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ANECDOTES OF MILITARY SERVICE.
RECEIPT FOR MAKING A BOWL OF PUNCH.
For two or three days after our sharp action in the Pyrenees on the 13th of December 1813, our regiment was moved from its quar. ters in a village to occupy two farm-houses close to the position we had fought in. This was to guard against any surprise from the enemy in the night or early morning. The men were posted below and in the out-houses, and the officers took up their quarters above. Our excellent commissary had just received a supply of Irish cattle at St. Jean de Luz. He was determined we should not starve on our night-watch, and so sent us plenty of good beef. We had beef in all shapes-roast and stewed, stakes and soups, and “ Bradly frys;"* but after our feast it was a circumstance of universal lamentation that we had no “good stuff” to wash it down with. Now, your old campaigner is monstrous choice in the drop of spirit which he takes care to be provided with, and which he always carries about him. It is the only thing he is a little bit selfish about, for) the comfort of a mouthful while outlying on a cold night is unspeakable. Not one of us therefore acknowledged to the possession of a drop, and we were seated round a blazing fire without any. thing to cheer us besides its sparks. “I'll tell you what, gentle. men,” said I at length, " I think I know a place where some spirits are to be had, and if you will all promise me to keep your places, and will not follow me, I will return with as much as will serve us the evening.” My proposal was received rapturously. They all promised a rigid observance of my injunctions, and a large bowl was furnished me, and a comrade to assist
, they little doubting but that I had some plundering excursion in my mind. We carried our spirits in horns, which were more convenient than canteens, and which we always carried by our sides, suspended by a cord slung over the shoulder.
Of these things we always disembarrassed our. selves on our arrival at quarters, and stowed them away under cloaks and baggage. These little manœuvres no one was better aware of than myself; therefore, by way of commencing fairly, I took down my own horn, which was hanging from a nail, with my cloak, sword, &c. over it, and, shaking it loudly, to let them hear its contents, I poured a good pint of brandy into the bosom of the capacious bowl. I pursued my search, and emptied every horn in the room, amidst the laughter and cheers of my comrades, who were little prepared for this mode of raising a bowl of punch. By the time I had concluded my domiciliary visit, my bowl was brimming full
. It was curious to see the countenance of some who thought their drop of comfort would escape the eye of the old soldier ; but not one did I leave untouched-all contri. buted something to the general stock. A merry time of it we had that night, and I'll engage that many who laid down, felt the boards much softer than usual.
CURTAILMENT OF LUXURIES. -The mess of the grenadiers just now
* A piece of meat toasted over the fire on a stick or ramrod, called “ Bradly's fry;" from the circumstance of a soldier's wife of that name cooking her supper in that primitive fashion.
suffered a serious deprivation by the loss of their standing dish,“ hare soup.” My beautiful little terrier, Fury, was seized with the blind madness by having eaten part of a human limb. She was chained in the loft of a house, part of which was occupied by myself and the offi. cers of my company, Irwin and Carruthers. We had spread our sol. diers' beds one evening, and had just taken possession of them, when, to our astonishment, I may almost say dismay, in rushed the terrier amongst us. She had broken her chain. She sprung first upon my bed, but I jumped up and held the clothes between us as a defence. She then made a rush, and nearly succeeded in getting beneath the blankets wiich Irwin had covered himself with. In the mean time, however, Carruthers had drawn a sabre, and before the poor creature had succeeded upon Irwin's position she was cut down. All my dogs were bitten and destroyed except one greyhound. It was a day of bitter lamentation for us.
THE VETERAN'S DEATH-BED.
Before we advanced on the 16th of February 1813, I went to take a last farewell of our old brother officer, Captain Gale. He had been mortally wounded in the fight the day before, and he still lay with life, but without hope. I found him in the corner of an old ruined house ; the doors were off their hinges, and the windows stuffed with straw and paper to exclude the air. He was stretched upon his old camp bed, covered with his cloak and blankets, and in the hands of the dying vet. eran was a Bible, from which he slowly raised his eyes as I entered.
“ Ah! Cadell,” said he languidly, “ so you are come to see the old soldier die ? I take it kindly of you.”
“ You have done your duty, Gale,” I said, much moved, and taking my poor friend's hand. “I trust we may all render as good an account as you can when it comes to our turn."
“I trust I have done my duty,” he replied. “From the days of Abercrombie and Egypt to the present moment I have followed the banners of the Slashers through fair and foul, and now- a tear filled the old soldier's eye—“ I have seen them for the last time !"
“ It is the will of God!"
“I know it, and I do not repine," he continued ; “and it is a mercy to me that my pain is light, and my conscience free from stain."
My poor friend was obliged to pause once or twice in consequence of the loud cries of a Portuguese officer who occupied another corner of the large desolate apartment. He was in the same situation as poor Gale, but the conduct of the two men was widely different. The Por. tuguese was loudly bewailing the absence of a confessor, and begging those around to save him, who could render him no help; and then followed a fit of convulsive sobbing and tears.
In the interval of one of these paroxysms Gale raised his feeble voice.
“ Are you not ashamed,” he said in Portuguese, are you not ashamed, as a soldier, to lie there screaming like a sick woman ? You Portuguese have often followed the example of British soldiers in the field ; now learn how a British soldier can die-one who has faithfully served his God, his king, and his country.”
At this moment our bugles sounded for the advance.
" There-they are going—the brave boys !" uttered my dying comrade, whose strength was ebbing fast. “For the first time they march without me. Farewell, my gallant comrades ! I shall see you no more. You will remember your old captain, Cadell,” he added in a faint but earnest tone.
you think you could raise me to yonder window ?"
With his servant's assistance I bore him to the window, and from thence he gazed at the troops then on their march. He watched them without speaking till the last gleam of their bayonets disappeared, and then, as if exhausted, fell back in my arms. I strove to raise him—it was of no avail. The old soldier was dead!
DEATH OF THE CORPORAL.
We had a man in our regiment named Tank. He was of hercu. lean powers. No man in the regiment could cope with him ; but he was an excellent, kind-hearted fellow, and never took any advantage of his bodily superiority. He was indeed a universal favourite. Tank had performed' some extraordinary feats in the Peninsula, and had particularly distinguished himself in the battle of the Pyrenées. Had the gallant fellow lived to the close of the war, he would have retired on a snug pension for wounds and service. But it was destined to be otherwise. After escaping the chances of years of hard service, he met his fate where thousands of veterans found their graves-on the bloody field of Waterloo.
Poor Tank belonged to No. 4 company. He was a corporal, and was left hand man to Ensign Mountsteven, who carried the king's colour. On the 16th the regiment was deployed in line on the high road, and Tank was showing the young soldier how to display the colours of the Slashers, and animating the raw recruits about him who were in action for the first time, when he was struck in the face by a musket ball. He instantly fell and died immediately. Thus ended the career of this splendid old campaigner, who was truly an honour to his country
Ensign Mountsteven was severely wounded on the 18th. Sergeant Watts, belonging to the ensign's company, on the morning of that slaughtering day showed him a fowl which he had in reserve. “Sir," said he, “if you have no objection, I intend this for our dinner when the fight is done!”
By the time the fight was done, however, poor Mountsteven had little appetite for the sergeant's fowl. The colour staff was broken twice in his hands, and at last he was hit himself. Sergeant Watts was obliged to seek another guest.
FRANKING LETTERS FROM ABROAD.—On my return from Corfu in 1827, I passed through Bodmin, and called on Mountsteven's mother. I found the old lady in high spirits, from the following interesting
She had two fine young sons who had lately left her,-one a soldier to the East, the other a sailor to the West. Much about the same time they had written letters to her, and, putting them into a bottle, sealed and launched them into the ocean. One was cast ashore on the west coast of France, and the other on the west coast of Eng. land; both were picked up by well-disposed people, and the letters put into the post, and they reached her within a day of each other.
PARTING WITH OLD FRIENDS.
In 1816 a new regulation pack came out for the whole army. The 28th were very sorry to part with their old packs of brown calf-skin. They lasted a long time, and the poor soldier, when lying out, had always a warm pillow to place his head upon. The grenadiers, known for many years as Charlie Cadell's babes, always picked out a soft one for their captain. The attachment of these brave fellows to their officers was quite delightful to experience. When anything was picked up foraging, they had always an ample share, and when the meat was served out, the best was invariably saved for the officers.
I was most gratified to find they still retained their fine old feeling, although on a most unexpected occasion. In 1834 I was living quite retired in the Edgeware Road, and, walking leisurely along one day, I met a regiment on the march. It proved to be my old regiment on their ronte to Chatham. I was soon recognized by some of the old ones, when the regiment at once halted, and gave their old captain three cheers.
When our regiment was quartered in the Ionian Islands in 1822, the Greek war of independence was raging with the greatest violence. We were daily and hourly shocked by the account of coldblooded butcheries on the one side, and sanguinary reprisals on the other. At length an appalling report reached us early in the summer of 1822, that the Greeks had captured the Turkish fortress of Navarino, and made prisoners of the garrison and the entire population, amounting to four hundred individuals. In the centre of the celebrated bay of Navarino is a barren island, about a mile and a half in circumference. On this barren island, according to the report, did the Greek conquerors, with a refinement of cruelty only known to barbarians,-on this desolate place did they land men and unoffending women and children, without food, water, or shelter of any kind, and leave them on that burning rock to perish by thirst and famine!
The Redpole, gun-brig, commanded by Captain Anderson, was then lying at Corfu. She was immediately ordered down to inquire into the truth of this most heart-rending statement. I was an old friend of captain Anderson, and he kindly asked me to accompany him. We were not long in reaching the bay of Navarino ; and as our beautiful little craft glided along shore, we fired a gnn, and hoisted British colours. The gig was then lowered, and I accompanied the captain on shore to demand an explanation of the governor. We were conducted with the utmost respect to the best habitation in the ruined and desolate place, and shortly after a young man of most gentlemanlike appearance and manner introduced him. self to us as the governor of the fortress. He was unaccompanied, and wore a blue British uniform of the most unexceptionable cut and quality. He addressed us very politely, through the medium of an interpreter, and begged to know in what he could have the honour of serving us. Captain Anderson speedily made known to him the object of our visit, and asked him if the report were true. The Greek shook his head. “ It is indeed but too true," he replied. “ I have been here but a short time, and, thank God, had nothing to do with that shocking affair."
“ It was a barbarous act indeed,” said Anderson.
“ And how can we avoid these atrocities?” said the Greek officer. Remember what our poor people have suffered from the Turks, who have always been the first to commence these barbarities. They remember their own wives and families wantonly butchered—their brave com. panions lingering for days in the horrors of impalement. These are things, sir, not to be forgotten ; and when their barbarous masters are in their power, the wild passions of men will predominate, and revenge is considered a virtue. God forbid it should be thought that I advocate such atrocities; I merely speak of them as the effect of the unbridled passions of human nature.” There was an air of great feeling and sincerity about the Greek as he spoke, which prepossessed us much in his favour, and truly we had but little reply to make to his remarks.
“ But,” he added, “ you had better go to the island, and there you will see too good reason to carry back the report as true.
It is now two months since this lamentable occurrence.
The governor politely accompanied us over his dilapidated fortress, to which nothing had been done since it had been stormed and taken, except plastering over some of the more decayed portions with mud, to make an outside appearance of strength. I think I could have caried the place with my grenadiers in ten minutes.
We returned on board the brig, and then manned our boats for the island. I went with the captain in his gig; and as many of the officers as could be spared, followed in the first cutter. We arrived first, and I scrambled up the rocks to make way into the island, when in my haste I nearly fell over a heap of human bodies! They were huddled together upon a small platform of rock. I instantly call. ed to Anderson : poor fellow! the ghastly sight was too much for the kind-hearted sailor ; he returned to his boat. By this time the officers arrived, and we began systematically to explore the island for the purpose of framing a report apon it. It was with difficulty we could make our way, for the hemlock plant grew to the height of five and six feet, and was very strong. But at every step the sight was appalling. There the poor creatures lay, singly, and in groups ; whole families, clasped in each other's arms, had died to. gether. Stretched upon the burning rock, they were dried to mum. mies, and presented a hideous and ghastly spectacle. It was evident that the Greeks had not plundered their victims, for many of the at. tenuated corpses were still attired in their costiy robes, making death look still more hideous !
We found many bodies among the rocks with knives near them, with which they had evidently endeavoured to scoop out the shell-fish from the fissures, in the vain hope of prolonging their lives. Others again we discovered with their mouths still applied to the crevices in the rock to suck out what moisture might have collected from the dews of heaven! Having made our distressing survey, and counted the bodies, whose number nearly agreed with the account we had received, we left this island of death, and returned shuddering to our boats.