« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Marshal Beresford at Albuera, and was joined by Wellington on the 19th; but, learning that Marmont was marching to join Soult, he took up a position along the menaced frontier of Portugal, which the two marshals did not venture to assail. At Arrojo Molinos, in Estremadura, General Hill completely routed General Girard (20th October).
On the 19th January 1812, Lord Wellington took Ciudad Rodrigo by storm before Marmont could come to its relief, and with equal celerity captured Badajos (the 7th April), after dreadful loss. Leaving General Hill in the south, Wellington now moved back to the north, on which Marmont retreated to Salamanca, while Hill cut off his communications with Soult. Wellington leaving Hill on the Tagus, near Almarez, advanced (13th June) with 20,000 men into Spain, and, on the 22d July, gained over Marmont the great victory of Salamanca, and by the 12th August was in possession of Madrid. In this affair of Salamanca, Wellington proved that he could be as swift to strike as at Torres Vedras he had shown himself cautious in defence. He and Marmont had for some days been marching in parallel lines, the one trying to out-manoeuvre the other. Marmont's advanced guard had proceeded so far, that Wellington's eagle eye discovered that an opportunity had arrived for falling upon the other divisions and routing them before the separated one could return to their support. His orders for battle were given, the British swept down like a storm, and the victory was won. With his small forces, Wellington found he could not keep the capital, and after some time he moved back into his old position in Portugal, failing in an attack on Burgos by the way for want of siege artillery.
In this year (1812) England found herself at war with the United States; but the hostilities that took place were swallowed up in the immense struggle with Buonaparte, who, in the prosecution of his aggressive policy, invaded Russia, where he lost the whole of the army which he took with him (1812).
The Spaniards having created Lord Wellington commander-inchief of their own armies, the British general made preparations
on May 1813 for the delivery of Spain. He entered with three divisions, of which the right was under the able Hill, and the left under Sir Thomas Graham, the victor of Barrosa, Wellington himself leading the centre. On the 21st June he encountered King Joseph at Vittoria, whom he so completely overthrew, that the wreck of his army escaped captivity only by abandoning all their artillery and stores. Wellington pursued the French through the passes of the Pyrenees, to the very confines of France, having in forty-five days marched 400 miles, a conqueror and liberator. Buonaparte, who was engaged in a struggle with the German nation, which had been encouraged by the disastrous Russian campaign to shake off his tyranny, ordered Marshal Soult to return to Spain in order to repair the terrible effect of Vittoria. After fighting no less than ten battles in the Pyrenees, Soult was driven into France by the 1st of August. San Sebastian
was, in the end of the same month, stormed and taken by Graham. Pamplona surrendered in October to the Spaniards, and on the 10th November the British descended into France. On the 13th, Soult was defeated by Hill, and retired into his entrenched camp. Recommencing operations in February 1814, Wellington obliged Soult to quit his camp, and on the 27th routed him at Orthez, by which victory the high-road to the important city of Bordeaux was opened. It was at once occupied by Beresford, and the inhabitants immediately proclaimed Louis XVIII. On the 18th March, Wellington advanced to the Bigorre, Soult retiring before him till he reached Toulouse, where (10th April) was fought a terrible battle, which, it was thought, would have been renewed, as the French fought under cover of the fortification; but Soult thought it prudent to withdraw, and Wellington entered the city. In the afternoon of the same day (the 12th) Colonel Cooke arrived with intelligence that Buonaparte had abdicated at Fontainebleau (the 4th April), and that Louis XVIII. was acknowledged King of France.
The war was now over. Napoleon Buonaparte was allowed to reside in the island of Elba, where he was treated as a sovereign
prince. Not long after, however, impatient of restraint and inaction, he suddenly landed at Cannes, to the surprise and alarm of all Europe. He was hailed with joy by the French army, and marched to Paris without opposition. Louis XVIII. fled to Belgium. To meet this new emergency, England, Austria, Prussia, and Russia, joined by other powers, now signed a treaty by which they bound themselves to prosecute the war against Napoleon until he should be rendered incapable of disturbing any more the peace of Europe. On the 13th June, the Em
peror of Austria crossed the Belgian frontier at the head of about 100,000 infantry, 25,000 cavalry, and 350 pieces of cannon, directing his march on Charleroy. The British landed in Belgium. The Duke of Wellington was now to prove whether, after having defeated Napoleon's best generals, he was able to encounter their master himself, acknowledged to be as great a general as the world had ever seen. Wellington's force was about 76,000, of whom scarcely a half were British. His ally, the Prussian general, Blucher, was at Ligny with 80,000 men.
Napoleon's plan of campaign was one which he had frequently practised with success, namely, that of dividing the forces of his enemy so as to beat them in detail. He first turned his main strength against Blucher, and in order to prevent the English coming to the assistance of their ally, Marshal Ney at the same time attacked the latter under Wellington at Quatre Bras.1 These two battles, fought on the 16th, ended, the one in the defeat of Blucher, the other in preventing the English marching to the aid of their beaten ally. Wellington perceiving that the army victorious over Blucher would be turned against himself, retired in the direction of Brussels, which it was of the utmost consequence to save. Blucher, meanwhile, rallied his repulsed troops with astonishing vigour, and receiving reinforcements, took up his position at Wavre, and the Prussians and English found themselves again on a parallel line, only twelve miles distant from each other, with their communications restored. Wellington then deli1 So called because two roads there crossing made four lines.
BATTLE OF WATERLOO.
berately took up his position at Waterloo in order of battle, on the understanding that he was to be there joined by Blucher. To prevent this junction taking place, Marshal Grouchy was ordered. to watch the Prussians with 30,000 men. Blucher, however, leaving a division of 17,000 men to engage the French as best they could, determined to march with his main body to Waterloo.
The strength of Wellington's army on the morning of the 18th June, was 67,655 men, of whom scarcely 24,000 were British, the rest being Hanoverians, Brunswickers, Dutch, Belgians, &c.: he had 156 guns. Napoleon's army reckoned 71,947 men, and 246 guns. Between the two armies lay a valley of no great depth, scarcely half a mile in breadth, and about two miles and a half long. The village of Mont Saint Jean lay behind the British position, and that of La Belle Alliance behind the French. The road from Charleroy to Brussels ran through both, and it was by this road Napoleon meant to march on the capital. The duke's extreme right was covered by a village and ravine, and his extreme left by two little hamlets. Behind opened the forest of Soignies. In front of the British right stood a large farm-house with outbuildings, a garden, and trees, called Hougomont, and from its importance it was strongly occupied by the allied troops. In front of the British centre stood another farm-house, called La Haye Sainte, which was also taken possession of by them. At the rear of the French right lay the village of Planchenoit. It was calculated that Blucher with Bulow would reach the scene of action by three o'clock, but they were unexpectedly delayed by the state of the roads, which had been rendered heavy by torrents of rain which fell throughout the night of the 17th. As morning advanced the weather cleared, and the English and French armies could see each other's positions. The duke drew up his army in two lines, the one on the crest of the hills from which the valley before him dipped, and the other on the declivity behind. The French on the opposite heights were also drawn up in two lines. The battle commenced at eleven o'clock, by an attack on Hougomont, under Prince Jerome, the emperor's brother, which
was firmly held by Byng's brigade, amidst a furious cannonade raging along the whole line of both armies. About one o'clock Napoleon directed a grand attack of 18,000 men, supported by Kellerman's cavalry, under Marshal Ney, upon the centre and left wing of the allied army. The attacking columns were covered by 74 pieces of artillery, playing over their heads as they descended into the valley. The front line of the allies was here composed of Dutch and Belgians, who at once broke up in a panic and fled. The indomitable Picton was here, but his division, composed of Park and Kempe's brigade, did not exceed 3000, opposed to more than four times that number. Picton ordered a volley, which was followed by a loud hurrah and a charge, which drove the enemy from the crest of the hill. They were immediately pursued and cut to pieces by Ponsonby's union brigade, composed of the British Royals, Scots Greys, and Irish Enniskilleners. Two eagles were captured, 2000 prisoners made, and 74 guns rendered uselessthe artillerymen and the horses being killed. Picton had gloriously fallen. At the same time Somerset's English household cavalry brigade of Life Guards, Blues, and Dragoon Guards, led on by the Earl of Uxbridge, dashed at Kellerman's cavalry, which had just ridden down the German infantry near La Haye Sainte, and put them to rout. Napoleon's effort to break the English left centre had completely failed. Meanwhile, the contest round Hougomont continued to rage, the British firmly maintaining that important post. Napoleon next tried to break the British line by cannon. This failing, he, at half-past three o'clock, renewed his assaults on Hougomont and La Haye Sainte, and directed seventy-seven squadrons of cuirassiers to charge the British right. But, although they cut down the artillerymen at their guns, they could make no impression on the infantry squares, and were themselves nearly destroyed in the attempt. Between six and seven o'clock, the French succeeded in wresting La Haye Sainte from the German Legion, which had so valiantly defended it; but by this time Blucher and Bulow were on the field, pressing on the French right, and assailing their position in the village of Planchenoit with a fury that the