?”

“They do, or ought to know the principal of them, for in every ship in the royal navy they are hung up in the most public place, and beside this, they are ordered to be read to the ship’s company at least once a month.”

“Are they read to soldiers too?”

“The principal of them are. Some offences are punishable with death, and some with lighter penalties.”

“What offences can be punishable with death among soldiers?”

“Any officer or soldier who shall begin, excite, 41cause, or join in any mutiny or sedition, or be present without trying to suppress it, or delay to give information; or shall desert the service,—or hold correspondence with, or give information to the enemy,—or abandon his post, or quit his colours to go in search of plunder; or strike, or offer to strike a superior officer—any officer or soldier doing these things is liable to suffer death, transportation, or such other punishment as by a general court-martial shall be awarded.”

“Well, these offences would be very bad, certainly, for a soldier to commit.”

“There are other crimes also punishable with death; such as when a soldier disobeys lawful commands; or does violence when in foreign parts to any one bringing in provisions; or treacherously makes known the watchword to any one not entitled to receive it; or intentionally occasions false alarms in action or camp; or casts away his arms in presence of an enemy; or sleeps at his post,—for a sentinel on the watch of duty should keep guard over himself. I will tell you something strange about a soldier sleeping at his post. It is said that a sentinel, in troublous times, found lying at full length on the ground, was tried by a court-martial for neglect of duty. The poor fellow was in great danger of being shot. When called upon for his defence, he said, that he was not asleep, but only listening to discover any approaching sound, and that while in 42that attitude he distinctly heard the big bell of St. Paul’s cathedral strike thirteen. This was of course not believed; for, in the first place, it was doubted whether the clock of St. Paul’s could be heard at all at such a distance from London, and in the next, it was not at all likely that it would strike thirteen. Strange, however, as the thing appeared, it turned out to be true, for on inquiry, it was proved beyond a doubt that the clock did on that night, owing to some unaccountable circumstance, strike thirteen!”

“Well, that was a strange thing indeed! The poor soldier would never forget the clock of St. Paul’s.”

“In the articles of war, any soldier who shall intentionally injure his eyes, or maim himself by firing off his piece or otherwise, is liable to the loss of his pay and pension, in addition to other punishment.”

“Do soldiers ever do such things as those?”

“Oh yes! Many instances of the kind have occurred. I remember that when the Turkish Sultan fought against Mehemet Ali, the men required for the army in Egypt so little liked the service, that when sent off to join their corps, some knocked out their teeth, others blinded themselves, and numbers made themselves cripples, so that by far the greater number had to be sent back. In order to put a stop to this course of proceeding his highness, the viceroy, issued an order to the governors 43of the different districts, that every soldier who maimed or disabled himself should, in future, be sent to the galleys for life, and that some relation of his should be chosen to supply his place.”

“But did you ever hear of any man in the British army doing anything of the kind?”

“I have, boys, but listen to me. I knew an Irishman, a daring reckless fellow as ever pulled a trigger, or mounted the breach on a forlorn hope. He served in India; and in wading a swamp, in charging the enemy, or in storming a stockade, never sure was his equal; but what of all that? he was, at the best, but a bad soldier.

“Pat feared no danger. But a soldier’s first duty is obedience, and this duty he could never practise. He was an idle, swearing, swaggering, drunken fellow. It was no use trying to reclaim him, for imprisonment, piquetting, and tying him up to the halberds, produced no reformation.

“Some of the privates in Pat’s regiment were invalided, and were on the point of returning to Old England, and Pat was determined to return too. Another man would have thought the matter over coolly, but Pat had no thought in him; so, splitting a brace of bullets into half a dozen pieces, and ramming them into his pistol, he pulled the trigger, and sent the whole charge through his left hand, that he might be invalided.

“I was close beside him when the regimental surgeon came in to examine his hand. After feeling 44among the shattered bones for some time,—‘I can save the thumb and finger,’ cried the surgeon; and taking out his instruments, in a few minutes he had removed the whole of the shattered hand, all but the thumb and finger.

“You would have thought that, what with the pistol-charge and the surgeon’s knife, Pat’s Irish heart would have been conquered—but no, nothing like it.—‘What do you guess, now, I am thinking about?’ said he to the surgeon. ‘Can’t guess at all,’ replied the surgeon. ‘Why,’ said Pat, coolly, ‘sure enough I was thinking that I should take a pinch of snuff yet, with my odd thumb and finger when I got home to my mother in ould Ireland.’

“Pat got neither prize-money nor promotion by this mad freak, for a court-martial awarded him a thousand lashes. The greater part of his punishment, however, was remitted; he was sent up the country to be a sweeper in a fort, and, for aught I know to the contrary, he may be there still. Pat was a drunkard, and when a soldier gives way to drinking, farewell to his good character and his dreams of promotion! Drunkenness is of itself a degrading vice, and it leads a man on into almost every other. Now, with such characters as Pat, how could the army be kept together without discipline?”

“Very true. Discipline must be kept up in the army, and indeed in the navy too.”

45“I will give you, boys, two striking instances of the effect of discipline on board ship. They are taken from the Supplement to the Saturday Magazine, though I believe they were at first related by that excellent and well-informed officer, Captain Basil Hall, in his interesting ‘Fragments of Voyages and Travels.’ The first instance will show you the great advantage of steadiness and discipline in circumstances of danger. His Majesty’s ship Atalanta, commanded by Captain Hickey, in November 1813, was standing in for Halifax harbour, in one of the thick fogs so frequent on that coast, when it unhappily mistook the signal-guns of another vessel, in the same situation, for those which are fired during such weather from Sambo Rock, as guides to ships entering the harbour; the consequence was, that the Atalanta struck on the rocks, and the first blow carried away the rudder, half the stern-post, together with great part of the false keel, and, it is believed, a portion of the bottom. The ship instantly filled with water, and was buoyed up merely by the empty casks, till the decks and sides were burst and riven asunder by the waves.

“The captain, who throughout continued as composed as if nothing remarkable had occurred, then ordered the guns to be thrown overboard; but before this could be even attempted, the ship fell over so much that the men could not stand. In lowering the boats for the crew to take to, one, the 46jolly-boat, was lost; the ship was now fast falling over on her beam-ends, and directions were given to cut away the masts; but the crash caused the ship to part in two, and a few seconds afterwards she again broke right across, between the fore and main-masts.

“A considerable crowd of men had got into the pinnace (or boat), in hopes that she might float as the ship sunk; but the captain, seeing that the boat was overloaded, desired some twenty men to quit her, and his orders were as promptly obeyed as they were coolly given, so completely was discipline maintained by the character of the commander, and consequent confidence of the crew. The pinnace then floated, but was immediately upset by a sea; the people in her, however, imitating the conduct of their captain, retained their self-possession, and, by great exertions, righted the boat, and got her clear of the wreck, where, at a little distance off, they waited further orders from their captain, who, with forty men, still clung to the remains of the vessel. It was now, however, absolutely necessary to quit it, as the wreck was disappearing rapidly; and in order to enable the boats to contain them, the men, as removed to the pinnace, were laid flat in the bottom like herrings in a cask, while the small boats returned to pick up the rest, which was at last accomplished with great difficulty; but, except the despatches, which had been secured by the captain from the first, 47and a chronometer, everything on board was lost. The pinnace now contained eighty persons, the cutter forty-two, and the gig eighteen, with which load they barely floated, the captain being the very last person to quit the wreck of the ship; and hardly had he got into the boat when the last fragments disappeared: three hearty cheers were given by the gallant crew. The fog continued as dense as ever, and they had no means of knowing in which direction to proceed, and if it had not been for a small compass, which one man had appended to his watch, for a toy, it is most probable that they would not yet have been preserved; at last they were all landed in safety, about twenty miles from Halifax, nearly naked, wet through and shivering, and miserably cramped by the close crowding in the boats. The captain took the worst provided, and most fatigued, round to the harbour in the boats, and the rest, under the officers, marched across the country in three divisions, with as much regularity as if going well-appointed on some regular expedition, though very few had any shoes, and they had to traverse a country only partially cleared; the same evening the whole crew, without one missing, officers, men, and boys assembled at Halifax in as exact order as if their ship had met with no accident.”

“That is a very striking account indeed! Captain Hickey was a noble fellow!”

48“The second story is tragically different from the first, and presents one of the most striking pictures of passive courage ever presented to the contemplation. A captain of a ship of war, whose sole object of ambition was to distinguish himself by capturing an enemy’s vessel, conceived that his surest mode of obtaining the fulfilment of his wishes was by disciplining his crew so strictly, that, in the event of an engagement, he would be sure of victory by his superiority in this respect; but, in order to obtain this, he harassed his crew by such strict regulations, such constant and unremitting exertions, and such excessive severity, as to alienate all affection, and to bring his crew to the verge of insubordination.

“The day at length arrived when his expectations seemed about to be realized. A strange sail appeared in sight, which was soon made out to be an enemy. He summoned his crew, and addressed them in an energetic speech; reminding them of their duty, and of the glory which awaited them; he gave orders to clear for action, and was instantly and scrupulously obeyed. But the hour of retribution was at hand. His crew knew of his ambition; knew it to be the source of their suffering, and determined to be revenged in the fullest manner. Their own spirit forbad them to do anything cowardly or mean, but they stood to their guns, and, when the enemy began the engagement, they kept their places, and refused to 49return a shot; in vain their commander and his officers reproached, exhorted, supplicated; with their arms folded they waited their fate, nor flinched while broadside after broadside struck them down. The battle, or rather the attack, was soon over; the enemy, surprised at the non-resistance, boarded the English vessel, and found the officers and their crew nearly all destroyed. The captain lived long enough to feel the bitter anguish of disappointment, and to be conscious of having been the cause; but he fell at last, before the vessel was taken possession of.”

“That was carrying discipline too far, however. Poor fellows! How those men must have hated the captain!”

“No doubt they did. Had not the captain been blinded by his own selfishness, he would have seen their discontent. Whether in the service or out of it, that man who disregards the feelings of others is not fit to be placed in authority. When men are tried too much, the heart is like a full cup, that a drop will make run over. I was once present when a young officer was very hard on an old soldier, whom he at last called a stupid old fool. The veteran at once lost all command of himself—he stepped from the ranks and told the young officer, that he had served his country for years, while he, his officer, had never smelt gunpowder. The officer had been in the wrong, and was prudently advised to pass by the 50outbreak of the old soldier. Before now, I have seen men on the very eve of mutiny, when a prudent and considerate word on the part of an officer, has broken their proud hearts at once, and brought them to a sense of their duty. Englishmen hate oppression, and it ought never to be practised. When officers temper the discipline of the service with due consideration, and kindly feeling, soldiers, sailors, and marines, are ready to follow them through fire and water.”



Alexander the Great.—Frederick the Great.—Charles XII.—Peter the Great.—Buonaparte.—Duke of Marlborough.—Hastings.—Bannockburn.—Cressy.—Poictiers.—Agincourt.—Bosworth Field.—Blenheim.—Culloden.—Prague.—Quebec.—Battles of Marathon, Thermopylæ, and the siege of Troy.—Preparation for a battle.—The battle array.—General De Zeithen.—Monument of Peter the Great.—Duke of Marlborough.

“Can you tell us, uncle, the names of the greatest warriors who have ever lived, and of the most famous battles which have ever been fought?”

52“Some of them I can tell you, but my memory must be a great deal better than it is to tell you a twentieth part of either the great warriors of the world, or of the great battles they have fought. Great men and great warriors are sometimes very different things. Were mankind estimated according to the lives they have taken all conquerors would be great, but if ranked according to the benefits they have conferred, many of them would be very little. Among the ancients, Alexander the Great stands pre-eminent as conqueror; while, in more modern times, must be reckoned Frederick the Great of Prussia, Charles XII. of Sweden, Peter the Great of Russia, Buonaparte of France, and the Duke of Marlborough and the Duke of Wellington of England.”

“And which are some of the most famous battles?”

“Those that have been most spoken of are, the siege of Troy; the battle fought on the plains of Marathon, and the fight in the defile of Thermopylæ; while, in more modern times, may be reckoned the following among a hundred others; the battle of Hastings, wherein King Harold was slain; Bannockburn, where the Scotch, under the renowned Robert Bruce, beat the English under Edward II.; Cressy, where Edward III. obtained a splendid victory over the French; Poictiers, where the King of France and his son were taken prisoners; Agincourt, wherein Henry V. defeated 53the French. This battle was fought on St. Crispin’s-day, and our great poet, Shakspeare, thus alludes to it:—


‘He that outlives this hour, and comes safe home,
Shall stand on tiptoe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and sees old age,
Will yearly on the Vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, To-morrow is St. Crispin’s-day.’”

“Ay! those lines are in Enfield’s Speaker—almost every boy knows them.”

“The battle of Bosworth Field is much celebrated. King Richard III. there lost his crown and his life. The battle of Blenheim was fought by the great Marlborough and Prince Eugene, against the French and Bavarians. Twelve thousand of the enemy were slain or drowned in the river.

‘Deep groaned the water with the dying sound!
Repeated wounds the redd’ning river dyed,
And the warm purple circled on the tyde.’

“At Culloden in Scotland the Duke of Cumberland gained a complete victory over the Scots. It is said, that the duke’s soldiers practised great cruelty towards the defenceless inhabitants after the battle. If so, it was a disgrace to them. ‘Ready and steady,’ is a good maxim for soldiers and sailors, ready for duty and steady in danger, but cold-hearted cruelty is a black blot on a soldier’s brow. The evils of war are bad enough in 54themselves. He is no true-hearted soldier who can injure the defenceless, whatever be the nation to which he belongs. Mercy is a Godlike attribute; practice it, boys, whenever it is in your power.”

“Those cruel soldiers were not worthy the name of Englishmen.”

“At the battle of Prague the King of Prussia defeated the Austrians, but the brave Marshal Schwerin, a Prussian general, there lost his life. At Minden Prince Ferdinand beat the French, with great slaughter.”

“Where is Minden?”

“In Germany. At Quebec the celebrated Wolfe was killed, dying in the moment of victory. ‘They run! they run!’ said an officer who supported the dying warrior. ‘Who run?’ inquired Wolfe eagerly. ‘The French!’ replied the lieutenant. ‘Then,’ said Wolfe, ‘I die happy!’”

“How sad to die just as he had got the victory!”

“The storming of Seringapatam, and the battle of Marengo, were two famous engagements; and the battles in Spain were very numerous. Among them were those of Corunna, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajos, Salamanca, Vittoria, and St. Sebastian. After all these came the battle of battles, Waterloo, won by the conqueror of conquerors, Wellington.”

“What a number of battles you have mentioned!”

“Remember, boys, I am an old soldier, and am 55therefore at home in speaking of them. From time immemorial there have been battles, and, so long as men are what they are, there will be; but for all that it becomes us to encourage a spirit of peace and good-will to all men. It is only when the oppressed are to be protected, when injuries are to be redressed and rights defended, that the sword ought ever to be drawn from its scabbard, nor even then if those ends can be obtained by more peaceable means. In an unworthy cause battle becomes murder, and victory a polluted and unholy thing.

“As the battle of Marathon is so often alluded to in the pages of history, I will just tell you, in a few words, the particulars of the fight. Marathon was a village of Attica, about ten miles from Athens, in Greece; and Miltiades, an Athenian general, with ten thousand men, though some say twenty-thousand, defeated, in the adjacent plain, the Persian army, under Datis, of one hundred thousand infantry, and ten thousand horse. By this victory the terror of the Persian power was dispelled, and the enthusiastic valour of the Greeks called forth.”

“How long is it since the battle of Marathon?”

“More than two thousand years. The Grecian orators, whenever they wanted to excite their countrymen to warlike deeds, always reminded them of what ten thousand Athenians achieved 56on the plains of Marathon. The famous siege of Troy took place almost a thousand years before then.”

“Why, then it is three thousand years since the siege of Troy?”

“It is, boys. You know, I dare say, that Homer composed two poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, on the subject; but poets are not often the most correct historians. After a siege of ten years, the Greeks took Troy from the Trojans, it is supposed by stratagem, and then burnt it to the ground.”

“Ay! Did they not send a wooden horse into the place?”

“So the tale goes. It is said, that the Greeks caused a large wooden horse to be made, and hid in it a number of their bravest warriors. They then pretended to give up the siege. At night, after the wooden horse had been taken into the city, the inclosed warriors rushed out, and opened the gates to their companions.”

“But do you not think the tale is true?”

“Indeed I do not. Now we are speaking of ancient battles, I will mention that of Thermopylæ. Thermopylæ was a narrow defile, leading from Thessaly into some Grecian districts; it was, indeed, looked on as the gate of Greece. Here Leonidas, the Spartan general, with a small band of devoted warriors, repulsed the army of Xerxes, King of Persia, consisting, say some, of three million 57men. Xerxes was amazed and confounded; but, having been informed of another pass over the mountains, he availed himself of it. Leonidas being attacked in the rear by twenty-four thousand men, and in front by the main body of Persians, could no longer resist his overwhelming adversary, but he and every man with him, scorning to surrender, fought till they died.”

“Battles must be very different now, to what they used to be.”

“They are indeed. Gunpowder has altogether changed military tactics. Strength and courage formerly obtained victories, but now, a knowledge of tactics will often enable a small body of men to overcome a larger one. A battle should never be fought when it can be avoided. It is said to be the last resource of a good general. If skill and stratagem can attain an object, fighting is altogether out of the question. When, however, a battle becomes inevitable, the first thing is to take advantage of the ground, for oftentimes the possession of a hill, a thicket, a village, or of a single building, is of great consequence. If you had been at Waterloo, and seen what efforts were made to possess the house called Hougomont, I should have no occasion to say a word on this point.”

“But why is a hill, or a thicket, or a house, of so much consequence?”

“Because these things not only protect troops, but enable them to annoy their enemies by preventing 58them from forming, and picking off their officers. It is a great advantage, also, in a battle, to have the wind and sun in your favour; to meet an enemy with the wind and dust against you, and the sun in your eyes, is very trying. The artillery should be distributed with great care, for it forms, in most cases, the principal strength of an army; and the horse and foot should be posted on ground the fittest for their operations.”

“But, how can an army fire cannon without killing their own soldiers, for they must at times be mingled together with the enemy?”

“In such a case the artillery moves its position, and only plays when it can do so on the enemy alone. The battle array generally consists of three lines, the front, the rear, and the reserve. An attacking army is generally divided into three parts, the main body, and the two wings. And the battle array is formed by dividing each of these into three lines, the front, the rear, and the reserve; the artillery is divided along the front of the first line, and the treasure, provision, and baggage, are removed to a safe place before the engagement.”

“Ay! It must be very necessary to take care of them.”

“Prussia has long been a warlike country; for Frederick the Great called forth the military energies of his people. In Prussia, every able-bodied man of the kingdom is required to perform 59a limited service in the army. At twenty, he enters the regular army for three years, unless favoured by some regulation, which limits the term to one year. From twenty-three to twenty-five he belongs to the war reserve, when he enters the first ban of the landwehr, and continues to his thirty-second year, after which he serves another seven years in the second ban of the landwehr. After the fortieth year, he ranks till the fiftieth in the landsturm, or levée en masse of the whole population.”

“If every one in Prussia is compelled to be a soldier, why, then, Old England for ever!”

“Frederick the Great was distinguished for great talents as a warrior, a statesman, and a man of science and literature. His enemies were numerous, his exploits brilliant, and his tactics and policy eminently successful. Surrounded on all sides by his foes, he hurried from one part of his dominions to another with equal celerity, courage, prudence, and perseverance, and though sorely tried, overcame all his difficulties, and gained the name of Frederick the Great.”

“Why, he was another Buonaparte!”

“Before the battle of Rosbach, which led to the most celebrated of all the King of Prussia’s victories, Frederick addressed his little army, not amounting to more than twenty-five thousand men, in nearly the following words:—‘My brave soldiers, the hour is come in which all that is, and 60all that ought to be dear to us, depends upon the swords that are now drawn for the battle. Time permits me to say but little, nor is there occasion to say much. You know that there is no labour, no hunger, no cold, no watching, no danger, that I have not shared with you hitherto; and you now see me ready to lay down my life with you, and for you. All I ask, is the same pledge of fidelity and affection that I give. Acquit yourselves like men, and put your confidence in God.’

“The effect of this speech was indescribable. The soldiers answered it by an universal shout, and their looks and demeanour became animated to a sort of heroic frenzy.

“Frederick led on his troops in person, exposed to the hottest of the fire. The enemy, for a few moments, made a gallant resistance, but overwhelmed by the headlong intrepidity of the Prussians, they, at length, gave way in every part, and fled in the utmost disorder. Night alone saved from total destruction the scattered remains of an army which, in the morning, was double the number of the conquerors.”

“A speech from a general to his army seems to do a great deal towards getting a victory.”

“Frederick was an excellent general, and the soul of perseverance. So severe was the duty in some of his regiments of cavalry, that war was said to be a mitigation rather than an addition to their hardships. Frederick had a very skilful 61general, of the name of De Zeithen, whom he had somewhat neglected in a time of peace. When war broke out, he was anxious to avail himself of his military talents and unequalled courage; but De Zeithen had too keen a remembrance of the past neglect to proffer his services. After trying all other methods in vain, to persuade him to his wishes, Frederick at last said, he knew that his old and faithful general, De Zeithen, would never see his King in difficulty, and deny him his assistance. De Zeithen’s proud heart was melted by this appeal of his sovereign, and, falling on his knees, with tears rolling down his cheeks, he devoted his sword while he had life to the service of his King.”

“Old General Zeithen was won over then. Frederick knew the way to the old man’s heart.”

“When Frederick took the field against his enemies, in his last war, he was in his sixty-seventh year. ‘We have all grown old,’ said he to his assembled officers, ‘in the career of arms, and have shared together the glories and the fatigues of our former wars. You are, doubtless, as unwilling as myself to shed blood, but new dangers, with which the empire and my territories are alike menaced, oblige me to take the most efficacious measures to dissipate the threatening storm. I cannot, therefore, avoid calling you once more to defend your country. It will give me the most lively satisfaction when I shall have to recompense you for your 62fresh services. I shall not appear during the campaign with a luxurious camp equipage; you know I have never cared for such a thing; my actual infirmities will, however, prevent my making the campaign as I should have done during the vigour of my life. I shall, in marches, make use of a carriage, but on a day of battle you may be sure of seeing me on horseback among you as formerly.’”

“The old King was ready to the last to play the general.”

“Charles XII. of Sweden delighted in war, and never did warrior surpass him in daring; but he was reckless almost to insanity. At the battle of Narva, with only twenty thousand men, he defeated the Czar, Peter the Great, who had, it is said, one hundred thousand; but at the battle of Pultowa in Russia, Peter the Great overcame him, when he fled for safety to the dominions of the Turk. He died in the trenches of Frederickshall in Norway, some say by a cannon shot, but others say by the pistol of one of his own soldiers.

‘His fall was destined to a distant strand,
A petty fortress, and a dubious hand:
He left the name at which the world grew pale
To point a moral, or adorn a tale.’”

“Great as Charles thought himself in the field, Peter the Great was too much for him at last.”

“Peter the Great of Russia was a most extraordinary man, and a warrior of no common order. 63He came over to England and worked in the dockyard at Deptford as a shipwright, to improve himself in the building of ships for his navy; he learned the trade of a smith, and forged a bar of iron at Olaneta in Russia, which weighed a hundred and twenty pounds. What think you, boys, of a mighty monarch working as a blacksmith, and making his nobles blow the bellows for him?”

“There are very few monarchs that would do that.”

“Peter the Great won many battles, but the victory of Pultowa over his rival in arms, Charles XII. of Sweden, ruined the latter. Peter died in the fifty-third year of his age, and the great monument at Petersburgh, erected to his memory, is a prodigious work of art. The pedestal is a single stone of red granite, weighing more than fourteen hundred tons. Peter is represented on horseback, crowned with laurel, and sitting on a housing of bear-skin. The horse, a fiery courser, stands on his hind feet, as if resolved to arrive at the pinnacle of the rock.”

“It must be a grand monument, but how the Russians could contrive to take that big stone to the place where it was to be set up, is a puzzle.”

“The great Duke of Marlborough was a mighty and successful warrior. In his grand battle at Blenheim, on the Danube, besides destroying twelve thousand French and Bavarians he took thirteen thousand prisoners, and Marshall Tallard among 64them. It was for this exploit that Blenheim House, a princely mansion near Oxford, was given to him, and his heirs. Great as the duke was in military fame, he at last became childish, and wept when beaten at chess, saying, ‘Every one can beat me now?’ You see, boys, how little it becomes us to be proud, for he who is great to-day may be little, indeed, to-morrow. While I tell you about soldiers and sailors, and of the reputation that many of them have attained, remember, that to be a great warrior unennobled by proper motives, is only to be a great destroyer. Aim at uprightness, usefulness, patriotism, loyalty, honour, and humanity, and you will then be true friends to your country.”



Uniforms.—Old Admirals in the Naval Gallery at Greenwich.—Admiral Forbes and the Duke of Bedford.—Dress of an admiral of the fleet.—Captains and commanders.—Full dress of the officers of the life-guards.—Dragoon-guards.—Light dragoons.—Lancers.—Hussars.—King George the Fourth and the life-guardsman.—Full dress of the officers of the foot-guards.—Infantry of the line.—Light infantry.—Fusiliers.—Highlanders.—Riflemen.—Sir Samuel Hood and the new-made boatswain.

“I have said nothing of the uniforms worn by soldiers and sailors, and will now enter a little on the subject. If you were to see the paintings of the hearty old admirals in the Naval Gallery of 66Greenwich Hospital, they would surprise you. Some of these tough old tars look as though they would not alter a brass button of their coats, if it affected the honour of old England, to prevent the broadside of an enemy from sending them to the bottom of the ocean. Their dresses are so odd and so different one from another that you would hardly think they were all admirals. Some have long curled wigs on; some have red coats, some blue, and some brown; some are clad in armour; some in buff leathern jerkins; some in loose robes, and others in red velvet gowns with ermine capes. In old times there was no fixed uniform for the navy; and, besides, some of these admirals are painted as they appeared on state occasions. In the reign of George II. some of these old heroes, talking over the subject of dress at one of their clubs, came to a resolution ‘That a uniform dress is useful and necessary for commissioned officers, agreeably to the practice of other nations.’ No sooner was this resolution passed, than a committee appointed Admiral Forbes to wait on the Duke of Bedford, who was then the First Lord of the Admiralty.”

“And did he go to the duke?”

“He did. He was shown into a room surrounded with dresses, and the duke asked him which of them he thought the most suitable? ‘Oh!’ said he, ‘the dress should be either red and blue, or blue and red, for these are the national 67colours.’ ‘That may be,’ replied his Grace, ‘but the King has settled the matter differently. He saw my duchess riding in the park the other day, in a habit of blue faced with white; it took his fancy, and he has ordered that it shall become the uniform of the royal navy.’ This uniform of blue and white was established in the year 1748, and remained unaltered, as to colour, until a few years ago, when King William IV. changed the white facing to a red one. At the present time we have our national colours blue and red.”

“But is there no lace about an admiral’s uniform?”

“Oh, yes. In 1812 the full dress of the admiral of the fleet was a coat of blue cloth, with white cloth lapelles laced, and cuffs, with five laces round the cuffs. The admirals the same, with only four laces on the cuffs. The vice-admirals, with only three laces on the cuffs. The rear-admiral, with two laces on the cuffs. The captain to the admiral of the fleet wore the undress or frock-uniform of rear-admirals. Captains and commanders wore uniforms of the same pattern. Lieutenants wore a uniform of the same pattern as captains, but without lace, and masters’-mates and midshipmen dressed as they did before. The officers wore epaulettes, according to their ranks.”

“Epaulettes! What, do officers in the navy wear epaulettes?”

“Yes! Epaulettes in the navy are of gold 68lace; and officers in the army or navy who disgrace their arms are liable to have their epaulettes torn from their shoulders. According to an order of the Admiralty, in 1812, captains above three years post have two epaulettes, with a silver crown over a silver anchor; and post-captains under three years, have two, with a silver anchor without the crown. Commanders have two plain epaulettes; lieutenants, one; rear-admirals, two, with a star on the strap of each; vice-admirals, two stars, and admirals three stars. Marines used to wear two silver epaulettes, but, for good conduct, they are now called royal, and allowed to wear gold epaulettes, according to the rank they have acquired.”

“Now, please to give us the uniform of soldiers; for that is very striking.”

“If I were jesting, boys, I should say, the most striking part of a soldier is his sword, but in gravely describing things as they are, I must say that his dress is the most conspicuous thing about him. Were soldiers clad in common clothes their bravery would suffer as much as their appearance in our estimation.”

“Oh! it would never do for soldiers to dress in common clothes; we should not know that they were soldiers.”

“Red and blue are the prevailing colours in the army. You will, perhaps, like to know something about the full dress of the officers; the dress of the men is, of course, of an inferior quality.”

69“Yes. The dress of the officers, if you please. Some officers that we have seen have cut a very grand appearance.”

“Passing by, for the present, the dress of general officers, staff officers, the personal staff attached to general officers, the staff of garrisons, the Royal Military College, the Royal Military Asylum, the Cavalry Depôt, garrison of Chatham, and the civil departments, I will come at once to the dress of officers of regiments of cavalry. These are, as I have told you, the life-guards, the royal regiment of horse-guards, the dragoon-guards, and heavy dragoons, the light dragoons, the lancers and the hussars. As changes are often introduced in the dress of officers, it is possible that my account may not in every particular be correct, but I will be as exact as I can.”

“Now, then, for the dress of the life-guards.”

“The officers of the life-guards, when in full dress, wear a scarlet coat, single-breasted, which has a blue velvet Prussian collar, embroidered, and a bear-skin cap, fourteen inches deep in front, with white swan feathers. So you see that British officers may show the white feather without being suspected of cowardice. Their pantaloons are of white leather; their swords have half-basket steel-pierced hilts, with steel scabbards, and crimson and gold sword-knots, and their gloves are white leather gauntlets. When in their undress, they wear blue pantaloons, and a 70blue cloth forage-cap. The shabraque, or horse-cloth, of the life-guards is blue, trimmed with lace and embroidered. An officer’s uniform is often of great value; but though to lose his full-dress would be a misfortune, to be stript of his honour would be a greater loss. Directly after the battle of Waterloo his royal highness the Prince of Wales, the Prince Regent, afterward George IV. declared himself colonel-in-chief of the household cavalry brigade. This was done as a mark of attention to the first and second regiments of life-guards, and the royal horse-guards (blue), who had conducted themselves very bravely in the battle. When the Prince Regent became King he still held the appointment, and William IV. afterwards followed his example.

“The life-guards must appear grand enough mounted on their fine horses. Now for the horse-guards, for they come next.”

“The life-guards do, as you say, appear grand, but there is many a foot-soldier with his coarse, grey great-coat, and knapsack on his back, ay, and many a common sailor, in his plain blue jacket, that carries as brave a heart in his bosom as a life-guardsman. In the royal regiment of horse-guards the officers wear a blue coat with embroidered scarlet collar. Many parts of their dress resemble that of the life-guards, but their feathers are red, and their waist-belt white silk; their horse-furniture is scarlet with gold-lace and embroidery.”

71“How handsome their horses must look in embroidery, scarlet, and gold lace!”

“The officers of the dragoon-guards and heavy dragoons wear a scarlet coat with collar, cuffs, and turn-backs of regimental facings, and embroidered skirt-ornaments, and helmets of gilt-metal, with bear-skin crest. Their trousers are blue, and gold lace. Their horse-furniture is a high-mounting saddle, black sheep-skin shabraque edged with scarlet cloth, with dress housing of blue cloth and gold lace, a bear-skin flounce, and white web collar.”

“Gilt helmets! How they must glitter in the sun!”

“They do. A double-breasted scarlet jacket, with gold basket braid, is worn by the officers of the light dragoons, if it be not already changed for a blue one. Their chaco, or cap, is black beaver, with white drooping cock-tail feathers, trousers dark blue and gold lace, girdle and waist-belt gold lace. Their horse-furniture is embroidered blue cloth.”

“Why are dragoons called light and heavy?”

“The heavy dragoons are larger men, and have heavier and stronger horses. Light troops are the most nimble, and heavy the most powerful. The lancers, like the light dragoons, wear a double-breasted scarlet jacket; the cuff and collar are blue, and the button-holes embroidered; the cap-plume is a black cockade, their waist-belt and pouch-belt are of gold lace, and the pouch-box scarlet 72leather; their shabraque is of blue cloth embroidered.”

“The lancers wear scarlet jackets, but the life-guards wear scarlet coats; we remember that.”

“The clothing of Prince Albert’s hussars, I believe, is, blue dress jacket, pelisse all blue, with fur cuffs and collars; trousers, crimson with yellow stripes; undress jackets, blue; the hurby, or fur-cap, of seal-skin; the horse covered with a crimson shabraque, ornamented with German silver. On arrival of Prince Albert in England a squadron of the hussars escorted him from Canterbury to Sittingbourne. The band played on that occasion in front of the fountain at Canterbury, when his royal highness presented them with ten pounds. From the circumstance of this being the first regiment which received him on the English shores, and of his royal highness being struck with their fine appearance, Prince Albert, it is thought, selected it as his own.”

“Would it not be better if soldiers were clad in armour, as the knights used to be in old times. Nothing then could hurt them, unless it was a cannon ball?”

“It has been discovered that inside armour is better than outside. The courage of the heart is a stronger defence than the breastplate, and the skill and strength of the arm affords more security than a helmet of iron. Philip de Comines tells us of a number of armed Italian knights, who at the 73battle of Fournoue, being overthrown, were unable to rise on account of the weight of their armour; they were therefore taken prisoners, but they could not be killed until they were broken up like huge lobsters, with wood-cutters’ axes, by the servants and followers of the army.”

“Dreadful! dreadful!”

“James I. when speaking of armour, said, ‘that it not only protected the wearer from injury but also prevented him from doing injury to others.’ The following anecdote is told of George IV. After the battle of Waterloo, it was proposed to make some change in the dress of the life-guards. The King ordered one of the soldiers to be sent for, who was said to have slain in single combat six or seven French cuirassiers. He was asked a variety of questions, that his opinion might be obtained as to what kind of defence or dress was best for a soldier; but the King saw, by his answers, that he was overawed, and biassed in his opinion by the presence of the King, and also of his own officers, for he assented to everything. At last the King said to him, ‘Well, if you were going to have such another day’s work as you had at Waterloo, how would you like to be dressed?’ ‘Why, please your Majesty, in that case, I had rather be in my shirt-sleeves.’”

“It seems, that armour would never do for soldiers. What is the full uniform of the infantry officers?”

74“I have told you so much of the dress of the cavalry that I can only say very little of the infantry. The officers of the foot-guards wear a scarlet coat, with blue Prussian collar embroidered with gold, blue trousers, gold epaulettes, and bear-skin cap. The infantry of the line wear scarlet coatees, trousers of Oxford-mixture cloth, or white linen, with black beaver caps and white feather; and the light-infantry are dressed much the same, but their forage-cap is of dark green cloth, with an embroidered bugle in front.”

“Ay! the bugle in front of the cap is just right for the light infantry.”

“The light infantry are an active set of fellows, here, there, and everywhere at the shortest intervals of time. The fusiliers’ dress differs little from that of the infantry of the line, but their cap is bear-skin, with a white hackle feather. The Highland regiments wear a scarlet jacket, belted plaid, kilt, shoes and buckles, with a cocked bonnet, carrying six black ostrich feathers.”

“The dress of the Highlander is the oddest of all!”

“The Highlanders are famous with the broadsword. Perhaps you may remember Sir Walter Scott’s description of the fight between Fitz James and Roderick Dhu.”

“Ill fared it then with Roderick Dhu,
That on the field his targe he threw,
75Whose brazen studs and tough bull-hide
Had death so often dashed aside;
For trained abroad his arms to wield,
Fitz James’s blade was sword and shield;
He practised every pass and ward,
To thrust, to strike, to feint, to guard;
While, less expert, though stronger far,
The Gael maintained unequal war.
Three times in closing strife they stood,
And thrice the Saxon sword drank blood;
No stinted draught, no scanty tide,
The gushing flood the tartans dyed.
Fierce Roderick felt the fatal drain,
And showered his blows like wintry rain;
And as firm rock, or castle roof,
Against the winter shower is proof,
The foe, invulnerable, still
Foiled his wild rage by steady skill;
Till at advantage ta’en, his brand
Forced Roderick’s weapon from his hand,
And, backwards borne upon the lea,
Brought the proud chieftain to his knee.”

“What a desperate battle it must have been! Have you told us all about uniforms?”

“Why, I think that you have had quite enough of dress, I will, therefore, only say, that the rifle regiments wear green jackets and trousers, with a black beaver cap. The duty of the rifle-corps is different from that of other soldiers, for they hide themselves behind the trees, or lie along on the ground, or among the bushes, so as to be able to pick off the officers of the enemy with their rifles. Their dress is green, that they may not be spied 76out so easily. A rifleman will fire off his piece in almost any attitude, and bring down his enemy.”

“What, do they pick off the officers one by one, just as a sportsman does his birds?”

“They do, boys! Many practices in war will hardly do to dwell upon. I have not said so much about the uniform of sailors as of the uniform of soldiers; but I will give you a droll account of the scrape that a boatswain once got into on account of his love of finery. I think the account is given by Captain Hall, but I am not certain.”

“Let us hear it! Let us hear it!”

“I remember once, on the beach of Madras, witnessing an amusing scene between Sir Samuel 77Hood, then commander-in-chief in India, and the newly-promoted boatswain of a sloop-of-war, belonging to the squadron. The admiral, who was one of the bravest, and kindest, and truest-hearted seamen that ever trod a ship’s decks, was a sworn foe to all trickery in dress-work. The eye of the veteran officer was directed earnestly towards the yeast of waves, which, in immense double rows of surf, fringe and guard the whole of that flat shore. He felt more anxious than usual about the fate of this particular boat, from having ordered on shore the person alluded to, with whom he wished to have some conversation previously to their parting company. This boatswain was a young man, who had been for some years a follower of the admiral, in different ships, and to whom he had just given a warrant. The poor fellow, unexpectedly promoted from before the mast to the rank of an officer, was trigged up in his newly bought but marvellously ill-cut uniform, shining like a dollar, and making its wearer, who, for the first time in his life, had put on a long coat, feel not a little awkward.

“As soon as the boat was partly driven up the beach by the surf, and partly dragged beyond the dash of the breakers by the crowd on shore, this happiest of warrant-officers leaped out on the sand, and seeing the admiral above him, standing on the crest of the natural glacis, which lines the shore, he took off his hat, smoothed down the hair on his 78forehead, sailor-fashion, and stood uncovered, in spite of the roasting sun flaming in the zenith.

“The admiral, of course, made a motion with his hand for the boatswain to put his hat on, but the other, not perceiving the signal, stood stock still.

“‘I say, put on your hat!’ called the commander-in-chief, in a tone which made the newly-created warrant start. In his agitation he shook a bunch of well trimmed ringlets a little on one side, and betrayed, to the flashing eyes of the admiral, a pair of small, round, silver ear-rings, the parting gift, doubtless, of some favoured and favouring ‘Poll’ or ‘Bess,’ of dear, old blackguard Point Beach, the very ninth heaven of all lighthearted sailors. Be this as it may, the admiral, first stepping on one side, and then holding his head forward, as if to re-establish the doubting evidence of his horrified senses, and forcibly keeping down the astonished seaman’s hat with his hand, roared out,

“‘Who are you?’

“‘John Marline, sir!’ replied the bewildered boatswain, beginning to suspect the scrape he had got himself into.

“‘Oh!’ cried the flag-officer, with a scornful laugh. ‘Oh! I beg your pardon; I took you for a Portuguese.’

“‘No, sir!’ instinctively faltered out the other, seeing the admiral expected some reply.

79“‘No? Then if you are not a foreigner, why do you hoist false colours? What business has an English sailor with these trumpery machines in his ears?’

“‘I don’t know, sir,’ said poor Marline. ‘I put them in only this morning, when I rigged myself in my new togs, to answer the signal on shore.’

“‘Then,’ said Sir Samuel, softened by the contrite look of his old shipmate, and having got rid of the greater portion of his bile by the first explosion, ‘you will now proceed to unrig yourself of this top hamper as fast as you can; pitch them into the surf, if you like, but never, as you respect the warrant in your pocket, let me see you in that disguise again.’”



Weapons of war.—Artillery.—Train of artillery.—Chevaux-de-frise.—Bows and arrows.—The old archer.—The musket.—The bayonet.—Captain Von Selmnitz.—Broad-swords.—Highlanders.—Artillery and stores sent to Spain.—James II. of Scotland.—Buonaparte and Colonel Evain.—Wooden cannon.—Brass twenty-four-pounder from the wreck of the Royal George.—The brass sixty-eight-pounder in the Tower, called the ‘Great Harry,’ a beautiful mortar.—The new destructive power.

“Can you tell us something about the artillery, uncle? There must be a great many pieces of cannon used in an army?”

“There are; and if you never know more about 81them than the information you get from me, so much the better; better to hear of them than to be among them. I will say a little about the weapons of war generally, but can only glance at the subject: it would take me a week to tell you everything, if I had it all at the tip of my tongue.”

“Well, so that your account is not too short, we must be satisfied.”

“As the world turns round, the weapons in use among soldiers and sailors and the customs of warfare change.

“When the twang of the bow is heard no more,
Then muskets rattle and cannons roar.

I need not dwell on the clubs, the spears, the bills, and battle-axes of former times; the slings, the bows and arrows, the cross-bows and the maces, that were accustomed to deal death around, are unknown to modern warfare, nor are the scythe-armed chariot, the battering-ram, the balista, or the catapulta, now ever used in the sea or land service of Old England.”

“Ay! gunpowder has put them all aside.”

“Artillery does not mean cannon only, but all the huge weapons, apparatus, and stores used in the field, or in garrisons and sieges. A train of artillery comprehends cannon, mortars, and howitzers of all kinds, properly mounted; with horses, carriages, mortar-beds, block-carriages, ammunition-waggons, stores, shells, shot, bullets, powder, and cartridges.”

82“What a deal of room a train of artillery must take up!”

“Indeed it does, for beside what I have told you, it includes artificers’ tools, intrenching tools, and miners’ tools, with forges, capstans and gins, pontoons, pontoon-carriages, tumbrels, chevaux-de-frise, palisades, drag-ropes, platforms, harness, flints, powder-measures, fuze-engines, and tents, to say nothing of a hundred other things that I cannot remember.”

“What is meant by chevaux-de-frise?”

“Chevaux-de-frise are pieces of timber, about ten or a dozen feet long, stuck all over with wooden pins, six feet long, shod with iron. They are used to stop up a breach, or a pass, or to secure a camp, and are sometimes rolled down on the enemy in an assault. The sword, the musket, the pike, and the bayonet, the cannon, the howitzer, and the mortar, with granades, rockets, and shells, are the principal weapons of our present wars. There are some who still entertain the opinion that bows and arrows in English hands have been more destructive than muskets bristling with bayonets, and this seems to me to be very like the truth. The difference between the long-bow and the cross-bow, is this: the long-bow is only a bow and string, and its force depends on the power of the arm that draws it. The cross-bow, is a bow fastened on a stock, so that when it is once drawn ready to be let off, it has 83the same power whether let off by a strong man or a weak one.”

“Why, boys shoot with bows and arrows.”

“They do, but they must be men to draw an arrow to the head on the string of the long-bow of old times. Topham, one of the strongest men ever known, laughed to scorn an old archer, who boasted that he could draw a cloth-yard arrow to the head on the long-bow. Topham tried to do this, but could only half draw it, while the old archer, taking up the bow, performed the feat adroitly. But a word as to the power of the bow. A military man of experience says, ‘The accuracy and range of the arrow fully equalled the 84present most perfect practice of the rifle, and it greatly exceeded it with respect to rapidity of discharge.’ In the early part of the reign of Henry VIII. it was still the opprobrium of an archer if he shot a single shaft during a battle without killing or disabling his enemy. Some have compared this with Marshal Saxe’s calculations upon the efficacy of the musket. Marshal Saxe estimated that in no case did more than one ball in eighty-five take effect, and that at the battle of Tournay, not more than one half in four hundred was calculated to have killed an enemy; it must be left to military men to say whether the lead ‘shot from the deadly level of a gun,’ has been made more deadly since the tactics of Marshal Saxe. The disuse of the long-bow is hardly to be accounted for. An archer was deemed disqualified for service if he could not fire twelve unerring shafts in one minute. This, if we take the accuracy of their fire, for we must be allowed the term, into consideration, will make the practice of musketry very inferior.”

“Do you think bows and arrows will ever be used again by soldiers?”

“I think not, for the archer is not so well provided for close fighting as he who carries a musket: the ball on the inside, and the bayonet on the out, render the musket a most formidable weapon.”

“How dreadful it must be to charge with the 85bayonet! but, indeed, the sword must be dreadful too.”

“As I have undertaken to answer your questions, and to tell you about war and warlike weapons, I suppose that you must know all that I happen to remember. About a dozen years ago Captain Von Selmnitz projected a new mode of employing the bayonet, and afterwards paid such attention to it that it became very popular; and many officers in the service of other countries resorted to Dresden to study under him. It was thought by many, that under this system a single foot soldier, of common strength and of moderately good eye and limb, would be able to resist two horsemen. It was the dexterous use made of the cudgel among the common people in Brittany and Normandy, that led Selmnitz to reflect on the matter, and to apply it to the bayonet.”

“Which is the worst, the bayonet or the sword?”

“There is a difference of opinion respecting swords and bayonets as weapons of destruction, or, in other words, between the power of infantry armed with swords, and infantry armed with muskets and bayonets. An officer describes the bayonet as a rickety, zigzag, unhandy instrument, and says that, ‘at Preston-Pans two thousand highlanders, armed only with broad-swords and targets, overthrew, at the very first onset, nearly two thousand British infantry, and completed their defeat in about a quarter of 86an hour. The same was the case at Falkirk, and even at Culloden: every point of the line that the highlanders reached in their charge was completely overthrown! The destruction made by musketry is certainly not so great as we might expect from so formidable a weapon.’”

“One would think that almost every bullet would kill a man.”

“That is not the case by a great deal, as you shall hear. The same officer goes on to reason the matter thus: ‘Supposing that twenty thousand French were killed and wounded at Waterloo, and allowing five thousand of these to have fallen by the fire of the artillery and the sabres of the cavalry, it leaves fifteen thousand to the share of the infantry; and counting the latter at thirty thousand only, though the number present was certainly greater, it required an entire day’s hard fighting before the thirty thousand had disabled fifteen thousand adversaries; that is, all the exertions of two men, during an entire day, only brought down one enemy! We must not here think of two fencers, who by equal skill and courage foil each other’s exertions. There is no such thing as parrying a musket-ball when properly aimed, nor is there any defensive power in modern armies beyond what they derive from their offensive strength; for with modern arms all fighting is purely offensive. The above estimate of the efficiency of modern tactics may, indeed, be considered as highly 87overrated, because it applies only to the most sanguinary battles fought during the war, such as that of Marengo, Talavera, Boradino, and others, but by no means to actions of minor note: at Rolica only a few hundred French were put hors-de-combat, and at Vimiera sixteen thousand British only killed and wounded two thousand French, in what was called a smart action.’

“It is, however, maintained by others, to be impossible for the sword to contend generally with success against the musket and bayonet, for that the latter, to say nothing of the advantage of the fire, are more than a match for the sword in themselves; but this is a subject that we had better leave. My own opinion is, from what I have seen, that soldiers armed with swords alone would on very few occasions wait the issue of a charge of fixed bayonets. May the sword never be drawn in a bad cause, and the bayonet never be used as an instrument of oppression.”

“Which are the strongest, cavalry or infantry?”

“That depends much on circumstances. I remember no instance at the battle of Waterloo of the French cuirassiers—certainly some of the bravest and best cavalry in the world—breaking the British squares, though cavalry may, in other instances, have had the advantage.”

“Why, there must be no end to the guns and swords required by an army, hundreds of thousands must be wanted.”

88“Within one year from the beginning of the war in Spain against the French, England sent over to the Spanish armies, money to the amount of two million pounds; a hundred and fifty pieces of field-artillery, forty-two thousand rounds of ammunition, two hundred thousand muskets, sixty-one thousand swords, seventy-nine thousand pikes, twenty-three million ball-cartridges, six million loaded balls, fifteen thousand barrels of gunpowder, ninety-two thousand suits of clothing, three hundred and fifty six thousand sets of accoutrements and pouches, three hundred and ten thousand pairs of shoes, forty tents, two hundred and fifty thousand yards of cloth, ten thousand sets of camp-equipage, a hundred and eighteen thousand yards of linen, fifty thousand great coats, fifty thousand canteens, fifty thousand havresacs, and a great variety of other stores.”

“If England sent two hundred thousand muskets over to Spain and thousands of barrels of gunpowder, what a many muskets must have been used in all! and what a deal of powder!”

“From 1803 to 1816 England put in circulation more than three million muskets, without reckoning those sent out of the country on private accounts. Eighty thousand barrels of gunpowder were used up every year; but after 1812, to the conclusion of peace, more than three times this quantity of powder was used. If you want to see field-pieces and stores, you must go to Woolwich, 89and there you will see enough. Cannon are cast solid, and bored out after. James II. of Scotland, in the year 1460, led on an army to besiege Roxburgh, and being more curious than wise, he stood near the gunners, when a cannon, not properly made, burst and broke his thigh-bone—he died immediately.”

“Ay! that was a sad accident; but he should have kept at a greater distance. It must take a long time to make a cannon.”

“I will tell you in how short a time Buonaparte provided himself with cannon, after losing all that he had taken with him to the campaign in Russia, for I have an account of it here in print, and will read it:—‘At the period of the disastrous campaign of Moscow Colonel Evain was at Paris, where he had been directed to remain, in order to organize and forward the immense supplies of artillery and ordnance stores, that were required for the grand army.’ The celebrated 29th bulletin, from Smorgonj, had scarcely reached Paris, and had been made public but a few hours, when a messenger from the Tuileries came to Colonel Evain’s officer, and, to his utter surprise, informed him the Emperor had just arrived, and forthwith demanded his presence at the Tuileries. Though thunderstruck at the unexpected intelligence, which at once demonstrated the terrible misfortunes of the French army, Evain hastened to the palace, and was instantly ushered into the presence of his imperial master, 90whom he found in his travelling dress, pale, fatigued, with a beard of several days’ growth, and in an evident state of great mental suffering. He had scarcely time to make his bow or utter a word, ere Napoleon advanced towards him, and abruptly exclaimed, ‘Well, Evain! you have read my 29th bulletin; it does not tell the worst; it would have been impossible to have alarmed France. We have not a gun or a caisson remaining! But our resources are immense—our losses can be repaired.’ Then, after a pause, he added—‘By the first of March I must have six hundred pieces of cannon, horsed and equipped. I know your zeal and activity; you know I must be obeyed.’ Then approaching close to Evain, Napoleon took hold of his arm, and with a smile, added—‘If I have my guns on the appointed day you shall receive the brevet of Major-general; if not, I will hang you.’ Without being disconcerted, Colonel Evain replied: ‘Sire, the time is limited, but our arsenals are well-stored. If your majesty will inform me where I can procure money to purchase horses, your orders shall be obeyed.’—‘Is that the only difficulty?’ rejoined the Emperor. Then, sitting down to his bureau, he wrote an order for three millions of francs on his private treasury, the contents of which were in the vaults beneath the Tuileries—and Evain took his leave. On the 1st of March, Evain kept his word, and the Emperor fulfilled his promise.”

91“Both Buonaparte and Colonel Evain must have been in right earnest.”

“That is very true; and Buonaparte was not a man to be trifled with. If you should ever go to the Tower of London you will see weapons of war in abundance, though very many were destroyed by the late great fire on the premises. Among the stores were, a wooden cannon called ‘Policy,’ used at the siege of Bologne to induce the governor to suppose that the English were well supplied with artillery; a brass twenty-four pounder, from the wreck of the Royal George, having lain under water fifty-two years; a fine brass twenty-four pounder, bearing a Persian inscription; and a sixty-eight pounder, of brass, called the ‘Great Harry.’ Whether all, or any of these were destroyed, I cannot tell.”

“A wooden cannon must be an odd kind of thing.”

“There is in St. James’s Park, London, a mortar that is worth going a long way to see. This mortar is a beautiful specimen of workmanship, surrounded with pikes, intersecting each other, and forming a barrier which protects it from injury on the part of the public. The mortar bears the following inscription.



The raising of the siege of Cadiz, in consequence of the glorious victory gained by the Duke of Wellington over the French, near Salamanca, on the 22nd July, 1812. This mortar, cast for the destruction of that great fort, with powers surpassing all others, and abandoned by the besiegers on their retreat, was presented, as a token of respect and gratitude, by the Spanish Nation, to his Royal Highness the Prince Regent.’

“I might tell you of Perkins’s steam-gun, of Shrapnel’s shells, of Congreve’s rockets, and of Cochrane’s bomb-cannon, but I want to speak of a new power, that is more destructive than all these put together.”

93“What can that be, uncle? Why, it must be wonderful!”

“It was on Saturday, the 20th of February, 1841, that Sir Robert Peel, Sir George Murray, Sir Henry Hardinge, Sir Francis Burdett, Lord Ingestre, Colonel Gurwood, Captain Britten, Captain Webster, and others, met together to witness an experiment about to be tried. A boat, twenty-three feet long and seven broad, had been placed on a sheet of water, in the grounds of Mr. Boyd, in Essex, a few miles only from London. The boat had been filled up with solid timber, four and a half feet deep, crossed every way, and clamped together as closely as possible, with eight-inch spike nails, so that it was almost as firm as a solid tree. The boat was set in motion, and then struck by the new power just abaft her starboard-bow. The effect was terrible. The water parted and appeared like a huge bowl, with lightning playing on its surface. The boat was scattered into a thousand pieces. A column of water, resembling a huge fountain, threw the fragments of the boat some hundred feet into the air, and many of these fell at a distance of two or three hundred yards.”

“What a dreadful explosion!”

“Dreadful indeed, boys! The eight-inch spike nails that I spoke of, were snapped in pieces like so many carrots, and the mast of the boat resembled a tree riven by the lightning. The boat 94weighed perhaps two tons and a half, and the timber in her five tons and a half more; the weight of water displaced by the explosion could hardly be less than fourteen or fifteen tons, and yet the instrument of destruction that effected all this mischief was only eighteen pounds in weight.”

“What, was it gunpowder!”

“That I cannot tell. Fearful as it was when exploded, it was harmless enough before, for one of the captains kicked it about like a foot-ball. The inventor said that he could carry enough on a single mule to destroy the strongest fortress in Europe.”

“Terrible! Terrible! Why, it would destroy a ship directly.”

“Yes. A small craft with this power on board would tear to pieces the largest ship that ever was built. Muskets, cannon, bombshells, rockets, and explosions of every kind are not to be compared to it; and, most likely, should it ever come into general use, it will make a complete change in naval and military tactics all over the world.”



The passionate soldier.—A blue-jacket paying his debts.—A monkey on board.—A ship.—Keel.—Decks.—Masts.—Sails.—Rigging.—Life-boat.—Cables.—Anchors.—Capstan.—Buoys.—Blocks.—Knotting.—Quadrant.—The Indian and his fine clothes.—His return home.—His relation of his adventures.—The indignation of his tribe.—His tragical end.

“I will now say a little about a ship, without dwelling long on the subject. It must be, touch 96and go, aloft and below, for young people must learn to be sometimes satisfied with little.”

“The more you tell us the better; we like a long account much better than a short one. Tell us all that you can think of about a ship and about sailors too.”

“No, that will not suit me just now; my account must be short. Sailors are sometimes hard to manage; and it becomes necessary to be quick in finding out when any ill-will is spreading among them, for it might lead on to a mutiny. Soldiers and sailors should be obedient as well as brave—a red-coat should never be found in the black hole, nor a blue-jacket show a white feather in the hour of danger.”

“A mutiny is a sad thing among sailors or soldiers.”

“It is; but I think sailors can be managed more easily than soldiers, because they usually go to sea early; whereas soldiers are often men before they enlist, with all the strength of their passions about them. A French newspaper says—‘There is a private in the first regiment of cuirassiers in the French service, whom nothing can withstand when he becomes enraged; in that state he breaks iron like so much glass, and makes a plaything of a horse, as if it were a child’s toy. In July last, his lieutenant, having directed him to take charge of the fresh horses, Memuel complained of partiality, and 97was placed under arrest for four days. He went quietly to prison; but the door had been scarcely locked upon him before he fairly shivered it open without drawing the bolts back, and got away. He was then thrown into the regimental prison; from this he speedily broke loose, destroying all the camp bedsteads, snapping the window-bars asunder, and scattering the walls and doors in every direction. After this second release from ‘durance vile’ he was next incarcerated in a dungeon; but he had crippled his hands and fingers so much by his last exploit as to be disabled from active service—in the matter at least of any fresh escapade.”

“Terrible! terrible! You never heard of such a sad fellow as that among sailors, did you?”

“I can hardly tell at the moment. Fall in with the humour of sailors, and they are a good-tempered, honest-hearted set of fellows. A true-hearted sailor loves his country, never forsakes a messmate in danger or trouble, and would rather snap his cable than break his word. I will tell you a laughable account that I have just read about a sailor paying his debts. The account is this:—‘I ought to add, for the honour of Jack, that the bumboat-women, landladies, and all others who had trusted him, were duly remunerated before the remainder of his money was spent. Many of these creditors had come round from Chatham for this purpose. I believe there was but one exception 98to their being all honestly and liberally paid. There was one fellow who made an objection to his account in rather a Joe Miller sort of style. I am not sure whether Joe was before him, but he certainly stuck to his point with the gravity of an original: this was a Dutchman, who had entered for our service. Having built rather largely upon his anticipated pay, he had made his visits to the bumboat-woman rather often; so that, besides the score for loaves of bread, red-herrings, sausages, and pounds of sugar, there appeared upon his account a considerable number of dittos. Now, he acknowledged to all the above-named articles, and paid for them fairly, but he declared most forcibly that he had never had any dittos, nor could he be brought to understand what the word meant by all the logic of the bumboat-woman, or those who advocated her cause.’”

“Poor Jack did not know what ditto meant.”

“Well, now let us go on board ship together. I will tell you something that will a little surprise you.”

“What is it? what is it?”

“It is the opinion of an officer, as brave and as well-informed as any in the British navy, that it is an excellent thing to have on board ship a monkey.”

“A monkey! Why, he would be so full of his antics as to set the blue-jackets laughing at him; and then, he would be always in mischief.”

99“For these very reasons Captain Hall recommends that Mr. Pug should be received as one of the crew. He well knows the advantage of light hearts and good humour on board ship, and thinks that few things are more likely to afford mirth to the blue-jackets than the comical tricks of a monkey! If Mr. Pug cannot be taught to weigh anchor, reef a sail, or pull a rope, he can grin and chatter at those who do these things, and thereby keep them in a good temper.”

“Very good, Mr. Pug; and now, while you run up the ropes we shall, perhaps, hear something more about ships.”

“I have a few pictures of ships, which I will show you. See! here is a ship in the time of King Alfred.”

“Is that a ship? Why, there seems to be no room for the sailors.”

100“You must remember, that in the time of Alfred, Jack-tars were not so plentiful as they are now. But, perhaps, a ship in the reign of William the Conqueror will please you better. What do you think of this? It has, you see, a kind of house, or tower, upon it. This would prevent the men on board from being so much exposed as in the other ship: a thing of no trifling importance in a time of warfare. A well-built and well manned British ship of war, such as carries an admiral’s flag now, would, no doubt, destroy a whole fleet of the ships of olden time. Half-a-dozen broadsides would send as many ships of William the Conqueror’s days to the bottom. But what do you think of this ship?”

“Why, that is very little better than the other. It has but one mast and one sail, and nothing like a sailor is to be seen.”

101“Come, I must try again, it seems. Here is a ship in the time of Henry III. Will that suit you? You cannot say that has but one mast. The shrouds, too, that hold the masts steady, are here fastened to the sides of the vessel. It was not so before. This method of steadying the masts is a decided improvement, you must admit, though the vessel is still far from being perfect.”

“Yes, there is no doubt of its being an improvement, to say nothing of the flags flying at the top; but such a vessel would not do at the present time. It has two masts certainly, but it is but an odd-looking ship, after all. What is the next picture you have, uncle?”

102“It is a ship of the reign of Edward IV. Ships then had four masts, with a sail to each of them, as well as a forecastle at the head, and a cabin at the stern. Like all other things of importance, ships have been brought to perfection by degrees. Whether I am right in supposing a British man-of-war to be perfect, even now, is a question.”

“Ay! this is much grander than the others,—but every man on the deck has a long spear in his hand. That is not very sailor-like, is it?”

“Why no, it is not boys; at least, not like the sailors of the present day. This ship of the reign of Henry VIII. will please you.”


“That is something like! Plenty of masts, and sails, and cannon too, in that ship; and what a height the hull runs up! Please to tell us something about a first-rate man-of-war, such as are now in the British navy?”

“Now then for a man-of-war. If you are ready for a dive, we will go under water together. We will begin at the false keel; this is made fast under the keel to preserve it from injury in case of a run upon the rocks. On the keel is the keelson to strengthen it. The timbers that start out right and left from the keel are the ribs, and the planking 104is fastened to them inside and out. You know the head from the stern, I dare say.

A bold British sailor his duty should learn,
And know every rope from the head to the stern;
His heart should be firm when the rude billows roll,
And as true as the needle that points to the pole.”

“Ay! that is a good description of a sailor; he should know his duty, and carry a true heart in his bosom.”

“To say nothing of the forecastle and quarter-decks, a first-rate has three whole decks. Under the lower gun-deck is the orlop-deck, where you will find the store-rooms of the carpenter, the gunner, the boatswain, the surgeon, and the purser, as well as the cockpit, which is near the after-hatchway. Over the lower gun-deck is the middle deck, and over that the upper or main-deck. Above these are the forecastle and quarter-deck.”

“A first-rate, then, has three decks, besides the forecastle and quarter-deck and orlop-decks; and how many masts?”

“To carry the yards, sails and rigging, there are three masts, and each has three parts, so that we have the main-mast, the main-top mast, and the main-top-gallant mast; the fore-mast, the fore-top mast, and the fore-top-gallant mast; the mizen-mast, the mizen-top mast, and the mizen-top-gallant mast. Besides these, there is sometimes a small mast, still higher up, called the royal; so that there 105are main-top-gallant royal, fore-top-gallant royal, and mizen-top-gallant royal masts; the bowsprit runs out over the head of the ship: it may be called a mast or a boom. In books sailors are often named after the different parts of a ship; and thus we have ‘Tom Starboards,’ ‘Ben Braces,’ and ‘Mat Mizens,’ in abundance. No doubt you have heard the following words sung:—

“Here, a sheer hulk, lies poor Tom Bowling,
The darling of our crew;
No more he’ll hear the tempest howling,
For death has broached him to.
His form was of the manliest beauty,
His heart was kind and soft,
Faithful, below he did his duty,
And now he’s gone aloft.”

“Yes! yes! Tom Bowling is a favourite song. Now tell us about the sails of a ship.”

“The principal sails are, the courses, or lower sails; the top-sails, the top-gallant sails, and the top-gallant-royal sails. When there is a sail higher than these it is called a sky-scraper. You know, I dare say, that the rope part of a ship is called the rigging, but if you know the names of half the ropes, blocks, and tackling, you are wiser than I take you to be. The lower rigging of a ship consists of the shrouds, and the stays, that keep the lower masts in their places; the standing rigging is fixed, and the running rigging moves in altering the sails and the yards.

106“What a pity that a ship should ever be wrecked.”

“A pity indeed; and a capital thing it is, when a wreck does take place, if a life-boat is at hand. A life-boat is so constructed that it will live among breakers that would swamp a common ship’s boat directly. Many a brave red-coat and blue-jacket has been saved by the life-boat.

“The life-boat! the life-boat! The whirlwind and rain,
And white-crested breakers oppose her in vain!
Her crew are resolved, and her timbers are staunch—
The vessel of mercy—God-speed to her launch!
The life-boat! the life-boat! how fearless and free
She wins her bold course o’er the wide-rolling sea!
She bounds o’er the surges with gallant disdain;
She has stemm’d them before, and she’ll stem them again.”

“The life-boat must be a capital thing.”

“It is; but every vessel that sails on the seas is adapted to the service which it is to perform: the man-of-war, the frigate and the privateer are to carry, in their capacious hulls, the lightning and thunder of war; the smaller craft, such as cutters, schooners, and gun-boats, are to attend on fleets and supply the wants of larger vessels; and the life-boat is to rescue from destruction the shipwrecked crew and drowning mariner.”

“Why is it that the anchor does not keep the ship from being blown on the rocks, and wrecked?”

“Because anchors and cables are, like everything else, apt to break when tried beyond their strength. Now and then, when the wind blows 107hard, you find that the string of your kite breaks, and so it is with a cable; thick and strong as it is, it often snaps like a kite-string, when the storm is abroad in its strength,—man makes the cable, but God makes the storm; no wonder that the latter should be the stronger.”

“How thick is a cable? and how heavy is an anchor?”

“A good sheet-anchor-cable is a hundred and twenty fathoms, or two hundred and forty yards long. It is twenty inches round it, at least, and weighs five or six tons. It is made of almost two thousand threads, or rope-yarns.”

“One would think nothing could break it! And how heavy is the anchor?”

“There are different sorts of anchors: bower-anchors, stream-anchors, and kedge-anchors; and they are of different weights; but a best bower-anchor, or, we will call it a sheet-anchor, weighs between four and five tons. It costs as much as four hundred pounds.”

“What a weight, and what a deal of money! It must be hard work to pull it up from the bottom of the sea.”

“It is hard work; but a blue-jacket does not go 108to sea to blow his fingers; whatever may be the duty required to be done, Jack is ready to do it. The anchor is heaved in by means of the capstan, a very strong massy column of timber, having square holes to receive levers or bars, to turn it round. It is let down perpendicularly through the decks of the ship, and so placed that the men, by turning it round, may perform any labour requiring great strength.”

“When a ship lets down her anchor, there is often a buoy attached to it, that its situation may be known. If this were not done a ship would often entangle her cable by coming too near it. There are many kinds of buoys.”

“The blocks about a ship, for the management of the rigging, are very numerous. I can only show you a drawing of a few of them.”


“All kinds of knotting are also required. But there would be, absolutely, no end to things of this sort if I were to attempt to describe them. There is a very useful instrument on board ship besides the compass, and that is a quadrant, a mathematical instrument used in navigation to take latitudes. The altitude of the sun and stars is ascertained by it, as well as the height and distance of other objects.”

“What a deal must be known on board ship!”

“Much knowledge is required to make a complete seaman,—but more on this subject another time. Before I leave you I will relate a singular anecdote of an Indian, which I read in the newspapers; it falls in very well with the subject of soldiers and sailors.”

“Let us have it directly.”

“In order to assist the officers of the Indian department in their arduous duty of persuading remote tribes to quit their lands, it has been found advisable to incur the expense of inviting one or two of their chiefs three thousand or four thousand miles, to Washington, in order that they should see with their own eyes, and report to their tribes, the irresistible power of the nation with whom they are arguing. This speculation has, it is said, 110in all instances, more or less effected its object. For the reasons and for the object we have stated, it was deemed advisable that a certain chief should be invited from his remote country to Washington; and, accordingly, in due time, he appeared there. After the troops had been made to manœuvre before him; after thundering volleys of artillery had almost deafened him; and after every department had displayed to him all that was likely to add to the terror and astonishment he had already experienced, the President, in lieu of the Indian’s clothes, presented him with a colonel’s uniform; in which, and with many other presents, the bewildered chief took his departure. In a pair of white kid gloves, tight blue coat, with gilt buttons, gold epaulettes, and red sash, cloth trowsers with straps, high-heeled boots, cocked hat, and scarlet feather, with a cigar in his mouth, a green umbrella in one hand, and a yellow fan in the other, and with the neck of a whiskey-bottle protruding out of each of the two tail pockets of his regimental coat, this ‘monkey that had seen the world’ suddenly appeared before the chiefs and warriors of his tribe; and as he stood before them, straight as a ramrod, in a high state of perspiration, caused by the tightness of his finery, while the cool fresh air of heaven blew over the naked unrestrained limbs of his spectators, it might, perhaps, not unjustly, be said of the costumes, ‘Which is the savage?’ In return for the presents he had received, 111and with a desire to impart as much real information as possible to his tribe, the poor jaded traveller undertook to deliver to them a course of lectures; in which he graphically described all that he had witnessed. For a while he was listened to with attention; but as soon as the minds of his audience had received as much as they could hold, they began to disbelieve him. Nothing daunted, however, the traveller still proceeded. He told them about wigwams, in which a thousand people could at one time pray to the Great Spirit; of other wigwams, five stories high, built in lines, facing each other, and extending over an enormous space; he told them of war canoes that would hold twelve hundred warriors. Such tales to the Indian mind seemed an insult to common sense. For some time he was treated merely with ridicule and contempt,—but when resolutely continuing to recount his adventures, he told them that he had seen white people who, by attaching a great ball to a canoe, could rise in it into the clouds, and travel through the heavens. The Medicine, Mystery, or learned men of his tribe, pronounced him to be an impostor; and the multitude vociferously declaring that he was too great a liar to live, a young warrior, in a paroxysm of anger, levelled a rifle at his head, and blew his brains out. A portrait of this Indian is now to be seen in Mr. Catlin’s gallery of pictures in London.”



An engineer.—Mining.—Sappers.—Gunners.—The Surveillante.—Loss in the British army.—Furlough.—Muster-roll.—Punishment.—Poor Jack sent aloft.—Captain Hall on naval punishments.—Instance of injustice to a seaman.—The captain proved to be in the wrong.—Tribute to the brave.—Letter of a private soldier.—The Tenth and the Imperial guards.

“Now, uncle, you will please to tell us what an engineer is?”

“An engineer, boys, is one who has a knowledge of warlike engines, and who directs the attack or defence of a fortification, building or repairing according to the circumstances of the case, such works 113as have been injured by the enemy. It takes a wise man, and one of quick apprehension, to make a good engineer; he should have resources always, as we say, ‘at his finger ends.’ He ought to possess much practical knowledge, and a readiness and ability to apply it instantaneously. When Buonaparte made his attack on Jean D’Acre, the handful of brave fellows under Sir Sidney Smith never would have been able to withstand him had they not been ably assisted by the talents of Phillipeaux, the engineer. A good engineer will make a weak place strong; enable a few to withstand many, and obtain a victory where nothing is expected but defeat.”

“Bravery will never do without knowledge and skill, it seems.”

“Not, at least, in a case where the attacking party is so strong as that at the siege of Acre. An engineer should be well acquainted with mining, or the art of blowing up rocks and fortifications with gunpowder, and this he cannot be unless he can ascertain with correctness the heights, depths, breadth, and resistance of the materials he has to displace.”

“What a many things are necessary to be known by soldiers and sailors!”

“Sappers are men who work at the trenches, or ditches. If a brigade of eight men are employed at any point of the works, you will see half of them working away at the sap, or trench, 114while the others are busily occupied in supplying gabions, fascines, and such other things as may be wanted.”

“Why, there is no place safe in time of war, for what with the cannon and riflemen above ground, and the miners and sappers below, you are always in danger.”

“A soldier’s life is a life of danger, and every one should do his duty; but, for all that, no sapper should undermine the reputation of his comrades, and no rifleman should aim at a lower mark than honour. Gunnery is the art of determining the motions of bodies, whether they are projected from cannon, mortars, or howitzers. Without a knowledge of gunnery an attack or a defence would be very feeble. The power of well-charged and well-directed cannon is very great. A good gunner never sends a ball on an useless errand.

“In the battle between Lord Hawke and the French, the gallant admiral, finding so much to depend on the capture of the French admiral’s ship, the Soleil Royale, desired to be laid alongside her; but the pilot hesitatingly replied, that he feared to do so, from the rocky shoals of the coast off which the battle raged. Hawke, however, was not to be dissuaded, and bore down upon her, with every gun double-shotted. The captain of a French seventy-four gun ship, the Surveillante, aware of Hawke’s design, gallantly threw his ship between Hawke and the French 115admiral, in time to receive Lord Hawke’s fire, which saved the French admiral, but sent the Surveillante and every soul on board to the bottom.”

“Then, the Surveillante was sent down with a single broadside?”

“She was. And a well-managed and effective battery will make a breach in the strongest wall that ever was built, in a very short time. War is a dreadful weapon, and it ought never to be wielded in a bad cause.”

“What thousands and thousands of Englishmen must have been killed by gunpowder!”

“Ay, there have indeed; but soldiers say, ‘every bullet has its billet.’ The English army, from the time Lord Wellington was appointed commander in Portugal, to the peace, is supposed to have sustained the following loss.

In 1808 fell, officers 69 men 1015
1809   243   4688
1810   7   924
1811   459   7384
1812   816   11030
1813   1025   14966
1814   400   4791
1815   717   9485
    3807   54283

“This account does not include the Brunswickers, Hanoverians, Portuguese, nor Spaniards.”

116“It seems a wonder there were no more killed. One would expect half the soldiers and sailors that went into battle would be killed.”

“No, that is not the case. At Salamanca there was one soldier in ninety killed; at Vittoria, one in seventy-four; and at the battle of Waterloo, one in forty. At the battle of the Nile there was one sailor killed in thirty-six; at Trafalgar, one in forty-one, and at Copenhagen one in thirty-nine.”

“How often do soldiers get leave to go home and see their friends?”

“Not very often. If they could go when they liked the ranks would be rather thinner than they are. A poor widow that I once knew, whose son was a soldier, expected him home on a furlough—day after day passed, and he did not come; at last a soldier entered her dwelling. Seeing the uniform, the poor woman sprang forwards: alas! it was not her son, but a comrade who had brought her the news of his death. The commanding-officer can grant a furlough, or leave of absence, to non-commissioned officers and soldiers when he pleases, and as long as he pleases, but he is not frequently applied to. If a furlough is obtained by a soldier from his captain for twenty days, it will be some time before it comes to his turn again, for only two men are allowed to be absent from a troop or company, unless in particular cases, at the same time. The muster-roll is kept with great care.”

117“What is the muster-roll—a list to call over the names of the soldiers?”

“I will tell you. A muster-roll is a list of the officers and men in every regiment or company, by which they are called over, receive their pay, and are otherwise inspected. When you hear of a soldier having lost his name on the muster-roll, it means that he is dead. If an officer makes a false return, such as allowing the name of a soldier to stand on the muster-roll as being with his regiment when he is absent from it, he is liable to be cashiered, that is, dismissed the service.”

“That would be a very severe punishment to an officer, but as the men are punished when they do wrong, the officers ought not to escape.”

“The men are, as you say, punished when they do wrong. I wish that punishments could be safely done away in the army and navy, but when we consider that the men are principally drawn from the lowest and most ignorant classes, it would be too much to expect them to be kept in order if insubordination were not punished. Punishment, though it may not make a culprit a better man, may prevent him from repeating the offence, and deter others from committing it; still justice should be tempered with mercy, and I have known cases wherein clemency has had the happiest effect.”

“How are officers and men generally punished?”

“You may remember that the Articles of War point out what punishment is due to a crime, 118though oftentimes it is not inflicted. Officers who have offended are occasionally put under arrest, and naval officers are entered at the bottom of the list of their own rank. Soldiers are imprisoned, and sometimes flogged, and Poor Jack, instead of having a rope’s end, is, now and then, sent up to the main-top, and kept there in a blow till he is almost hungry enough to gnaw the rigging like a rat.”

“Why, poor fellow! he would find nothing else there to gnaw.”

“On the subject of naval punishments Captain Hall’s opinion is, ‘that if every captain were obliged by positive regulation to adopt the following course, a great diminution in the number of punishments would ensue, that those which were inflicted would be less severe, and that the discipline of the fleet would be essentially improved. His plan is, to make it imperative on officers in command to defer specifying what the amount of any punishment is to be until twenty-four hours have elapsed after the offence has been inquired into. He also considers that great practical advantages would arise from investigating all offences between the hours of nine in the morning and noon, a period when all parties are likely to be free from those exciting causes, which need not be particularly alluded to, but which do often interfere with the course of justice when the inquiry takes place after the men have had their grog, 119the officers their dinner, or the captain his claret. The present regulations of the navy require that twelve hours should elapse between the inquiry and the punishment, but this is scarcely enough. The most salutary check on intemperance of any kind is a night’s rest, and surely, when so serious an affair as corporal punishment is in question, it is not requiring too much of all captains to defer passing sentence till they have consulted their pillow at least once.’”

“Captain Hall is very much in the right to say what he does.”

“Many instances of injustice in hastily awarding punishment in the navy might be given; the following is a striking example of the kind.

“Two men-of-war happened to be cruising in company; one of them, a line-of-battle ship, bearing an admiral’s flag; the other, a small frigate. One day, when they were sailing quite close to each other, the signal was made from the large to the small ship to chase in a particular direction, implying that a strange sail was seen in that quarter. The look-out man at the maintop-mast-head of the frigate was instantly called down by the captain, and severely punished on the spot, for not having discovered and reported the stranger before the flag-ship had made the signal to chase. The unhappy sufferer, who was a very young hand, unaccustomed to be aloft, had merely taken his turn at the mast-head with the rest of the 120ship’s company, and could give no explanation of his apparent neglect. Before it was too late, however, the officer of the watch ventured to suggest to the captain, that possibly the difference of height between the masts of the two ships might have enabled the look-out man on board the Admiral to discover the stranger, when it was physically impossible, owing to the curvature of the earth, that she could have been seen on board the frigate. No attention, however, was paid to this remark, and a punishment due only to crime, or to a manifest breach of discipline, was inflicted.

“The very next day the same officer whose remonstrance had proved so ineffectual, saw the look-out man at the flag-ship’s mast-head again, pointing out a strange sail. The frigate chanced to be placed nearly in the direction indicated; consequently she must have been somewhat nearer to the stranger than the line-of-battle ship was. But the man stationed at the frigate’s mast-head declared he could distinguish nothing of any stranger. Upon which the officer of the watch sent up the captain of the main-top, an experienced and quick-sighted seaman, who, having for some minutes looked in vain in every direction, asserted positively that there was nothing in sight from that elevation. It was thus rendered certain, or, at all events, highly probable, that the precipitate sentence of the day before had been unjust; for, under circumstances precisely similar, or even less 121favourable, it appeared that the poor fellow could not by possibility have seen the stranger, for not first detecting which he was punished!”

“That hasty captain ought to have been ashamed of himself. If he had only considered the matter, the man would not have been punished.”

“An officer, like a good sword, should be well-tempered, whether he belong to the army or navy.”

“You have never described to us a soldier’s burial! The funeral of a general must be grand and solemn.”

“Some other time! some other time! When a soldier, fighting for plunder and empty glory, dies, he merits little sympathy; but when in a good cause, and in a battle that cannot be avoided, he draws his sword, falling on the field not for idle renown but in the defence of the weak and oppressed, and for the preservation of his country, then the words of the poet appear more suitable to him—

“There is a tear for all that die,
A mourner o’er the humblest grave;
But nations swell the funeral cry,
And triumph sweeps above the brave.
“For then is sorrow’s purest sigh
O’er ocean’s heaving bosom sent;
In vain their bones unburied lie,
All earth becomes their monument.
“A tomb is theirs on every page;
An epitaph on every tongue;
The present hours, the future age,
For them bewail, to them belong.”

122“It is my intention to give you a short sketch of the battle of Waterloo, but not now. If you would like to hear it, however, I will read to you what a private soldier says of it in a letter to his parents.”

“Yes, let us hear it, if you please. Was he a horse-soldier?”

“He was in the cavalry.”

“He thus describes an attack made on the French guards:—‘Our brigade was then formed into three lines, each regiment composing its own line, which was the 10th, 18th, and a regiment of German Legion Hussars; my own regiment forming the first line. Wellington then came in front of the line, and spoke in the following manner:—

“‘Tenth,’ says he, ‘you know what you are going to do, and you know what is expected of you, and I am well assured it will be done. I shall, therefore, say no more, only wish you success,’ and with that he gave the order for us to advance. I am not ashamed to say, that well knowing what we were going to do, I offered up a prayer to the Almighty that, for the sake of my children and the partner of my bosom, he would protect me, and give me strength and courage to overcome all that opposed me; and with a firm mind I went, leaving all that was dear to me to the mercy of that Great Ruler who has so often, in the midst of peril and danger, protected me. 123After advancing about a hundred yards, we struck into a charge as fast as our horses would go, keeping up a loud and continued cheering, and soon we were among the Imperial Guards of France; the 18th also charging as soon as we got among them, which so galled them, that we slew and overcame them like so many children, although they rode in armour, and carried lances ten feet long; but so briskly did our lads lay the English steel about them, that they threw off their armour and pikes, and those that could get away flew in all directions; but still we had not done, for there were two great and solid squares of infantry, who had hurt us much with their fire whilst we were advancing, and still continued to do so whilst we were forming again. In short they were all around us; we therefore formed as well as we could, and at them we went.

“In spite of their fixed bayonets we got into their columns, and like birds they fell to the ground, and were thrown into confusion; and it run like wild-fire among their troops that their guards were beaten and panic-struck,—they flew in all directions. But still we had not done our part, and left those to pursue who had seen the onset. We took sixteen guns at our charge, and many prisoners, but we could see no longer, it was so dark; and at length we assembled what few we had got together of the regiment, and the general of the brigade formed us in close column, so that we might all hear him, and he addressed us in the following 124manner:—‘Now, Tenth,’ he said, ‘you have not disappointed me; you are just what I thought you were; you were the first regiment that broke their lines, and to you it is that we are indebted for turning the fate of the day, and depend upon it that your Prince shall know it, for nothing but the bravery and discipline of the regiment could have completed such a work.’ We then gave him three cheers, and since that he has given us at a great length in our orderly books, his thanks and praise for our conduct.”



Fortification.—Surprise of Bergen-up-Zoom.—Six hundred British troops lay down their arms from a want of knowledge of fortification.—Fortified places in England and abroad.—On the origin of fortification.—The battering-ram.—Parapets.—Embrasures.—Square Towers.—Terraces or Ramparts.—Bastions.—Horn-works.—Curtains.—Maxims in fortification.—Old plan of fortifying a place.—Modern plan.—Periods of attack.—Investment or blockade described.—Parallels.—Circumvallation and countervallation.—What is necessary to ensure the reduction of a fortress.—Blockade of Pamplona.—A bombardment, siege, and storming party described.

“Well, now I am to describe to you a blockade and a bombardment, a siege, and a storming party; but you will understand them better if I say a word or two first about fortification.”

126“Oh yes! let us know something about fortification first.”

“Many sad instances of failure and loss have occurred from a want of knowledge of fortification. Without knowledge no place of defence is secure; fortresses require to be defended by strong minds as well as by strong walls. At the surprise of Bergen-up-Zoom, in 1814, a body of six hundred British troops laid down their arms merely because they had no officer with them who knew enough of fortification to conduct their retreat by the covered way. Had such an officer been with them every man might have safely made his escape.”

“What a pity!—every officer ought to understand fortification.”

“If an officer be at home, he can if he pleases see the fortifications at Dover, Portsmouth, Chatham and Plymouth; and if abroad, he may have, perhaps, the opportunity of inspecting the splendid works at Gibraltar, or Malta, or those in the East or West Indies, or in our American colonies. Fortification is the art of strengthening a place, so that a small number of men can defend it against the attack of a great number. Whether fortification was first used as a defence against the strong, the unjust, the revengeful, and ambitious, or used by them in furtherance of their designs, might be difficult to determine. The principal engine brought to bear against fortified places in ancient times was the aries, or battering-ram, made mostly of 127brass. This, formed at the end like the head of a ram, was suspended from a beam, and pushed violently against the walls by soldiers, who were hid in a covered carriage on which the battering-ram rested.”

“Ay! we have seen a picture of soldiers using the battering-ram.”

“Parapets with embrasures, or holes, in them, through which arrows might be shot, were introduced; and after them came strong square towers, erected from each other about a stone’s cast, but when gunpowder was invented these things were comparatively useless. Terraces, or ramparts with parapets, were adopted, as well as bastions. A bastion is a huge mass of earth, faced either with sods, brick-work, or stone. It stands out from the rampart, of which it, indeed, forms a principal part. What is now called a bastion was in old times called a bulwark.”

“We have seen the word bulwark in a sea-song—

‘Britain’s best bulwarks are her wooden walls.’”

“Yes, I remember the song. There were also ravelins, triangular works, projecting outwards; horn-works; two demi-bastions, joined by a curtin, and other works. A curtin, or curtain, is that part of the rampart which lies between the flanks, or sides, of two bastions; it is bordered with a parapet or elevation of earth. But perhaps I had 128better show you a drawing or two of a fortification, and then you will see all the parts.”

“The very thing! the very thing!”

“Here is a drawing of the old plan of fortifying a place when bows and arrows were used, before gunpowder was found out. You see the tower, the walls, the ditch, and the battering-ram.”

“Ay! we see the battering-ram has been at work, for the wall is broken sadly.”

“Before I show you the two other drawings I will explain to you that the principal maxims of fortification are these:—First, that every part of the works be seen and defended by other parts, 129so that the enemy cannot lodge anywhere without being exposed to the fire of the place.”

“Ay! that must be very necessary.”

“Secondly. A fortress should command all places round it, and, therefore, all the outworks should be lower than the body of the place.”

“That seems to be quite as necessary as the other.”

“Thirdly. The works furthest from the centre should always be open to those that are near.”

“Everything appears to be thought of in fortification.”

“Fourthly. The defence of every part should always be within the reach of musket-shot, so as to be defended both by ordnance and small fire-arms.”

“It must be a hard matter to take a fortress, when such pains are taken to make it strong.”

“Fifthly. All the defences should be as nearly direct as possible, for experience shows that soldiers are too apt to fire directly before them, whether they do execution or not.”

“What a deal of thought seems necessary!”

“Sixthly. A fortification should be equally strong on all sides, otherwise by being attacked in its weakest point its strength will become useless.”

“That is very plain. A weak part would be sure to be attacked if it were found out.”

“Seventhly. The more acute (sharp) the angle at the centre is, the stronger will be the place.”

130“We understand that, because it would throw off the cannon balls better.”

“And, lastly. In great places dry ditches are preferable to those filled with water, because sallies, retreats, succours, etc. are necessary; but in small fortresses wet ditches that can be drained are the best, as standing in need of no sallies.”

“And now, then, you will please to show us the other drawings of a fortification.”

“Yes, boys, you shall see them. Here is one; you may understand it pretty well by looking it over. The side of the ditch next the rampart is the escarpe, and the side next the country the counterscarpe.”

A B. Level of the ground, or plane of site.
A C. Rampart: interior slope of the rampart.
D E. Terre-plein of the rampart.
F. Banquette.
G. Interior slope of the parapet.
H. Superior slope of the parapet.
H I. Exterior slope of ditto.
S L. Revêtement, wall of the escarpe.
P. Foundation of the revêtement.
R S. Revêtement, wall of the counterscarpe.
S T. Terre-plein of the covered way.
C. Coping-stone, or cordon.
N. Palisading, at the foot of, in the interior slope of the glacis.
Z B. Glacis.
W. Ditch.

131“We must puzzle it out, but it is not quite so plain as the other.”

“True, for it is not an easy thing to make everything clear on paper that belongs to fortification. Here is another drawing, showing you the tracing or outline of the works round a fortified place.”

1. Bastions. Besides which there are the Right face of bastions.
2. Curtains. Right flank
3. Main ditch. Left face
4. Ravelin. Left flank
5. Ditch of ravelin. Flanked angle of the bastion.
6. Covered way. Shoulder angle of ditto.
7. Glacis. Curtain angle.
8. Tenaille. Angle of defence.
9. Cap. Flanked angle of the ravelin.

“We must look over this by ourselves, and then we shall make it all out, no doubt; but, now, will you tell us how so strong a place is to be taken? We want to know everything belonging to it, so please to be particular.”

“I will do my best to make you understand 132how a fortress is taken. You must remember one thing, that let a place be ever so strong, when closely besieged it must gradually get weaker for want of supplies; whereas the besiegers, having the country open to them, can get supplies of men, provisions, and everything else they require.”

“Ay, that gives them a great advantage.”

“There may be said to be four periods in an attack on a fortified place; the first includes all the military arrangements and preparations in the investment of the place; the second includes the opening of the trenches, or first parallel; the third includes the establishment of the second parallel; and the fourth includes the third parallel, with all the hazards and toil of seizing the covered way, of getting across the moat, and of obtaining possession, one after another, of all the works of the enemy.”

“What do you mean by the investment of the place?”

“I will tell you. When a fortified place is to be attacked, it is necessary to surround it with troops, so as to prevent the place from holding communication with, or getting supplies from their allies, or from the neighbouring country. It is often the case, too, that the besiegers form two sets of fortified lines, and pitch their camp, for security, between them. The line that faces the country is called the line of circumvallation, and 133the other line, facing the fortified place, is called that of countervallation; but you will understand it better by this drawing.”

“We begin to understand a little more about it now.”

“Jones, in his ‘Sieges in Spain,’ says: ‘To ensure the reduction of a fortress, a fully equipped siege army is absolutely necessary; and any deficiency, especially in the engineer or artillery departments, must assuredly involve an unnecessary loss of life; to save men, science and materials must be brought into play.’ Vauban’s invaluable maxim should ever be kept in view, ‘Never attempt anything at a siege by open force which may be gained by art and labour.’ In many cases a fortified place may be taken by investment or blockade alone, for if it be not well supplied with provisions, and cannot obtain them, it must of necessity capitulate or surrender.”

134“Yes! that is clear enough, or they would all of them be soon starved to death.”

“Well do I remember, when the Duke of Wellington—he was a Marquis then—blockaded Pamplona, in Spain. He was about to besiege the place, but when he and Sir Richard Fletcher came to reconnoitre, they found that it was too strong for them; a sufficient number of troops could not be spared to reduce it, even if they had had ordnance, stores, and materials sufficient for the purpose, which they had not.”

“There were a great many soldiers inside the place, perhaps?”

“The garrison was considerable; but besides that the works were strong, and in good order. There were at least two hundred pieces of ordnance ready to play on the besiegers, and the city was defended on one side by the river, and covered on the other by the citadel. The siege was given up, and a blockade established instead.”

“And how was the blockade managed?”

“In a most masterly way. And Wellington gave a proof how well he could change his tactics when necessary, and act in the most efficient manner, according to the circumstances in which he found himself. He confined the garrison, and strengthened his own force, by throwing up works round the place, in the nearest heights, that commanded all the roads and communications with the enemy. There were nine redoubts, garrisoned on favourable 135points, within one thousand five hundred yards, and the remaining force was placed under cover in the villages, or bivouacked out of the range of the fire of the place. Marshal Soult advanced with a strong force to relieve the place, and penetrated so far as to be within a few miles of it; so that there was every reason to expect an attack from Soult, and a desperate sortie from the fortress at the same time, if the latter should be aware that relief was near at hand. Yet so well did the British commander provide for the danger, by reinforcing the advanced posts, pushing out chains of sentinels, and keeping the whole blockading force under arms, that not a single communication took place between the fortress and the troops under Marshal Soult. Think, boys, for a moment, of the skill on the part of the commander, and vigilance on the part of the men, to prevent a strong fortress, situated close to its own frontier, from holding the least communication with, or receiving the least information of their friends.”

“And was the place obliged to surrender?”

“It was. Let me now describe a bombardment, in few words. A town, city, or fortress, is bombarded by firing bombshells and rockets into it in order to set fire to it, to blow up the powder magazines, to knock down the houses, churches, and other edifices of the place, and to do as much damage as possible, that the place may be compelled to surrender.”

136“Why do they fire bombshells, and not common balls?”

“Cannon shot are fired to batter down walls and outworks, but bombshells do more damage. When Mahomet II. besieged Constantinople in 1453 he battered it with huge stones so large that only four of them could be fired in a day. You must remember, boys, that bombshells and rockets are fired in the air, that they may fall down upon the place attacked, but cannon balls are fired straight. There is a way, it is true, of firing cannon, called ricochet-firing. The gun is loaded with but little powder, and the ball is thrown just over the parapet of the enemy, that it may fall into the works, and roll and bounce, destroying all before it.”

“But why does a bombshell do more mischief than a cannon ball?”

“Because it is filled with combustible matter, and has a fuse to it, so that after sinking into the ground, which it does on account of the great height from which it falls, it bursts to pieces with great force, tearing up and destroying everything around it.”

“We understand now. A cannon ball is bad enough, but a bombshell must be dreadful.”

“As a fuller account of a siege and a storming party will be given you before I have done, it will be enough now to say, that to besiege a place is to encamp an army before it with the design to take 137it; and to storm a place is to enter it by force, breaking through all opposition.”

“A storming party must be a desperate affair, and a soldier had need have the heart of a lion.”

“True, boys, a soldier has need of a firm heart to go through what he has to endure; he is expected to be cool in the hottest engagement; to fire steadily though up to his knees in water; and to stand at ease, when required, under the galling grape-shot of an enemy’s battery.”



The tale-telling captain.—The heroic and kind-hearted officer.—The standard-bearer.—Flags.—The royal standard.—Flag of the lord high-admiral.—Flag of the admiral of the fleet.—Colours in the army.—Day signals.—Night signals.—Fog-signals.—Cipher flags and substitutes.—Telegraphs.—Alphabet for field signals.—Description of a sailor on shore.

“We want, uncle, to hear you go on in your account of soldiers and sailors. Now for a good long account.”

“Well, boys, I will do my best, and describe them as they are. British soldiers often run, but very seldom run away; and sailors are more apt to strike at than to strike to their enemies. I remember hearing of a captain, whose stories were 139always too long. I am glad that you do not think so of mine.”

“Who was he? please to tell us who he was?”

“Listen, then, and you shall know all that I know of him. During the American war, a Captain S—— used much to annoy his companions in arms by his unreasonable long stories. Day after day he was continually imposing on them the tax of a long story. Being once present at a court-martial on a soldier, who had a good character, and who had committed a very slight offence, his brother officers thought it a good opportunity to try to correct Captain S—— of his failing. While then they were deliberating on the sentence about to be pronounced, a certain major turned to the president and said, ‘Suppose we sentence him to hear two of Captain S——’s long stories?’”

“Very good! very good! Your stories are not like his, for they are not long enough. That captain might be a kind-hearted man, after all.”

“Very likely; a kind-hearted disposition will show itself in every situation in life; and if soldiers and sailors are called on by the stern duties of their profession to deal death among the enemies of their country, yet may they, when the battle is over, exercise as much humanity as other people. There is room for mercy to walk amid the crowded camp, or on the deck of a battle ship, taking care that no life shall be uselessly and wantonly sacrificed, and no prisoner 140used with inhumanity. I have seen a soldier, who would fearlessly have led the forlorn-hope, weep like a child on hearing of the death of his father; and I have known as rough a sailor as ever took in a reef of the mainsail, sob again, on receiving a letter from his mother.”

“Soldiers and sailors have hearts like other people.”

“I hope so. They are not brought up in a school that will allow them to parade their feelings, but it would be wrong to say, on that account, that they do not possess them. As an old soldier myself, I may be apt to advance too much in their favour. Both in Spain and in India have I met with instances without number, of kindly affections on the part of my companions in arms. Again and again have I, in disastrous circumstances, found in them warm-hearted sympathy, and more than once in a retreat have I shared the last morsel of food of a starving brother officer.”

“That was very kind of them indeed.”

“I will give you one instance of true courage, intrepidity, and kind-heartedness, that deserves to be remembered. A town in Spain, defended by 1500 Carlists, was taken by assault, after two days’ resistance. One house only was still defended by twenty-five men, who had shut themselves up there with the family. For this act of desperate courage the lives of the men, according 141to the terrible right, or rather custom, of war, were forfeited; and a party of soldiers stormed the house, to put them all to the sword. Already was the door forced, when the officer of the attacking party hurried to the portal to prevent a useless loss of life. His own soldiers presented their bayonets to his breast, and threatened to destroy him, but he persisted in his heroic intention until all his men but two were prevailed upon to show mercy. These two persevered: they were Basque volunteers, of the Chapels Gory, who never gave nor received quarter, and they demanded to be permitted to kill two of the men at least. More savage than savages, they persisted in their demand, invoking the sacred name of their Creator in aid of the human sacrifice they were about to offer up! Still undaunted, the resolute and humane officer resisted their cruel intentions. Courage overcame ferocity: the Carlist soldiers, and the old men, women, and children in the house, were saved. For this act of true heroism and philanthropy the officer was immediately made a lieutenant-colonel.”

“That was capital! He deserved to be promoted, that he did. It was a noble action!”

“In a letter, written to him by the general under whom he served, are these words:—‘It is not out of mere form that I mention you, but because I was witness, with extreme pleasure, to 142your courageous and generous conduct. An entire family and several Carlist soldiers owe their lives to the resolute protection you afforded them at the imminent peril of your own.’”

“That action ought never to be forgotten. He was in as much danger of his life as when fighting with the enemy.”

“Such a man as Lieutenant-colonel M——y is not likely to forsake his colours. Soldiers and sailors attach much importance to their colours. A red-coat will die before he will lose his standard, and you would almost as easily persuade a blue-jacket to run his head into a cannon’s mouth as to haul down his colours in the presence of an enemy.”

“What do you mean by colours? Are they flags?”

“They are: sailors hoist them on the masts of their ships, and soldiers carry them at the head of their different regiments. Red-coats will not lose their colours without a struggle; and, as I hinted before, Jack-tars are forward enough in hoisting them up, but very backward in hauling them down. When Admiral Duncan fought the Dutch, a seaman in the midst of the battle nailed the colours to the mast; and at the battle of Waterloo a standard-bearer clasped the colours so fast in death that a sergeant, trying to no purpose to wrench them from him, on the near approach of an enemy, made a violent effort, and, throwing the dead 143corpse, colours and all over his shoulders, carried them off together. The French seeing this, were charmed with the heroism of the action, and hailed it with shouts of applause.”


“What a sight, to see him carrying off the dead soldier with the colours in his hands!”

“Flags in the British navy are hoisted at the heads of the main, fore, and mizen-masts; they are red, white, or blue. When on the main-mast, they are the mark of an admiral; when on the fore-mast, of a vice-admiral; and when on the mizen-mast, of a rear-admiral. The first flag in Great Britain is the Royal Standard.”

“That must be a very grand flag indeed!”

“It is, boys; and it is only hoisted when royalty comes on board, or on very particular occasions. It displays the arms of the united kingdom.


“The next flag is the Anchor of Hope. This is usually displayed when the lord-high-admiral, or lords-commissioners of the Admiralty are on board.

“And then comes the Union Flag; in which the 145crosses of St. George, St. Andrew, and St. Patrick, are blended. This flag is appropriated to the admiral of the fleet, who is the next officer under the lord-high-admiral.

“After the Union Flag comes that of the White Squadron, at the main-mast-head, and then the Blue, at the same mast-head. This is the lowest which characterizes an admiral. Among soldiers the colours are very various; and they generally bear some motto, or some allusion to the battles in which the troops have distinguished themselves. Some have a sphinx, to represent service in Egypt; others, an elephant or a tiger, in allusion to service in India. It is a fine sight to see a squadron of ships with their flags flying!”

“It must be; but there is one thing we cannot make out.”

“What is that, boys?”

“It puzzles us to make out how one ship can act in agreement with another, when they are blowing about, or a long way off.”

“Why, they call out to one another; that is the way they manage the affair.”

“Call out to one another?”

“Yes! ships talk with each other as freely as you do with your companions, though you cannot always hear them speak.”

“Why, how can they talk with one another?”

“By signals; which are of three kinds: day-signals, night-signals, and fog-signals. The day-signals 146are made by hoisting flags, jacks, and pendants, and by firing guns. The night-signals are made by firing guns and rockets, and by showing lights and false fires; and fog-signals are made by firing of guns, at quick or slow intervals.”

“Well, this is very curious; but how can the hoisting a flag give any particular information?”

“It would take too long, boys, to explain to you the system of signals, if I fully understood it myself, which I do not; but I will try to make you comprehend that it is very easy for one ship to talk with another. Now, look at this print of different flags, and substitutes for flags, taken from that talented work, the ‘United Service Journal,’ and suppose that they stand for the same numbers as are placed under them.”

“Ay! now we shall know something about it.”

“Read also what is written under, about the cypher-flag and the substitutes.”

1 Substitute. 2 Substitute. 3 Substitute.

When the cypher-flag is put above another, it adds 10,000.

When the 1st substitute is put under a flag, it stands for the same number as that flag.

When placed above the flag, it adds 11,000.

When the 2nd substitute is used, it is the same number as the second flag flying.

When uppermost, it adds 12,000.

When the 3rd substitute is used, it stands for the same as the uppermost flag flying. When above it, it adds 13,000.

“We are not able to make out how the flags are to be used. You must please to explain it to us.”

“Suppose, then, that every ship in the navy had a general signal-book, full of such orders and such sentences as are most likely to be wanted, and every one of them numbered. Do you not see that when flag No. 7 is hoisted by one ship, other ships have only to look at No. 7 in their signal-book, to know what it means.”

148“Yes, that is very clear. But can thirteen flags say all that can be wanted to be said?”

“A system of signals of thirteen flags, which I once saw, was able, by using only four flags at a time, to form nearly fourteen thousand combinations. I will show you how to form numbers with the flags in the print.

Hoist flag No. 7, and it will stand for 7.

Hoist it with the 1st substitute under it, and the two will stand for 77.

Hoist these with the 2nd substitute under them, and they will stand for 777.

Hoist all these with the 3rd substitute under them, and they will stand for 7777.”

“How very curious! We never saw anything like this before.”

“There are methods also of changing the signals, to prevent an enemy from deriving any advantage if the general signal-book should fall into his hands. The rapidity with which signals are given and repeated by different ships is astonishing. Up goes a flag, hoisted by the Admiral, rolled round like a ball; when it has reached the mast-head it bursts out, and in a twinkling at the mast-head of other vessels you see the same signal floating in the breeze.”

“How is it that they can manage this so cleverly?”

“Practice and good telescopes will do wonders. And then the signal-officers, from the state of things around them, know beforehand the flags which are most likely to be wanted. You may form 149some notion, now, of ships being able to talk one with another, when you see that thirteen flags can send near fourteen thousand messages. There are several plans by which soldiers may talk one with another with their muskets.”

“With their muskets?”

“Yes, as easily as sailors with their flags. Then there are modes, both in the army and navy, of holding communication by the use of telegraphs of different descriptions. I have not the time to dwell on these now, but you shall see an alphabet, which has been invented for field-signals: vedettes, or signal-men, in different attitudes, stand for the letters. By this mode of signalizing, troops may communicate with each other across a river, or on other positions, very easily. When once you have an alphabet to work with, you may convey what message you like.”

“But, can men put themselves into the form of letters?”

“That is not necessary; for if a certain attitude is understood to stand for a certain letter, it amounts to the same thing. Here, then, you have the alphabet.”

150“When there is a dot at the end of the arm it represents the cap of the signal-man. You see, then, that a man on one side a river might, by making one letter at a time, communicate what word he pleased to a man on the other side of the river, who might signalize it to another in the same way, and so on to any distance required. There might also be other signs, signifying words, or, indeed, sentences, such as ‘infantry,’ ‘cavalry,’ ‘advance,’—‘retreat,’ ‘enemy,’ ‘squadron,’ ‘battalion,’ ‘regiment.’”

“Famous! famous! With a little puzzling, we shall make it all out.”

“No doubt you will; patience and perseverance will work wonders. My conversations with you about soldiers and sailors bring back old scenes to my mind, that I had well nigh forgotten. If I should tell you the same things two or three times over, or not be quite correct in my narration, you must forgive me. True it is, that I have seen, heard, and read a great deal, but my memory is not what it once was.”

“No! Why, you seem to remember things as if they were but yesterday. Can you tell us something rather droll about sailors, just to finish up with?”

“There is a description, given by a well-known author, of a sailor when on shore, that will amuse you. It is drawn with much truth and ability.”

“Let us hear it, uncle; let us hear it!”

151“The moment a sailor lands,” he says, “he goes to see the watchmaker, or the old boy at The Ship. His first object is to spend his money; but his first sensation is, the strange firmness of the earth, which he goes treading in a sort of heavy-light way, half waggoner and half dancing-master, his shoulders rolling, and his feet touching and going; the same way, in short, in which he keeps himself prepared for all the rolling chances of the vessel, when on deck. There is always, to us, this appearance of lightness of foot, and heavy strength of upper works, in a sailor. And he feels it himself.”

“That is exactly to the life! It would be impossible to describe a sailor’s walk better!”

“He lets his jacket fly open, and his shoulders slouch, and his hair grow long, to be gathered into a heavy pig-tail; but when full dressed, he prides himself on a certain gentility of toe, on a white stocking, and a natty shoe, issuing lightly out of the flowing blue trowsers. His arms are neutral, hanging and swinging in a curve aloof; his hands, half open, look as if they had just been handling ropes, and had no object in life but to handle them again. He is proud of appearing in a new hat and slops, with a belcher handkerchief flowing loosely round his neck, and the corner of another out of his pocket. Thus equipped, with pinchbeck buckles in his shoes, which he bought for gold, he puts some tobacco in his mouth, not as if he were 152going to use it directly, but as if he stuffed it in a pouch on one side, as a pelican does fish, to employ it hereafter; and so, with Bet Monson at his side, and perhaps a cane or whanghee twisted under his other arm, sallies forth to take possession of all Lubberland.”

“Ha! ha! ha! That is capital! He was prettily taken in with his pinchbeck buckles; but it would not matter, for they would pass with him for gold.”

“He buys everything that he comes athwart, nuts, gingerbread, apples, shoe-strings, beer, brandy, gin, buckles, knives, a watch,—two, if he has money enough,—gowns, and handkerchiefs for Bet, and his mother, and sisters; dozens of superfine best men’s cotton stockings; dozens of superfine best women’s cotton ditto; best good check, for shirts, though he has too much already; infinite needles and thread, to sew his trowsers with some day; a footman’s laced hat; bear’s-grease to make his hair grow, by way of joke; several sticks; all sorts of Jews’ articles; a flute, which he can’t play, and never intends; a leg of mutton, which he carries somewhere to roast, and for a piece of which the landlord of The Ship makes him pay twice what he gave for the whole;—in short, all that money can be spent upon, which is everything but medicine gratis; and this he would insist on paying for.”

153“Poor Jack! he is never to be trusted on shore with money in his pocket.”

“He would buy all the painted parrots on an Italian’s head, on purpose to break them, rather than not spend his money. He has fiddles, and a dance, at The Ship, with oceans of flip and grog; and gives the blind fiddler tobacco for sweetmeats, and half-a-crown for treading on his toe. He asks the landlady, with a sigh, after her daughter Nance, and finding that she is married and in trouble, leaves five crowns for her; which the old lady appropriates as part payment for a shilling in advance. He goes to the Port playhouse with Bet Monson, and a great red handkerchief full of apples, gingerbread nuts, and fresh beef; calls out for the fiddlers and ‘Rule Britannia;’ pelts Tom Sikes in the pit, and compares Othello to the black ship’s cook, in his white nightcap. When he comes to London, he and some messmates take a hackney-coach full of Bet Monsons and tobacco-pipes, and go through the streets, smoking and lolling out of window. He has ever been cautious of venturing on horseback; and among his other sights in foreign parts, relates, with unfeigned astonishment, how he has seen the Turks ride;—‘Only,’ says he, guarding against the hearer’s incredulity, ‘they have saddle-boxes to hold ’em in, fore and aft; and shovels like for stirrups.’ He will tell you how 154the Chinese drink, and the Negurs dance, and the monkeys pelt you with cocoa-nuts; and how King Domy would have built him a mud hut, and made him peer of the realm, if he would have stopped with him, and taught him to make trowsers.”

“Never was a better account of a sailor than this. Everything about him seems to be thought of.”

“He has a sister at a ‘school for young ladies,’ who blushes with a mixture of pleasure and shame at his appearance; and whose confusion he completes by slipping four-pence into her hand, and saying out loud, that he has ‘no more copper’ about him. His mother and elder sisters, at home, doat on all he says and does, telling him, however, that he is a great sea-fellow, and was always wild ever since he was a hop-o’-my-thumb no higher than the window-locker. He tells his mother, she would be a duchess in Paranaboo; at which the good old portly lady laughs and looks proud. He frightens his sisters with a mask, made after the New Zealand fashion, and is forgiven for his learning. Their mantle-piece is filled by him with shells and sharks’ teeth; and when he goes to sea again, there is no end of tears, and ‘God bless you!’ and homemade gingerbread.”



Pillage.—Military surveying.—Tippoo Saib.—His armour and mantle.—Tippoo’s treachery.—Seringapatam attacked by British and native troops, commanded by Major-General Baird.—Colonels Dunlop and Sherbrooke.—A shot breaks the chain of the draw-bridge.—Terrible carnage.—Tippoo Saib killed.—Seringapatam taken.—The storming of Ghuznee.—The forlorn hope.—The gate of the fortress blown in.—Colonel Dennie leads on the stormers.—The mistake.—A retreat sounded.—Brigadier Sale advances.—Desperate struggle.—The place taken.

“You have been told, boys, of a blockade, a bombardment, and a siege, and now you shall 156have a storming party, which is one of the most desperate of military undertakings. Pity it is that there should ever be occasion to resort to it, for pillage and plunder never yet made a good soldier, though they are thought of more than they ought to be. A soldier should never step out in disgrace, nor halt in the march of duty. If there be one thing more than another that I abhor, it is pillage and plunder.”

“Do the soldiers when they storm a place plunder, and do what they like?”

“It has been too common a thing in war, to promise the soldiers a few days’ pillage before they storm a place, to hearten them on; and they are not backward to profit by the opportunity. Some on these occasions act a brutal part; but there are men in the army whose hearts are unhardened by their profession, and whose generous dispositions move them more to clemency than cruelty. War has horrors enough, without adding to its evils by selfish and reckless cruelty and brutality. The soldier, whether he carries a musket, or wears epaulettes on his shoulders, who, fired with revenge and flushed with victory, stains his blade with the blood of a vanquished enemy, or ill-uses fear-struck and defenceless woman, is a ruffian, and not worthy to be called a man. He may think lightly of the curse of a dying husband or brother; he may turn into mirth the clasped hands and weeping eyes of injured innocence, 157but the artillery of Heaven will roar in his ears in an unlooked-for hour, and its thunders will be directed against his heart;—but I forget that you are waiting to hear of a storming party. I have been present at some, and have heard a description of many. I will tell you, first, of the storming of Seringapatam in India, in the year 1799, and then of the storming of Ghuznee, in Persia, a year or two ago.”

“Now, then, for the storming of Seringapatam.”

“I should have mentioned to you, that one part of the duty of a commander, especially when the seat of war is but imperfectly known, is to take care that military surveying is not neglected.”

“What do you mean by military surveying?”

“The art of military surveying, is to represent on paper the features of a country, that the operations of the service may be carried on with less difficulty, and more effect. If the commander of an army, or of a smaller force, is unacquainted with the country or neighbourhood in which he is, it will be necessary to reconnoitre it, for a knowledge of hills, woods, rivers, and brooks, as well as that of the force and position of the enemy. Military surveying is much the same as reconnoitering, only the latter is done rapidly with the naked eye, the former with instruments, and with greater care. But, I am forgetting the storming of Seringapatam.”

“We are quite ready to hear all about it.”

158“In storming a place, in order to insure success, it is necessary to act scrupulously according to orders given; moving a minute before or after the proper time may endanger the whole enterprise. I will read you the Order under which the fifth regiment acted on the night of the 19th of January 1812, in the great breach, by the third division, at the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo.


“‘The fifth regiment will attack the entrance of the ditch, at the junction of the counterscarpe with the main wall of the place. Major Sturgeon will show them the point of attack. They must issue from the right of the convent of Santa Cruz. They must have twelve axes, in order to cut down the gate by which the ditch is entered at the junction of the counterscarpe with the body of the place. The fifth regiment is likewise to have twelve scaling ladders, twenty-five feet long, and immediately on entering the ditch are to scale the fausse braye, in order to clear it of the enemy’s parties on their left, towards the principal breach. It will throw over any guns it may meet with, and will proceed along the fausse braye, where it will wait until Major-General Mackinnon’s column has passed on to the main attack, when it will follow in its rear. This regiment will make its attack at ten minutes before eleven o’clock. The seventy-seventh regiment 159will be in reserve on the right of the convent of Santa Cruz.’

“You see by this Order how necessary it is to be scrupulously exact in a storm. The capture of Seringapatam, the capital of the Mysore country, was, to the East India Company, an object of great importance, and the storming of the place was executed with great boldness. That Tippoo Saib was a treacherous and cruel tyrant there can be little doubt; and, if you have ever visited the museum of the East India House, you have seen a proof of his ferocity.”

“We have never been there. What is it that you mean?”

“There is in the museum a musical instrument that was made for Tippoo Saib. It is a kind of organ, and when the handle of it is turned round a tiger leaps on a prostrate British soldier, to tear him to pieces. The piteous cries of the soldier, and the savage yell of the tiger, afforded the tyrant much amusement.”

“Then he must have been a cruel savage, sure enough. We should like to see the museum.”

“There are many things in it which were taken from Tippoo, and among them his silken banners, decorated with the blazing sun, rent and torn by the storm of battle; his helm, his armour, and his mantle. His helmet is made of brass, with a silk covering, and his mantle has on it an inscription, 160written in Persian, which says that it had been dipped in the holy well at Mecca, and rendered invulnerable.”

“We shall, perhaps, see the India House Museum some day, and we shall be sure to look for the tiger and the soldier.”

“Tippoo Saib was the son of Hyder Ally; but he was much bolder and much more cunning and ferocious than his father. Soon after he ascended the throne, he attacked General Matthews, who had penetrated to Bednore, the capital of Cadnore. With his cavalry, and a few French troops, he made a desperate attack on the general, who, with the loss of five hundred Englishmen, took refuge in Bednore, where he soon surrendered.”

“Tippoo knew how to fight, it seems.”

“He did; but in battles, whether on sea or land, he who is a conqueror to-day may be a captive to-morrow. Tippoo found this to his cost. Detected in corresponding with the French, and plotting against the English, for their expulsion from India, it was determined to attack him in his capital. Desperate was the attack of the British and native troops, and desperate the defence of Tippoo, with his guards and his tiger grenadiers. General Harris was the British commander; but the attack on Seringapatam was entrusted to Major-General Baird, who had once been taken prisoner by Tippoo, and kept in irons for near four years.”

161“He would be sure to do his best, then.”

“No doubt he did. For some days the walls of Seringapatam were battered. At last a practicable breach was made, and then the place was stormed. Ten flank companies, supported by the 12th, 33rd, 73rd, and 74th regiments, with three corps of grenadier sepoys, and two hundred men from the troops of his highness the Nizam, formed the assaulting party, assisted by artillery-men and pioneers, while the battalions of Madras sepoys supported them in the trenches. Major-General Baird divided his forces, that he might the more easily clear the ramparts right and left. Colonel Sherbrooke led one party, and Lieutenant-Colonel Dunlop the other.”

“Tippoo would not be conquered very easily; he would never surrender.”

“A singular circumstance took place during the attack, that much favoured the British troops. A shot struck the chain that supported the draw-bridge, and divided it. Down fell the bridge, and thus enabled the besiegers to cross the moat. There was a rush to defend the bridge, and terrible was the carnage upon it; but British troops are not easily driven back, and they won their way.”

“How glad the British would be to see the draw-bridge fall.”

“Glad enough! Colonel Sherbrooke and Colonel Dunlop were both successful in their attacks. The tiger grenadiers made a desperate sortie from a 162sally-port, but they were met by some brave Highlanders and others, and, in spite of all resistance, the place was taken.”

“What became of Tippoo? was he taken prisoner?”

“No, not alive. He was pressing on to encourage his troops, when he received a musket-ball in his right side; and soon after another. His horse fell, being wounded, and then Tippoo’s turban fell from his head.”

“Poor Tippoo! Then it was all over with him.”

“He was placed, wounded as he was, on his palanquin near the gate under the archway, and one of his domestics who survived, said, that a soldier who came up, snatched at his rich sword-belt, but Tippoo made a cut at him with his sword and wounded him. This enraged the soldier, who, raising his musket, shot him through the temples, when he instantly fell and expired.”

“We can’t help being sorry for him, cruel as he was.”

“When his body was found it was under a heap of slain, and despoiled of sword, jacket and turban. On his right arm was fastened an amulet of metal, like silver, sewed up in fine flowered silk. This was a talisman, for, besides the metal, it contained some small manuscripts, in magic Arabic and Persian characters.”

“The talisman did not save him from being killed.”


163“It did not: his time was come. And it shows us the uncertainty of the life of a king as well as that of a common soldier. What was Tippoo in the morning when he quitted his palace? why, a king! a Sultan as proud as wealth and power could make him. What was he before set of sun? A disfigured lump of breathless clay! deprived not only of his capital and his kingdom, but also of his life. His proud palace, too, was occupied by General Baird; he whom Tippoo had before kept in cruel bondage for so long a period, at a short distance only from that gateway under which the tyrant fell!”

“There were a great number killed on both sides, no doubt?”

“I cannot tell the loss on the part of Tippoo, but on the English side there were between five and six hundred, reckoning killed, wounded and missing, altogether.”

“We should think it a terrible thing to see one man killed, but five or six hundred! that is dreadful.”

“Well, if I now tell you of the storming of Ghuznee, you will have had enough of fighting for one while. The storming of Ghuznee, in Affghanistan in Eastern Persia, a year or two ago, produced a strong sensation, both on account of the desperate resistance of the garrison and the courage and complete success of the besiegers.”

“Please to give us the account, and we will not interrupt you with a single word.”

164“I should have told you, that in storming a place it is customary for a small party to go first. This party is composed of soldiers who freely volunteer their services; it is called the ‘forlorn hope,’ on account of the extreme peril hazarded by the party. In this instance the party was a strong one. When a soldier goes on a forlorn hope he often does two things at once—he wins a reputation for bravery and loses his name from the muster-roll. The gate of the fortress was blown in with gunpowder, and when the single bugle sounded, the stormers, headed by Colonel Dennie, rushed into the dark and smoking entrance, where they came at once into deadly conflict with the Affghans of the garrison. It was night, and nothing could be distinctly seen in the gateway; but the clash and clang of contending swords and bayonets were fearful. Hand to hand some fought their way, others poured in, as opportunity occurred, at pistol-shot, a destructive fire of musketry. At last they could see, as they penetrated further, a little of the blue sky, and, here and there, a twinkling star, over the heads of their enemies; but they had no time for star-gazing. On they went, till a force of four companies had, in some sort, established themselves in the fortress! A loud cheer was then raised to announce their success to their companions outside the place. Brigadier Sale was bringing up his men to support the forlorn hope, when he met an engineer officer who had been 165injured by the explosion at the gate. This officer told him the forlorn hope could not force its way, the passage was so choked up with rubbish. Brigadier Sale, knowing that under such circumstances it would be sacrificing his party to proceed, sounded a retreat, and thereby put the victorious forlorn hope in extreme danger from the want of support. This was, however, but for a short time, for, soon after, the success of the stormers was made known to him. The Brigadier then advanced with his men, but was met by a large body of Affghans, rushing headlong from the ramparts to the opening to make their escape. The encounter was desperate; and one of the Affghans, leaping over the fallen timber, brought down the brigadier with a cut in the face with his sharp shumsheer, striking him also, as he fell, another stunning blow. The Affghan lost his footing, and grappling his enemy, rolled with him on the ground. This was a critical moment: the brigadier contrived to grasp the Affghan’s hand, so as to keep fast the hilt of his shumsheer till Captain Kershaw came up and passed his sabre through his body. Still the desperate struggle continued, for the infuriated Affghan was not subdued till the brigadier got his right hand sufficiently at liberty to cleave the head of his opponent with his sword, when the latter shouted out ‘Ue Allah!’ and breathed his last. Allah, or Ullah, is the name the Mahomedans give to God.

166“Though Brigadier Sale was unable at the moment to enter on active service, he yet calmly directed the movements of his men. There was desperate fighting; but British muskets and British bayonets won their way, and repeated shouts from the area of the fortress told the commander-in-chief, posted on the heights, that the walls were in possession of his troops. An order was now given to turn every gun on the heights towards the citadel. Colonel Croker with his troops entered the gates, winding his way upwards, as well as the ruins of the place would allow, towards the citadel, while the reserve troops, which had closed up close to the walls, had to endure the fire of hidden enemies from the ramparts. At last the reserve troops also entered the gates. It was thought the most desperate resistance would take place in the citadel, but it was not so, for Mohammed Hyder, in consternation at the boldness of the stormers, abandoned the mound. The gates of the citadel were burst open, and the colours of the 13th light infantry, and of the 17th regiment, were soon seen waving on the stronghold of Ghuznee. All was confusion; the rattle of muskets, the clashing of bayonets and swords, and the shrieks of the women of the harem were mingled, while the cries and groans of the wounded, and the flight of the fugitives increased the general consternation of the garrison. The reserve troops pressed on to the eastern rampart, when a body of concealed 167Affghans madly rushed forth, sword in hand, to cut a passage to the gateway. Just then a group of wearied soldiers were resting on the low ground below the citadel, where many of the wounded men lay, and where hundreds of Affghan horses were wildly galloping to and fro. On this group the furious Affghans rushed. The soldiers sprang to their feet, and a dreadful carnage ensued. A wild fusillade was directed against the Affghans, who fell, grinding their teeth with rage, crying, ‘Ue Allah!’ or giving vent to curses. Courage, calmness, rage, suffering, supplication, and despair, were all visible. The dying were mingled with the dead. The narrow streets of the town were scoured by the besiegers, the detached tower was carried by the gorge, and the garrison completely subdued. In little better than two hours after the attack commenced, Ghuznee, with its garrison of three thousand five hundred men, was taken, without a single ladder being raised in escalade—thus showing the wondrous superiority of British valour and British tactics.”

“Well! that was a very desperate affair.”

“It was; but war is a desperate game; it is often so to the winner, and always to the loser. There has been sad news lately from India. The Affghans have been victorious, some thousands of our troops have fallen, and the wives of several British officers are in the hands of the enemy.”



Tactics and stratagems of war.—Captain Bentley and Captain Baines.—The defiance.—Scaling the rock.—The stratagem of the boat.—Battle of Actium.—Duke of Saxe Weimar.—Breaking the line.—The Prussian General.—Ibrahim Pasha.—The old Dervise.—War terms.—Actions.—Attacks.—Attempts.—Battles.—Blockades.—Bombardments.—Descents.—Defeats.—Engagements.—Expeditions.—Invasions.—Sea-fights.—Storms.—Sieges.—Surprises.—Skirmishes.—Repulses.—Explosions.—Three-fingered Jack.

“We will now, boys, enter a little into the tactics and stratagems of war. Nothing like being 169fair and above-board in the common transactions of life; but in war, he who can take a prisoner instead of taking his life does a good thing; and he who by tactics or stratagems can compel an army to lay down their arms, instead of covering the ground with slain, does better.”

“Ay! you must please to make everything as plain to us as you can.”

“I will! I will! As no nation is justified in going to war when peaceable means can be resorted to with success, so no general ought to destroy human life while he can accomplish his ends by stratagem. The difference between the tactics of war and the stratagems of war is this. Tactics are superior arrangements made by knowledge and genius to overcome an enemy, while stratagems are feints, made to deceive him. Tactics are, therefore, of the most importance, for they will always be called into play, while stratagems can only be occasionally resorted to. A good player at chess, or draughts, will beat an opponent by his superior skill or tactics, without once resorting to a stratagem, while an indifferent player will sometimes win a game by resorting to the stratagem of giving his adversary one piece, and capturing two in return.”

“O yes! It is very plain that there is a great difference between stratagems and tactics.”

“When I was a schoolboy, the whole school, in play-hours, was divided into two parties, with a 170captain at the head of each, and many a brave encounter took place in our mimic battles. One of our captains, named Baines, was famous for stratagems, and by the aid of these he was frequently successful, though his opponent, Captain Bentley, was greatly his superior in strength and activity. On one occasion, Baines separated himself from his party, withdrawing himself on the left flank, crying out, ‘O that I had an enemy that dared to meet me hand to hand!’ Bentley, knowing himself to be more than a match for his opponent, instantly followed him, when, on a signal given by Baines, two of his strongest soldiers ran to support him, while the rest flung themselves between Bentley’s troops and their commander, to prevent any assistance being given. The consequence followed, that Bentley was soon a prisoner, with his hands tied behind his back, and Baines, with little exertion, obtained a complete victory.”

“That was a famous stratagem! How could Bentley be so foolish as to follow him?”

“On another occasion, Baines took possession alone of a rock, so steep on all sides that it could only be scaled by the aid of a ladder; from the top of this rock he pelted his opponents; when Bentley, too proud, to be driven away by Baines alone, mounted the ladder to dislodge him. No sooner, however, had he gained the summit of the rock than Baines, who had let himself down on the opposite side with a rope, 171appeared at the bottom, and threw down the ladder, so that Captain Bentley, from the top of the rock which he had no means of descending, had the mortification to see his little army discomfited for the want of a commander.”

“Capital! capital! Baines was too much for Bentley.”

“It was after these stratagems that he practised a third. Bentley was very fond of addressing his party from a little boat that was moored by the side of the broad brook. One day, as he was standing in the boat addressing his troops, and telling them that in the hour of danger he would always be found at their head, the boat imperceptibly glided from the bank towards the middle of the stream. Bentley perceiving the boat to be unmoored, turned round, when he saw the weakest of Baines’s soldiers, half hid among the opposite bushes, pulling at a rope, which had been fastened beforehand to the boat. By this stratagem Bentley was kept in the middle of his brook till the whole of his army was discomfited, Baines repeatedly crying out, ‘In the hour of danger you will find me at your head!’”

“Famous! famous! That Baines would have made a good general!”

“A knowledge of tactics is indispensable to a general and to an admiral; remembrance too, of the common details and evolutions should be kept up, otherwise officers, though their tactics may be 172good, may make arrangements and give orders, difficult to be executed. The Prussian tactics were, to concentrate power and to attack the chief points of an enemy in succession, whereas French tactics attack all points, with divided forces, at one and the same time.”

“Why, the one is just the contrary to the other.”

“To go back to the days of Rome. At the battle of Actium, Augustus, finding himself inferior to Mark Anthony in the number of his ships, had the sagacity to draw up his line of battle along the entrance of the Gulph of Ambracia, and thereby to make up for his deficiency. This naval manœuvre, as well as that of getting to windward of the enemy, in order to bear down upon him with more certainty and effect, exists to the present day.”

“Augustus acted wisely, for many of Mark Anthony’s ships had not room to fight.”

“In ancient times ships had sharp prows, with which they ran one against another. The battle was then carried on by boarding, but now cannon-shot decides almost every action. Ships now fight broadside to broadside; and whenever a vessel can take another at such a disadvantage as to sweep her decks from stem to stern, this is called ‘raking her fore and aft.’”

“Ay! gunpowder has made a great difference in that respect.”

173“The Duke of Saxe Weimar, at the siege of Brissack, practised a stratagem with success. The Imperialists had a strong post on a hill. The duke ordered the drums and trumpets of the different corps to be stationed in a neighbouring wood. When these began to play, the Imperialists, thinking they were about to be attacked in that quarter, left the strong position they occupied on the hill, which was instantly taken possession of by the duke.”

“The duke was too cunning for them a great deal.”

“The Dutch, the Spanish, and the French, have all had their day on the ocean; but they are not likely to have it again at present.”

“John Clark, Esq. a Fellow of the Society of Scottish Antiquaries, introduced a new kind of naval tactics, since proved to be eminently successful. Before his tactics were introduced British ships were almost always victorious in battles between single ships, while in conflicts of whole fleets they seldom obtained an advantage. Their intrepidity and desire to engage, led them to attack from windward, which enabled their enemies, formed ready for them to leeward, to disable them, as they came into action, by injuring their masts and rigging, from following them when they chose to retire. Thus, fleet after fleet escaped, because British tars could not come into close action. Mr. Clark’s system found 174a remedy for this evil—by breaking the line. His principle is, to exert the chief force against the weakest or most vulnerable part of the enemy’s line. Admiral Rodney first broke through the French fleet on this principle, when its rear was driven to leeward in confusion and torn to pieces by a raking fire. Do you not understand, boys, that if an admiral, by cutting off one half of an enemy’s fleet, can bring the whole of his ships to bear on that part, he may, perhaps, obtain a victory before the other half of the enemy’s fleet can join the battle.”

“O yes, that is very clear. No wonder that admirals should wish to break the enemy’s line.”

“Lords Howe and Vincent, Duncan, and Nelson, have all followed out this principle with great success. Tactics are quite as necessary in the army as in the navy. Frederick the Great once gave much encouragement to a stranger who undertook to introduce some new and important tactics into his army. But General De Zeithen, seeing through the hollowness of the stranger’s pretensions, laid an ambuscade for him in a sham fight, took him prisoner, and brought him in bound, on horseback; which circumstance opened the eyes of Frederick to the empty pretensions of his new favourite.”

“Well done, General De Zeithen! His tactics were better than those of the would-be general.”

175“When Ibrahim Pasha, the son of Mehemet Ali, was at Damascus, in Syria, with an army of forty thousand men, an old dervise arrived there, and hastened to give his staff to Ibrahim. In this staff the old dervise had safely carried a scrap of paper from Mehemet Ali, containing these words—‘Acre has been taken—return to Egypt.’ A council was called, and the European advisers of Ibrahim strongly urged him to retire, in one body, by the shortest road coastward, with baggage and provisions, as he would then be able to set every attack at defiance. Ibrahim unaccountably neglected this proposal, and following out his own mistaken plan, broke up his army into six divisions, giving fourteen days’ provisions to each, and sent them on to be harassed and distressed by the Turks and mountaineers, who hung upon them during the whole of their march. Ibrahim paid dear for his error in dividing his troops. It took him thirty-nine days to reach Gaza, during which time he twice marched round the Dead Sea, having mistaken his road, pursued by his enemies, who allowed him no respite, and compelled his troops to prolong their existence by eating herbs. It is said, that even in the retreat of Buonaparte from Moscow greater hardships were not endured than in that of Ibrahim Pasha from Syria.”

“How foolish, to divide his army.”

176“It was foolish, and no doubt he thought so, long before he arrived at Gaza. The more you hear or read of tactics, the clearer you will see that the better they are understood the more likely is an army to be successful. It is generally agreed that there are some principles which should always be strictly attended to in the formation of all military bodies.

“First, Each regiment, or integral part of an army, must be under the uniform command of one man, interested in its good appearance, efficiency, and success, who must be responsible for his charge, and removeable when not found equal to his duty.

“Secondly, Its size should not be too great to admit of his personal inspection and superintendence, under all the circumstances of its ordinary situation, so that he may be thoroughly acquainted with every officer, and, generally, with the men.

“Thirdly, Promotion should be confined, as much as the interests of the service will permit, within each regiment, so that those who share equally in the perils of any duty should also share equally in the advantages resulting therefrom.

“Fourthly, This promotion should be at such a rate as to prevent men arriving at commands requiring much energy and exertion, when they are in mind and body too much debilitated for either.”

177“Those appear to be very excellent regulations. Do soldiers like best to go abroad or to remain at home?”

“There are, no doubt, those who prefer to rest in old England, but many officers feel most at home when abroad, well knowing that the field is the high road to promotion.”

“Very likely, uncle! very likely!”

“There are many war terms, the precise meaning of which can hardly be given—having different significations attached to them. Thus, an action may be considered to be a battle between the smaller bodies of troops. The attempt of the French to take Hougomont, at the battle of Waterloo, was an attack; it was an assault to gain a post. The expedition of the Spanish Armada was an attempt; but, on account of the valour of British seamen, it did not succeed. The fight on the fields of Waterloo was a battle; the forces of two armies were engaged. The investment of Pampluna by the Duke of Wellington was a blockade, for the surrounding troops shut up all the avenues to the place, and prevented anything from going in or out. The taking of Flushing, in the Isle of Walcheren, was a bombardment, for the place was subdued by throwing shells into it, and battering it with cannon. Buonaparte’s expedition to Egypt was a descent; it was a sudden, hostile entrance into a country. The loss sustained by Mourad-Bey at the battle of the Pyramids, was a defeat; it was 178the overthrow of an army. The battle of the Nile was an engagement; it was a fight between two fleets. The British troops, sent out to Egypt under Abercrombie, was an expedition; it was a force sent out on a military enterprise. The taking possession of Algiers by the French was an invasion; it was the hostile occupation of a country, with intent to retain it.

“The engagement between the Shannon and the Chesapeake was a sea-fight; it was a battle between two ships. The taking of Seringapatam was a storm; it was accomplished by a sudden and violent assault. The reduction of Antwerp was a siege; the place was invested by an army, and approached by covert ways. A surprise is an unexpected assault and capture. A skirmish is an encounter between two smaller bodies of troops in the neighbourhood of their respective armies. A repulse, is the disaster of being beaten back by an enemy. The destruction of the powder-magazine at Jean D’Acre was an explosion; it was the blowing up of the magazine, though accidentally accomplished.”

“If we can remember one half you have told us, we shall be able to talk like old soldiers. You have been a great deal abroad, uncle, in your time.”

“Yes, and among other places, I have served in Jamaica, and been in the cave of the famous Obi Man, called Three-fingered Jack.”

179“Who was Three-fingered Jack? Oh! do tell us?”

“Three-fingered Jack was a desperate fellow, that lived a lawless life in the woods. He was said to be as strong as three men; his speed was like that of the greyhound, and his courage equal to the most daring adventurer. He pretended to practise Obi, or African necromancy; and the simple negroes believed him capable of doing dreadful things. His deeds were so desperate that his name struck terror into the surrounding neighbourhood, and large rewards were offered for his apprehension, in vain. Both the civil and military authorities he set at nought, and in spite of them both, continued his depredations.”

“What a terrible fellow! And did they take him at last?”

“You shall hear. Sometimes Jack suddenly appeared among the negroes when they were assembled before the plantation house, two or three hundred of them together, just as if he had sprung up from the ground, and when he held up his three-fingered hand they would fall prostrate before him. Unawed by the overseer or proprietor, he levied his contributions, demanding and receiving what he wanted. At last Quashi, a Maroon negro, one of the race of coloured men, who for a long time dwelt in the strongholds of the Blue Mountains, undertook to destroy him.”

180“And did he? It was no easy matter to kill Three-fingered Jack. Did he really kill him?”

“He did; for, taking a nephew to assist him, he hunted him from cover to cover, until, after two or three times grappling with him, he shot Jack as he was climbing a hill; severed his head from his body, and obtained a large reward.”



Motto for a soldier.—Glory.—Reply to a challenge.—The caricature.—Discharges.—A picquet, sentinel, vedette, advanced guard, and flag of truce.—Crossing rivers.—Presentations.—Camps of instruction.—Comfort of a cigar.—Tribute to the brave.

“The love of country is creditable to every heart; and I would have you, boys, cherish it in yours. I would, if I could, have every soldier, and indeed every Englishman, take for his motto,

‘Old England for ever!
The land, boys, we live in!’

and make up his mind that it is his bounden duty to do all he can for the country that gave him birth. Most of the old boys at Greenwich 182Hospital, and Chelsea College, who have lost an arm or a leg, or are otherwise injured, would heartily join in this sentiment, though they somehow seem to think fighting, and their country’s good, the same thing.”

“When a soldier is wounded, no doubt he tries to comfort himself with the honour he has got in the battle?”

“O boys! boys! ‘Will honour take away the grief of a wound?’ A soldier had need have something better to support him than the mere love of glory: he ought to have the consolation of knowing that he has fought in a just cause, and that it is his country’s good, and not his own that he aims at. In my time, perhaps, I have run after the bubble glory as ardently as the boy pursues his butterfly; but there are seasons—I speak from experience—when the heart of a soldier is sick of war; and then he muses and moralizes like other men. When, harassed, day after day, and night after night, when, bivouacing on the cold ground, or watching by the dying embers of the camp-fire, and, especially, when lying among the wounded on the battle-field, he sees friends and foes around him who have been swept down by the sharp scythe of war, he yearns for the calm quiet, the soothing peacefulness of a happy home, where the wasting sword of battle is unknown; and then, like others, he can break out in ardent exclamations against mad ambition, questioning the value of 183mere glory, and even doubting the lawfulness of making earthly honours an object of his desires.

‘O glory! glory! Mighty one on earth!
How justly imaged by the waterfall!
So wild and furious in thy sparkling birth,
Dashing thy torrents down, and dazzling all;
Sublimely breaking from thy glorious height,
Majestic, thundering, beautiful, and bright.
‘Oh! what is human glory, human pride?
What are man’s triumphs, when they brightest seem?
What art thou, mighty one! though deified?
Methuselah’s long pilgrimage—a dream!
Our age is but a shade, our life a tale,
A vacant fancy, or a passing gale.’

“You see, that though I am an old soldier, I have no notion of men fighting for mere glory. The good of their country and the real welfare of those around them is a better motive to move a soldier’s or a sailor’s heart than all the glory that can be acquired.”

“Officers sometimes fight duels, uncle, that cannot be for the good of their country.”

“Very true. He who kills another in a duel lays up for himself a bed of briers and a pillow of thorns. There are restless nights and ugly dreams in store for him. Perhaps you may have heard of the reply that was once given to a challenge. As, however, it is short, I will repeat it to you. It ran pretty much in this manner: ‘I have two objections to this duel affair; the one is, lest I 184should hurt you, and the other is, lest you should hurt me. I do not see any good that it would do me to put a bullet through any part, though even the least dangerous part of your body. As to myself, I think it more sensible to avoid than to place myself in the way of anything harmful. I am under great apprehension you might hit me: that being the case, I think it more advisable to stay at a distance. If you want to try your pistols, take some object—a tree, or anything else about my dimensions; if you hit that, send me word, and I shall acknowledge that if I had been in the same place you might have hit me.’”

“That was a famous answer, however.”

“I once saw a caricature of two sailors fighting a duel in a saw-pit with blunderbusses. If this method should ever become popular, the number of duels will not be very great. ‘Do you know the use of the sword?’ was once tauntingly asked of a brave officer by a mad-headed young ensign, who wished to provoke him to a duel. ‘Better than you do, young man,’ was the noble reply: ‘A soldier’s sword should defend his country from her foes, and not be plunged into the hearts of her friends.’ I knew a private soldier in the dragoons, well educated, but of a proud and violent temper, who quarrelled with his captain, and sent him a challenge. The captain refused to fight with a private; and this so wounded the pride of the dragoon that he destroyed himself with one of his 185own pistole. I would have all such untractable, reckless spirits discharged from the army.”

“When are soldiers discharged?”

“Under different circumstances. We will not here allude to desertion, for then, men and muskets too sometimes go off without being discharged. At times soldiers are found unfit for service; they have purchased their liberty; the army has been reduced; their period of service has been completed; or some crime has been committed by them, on account of which they are dismissed with disgrace. It often happens, however, that a soldier, unfit for one duty, is very capable of performing another, and thus many are invalided; they are put on garrison duty, though unfit for general service.”

“Ay! that seems a very good plan. Garrison-duty, then, is not so hard as other service?”

“It is not. Sometimes, when soldiers are discharged, they have pensions, and sometimes they have not. Many a man, who is not active enough for a picquet in the field, makes a good sentinel in garrison.”

“What is a picquet?”

“A picquet is an out-guard, posted before an army, to reconnoitre and give notice of the approach of an enemy. Picquets have been called the watchdogs of an army.”

“Is a picquet and a sentinel the same?”

“No; for a sentinel is one man, whereas picquets are often strong bodies of horse and foot. Sentinels 186in the night should be careful not to give false alarms. I knew of one case, wherein a camp was put in confusion by a sentinel firing his piece at a horse, which had strayed; the sentinel mistook the animal for an enemy—the alarm became general, but at last the cause of it was discovered. In case of a sudden surprise, the picquet guard make what resistance they can, that the army may have time to get ready. Picquets should be composed of smart fellows, all alive and equal to their undertaking; men who will behave kindly to the inhabitants around them, and keep on good terms with them. Telescopes and pocket-compasses are very necessary to picquets. At night, sounds may be heard at a great distance, and the vedettes posted by the picquet, should be very silent to catch a distant sound. At night, too, a person can see better, looking up hill than looking down. These, and a hundred other things, should be well known by picquets, to render them thoroughly useful.”

“You did not say what a vedette was?”

“A vedette is a sentinel on horseback. His carbine should be advanced ready for use, and his horse’s head turned in the direction of expected danger. Once, when I was on a picquet in Spain, near Corunna, a vedette gave the alarm, and a body of horse burst upon us so suddenly that had it not been for a couple of carts and some timber, which we had but just dragged across the narrow 187pass before us, every soldier must have been sacrificed. These are moments that try men, and tell us what they are. Advanced guards are parties of horse or foot, and frequently of both the one and the other, marching on before large forces, and thus covering the front of a column.”

“How do soldiers manage when a flag of truce is sent?”

“I will tell you. A flag of truce is sent to an enemy when a cessation of hostilities is required; when time is wanted to bury the dead, or when articles of peace are about to be drawn up. It is the duty of an officer carrying a flag of truce to make the best of his eyes, that he may observe all he can of the strength and position of the enemy. And when a flag of truce arrives the receivers of it should blindfold the messenger who bears it, if he goes to head-quarters. The bearer of a flag of truce is generally preceded by a trumpeter.”

“How do soldiers manage to get across brooks, that are deep, and rivers? That must be no easy matter?”

“The crossing of great rivers is one of the most difficult of military operations, yet this is frequently necessary to be done in the face of an enemy. It is effected in different ways; sometimes a river, which cannot be crossed in a straight line, may be crossed in a slant one. When not fordable at all, pontoons, and pontoon 188bridges are resorted to. Pontoons are flat-bottomed boats, made of wood, but lined with tin or copper, as the case may be, a little better than twenty feet long. Bridges of boats, too, are used, as well as cables, stretched from the bank by tackles and capstans, and resting on the decks of vessels, moored at different distances. Flying bridges are at times very serviceable. They are formed by anchoring a floating body in the water to receive the action of the stream obliquely, by which a force is derived from the current to move the vessel across the river. Then, there are rafts of timber, casks, air-tight cases, and inflated skins, resorted to, as well as carriage-bridges, and suspension-bridges, bridges on trestles, piles, truss-frames, and other applications of carpentry.”

“Oh! tell us what an inspection is?”

“Inspections, like many other duties, are only useful when they are well and efficiently performed. An inspecting general should have a thorough knowledge of his profession, a quick eye, a sound judgment, a love for the service, a nice sense of honour, and an independent mind, altogether inaccessible to flattery. In a word, he should do what he undertakes to do; he should patiently and narrowly examine the troops under inspection, commending and encouraging soldierlike conduct, and reproving and correcting what is deserving of censure.”

189“No doubt, inspections must be very good things!”

“I will show you how an inspection may be rendered useless. Fancy to yourselves, boys, a general, setting off with his aid-de-camp in a great bustle, and in high good humour, determined to hurry through his duties. You may be sure that the colonel and the adjutant of the troops to be inspected will not be inattentive to him; and if the colonel and adjutant are forward, the paymaster, the quarter-master, and the surgeon are not likely to be backward. How can the kind-hearted general make himself disagreeable to others by finding fault, when every one is trying to be agreeable to him? The thing is out of the question; and he looks with a favourable eye on everything in the barracks, the hospital, and the books. He is highly gratified in finding such order and discipline, and praises much, and censures very little. He must be very different from the common character of men, if a well-supplied mess, good wines, and complimentary speeches, should sour his temper; so that when the review, the grand field-day comes, on the morrow, he must be a Turk if he does not regard things with a kindly spirit. He is struck with the admirable manner in which the battalion is put through the manœuvres by the senior major and captain; both manual and platoon exercises are ably performed, and all goes 190off surprisingly. With a courteous and condescending air, he approaches the colonel, in the fulness of his heart, and thus addresses him:—‘Colonel, the soldierlike bearing, and general appearance of the men under your command, afford me much satisfaction. They show what British soldiers, under the command of British officers, can attain. Their steadiness and promptitude under arms, and the correctness and precision of their movements, are highly creditable to you and to them. I trust that a spirit of emulation will be kept up among the troops, so that they will never decline from their present high state of efficiency, nor forfeit the good opinion they now deserve.’ Now, if all this were to be huddled up in haste, instead of occupying a reasonable time for its accomplishment, and good humour and kindly feeling were thus allowed to take the place of discipline and duty, it is clear that very little advantage would be obtained from the inspection. A sense of duty, and a high and honourable bearing, should fill the bosom of a soldier, whether he be a drill-sergeant or a commanding-officer.”

“A review must be a grand sight!”

“Many of them are very much so. The review which took place 7th July, 1824, before the Duke of York, when the guards were present, is thus described:—‘The whole of the movements were executed with a degree of precision which excited universal admiration, and received 191the unqualified approbation of the commander-in-chief. It would be difficult to imagine anything, except an actual field-of-battle, more terrific than the view of the troops when performing some of the attacks. One brigade charging at full gallop, the other supporting them in the rear; the roaring of the artillery in the flanks; the irregular discharge of carbines by the pursuers; the sounding of trumpets, and neighing of steeds, all combined in forcing upon the mind a powerful idea of a scene of real warfare.’ A presentation is often an imposing spectacle.”

“What is a presentation?”

“Presentations are of different kinds. Sometimes colours are presented, and sometimes other things. In January 1831, King William was pleased to declare himself colonel-in-chief of the household brigade of cavalry, consisting of the first and second regiments of life-guards and the royal regiment of horse-guards. His Majesty expressed his intention to present to each of the two regiments of life-guards a pair of silver kettle drums, constructed of fine silver, ornamented with royal and regimental devices, of fretted silver, in high relief, with the name of the sovereign, the number and title of the regiment, and the date of presentation, on each drum. The second regiment received these May 6th, 1831. When the ninetieth regiment of light-infantry was presented with a new stand of colours, in 192the square of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Lieutenant-General Sir Hussey Vivian concluded his address to the troops in the following words:—

“Before I conclude, I must impress upon you, that at all times the watchword of a soldier ought to be ‘Honour and fidelity.’ To attain this, the governing principle of his conduct must be, ‘obedience to the orders of his superiors.’ I will remind you of the last, that most impressive order of that great naval commander, who fell in the most glorious victory ever gained by the navy of England, and who in falling sealed the maritime ascendency of the country, annihilating the fleets of France and Spain,—I say, I must remind you of that last, that most impressive order, which he issued to those brave men under his command, calling upon them to recollect that ‘England expects every man to do his duty,’ an order so nobly given, and so gloriously and triumphantly executed, that the remembrance of it can never be effaced from the annals of our country. And, lastly, I must beg of you never to forget, when marching against the enemy to victory and glory, as I have no doubt you will do, should an opportunity offer; I say, when marching against the enemy under those colours which I now place in your care, I call on you never to forget that they are to be stained only with your blood; to be surrendered only with your lives.”

193“Sir Hussey Vivian knew how to animate his men.”

“Many military men say, that camps of instruction ought to be formed in England, that soldiers may become more accustomed to the usages of war, and made more perfect in their duty. They have them in France, and other countries: and one bad effect has certainly followed the plan, it has made the people more fond of fighting than they were before. You are no smokers, boys, and therefore can hardly conceive what a luxury a cigar is, under some circumstances. You shall hear what a brother officer says on the subject.”

“Ay! let us know all about his cigar.”

“‘Late on the eve of the memorable battle of Waterloo,’ says one who was engaged in the strife, ‘the regiment to which I belonged took up its position on that hard-fought field, in front of Hougomont, or, more properly speaking, the Château de Goumont, a strong farm-house, and the key-stone of the British line. The sun set red, ominously foretelling stormy weather; and about dark the rain descended in torrents. Our situation, as may easily be conceived, was none of the most enviable, being totally destitute of tents or field matériel. We bivouacked in line; and here and there might be seen, through the murky gloom of night, men huddled together, trying to retain that animal heat so necessary 194to our existence, to say nothing of our comfort. A party of half-a-dozen of us gathered round a fire of half-ignited logs of wood, trying, by every means ingenuity could invent, to nurse it into flame, and prevent the rain utterly drowning its genial influence. We were sitting despondingly, wet, and talking over our probable fate in the morrow’s fight, when, by some unaccountable influence, I put my hand into the side-pocket of my grey great coat. I felt a something; I withdrew my hand with a mingled feeling of joy and fear; joy, occasioned by the unlooked-for discovery; fear, from a dread of being disappointed if I prosecuted my search without ultimate success; when, having essayed again, to my great delight, and to the envy of my companions, I pulled out a cigar,—my last cigar! I seized the half-ignited stick and applied it to the weed,—alas! no smoke rewarded my efforts. I cursed my folly for so carelessly exposing it in my pocket: I rolled it and unrolled it; in fact, I tried all the arts that smokers have invented to doctor a bad cigar, when, after half-an-hour’s patient endeavour, I elicited a blue curling cloud from my last cigar. Happy moment! Though years have intervened, never have I forgotten that most ecstatic speck in the few hours of terrestrial happiness I have met with.’”

195“Poor fellow! How he must have enjoyed it!”

“No doubt he did, boys! It recalls to my mind not only the memorable plains of Waterloo, but also many a camp-scene, wherein comforts were scarce. It sets before me bygone struggles in company with those who are now no more. Vimiera, Corunna, Busaco, Salamanca, and Vittoria, rise before me! To the memory of many who fought and fell on Spanish ground, the following beautiful lines would be an appropriate tribute:—

“It was not in holy ground,
Bless’d by white-rob’d priest, they laid him,
But on the field,
While the cannon peal’d,
A hasty grave they made him,
With the brave around.
“It was not in costly shroud,
Sewn by cherish’d hands, they wound him,
But on the plain,
Soil’d by many a stain,
They wrapped his cloak around him,
While the strife was loud.
“It was not by the tolling bell
That to his grave they bore him;
By the iron note
Of the cannon’s throat
They cast the cold sods o’er him,
Where he bravely fell!
196“It was not by a sculptur’d stone
That in after-years they found him:
They knew full well
Where he fought and fell,
With the bold and the brave around him,
Ere the fight was done!”


Algiers.—Admiral Keppel and the Dey.—The expedition of Lord Exmouth against Algiers.—The Christian slaves are set free, and such slavery abolished for ever.—The French at Algiers.—The taking of Jean D’Acre by Sir Robert Stopford.—The explosion of the powder magazine.—The mistake made by the garrison.—The operations of a siege.—The daring young soldier.—The siege of Antwerp, by Marshal Gerard.—Desperate defence of General Chassé.—The surrender.

“I will now tell you of the siege of Antwerp, by far the most memorable siege of modern 198times. But, first, a word or two on the bombardment of Algiers, and of the taking of Jean D’Acre. Algiers is on the coast of Africa. It has many times been bombarded, for the deys, or governors of the place, have usually been sad pirates, taking the ships of all nations, and carrying their crews and passengers into captivity.”

“Then they deserved to be punished for their robbery and cruelty.”

“When Admiral Keppel was sent to the Dey of Algiers, to demand restitution of two ships which the pirates had taken, he sailed with his squadron into the bay of Algiers, and cast anchor in front of the Dey’s palace. He then landed, and, attended only by his captain and barge’s crew, demanded an immediate audience of the Dey. This being granted, he claimed full satisfaction for the injuries done to the subjects of his Britannic Majesty. Surprised and enraged at the boldness of the admiral’s remonstrance, the Dey exclaimed, ‘that he wondered at the English King’s insolence in sending him a foolish, beardless boy.’ A well-timed reply from the admiral made the Dey forget the laws of all nations in respect to ambassadors, and he ordered his mutes to attend with the bowstring, at the same time telling the admiral he should pay for his audacity with his life. Unmoved by this menace, the admiral took the Dey to a window facing the bay, and showed him the English fleet riding at anchor, and told 199him, that if he dared to put him to death there were Englishmen enough in that fleet to make him a glorious funeral-pile. The Dey was wise enough to take the hint. The admiral obtained ample restitution, and came off in safety.”

“The cruel Dey soon altered his tone.”

“In consequence of a massacre, that took place in 1816, of foreigners at Bona, then under the protection of the British flag, Lord Exmouth was ordered to Algiers to demand satisfaction of the Dey for the insult offered to England.”

“There could be no satisfaction made to the poor foreigners who were massacred.”

“No; but had not the English interfered, the Algerines might have done the same thing again without fear. The flag of Lord Exmouth was hoisted on board the Queen Charlotte, and the expedition was joined at Gibraltar by a Dutch squadron, under Vice-admiral Capellan. On Sunday, the 25th of August, divine service was performed, and prayers offered up for success in their enterprise.”

“That must have been very solemn, as many of them might never again meet on such an occasion.”

“True. A flag of truce, with terms, was sent to the Dey; and soon the Queen Charlotte came to an anchor by the stern, at about ninety yards from the muzzles of the guns of the mole-batteries. A sailor always obeys flag-ship signals. You may be sure, then, that the whole fleet soon drew up in 200battle order. As it was evident the Algerines were preparing to fire, the Queen Charlotte poured in a broadside just as the smoke of one of the enemy’s guns was visible. On went the work of destruction! nor did it cease till the ships in the harbour were destroyed, and the fortifications rendered a heap of ruins. When the Dey found Algiers tumbling about his ears he surrendered, and the whole of the Christian slaves he had in captivity were set free, and such slavery abolished for ever. The French fitted out an expedition against Algiers a few years ago, and took possession of it. They are now practising great cruelties there, by what they call razias, but what might more properly be called, murderous inroads on the people. They go forth with their troops to surprise the Arab tribes; they burn their villages, destroy their harvests, and slaughter men, women, and children. O France! where is thy shame? Marshal Clauzel asked the question of the French Senate, ‘If the character of the inhabitants was such that the soil could not be occupied without their destruction?’”

“Do they kill the women and children?”

“They do; but they will not do it with impunity. Algiers is draining France of her treasures and troops. It may be called the French soldier’s grave. There is an Eye above, boys, that marks oppression and cruelty, and an Almighty arm to chastise the oppressor.”

“It must be shocking indeed, to act in that cruel manner.”

201“St. Jean D’Acre is a strong place in Syria, on the coast of the Mediterranean. The taking of this strong fortress by the squadron under the command of Admiral Sir Robert Stopford, after a cannonade and bombardment of only a few hours, is a most extraordinary affair, when we consider that Sir Sidney Smith kept possession of this place against every attempt of the French army under Napoleon Buonaparte, to reduce it; though nine assaults were made, by some of the bravest troops in the world, on an open breach, it was all in vain. Commodore Napier, one of the bravest men in the British navy, commanded the Princess Charlotte, Powerful, Bellerophon, Revenge, Thunderer, and Pique, on an attack of the west lines of the works, while the Edinburgh, Benbow, Castor, Carysfort, Talbot, Wasp, and Hazard, attacked the south face. The fire of the ships on both sides was fearfully destructive. The Austrian frigate, Medea, and the Guerriero, with the Arabian corvette, Lipsia, did much service, as well as the Sultan’s ship, Mookuddimay-i-hive. The steamers Gorgon, Vesuvius, Phœnix, and Stromboli, threw shot and shells into the town; and one shot, supposed to be from the Gorgon, occasioned the destruction of the powder-magazine. This explosion is said to have almost annihilated two whole regiments, formed in position on the ramparts; some say, more than a thousand, and others, that nearer two thousand were destroyed by it.”

202“Terrible! terrible!”

“It may seem almost miraculous that the allied fleet sustained so little injury, but this was principally owing to a mistake made by the garrison. Captain Boxer, and, I think, Captain Codrington, in surveying the anchorage, discovered a shoal, of some extent, opposite the wall, at the distance of about two thousand yards, and as this was likely to injure the shipping, a few buoys were placed to mark the place. The garrison mistook the buoys for moorings, and concluded that they marked out the intended stations of the ships. Their guns were accordingly elevated for that distance, and the embrasures filled up with sand-bags, to fix the elevation. This was a fatal error; for the fleet came inside the buoys; and taking up a position under the batteries, opened such a destructive fire as left the garrison no opportunity to alter their guns, or even to see their error, through the cloud of smoke, which, wafted by a light breeze, thickened, and hung like a dark canopy over the devoted fortress. The shot of the garrison, for the most part, passed over the hulls of the ships, only injuring the sails and rigging, so that the whole amount of killed and wounded, in a fleet of twenty-one ships, drawn up within a few hundred yards of a formidable battery, did not exceed three score men. Some mischief was done on board the fleet by the shells thrown by the garrison mortars, but, during a fire of four hours, there was scarcely one 203shot in twenty from the heavy guns that did not go over the hulls of the ships.”

“If it had not been for the mistake of the garrison, one half of the British ships might have been destroyed?”

“They might. And we see, by this accident, how by skill and tactics the commander of a fleet might, in many cases, preserve his ships and men, and gain a great advantage over his enemy. So long as British men, in the army and navy, keep up their present character for courage and discipline, and are led on by commanders in whom they have confidence, they will always rank as the bravest of the brave. I was to tell you of the siege of Antwerp. The general operations of a siege shall be described, and then we will come to Antwerp itself. You may remember what I said about fortification, and the little that I told you of a siege. Well, now I will be more particular in my description.”

“Now for it! How do they begin to fight?”

“The attack commences, not with the firing of cannon, the throwing of shells, or by marching soldiers up to the walls or ditch of the fortified place, but with pickaxes and spades.”

“Pickaxes and spades! What, do soldiers fight with such weapons as these?”

“Yes, and very effectually too; but you shall hear. The first thing to be done, is to dig a trench, or ditch, parallel to the general outline 204of the fortress, and at a distance of about six hundred yards from it. The earth flung up out of the trench forms a bank, or parapet, on the side next to the enemy, and is, therefore, a defence to the besiegers. You will remember, then, that the first and most important object to be attained in a siege, is to carry forward a trench up to the walls of the place: the quicker this is done the fewer lives will be lost on the part of the besiegers.”

“But what is the ditch for?”

“The ditch is cut that batteries may be the more safely erected there, to concentrate their fire upon the part to be attacked. This ditch is called the first parallel. The men and guns are comparatively safe in the ditch, when they would be swept away by the cannon of the besieged, if they remained on the surface of the ground.”

“Ay! we see now; digging the ditch is a capital plan. You told us about the first, and the second, and the third parallel before, but we shall understand you better now.”

“From this trench, or first parallel, a ditch is then cut, in a zigzag form, so as to get nearer and nearer to the fortress by degrees. When this has reached within the range of musketry, or about three hundred yards from the place, another trench is stretched out, parallel with the first; and this is called the second parallel.”

205“They are getting nearer to the place now; but what are the soldiers in the fortress doing all this time?”

“Thundering away with their guns, or making sorties, and picking off men and officers where they can. Well, on go the besiegers, working night and day; darkness, cold, rain, toil, and the fire of the enemy, trying them in every way; patient, uncomplaining, and persevering, on they go, cutting again in a zigzag form, till they come to the foot of the glacis, or sloping bank of earth of the fortress, and here they form their third parallel.”

“Nearer still! There is no room now, however, for another parallel.”

“No, they are too close for that. The next step is to carry on the works up the glacis, on the crest of which they form batteries to demolish the defences, and open the revêtements, or walls of masonry. They then push on their operations across the ditch, into the very works of the fortress.”

“But how do they cross the moat if it is full of water?”

“They act according to circumstances. Sometimes by escalade, which is a desperate attack on the place, by means of ladders, to cross the ditch with, and mount the ramparts without waiting to carry on the regular works against the place. If the ditch be muddy, they use 206boards, hurdles, and fascines. Fascines are faggots of small wood, about a foot through them, and, perhaps, six feet long.”

“But, suppose the moat is full of water, how do they manage then?”

“If they cannot draw off the water, they cross it in small tin boats, or baskets covered with skins or oil cloth, resorting to all manner of contrivances. It is very necessary to find out the strength of the enemy’s works, to know how to act. When the French besieged Montmelian, in 1691, the Maréchal de Catinat was in doubt whether the ditch of the place was sunk in the hard rock or only faced with masonry on the side of the glacis. To clear up this doubt, he caused soldiers to descend in a gabion, or basket, suspended by a cord; but so many brave men fell in this hazardous enterprize, that at last no one was found who would undertake it. After some time, a young soldier stepped forward as a volunteer. He was asked by the Maréchal, what course he intended to take in ascertaining whether it was rock or masonry? To which he replied, ‘that by probing it with the point of his bayonet from the window of the gabion, he should know it very well.’ He descended on the daring commission he had undertaken, executed it in a satisfactory manner, and returned unhurt. ‘And now, what will you have for a recompense?’ asked the Maréchal. 207‘I ask as a favour,’ replied he, ‘that I may enter the company of grenadiers.’”

“We thought he would have asked for money, and a discharge. And was he made a grenadier?”

“You may be sure of that, boys, after such a bold action as he had done. The siege of Antwerp is one of the most celebrated of modern times. The fortress was unusually strong, well garrisoned with Dutch soldiers, and provided with plenty of ammunition; and old General Chassé was a resolute and experienced officer. On the other hand, Marshal Gerard, the French general, was a celebrated commander, and had an overwhelming force at his disposal.”

“How many men had he? and how many had General Chassé?”

“The garrison amounted to between four and five thousand men, and the fortress had a hundred and thirty pieces of cannon. Marshal Gerard had under his command fifty-one battalions, fifty-six squadrons, and sixty-six field-pieces, besides an immense battering train, with sappers, miners, and engineers. Altogether the French force amounted to more than sixty-six thousand men, fourteen thousand horses, and two hundred and twenty-three guns.”

“What an army! Why, there was no hope for poor Chassé!”

“There was a mortar, called the ‘Monster 208Mortar,’ used by Marshal Gerard; and well might it be so called, for the wood-work of it alone weighed sixteen thousand pounds, and the metal fourteen thousand seven hundred. The shell it threw was two feet across it, and when charged, weighed a thousand and fifteen pounds.”

“That was a monster mortar indeed!”

“It was, boys. I think there were, in all, eight shells thrown from the Monster Mortar into the citadel at Antwerp; one, not reckoned, burst in the air, and of course did not reach its destination. Every time one of these enormous shells, weighing nearly half a ton, which looked like a small balloon when in the air—for the burning fusee was visible by daylight—every time one of these burst in the citadel, a crowd of thoughtless Belgians raised a shout. The volume of dust and smoke was like the effect of a magazine blowing up. One of these eight shells fell within twenty yards of the principal powder-magazine, which contained about two or three hundred thousand pounds weight of powder. Had this been struck and blown up, there is but little doubt that half the city of Antwerp, with its celebrated cathedral, would have been destroyed. Before the attack Chassé was summoned to surrender, but he replied, ‘Never! He would first be blown up in the citadel.’”

“Why, he could never hope to beat sixty thousand Frenchmen?”

“From the time that Chassé opened his fire 209there was no quiet night nor day. The French returned the fire with near a hundred pieces of artillery, and soldiers and miners, engineers and artillery-men, were fully employed.”

“No doubt they had enough to do. It must have been a terrible sight.”

“Musket-shot, cannon-balls, and bombshells were flying in all directions—rattling, roaring and bursting—night and day, without intermission. Three times did the Dutch soldiers make a sortie, but they were beaten back. Three mines were sprung by the besiegers, thousands of shot and shells were thrown, and the fortress was in many places set on fire. Old General Chassé held out bravely, but he was driven to great distress.”

“He should have surrendered. Where was the use of his standing out against such an army?”

“He did surrender, but not till he was reduced to extremity. His well of water was almost dry, his men diseased and worn out, his guns dismantled, and his powder-magazine blown up. The bomb-proof hospital, too, was set on fire, and the blazing beams threatened to fall in upon his sick soldiery. There was no hope left; and so the old general gave up the place.”

“Well! General Chassé could not have done more. Why, the place was battered almost to pieces!”

“It was. The following are instances of the gaiety of the French character:—On passing the 210angle of the boyau, or branch of a trench, leading into the second parallel, opposite St. Laurent, which was partially enfiladed from kiel, an infantry soldier was met, floundering through the mud under the weight of a heavy gabion. A shot struck the parapet, and, either from this or a false step, down fell the man and his burden into the mire. One of our countrymen would have risen, and his first impulse would have been to have wished the besieged and the service at a much hotter place than the head of the sap; but the conscript sprung up, shook himself, and exclaimed, with a smile, ‘Who says it is not a fine thing to be a soldier? I’ll enlist for ten years more from this day!’ and then, hoisting up his load, on he went. On another occasion, near the descent made in the ditch of the ravelin, the adjutant of the trenches was writing a memorandum: a shell pitched on the reverse of the trench, exploded, and covered him and his paper with a shower of sand. The officer slipped it off quietly with his hand, and said, ‘They are more polite than you, Messieurs; they sent me the sand-box.’ A round shot struck a gabion close to the Duke of Orleans, and buried itself in the ground, within a few inches of his person. The prince took off his hat, and bowing, said, ‘One ought to be polite to new acquaintances.’”

“It seems a very strange thing that any one can have the heart to speak so in the very middle of danger.”

211“I will tell you of a curious circumstance. During the siege the theatre was converted into a place for observing the operations. The building being near Maline’s Gate, a sight might be obtained from it of part of the bastions, trenches, and batteries. The managers, therefore, profiting by the ardent desire of strangers to witness the novel spectacle, took off the roof of the building, and erected platforms for the accommodation of the curious, publishing the following handbill notice:—‘The public is informed that places are to be procured at the Théâtre des Variétés at Antwerp, for seeing the siege.’”

“What, did they make a show of the siege while hundreds of poor fellows were being killed?”

“Such was the case; and it only shows how coldly those who are selfishly wrapped up in their own interest, can regard the ruin and destruction of those around them. Always encourage, boys, a disposition to think of others as well as yourselves, to pity the distress that you cannot relieve, and to practise when you can the principles of humanity.”



The Duke of Wellington.—Remarks.—The Waterloo banquet at Apsley House.—Salter’s celebrated painting.—The names of the generals and officers at the banquet.—Anecdote of Apsley House.—George the Second and the old soldier.—The old apple-woman and the lord-chancellor.—The legacy.—The Duke of Wellington’s generosity.—Major-General Macdonnel’s noble conduct.—Sergeant-major Frazer.

“Tell us something about the Duke of Wellington, uncle; you must know a great deal about him.”

“Almost everybody knows a great deal about 213him, but soldiers especially. I knew him when he was a much younger man than he is now: the soul of dispatch, the very spirit of enterprise. And then, he mingled prudence with his military ardour. Trace his progress all through his successful career, and you will not find him cruel, perfidious, and rapacious, as many of the French generals were.”

“Tell us all you know about him.”

“An able writer has eloquently said, ‘The Duke of Wellington, Field Marshal of the allied army, viz. the English, Spanish, and Portuguese troops, has most eminently distinguished himself in conducting the late war on the Continent, which lasted five hard campaigns, during which time it is remarkable, that no circumstances happened which could throw a shade once over the military glory of the country, or his own personal character.’ It was a new feature, that this great general had conducted these five campaigns through such extraordinary difficulties, in the face of the first armies of Europe, headed by some of the greatest commanders which the French Revolution had brought forth, and that in every instance he should have been victorious. The Field Marshal had inspired confidence in all the nations whose troops he commanded, and had risen to the highest command in their service; and so active was he in his exertions that he received the thanks of Parliament thirteen 214different times for his distinguished victories and great exploits, which have so mainly contributed to the restoration of peace, and the happy deliverance of Europe.”

“Wellington must be the first general in the world.”

“The duke, whatever he may think of himself now, used to much underrate his ability as a commander. In the early part of his military life often and often was he heard to say, ‘As for my military talents, it is all a mistake; I have none. Nature never intended me for a soldier, but for a statesman.’”

“Wellington did not know himself in thinking lowly of himself as a soldier.”

“He has, indeed, proved himself to be the champion of his country. The whole civilized world was threatened with a Gallic usurpation, and Great Britain found herself involved in a struggle, from which she could scarcely, with safety, withdraw. The question is, whether, if the battle had not been fought on Spanish ground, and in the Netherlands, it would not have been fought on the hills and green valleys of Old England? The battle of Waterloo was a dreadful fight, and many were the brave fellows, on both sides, who fell; but ever since then, Peace has waved her olive-branch among us. Who shall say this would have been the case had not British warriors, strong in their strength, 215and mighty in the justice of their cause, entered into the strife, and sternly grappled with their haughty foeman? The victory obtained at Waterloo was but one part of the conquest,—the peace we have since enjoyed, is the other.”

“You must please to tell us more about the Duke of Wellington.”

“The duke, notwithstanding the fame and fortune he has acquired, is very simple in his habits, sleeping at the present time in the same narrow bed in which he reposed on the tented field. It has no curtains, and is so narrow that he has hardly room to turn round in it. But he says, ‘when a man thinks of turning, it is time he were up.’ I will give you an anecdote or two of his conduct in battle, which, perhaps, may never have reached you.

“During the scene of tumult and carnage which the battle of Waterloo presented, at every moment, and in every place, the Duke of Wellington exposed his person with a freedom which made all around him tremble for that life on which it was obvious that the fate of the battle depended. There was scarcely a square but he visited in person, encouraging the men by his presence, and the officers by his directions. While he stood in the centre of the high road in front of Mount St. Jean, several guns were levelled against him, distinguished as he was by his suite, and the movements 216of the officers, who were passing to and fro with orders. The balls repeatedly grazed a tree near him; when he observed to one of his suite, ‘That’s good practice; I think they fire better than in Spain.’ Riding up to the 95th, when in front of the line, and even then expecting a formidable charge of cavalry, he said, ‘Stand fast, 95th, we must not be beat; what will they say in England?’ On another occasion, when many of the best and bravest men had fallen, and the event of the action seemed doubtful to those who remained, he said, with the coolness of a spectator, ‘Never mind, we’ll win this battle yet.’ To another regiment, then closely engaged, he used a common sporting expression: ‘Hard pounding this, gentlemen; let us see who will pound longest.’”

“He must have thought very well of his soldiers, to put such confidence in them in the very midst of the battle.”

“One general officer found himself under the necessity of stating to the duke, that his brigade was reduced to one third of its numbers, and that those who remained were so exhausted with fatigue, that a temporary relief, of however short duration, seemed a measure of necessity. ‘Tell him,’ said the duke, ‘what he proposes is impossible. He, I, and every Englishman in the field, must die on the spot we now occupy.’ ‘It is enough,’ returned the general; 217‘I and every man under my command, are determined to share his fate.’”

“What determination there must have been among them!”

“His Grace the Duke of Wellington gives an annual banquet at Apsley House, in celebration of the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. At this banquet the guests are chiefly the most distinguished officers who fought in that memorable battle, which hurled Napoleon Buonaparte for ever from the throne of France, and sent him an exile to St. Helena. The gold and silver services of plate, and the china used on these occasions, are very costly.”

“We should like to see that banquet very much.”

“In the eye of a soldier this banquet is a glorious spectacle, for every beating heart around the festive board has been, at one time or other,

‘Among the foremost in the proud array,
The battle’s bulwark in the narrow way.’

“Clad in full uniform, and wearing all their decorations, may be seen the illustrious duke and his military companions. Again do they recall the perils of the past; nor do they forget, among their toasts, to give, ‘The memory of the heroes who fell at Waterloo!’ and ‘The health of our brave companions in arms!’”

“Please to tell us the names of some of the 218generals and officers that were with Wellington at Waterloo?”

“There has been a splendid picture of the Waterloo Banquet, painted by Salter. I have a list of all the generals and officers that appear in the painting, and, as it is altogether a national record, if you like, I will read the list over to you.”

“What, the names of all who were at the banquet! That will be capital! Now for it, uncle.”

“I shall soon read it over, so pay attention.

“Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington.
His late Majesty William the Fourth.
His Majesty the King of Holland.
General Count Pozzo di Borgo, Russian Ambassador.
General the Marquess of Anglesey.
His Grace the Duke of Richmond.
Major-General Sir Arthur Clifton.
Lieutenant-General Lord Edward Somerset.
Major-General Wyndham.
Major-General Sir Robert Dick.
Colonel Stawell.
General Don Miguel Alava, Spanish Ambassador.
Lieutenant-General Lord Fitzroy Somerset.
Colonel Egerton.
Major-General Sir Edward Bowater.
Major-General Sir George Scovell.
Major-General Sir James Macdonnel.
Colonel Dawkins.
Colonel Sir Hugh Ross.
Lieutenant-General Sir Edward Barnes.
Lieutenant-Colonel Berkeley Drummond.
Lieutenant-Colonel Lord John Somerset.
Lieutenant-General Sir Peregrine Maitland.
Major-General Lord Saltoun.
219Major-General Clement Hill.
Major-General Sir John Waters.
Colonel Gurwood.
Major-General Sir Charles Broke Vere.
Major-General Sir Henry Hardinge.
Lieutenant-General Sir Hussey Vivian.
The late Lieutenant-General Sir John Elley.
Lieutenant-General Sir Colin Campbell.
Lieutenant-General Sir Andrew Barnard.
Colonel Lord Sandys, Scots’ Greys.
The Right Honourable Lieutenant-Gen. Sir James Kempt.
Major-General Lord Harris.
Lieutenant-Colonel Rowan.
The Honourable Major-General Edward Lygon.
Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Adam.
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Robert Gardiner.
The Honourable Major-General Elphinstone.
Colonel Taylor.
Colonel Allix.
Major-General Sir John May.
Colonel Calvert.
Major-General Sleigh.
The late Colonel Lord Robert Manners.
Colonel Douglas Mercer.
Colonel Hunter Blair.
Colonel Parkinson.
Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Askew.
Colonel Lluellyn.
Colonel James Hay.
Colonel Freemantle.
Colonel Sir Charles Dance.
The Honourable Colonel Dawson Damer.
Colonel Sir George Hoste.
The late Major-General Ady.
The Honourable Colonel Sir Horatio Townshend.
Colonel James Grant.
Major-General Sir Henry Willoughby de Broke.
220Colonel Reeve.
Major-General Sir William Gomme.
Colonel Stretton.
Lieutenant-General Sir John Vandeleur.
Colonel O’Malley.
The late Major-General Sir Jos. Stratton.
Colonel Lord Hotham.
Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Reynell.
The Honourable Major-General Murray.
Major-General D’Oyly.
Major-General Sir Edward Kerrison.
Lieutenant-General Sir John Lambert.
Lieutenant-General Sir Colin Halkett.
The late Major-General Sir Alexander Dickson.
Lieutenant-General Strafford.
General Lord Hill.
The late Lord Bathurst.”

“Thank you for reading us the list. The company at the banquet, who fought at Waterloo, will be getting less and less every year. Where is Apsley House? we have often heard of it; no doubt it is a grand place.”

“Apsley House stands at the south-east entrance of Hyde Park, and near it may be seen the celebrated bronze statue of Achilles, erected in honour of the Duke of Wellington. The mansion is certainly a splendid one, though the strong musket-proof iron gratings, which defend the windows, are no ornament to it. Those gratings were placed there because a rude assemblage of people once threatened the duke, and demolished his windows. Popularity with the people is a very uncertain possession. The bronze palisading and gates in 221front are very strong. I can tell you a very curious anecdote about Apsley House, which appeared in the newspapers, if you should like to listen to it.”

“Oh yes! do let us hear it; we hope it is a very long one.”

“Not very long, but, as I said, very curious. As George II. was one day riding on horseback in Hyde-park, he met an old soldier who had fought with him in the battle of Dettingen. With this soldier he entered into free discourse. After talking together for some time, the King asked the old veteran what he could do for him? ‘Why, please your Majesty,’ said the soldier, ‘my wife keeps an apple-stall on the bit of waste ground as you enter the park, and if your Majesty would be pleased to make us a grant of it, we might build a little shed and improve our trade.’

“The request was a very moderate one, and was at once granted. In a little time the old apple-woman prospered greatly, for the shed was built, and her business surprisingly increased. The situation was a good one for the purpose, and she carried on a very profitable trade.

“In the course of years the old soldier died, and the lord-chancellor, who was looking around him at the time for a suitable piece of ground whereon he might build himself a mansion, fixed his mind on this very spot. The old woman was sadly alarmed when she saw her poor shed pulled down, and preparations made for building up a great house 222where it stood, so away she went to her son, an attorney’s clerk, to consult with him as to what course should be pursued. The son was shrewd enough to see at once the advantage that might be gained by remaining quiet in the matter, so he advised his mother to say nothing until the great mansion should be completed. No sooner was the house finished, than the son waited on the lord-chancellor to complain of the trespass committed on his mother’s property, and to claim a recompense for the injury that had been sustained.

“When the chancellor saw that the claim was undeniable, he directly offered a few hundred pounds, by way of compensation; but this was altogether refused; the old woman, advised by her son, would by no means settle the affair on such easy terms. After some deliberation, a ground-rent of four hundred pounds a-year was demanded, and his lordship at last agreed to the terms. To this very day, Apsley House, the mansion of the Duke of Wellington, yields a ground-rent of four hundred pounds per year, to the descendants of the old apple-woman.”

“There never was a more curious tale than that, however! It was enough to make the old apple-woman wild with joy.”

“Some few years ago two gentlemen waited on the Duke of Wellington, at Apsley House, and told him, that a friend of theirs had died, leaving them executors to his will, in which, 223among other bequests, he had left five hundred pounds to the bravest man in the British army, and that as they considered his Grace to be the bravest man, they had called to hand over to him a check for the money.

“The duke was much pleased at the compliment paid to him, but declined to receive the money, as he said there were many other men in the British army who equalled him in bravery. He was then requested to decide on whom the money should be bestowed. This was a difficult point; but at length he proposed it should be given to Major-General Sir James Macdonnel, who so resolutely defended Hougomont, the key to the British position, in the memorable battle of Waterloo.

“The two gentlemen then called on Major-General Macdonnel, telling him the decision of the Duke of Wellington, and tendering him the five hundred pounds. But Sir James, in his turn, declined to receive it, knowing, as he said, a man who, in the battle of Waterloo, had showed himself equal to any one in bravery. The major-general then described, that when the French troops made one of their rushes at the gates of the farm-house, called Hougomont, in that critical moment when victory and defeat hung evenly in the balance, Sergeant-Major Frazer, a very powerful man, boldly assisted him to close the gates, thereby shutting out the French, who 224were soon after driven back with great slaughter. Thus was the fortune of the day decided.

“The Duke of Wellington considered Major General Macdonnel deserving of the money, on account of his resolute defence of Hougomont, and Sir James considered that Sergeant-Major Frazer, was entitled to share it with him, on account of the great service he had rendered him on that occasion. The money was divided between the general and the sergeant-major, and the generosity of the Duke of Wellington and Sir James Macdonnel will not soon be forgotten.”



Buonaparte.—His principal plaything.—Napoleon’s Grotto.—Buonaparte’s gratitude to his mother.—He goes to the Military School at Paris.—Made a lieutenant.—His first military service.—His address to the men under his command.—His conduct to poor tradesmen.—Reproof to his generals.—The Jaffa massacre.—Murder of the Duke d’Enghein.—Legion of honour.—Buonaparte threatens to invade England.—French invincibles.—An instance of generosity.—Napoleon’s bravery.—Battle of the Pyramids.—The battle of Lodi.—Napoleon’s return from Elba.—Campaign in Russia.—Allusion to Waterloo.—Buonaparte dies at St Helena.—The 18th of October a remarkable day.

“Now please to tell us all that you know about Buonaparte, for he was as fond of fighting as any man.”

226“That is true. The history of Buonaparte, and that of the Duke of Wellington, would be the history of almost all great battles fought since the French Revolution, fifty years ago; but you shall have a sprinkling of such things as I can remember of Buonaparte. Every soldier is pretty well acquainted with the fame of the Emperor Napoleon.”

“They say, that he was not a Frenchman: was he?”

“He was a Corsican; but as the island of Corsica became, by law, a French department two or three months before his birth, so he may be called a Frenchman. Napoleon Buonaparte was one of the greatest warriors of modern times. For many years before his death he became Emperor of the French.”

“Great as he was, Wellington beat him! Please to tell us something about him.”

“When a boy, his principal plaything was a brass cannon; and so fond was he of being alone, that when he could do so, he retired to a solitary summer-house among the rocks. The place is now called ‘Napoleon’s Grotto.’ In after-life he has been heard to say, that in childhood he was remarkable for obstinacy, and curiosity. Others say that he was high-spirited, quarrelsome, imperious, fond of solitude, and a sloven in his dress. One good thing I will tell you of him. He always spoke gratefully of the kindness of his mother. It 227was a saying of his, ‘The future good or bad conduct of a child depends entirely on his mother.’ From Brienne, where he was for a time educated, he was sent to the Royal Military School of Paris.”

“Ay! There he would learn everything about war.”

“At sixteen years of age he was made second lieutenant in a regiment of artillery, and seven years after he became a captain. During the French Revolution he took the command of a battalion of national guards; and the first military service he performed was against his own country, Corsica.”

“That was a bad beginning, to fight against his country.”

“I shall tell you about some of the battles in which he was afterwards engaged, but will now only give you a few anecdotes about him. Some of them are against him, and some in his favour.”

“That is the fairest way, to let us know both sides of the question.”

“At the age of twenty-six Buonaparte assumed the command of the army of Italy! ‘You are too young,’ said one of the directors, who hesitated about his appointment as general. ‘In a year,’ replied Napoleon, ‘I shall be either old or dead.’”

“He seems to have had a great deal of spirit.”

“‘Soldiers!’ said he, to the army under his 228command, ‘you are hungry and naked: the Republic owes you much, but she has not the means to pay her debts: I am come to lead you into the most fertile plains that the sun beholds. Rich provinces, opulent towns, all shall be at your disposal. Soldiers! with such a prospect before you, can you fail in courage and constancy?’ This was the first address he made to his army, and it ran like lightning from rank to rank. The men, who before were downhearted, became animated with hope and confidence, and the most distinguished officers of France, from that moment, determined to follow their youthful leader, as one who would assuredly lead them to victory and renown. Massena, Joubert, Augereau, Serrurier, and Lannes, were among them; though their well-tried courage and experience might have justified them in seeking the supreme command, yet they cheerfully followed one whom they were fully convinced, would be successful in his daring enterprise.”

“He was just the man for the French, then, for he knew how to call up their courage. But six-and-twenty must have been a young age for a general?”

“When Buonaparte was in his prosperity he employed, it is said, the same trades-people who supplied him in his former days. A silversmith, who had given him credit, when he set out for 229Italy, for a dressing-case, worth fifty pounds, was rewarded with all the business which his recommendations could bring to him; and being clever in his trade, he became, under the patronage of the emperor, one of the wealthiest citizens of Paris. A little hatter, and a cobler, who had served Buonaparte when a subaltern, might have risen in the same manner, had their skill equalled that of the silversmith. Napoleon’s example, however, could not persuade the good people of Paris to wear ill-shaped hats and clumsy boots; but he, in his own person, adhered to the last to his original connexion with these poor trades-people.”

“That is very much to his credit, whatever might be his faults.”

“It is, and we should act honestly when speaking of the character of an enemy. The British army and navy have furnished instances of this kind. Courage and fidelity frequently go together, so that the soldier or sailor, who is the first to face the cannon’s mouth, is often the last to turn his back on a friend. Buonaparte, once apprehensive that his generals were on the point of breaking into open mutiny, threw himself suddenly among them, and addressing the tallest of them in a threatening vehement tone, said, ‘You have been talking sedition: take care lest I fulfil my duty: your five feet ten inches would not hinder you from being shot within two hours.’”

230“That was enough to make the general that he spoke to tremble.”

“One of the blackest stains on the reputation of Buonaparte, is the massacre at Jaffa. Twelve hundred, some say nearly three thousand Turks, a part of the garrison of the place, surrendered. These were marched to some sand-hills, at a little distance from the town, and there, being divided into small parties, every man was shot or bayonetted. Not all the waters of the green ocean would ever wash that dark blot from Napoleon’s brow.”

“Shocking! shocking! That is a black mark on his brow indeed. There are quite enough soldiers fall in battle, but to shoot men when the battle is over is dreadful.”

“He is no true soldier who covers the name of an enemy with the slime of slander, but the truth must be spoken when it condemns as well as when it approves. The murder of the Duke d’Enghein, for murder it may properly be called, was another of the black acts of Buonaparte. The duke was surprised in his castle, hurried off to the citadel of Strasburgh, called up at midnight three days after, taken to Paris, and then to the Castle of Vincennes, hastily tried, and condemned, and afterwards shot in the ditch of the castle by torchlight. The seizure, trial, and condemnation, were all contrary to the laws of France.”

“Poor Duke d’Enghein!”

“Buonaparte was a man of great parts and 231much energy, but self was the centre of all he did, though many of his acts appear to manifest a love of his country. He instituted the famous legion of honour: every Frenchman is proud of it. The decoration of the legion of honour was given to those who performed any meritorious service, whether in the army or out of it. A common soldier could obtain it as well as a general. It entitles the wearer to certain precedence, and a pension. Napoleon, when made First Consul, was much thinner than in his after life. I have seen a picture of him, wherein he appeared to be taller and altogether a different kind of man to what he was when he became somewhat corpulent. Buonaparte threatened to invade England, but the attempt was never made, though he assembled one hundred thousand troops, and an immense flotilla of flat-bottomed boats, to bear them across the channel. If war can be justified at one time more than another, it is when a country is invaded. The British spirit rose at once, so that, besides the regular troops, and militia of the country, three hundred and fifty thousand volunteers were soon in arms. On this occasion Sir Walter Scott wrote his song to the Edinburgh volunteers. One of the verses runs thus:—

‘If ever breath of British gale
Shall fan the tri-colour,
Or footsteps of invader rude,
With rapine foul, and red with blood,
Pollute our happy shores—
232Then farewell home, and farewell friends!
Adieu each tender tie!
Resolved, we mingle in the tide
Where charging squadrons furious ride,
To conquer or to die!’

“Sheridan said, that the first vision of Buonaparte in the morning, was the destruction of England, and that his last prayer at night, whether he addressed it to Jupiter, or to Mahomet, to the goddess of battle, or the goddess of reason, was to bring about the same end.”

“It was a good thing the French gave it up. There would have been sad work of it. Do you think they would have conquered us?”

“Conquered us! no, boys. Thousands, and tens of thousands might have been slain, but they could never have crushed the spirit of liberty out of British hearts. If Englishmen can fight as they do out of their country, what would they not do in it rather than be conquered. It was, as you say, a good thing that the invasion was given up; but, if the French had persevered, our blue-jackets in the British Channel, and our red-coats on the coasts, would have found them enough to do both by water and land. The one and the other would have joined in the chorus,

‘Rule, Britannia!
Britannia rules the waves!
Britons never shall be slaves!’

“But we are forgetting Buonaparte. He styled 233a part of his troops the Invincibles; but they were no more invincible than the Spanish Armada, which had the same name. British soldiers, under General Abercrombie in Egypt, first defeated the French Invincibles, and Wellington afterwards, scattered them like a flock of sheep.”

“You must tell us about the battle of Waterloo; and then we shall hear how his Invincibles met British men.”

“I ought not to forget a proof of the generous conduct of Buonaparte on one occasion. It was when he had taken Berlin, the Prussian capital. The Prince of Hatzsfeld, while under his protection, corresponded with the Prussian general, sending him an account of the movements of the French. One of his letters being intercepted, the prince was arrested; when his wife, thinking her husband not guilty, gained access to the emperor, and boldly asserted his innocence. Napoleon handed to her the prince’s letter: when she fell, in silence and despair, on her knees. ‘Put the paper in the fire,’ said Napoleon, ‘and there will then be no proof of guilt.’”

“Ah! that was a noble action. What a pity that he did not perform more such actions!”

“In taking the bridge and town of Montereau, Buonaparte was seen pointing cannon with his own hand, under the heaviest of the fire. But though this delighted the artillery-men, they expressed great apprehension at his personal danger. ‘My children,’ 234said he, still persisting in his employment, ‘the bullet that shall kill me is not yet cast.’”

“He was, no doubt, a very bold man, but it was very presumptuous to talk in that way.”

“Most likely his object was to encourage his soldiers. The famous battle of the Pyramids was one in which Buonaparte obtained much reputation as a soldier. He had a strong frame, and could endure much. While other generals put on light clothing, and were bathed in perspiration, beneath the burning sun of Egypt, he wore his uniform, as usual, buttoned up to the chin. He was the last at night to fling his body, wrapt in his war-cloak, on the ground, and the first in the morning to spring up from slumber. When he came within sight of the pyramids he cried out, ‘Soldiers! from the summit of yonder pyramids forty ages behold you!’ The rage of the battle then broke loose.

“On came the Mamelukes, with their fiery steeds. Strong and rapid in their movements, they raised a wild cry, and rushed on the bristling bayonets of the French, who were drawn up in squares. They tried to force a passage, urged their horses on, and then backed them against their enemies. But the French would not give way. The Mamelukes were almost mad with rage; they dashed their carbines and pistols in the faces of the French soldiers, and, when wounded on the ground, cut at their legs, but 235it was all in vain. The French cannon and musketry mowed them down;—they fell back! The carnage was dreadful! The battle was won by Napoleon. Cairo soon surrendered to him, and he became the conqueror of Lower Egypt.

“The taking of the bridge of Lodi, in Italy, was one of the most daring achievements of Buonaparte. This bridge was a wooden one; and a battery of thirty cannon was so placed as to sweep it completely. The whole Austrian army was drawn up behind it.

“Napoleon Buonaparte was not to be intimidated by danger, he advanced, and a furious cannonade broke forth. Buonaparte rushed on in the middle of the fire, and pointed two guns with his own hands, so as to prevent the Austrians approaching the bridge to blow it up. His soldiers were delighted at his bravery, and called him ‘The Little Corporal.’

“Napoleon gave the word, and a column of grenadiers rushed to the bridge, shouting ‘Vive la Republique!’ The grape-shot swept them down terribly. They hesitated,—Buonaparte hurried to their head, with Lannes, Berthier, and Lallemaque, and cheered them onward. The cannon raged, a tempest of shot was around them, but they dashed on. The artillery-men were bayonetted at their guns; the bridge of Lodi was taken, and the Austrian army scattered in confusion.”

“Buonaparte was a brave man, no doubt, for 236he seemed to delight in war. He must have seen the death of many in his time.”

“That will hardly bear thinking of. It is said, that during his wars, four millions of men, must have fallen.”

“Four millions of men! It is very well there are not many Buonapartes in the world.”

“He was too fond of fighting; and after all his victories he got no good by them. If half the world had been his, he would never have been contented till he had obtained the other half. Ambition was the ruin of him:—

“He saw, though visible to him alone,
Ambition, seated on a shining throne:—
‘Cut through yon glittering host,’ she loudly cries.
‘Behold me here, ordained the victor’s prize!’”

“There was never a braver man than Buonaparte in the world. He cared no more for cannon-shot than we do for snow-balls.”

“Napoleon showed a daring and invincible spirit in crossing the Alps, and in numberless battles, but, perhaps, never did he manifest more true courage than in throwing himself fearlessly into the arms, as it were, of the French army, on his return from Elba, where, after his abdication, he had been a prisoner. A battalion was sent against him. He dismounted from his horse, and advanced alone, opening his surtout so as to show the star of the legion of honour; and crying out, ‘If there be among you a soldier 237who desires to kill his general—his Emperor—let him do it now! Here I am!’ The whole battalion shouted ‘Vive l’Empereur!’ and instantly joined him.”

“Why, if he had had as many lives as some people say a cat has, he seemed to take the very way to lose them all, and yet he always escaped.”

“A celebrated writer has said, ‘It is impossible to survey the rapid energy of Napoleon, his alert transitions from enemy to enemy, his fearless assaults on vastly superior numbers, his unwearied resolution and exhaustless invention, without the highest admiration which can attend on a master of warfare. But it is equally impossible to suppress astonishment and indignation, in following, or rather attempting to follow, the threads of obstinacy, duplicity, pride, and perfidy, which during the same period complicated, without strengthening, the tissue of his negotiations.’ It is only when we fix our eyes on the battles and marches of his wonderful campaigns, that we can hesitate to echo the adage: ‘Whom God hath doomed to destruction he first deprives of reason.’”

“Well! he is dead now, and that is a good thing. If he were Emperor of France now, we should be sure to have as much war as ever.”

“Buonaparte’s campaign in Russia was a most disastrous one, and led the way to his abdication; 238but it was the battle of Waterloo that deprived him of his throne for ever. This hurled him headlong from the pinnacle of his glory, proclaiming, as with the voice of a mighty trumpet, through the world, that the minion of ambition shall be trampled in the dust, and that the splendour of temporary triumph shall only increase the greatness of his fall. He was exiled to St. Helena, where, after living near six years, he expired, and was buried. His body was, however, a short time ago, removed to France, and interred, with great splendour, in the Church of the Invalids, at Paris.”

“Oh! more or less than man. In high or low,
Battling with nations, flying from the field!
Now making monarchs’ necks thy footstool! now,
More than thy meanest soldier, taught to yield.
An empire thou would’st crush, command, rebuild,
But govern not thy pettiest passion; nor,
However deeply in men’s spirits skilled,
Look through thine own; nor curb the lust of war;
Nor learn, that tempted Fate will leave the loftiest star.”

“The 18th of October is a remarkable day, as connected with Napoleon Buonaparte.”

“In what way is it remarkable?”

“It was on the 18th of October that the revolution took place which made him consul. It was on the 18th of October that he fought the battle of Torlina, on the Berezina. It was on the 18th of October that he fought the battle of Leipsic. It was on the 18th of October that 239he arrived off St. Helena; and it was on the 18th of October that the French ship La Belle Poole left St. Helena, with his body on board, for France. And now, I think, that I have told you quite enough, for the present, of Napoleon Buonaparte.

“His courage, ambition, and power,
Will long be recorded in story,
But defeat and the gloom of the grave,
Have beclouded the sun of his glory.”


Captain-general of the army.—Commander-in-chief.—Lord-high-admiral of the navy.—Field-marshal.—General.—Lieutenant-general.—Major-general.—Brigadier-general.—Colonel.—Lieutenant-colonel.—Major.—Adjutant.—Sergeant-major.—Captain.—Ensign and cornet.—Sergeant and corporal.—A round-robin.—Quarter-master.—Military saying.—Officer’s daughter.—Officers of the navy.—Marines.—Catamaran.—Crew of a first-rate.—Royal George.

“We want to know who are the highest officers in the army and navy. They are generals and admirals, are they not, uncle?”

241“The highest officer is the King himself—when there is a king on the throne of England. And the virtues in his heart ought ever to exceed in value the jewels of his crown. He is captain-general of all the forces of Great Britain, the head of all rank, power, and authority. Under him come the commander-in-chief, at the head of the army, and the lord-high-admiral at the head of the navy; but generally the office of lord-high-admiral is filled by commissioners, under the name of the lords of the admiralty.”

“What is a field-marshal? Wellington is called a field-marshal.”

“Yes, he is a field-marshal, and when an army is in the field, a field-marshal is the highest officer among them, he takes the command of them all.”

“Is there any other field-marshal in the army besides the Duke of Wellington?”

“Oh yes! several. The King of Hanover, the Duke of Cambridge, and the King of the Belgians, are all field-marshals in the British army; and there is another too, Prince Albert.”

“And what is the next rank to a field-marshal?”

“A general. There are many of these in the army, for though every field-marshal is a general, every general is not a field-marshal. A general is a chief officer in the army, to whom the command of soldiers has been entrusted by the sovereign or the senate of a country. The commander-in-chief, of course, ranks first. If a general have not a martial 242genius, a sound judgment, and a healthy constitution, united with intrepidity, self-possession, business-like habits, and goodness of heart, he is not equal to the duties of his station. A young general will lack experience and prudence, and an old general will hardly be sufficiently energetic and active. The next in rank to a general is a lieutenant-general, and then come the major-general and the brigadier-general.”

“What a sight it would be to see all the Field-marshals and generals and colonels together!”

“It would indeed, especially to a soldier. A colonel is the commander of a regiment, whether of horse, foot, dragoons, or artillery, and a lieutenant-colonel is next in rank. They should be men of talent and resolution, for their duties are very important, and good officers often make good soldiers. Next to the lieutenant-colonel come the major, adjutant, and sergeant-major. The drum and fife-majors are at the head of the drummers and fifers, and instruct others in their duty.”

“You have not told us what a captain is, and surely he comes before the drummers and fifers, though he does not make half the noise that they do?”

“A captain is a commander either of a troop of horse, or of a company of foot or artillery. In marching or fighting, at the head of his company, he is much looked up to by his men. If he be not every inch a soldier, it is soon found out by the men 243under his command. It is his business both to march and fight at the head of his company.”

“The lieutenant comes next to the captain?”

“He does. The name lieutenant is French, lieu-tenant—holding the place of another. After the lieutenant come the ensign and cornet: the former carries the standard in a company of foot, and the latter in a troop of horse. An ensign is the lowest commissioned officer in a company of foot; after him come the sergeant and corporal. Buonaparte was called by his soldiers, ‘The Little Corporal.’ There are other posts of authority beside what I have mentioned, for the discharge of particular duties. Every officer is as liable to punishment if he break the articles of war, as a common soldier is; and then, if a superior officer act improperly to the officers beneath him, they sometimes send him a round-robbin.”

“Oh, what is a round-robbin? Do tell us.”

“A Frenchman told me that the name came from ‘ruban rond,’ which means a round riband. When officers wish to send a remonstrance in writing to one above them, instead of writing their names one under the other, they write them in a round form, so that no one can tell who signed the paper first. It is a kind of honourable agreement into which they enter among themselves, every one taking an equal share in the transaction. But round-robins are not often to be seen. I should have told you, that a quarter-master is an 244officer whose duty it is to see after the quarters of the soldiers, together with their food, clothing, fuel, and ammunition. A quarter-master-general is a considerable officer; and is required to know well the country where he is, having to mark the marches and encampments of the army.”

“You have made us understand the different ranks very well.”

“That being the case, I must give you another of my military sayings. A private should be proud of his general good character. A staff-officer should lean on nothing but his merit. The major part of a captain’s duty is the care of his company. A quarter-master should do the whole of his duty, and the highest officer in the army should remember that he is but a man.”

“Capital! capital! We shall not forget that, you may depend upon it.”

“It sometimes happens that good soldiers are obliged to take up with very bad quarters. Officers themselves are, at times, very slenderly provided for—in such cases, and indeed in all others, a good temper, and a good stock of patience, are excellent things. I will give you an instance of the good temper, steadiness, and fortitude of an officer’s daughter, Miss Elizabeth Smith, when deprived of common comforts. This young lady had taught herself, with little assistance, the French, Italian, Spanish, German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew languages, and somewhat of the Arabic and Persic:—she 245was the daughter of Captain Smith; and her mother gives the following account:—We had spent three happy weeks at the hospitable mansion of Lord Kingston, from whence we set off on horseback for our quarters, which were about twenty miles distant. During the last ten miles of the journey it rained most heavily, and without ceasing. We arrived at the barracks dripping wet; our luggage was not come, and, owing to the negligence of the quarter-master, there was not even a bed to rest on. The whole furniture of our apartments consisted of a piece of a cart-wheel for a fender; a bit of iron, probably from the same vehicle, for a poker; a dirty deal table, and three wooden-bottom chairs. It was the first time we had joined the regiment; and I was standing at the fire, meditating on our forlorn state, and perhaps dwelling too much on the comforts we had lost, when I was roused from my reverie by my daughter Elizabeth, exclaiming, ‘Oh! what a blessing!’ ‘Blessing!’ I replied, ‘there seems none left.’ ‘Indeed there is, my dear mother, for see, here is a little cupboard.’ I dried my tears, and endeavoured to learn fortitude from my daughter.”

“Very good! That young lady had a very happy temper, or she would not have been so pleased with only a cupboard.”

“I have told you of the ranks of the officers of the army only. The officers of the navy are divided into flag-officers; captains who command 246post-ships; commanders who command sloops; lieutenants, and sub-lieutenants. But I had better tell you how officers rank with one another in the army and navy.”

Navy. Army.
The Admiral-in-chief ranks the same as Field-marshal.
Admirals of the red, white or blue ranks the same as Generals.
Vice-admirals ranks the same as Lieutenant-generals.
Rear-admirals ranks the same as Major-generals.
Commodores ranks the same as Brigadier-generals.
Captains of post ships, three years after commission ranks the same as Colonels.
All captains of post ships ranks the same as Lieutenant-colonels.
Captains not taking post ranks the same as Majors.
Lieutenants ranks the same as Captains.

“But there are lower ranks than these: midshipmen on board ship, and sergeants and corporals among soldiers?”

“Yes, there are. The officers in a ship under a lieutenant are, the sub-lieutenant, master, second master, gunner, boatswain, carpenter, master’s-mate, and midshipman. And the officers in the army under the captain, as I have already told you, are, the lieutenant, ensign, sergeant and corporal. If you can remember all I have said, it will be a proof that you are not deficient in memory.”

“What do you mean by the admiral of the red?”

“An admiral who carries a red flag. I have said something of admirals’ flags before, but will be a little more particular now. Flag-officers are 247of three ranks: admirals, vice-admirals, and rear-admirals; and each rank is divided into three squadrons, distinguished by different coloured flags; so that there are, besides the admiral of the fleet, the commander-in-chief, admirals of the red, of the white, and of the blue; vice-admirals of the red, of the white, and of the blue, and rear-admirals of the red, of the white, and of the blue.”

“But if three sorts of admirals carry a red flag, how do you know one from another?”

“By the situation of the flag. The admiral of the fleet carries an Union Flag at the main-top-gallant-mast head, so that you may always know his ship. Then, other admirals carry their flags, let the colour be what it may, also at the main-top-gallant-mast head. The vice-admirals carry theirs at the fore-top-gallant-mast head, and the rear-admiral carries his at the mizen-top-gallant-mast head.”

“Oh, oh, that is it! Then we know at last what is the meaning of ‘the red flag at the fore.’”

“Yes, that must be now pretty plain to you. The marines are a very efficient part of the British force; they are not to be out-done either in courage or patriotism. For some time in my younger days I belonged to them, and it was then that I picked up what knowledge of nautical tactics I possess. Had not a handful of British marines stood in the breaches made by the soldiers of Buonaparte in the garrison of St. Jean D’Acre in the year 1799, 248and thereby called up a spirit of determination in the Turkish troops, the place must have surrendered. As it was, it held out, baffled Buonaparte with his bravest and his best, and rendered the repulse of the French, and the bravery of Sir Sidney Smith famous in history.”

“What have the marines to do?”

“They are trained to fight either on shore or on board ships; and oftentimes they make sad havoc among the enemy from the poop and the round-top. When a ship is boarded by an enemy, they sweep the decks with their muskets, or keep back the boarders with their bayonets. I knew some famous fellows among them, who were well acquainted with all the duties of a soldier and a seaman, and would run a boat through the water as if it were a catamaran.”

“What is a catamaran, uncle?”

“A catamaran is a species of boat used by the native Indians on the coast of Coromandel. It consists of only one plank, five feet long and two wide, on which the intrepid Indian kneels, and by means of a paddle propels himself along through the most terrific surf, bidding defiance to the warring of the elements and the overwhelming seas, which often hurl him from his perilous position, but which he as quickly and dexterously regains; and thus these amphibious beings afford communication with ships in distress, when no other boat could possibly live.”

249“How many marines are there on board a large ship? one of the biggest ships that sails on the sea?”

“I will just run over a list of the crew of a first-rate, and then you will hear all about it. This is the list.

Captain 1
Lieutenants 8
Master 1
Chaplain 1
Surgeon 1
Purser 1
Second Master 1
Assistant Surgeons 3
Gunner 1
Boatswain 1
Carpenter 1
Mate 1
Midshipmen 23
Master’s Assistants 6
Schoolmaster 1
Clerk 1
Master-at-arms 1
Ship’s Corporals 2
Captain’s Coxswain 1
Launch ditto 1
Quarter-Masters 12
Gunner’s Mates 5
Boatswain’s Mates 8
Captains of Forecastle 3
Captain of Hold 1
Ship’s Cook 1
Sailmaker 1
Ropemaker 1
Carpenter’s Mates 2
Caulker 1
Armourer 1
Captains of Maintop 3
Captains of Foretop 3
Captains of Mast 3
Captains of After-guard 3
Yeoman of Signals 1
Coxswain of Pinnace 1
Sailmaker’s Mate 1
Caulker’s Mate 1
Armourer’s Mates 2
Cooper 1
Volunteers 12
Gunner’s Crew 25
Carpenter’s ditto 18
Sailmaker’s ditto 2
Cooper’s ditto 2
Yeoman of Store-room 1
Able Seamen 478
Ordinary ditto
Cook’s Mate 1
Barber 1
Purser’s Steward 1
Captain’s ditto 1
Captain’s Cook 1
Ward-room ditto 1
Ward-room Steward 1
250Steward’s Mate 1
Landsman 1
Boys 31
Captain of Marines 1
Lieutenants 3
Sergeants 4
Corporals 4
Drummers 2
Privates 146
Total 850

“Eight hundred and fifty in one ship!”

“Yes, boys; and there were, perhaps, a thousand people on board the Royal George when she went down at Spithead.”

“Dreadful! dreadful! How did it happen?”

“I will tell you, as well as I can. The ships in the royal navy are sheathed with copper. The Royal George, the flag-ship of Admiral Kempenfeldt, a first-rate, of a hundred and eight guns, had just returned from a cruise, and required some repairs in her sheathing and water-pipe. To do these repairs it was necessary to run her heavy furniture to one side, and tilt her up, or to give her what shipwrights call the parliament-heel. When the ship was in this position, with her crew, and at least three hundred women on board,—for the vessel was crowded with friends to welcome home the crew,—when the ship was in this position a sudden squall, it is thought, came on,—though I fear one of the lieutenants was sadly in fault,—and over she tipped; down went the Royal George, with the admiral, officers, crew, and all that were aboard!”

“What a terrible accident!”

251“It was indeed a very terrible one! Seamen are usually very steady in storms and dangers, but the crew of the Royal George foundered without warning. You shall have an instance of the resolution of seamen in a storm. The following relation is given by a young officer.

“‘The dead-lights were shipped, our hatches were battened down, and eight men stationed to the relieving tackles in the gun-room. At this period the sea was tremendously heavy, the ship rolling her quarter-deck bulwarks under, although going at the rate of twelve and a half knots per hour; the wind howled most dreadfully, and, altogether, it was a most dismal sight to behold our ship’s company shivering with cold and rain, not able to procure any refreshment, the sea having soon washed out the galley fire; and it was impossible to get at the spirit-room to splice the mainbrace; altogether it was truly miserable.

“‘About three P. M. the fore-sail, although furled, was blown away from the yard, and shortly afterwards the larboard main-top-sail sheet went, and the sail flapped furiously against the top-mast and main-mast head. At this critical juncture the spirit of the British seaman was evinced; for, unless the sail was cut away, the main-mast must be lost, and, as a necessary consequence, the vessel herself would have a bad chance, if broached to the wind. It was a moment of terrible suspense and anxiety to all hands, not one of whom could stand 252or move on deck without holding on by the lifelines, passed fore and aft; and even thus, two men had been washed overboard, who were standing near the main-mast, and, strange to relate, the next sea washed them in again, the bight of the fore-sheet having caught them; but one had his neck terribly cut.

“‘In this extremity the captain had too much feeling and humanity to order any men aloft, as it was deemed impossible for them to succeed, and that their lives must be inevitably sacrificed in making the attempt; however, the gunner, Mr. Collier, who had served as chief gunner’s mate of the Shannon, in her splendid action with the Chesapeake, and two seamen, whose names deserve to be handed down to posterity, immediately volunteered their services. It was a moment of extreme dread and anxiety, to behold these gallant fellows mounting the shrouds at a period when the sea broke over our lower yard-arms, and every roll of the ship threatened to consign them to eternity. Each man on deck felt as if his own life were at stake: when one of them, William Murray, the captain of the main-top, laid out and cut away the larboard earing, while the gunner, assisted by the other, whose name I regret at this distant period I cannot bring to memory, severed the remaining top-sail sheet from the main-yard: the sail rent asunder with a terrible crash, which was heard far above the howling of the wind. The safety of the 253vessel thus assured, what a joyous moment for these brave and daring fellows, as they descended to receive the heartfelt cheers and gratulations of their officers and shipmates, as fine a crew as ever trod a vessel’s deck: it was a scene not to be soon forgotten, and calculated to inspire confidence in the resources of British seamanship, and courage under the most trying circumstances.’”



Regimental bands.—Drum.—Trumpet.—Bugle.—Kettle-drum of the life-guards.—Kettle-drum of the royal artillery.—Qualities in British soldiers.—The Rhine! The Rhine!—Love of country.—Cowardice.—Death of Admiral Byng.—Native cavalry in India.—Daring intrepidity of a seaman.—Preparations for an engagement.—Battle of the Nile.—Superstitious seamen.—Saragossa.—Missolonghi.

“You may never have heard, boys, the tread of a thousand men, all putting down their feet to the ground at the same moment? There is something arresting and awful in it—it goes to the heart at 255once. Whether marching on the hard ground or on the soft green sod, in either case there is no other sound like it, that I know of in the world. The earth seems to shake beneath it.”

“Ay, when a whole regiment march together they must make a fine tramping.”

“It is not so much the noise they make, as it is the particular sound that I allude to; a lone, dull, heavy, and ponderous tread. A soldier distinguishes it from every other sound in an instant. Some regiments have excellent bands; but trumpets, bugles, drums and fifes, are the prevailing musical instruments in the army. The spirit-stirring voice of the trumpet, the stormy music of the rattling drum, and the blast of the mellow bugle, sound grateful in a soldier’s ears. The kettle-drums of the life-guards are silver, presented by King William IV.”

“Of silver! Why, what a deal of money they must be worth!”

“The kettle-drum belonging to the royal regiment of artillery would surprise you. It is mounted on a very superb waggon, richly gilt, whereon is a seat for the drum-major-general, and it is drawn by four, and sometimes by six, richly caparisoned white horses.”

“They must look very grand indeed. Can you tell us why drummers and fifers wear such odd dresses? Their coats and jackets are very different to what are worn by other soldiers.”

256“I have heard that these odd dresses were originally intended to prevent military musicians from playing in public houses, as they used to do when they wore plain clothes.”

“Oh! oh! If they went into public houses to play now, every one would know them directly.”

“The qualities in British soldiers that recommend themselves to all, may be said to be cleanliness, order, obedience, fidelity, and invincible courage; to which, among the officers, may be added enterprize, and that quality so susceptible of injury and disgrace, and so emulous of reputation, called honour. The love of country is strong in almost every bosom, from the recruit to the commanding officer. The Egyptians idolize the Nile, and the Hindoos worship the Ganges, but their reverence and affection for their native rivers is hardly greater than what is felt by the Germans for the Rhine. When the armies of Austria and Prussia came in view of the Rhine, after beating back the invader of their country Napoleon Buonaparte, they fell down on their knees, and shouted, as with the voice of one man, ‘The Rhine! the Rhine!’ Englishmen love their country as much as the Germans love the Rhine!”

“Every one ought to love his country.”

“Ay, boys! while you can pronounce her name, so long as your hearts throb, and the ruddy drops run through your veins, love your country!”

257“Whether we are soldiers or not, we ought to do that.”

“Very true; and I hope you will find means to serve her without unscabbarding a sword in her cause. True courage is not confined to the army and navy; though cowardice is one of the blackest marks that can be set on the brow of a soldier or a sailor. Admiral Byng was shot at Portsmouth, suspected of cowardice, though he had given many proofs of determined courage. The second regiment of native cavalry fled before the Affghan horse, in the affair of Parwun Durra, in Kohistan, changing, as it were, a triumph into a scene of humiliation. The government of India could not brook this dishonour without visiting it with its heaviest displeasure. Lord Auckland directed that the dastardly troops and officers should be disgraced, by obliterating the number of their regiment from the roll of the army, by expelling them ignominiously from the service, and by declaring them for ever incapable of serving the state in any capacity whatever.”

“It would never do for soldiers and sailors to want courage. Do you think Admiral Byng was really a coward?”

“No, I do not think he was. He met his end with great resolution, and that was not cowardly. The following inscription to his memory may be read in the church of South Hill, Bedfordshire: ‘To the perpetual disgrace of public justice, the 258Honourable John Byng, vice-admiral of the blue, fell a martyr to political persecution on March 14th, 1757, when bravery and loyalty were insufficient securities for the life and honour of a naval officer.’”

“Well, now, that was very hard. Poor Byng! What he must have felt as a brave man, on being shot for a coward!”

“Cowardice is not often to be found in the British army and navy. Even in merchant ships courage abounds.”

“There are thousands and thousands of ships on the sea, are there not?”

“Yes, the ships of Old England, in her Majesty’s service, and the merchantmen, sailing from the east to the west, from the north to the south, would indeed astonish you, could you see them assembled. Long may commerce flourish, and the British flag be unfurled with honour in every part of the world.

‘What a night on the globe would prevail,
How forlorn each blank region would be,
Did the canvass no more catch the gale,
Nor the keel cleave the fathomless sea!’

“When speaking of courage, I might have told you of the daring intrepidity of a seaman, but I will tell you now. When his Majesty’s ship Tonnant was in close action with the French rear-admiral’s ship Algesiras, the latter had her 259bowsprit over the chess-tree of the former, so as to admit of a raking fire from the Tonnant, which did great mischief to the enemy. The fore-top of the Algesiras was full of French riflemen, who commanded, by an incessant fire, the upper decks of the Tonnant, which the marines on the poop, and officers and men on the quarter-deck were suffering from considerably. In the midst of this carnage an ordinary seaman, named Fitzgerald, made his way from the main rigging of the Tonnant, by the sprit-sail-yard of the enemy, to the bowsprit of the Algesiras, and with his knife cut down the French jack, amidst the loud cheers of his shipmates and the shouts and groans of the Frenchmen. Notwithstanding the heavy fire of musketry, and many hand-grenades thrown out of the fore-top of the enemy, he had regained the main rigging of the Tonnant, where his gallant exploit terminated from a grenade, which struck him in the back: he sunk between the two ships, with the tri-coloured winding-sheet under his arm, accompanied by the admiration and regret of every officer and man in the ship. This fine fellow was an Irishman, of the humblest origin; but the greatest man of the great house of Fitzgerald never displayed more intrepidity or coolness in the hour of danger than this poor Fitzgerald did.”

“He was indeed a bold fellow! When ships are out at sea looking about for the enemy, how do they manage?”

260“Seamen, under the orders of the lieutenant, are kept at the mast-heads during the day, and in proper stations during the nights, to be continually on the look-out; and if a stranger, that is, an unknown sail, should be seen in the night, the captain has intelligence of it directly, for a midshipman is sent to him by the lieutenant, who is to prepare the ship for action, taking care that the vessel is kept out of gun-shot of the strange ship until all is ready for an engagement. In doing this he must be sure not to run any risk of losing sight of the stranger.”

“When an enemy’s ship is seen, no doubt there is a pretty bustle on board.”

“If you mean that the hands are pretty busy, you are right; but there is very seldom any confusion on board a king’s ship on the sight of an enemy.”

“And what is done by sailors when they see an enemy’s ship?”

“They give chase, and when they come up with her, prepare for the battle. In the orders given by the admiral there is often some pithy expression, to animate the men, such as that given by Nelson: ‘England expects every man to do his duty!’ or, ‘No captain can do wrong who places his ship alongside of an enemy.’”

“Ay! Those are likely to make men fight, if anything will.”

“After taking up stations, finding the sails, and 261clearing for action, the pause sometimes is an awful one, but the roar of the first broadside puts a different face on the matter. The thundering peals rapidly follow one another, and there is no going to sleep till the battle is ended.”

“It must be terrible work; and there can be no running away.”

“No; that is quite out of the question: British sailors are not of the running sort. Just before the battle begins, you may see men stripping themselves to their duck-frocks for more liberty of limb, some girdling their loins and binding their heads with a neckcloth of black silk, and here and there one with a bandage round his left knee; and you hear the captain sing out to those descending the shrouds, ‘Quick, my hearties, to your guns!’ or, ‘Now, my lads! down to the main deck and fire away!’ The men give a cheer, off go the guns; the deafening sound and stunning recoil of the ship thrill through your heart. The cannonade goes on—crash! crash! crash! and clouds of smoke rise up, hiding from view the ships of the enemy.”

“We can fancy ourselves in the battle; and it is very dreadful!”

“If you have time to snatch a glance at the men, you will see that some are flushed, some pale, and some press their lips hard together, and have a frown on their brows; but whether flushed, or pale, or frowning, all are doing their duty—not 262a man flinches—not a hand idle. As the battle goes on, and the men fall, the dead are dragged amid-ships, the wounded cry out for water, the powder-boys flit from one gun to another with their supplies; the broadsides of the enemy strike the ship like the smashing of a dozen doors with crow-bars, and the captain shouts, at the top of his voice, down the waist from the quarter-deck, ‘Go it, my lads! for the honour of old England!’”

“We never heard of such a description as this before. Why do the wounded cry out for water? Do their wounds make them thirsty?”

“Almost all the wounded suffer from thirst; but whether it be from faintness or from the fever occasioned by pain, or from both, I cannot tell. The battle of the Nile was a very severe fight.”

“It was Nelson who commanded the English, was it not?”

“Yes. In the bay of Aboukir the French fleet was moored in a half circle, so close to the shore that their admiral felt certain he could only be attacked on one side, and that the favourite manœuvre of the English of breaking the line, was altogether out of the question; but he little knew the daring spirit of his opponent.”

“Why, what did Nelson do, then, if he could not break the line?”

“By forcing a way between the shore and the French fleet, to the surprise and consternation of 263the French admiral, he was enabled to throw two of his ships upon every one of the weathermost of the enemy’s line, thus attacking his foe in the very way that he most dreaded. The battle was fearful, lasting through the night, with the exception of a short pause at midnight—a fearful pause.”

“Why did they stop fighting at midnight?”

“There was good reason for it, for the French admiral’s ship L’Orient, a beautiful vessel of a hundred and twenty guns, was set in flames, and blew up with so dreadful an explosion, that, for a season, the rage of battle was suspended, and every one was struck with awe. The horrors of war were then indeed seen in the fearful destruction which had taken place. The French admiral had perished.”

“What a number must have been killed in that ship!”

“There were only two ships out of the whole fleet of the enemy that made their escape! And thus was the better part of the French navy destroyed, the coast blockaded, and Buonaparte, who had invaded Egypt, cut off from holding communication with France. When the Orient blew up she had plunder on board, obtained from Malta, amounting to more than half a million of money. But what is money compared with human life!”

“What would Buonaparte do when he knew the best part of his navy was destroyed?”

264“When Buonaparte heard of what had taken place he heaved a sigh. ‘To France,’ said he, ‘the Fates have decreed the empire of the land; to England that of the sea.’ Nelson said, that victory was not a word strong enough for the occasion. He sent orders through the fleet that a general thanksgiving might be offered up to Almighty God for the success which had attended his Majesty’s arms.”

“He never forgets that.”

“It was an odd thing, that Captain Hallowell should have had a coffin made out of the mast of the Orient, but so it was, and he sent it to Nelson, with the following letter:—


“‘I have taken the liberty of presenting you a coffin, made of the main-mast of L’Orient, that when you have finished your military career in this world, you may be buried in one of your trophies. But that that period may be far distant is the earnest wish of your sincere friend,

Benjamin Hallowell.’

“Nelson accepted it kindly, in the spirit in which it was sent.”

“It was a very odd present to make.”

“It was, and the more so because sailors are very superstitious. I knew an instance myself wherein the better part of a ship’s crew were 265thrown into consternation by a noise which they heard day and night; a shrill tapping against the ship’s side. This turned out to be no more than a suspended frying-pan tapping, with the motion of the vessel, against an iron or a copper bolt.”

“What brave fellows they must have been!”

“About the middle of the war which commenced in 1672, a party of French officers, dressed as fiends, with large tails, and pitchforks, presented themselves at midnight on the glacis of Valenciennes, then garrisoned by a Spanish corps. The terrified guards abandoned the covert way, and sought shelter in the town. Closely the French pursued, and secured one of the gates before the portcullis could be lowered. The garrison fled at their approach, and permitted them, without resistance, to occupy two of the bastions. Joined by a regiment of dragoons, Vauban, who commanded the party, took possession of what was then deemed the strongest fortress in Flanders.

“At the siege of Saragossa, in 1709, the Conde del Pueblo, who commanded for King Charles, succeeded in persuading the garrison and the citizens that the investing army consisted only of phantoms, raised by enchantment. For several days the people continued under this delusion; nor were they undeceived till a party of them, making a sortie, contrary to the orders of the court, had their heads cut off by the French light horse.

“It is not generally known that the capture of 266Missolonghi by the Egyptians, was owing to the superstition of the Greeks. One of their augurs, looking through the blade-bone of a newly-killed sheep, prognosticated that all attempts to relieve it would be baffled. The Spezziote fleet immediately sailed away, leaving the brave Suliots to their fate.”



Admiral Nelson.—The loss of his eye and his arm.—Struggle between Nelson’s barge and the armed launch.—Sykes the coxswain.—Nelson’s thanksgiving for his recovery.—His coolness in danger.—Battle of Copenhagen.—Hewson the seaman.—Battle of the Nile.—Nelson’s prayer before the battle of Trafalgar.—His signals on board the Victory.—His wound.—His death.

“Tell us what you can of Admiral Nelson, uncle.”

268“Admiral Nelson, boys, was old England’s right hand. A very thunderbolt in war, and devoted, as much as a seaman could be, to his country’s cause. Life is but a short cruise—the best bower anchor may be tripped, the main-sheet rent, and the main-mast go by the board with the best of us, without leaving us time to write up our log. As every man has his faults, I suppose he had his; however, it is not my business to speak of them, but only to tell you how fearlessly and successfully he stood forward in defence of his country, and in defiance of his enemies.”

“He was sadly wounded, was he not, for his picture is always drawn with one arm?”

“He lost the sight of one eye at the siege of Calvi, by a shot driving the sand and gravel into it, and he lost his arm by a shot in an expedition against Teneriffe; but the most dangerous of his daring exploits were, boarding the battery at San Bartolomeo, boarding the San Joseph, the boat action in the bay of Cadiz, and the famous battles of the Nile and Trafalgar. Of these, perhaps, the boat action during the blockade of Cadiz was the most severe. While making an attempt against the Spanish gun-boats, he was attacked by D. Miguel Tregayen in an armed launch, carrying twenty-six men; fearful odds against his ten bargemen, captain, and coxswain. Eighteen Spaniards were killed, the rest wounded, and the launch captured.”

269“The Spaniards were more than two to one, and yet he beat them!”

“He did; but it was a hard and desperate struggle, hand to hand and blade to blade. Twice did John Sykes, the coxswain, save Nelson’s life, by parrying off blows that would have destroyed him, and once did he interpose his head to receive the blow of a Spanish sabre; but he would willingly have died for his admiral.”

“Was poor Sykes killed, or was he only wounded?”

“Wounded badly, but not killed.”

“That’s right, for he was a faithful fellow. It would have been a sad pity if he had been killed.”

“When Nelson’s health was established after the loss of his arm, he sent to the minister of St. George’s, Hanover-square, the following desire to offer up his thanksgiving:—‘An officer desires to return thanks to Almighty God for his perfect recovery from a severe wound, and also for the many mercies bestowed on him.’”

“He was humble enough, then, to be thankful to God.”

“He was; and continued so in the midst of all his successes. I will give you an instance of his coolness in the hour of danger. The late Lieutenant-general the Hon. Sir William Stewart, as lieutenant-colonel of the rifle-brigade, embarked to do duty in the fleet which was led by Sir Hyde 270Parker and Nelson, to the attack of Copenhagen in 1801. ‘I was,’ says he, ‘with Lord Nelson when he wrote the note to the Crown Prince of Denmark, proposing terms of arrangement.’ A cannonball struck off the head of the boy who was crossing the cabin with the light to seal it. ‘Bring another candle,’ said his lordship. I observed, that I thought it might very well be sent as it was, for it would not be expected that the usual forms could be observed at such a moment. ‘That is the very thing that I should wish to avoid, Colonel,’ replied he, ‘for if the least appearance of precipitation were perceptible in the manner of sending this note, it might spoil all.’ Another candle being now brought, his lordship sealed the letter, carefully enclosed in an envelope, with a seal bearing his coat-of-arms and coronet, and delivered it to the officer in waiting to receive it. It is said that the moment was a critical one, and that Lord Nelson’s note decided the event.”

“Why, the next ball to that which took off the boy’s head might have killed Nelson, and yet he seems to have felt no fear at all.”

“A brave man may feel fear, but it will not keep him from the discharge of what he looks upon as his duty.”

“What did Nelson do at the battle of Copenhagen?”

“I will tell you of the battle of Copenhagen, in few words. It was in the year 1801 that a 271British fleet, under Admiral Sir Hyde Parker and Vice-admiral Lord Nelson, sailed into the Baltic to attack the northern Powers before they joined their fleets to those of France and Holland. The Danes had made great preparation. They had six sail-of-the-line, eleven floating batteries, and small craft without number, chained to one another, and to the ground. These were all under the protection of the Crown batteries, which mounted more than four score guns, besides the fortifications of the Island of Amack. But the British admirals were all undaunted.”

“Nothing would daunt Admiral Nelson. He was always ready, if what is said of him is true, to fight with the enemies of his country.”

“Nelson, who might have taken for his motto,

‘In battle’s front the foremost place I claim,
The first in danger, as the first in fame!’

led on the attack, with twelve ships of the line, besides frigates and fire-ships. There was plenty to do, and no hanging back on the part of British sailors. For four hours there was as hard fighting as any one could desire, thundering away on both sides, crashing and smashing, till the whole Danish fleet, with the exception of a few schooners and bomb-vessels, were sunk, burnt, or taken. Had not a negotiation taken place, most likely the Danish capital would have been destroyed. I will give you an anecdote of Admiral 272Nelson and a common seaman, that few people know of. It was told me by Hewson’s master.”

“Who was Hewson?”

“Listen, and you shall hear.”

“A seaman of the name of Hewson, who had served under Lord Nelson, was working as a caster in a manufactory at Birmingham when Nelson visited the place. Among other manufactories, the admiral paid a visit to that where Hewson was at work as a brassfounder; and though no employment disfigures a workman more with smoke and dust than the process of casting, the quick eye of Nelson recognized in the caster an old associate. ‘What, Hewson, my lad!’ said he, ‘are you here?’ Hewson laid hold of the hair that hung over his forehead, and making an awkward bow, replied, ‘Yes, your honour.’ ‘Why, how comes this about! You and I are old acquaintances; you were with me in the Captain when I boarded the San Joseph, were you not?’ Hewson again laid hold of his hair, and bowing, replied, ‘Yes, your honour.’ ‘I remember you well,’ said Nelson: ‘you were one of the cleverest fellows about the vessel! If anything was to be done Hewson was the lad to do it. Why, what do you do here, working like a negro? Take this,’ throwing him money, ‘and wash the dust down your throat.’ Hewson withdrew to a neighbouring ale-house, boasting of the character the admiral had given him. Month after month passed away, but Hewson returned 273not—his shop-tools were abandoned, and no one could account for his absence. At length a stripling, in a sailor’s jacket, entered the manufactory and said, ‘He was come to settle his father’s affairs.’ This was no other than Hewson’s son, from whose account it appeared, that when Hewson, somewhat elevated with liquor, but more with the praise the admiral had bestowed on him, quitted Birmingham, he walked his way down to Portsmouth, entered once more on board Lord Nelson’s ship, and fell with him in the battle of Trafalgar.”

“Poor Hewson!”

“In the battle of the Nile Nelson took nine French ships of the line, and burnt two; but Trafalgar was his grand fight. Collingwood, in the Royal Sovereign, led the lee-line of fourteen ships. Nelson, in the Victory, was at the head of the weather-line, consisting of fourteen ships. Besides these there were four frigates.”

“How many ships were there against them?”

“The ships of France and Spain opposed to the British were in number thirty-three, with seven large frigates. The odds were great against the English, but the superior tactics, and well-known bravery of Nelson, clothed him with power, and more than made up the difference. I speak, boys, of Nelson as a man, well knowing that the God of battle can alone give success to a mortal arm. Nelson knew this well, and, when everything was 274prepared for the engagement, he retired into his cabin alone and wrote down the following prayer.

“‘May the great God, whom I worship, grant to my country, and for the benefit of Europe in general, a great and glorious victory, and may no misconduct in any one tarnish it, and may humanity after victory, be the predominant feature in the British fleet! For myself, individually, I commit my life to Him that made me; and may his blessing alight on my endeavours for serving my country faithfully! To him I resign myself, and the just cause which is entrusted to me to defend. Amen! Amen! Amen!’”

“What a solemn prayer! It seems almost as if he thought he should be sure to be killed.”

“He wore on the day of the battle his admiral’s frock coat, and on his left breast, over his heart, boys, four stars of the orders of honour, which had been conferred upon him. Those around thought it was dangerous to wear his stars, lest he should be too plainly seen by the enemy, but they were afraid to tell him so, because he had said, ‘In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them.’”

“O dear! he should not have worn his stars.”

“The effect produced by the signal given by Lord Nelson, ‘England expects every man to do his duty!’ was wonderful; it ran from ship to ship, from man to man, from heart to heart, like a train of gunpowder. Officers and men seemed animated 275with one spirit, and that was a determination to win the day, or at least never to surrender to the enemy.”

“There must be something terrible in preparing for such a fight.”

“There is, boys, but it wears off by degrees. The captains commanded on their quarter-decks; the boatswains in the forecastle; the gunners attended to the magazines, and the carpenters, with their shot-plugs, put themselves in readiness with high-wrought energy; nor were the seamen and marines a whit behind-hand in entering on their several duties. The guns, the tackle, the round grape, and canister-shot, the powder-boys, the captains of guns, with their priming-boxes, and the officers with their drawn swords, cut an imposing appearance; and the cockpit would have made a ruddy face turn pale.”

“What was there to be seen in the cockpit?”

“You forget that the wounded are all taken down into the cockpit. It will hardly bear thinking about. But, in the cockpit were laid out ready for use, wine, water, and surgeon’s instruments, with napkins and basins, sponges, and bandages.”

“We don’t like the cockpit at all. How does a man feel when he is in battle for the first time?”

“According to his disposition, I suppose, but I can only answer for myself. In my first battle I felt a sense of great danger, an expectation and 276fear of being killed suddenly; a difficulty in breathing, and a shame of playing the coward. At Trafalgar the combined fleets of France and Spain, under Villeneuve, the French admiral, a brave and skilful man, were in the form of a crescent, and the two British lines ran down upon them parallel to each other. As soon as the British van was within gun-shot the enemy opened their fire. The Royal Sovereign soon rounded-to under the stern of the Santa Anna, and Admiral Nelson’s ship the Victory laid herself on board the Redoubtable. From that moment the roaring of guns, the crash against the sides of the ships, clouds of smoke, splintered yards, and falling masts, were the order of the day.”

“What a dreadful scene! None but soldiers and sailors could bear it.”

“The death-warrant of the navy of France was signed and sealed by the fight of Trafalgar; and afterwards Britannia was to rule the waves. In the heat of the action a ball, fired from the mizen-top of the Redoubtable, struck Admiral Nelson on the left shoulder, when he instantly fell. ‘They have done for me at last, Hardy,’ said he, to his captain.”

“Ah, poor Nelson! He should not have worn those glittering stars on his breast. No wonder that he was killed.”

“Though mortally wounded, he gave some necessary directions concerning the ship, and when 277carried below inquired earnestly how the battle went on. When he knew that the victory had been gained—for twenty ships in all struck to the British admiral—he expressed himself satisfied. ‘Now I am satisfied,’ said he; ‘thank God, I have done my duty!’ Many times he repeated this expression, and ‘Thank God, I have done my duty;’ and ‘Kiss me, Hardy,’ were among the last words that were uttered by his lips. Thus, with a heart full of patriotism, died the bravest commander, the most vigilant seaman, and the most ardent friend of his country, that ever led on a British fleet to victory.”

“Poor Nelson!”

“Even amid the exultation of victory a grateful country mourned his loss. A bountiful provision was made for his family; a public funeral was awarded to his remains, and monuments in the principal cities of his native land were erected to his memory. A sorrowing nation lamented over his bier, and Britannia, indeed, felt that old England’s defender was numbered with the dead.

‘Long as the hero’s thoughts could be exprest
His patriot soul upheld his country’s name;
And long as hostile virtue fires the breast
A grateful country shall prolong his fame.’”


De Ruyter.—Van Tromp.—Columbus.—Vasquez da Gama.—Villeneuve.—Tom of Ten Thousand.—Hawkins, Drake, Blake, Hawke.—Rodney.—A female soldier.—Vincent, on the 14th of February.—Duncan, off Camperdown.—Admiral Howe, and the glorious First of June.—Maitland’s generosity.—Viscount Exmouth; his courage and humanity.—Codrington and the battle of Navarino.—The flag of old England.

“Who are the principal admirals of England, those who have been famous for their victories?”

“There have been so many of them, that you must be satisfied with a few. In my rambling 279way I will run over their names. There have been British admirals stern and kind-hearted, crabbed, and good-tempered, but all of them brave. A sailor’s figure-head, whether he be ‘before the mast’ or admiral of the fleet, should always telegraph good-humour to the craft around him; but some of our admirals have been crusty old boys. You remember, perhaps, my speaking of the hearty old admirals in the Naval Gallery of Greenwich, in their curled wigs, red, blue, and brown coats, loose robes, ermine capes, armour, and buff leathern jackets?”

“Yes, uncle! yes! And you said there was no fixed uniform in old times for the navy.”

“De Ruyter and Van Tromp were brave admirals, in the service of Holland. Van Tromp was the very first of Dutch Admirals, the Nelson of his country, having been in fifty naval engagements, winning thirty-three victories; he was considered the most intrepid and the ablest seaman of his day. You will not find a Dutchman who does not know all about Van Tromp. It has been said, that he carried a besom at his mast-head to sweep the seas of British ships, but since then British admirals have turned sweepers themselves.”

“Indeed they have, and Admiral Von Tromp, if he were alive would not be able to hinder them.”

“I might say something of Christopher Columbus, 280admiral of Spain, discoverer of the continent of America; of Vasquez da Gama, admiral of Portugal, discoverer of the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope; and of Villeneuve, the French Admiral; but I must pass them all by to speak a word of British admirals. And first, let me tell you, that Thomas Smith, admiral of the blue, was known among seamen as Tom of Ten Thousand.”

“What a comical name! No doubt he was a very famous man?”

“Leaving the older admirals, Hawkins, Drake, and Blake, let us come at once to Admiral Hawke. He has the reputation of being not only brave but also circumspect; to the most consummate courage and active spirit he added a temper cool and deliberate; accident ruffled him not; sudden misfortune seemed not to take him by surprise. I will give you one instance of his coolness and steady self-possession. When his flag was on board the Royal George, the ship once took fire, owing to a collection of soot in the funnel of the stove of the great cabin. A man of less presence of mind would have given an alarm instantly to the whole ship; but instead of this, Sir Edward, who was at the time dressing himself, went on deck without manifesting any emotion, and taking aside the first-lieutenant, said to him in a low tone, ‘Sir, the ship is on fire in my cabin; give the necessary directions for putting it out.’”

281“Capital! capital! Why, we should have cried out fire! as loud as we could scream.”

“And by that means have gathered round you those who would have only been in each other’s way. I have given you an instance of coolness in Admiral Hawke; I will now give you an example of fidelity and integrity in Admiral Rodney.”

“Ay! we have heard of Admiral Rodney; he was a very brave commander.”

“After many instances of bravery and skill, he unfortunately engaged in election contests, and became so poor that he was obliged to retire to France to escape from the pursuit of his creditors. When in this forlorn situation, the Duke de Biron invited him to his house, treated him very hospitably, and then hinted, that if he would enter the French navy it would be greatly to his advantage. But the blue-jacket that would fight against his country, even to be made lord-high-admiral of an enemy’s navy, would deserve to be tarred and feathered. Rodney began to think that the duke was a little deranged in his intellects, but what was his surprise when the duke told him, that he was commissioned by his royal master, the king, to offer him the command of a French squadron, with unbounded advantages, should he accept the appointment. What do you think was Rodney’s answer?”

“Why, if he were a true Englishman, he would never fight against his own country.”

282“Right, right! This was his reply to the duke. ‘My distresses, sir, it is true, have driven me from the bosom of my country, but no temptation whatever can estrange me from her service. Had this offer been a voluntary one of your own, I should have deemed it an insult, but I am glad that it proceeds from a source that can do no wrong.’ It is a common saying, ‘A king can do no wrong.’”

“Well done, Admiral Rodney! He was a true Englishman. No doubt the duke was in a fine passion.”

“Quite the contrary. There is that in an upright and noble action which commands respect. The brave respect the brave, and the faithful respect the faithful all the world over. The duke was so struck with admiration of the British tar’s patriotism that he instantly became his friend.”

“Then the duke had a noble mind too. Please to tell us a little of Admiral Rodney’s bravery.”

“When captain of the Eagle, he engaged two French vessels of equal force, but being disabled, he was obliged to drop astern. Undaunted by his ill success, he rove new braces, and repaired his wheel, which had been in part shot away, and then once more, crowding all the sail he could stretch on his shattered spars, returned to the attack.”

“Rodney was as courageous, then, as he was faithful?”

“Yes. His grand battle was with the French Admiral Comte de Grasse, off Dominica. I will tell you how he got the victory.”

283“Oh, he fired away till he sank the Frenchmen, or perhaps he boarded them.”

“No, he went upon a very different plan; and it was the very first time that plan was adopted. He sailed boldly on, and broke the enemy’s line; thus exposing one wing of the fleet to a double attack. This enabled him to obtain the victory.”

“Ay! we remember now, that you told us about breaking the line at the same time that you spoke of your two school-fellows, Captain Bentley and Captain Baines. We see that it is not courage and power alone that conquers, but skill and prudence, and a knowledge of naval tactics.”

“This bold enterprize of breaking the line of the enemy has, since then, often been effected, but I believe, as I said before, that Admiral Rodney set the example, though the thought did not spring from his own mind.

“Rodney, it is said, owing to particular circumstances, found it necessary to keep up proper discipline in the navy, and control faction by an uncompromising sternness of conduct, not belonging to his natural character. He was compelled, as he believed, to convince those under his command that he was not a man to be trifled with.

“The policy pursued by Lord Nelson for securing the obedience of his captains was the reverse of this, but equally successful. This great commander 284cultivated the personal attachment of those under his orders by familiar and confidential intercourse. After settling in his own mind the plan of a campaign, or mode of attack, he would, it is said, communicate it to his captains; sometimes separately, sometimes collectively, as if to consult them on the soundness of what he projected, putting the case to them in the interrogative or consulting tone, as to what he had decided upon, leaving an opening for their lights and corrections; and it is believed that he stated the case differently from what he had secretly decided on, but led them to offer an opinion and advice in accordance with his real determination, in order to pay them the flattering compliment of having amended his plan. ‘Your idea,’ he would say, ‘is the better of the two.’ This illustrates how the same end may be attained by different, and even opposite means, according to the difference of circumstances. Lord Nelson’s captains had lived with him in affectionate personal intercourse, loving and respecting him. Lord Rodney had little or no acquaintance with the great majority of his captains, and had reason to believe that they neither loved nor respected him much; but, by a demeanour suited to such circumstances, he equally secured their obedience and co-operation, after the first misunderstanding and neglect of duty.

“During an action of Admiral Rodney with 285the French, a woman assisted at one of the guns upon the main-deck, and being asked by the admiral what she did there, she replied, ‘An’t please your honour, my husband is sent down to the cockpit wounded, and I am here to supply his place. Do you think, your honour, I am afraid of the French?’ After the action, Lord Rodney called her aft, told her she had been guilty of a breach of orders, by being on board, and rewarded her with ten guineas for so gallantly supplying the place of her husband.”

“What a strange woman that must have been! She was more like a man than a woman.”

“There have been several instances of women becoming soldiers and sailors. At the siege of Saragossa a young woman took her part at the guns; and an extraordinary woman, named Mary Schellenck, died a short time since, at Menin. She was a native of Ghent, and in March 1792, entered the second Belgian battalion as a male volunteer. On the 6th of November in that year she distinguished herself in the battle of Gemappes, and received six wounds. She afterwards entered the thirtieth demi-brigade (Batavian), and made the campaigns of Germany. She was next removed to the eighth light infantry, and displayed great bravery at the battle of Austerlitz, in which she received a severe wound, which led to the discovery of her sex. She, however, continued to follow the regiment; and at last presented 286a petition with her own hand to Napoleon. The emperor received her with marked distinction, placed her tenth on the list of lieutenants, invested her with his own hands with a cross of the legion of honour, which he himself had worn. In 1807 she was granted a pension of six hundred and seventy-three francs. Her funeral, which was celebrated in the church of Menin, was attended by every member of the legion of honour belonging to the garrison, and an immense concourse of people.”

“She was a more famous woman than the other; but it was rather a pity that she could find nothing to do besides fighting. What have women to do with battles?”

“Vincent, Duncan and Howe, are great names as naval commanders. One of the most brilliant victories mentioned in English history was achieved by Vincent. He went to sea at ten years of age. When posted, he was appointed to the Gosport. Afterwards he captured the Pallas, a French frigate, and was present in Admiral Keppel’s action with the French. Under Admiral Barrington he chased and fought the Pégase, a French seventy-four, capturing her without the loss of a single man. With his flag on board the Victory of one hundred guns, he came face to face with his enemy on the 14th of February, 1797, fighting one of the most famous battles, and achieving one of the most splendid victories ever recorded in the roll of fame.”

287“Vincent will not soon be forgotten.”

“Duncan’s victory over the Dutch fleet off Camperdown was a gallant affair, and it has handed down his name in the list of Britain’s warriors. Assembling his crew in the presence of the captured Dutch admiral, he kneeled down at their head to offer up his thanksgiving to the God of battles.”

“What a sight to see them all kneeling on the deck!”

“Admiral Lord Howe, when a captain, was once hastily awakened in the middle of the night by the lieutenant, who informed him, with great agitation, that the ship was on fire near the magazine. ‘If that be the case,’ said he, rising leisurely to put on his clothes, ‘we shall soon hear a farther report of the matter.’ The lieutenant flew back to the scene of danger, and almost instantly returning, exclaimed, ‘You need not, sir, be afraid, the fire is extinguished.’ ‘Afraid,’ exclaimed Howe; ‘what do you mean by that, sir? I never was afraid in my life,’ and looking the lieutenant full in the face, he added, ‘Pray, how does a man feel, sir, when he is afraid? I need not ask how he looks.’”

“Admiral Howe was a much bolder man than his lieutenant was.”

“You have heard, boys, the expression ‘The glorious first of June!’ It arose from the grand battle fought on that day, in the year 1794, between Lord Howe and the French fleet. The name of 288Howe sounds like a triumph in the ears of a seaman. The probity and generosity of seamen are as much a proverb as their courage and recklessness.”

“Captain, afterwards Admiral Sir F. Maitland, agreed with Captain Dixon of the Apollo, that they should share between them whatever prize-money fell to their lot. Captain Dixon’s life was a short one, and his widow was left in not very affluent circumstances.”

“One day the widow was waited on by a gentleman, who presented to her a bank check for twenty-five thousand pounds. Surprised by so strange a circumstance she hesitated, and then refused to accept the munificent sum tendered to her, when Captain Maitland addressed her thus:—‘The agreement I made with my friend Dixon to share our prize-money, was not an agreement for life, but during the war, and therefore this money is fairly yours.’”

“Admiral Maitland was every inch a sailor!”

“Sailors were never close in money matters. Jack before the mast, while he has a shiner left, will share it with any messmate he happens to fall in with. Viscount Exmouth went to sea at the age of thirteen, and rose rapidly in rank. Every step was the reward of some new achievement. When only twenty-five years old he drove three privateers on shore at the Isle of Bass. He afterwards captured the Cleopatra. He was sent to set fire to a frigate and two corvettes which had run 289ashore. He carried the vessels gallantly; but finding them filled with wounded men, who could not be removed, he abandoned his prizes rather than destroy so many sufferers, unable, to help themselves—an act of humanity that redounds to his credit even more than his courageous exploits! Bravery and humanity should always be companions. In battle Exmouth was a lion, but when the victory was won, he became a lamb.”

“That was noble conduct; and the name of Exmouth ought to be remembered with honour.”

“You have not heard all yet, boys; twice did he leap overboard to save a drowning sailor from the waves; and when no pilot would venture out in the storm that blew the Dutton, East Indiaman, on shore, full of troops, he magnanimously reached the wreck in a boat, and made such judicious arrangements, that the whole of the crew were saved.”

“Say what you will, but that action was ten times better than a victory!”

“Lord Exmouth was sent to bombard Algiers; for the cruel pirates there would listen to no terms, but continued to infest the ocean, and to keep in cruel captivity their Christian slaves. So well did he perform this service, setting all the slaves at liberty, and doing away with slavery for ever, that his grateful country made him a viscount.”

“He was a kind-hearted man, and well deserved to be rewarded.”

290“I have no time to speak of Admiral Sir Samuel Hood, because I intend to read you his epitaph. Here it is: it will speak better for him than I can. It was written by the pen of Sir James Mackintosh.”

Sacred to the memory of
Knight of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, and nominated
Grand Cross thereof;
Knight of St. Ferdinand and of Merit,
Knight Grand Cross of the Sword,
Vice-Admiral of the White, and
Commander-in-Chief of H. M. Fleet in the East Indies;
An officer of the highest distinction
among the illustrious men
who rendered their own age the brightest period in the naval history
of their country:
In whom the same simplicity, calmness, and firmness,
which gave him the full command of his science and skill in the
midst of danger;
secured also the rectitude of his judgment in its most rapid
preserved the integrity and kindness of his nature undisturbed
amidst the agitations of the world,
and diffused a graceful benignity on the frank demeanour
of his generous profession:
Whose character was an example of the natural union of a gallant
spirit with a gentle disposition,
and of private affection with public honour;
whose native modesty was unchanged by a life of renown:
This Column is erected,
by the attachment and reverence of British Officers;
of whom many were his admiring followers
in those awful scenes of war,
which, while they called forth the grandest qualities of human nature
in him, likewise gave occasion for the exercise of its most amiable

291“That is a very high character of him indeed!”

“The battle of Navarino was a terrible one for the Turks, for it almost annihilated their navy. It took place to compel the Turks to give over their exterminating war against the Greeks, and to evacuate their country.”

“Who commanded the fleet at the battle of Navarino?”

“Admiral Codrington. Oh, it was a terrible conflict! The bay, and the town, and the Castle of Navarino, formed a picturesque view; the Ottoman fleet having crimson flags flying at their peaks, with crescents and swords upon them. There were evident signs of hurry on board the ships, as though they hardly expected to be attacked so soon. Indeed, it was afterwards understood, that they intended to be very civil until night, and a strong breeze should favour them in sending forth their fire-ships.”

“Those fire-ships must be sad things?”

“According to orders, no shot was to be fired without a signal from the admiral; and the memorable words of Nelson animated every heart: ‘No captain can do very wrong who places his ship alongside an enemy.’ The British, French, and Russian ships had enough to do. The Turkish and Egyptian fleets fought with desperation, but when the battle was over, the flag of old England was waving in the breeze of victory. I might speak of many more admirals, and of hundreds of naval 292officers who have signalized themselves for skill and intrepidity, but enough for the present.

May Britain’s flag still fly unfurl’d
In fair and stormy weather;
And might and right and British hearts
Sail blithely on together.”


French generals.—Desaix.—Ney.—Lasnes.—Soult.—Suchet.—Augereau.—Berthier.—Rapp.—Macdonald.—Beauharnois.—Maret.—Jourdan.—Grouchey.—Vandamme.—Bertrand.—Gourgaud.—Junot.—Massena.—Davoust.—Moreau.—Lefebre.—Marmont.—Mortier.—Dupont.—Victor.—Oudinot.—Bernadotte.—Murat.—Soldiers of the army of Italy.—Battle of Marengo.—The Napoleon Pillar.

“What say you, boys, shall I give you a few anecdotes of French generals, as France has long been considered the first nation in the world in 294a military point of view? Not that French soldiers are superior to English soldiers, for he who would say that, must altogether mistake the matter; but they have had so much to do in warfare with the countries around them, and their armies have been so successful, that their fame has spread all over the world. The battle of Waterloo sadly humbled their pride, but for all that we must not undervalue the intrepidity of a brave people.”

“The more anecdotes you give us the better. Tell us of all the generals that you can remember.”

“I have spent much of my time in reading of military characters, and could, therefore, tell you of a great number. Many a day has passed since I slept in the camp, and mingled in the stormy fight, but old habits cling to us closely, and there is hardly a day of my life but I take up a book on naval or military subjects. I read of admirals and sea captains, of generals and distinguished commanders, and then I think of my earlier days, and of the wild scenes of war. Many of my old comrades, though living, are dead to me, for they are scattered about the world, and many who are really dead are alive in my remembrance. You shall have a few anecdotes of some of the French generals. Whatever may have been their failings, no one can call in question their personal bravery; and a true soldier will never cover the name of an enemy with the slime of slander, but rather speak the truth, be it good or evil.”

295“Please to begin about the French generals.”

“General Desaix was called by the Germans, ‘The good Desaix,’ for though he was among them as a conqueror, he treated them with humanity. The Arabs called him the ‘Just Sultan.’ He feared no danger when in the field, and met the death of a soldier bravely. At the battle of Marengo he was fatally struck by a ball, at the first charge of his division. ‘Tell the first consul,’ said he, ‘that I only regret having done nothing for posterity.’ The day before the battle, he observed to one of his aides-de-camp, ‘It is a long while since I fought in Europe, something will happen, for the bullets will not know me again.’ Buonaparte, though in the hottest of the engagement, when he heard of his death was much affected, and one of his earliest commands after the fight was, that a splendid monument should be erected on the top of Mont St. Bernard to the memory of his fallen general.”

“Poor Desaix! He was not so cruel as many conquerors have been. Who was the very bravest of Buonaparte’s generals?”

“Marshal Ney was one of the most daring of Buonaparte’s generals, and indeed, the Emperor called him ‘The bravest of the brave.’ When retreating from Smolensko, under the most disastrous circumstances, he found himself almost on the edge of a ravine manned by Russians, with a line of batteries on the opposite bank, before he 296was aware of his situation. It was almost a hopeless position, and a Russian officer appeared and summoned him to capitulate, when his answer was, ‘A Mareschal of France never surrenders.’ Though the batteries opened on him a tremendous fire, he fearlessly plunged into the ravine, cleared a passage over the stream in spite of all opposition, and attacked his enemies at their guns. None but a soldier can estimate his danger and his daring. Again and again he was beaten back, but all in vain, for in the face of the whole army of his foes he maintained his position, disdaining to surrender or retire.”

“If Buonaparte had not had such generals he could never have won so many victories.”

“That is very true. The French general Lasnes, Duke of Montebello, distinguished himself much in fighting against the Austrians. He headed the storming party in the attack on Ratisbonne, crying out, ‘Soldiers, your general has not forgotten that he was once a grenadier.’ At the battle of Asperge a cannon shot took away both his legs, and when the surgeons told him his wounds were mortal, he broke out into furious imprecations, crying out for the Emperor. When Buonaparte came to him, it was only to hear him blaspheme heaven and earth, because he could not live to see the end of the campaign. He was called the Roland of the camp, on account of his enthusiastic valour.”

297“He might be brave, but he must have been a very bad man to blaspheme in that manner.”

“You are right. The bravery of a soldier will never excuse his blasphemies. Soult was a very brave and able soldier; he is held in high estimation in France at the present time by King Louis Philippe. Suchet, Augereau, Berthier, Rapp, Macdonald, and Beauharnois, were all generals of high reputation, as well as Maret, Jourdan, Grouchey, and Vandamme. Generals Bertrand and Gourgaud accompanied Buonaparte when he was exiled to St. Helena.”

“Well, they did right in not forsaking him in his misfortunes.”

“Junot was one of the generals in the French army under Buonaparte. During the siege of Toulon, Junot was only a sergeant. Buonaparte, while constructing a battery under the enemy’s fire, had occasion to prepare a dispatch, and called aloud for some one who could use his pen. Junot leaped forward; but while he was leaning on the breastwork, writing down what Buonaparte dictated, a shot struck the ground and scattered the dust all over him. ‘Good!’ said Junot, laughing, ‘this time we shall spare our sand?’ Buonaparte was so much pleased by the cool intrepidity and gaiety of the sergeant that he kept his eye on him afterwards. In course of time Junot became Marshal of France and Duke of Abrantes.”

298“A bold man was sure to be taken notice of by Buonaparte.”

“Massena and Davoust were able generals, but very, very cruel: it would be hard to say which were the greater, the atrocities practised by Junot and Massena in Portugal, or those perpetrated by Davoust on the banks of the Elbe. Courage is a noble quality, but it will never atone for cold-hearted cruelty.”

“If they had come over to England they would have served us in just the same manner.”

“The celebrated Moreau, who fought on the side of the Russians against his countrymen the French, was wounded amid a group of reconnoitring officers. Buonaparte seeing these officers together, ordered half-a-dozen cannons to be fired at them, when a commotion took place as though one had been wounded. In the evening a peasant brought a greyhound and a bloody boot to the camp; on the collar of the greyhound was graven the name of Moreau. They belonged, he said, to a great man, who had fallen.”

“Ah! no doubt it was Moreau!”

“Yes it was. A shot had taken away both his legs; yet such was his firmness that he smoked a cigar while undergoing amputation, in the presence of the Emperor Alexander. He died shortly after.”

“What dreadful things soldiers go through, and yet they hardly seem to care for them.”

“When General Lefebre besieged Saragossa, 299the place was defended by Don Jose Palafox, a young nobleman of moderate talents. But men and women fought side by side among the Spaniards, and became irresistible.”

“How they must have hated the French, for the women to fight.”

“They must indeed! The old Moorish walls and monastic buildings in the suburbs of the place, were manned with determined men. Disease came and famine came among them, but for all this, when the French general, who had taken the convent St. Engracia, sent to Palafox this short summons, ‘Head-quarters, Santa Engracia—capitulation,’ he received this short answer: ‘Head-quarters, Saragossa—war to the knife.’ The French were compelled to retreat.”

“The boasting of the French general did no good, after all.”

“Marmont, Mortier, Dupont, Victor, and Oudinot, were all famous generals, as well as Bernadotte and Murat. Victor, having failed to dislodge the enemy at Montereau, fell under the displeasure of Buonaparte, who broke out into a furious passion, and dismissed him the service. Victor then declared, while the tears streamed down his face, that though he had ceased to be an officer he would still be a soldier, and that, as he had risen from the ranks, he would again enter them as a private soldier. This melted Buonaparte, who gave him his hand, and told him that, though he 300could not give him the command of his corps, for it had been assigned to another, he was welcome to place himself at the head of a brigade of the guard.”

“Then, he did not serve as a common soldier?”

“No. His determination to do so rather than to quit the army, softened the heart of Buonaparte, and made him relent. It is related, that on one occasion, when a desperate attack was led on by Soult, there occurred a circumstance, as honourable as it was characteristic of the spirit which animated the French. The soldiers of two regiments, or demi-brigades of the army of Italy, namely, the twenty-fifth, light, and the twenty-fourth of the line, had sworn eternal enmity against one another, because that previously to the opening of the campaign, when desertion, and all the evils of insubordination prevailed in that army, disorganized by suffering, the former, in which discipline had been maintained, was employed to disarm the latter. The utmost care had been taken to keep them separate; but it happened that these two corps found themselves one day made rivals, as it were, in valour, the one before the eyes of the other. The same dangers, the same thirst of glory, the same eagerness to maintain themselves, at once renewed in all hearts generous sentiments; the soldiers became instantly intermingled; they embraced in the midst of the fire, and one half of the one corps passing into the 301ranks of the other, they renewed the combat after the exchange, with double ardour.”

“What a very odd thing! It shows that soldiers can forgive one another, however!”

“The battle of Marengo, fought between the French and the Austrians, shows us, that without good tactics a field may be lost almost in the moment of victory. The Austrians, under Melas, were full forty thousand strong, while the French, under Buonaparte, in the absence of their reserve, could hardly be more than half that number.”

“Two to one—that was a terrible difference.”

“The French advance-troops were under Gardanne. Victor led on the first line; Lannes the second; and Napoleon Buonaparte the third. The Austrian heavy infantry were formed into two lines; the first was commanded by General Haddick, the second by Melas, who had also General Zach with him, while General Elsnitz commanded the light infantry and cavalry.”

“What a trampling and clashing there must be when one army meets another in battle!”

“On came the Austrians, and back fell Gardanne, to strengthen Victor. A furious cannonading took place along the whole front of that position, on the edge of a ravine, the muskets of either party almost touching each other. Marengo was taken and retaken several times. The French, at last, were beaten back, for General Elsnitz, with his splendid cavalry, had outflanked 302them on the right, and the retreating columns of Lannes had to sustain the squadrons that were poured upon him. The retreat became general.”

“What did Buonaparte think of it then? He could not much like to fly before the Austrians.”

“Just as the Austrian cavalry were rushing on, Desaix, the French general, with the reserve, appeared on the field. ‘I think this is a lost battle,’ said he to Buonaparte. ‘And I think it is a battle won,’ replied Napoleon. ‘Push on, and I will rally behind you.’”

“Buonaparte never gives up while there is any hope of obtaining a victory.”

“Now, had General Melas pursued his advantage there can be little doubt that he would have obtained a complete victory. He drew back, however, to the rear, making sure of the battle, and left General Zach to pursue the fugitives. This was an error, for which he dearly paid.”

“Why did he not go on, when he was conquering? That was the worst time in the world to fall back to the rear.”

“The old general was then eighty-four years old, and therefore we can hardly wonder at it. Desaix led on his troops, and fell dead at the first fire, but General Kellerman, with the French cavalry, made such a desperate charge that the Austrians could not sustain it. Post after post was taken by the French, and the Austrians by whole troops surrendered, being unable to cross 303the river. Kellerman and Desaix, no doubt, won the victory, but the battle was lost by the error committed by General Melas, and by the rashness with which the Austrians advanced in all the confidence of success. The way to go through life, boys, is neither to be too much cast down by adversity nor too much elated with prosperity. When Mr. Pitt, the British minister, read the bulletin of Marengo, he had so little hope of withstanding the French, on the continent, that he said, ‘Fold up that map,’ the map of Europe, ‘it will not be wanted for these twenty years.’ Buonaparte prided himself much on the battle of Marengo, it is one of the victories commemorated on the Napoleon Pillar in Paris.”

“Please to tell us of the Napoleon Pillar?”

“This Pillar stands in the Place Vendome. It is a hundred and thirty feet high, and entirely covered with brass, furnished by the pieces of cannon taken in many victories from the Austrians. It is one of the most beautiful works of art, of the kind, to be seen anywhere. The different victories gained by Buonaparte are represented in spiral compartments, after the manner of the famous Trajan’s Pillar, at Rome. The figure of Buonaparte some years ago was placed at the top of the Napoleon Pillar.”

“There is one battle in which Buonaparte fought that will never be represented on the Napoleon Pillar.”

304“And what battle is that, boys?”

“Why, Waterloo! If that was put at the top or bottom of all the rest, it would take away a great deal of the glory of Napoleon.”

“There is but little danger of Waterloo being added to the battles on the pillar in the Place Vendome; but let us not give our minds to boasting. The French are a brave nation, though they have too frequently forgotten, in their successes, that mercy and magnanimity which ought to be extended to the conquered. Some people say ‘the French will win, the English cannot lose,’—meaning thereby that the French are intrepid in their attacks, but that the cool courage and persevering fortitude of the English are not to be overcome.”



Personal courage.—Heroism.—A life-guardsman.—A corporal.—Private in Bland’s dragoons.—Lewis de Crillon.—Wolfe.—Abercrombie.—Colonel Gardiner.—Major André.—General Picton.—Sir John Moore.—Marquess of Anglesey.—Sir John Elley.—Colonel Colborne.—Colonel Ponsonby.—General Baird.—Sir Thomas Picton.—Sir James Macdonnel.—Lord Edward Somerset.—Sir Henry Hardinge.—Sir Colin Campbell.—General Evans.—Lord Hill.—The regimental surgeon and Sir William Carr Beresford.

“I have already explained to you, boys, that though personal courage is an excellent quality, 306it never becomes a virtue till it is joined with an honourable or benevolent motive.

‘Be firm, my boys, when ills abound,
And dangers round you lower:
A steady heart spreads hope around
In peril’s darkest hour.’

Heroism is the union of high motives and high actions; when, therefore, I describe instances of bravery, they may, or they may not, be examples of heroism. Certain it is, that common sailors, and men in the ranks, among soldiers, have manifested as much courage as the most distinguished officers. A life-guardsman, usually called the Marquess of Granby, on account of his being bald, had his horse shot under him, and lost his helmet. The moment he arose from the ground, though on foot, he attacked a cuirassier, whom he killed, mounted his horse, and rode forward, while his companions cheered him with the cry, ‘Well done, Marquess of Granby!’ Shaw, also a corporal, at the battle of Waterloo, was attacked by six of the French imperial-guard; four of these he killed, though he was afterwards slain by the remaining two. But I have another instance of courage, still more extraordinary.”

“Please to relate it to us.”

“At the battle of Dettingen, on the 16th of June 1743, a private in Bland’s dragoons, of the name of Thomas Brown, who had not been more 307than a year in the service, singularly distinguished himself by his intrepidity. After having had two horses killed under him, and lost two fingers of his left hand, seeing the regimental standard borne off by some of the enemy, in consequence of a wound received by the cornet, he galloped into the midst of the enemy, shot the soldier who was carrying off the standard, and, having seized it, and thrust it between his thigh and the saddle, gallantly fought his way back through the hostile ranks; and though covered with wounds, bore the prize in triumph to his comrades, who greeted him with three cheers. In this valiant exploit Brown received eight wounds in his face, head, and neck; three balls went through his hat, and two lodged in his back, whence they could never be extracted.”

“There never could be a more determined man than Brown.”

“It is not always in the heat of action that presence of mind, and true courage is most conspicuous. In cases of sudden alarm and emergency a man is tried to the utmost. It is said that the Duke of Guise, having a mind to try the courage of Lewis de Crillon, or Grillon, a gentleman of Avignon, agreed with some gentlemen to give a sudden alarm before Crillon’s quarters, as if the enemy had been masters of the town; at the same time he ordered two horses to the door; and rushing into Crillon’s room, cried out that all was lost; that the enemy were masters of the port and town, and 308had put to flight all that opposed them; that two horses were at the door, and that he must haste and fly. Crillon was asleep when the alarm was given, and hardly awake whilst the Duke of Guise was speaking. However, without being at all disconcerted by so hot an alarm, he called for his clothes and his arms, saying, They ought not, on too slight grounds, to give credit to all that was said of the enemy; and even if the account was correct, it was more becoming men of honour to die with their arms in their hands than to survive with the loss of the place. The Duke of Guise, being unable to prevail on him to change his resolution, followed him out of the room; but when they were got half-way down stairs, not being able to contain himself any longer, he burst out a laughing, by which Crillon discovered the trick that had been played him. He assumed a look much sterner than when he only thought of going to fight, and squeezing the Duke of Guise’s hand, said, swearing at the same time, ‘Young man, never make it a jest to try the courage of a man of honour, for hadst thou made me betray any weakness, I would have plunged my dagger in thy heart,’ and then left him, without saying a word more.”

“That was a dangerous joke.”

“No soldiers in the world have surpassed British officers in coolness, determination, and daring intrepidity.”

309“When General Wolfe received his death-wound on the heights of Quebec, his principal care was that he should not be seen to fall. ‘Support me,’ said he to such as were near him; ‘let not my brave soldiers see me drop; the day is ours! Oh! keep it!’ And with these words he expired.”

“Poor Wolfe! He did not live, then, to enjoy the victory he had obtained.”

“No. Too often the conqueror falls in the same hour with those he has overcome. It was so with Sir Ralph Abercrombie, who received his death-wound in the moment of achieving a great victory at Alexandria, in Egypt. You have heard the name of Colonel Gardiner, no doubt. I will tell you of his latter end.”

“What a number of brave men must have fallen on the field of battle! Now for Colonel Gardiner.”

“The day before the battle of Preston Pans he rode through the ranks of his regiment, and addressed his men in the most respectful and animating manner. Perceiving a timidity in part of his troops, he determined to set them a spirited example. ‘I cannot,’ said he, ‘influence the conduct of others as I could wish, but I have one life to sacrifice to my country’s safety, and I shall not spare it.’ They continued under arms all night, and in the morning, by break of day, perceived the approach of the rebel army, under Prince 310Charles. The highlanders, though half-armed, charged with such impetuosity, that in less than ten minutes after the battle began the King’s troops were broken and totally routed. After Colonel Gardiner’s own regiment of dragoons had forsaken him, perceiving a party of the foot continuing to oppose the enemy, without an officer, he immediately headed them, though already twice wounded, exclaiming, ‘Fight on, my lads, and fear nothing.’ At the instant he was cut down by the scythe of a highlander, fastened to a long pole, and fell, covered with wounds.”

When the engagement was over Colonel Gardiner was pointed out to Charles, among those who had fallen in the field. The Pretender stooping over him, gently raised his head from the ground, and exclaimed, “Poor Gardiner, would to God I could restore thy life!”

“That is a sad account, however. Please to tell us about Major André; we have been told that he was hung as a spy, many years ago.”

“He was; and this happened in America. It was a dangerous service that he entered on, and it cost him his life. Major André has the credit of having been an able officer, and an amiable man. In the American war Arnold, a general officer, offered to turn traitor to his party, and give up the strong fortress of West-Point to the English. Major André landed to arrange the affair with him, but the Vulture Sloop, in which he 311intended to return, was removed further along the Hudson River, being threatened by a battery, so the Major was compelled to venture by land to New York. He had a passport from Arnold, and set off on horseback, but when he had almost reached the English lines an American militiaman, who was patroling between the two armies, rushed from a thicket and seized his horse by the bridle.”

“Poor fellow! Then there was no hope for him.”

“Had the Major presented his passport, he might, perhaps, have been permitted to pass unquestioned; but, instead of that, he asked the patrol to which party he belonged. The man replied, ‘To the party down below.’ The Major, mistaking him for an Englishman, said, ‘And I also.’ This was a sad error, for two other patrols came up, and he was taken. In vain he offered them his watch and purse to let him escape, but they would not. He was tried by a court-martial, and sentenced to die.”

“It was a sad thing that he did not show them his passport.”

“It was; but we must look at the thing fairly. Had an American officer acted the same part towards the English, we should hardly have liked him to escape. The Major was a noble-minded man, for though taken himself, he did all in his power to save the life of the traitor, Arnold. The 312moment he knew that Arnold was safe he acknowledged himself to be a British officer.”

“Ay! he was a courageous officer.”

“When in prison he never complained; though he spoke tenderly of his mother and sisters, and recommended them to the kindness of Sir Henry Clinton, the British general. He had requested to be shot, that death being in accordance with military habits, but this was not granted. When at the place of execution he bandaged his eyes with a white pocket-handkerchief himself, and with his own hands placed the fatal cord round his neck. ‘I beg you not to forget,’ said he, ‘that I submit myself to my fate like a man of courage.’”

“There are very terrible things in war. We wish Major André had not been hung.”

“Almost everybody has heard of the bravery of Sir Thomas Picton, who used to call the troops under his command, his ‘fighting rascals.’ General Picton, uncle to Sir Thomas, was Captain of the 12th grenadiers at the battle of Minden, in America, and when Sir Henry Clinton left the regiment for the 7th dragoons, in 1779, Picton was appointed in his place, by the express command of His Majesty George III. On the first levee held afterwards, the general attended to return thanks and kiss hands on the occasion, when the King said to him, ‘It is Captain Picton, of the 12th grenadiers, at the battle of Minden, that you have to thank for your regiment.’”

313“Oh! oh! It was for his own bravery, then, that he was promoted.”

“Among the names of intrepid British officers, that of General Sir John Moore must not be passed by. He is remembered by many with a melancholy interest. When he was a colonel he commanded the party that stormed and took Fort Mozello, in the Isle of Corsica.”

“Corsica! That is the very place where Buonaparte was born!”

“It is. Well, daybreak was the time fixed upon for the attack, and as no alarm might be given to the garrison, the soldiers were ordered not to load: the place was, in short, to be taken at the point of the bayonet. Colonel Moore, with his intrepid companions, had not proceeded more than half-way when the enemy discovered their danger, and discharged a volley of grape-shot. On pressed the colonel at the head of his men, passing by the wounded, dying, and dead, and was entering the walls, when a bombshell bursting, struck him to the ground. Bleeding as he was profusely, he recovered himself, pressed on, and, in spite of the most obstinate resistance, compelled the enemy to surrender. Nothing but consummate skill and determined bravery could have successfully stormed such a fortress, well-provided as it was with stores, garrisoned by some of the best troops of France, and commanded by an able general. When General Stewart, who had dismounted from his horse 314to mount the breach, found the place in possession of the troops, he flung himself into the arms of Colonel Moore, the soldiers shouting at the time, and throwing up their hats for joy.”

“It was a wonder that bombshell did not kill him! But he was made a general, you say, after that. He lived to be made a general?”

“He did; but he died of the wounds he received afterwards, in Spain. You may have heard the following lines, written to his memory, but they will bear repeating, for they are very beautiful.

‘Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
As his corse to the rampart we hurried!
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O’er the grave where our hero we buried.
‘We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam’s misty light,
And the lantern dimly burning.
‘No useless coffin enclosed his breast,
Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him,
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,
With his martial cloak around him.
‘Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we stedfastly gazed on the face of the dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.
315‘We thought as we hollowed his narrow bed,
And smoothed down his lonely pillow;
That the foe and the stranger would tread o’er his head,
And we far away on the billow.
‘Lightly they’ll talk of the spirit that’s gone,
And o’er his cold ashes upbraid him,
But little he’ll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.
‘But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.
‘Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone,
But we left him alone with his glory.’”

“They are beautiful lines indeed.”

“Lord Paget, now Marquess of Anglesey, must ever rank as one of the most intrepid of British officers. One or two instances of his bravery I must give you; but I might go on for an hour to describe the various actions, in which from time to time he distinguished himself. He seems to have thought nothing of danger, for he entered on the most daring enterprizes with confidence of success.”

“Now then, for the bravery of Lord Paget!”

“In the narrative of Sir John Moore’s campaign is given the following account of a charge made on the French imperial guards, who were thought 316to be almost invincible, by Lord Paget and the 10th hussars. At nine o’clock A. M. five hundred or six hundred of the imperial guard plunged into the river and crossed over; they were immediately opposed by the pickets under Colonel Otway, which, when united, amounted only to two hundred and twenty men. They retired slowly before the enemy, bravely disputing every inch of ground; and upon the pickets being reinforced by a small body of the 3rd dragoons, they charged with so much fury that the first squadron broke through, and was for a time surrounded by the enemy; wheeling up, they extricated themselves by charging back through the enemy. Lord Paget soon reached the field with the 10th hussars; and having drawn the French from the river, he charged the whole body; but before the British could close the chasseurs wheeled about, and fled to the ford, leaving on the field fifty-five killed and wounded, and seventy prisoners; among whom was General Lefebre. The imperial guards showed themselves much superior to any cavalry which the British had before engaged; they fought gallantly, and killed or wounded near fifty of our dragoons. It has been said, that, next to the Duke of Wellington, no man contributed more to the success of the battle of Waterloo than the Marquess of Anglesey, who has been styled the ‘first cavalry officer in the world.’ By his gallantry and dash, he excited the admiration and kindled the spirit of his troops! 317Twice had the marquess, then Earl of Uxbridge, led the guards to the charge, cheering them with the cry of, ‘Now for the honour of the household troops,’ when three heavy masses of the enemy’s infantry advanced, supported by artillery and a numerous body of cuirassiers. The Belgians fled; the Highland brigade received the shock. The moment was critical; the Earl of Uxbridge galloped up to the second brigade, which received him with a cheer. The three regiments presented a front of about thirteen hundred men; he placed himself at their head, and made one of the most rapid and destructive charges ever witnessed. The division they attacked consisted of more than nine thousand men; only about a thousand of these escaped, under cover of the cuirassiers; for of the remainder three thousand were made prisoners, and five thousand slain. One of the last shots that were fired struck him on the knee, and thereby occasioned the loss of his leg.”

“The first cavalry officer in the world! That is saying a great deal indeed for him.”

“Sir John Elley led on the life-guards, the Blues, and the Scotch-greys, with tremendous effect. When surrounded by cuirassiers, he cut his way through them, leaving many of his assailants on the ground.”

“It would be a hard matter to decide which was the bravest among so many brave.”

“I should have told you before of Colonel 318Colborne, afterwards Sir John Colborne, commander-in-chief in Canada. When he commanded the second brigade of rifles at the storming the heights of Beira in Portugal in 1813, he charged the enemy, who fled to the mountains. It was an odd circumstance, but so it occurred, that pushing on round a hill, with only his brigade-major and a few riflemen—for he had shot ahead of the rest of the troops—to his great surprise, he found that he had got before three hundred retreating Frenchmen.”

“Poor Colonel Colborne! Then, he was taken prisoner by the enemy he had beaten?”

“Not exactly so. Many a brave man would in such a case have surrendered, and without dishonour too, but the colonel was too gallant an officer to think for a moment of such a course—whispering to his brigade-major to get as many men together as he could directly, he boldly rode up to the French commander and demanded his sword. The commander, not doubting but he was outnumbered, surrendered; and thus some half-dozen gallant Englishmen captured three hundred Frenchmen!”

“Well! that was as brave an action as we have heard of yet.”

“I might go on to speak of Colonel Ponsonby, General Baird, Sir Thomas Picton, Sir James Macdonnel, Lord Edward Somerset, Sir Henry Hardinge, Sir Colin Campbell, Colonel (general in 319Spain) Evans, and fifty others; but the longest story must have an end. Let me, therefore, hasten on to speak a word or two on the military exploits of the present commander-in-chief of the British army, who can scarcely be second to any in the extent and success of his military services. The manner in which, as a general of division, he received and repulsed the enemy at Talavera stamped his reputation as a soldier. His surprise of Girard at Arrayo de Molinas was a splendid affair. General Brune, and the Duke d’Aremberg, a colonel of chasseurs, and chief of the staff, with fifteen hundred prisoners, fell into the hands of the British. The destruction of the bridge of boats at Almanez, by which Marshal Marmont had secured the passage of the Tagus, was equally remarkable for judgment in the plan, and promptitude and bravery in its execution; while his repulse of Marshal Soult, who fell upon him with double the number of his troops, upon the Nive, in the battle of the 13th of December 1813, was the crowning enterprise of his military service. ‘Hill, the day’s your own,’ said the Duke of Wellington frankly and generously, when he came up after the battle. Coolness, promptitude, courage, good tactics, and success have marked the brilliant career of Lord Hill.”

“General Lord Hill has not been made commander-in-chief for nothing.”

“No! He has seen as much service as most men. I will read you, from the ‘United Service 320Journal,’ a most extraordinary anecdote, and one that will much interest you.

“In that brilliant scene of the great Peninsular drama, enacted on the hills of the Arrepiles, now nineteen years ago, I performed the humble part of assistant-surgeon in the —— regiment of foot. Like all military men, I was anxious for promotion, and had been long trying, through every interest I could move, to obtain a staff-surgeoncy in the Portuguese army,—an appointment then open to officers of my rank. My exertions, however, had proved fruitless, and I had almost given up the pursuit.

“It was near sunset. The opposing armies were in fierce collision; and as detached masses from either side rushed forward to occupy the various vantage-grounds of the position, the two lines seemed to mingle, yet for a moment, to repel each other, like meeting torrents. A long and twisted stream of grey curling smoke marked the indentations of the combat, whilst the sharp continuous tearing of the musketry, and the deep interrupted roar of the cannon, formed an awful concert.

“The surgeon of my regiment and myself had held a little council-of-war in the rear of our division, then moving into the fight; and it was settled, by mutual consent, that he should remain where he then was, with the main body, and reserve of our Æsculapian stores, to receive the more serious cases from the front, whilst I was to keep close in 321with the regiment, to afford the premiers secours to our wounded comrades before they passed to the rear. I happened to be tolerably well mounted. En croupe, I carried a pair of capacious alforges, or Spanish saddle-bags, containing, on one side a plentiful supply of the minor apparatus of surgery, and on the other such ‘provent’ as Captain Dougald Dalgetty would have laid in for a like occasion. Suspended to my saddle-bow was a borachio, or leathern bag, of country wine. Thus accoutred, I rode on with my regiment.

“We had just turned a rising ground, and had come into near view of the lesser Arrepiles, which was still crowned by a strong body of French infantry. A Portuguese brigade was in the act of storming the hill as we came up, and were gallantly mounting its side; but that most commanding point of the adverse position was quite as gallantly defended by the enemy, who as yet maintained their ground on its crest. A division of the Portuguese army, led on by Sir William Carr Beresford in person, was closely engaged at its base, nobly rivalling the feats in arms of their British allies.

“As we pressed on towards this interesting scene, a mounted officer, in Portuguese staff-uniform, galloped towards us from the front, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘A surgeon! a surgeon! a British surgeon!’ In an instant I was at his 322side, and recognised him to be Colonel Warre, one of the marshal’s aides-de-camp. ‘Follow me,’ were the only words pronounced by him, as he wheeled round his charger, and again spurred him towards the line of fire.

“After a few minutes’ gallop we drew up at a covered waggon, to which the colonel pointed with eagerness as he dismounted. I had already drawn the curtains of the vehicle aside, and perceived that it contained two persons; one in the uniform of a sergeant, the other I immediately recognised as the marshal himself. He was lying on his back, dressed in a blue frock-coat and white waistcoat. Just below the left breast was a star of blood, bright and defined as a star of knighthood. It was about the size of that chivalrous decoration, and occupied the exact spot where it is usually fixed. There was a small rent in its centre, black and round. The eyes were half closed; the countenance in perfect repose, perhaps a little paler than when I had last seen it.

“The situation of the wound, just over the fountain of life; the stillness of the wounded general; the appearance of his companion, whose lower limbs were literally mashed; the commander-in-chief and the non-commissioned officer laid side by side, silent, motionless, and bloody—all struck me at the moment as a prelude to the equality of the grave. I asked no questions, for I had come to the conclusion that there might 323be no tongue to move in answer. In an instant the marshal’s dress was torn open, and my forefinger, that best of probes, was deep in his side. Not a muscle moved, not a sound was uttered. I felt the rib, smooth and resisting below, whilst the track of the bullet led downwards and backwards, round the convexity of his ample chest. I now spoke for the first time since I had entered the waggon, and said, ‘General, your wound is not mortal.’ This observation of mine, which I made quite sure could not fail to be particularly interesting to my patient, seemed to have been heard with perfect indifference, for without taking the slightest notice of the very agreeable intelligence I had just communicated, he looked up and asked, ‘How does the day go?’ ‘Well,’ said I: ‘the enemy has begun to give way.’ ‘Hah!’ rejoined the marshal, ‘it has been a bloody day!’

“During this brief conversation I had traced the course of the ball by a reddish wheal, which marked its trajet, and I felt the missile itself deeply lodged in the flesh of the left loin. The preliminaries for cutting out were arranged in a moment, and the marshal had turned on his right side, when the wounded sergeant, having by this time, as I suppose, discovered my trade, began most lustily to call upon ‘Nossa senhora,’ and the doctor, in the same breath. I requested of him, in his own language, to be silent, telling him at the same time, that his general was lying wounded 324by his side. Upon this the marshal turned round his head, and with a reproving look said to me, ‘Sir, if that poor fellow’s wounds require dressing more than mine, dress him first.’ Both the words and the manner in which they were spoken made a strong impression on me at the time,—and impressions stamped on the field of battle are not easily erased. I assured his Excellency that nothing but amputation could be of any service to the sergeant, and that I had not the necessary instruments by me for such an operation.

“All parties were again silent, and I proceeded to cut out the bullet. My knife was already buried in the flesh, its point grating against the lead, when the marshal, feeling that I had ceased to cut, and calculating, perhaps that my steadiness as an operator might be influenced by the rank of my patient, again turned round, and with as much sangfroid as if he had been merely a spectator, said, in an encouraging tone, ‘Cut boldly, doctor; I never fainted in my life.’ Almost at the same instant I placed the bullet in his hand.

“When the wounds had been bound up, the patient demanded what steps he should next adopt. To this I replied, that it would be prudent to have himself bled after some hours. ‘But who is to bleed me?’ quickly rejoined the marshal. I was in some measure prepared for this question, and had already determined on the course I should follow.

325“From the moment I had recognised the commander-in-chief of the Portuguese army lying wounded in a waggon, close in with the enemy, and had ascertained that his wound was not necessarily mortal, I saw that my being on the spot at such a moment might lead to my promotion. A fair, unimpeachable opportunity of tendering fresh services to him on whom the accomplishment of my ambition seemed to depend, was now afforded me. But such is the influence of an unflinching, unaffected firmness of character in a chief over those below him, and such the impression left on my mind by what I had just witnessed, that I felt convinced I should establish a higher place in the marshal’s good opinion by remaining in the fight than by volunteering to leave it, even for the purpose of attending to his wound. I therefore respectfully submitted to his Excellency, that my regiment was then probably in action; that I should be sorry to be out of the way when my friends and comrades might need my assistance, and that I hoped he would be kind enough to permit me to join them. ‘Most certainly,’ was the reply.

“I saw no more of the marshal for many weeks; and when I had the honour of being again presented, I found him very ill, suffering much from inflammation in his side, and a profuse discharge from his wounds, kept up, as was afterwards discovered, by some portions of woollen cloth, which 326the bullet had carried forward from the breast of his coat through the loose folds of which the missile had passed before it entered the flesh.

“In quitting the marshal on the field, under the circumstances, and with impressions I have just described, I followed the course most consonant to my feelings, my sense of duty, and even my views of my own interest at the time. Whether I judged rightly upon the latter point or not, certain it is, that when I appeared in the next great battle-scene at Vittoria, the following year, I had already, for some months, filled the station of staff-surgeon in the Portuguese army.”



Sailors must strike their colours, and soldiers surrender when they have death for an enemy.—A court-martial.—Shooting a soldier.—Naval execution.—Soldier’s burial.—Funeral at sea.—Battle of Waterloo.—First attack.—Second attack.—Third attack.—Defeat of Buonaparte.—Consequences of the battle of Waterloo.—Chelsea College.—Greenwich Hospital.—Old England for ever!—Conclusion.

“A word or two now, boys, on the battle of Waterloo, for that must not be forgotten. Many 328a comrade who fought with me in that battle, without a wound, has since been brought down by sickness to the grave.”

“Neither soldiers nor sailors can hold out long when death attacks them.”

“When it comes to that the boldest tar must strike his colours, and the bravest soldier that ever mounted a breach surrender at discretion. Lancers themselves are not sharp enough to resist their last enemy, nor can life-guardsmen parry the stroke of death.”

“Sometimes soldiers are shot. Please to tell us how they shoot them; it must be a sad sight!”

“Sad indeed! so sad, that I hope and trust you will never witness it. In a soldier, whose eye should be bright with honour, and whose heart should despise a deed of meanness, for him to be paraded before his companions as an object of disgrace, and then, perhaps, shot by those who have fought and bled with him, and messed at the same table! It will hardly bear to be thought of; and the faster I hurry over the account of it the better. The culprit is tried, and fairly tried too, by a general court-martial, sworn to ‘do justice.’ No sentence of death can be given against him unless nine officers present agree therein. If condemned to die, he is taken to the ground, where the men are drawn up in a square, and marched round it. He then kneels on his coffin—his eyes are bandaged, and the few men whose melancholy duty 329it is to fire at him, aim at his heart. Every thought of a soldier should be, honour bright by day and night. How sad to become a spectacle of shame and disgrace among his old companions.”

“Are sailors ever sentenced to be shot?”

“No. Culprits at sea are run up to the yard-arm. A naval execution is a solemn sight. On the fatal morn, there is an influence felt by the seamen, and if little is said about what is going on, you may read it in their faces. The crews of the different ships in harbour are turned up, and in the rigging and along the gangways, groups and lines of blue-jackets, may be seen. The boats of the fleet are manned, and, with a party of marines in each, are drawn up abreast the ship where the execution is about to take place. All this occurs early in the morning. At last comes the unhappy culprit. He mounts the platform, that stretches across the forecastle; a dead silence prevails; the sentence that has been recorded against the prisoner by the court-martial is read, as well as the articles of war under which he has been condemned; the signal-gun gives the fatal flash, and the unhappy man is run up to the fore-yard-arm.”

“It must be very solemn! But we hardly ever hear of a sailor being condemned to death.”

“Not often. It is terrible to think of a blue-jacket, who ought to be famed for honour and honesty, dangling like a hanged dog at the yard-arm of a seventy-four.”

330“Terrible indeed. Please to tell us of a soldier’s burial.”

“Those who have seen the funeral of a soldier, especially that of a cavalry officer, know it to be a solemn gathering; but I will not dwell upon it. The death-like sound of the muffled drum is withering to the heart; the mournful melody of wind-instruments, the slow and measured steps of the procession, the coffin where the dead man lies, the subdued appearance of the charger, mournfully accoutred, oppress the spirit, and the helmet and the sword, and gauntlets, tug at the spectators’ heartstrings. He must have a strong bosom who can hear the blast of the crape-bound trumpet, the roll of the muffled drum, and the three-fold volley over the soldier’s grave, without a sigh.”

“It must be very solemn, but not so sad as shooting a soldier, or hanging a sailor at the yard-arm.”

“The thought of death should lead a soldier to act humbly in his life. The tallest grenadier ought not to lift his head proudly above the lowest man in the regiment. But I have not yet told you anything of a sailor’s burial. When a seaman dies he is sewn up in his hammock, with a couple of shot fastened between his feet. As he lies upon a grating, with his comrades around him, the chaplain of the ship, or the captain, reads the Burial Service appointed for the dead at sea. He is then turned off the grating and is soon on his 331way to the bottom of the deep, sinking feet-foremost through the cold blue waters. But we are forgetting the battle of Waterloo, and my time is almost up; if I do not tell you about it now I may not have another opportunity.”

“Begin directly! It will never do to pass it over, such a famous battle as it was.”

“My account must be a very short one. I can fancy myself now on the spot. There is the château of Hougomont! there the farm-house La Haye Sainte, and yonder are the heights of La Belle Alliance! Under any circumstances a battle on an extended scale is an affair of absorbing interest, but when, as it were, the welfare of the civilized world trembles in the balance; when the sword is about to decide whether nations are to be liberated or fettered with adamantine chains; whether millions are to breathe the breath of freedom, or bow their necks beneath the iron yoke of an ambitious despot, well may a fervent prayer be offered up to the God of battles, that right may triumph, and that rapine and wrong may be humbled in the dust. The battle of Waterloo was to wrench from Napoleon Buonaparte the sword of his might, or to place an iron sceptre in his hand wherewith to bruise the nations of the world at his pleasure. It pleased the God of armies that the proud should be effectually overthrown.”

“Ay! Buonaparte was humbled in that battle.”

“Before the battle France was strong, but after 332it she was weak; her empire was overthrown at a blow. Buonaparte and Wellington, the two most celebrated generals in the world, met each other for the first time on the plains of Waterloo. The shock was dreadful, but since then the sword has remained in its scabbard, peace has succeeded war, and the voice of nations has uttered a mighty cry against kingly aggression. ‘If there still exists,’ says one, ‘a passion for lawless aggrandizement, the grave that swallowed up the French empire is still open, and deep enough to show the perils of treading on its verge. The warning still is—Waterloo!’”

“Now for the battle! How many men had the Duke of Wellington? and how many had Buonaparte? which began to fire first? and how many soldiers were killed?”

“Patience! patience! my account will answer all these questions.”

“Now for it, then! now for it!”

“‘I have these English now,’ said Buonaparte, in the pride of his heart, before the battle, but his thoughts were of a very different kind afterwards. See! here is an account of the British and Hanoverian army at Waterloo, as formed in divisions and brigades on the 18th of June 1815. The cavalry were commanded by Lieutenant-General the Earl of Uxbridge; the 1st brigade, by Major-General Lord Edward Somerset, K.C.B.; the 2nd by Major-General Sir William Ponsonby, 333K.C.B.; the 3rd by Major-General W. B. Domberg; the 4th by Major-General Sir John O. Vandeleur, K.C.B.; the 5th by Major-General Sir Colquhoun Grant, K.C.B.; the 6th by Major-General Sir Hussey Vivian, K.C.B., and the 7th by Colonel Sir Frederic Arenschildt, K.C.B.”

“What is the meaning of K.C.B.? There seems to be a great number of them that have K.C.B. at the end of their names.”

“The meaning of K.C.B. is Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. It is a very high distinction; and military men are very anxious to attain it. The infantry were commanded by—the 1st division, Major-General G. Cooke; the 2nd division, Lieutenant-General Sir H. Clinton, G.C.B.; the 3rd division, Lieutenant-General Baron Alten; the 4th division, Lieutenant-General Hon. Sir Charles Colville, K.C.B.; the 5th division, Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton, K.C.B., and the 6th division, Major-General J. Lambert, Colonel Best, and Major-General M’Kenzie. The cavalry consisted of 8,883 men, the infantry of 29,622, and the artillery of 5,434, total 43,939.”

“More than forty-three thousand men. And how many were there on the side of the French?”

“The troops that I have mentioned were English and Hanoverian, but the whole of the army under Wellington amounted to about 75,000 men, and Buonaparte’s army was of somewhere about the same force; but then, the French guards were looked 334upon as equal to double their number of common soldiers, being long accustomed to battle and conquest. Wellington’s position was ably chosen, with the villages of Mont St. Jean and Waterloo, and the forest of Soignies, at his back.”

“What a deal of room the troops would take up?”

“The British front was a mile broad. Skirmishing began between the English light troops and the French tirailleurs; Sir George Wood firing the first gun on the advancing columns of Jerome Buonaparte. The château of Hougomont was the key of the English position, and Jerome made a desperate attack upon it. The place was ably defended, and, first and last, not less than a thousand English, and nearly ten thousand French fell at Hougomont. It was awful work, but the British bore it bravely.”

“Ay, there were more French killed than there were English.”

“The first attack of the French not succeeding, they made a second: this was in the centre of the British line. The cannon roared like thunderclaps, and the French cuirassiers came on like a whirlwind; but for all that they were withstood by the British troops, who rolled back the bloody tide of war. For a time the French occupied a farm-house, called La Haye Sainte, but they were dislodged with shells and cannon-balls, suffering dreadfully. Before this took place, however, they 335acted a cruel part. Five hundred German riflemen defended La Haye Sainte until they had no ammunition left, and the place was set on fire. Well, when the French got possession they gave no quarter: every man of the German rifle-corps was bayonetted. The English troops at last won the day. Lord Anglesey, the royal-greys, and the Enniskilling, distinguished themselves. ‘When will we get at them!’ cried out the Irish troops. Brave Picton fell at the head of the ‘fighting fifth,’ but the French were routed. Two thousand prisoners and two eagles were taken, besides the killed and the wounded.”

“It was no use to try to beat the English, for the longer the French fought the worse it was for them.”

“Not satisfied, the French made a third and last attack. This was on the British right, and Wellington was obliged to form his troops into squares. The French cuirassiers were desperate, but their attacks were fruitless. All that men could do was done by them, but British hearts and British hands were too strong to be conquered. Ten thousand men on the part of Wellington, and fifteen thousand on the side of Buonaparte, lay dead upon the field. Marshal Ney led on the French bravely. Never was a braver soldier. The old French guards, the flower of the army, dashed forward, and the carnage was dreadful. The 27th British regiment had four hundred men 336mowed down in square, without their pulling a trigger. The 92nd regiment routed a French column when only two hundred strong, and the 33rd regiment was almost cut to pieces,—still they stood their ground. Wellington looked at his watch, longing for night, or the approach of the Prussians. At last came the critical moment. ‘The hour is come!’ cried Wellington, closing his telescope, and leading on the troops.”

“But where was Buonaparte?”

“When Buonaparte saw his old guard in confusion he turned pale. ‘They are mingled together,’ said he, ‘and all for the present is lost.’ He then clapped his spurs to his horse, flying in full gallop from the field. The fight went on, but the French were beaten back at all points. The Prussians came up, and Buonaparte’s army was entirely routed. What a sight was the battle-plain! The ball and the bullet, the sword and the bayonet had done their work, and infantry and cavalry, men and horses, muskets, swords, harness, baggage, and dismounted artillery, were mingled together; the wounded, the dead, and the dying, lay in heaps, and in the space of a few miles fifty thousand men and horses bestrewed the plain. The battle had been fought, and the victory had been won. The sun of Napoleon’s glory had set for ever, and the glittering diadem had fallen from his brow. Before the battle Buonaparte was an Emperor, but Waterloo 337rolled back upon him the tide of war, crushing his armed legions, rending his colours, trampling on his eagles, wresting the sceptre and the baton from his hand, tearing the epaulettes from his shoulders, and sending him forth with a Cainlike mark on his brow, a flying fugitive on the face of the earth.

“The battle of Waterloo, which was won—to say nothing of God’s goodness—by forethought, prudence, knowledge, self-possession, confidence, and superior tactics on the part of the commander, and by obedience, steadiness, promptitude, endurance, and invincible courage on the part of the officers and men, cost England much; much in treasure, and more in manly hearts; but it is fair to look at both sides of the question. It has been followed by a twenty-seven years’ peace; and if we had not endured the one, it is uncertain if we should ever have enjoyed the other.”

“You have told us a great deal about soldiers and sailors.”

“I might tell you a great deal more, boys, for an old soldier is not soon tired in talking of his native land, or of the bold hearts that have bled in her service. The battle of Trafalgar, where Nelson fell, is the most important sea-fight, and the battle of Waterloo, which I have just described, is the most famous engagement by land, in English history. Many a disabled seaman from the one, 338has found an asylum in Greenwich Hospital, and many a wounded soldier from the other has shouldered his crutch in Chelsea College. These two places of retreat for disabled soldiers and sailors have been long held in high estimation. At Chelsea, you may see the grey-headed veterans, sitting in the sun, and at Greenwich, the weather-beaten old tars, seated under the trees in the park, talking 339over their adventures, and fighting their battles over again. I can fancy that I now see them grouped together, with a flag flying over their heads, bearing underneath the crown of Victoria the motto, ‘Old England for ever! Soldiers and Sailors! Wellington and Nelson! Waterloo and Trafalgar!’

“When looking on the faces and forms of the soldiers and sailors of Chelsea and Greenwich you would hardly regard them as the thunderbolts of war; but age robs the eye of its fire and the body of its strength, and habits of ease impart an appearance of quietude altogether opposed to the fierceness of the stormy fight; but for all this, these are the men who have fought England’s battles, and borne the fury of desolating war.

“And now, boys, I hope that I have made you a little wiser than you were about soldiers and sailors, without exciting in your hearts a love of war, or setting you to sigh for a monument in Westminster Abbey. Willingly would I take for my motto ‘Universal peace, and every man a brother,’ but until the time shall come when swords shall be beaten into plough-shares, spears into pruning-hooks, and war shall be known no more, may red-coats deserve and receive all that good conduct entitles them to; and blue-jackets prefer reputation to prize-money as long as a sail flutters in the breeze, or the Union Jack 340flies at the mast-head! May soldiers and sailors encourage kindly feelings one towards another; and this be their only contention, which shall most faithfully discharge their duty, and most truly love, serve, and honour their country.”

S. & J. Bentley, Wilson, and Fley,
Bangor House, Shoe Lane.


  1. P. 49, changed “possession off” to “possession of”.
  2. Silently corrected typographical errors.
  3. Retained anachronistic and non-standard spellings as printed.

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