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Fortunately some of the defenders had been called away to aid in recovering the castle, the ramparts were not entirely manned, and the assailants, discovering a corner of the bastion where the scarp was only twenty feet high, placed three ladders there under an embrasure which had no gun and was only stopped with a gabion. Some men got up with difficulty, for the ladders were still too short, and the first man who gained the top was pushed up by his comrades and drew others after him until many had won the summit ; and though the French shot heavily against them from both flanks and from a house in front, their numbers augmented rapidly, and half the Fourth Regiment entered the town itself to dislodge the French from the houses, while the others pushed along the rampart towards the breach, and by dint of hard fighting successively won three bastions.
In the last of these combats, Walker, leaping forward sword in hand at the moment when one of the enemy's cannoneers was discharging a gun, was covered with so many wounds it was wonderful that he could survive, and some of the soldiers immediately after, perceiving a lighted match on the ground, cried out, ‘A mine !' At that word, such is the power of imagination, those troops who had not been stopped by the strong barrier, the deep ditch, the high wall, and the deadly fire of the enemy, staggered back appalled by a chimera of their own raising ; and in this disorder a French reserve under General Viellande drove on them with a firm and rapid charge, pitching some men over the walls, killing others outright, and cleansing the ramparts even to the San Vincente. There, however, Leith had placed Colonel Nugent with a battalion of the Thirty-eighth as a reserve, and when the French came up, shouting and slaying all before them, this battalion, two hundred strong, arose and with one close volley destroyed them; then the panic ceased, the soldiers rallied, and in compact order once more charged along the walls towards the breaches : but the French, although turned on both flanks and abandoned by fortune, did not yet yield.
Meanwhile the portion of the Fourth Regiment which had entered the town was strangely situated. For the streets were empty and brilliantly illuminated, and no person was seen, yet a low buzz and whispers were heard around, lattices were now and then gently opened, and from time to time shots were fired from underneath the doors of the houses of the Spaniards, while the troops with bugles sounding advanced towards the great square of the town. In their progress they captured several mules going with ammunition to the breaches, yet the square itself was as empty and silent as the streets, and the houses as bright with lamps : a terrible enchantment seemed to be in operation; they saw only an illumination and heard only low whispering around them, while the tumult at the breaches was like the crashing thunder. Plainly, however, the fight was there raging, and hence, quitting the square, they attempted to take the garrison in reverse by attacking the ramparts from the town-side, but they were received with a rolling musketry, driven back with loss, and resumed their movement through the streets. At last the breaches were abandoned by the French, other parties entered, desultory combats took place, Viellande and Phillipon, who was wounded, seeing all ruined, passed the bridge with a few hundred soldiers and entered San Christoval, which was surrendered next morning to Lord Fitzroy Somerset : for that officer had with great readiness pushed through the town to the drawbridge ere the French had time to organize further resistance. But even in the moment of ruin the night before, this noble governor had sent some horsemen out from the fort to carry the news to Soult, and they reached him in time to prevent a greater misfortune.
Five thousand men and officers fell in this siege, and of these, including seven hundred Portuguese, three thousand five hundred had been stricken in the assault, sixty officers and more than seven hundred men being slain on the spot. The five generals, Kempt, Harvey, Bowes, Colville, and Picton, were wounded, the first four severely ; six hundred men and officers fell in the escalade of San Vincente, as many at the castle, and more than two thousand at the breaches, each division there losing twelve hundred! And how deadly the breach strife was may be gathered from this : the Forty-third and Fifty-second Regiments of the light division lost more men than the seven regiments of the third division engaged at the castle!
Let it be considered that this frightful carnage took place in a space of less than a hundred yards square ;--that the slain died not all suddenly nor by one manner of death—that some perished by steel, some by shot, some by water, that some were crushed and mangled by heavy weights, some trampled upon, some dashed to atoms by the fiery explosions ;—that for hours this destruction was endured without shrinking, and the town was won at last. Let these things be considered, and it must be admitted that a British army bears with it an awful power. And false would it be to say that the French were feeble men : the garrison stood and fought manfully and with good discipline, behaving worthily: shame there was none on any side. Yet who shall do justice to the bravery of the British soldiers ! the noble emulation of the officers! Who shall measure out the glory of Ridge, of Macleod, of Nicholas, of O'Hare of the Ninety-fifth, who perished on the breach at the head of the stormers, and with him nearly all the volunteers for that desperate service ! Who shall describe the springing valour of that Portuguese grenadier who was killed the foremost man at the Santa Maria ? or the martial fury of that desperate rifleman, who in his resolution to win thrust himself beneath the chained sword-blades, and then suffered the enemy to dash his head to pieces with the end of their muskets ! Who can sufficiently honour the intrepidity of Walker, of Shaw, of Canch, or the hardiness of Ferguson of the Forty-third, who, having on former assaults received two deep wounds, was here, his former hurts still open, leading the st ers of his regiment,—the third time a volunteer—the third time wounded ! Nor would I be understood to select
these as pre-eminent; many and signal were the other examples of unbounded devotion, some known, some that will never be known; for in such a tumult much passed unobserved, and often the observers fell themselves ere they could bear testimony to what they saw : but no age, no nation ever sent forth braver troops to battle than those who stormed Badajoz.
When the extent of the night's havoc was made known to Lord Wellington, the firmness of his nature gave way for a moment, and the pride of conquest yielded to a passionate burst of grief for his gallant soldiers.
SIR W. NAPIER.
GOING DOWN WITH NEWS OF VICTORY.
The grandest chapter of our experience, within the whole mail-coach service, was on those occasions when we went down from London with the news of victory.
A period of about ten years stretched from Trafalgar to Waterloo ; the second and third years of which period (1806 and 1807) were comparatively sterile ; but the other nine (from 1807 to 1815 inclusively) furnished a long succession of victories; the least of which, in such a contest of Titans, had an inappreciable value of position-partly for its absolute interference with the plans of our enemy, but still more from its keeping alive through central Europe the sense of a deepseated vulnerability in France. Even to tease the coasts of our enemy, to mortify them by continual blockades, to insult them by capturing if it were but a bawbling schooner, under the
eyes of their arrogant armies, repeated from time to time a sullen proclamation of power lodged in one quarter, to which the hopes of Christendom turned in secret. How much more loudly must this proclamation have spoken in the audacity of having bearded the élite of their troops, and having beaten them in pitched battles! Five years of life it was worth paying down for the privilege of an outside place on a mail-coach, when carrying down the first tidings of any such event. And it is to be noted that, from our insular situation, and the multitude of our frigates disposable for the rapid transmission of intelligence, rarely did any unauthorized rumour steal away a prelibation from the first aroma of the regular despatches. The Government news was generally the earliest news.
From eight P.m., to fifteen or twenty minutes later, imagine the mails assembled on parade in Lombard Street, where at that time, and not in St. Martin's-le-Grand, was seated the General Post Office. In what exact strength we mustered I do not remember ; but from the length of each separate attelage, we filled the street, though a long one, and though we were drawn up in double file. On any night the spectacle was beautiful. The absolute perfection of all the appointments about the carriages and the harness, their strength, their brilliant cleanliness, their beautiful simplicity-but, more than all, the royal magnificence of the horses-were what might first have fixed the attention.
Every carriage, on every morning in the year, was taken down to an official inspector for examination-wheels, axles, linch-pins, pole, glasses, lamps, were all critically probed and tested. Every part of every carriage had been cleaned, every horse had been groomed, with as much rigour as if they belonged to a private gentleman ; and that part of the spectacle offered itself always.
But the night before us is a night of victory ; and, behold ! to the ordinary display, what a heart-shaking addition ! horses, men, carriages, all are dressed in laurels and flowers, oak-leaves and ribbons. The guards, as being officially His Majesty's servants, and of the coachmen such as are within the privilege of the post office, wear the royal liveries of course ; and as it is summer (for all the land victories were naturally won in summer), they wear, on this fine evening, their liveries exposed to view, without any covering of upper coats. Such a costume, and the elaborate arrangement of the