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We marched again from Chatham in September, and on the 2d of October arrived at Thorncliffe. While here, my parents interested Mr Beaumont, M.P. for my native county, to solicit my discharge from the Honourable Colonel Stewart, my then commanding-officer, they paying the regulated sum to the government. The colonel sent for me, and talked with me on the subject, and argued most forcibly in favour of my remaining in the regiment, saying he had intended to promote me the first vacancy; and that he had no doubt whatever of seeing me one day an officer. I own my views were not so sanguine; but his reasoning prevailed, and I consented to remain. Soon after, an opportunity offering, I was appointed corporal on the 24th of the same month.
Here again I had disappointed my beloved and tender parents, for it was not without considerable trouble and difficulty they obtained the interference of Mr Beaumont, and now I had again thrown cold water on all their endeavours to obtain my discharge. I fear I have much to answer for, as respects my conduct towards them. May G.o.d forgive me!
Made Pay-sergeant--Moral Reflections--Wreck of a Dutch East Indiaman--Reduced Officers--War with France in 1803--Encampment at Thorncliffe under the command of General Sir John Moore--Encampment broke up, November, 1804--Embark for Germany, October, 1805--Vicissitudes at Sea--Land at Cuxhaven--March to Bremen--Outposts established--Retrograde movements, in consequence of the defeat of the Allied Forces at Austerlitz--The Allied Forces evacuate Germany--Re-embarkation of the troops--The Rifle Corps, or 95th, land at Yarmouth.
Having given satisfaction as a corporal, I was shortly after appointed acting-sergeant; and in that capacity also, having pleased my officers, I was, on a vacancy occurring on the 19th of February following, appointed sergeant, and given the payment of a company. My head was almost turned by such rapid promotion, and I began in earnest to contemplate the possibility of my colonel's predictions being one day verified. Kind Providence watched over me, however, and kept me from being too much elated, and of committing myself as I otherwise might have done. Indeed I many times did commit things which, if strictly searched into, would have brought censure upon me, and lowered the high opinion that both myself and others entertained of me; but nothing that openly violated the law by which I was then governed (although many of G.o.d's laws I daily transgressed) was done by me.
I was at this time, although careful to secure the good opinion of my officers, little solicitous to please Him who had alone lavished all this bounty upon me. Indeed I believe I was as unG.o.dly at this time as I ever remember to have been, and yet He caused me to prosper. Oh! how I ought to feel shame and confusion of face at the recollection of such abused goodness and mercy! May He pardon me for Christ's sake!
A short while before my appointment as sergeant, a most melancholy occurrence took place in the neighbourhood of our cantonment. A large Dutch East Indiaman, outward bound to Batavia, and full of troops, in pa.s.sing down channel, mistook, I understand, the light at Dungeness for one on the French coast, and in consequence stood in towards Dymchurch wall instead of keeping out to sea. As might be expected, she was not long in striking on the wall, running with her bow quite close under the road, and in an instant, almost, went to pieces; and although numbers of people were early at the spot, and some, I believe, at the very moment she struck, they could render the unfortunate sufferers no effectual aid, although only a few yards distant from them. Out of about 800 persons on board, only seven men were saved. Many poor fellows, I understand, attempted to swim on sh.o.r.e, some on planks, and others without any aid; but such was the tremendous swell, and the general destruction of the ship so rapid, that only those seven before mentioned succeeded; and they not without being all more or less injured by pieces of the wreck. An admiral, I understood, was on board, and perished; several beautiful females were afterwards cast ash.o.r.e among the dead, the wives or daughters, no doubt, of some on board; they were for the most part nearly naked, so that it is conjectured they had been in bed.
As might be expected, the allurement to plunder so valuable a wreck was not resisted by the natives of this part of the coast, but Colonel Stewart humanely placed strong bodies of the regiment at different points where the wreck had drifted, to secure as much of the property as he could for the Dutch government, and also to collect and bring in the numerous dead bodies which floated along the sh.o.r.e; all of which he had decently interred in the churchyard at Thorncliffe, and had the poor wounded survivors taken into hospital, where every care was taken of them. Indeed nothing could exceed the unremitting attention which he paid both to the dead and living on this most melancholy occasion, and for which he received, as he well merited, the thanks of the Dutch government.
About this period we had several individuals serving in the corps as soldiers, who had been officers in the army during the late war, but who, from different causes, had been reduced to the necessity of enlisting as private soldiers. The first that I remember was a person of the name of Conway Welch, who, I understood, had been an officer, and I think the Adjutant of the Surrey Rangers. He got on to the rank of Corporal, but, being excessively wild, I believe he never attained a higher rank. I do not remember what became of him.
The second was called Hughes; he was, I believe, when he enlisted, actually in the receipt of half-pay as a lieutenant of the line. He was a person of good conduct, and was soon promoted to the rank of corporal, and the colonel took him for his own private clerk, or secretary, as he was denominated; but he did not remain long in this situation, for he was shortly after called upon full pay of his rank in the army. I believe his case was a singular one.
The third unfortunate individual was of the name of Tait. He had been a captain in the Caithness Legion, but reduced when the regiment was broken up at the peace. He conducted himself extremely well for some time after he came into the regiment, and got on so far as to become pay-sergeant of a company. But in this situation, having considerable sums at his command, he became involved through his dissipation, and being unable to extricate himself from his difficulties, he adopted the fatal resolution of committing suicide, and accordingly, when quartered at Woodbridge, he one day retired to his room, loaded his rifle, and blew out his brains.
The story of the fourth individual is a scarcely less melancholy one.
His name was M'Laughlan. I had known him while serving in my late regiment, as he had been an officer in the light company of the 35th regiment, and stood next in the light battalion to the company to which I belonged. He, shortly before our embarkation for Holland, got involved, through a gambling transaction I heard, and was in consequence obliged to dispose of his commission, which, it would appear from this, he had originally purchased. But interest was made in his behalf, and he was permitted to accompany his regiment to Holland in the capacity of a volunteer, and he accordingly a.s.sumed the firelock and bayonet in place of his former weapon, the sword. He was fortunate enough to obtain another commission before the return of the troops to England, but how he became deprived of that I have been unable to learn. But about the latter end of 1803, he enlisted as a private in my corps. His conduct here was far from good, and he consequently never rose higher, for he was continually in sc.r.a.pes from his dissipated habits; and becoming tired of the restraint laid upon him by the strict discipline which our excellent commanding-officer enforced, he one day made an attempt to desert and join the French at Boulogne, and was picked up by one of our cruisers in endeavouring to cross the channel in an open boat. He was brought back handcuffed, and lodged in the guard-house one day when I happened to be sergeant commanding the guard.
As I looked on him, I could not help reflecting on the strange vicissitudes which attend some men in their pa.s.sage through life. Here was a person whom I had known only a few years before while encamped on Barham Downs, a gay and handsome young officer, moving in the circle of men of gallantry and honour; and now behold him a wretched culprit, stretched on the wooden guard-bed, manacled like a felon. In contrasting his miserable situation with my own so much happier lot, what ample cause had I for grat.i.tude to that kind and indulgent Providence, which had preserved me from those excesses, which entailed so much misery on others. He was shortly after tried by a general court-martial, and transported as a felon for life. I understand a sister of his was at Thorncliffe at the time of his trial, &c., the wife of a brevet lieutenant-colonel in the 4th regiment. What must she have felt!
It will be recollected that, in 1803, war again broke out between this country and France, as my preceding story had intimated. The army was consequently augmented again, and my corps, till now called the "Rifle Corps," was made the 95th. This year a camp was formed on Thorncliffe, under the command of that able general and excellent man Sir John Moore.
This was termed by some the "Vanguard of England," for here it was that the then threatened invasion of this country by Bonaparte must most likely have taken place, it being immediately opposite to the grand camp then forming at Boulogne. Daily rencontres took place between our cruisers and his far-famed flotilla; and on one occasion, the belief that he was sending forth his invincible host was so great, that our camp was struck, the troops turned out, and received each man his sixty rounds of ammunition; the waggons and carts were all put in immediate requisition, and the inhabitants were flying in all directions. But to our disappointment, I will not say whether disagreeable or otherwise, it all ended in smoke; it happened to have been some of his flotilla making a movement along the coast, which had been set on by our cruisers and pretty roughly handled.
We remained in this camp till the 24th of November, I think, having occasionally before this period had our tents blown from over our heads by the autumnal gales. The next year a more formidable camp was formed on the same ground, the force having been augmented by a second line, composed of regiments of militia. This year also, like the last, pa.s.sed over without witnessing the long-threatened invasion of Old England, although Bonaparte, in the pride of his heart and the vanity of his mind, had begun to erect a monument near Boulogne, to commemorate that glorious achievement. My regiment, on the breaking up of the camp, marched into Hythe Barracks, where we remained till the month of April, 1805.
In the spring of this year another volunteering from the militia into regiments of the line was ordered, on which occasion I was selected by my commanding-officer, Lieut.-Colonel Beckwith, to accompany Lieutenant Evans, of the regiment, down to my native county, to receive such men of the militia regiments there as chose to enter the 95th. On this occasion we were very successful, having obtained between seventy and eighty men from the different regiments in the north. It was on this occasion that I had the first opportunity, since I became a soldier, of visiting my native village, and my greatly-distressed parents and family. I need not describe the meeting that took place between us, on my first seeing them--it will be better conceived than told;--suffice it to say, joy and sorrow were strangely mingled together--joy to see me once more safe and sound--but sorrow that the line of life I had adopted should so soon, so very soon, call upon me to part from them again. In fact, I could only remain with them three days, at the end of which, I had orders to join my party at Morpeth.
With this respectable batch of volunteers we marched, and joined the regiment at Canterbury, whither it had been removed during our absence, and, on our arrival, received the thanks of our commanding-officer for our exertions. Here, and at this time, a second battalion to the 95th was formed, the sergeant-majorship of which I was in hopes of obtaining; but in this I was disappointed, for a sergeant, who was both much older than me, and had much stronger claims than I could pretend to, was selected for the situation; and although he did not turn out so well afterwards as was expected, yet these circ.u.mstances ought to have satisfied me at the time that no injustice was done me by bestowing it upon him. But such was my folly, and the over-high opinion I entertained of my own merits, that I could not quietly acquiesce in this most just arrangement; and foolishly imagining myself ill-used, the chagrin of which drove me to the adoption of one of the worst expedients possible, I immediately took to drinking and to the neglect of my proper duties, thinking, like an a.s.s as I was, that I should thus revenge myself for my supposed ill-usage, forgetting that it was only on myself that this revenge could ultimately fall. However, the same good Providence which has mercifully and so continually watched over me, stepped in to my aid in this my most dangerous situation; for one day my captain, who had always been my friend, sent for me, and urged upon me the folly and the baseness of my present conduct, and the unhappy consequences to myself that were likely to result from persisting in a course so absurd and blame-worthy. This, with my own reasoning on the subject, brought me at length to a better disposition of mind, and induced me once more to resume my duties with cheerfulness and alacrity.
I have mentioned this circ.u.mstance, because I believe I was nearer at this time to falling into my original nothingness, than I ever have been, either before or since; and I have no doubt that many an excellent non-commissioned officer and soldier have been involved in the like error, who have not been so fortunate as I was in escaping its consequences.
From Canterbury we marched to Brabourn Lees Barracks, in the same county, where we remained till some time in October, when we were called upon to embark for Lower Germany. During our stay at Brabourn Lees, a circ.u.mstance occurred which called forth an exhibition of as great magnanimity, on the part of Colonel Beckwith, as I almost ever remember to have witnessed: We had received about 200 Irish volunteers, who were wild and ungovernable in the extreme; a party of these, in strolling about one day, had fallen in with Mrs Beckwith, with her maid and child, taking a walk along the Ashford road. Not knowing, I imagine, who the lady and her maid were, they set on and a.s.saulted them in the most violent and outrageous manner, proceeding to such lengths as perhaps delicacy forbids to mention. It was, I believe, discovered who they were. Accordingly, the next day, the Colonel formed the battalion into a square, and proceeded to relate the circ.u.mstance to the regiment; "But,"
says he, "although I know who the ruffians are, I will not proceed any farther in the business, because it was _my own wife_ that they attacked; but, had it been the wife of the meanest soldier in the regiment, I solemnly declare I would have given you every lash which a court-martial might have sentenced you." Such a trait of generous forbearance is not often met with; but by this, and similar instances of liberal feeling, he completely gained the heart of every soldier in the battalion, a thing not always attainable by very excellent commanding-officers.
About the latter end of October, 1805, we marched to Ramsgate, and there embarked, as before noticed, for Germany. It was my lot, on this occasion, to be put on board a small and ill-shaped collier brig, called the Jane of Shields, but the master I have forgot. She was a most miserable sailer, making on a wind almost as much lee as head-way, and in every respect ill adapted for the transport service. We had not been many days at sea before we lost the fleet, and in our endeavours to find it again were at one time on the coast of Jutland. All this time we had been beating against a contrary wind; but while here, the wind became favourable, and we appeared to have nothing to do but to bear away for the mouth of the Elbe, which river it was our destination to enter; but unfortunately, by some mismanagement, we fell quite away to leeward of it, and got entangled between the mainland and the Island of w.a.n.geroog, not far from the mouth of Jade River, instead of the Elbe.
While in this uncomfortable situation, it came on to blow a tremendous gale, which rendered our position not only most unpleasant, but extremely perilous, for we were embayed, and the wind blowing on a lee sh.o.r.e, and the vessel became almost unmanageable, her bad sailing becoming distressingly more apparent the more she was put on her mettle.
In the midst of the confusion attendant on such circ.u.mstances, the master (with what intention I know not, whether to drown dull care, or to fortify him against his exposure to the watery element) went down below, and swallowed the best part of a bottle of brandy. In doing which, his corner cupboard, with all its contents, came rattling down about his ears. He would fain have had me to pledge him, but I begged to be excused. The consequence was, he became quite drunk at the time when all his abilities as a seaman were likely to be called into operation; but he probably saw things clearest after having his eye wet.
My commanding-officer now became quite alarmed for the safety of the troops, seeing the master had incapacitated himself, as he conceived, for the management of the vessel; and, after a consultation among our officers, an attempt was made to deprive him of the command, and intrust it to the mate, who had in this case, in order to save as many of the troops as possible, determined on running the vessel high and dry, as he termed it, on the sandy beach, near the Jade River.
At this proposal, however, the master stormed and blasphemed like a madman, swearing there was neither soldier nor sailor on board the ship but himself. He went so far, and became so outrageous, that our commanding-officer talked of hanging him up at the yard-arm; but it being a ticklish thing to take the command of a ship from the person legally authorized to exercise it, the major did not enforce the wishes of the officers. The poor mate sat down on the companion and cried like a child, partly owing to the abuse the captain gave him, and partly, I imagine, from the hopelessness of our situation. The captain, in his refusal to yield up the command, told the major he had been several times wrecked, and had been, I know not how many times, exposed for a considerable length of time in the water; and that he was not afraid to encounter it again. This, however, was but poor consolation to landsmen, who had not been accustomed to such duckings.
A desperate case requires a desperate remedy--so our captain thought--for he instantly clapped on the vessel the square mainsail, which every moment threatened to carry away the mast, and in which case, nothing could have prevented our destruction; however, Providence so ordered it, that she bore it through the gale, and he, after putting her on the outward tack, continued to stand from the land till he imagined he had completely weathered w.a.n.geroog; but at midnight, when he ordered to put about the ship, had it not been for the cabin-boy providentially seeing close to leeward of us the light of w.a.n.geroog, we should instantly have been upon the rocks. This will show either what a bad sailer the vessel was, or how far the master had miscalculated the distance; for he imagined himself by this time to be quite clear of all the land, and considerably out to sea. He continued, after this providential escape, to stand on the same tack, and just cleared the island; and in the morning, the wind having somewhat abated, and shifted a little in our favour, we were enabled, soon after, to lay our course.
We arrived in the Elbe, and landed at Cuxhaven on the 18th of November, 1805, the day on which our fleet there was celebrating the victory of Trafalgar--clouded indeed it was by the death of the hero who fell while achieving it--yet glorious to the nation to which that fleet belonged.
We, immediately after landing, marched for Dorum, a village twelve or fourteen miles distant, and from thence by Osterholtz and Bremer Lehe to the city of Bremen. On our arrival there, (my battalion forming the advanced guard,) we found the gates were shut against us; a Prussian garrison was in the town, the commandant of which seemingly did not know how to act, whether to admit us as allies, or not, the policy of his government at that time being so extremely ambiguous. Colonel Beckwith, who commanded the advance, was not however easily to be deterred from executing his orders, and he hesitated not to tell them, that if they did not choose to admit us peaceably, force should be resorted to to gain an entrance. This had the desired effect, for the gate was soon after thrown open, and we were received by the authorities of the town, and by the inhabitants in general, with the warmest expressions of friendship and cordial attachment; the Prussian officers, all the while looking on, apparently not over-well pleased with the conduct of their hosts; they were soon afterwards, however, withdrawn from the territory, and we then remained sole occupiers of this part of the country.
Our army a.s.sembled in this city in considerable force, when it becoming necessary to establish outposts in advance, my battalion was sent out first to the town of Delmenhorst, and subsequently a part of it to the city of Oldenburg, and the remainder to the town of Wildishausen; to this latter place two companies were detached, under the command of Major Travers, and to which he appointed me to act as sergeant-major. We did not remain long in this situation, but were again recalled from Wildishausen to Delmenhorst, and afterwards sent to join the other companies at Oldenburg.
Here we staid some time, during which we experienced the most unbounded hospitality and kindness from the whole of the inhabitants, but more particularly from the Duke. He actually did not know how sufficiently to express his friendly disposition towards our officers in general,--his kindness also extended to the soldiers,--for when we afterwards received an order to retrograde again to Delmenhorst, he sent forward to the half-way house refreshments of every description, for both officers and men; and the night before we left this hospitable city, he gave a splendid ball in honour of the officers of our corps, to which, of course, every inhabitant of a suitable rank was invited. Nay, I heard, and have no reason to doubt the correctness of the report, that he wrote to the burgomaster of Bremen, to which city we again retired, to endeavour, if possible, to have us quartered in his immediate neighbourhood, in the best part of the town, for that not only the officers, but the soldiers of the corps, were perfect gentlemen; indeed, the conduct of the battalion at this time, under its kind and excellent commanding-officer, was such as to ent.i.tle it to the highest praise. Our retreat on this occasion, I understood, was rendered necessary, in consequence of the defeat of the allied forces at Austerlitz, and of the fatal termination by that sanguinary action of the campaign in that part of Germany.
Although I am no prophet, I predicted at this period what the result would be to the King of Prussia, whose hesitating and equivocal conduct kept him aloof from taking an active part, when his co-operation might have been of the utmost advantage to the general cause. It required no second sight to perceive, that when Bonaparte could clear his hands of his present antagonists, he would not hesitate for a moment to turn his arms against a monarch on whom he could not cordially rely, and whose dominions offered such a strong temptation to an ambitious and aspiring mind like his.
We continued to occupy Bremen till towards the beginning of February 1806, when the whole army gradually drew down towards our place of embarkation, for the purpose of evacuating the country, our stay now having been rendered useless by the unsuccessful and unfortunate turn which the allied affairs had taken. My battalion covered the retreat of the army; but as great numbers of the German Legion, which formed part of the British force in this country, were deserting and returning to their homes, we were sent away into the interior to endeavour to intercept such of them as might pa.s.s by the villages we occupied, and restore them to the army. We took some, but not many; and soon after we also retired, and went on board at Cuxhaven, and again returned to England, landing at Yarmouth on the 19th of the same month.
During the whole of my military career, I never witnessed so cordial an attachment to the British name and character, as was manifested during this service, by the good people among whom we had been residing.
Nothing was too good for us--and nothing was left undone by them to render us comfortable and happy. It is true they have their vices like other people; but barring one or two peculiar to continental nations, I believe them to be, generally speaking, as moral as any people among whom it has been my lot to sojourn. But, oh! with what shame and sorrow do I look back on the part I acted at this period--how profligate and abandoned was my conduct at the very time that a kind and gracious Providence was showering its choicest blessings upon me! but, alas, I paid no regard to the remonstrances of conscience, which I endeavoured and succeeded in drowning in debauchery and intemperance.
Our Author made Quartermaster-Sergeant of the 2d battalion, which he joins at Feversham, Kent--Expedition to Denmark--Embark at Deal--Land at Vedbeck, Zealand--Partial Engagements--Siege of Copenhagen--A Division under Sir Arthur Wellesley advance to Kioge--Copenhagen capitulates--Amnesty between the Danish Forces in the Island of Zealand, and the British--The British evacuate Denmark--Embark at Copenhagen--Arrive in the Downs--Land at Deal.
We landed, as I before stated, at Yarmouth, and proceeded by way of Lowestoft to Woodbridge, in Suffolk, in the barracks of which my battalion was quartered. Here also was the 23d regiment, that which I had seen act so n.o.bly in Holland: and as it was determined by its commanding-officer to give the regiment some idea of light movements, I was selected for the purpose of instructing their non-commissioned officers. But I did not long continue to instruct them, for in the May following, an offer was made me by Colonel Beckwith of the situation of sergeant-major in the Cornwall Miners, a regiment of militia, with the prospect, he told me, of shortly becoming adjutant. This, however, after due consideration, I declined accepting--preferring to remain in a regiment and service which I liked so well, and in which I hoped one day to rise to something higher than my present situation. I believe my conduct on this occasion was approved, for not long after, it was intimated to me, that the offer I had refused, had been made to the quartermaster-sergeant of our second battalion, and that he had, after some hesitation, accepted it, thus leaving his situation open for me.
Accordingly, I departed for the purpose of joining that battalion, and entering on my new duties.
I joined it at Feversham, in Kent. My means increasing, the sinfulness of my course of life was increased in proportion. It is true, I generally performed my various military duties to the satisfaction of my superiors; but could not at all times please my present commanding-officer, against whose wish and inclination I had been appointed to my present situation; he naturally wishing to have a person of his own selection. Soon after this, an expedition being ordered for South America, of which three companies of my present battalion were to form a part, I waited on him, and requested him to permit me to accompany them in the capacity of acting quartermaster. He said no; but if I chose to resign my present situation, and go as a sergeant, he would permit me. This I of course declined, as it would have been paying a bad compliment indeed to my benefactor, Colonel Beckwith, thus to give up for nothing what he had been at pains to procure for me.
This, and some other little things which occurred about the same time, proved to me that I was no favourite with my new lieutenant-colonel, and that it behoved me to be very guarded in my conduct. We were, after this, removed to Brabourn Lees again, and remained there, without any occurrence arising, till we were summoned to take part in the expedition fitting out for Denmark.
We accordingly repaired to Deal, where we embarked on the 26th of July, 1807, and shortly after sailed for our destination. We arrived in the Sound about the 10th of August, where the whole fleet was a.s.sembled; one of the largest I had yet seen. On the 16th, every thing having been previously got ready, we landed at the village of Vedbeck, in the island of Zealand, about ten or twelve miles below Copenhagen. It was a most beautiful and glorious sight to witness the debarkation of the first division, or advanced guard, to which my battalion belonged. The most perfect arrangements had been made by Sir Home Popham, who superintended the landing of the troops; and nothing could exceed the beauty and regularity in which the different divisions of boats approached the sh.o.r.e, covered by some small brigs and bombs, which had orders to clear the beach by grape shot, of any enemy that might appear. Some light artillery also landed with us, prepared for immediate action, for it was not known but the Danes might attempt to oppose our landing, they having rejected every overture on the part of our commanders for the delivery of their fleet.
After landing, mine and the first battalion of my regiment were sent forward in the direction of Copenhagen; and on this occasion, I for the first time saw the ill.u.s.trious General, who has since made the world resound with his exploits. He commanded us, who formed the advance, and directed our two battalions during the operations of the day. But we met with no force of the enemy, save a small patrol of cavalry, which pa.s.sed in front of us, and then retired towards the city; this showed that they were observing our movements. We halted for the night at a village called, I think, Lingbye, on the great road from Copenhagen towards Elsineur. We rested on our arms all night, and early in the morning moved forward on the Copenhagen road, and about mid-day took up cantonments within a long gun-shot of the city, and began to invest the place. All was quiet till about three o'clock in the afternoon, when a general cry of turn out, set the whole of our people in motion. A considerable body of the enemy were advancing from the town, and by this time had attacked the advanced picquets on our left, towards the sea-sh.o.r.e; but instant succour being sent, they maintained their ground.
The force opposed to the enemy was but small, consisting of two companies of the 4th regiment, four of the 23d, and four of my battalion, with two light fieldpieces; in all not more than 1000 men, while the Danes were near 3000. Nevertheless, the moment the armies came in contact, they instantly gave way, leaving a considerable number of killed and wounded behind them, and retreated into the town.
On this occasion, I attached myself to my commanding-officer, who, with the surgeon, and some others of the staff, advanced with one of the guns on the great road, having some of our companies on each flank. He gave me his gla.s.s to take care of, with which I soon after busied myself in watching the motions of the enemy. I discovered at a short distance to our left and front, a considerable body of troops, dressed in long red coats, which I knew could not be British, for that description of dress had long been laid aside by us; I accordingly began, pointing them out as an excellent mark for the artillery, which was then with us; but I had scarcely spoken, when an officer present, cried out, after looking, did I wish the artillery to fire on our own people? The colonel also made some severe and reproachful remarks, telling me, if I would fight, to go and take a rifle. I said nothing; but he had scarcely finished his harangue, when a round shot came directly from this body of supposed British troops, which nigh carried away one of the legs of the first officer who spoke.
The enemy were soon repulsed, and the troops retired again to their former cantonments. After their troops retreated, a body of their gun-boats advanced against some of our small craft which happened to be rather close in sh.o.r.e, but their attack occasioned little injury, the distance being considerable.
The next morning the enemy opened a heavy and rather destructive fire of artillery upon our outposts, by which we lost an officer of artillery and several men; their fire was chiefly directed against what was called the windmill battery, which was our farthest advance at this time.
On the 19th, my battalion was moved farther to the right, and nearer the town; there was constant firing between the advanced posts of the two armies, and this continued for several days, during which the investment of the city was proceeding with, and batteries, &c. marked out for the purpose of bombarding it. All kinds of ordnance stores were at the same time disembarked, and sent off to the army with the utmost dispatch. In short, nothing could exceed the vigour with which the siege was now prosecuted, after the final rejection of pacific overtures by the Danish general.
On the 24th, we were ordered under arms at two o'clock in the morning, and immediately advanced, driving in the enemy's outposts, with the view of carrying our works nearer the town. In this movement we experienced considerable opposition and suffered some loss, from their guns on the town walls, and from musketry from the windows.