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Title: Adventures in Holland and at Waterloo; and Expedition to Portugal

Author: Thomas Knight

Release date: September 14, 2018 [eBook #57905]

Language: English



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the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
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Holland and at Waterloo;


By Corporal Knight.



About thirty-three years ago, Thomas Knight (the author of this work) published a very interesting account of his adventures. A few members of the Stock Exchange bore the principal portion of the expense of printing them. While attached to the Army in Portugal, he was in the same regiment as my brother, Major F. E. Ebsworth, and servant to him.


Sydney, 11th March, 1867. 3

Adventures in Holland and Waterloo;

My father was a cabinet maker at Frome, in Somersetshire. I was bound apprentice to a weaver, not liking such a quiet life I ran off to sea, and entered on board a collier at Southampton, as cabin-boy. In returning we were driven into Ramsgate by a squall. The cook and I left the captain to prepare his own dinner. We were fortunate enough to fall in with a return post-chaise, and were carried along like gentlemen to Canterbury. This was in the year 1811, or the beginning of 1812, when soldiers were much wanted, and I thought myself a sharp sort of fellow, and was fond of a frolic. More than one sergeant tried to cajole me. Two rifle brigadesmen came to the town on furlough; they had green jackets; but their fine promises were too much for me. At length they got the best of me, and enlisted me. I was taken down to Shawn Cliff to the regiment, and had to be inspected by the doctor; and the following day I was taken to Hyde to be sworn in by the magistrate. He asked me which I would go for—limited service or unlimited service. “What is the difference in the money?” I asked. “Limited service is 10 guineas, and unlimited service 16 guineas.” I said, “as I may not live seven years, I will take the 16 guineas.” I received 8 guineas (one half of my bounty) and returned towards the barracks. I was gaping about at what the soldiers were doing, when one old chap came up to me and said I was his first cousin. “I am not quite so green as to be done in that way,” I answered. However, I soon fell in with a few jolly comrades, and spent forty shillings out of the half of my bounty. After buying a few articles I stood in need of, the rest of my bounty went in two days more. Then I had to go through my discipline, after which I went on guard, and considered myself an old soldier. There were 200 of the ablest men picked out to go to Holland. One was a married man, who had a family of children; the wife was making a great fuss 4 about her husband going out, and I said I would not mind taking his place. I did so. The following day the general had to inspect us. He said it was not proper I should go out, as I could not stand the fatigue; and asked who selected me. I told him I had a notion of going out in place of private Rourke, who had a wife and family. “Bravo!” he cried. “Well, we will try you.”

The day after, we marched to Dover, and then went on to Deal, in all eighteen miles. This I found severe work, but did not let it appear so, as we were about to leave England. I and five others were billetted at Deal Castle, in the Walmer Road. In the course of the evening a mutton pieman came into the room, calling out, “All hot! toss or buy.” We bought and ate all his pies, shied the little dishes at one another, made the pieman drunk, and enlisted him. His master came to fetch him away, and we compelled him to pay a guinea smart money, which lengthened the treat.

The next day we went to Ramsgate, and had hopes of passing a night there; but were marched through the town, put on board ship, and not allowed to pass the sentry without leave from the commanding officer. As I and the rest of my comrades could not get leave, I was resolved to get the better of them; so when night came I pulled off some off my clothes, slipped over the side, and swam on shore. I had a good “spree” that night among some friends I had been living with, as I thought it might be my last in Great Britain. The next morning I went on board, and was confined in the chain locker, which I did not mind, since I was happy there as on the quarter-deck. We set sail the following day, and soon came in sight of Ostend. We had to land in boats; and before the last men were on shore, the first were quite uproarious from drinking Hollands. The colonel, in “falling us in,” said he would work us for that. We then marched to Ghent, and were quartered in some old outlandish buildings for that night.

We then proceeded to Bergen-op-Zoom, to which our army was laying siege. After the town had been taken, additional troops were placed to keep possession of it, whilst other regiments had to march to the rear. We next marched to Cotterie, from there to Ypres, and then (in 1814) to Dixmieux, and quartered at a house in the town. The people were very sulky; they obliged me to cook in my canteen, and gave me a pretty piece of work to make it look smart on field-day, which was not so whenever I found people desirous to attend on me and treat me as they ought. But these people were so bothersome and troublesome, that I bothered them in every fashion, by marching into their clean rooms with my dirty shoes, till at last I forced them to pay me proper attention. Notwithstanding, I went to the billet-master to procure a fresh billet; and he asked me where I would like to go. I was fortunate enough to get a billet on a shop. I went with the billet to a house in the Market-square, knocked at the door, and two beautiful girls made 5 their appearance, one about my age (seventeen years), the other about nineteen. They kindly accepted the billet, and in I walked; and they sent me down good refreshment, which I required. I was very thankful to get into such good quarters, and assisted them in all the little jobs about the house, such as cooking and serving other men.

Our rations were drawn from the town butchers and bakers, and our grog issued by the non-commissioned officers of companies. Some used to take the bottles and canteens “after,” but I used to take the right sort of canteen (when once down my throat I thought it was the best place for it), consisting of a half-pint of good Hollands gin. One afternoon, after the gin had been served out, some of us soldiers assembled and decided that we would have some sport with snowballs. There were a dozen or fifteen round it, and we consulted as to what we had better do with it. It would not do to leave it in one of the public streets, and the colonel not being a favorite with us, we rolled the snowball up to the front door of his quarters, which obliged him to go out at the back of the house. He laughed at the trick, but was never after without a sentry. Sometimes the inhabitants gave us a challenge (arranged to be outside the town) to have some sport with snowballs. There we commenced the battle with officers and soldiers. We beat the inhabitants up and down, the snow congealing over the ditches and houses; and down it was with many a one: plump they went into the ditches, roaring out for help. The windows that day had a bad time of it. After all was over we offered to pay for the broken ones, but the inhabitants would not permit such a thing; as we accepted the challenge they would pay all expenses.

What with skating, sliding, and drinking “schnapps,” we spent our time pretty merrily; and then had orders to advance into the frontiers of France (1815). We marched to Louis, and brigaded with the 52nd Light Infantry, the 71st Scotch, and the 15th Hussars attached to our brigade (the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division), commanded by General Sir Frederick Adam. Our field-days (two in the week) were Tuesdays and Fridays; the French occupied the ground on Mondays and Thursdays. Our brigade sent out daily 100 rank and file, one captain, two subalterns, and a portion of the squadron considered on piquet duty. The river divided the small town called Munge. The 15th Hussars, with their horses, occupied the Market House; the sentries were on a portion of the bridge (a division across it), the French sentry on one side, and the British on the other; the 7th Black Horse had the barracks, opposite the French side of the river; fourteen sentries by day and twenty-eight by night, a portion of the 15th Hussars, patrolling on the banks of the river, looking out for any alarm. Two companies of the Rifles were ordered to take the advance post. We marched to Turp, two leagues from Louis, head-quarters, there to remain till further orders. 6

Our field-days were as usual. We had a league further to go. I was very badly off for clothing at the time, and the colonel told us we could patch our clothing with any thing of a dark nature, as our rifle uniform was supposed to be of a dark green. I went to the quarter-master’s stores to procure two pairs of pantaloons, at eighteen francs per pair; I also drew a pair of boots at the same price. I put on a pair of pantaloons to go to field-day in. In jumping of ditches in skirmishing order, I split the first pair of pantaloons into pieces; the other pair went in the same manner; I then had to put on my old patched friends, while I could get one pair made out of the two damaged ones; my boots went in the same way,—coming home from field-day the weather was very severe, the soles parted company from the upper leathers, so I had to tread along on my bare toes.

I went on guard on the 15th day of June: it came to my turn at eleven o’clock at night to relieve a soldier on outlying sentry. The sentry, in giving up the orders to me, said that “I was to keep a sharp look out betwixt those two trees, and when you see the beacon guard blaze up, you are to set fire to this.” I said, “What do you mean, you gapes? Do you mean to set fire to a turnip field as the seed of the turnips is up to our heads?” I found out by his winks and words that I was not to set fire to any such sort of thing, but to retire to the guard-house and give the sergeant information when I saw the beacon blaze. About one o’clock on the sixteenth morning the sergeant of the guard informed the colonel what the sentry had seen. The colonel gave orders to the orderly bugler who was on guard, to sound the assembly; I got permission, after changing the guard, to go and take leave of the people I was quartered on. The woman of the house filled my haversack with bread and cheese, etc. I fell in, marched off about four o’clock on the morning. We marched on during the sixteenth day, and on the sixteenth evening came into a long town called Tourwee; halted outside the town to take a little refreshment, and proceeded on during the night with a guide. After some distance, about three leagues (nine miles), the guide left us, giving the colonel instructions which way he was to take, but the latter, missing his way, came upon a battery occupied by the French: the sentry on the ramparts called out, “Qui Vive?” (Qui Vive—English, “Halt! who comes there?”) The colonel gave orders to the men to retire in double time; the sentry challenging three times, and no answer in return, fired a round shot from the battery after us; but, fortunately enough, without doing any harm. We came into a village which we had passed through during the night: the colonel thought it was requisite to put the men into the different houses till the following morning, till the seventeenth approached. Accordingly, myself, with eleven others, were put into one house together. We kept the old man (Pizan) busily employed in bringing wine out of the cellars during the 7 remainder of that night; so we had an excellent “chevot.” The following morning the bugle sounded “turn out the whole,” just at the dawn of day. We formed companies, marching off in sections from the right, down a hill in the breadth of the township. At the foot of the hill there was a rapid stream of water, and a narrow bridge over it, wide enough for about one rank and file to go over abreast. The colonel waded through the river on horseback; it took him up rather higher than the flaps of his saddle; the men began to file march over the river, officers and soldiers. The colonel observing the men coming over the bridge, he called out, “Advance through the water;” I saw a great many of my height up to the armpits; I put up my pouch over my shoulder, and also my rifle—I had a hard struggle to stand against the stream. After we had crossed the river we formed companies; we marched off up a lane and through a wood, and passed by our old friends, the 52nd, lying down half dead at the top of the hill, from fatigue; they gave us three cheers, and we turned and saluted the same; we marched on to where the French had been encamped on the fifteenth night, and our army had driven them back on the sixteenth morning. The ground was covered with dead and wounded—we marched on to Mount Reveille; from there to Quatre Bras, and from there to Mount St. Jean, in which place the French lay in the rear. On Saturday, the seventeenth, we took up our position in the meadow at the foot of the hill of Mount St. Jean, when the commissary butchers were ordered to kill and cut up for the Light Brigade—some having got wood, others muddy water from the ditch—hanging our camp kettles, we lost no time in cooking it, when we were not a little astonished by a volley of shot rattling about us; but being loathe to lose our beef, some of which was cooked, and some quite raw, we tore off a few morsels, stuffing what we could into our haversacks, quickly ready to advance. Great was our disappointment, however, to find that we had been disturbed by the Brunswickers, who never having seen a rifleman in our dark uniform, took us for French. We still kept on the advance, and came into the hard road turning towards Brussels, to the left, passing by the Coldstream Guards on our present right; they gave us three cheers, and returned a salute. We marched leisurely towards Brussels, within four leagues, or twelve miles, turning towards Brussels to the left, coming into Moret Reveille early in evening.


On the 17th of June, 1815, the Duchess of Richmond gave a little tea entertainment at Brussels, with dancing in the programme, and for which latter purpose the Brussels’ carpets had to be taken up. A few hours previous to this eventful festivity, the commander of the British regulars had been taking pot luck with the Prince of Orange and Count Von Schwillensweiper, of the 8 German embassy. Scarcely had the apples and nuts been placed upon the table, when an aide-de-camp, all stuccoed over with rural mud, rushed into the apartment, and placed before his Grace a dirty despatch, sealed with a pipe stem. “Take a chair and a nobbler,” said the Duke to the muddy young gentleman, after which he opened the tobacco-scented missive, and, then, with his characteristic determination, said nothing more. The fact was, that Bonaparte had begun hitting Blucher, who had immediately sent to tell his big brother. “He’s at him again,”—ce coquin Bony—quietly remarked the Duke, when the messenger had quitted the room, and then he placed a lot of nut-shells to show the position of the armies; “very simple,” continued his Grace, “It lies in a nutshell—in for a penny, in for a pound, and to-morrow we shall pound away.” The ball was brilliant in the extreme, but it did not escape attention that the Duke wore thick boots before midnight. The commander-in-chief slipped out, pretending he wanted a smoke. Picton, whose presence of mind never forsook him, put a truffed sausage in each pocket. The Prince of Orange whispered to the Duchess that “Ney had turned up, and was teasing the Prussians.” “Ney turned up,” replied her witty Grace of Richmond—what Nay retrouse. They kept up the capering till daylight, long before which the Belgian belles couldn’t imagine what had become of the red coats. The famous engagement of the 18th of June—it must be borne in mind, that June is summer-time in Belgium—was fought in a corn field, to the great injury of the crops. The rival armies were considered as two of the best teams that had ever met. It began, some historians say, at ten o’clock sharp, while others contend that the Emperor had not breakfasted at that time, but the fact is, that the battle seems to have resembled many quarrels. It is difficult to say exactly, how it commenced. Charges were made from either side in turn, and there was a good deal of recrimination, and bad language followed. Sir Thomas Picton, at the head of his gallant men, who were all picked ones, fought till he was out of breath. Hundreds of poor fellows cut about till they had’nt a leg to stand upon, and the brave Lord Uxbridge found himself with only one. To heighten the horrors of the scene, it came on to rain in the afternoon, and the smell of gunpowder is described as having been most oppressive. “Sire,” exclaimed a distinguished general officer, as he stood upon a looking-out arrangement, like a fire escape, “I see troops in the distance. They must be Prussians—they look blue.” “Sacre bleu,” roared the Emperor, “blue be confounded.” His Imperial Majesty spoke polite English with fluency. “They’ll all look blue before I have done with them.” It was the Prussian blue notwithstanding. At last somebody told the French emperor that the Prussians were coming up to have a finger in the pie. “You be hanged!” (allez rous faire pendre) roared Napoleon; “Its Grouchy, but he knows better,” and fancying that his Grenadiers 9 had got their second wind, he ordered them to charge like mad. With a tremendous shout of “Vive le Empereur,” which means “hoor-oar,” and sounds just like it. They came on the British columns crouched in the mud, and the Frenchmen fancied they had gone down to avoid punishment. “Ces coquins boutiquiers,” sneered the Emperor, as he began to cut up a pipe of tobacco. At this moment, the iron Duke, whose ferruginous nature made him turn rusty at times, got quite out of temper, and gave his celebrated order for his men to get up and “Give it ’em hot.” This, of course, decided the whole business. “Confound it,” said the Emperor, looking through his opera-glass, “There some mistake?” He was right. In a few minutes an “aide” galloped up to tell him “that his men were demoralised, and turning like red-shanks.” “It’s all up”—tout est en dessus—cried Napoleon, blowing his nose from excess of emotion. “Your orders, sire,” anxiously continued the staff officer. “My carriage!” was the mournful utterance of the unfortunate commander, still busy with his pocket handkerchief. It was Bonaparte’s last order on the field of Waterloo!—

James Richardson,
18th Royal Irish Regiment, Melbourne.

From the severity of the weather during our march our men were constantly falling; our shoes came off, and we had to walk in our stockings; our bed at night was a corn field; our covering, blankets soaking in wet. Some setting out to forage, picking up a little wood and putting it on the fire, we had a little rest; and much we needed it. Awaking early next morning (Sunday, 18th), we wrang our blankets, folded them up, and put them under our straps on our knapsacks. We had orders to remain there until further orders, when we had an order to take up ground as a reserve, and there to remain under an expectation of the French coming down the lane to cut off our rear. We lay there until eleven o’clock, when we had orders to advance and to cover the 52nd lines in skirmishing order; in case of being driven in by the cavalry, to form on the right of the 52nd lines, and to the left of the artillery; and to remain there to fire in line until the bugle sounded the advance, firing in skirmishing order. About half-past four o’clock, observing some heavy cavalry charging down to cut off the Light Brigade—supposed to be 800 of the “Cuirassiers,” who charged up within about 500 yards on to the field of artillery—General Adam called to the officers commanding the artillery to commence firing on the French Cuirassiers. From the first round of the artillery they made a roadway between the columns; the second round from the artillery we could not observe them for smoke; and from the third round we were completely masked by smoke and darkness, as the smoke contracted along the right of the lines. The trumpet sounded from the cavalry, and the Light Infantry Corps of bugles and drums rolled for the charge; and on we stepped, cheering and charging. We made the 10 infantry give way, and took possession of thirty-two field pieces of artillery and a number of prisoners belonging to Napoleon’s army. The 42nd Highlanders charged the French into the wood of Genappe, just at the back of a farm called Hugenot,—the farm that was taken and re-taken seven times during the 18th; very heavy slaughter round the wood and farm; the 42nd were nearly cut to pieces; about 200 came out of the wood out of 700 engaged. Wellington gave orders to retire, to bring the French out of the wood after us.

The inhabitants of Brussels were informed that Napoleon had captured Field-Marshal Wellington; they were all up in arms in Brussels, throwing their baggage into the river to prevent the French from plundering. The British Army faced about, made a heavy charge on the French, and drove them back to their former position (in the wood). We kept skirmishing, taking up ground in different positions, till close up nightfall, when we observed some heavy columns coming up from the rear, from the Brussels side. We expected it was Grouchy, with 40,000 French troops. I made the remark that we were all hemmed in betwixt two fires; but, however, it turned out to be Blucher with the same reinforcement for us. We brought our right shoulders forward, and we made a desperate attack on the French. I witnessed the French firing over their shoulders at us, under their retreat. Leaving the farm and the wood to our right, when up the brow of the hill leading towards Brussels, about half a mile distant,—the French officers of all ranks and soldiers lay so thick on the ground that you could scarcely get a yard of ground but what we stumbled against either a horse or man,—we came into the road leading from Brussels to Paris. By this time it became nightfall with us. We took up our position on the right of the road, and threw ourselves down on the ground to have some rest. We had nothing to eat; and were almost asleep before we reached the ground. Awaking early on Monday, 19th, we could scarcely believe our eyes, that there were only six of us together. We went on foraging. Some Brunswickers and ourselves got a big “porker” in the farmyard; we brought him into camp and hoisted him on three poles, and put a good fire under his jacket; so, as it was getting ready, we cut off slices of it to our heart’s content. We managed to get some wine, when we proceeded on our way. We came down to a village, distant about half a mile, called Floreice, on the main road from Brussels to Paris—that which the French occupied during the three days of Waterloo. We went out in search of our comrades, and had some of the Brunswickers with us. On the right of the Paris road, about half a mile from the village, we discovered some of the rifles, as we thought; but they turned out to be Brunswickers, for their uniform and ours were so much alike. We were informed by an officer of that corps that an officer and some of the rifles lay over to the left of the 11 road; and the officer, discovering us, jumped up and shook us by the hand; glad he was to see us alive. Out of 205 rank and file who went into the field on the 18th June, about eleven o’clock, 172 killed and wounded were lost, leaving thirty-three men. We lay there that day and part of the next, when we had orders to advance. We refreshed ourselves with fruit from the roadside. The potato fields suffered much also. When encamped our swords and bayonets served us for spades.

On our journey to Paris, we travelled at the rate of four leagues (twelve miles) per diem. At the end of the day, as soon as the tents were pitched, throwing my accoutrements and knapsack into the tent, and taking my haversack and canteen, I used to make an object of proceeding into the country to procure some provender. I one day had to visit a wine cellar. I took a good drop of wine, filled my canteen, and brought up a pitcher with a portion of wine in it; and who should be in the room but the provost-marshal. As soon as he saw me deliver the pitcher in the kitchen, he kicked it over with his foot, called the sergeant of the provost, and told him to go down into the cellar and bring up a soldier: I had concealed myself behind the door of the cellar. The sergeant passed me, went down, looked about, but could not discover me; he went up and told the captain that I was not there, saying that the cellar was too dark for him to see me. I was in a rifle dress. “Take a light down, sergeant,” said the provost-marshal, which he did, and then hunted about for me again, but still could not find me. However, in coming up the cellar steps, he saw me behind the door, and brought me into the apartment where the captain was standing. “Oh,” he said, “Mr Rifleman, I have got you at last. I have had a great deal of trouble in catching you.” He ordered the sergeant to appoint four men to take me to the rear guard; so the four men came up and told me to march on, one on each side and two in the rear, the captain giving them strict orders not to let me go. They brought me down to the rear guard, and put me into an apartment where there were twenty more prisoners. The captain also gave orders to the sergeant to “fall us in,” and march us into an orchard to receive the punishment that was to be inflicted upon us. “Come, Mr Rifleman,” he said, “I will begin with you first.” He just read over a small sentence to me, to the effect that I was to receive twenty-four lashes, and ordered me to strip off. I was tied to an apple-tree, and, coming round me, the captain said, “If you will join the provost, it will prevent you from being punished.” “No, captain,” I answered; “I will not leave my regiment.” He then ordered the drummer to put the “cat” on my back. When I had received one dozen, the captain again told me if I would consent to his request he would cease flogging me. I still refused, and he ordered the drummer to give me the other dozen. As soon as they had finished they took me down, and the captain ordered 12 the sergeant to empty my canteen of the wine; they then gave me my canteen and haversack and told me to proceed to the camp. I picked up my clothing, and went over a wall out of the orchard. I then commenced to put my clothes on. In the meantime they had another man tied up to the same tree as I had been at, and, I believe, they gave him five or six lashes, when he bellowed out, begging for mercy, and said that he would never plunder any more if the captain would let him down. I heard no more of him, but proceeded towards the camp, leaving the Provost about half a mile to the rear of me. I got into a farm house and filled my canteen with good wine again, and was fortunate enough to pick up part of a loaf. Coming out of the yard I knocked a fowl down, put it into my haversack, and proceeded into the camp. It was late in the evening. I went into the officers’ marquee and told him what had taken place, giving him full particulars. He asked me to pull off my clothes and he examined my back. “Oh!” he said, “they have not hurt you much.” But I told him I felt very sore, and that I should be hardly able to carry my knapsack on the morrow. He said he would get it put on the baggage waggon, so that I had nothing to carry but my accoutrements, sixty rounds of ball cartridge in my pouch, and forty in my haversack; the weight of these caused my shirt to stick to my back, and gave me great pain. Afterwards I usually kept myself very quiet.

The Prussians had the advance of the British Army, when the French came up the River Seine, which they had to cross. They opposed the Prussians. An express order came to the rear for the British Army to push forward in forced marches; so we proceeded on at the rate of twenty-one miles per diem, under a broiling sun, and, on the third evening we formed on the top of the hill where the Prussians were encamped. On the following morning we erected a substantial battery. By giving the French a few rounds from the artillery, after a short time, we compelled them to move. Word was then given to charge, and we drove them across the river; but before we arrived at the river, the enemy blew up the Bridge of Lourai, which left them on the St. Denis side, and we on the other.

We discovered a flour mill on the banks of the river, and I said to one of my comrades, “I will go down and see if I can find some flour.” Accordingly, I proceeded to the mill, got inside without any difficulty, and discovered a large flour bin, in which I found as much flour as my haversack would hold. In coming down the mill steps from out of the mill, I met another man coming up upon the same errand as myself; he called out, “Miller, what is the price of a sixpenny loaf?” I said, “Faith, comrade, if I have a white jacket, I have no white feather; better to be a miller than starving.” As my uniform was all green, the flour on the skirts of my coat caused me to appear more like a magpie than 13 a rifleman. There was plenty of wine in all the farm houses, and I availed myself of it by mixing it with the flour, by which we soon had a good pot of dumplings; it made good “prog,” I can assure the reader.

Our pontoons being someway down the river, the Prussians went down to cross the pontoons—the boats came up the river the following day to take the British army over. As soon as we all got across the river, the Prussians and the British army made a rapid attack across St. Denis until we came up to where there was a bridge leading across an arm of the river; the bridge was obstructed by trees being thrown across it to prevent us from crossing. On each angle of the bridge, there was a chevaux de frise, and in the main road a large trench was cut about twelve feet deep, and twelve feet wide; and also a barricade formed across the road, consisting of empty wine casks filled with earth, &c.; but in spite of all this opposition, our artillery unyoked their horses from the guns to draw the trees from off the bridge; the sappers and miners also cleared away to let the army over, and filled up the trenches. After we got across upon the main road, our cavalry sounded the trumpet, and the light infantry the key bugles, and the bands played from the regiments of the line. We had about three miles to go before we entered Paris; the Prussians on our right were bombarding the outlets of the city. Previous to our arrival within a quarter of a mile of the township, they sent out a flag of truce, agreeing to surrender Paris to us; so we marched into the town with colours flying and drums beating, the people on the tops of the houses, and leaning over the balconies, some thousands of them singing out, “Vive le Roi!” and others, in opposition, “Vive Napoleon!” But witnessing the number of the army, they thought it best to desist; we went through the Palais Royal, and then marched out and took up our quarters convenient to the river; the fifty-second light infantry and the seventy-first Scotch regiments, and the rifles, occupied the opposite side of the road to that on which the seventy-second light infantry were; a portion of the cossacks were stationed along with us, and also the artillery; the commissariat took up their department on one side of the camping ground to serve us out with rations. I often amused myself by looking at the river side, and going into a river on top of the horses’ backs naked: when the horse would be out of his depth, he would strike off swimming, and the man would swim alongside of the horse; they used to go a considerable way from the bank, turn their horses heads round, and swim back after them.

The constant practice amongst the soldiers was plunder. When the inhabitants came out to see the soldiers, before they returned to the town they were robbed; reports went to Wellington about these offences, and upon all those that were caught corporal punishment 14 was inflicted. When our light brigade was in camp, scarcely a day passed without some flogging; I was very keen myself to see if I could get something in the way of provender to enable me to be strong and long-winded. I went out one night with several others about a mile from the camping ground, to procure some vegetables in the gardens belonging to the Pizans, or market-gardeners; we had a strong mud wall to go over, dividing the road from the garden, about ten foot high; we all got over the wall and went up through the gardens, and the owners of the place hearing us began to fire away with their old muskets at us, and compelled us to retire. In coming back to cross the wall, I made a leap with the rest of my comrades—unfortunately, in trying to get over, I caught hold of the top of the wall, which being, as I said before, of mud, gave way, and down I came on the broad of my back inside the garden again; and I was alarmed about my bones, when I concealed myself under the wall. The gardeners were at this time going up and down looking for us; they were calling out, in French, “Sacre non de dieu!” (which means in plain English, “Damn your eyes and limbs!”) also, that “we were a lot of thieves.” There was a dog not far from me, that set to howling, which enlightened them as to where I was concealed, when they all came up and dragged me out by the collar, and vowed vengeance on me; they brought me to the gateway, and in pushing me through the gateway into the road, one fellow gave me a rap on the back of the head with a pole, which made me see all the colours of the rainbow; I thought this was too much to stand from a Frenchman: but their being too strong for me, I proceeded quietly to the camp determining to watch my chance. We used often to meet them coming into market with their vegetables, so, instead of going over mud walls any more, we helped ourselves from their carts to get an excellent supply.

Our field-days were on Tuesdays and Fridays, something better than a league of three miles towards St. Denis, in an angle of Mont Mart. We used to go through our evolutions, of forming line and squares, &c., during the day, and then retire to camp. Some time in August (I cannot remember the exact date), there were two men ordered by Wellington to be executed; one belonged to the 71st regiment of the line, and the other to the 52nd light infantry. The 71st man was to be hung on a tree, and the 52nd man to be shot; and, as the regiment stood in close column to watch the execution, placed in such a position that every man could witness it, the man was first hanged; and we then changed front to the rear to witness the man who was to be shot; when we faced about, the man was kneeling on his coffin, and his grave before him; the Chaplain was praying with the man some considerable time while he was on his coffin, and when the Chaplain was about to 15 bid him farewell, he shook hands with him. Immediately the provost-marshal ordered the sergeant to draw the cap over his eyes; as soon as he did so, the General of the Brigade gave orders for the men to prime and load. Just as the men were coming to the “recover,” and then to the “present,” waiting for orders to fire, an orderly dragoon came into the field as hard as he could; the General called out to stop the execution till the dragoon came up; when he arrived before the General, he pulled round his sabretash, and presented a despatch from Wellington to the General of Brigade; when he opened it and discovered the contents, he ordered the man to be liberated, and the cap to be drawn from off his head, which was thrown on the ground, and unfastened his arms, which were pinioned behind him. He jumped off the coffin, and stood for a minute or two quite confused, when he wheeled himself about and went up through the columns as smart as ever I saw a man walk. The General called out to form line of regiments, to step off in slow time by subdivisions, and to march past the gallows where the man was hanging from the tree, for an example against plundering. The General called out to the Colonels to march their regiments to their respective camping grounds; which we did, the band playing “Over the hills and far away,” leaving the corpse hanging on the tree behind us. Some short time after this occurrence, all hands were to attend parade—sick, lame and lazy—at the square of the general hospital. There was a man brought up by the provost to be flogged for plundering; his sentence was for 1,000 lashes. When he was tied up to the triangles, he received 500 lashes and never cried “Oh!” to it; the other 500 were to be delivered at another time. He was conveyed away to the hospital to be dressed by the doctor, and we marched back to the camping ground. A fortnight after, the brigade all mustered again and assembled in the general hospital yard; the man was brought out and then received the other 500 lashes; at the first lash the blood spurted out, but he took the whole of the lashes without uttering a word; and we marched back again to our camping ground.

We used to have parades and field-days as usual. Nothing more took place of any importance, as far as I witnessed, until the early part of October, when the brigade all fell in one morning, marched toward the city, and formed in line, with the cavalry and artillery on each flank, and there remained till further orders, while they were taking down the statues that Bonaparte had taken from other countries. From the sulky looks of the inhabitants that day, we expected some disturbance; but seeing the numbers of the allied army, they kept themselves quiet. We marched back into the camp during the evening, and there lay till further orders. On the 12th of October we had orders to break up camp, and our brigade marched to Versailles, four leagues from Paris, and there to remain till further orders. Our brigade field-days were as usual; there was 16 very little I can give an account of for the short time that we were in Versailles. The Rifles were then ordered to march to Calais, to embark for Great Britain. We went on board the troop ship after stopping in Calais only two days. The Jewish inhabitants came on board to know if any of the soldiers had anything to dispose of; they said they would buy anything, so the men asked them would they buy blankets, and they replied they would—those being the campaign blankets; the men asked how much they would give for a blanket, they said eighteen francs, to which some of us agreed, some selling half a one only, which my comrade and myself did, dividing one between us for our use, and selling the other and dividing the money. I purchased a few articles with the proceeds, from the French Jews, such as I stood in need of.

The following morning we proceeded on our way, and the second day we sighted Dover, at which place we had to land. We found on the beach, Colonel Duffay (formerly belonging to the forty-third light infantry) who took the command from Colonel Ross; he gave orders for all those that had articles on the top of their knapsacks to take them off and to leave them on the beach; I picked up some of my things and concealed them about me as well as I could; we then marched up to the quarter-master’s stores—companies being called for, and the list being gone over to go forward and give in their blankets, haversacks, and canteens: some had none, others threw in half a one, but those were as well off who threw in nothing, as those who had only a half one. After this had been done, we marched to the heights, and took up our position in barracks, and there remained till further orders.

Our parades and duty were very moderate; we remained here for two months, when we had orders to march to Ramsgate, to embark on board of troopships for Ireland. We disembarked six miles from Waterford, at a place called Darsage—marched six miles into Waterford, took up our position on the Quay, and there remained till the billets were issued out—only one night. The following morning we marched to New Ross, in the County of Wexford, twelve miles; we came up to the bridge leading into the town, when the band struck up playing through the town, and we formed in the Market Square. Shortly after the billets were handed out by the sergeants of companies; I received a billet for six of us, and went to the house, which was a huckster’s shop. The woman of the house said, “Well, men, we have not much room to put you into;” but we said we could put up with that; so she showed us an apartment where we had to reside, and we put our knapsacks, &c., all up on one side of the room and slept on the other. We came out into another apartment to get a smoke of our pipes, where there was a large turf fire, and we sat down beside if, and the woman of the house asked us if we would take any refreshments, and we replied that we would; she asked us what we would take, and we 17 said “anything;” so with that she put a big pot on the fire, full of potatoes, about fourteen pounds. While they were boiling, she threw in a quantity of eggs on the top, and set about laying the tablecloth; she then took a lot of bacon and fried two pansfull of it, and set it all down before us, with plenty of good table ale, bread, &c. After we had made a good meal, I asked the woman of the house what the expenses would be, she said, “Two tenpenny pieces;” I said to my comrade, “You pay threepence halfpenny, and I will do the same.” I told two others to pay the same, and two threepence each, making in all one and eightpence; after we had smoked our pipes a bit, we made our departure to go to the town; we went into the market and saw a great quantity of provisions; I asked the price of potatoes per stone, and was told three halfpence; I asked what the eggs were per dozen, they told me two pence; how much the bacon was per lb., they said three halfpence. I thought to myself our dinners were charged for very moderately. We then retired down through the town, and took two or three glasses of whisky. In the evening we returned and took some more refreshment, the following morning we did the same, and continued this kind of living until Monday.

Sunday being a halting day, I had a pair of boots that wanted soleing and heeling; I took them to the shoemaker belonging to the company, but he said he would work for nobody on the Sabbath day. As our route was for Dublin, I knew my boots would not carry me there, and I was determined to get them mended by Monday. I tied them up in my handkerchief, went down through the town with them to see if I could get them done there; I was informed by a man where I could; he directed me to a back lane, and knocked at the door of a house; I asked the person who opened it if he was a shoemaker; he replied, “I am;” I said, “I have a pair of boots to mend;” he replied that he did not work on the Sabbath, but, as I was a soldier on the line of march, he would do them for me; so I went in; he set to work to mend them at once, and was not long before he had them repaired. I asked what he charged; he said, “As you are a soldier I will only charge you tenpence,” for which I said I was very thankful, and asked him if he would take a glass of whisky, at which he agreed, and we went out at once to a whisky shop; I called for half a pint, and totted out a good bumper to the old man, which he kindly accepted, and wished me all prosperity. We agreed very well, and both got pretty “top heavy;” I then wished him good bye.

I went back to my residence, and lay down to have a sleep; when I woke up I found I was all right. On the morning following the bugle sounded “Turn out the whole;” I went down and fell in with my company; the roll was called; after we had all answered to our names, we marched off in two divisions; the right wing to which I belonged was to go through Kilkenny, and from that to Dublin. When we arrived there we took our up residence in the 18 Palatine Square, convenient to the Royal Square; we did duty for two years in Dublin; our parade and duties were very severe—every other night upon guard, and field days very hard. After the two years were up we were ordered to King’s County, sixty-three miles from Dublin and forty-one from Talamore, there to do duty until further orders. Shortly after the arrival the colonel had an order to break up the battalion, so we gave in our arms and our accoutrements—one company each day. Previous to our being dismissed the colonel formed square, and told us he was going in as colonel of the first battalion, and if any of us would wish to join him we could. A great many did, but I did not. I took a blank discharge, as a soldier of good conduct; I had all my regimental pay given to me, and so much a mile to the place of my enlistment. We then were sent to Dublin, sixty-three miles; we marched from Barr to Talamore, and arrived in the evening, having walked forty-two miles in one day; we put up at a public-house, and in the course of the evening two men came in at about nine o’clock, and asked if there were any passengers for Dublin; we asked what sort of a conveyance they had; they said, “Canal boats;” we asked what they would charge each; they replied, “Two tenpenny pieces each;” so we got a drop more to drink, and all departed at ten o’clock.

In getting into the canal boats there was great amusement, and during the night we had fiddling and dancing, and we kept it up till the morning, when we arrived on the quay in Dublin; we then had to proceed to the recruiting depot, on the Kings-end road, leading toward the Pigeon house, and there we lay till further orders on board of the Edward, barque, troopship; we lay there two days, and on the third day we weighed anchor at nightfall, and proceeded on our way.

We proceeded on our way, and were driven by a squall into Milford Haven, at which place we had to lie during the time the ship was undergoing a thorough repair, ready for sea again. We had about 300 soldiers of different regiments—all discharged men—a greater portion of us were single men. The captain of the ship asked us, as the ship would be a long time under repairs, whether any of us would be willing to travel overland—150 miles down to Newport. We all expressed our willingness. He said he would write to the Mayor of the town to forward us through the country, so that we could get billeted on our way in the different towns as invalid soldiers. As the snow was very severe, it prevented us from travelling any more than thirty miles per day. In various parts of the country the snow lay knee deep on the ground. When we could not reach a town we were obliged to put up with the inconveniences of staying at some farm house for the night. It took us fifteen days to reach Newport. We went from there to Bristol in fishing smacks. We went to the recruiting depot and remained there for about three days. We were paid up all our back 19 pay and marching pay through Wales, and two pence per mile to the place of attestment on joining the British army. I was attested at Hythe, in Kent—186 miles from Bristol. After receiving all money due to me, I was at liberty to go where I pleased, being once more my own master. I went home to Frome, in Somersetshire—twenty-four miles from Bristol—and there I remained with my friends during the greater part of the winter. In the Spring following I left my friends and proceeded to London. I got employment there as a bricklayers’ laborer, and at various times as a stonemasons’ laborer. I engaged with a gentleman of the name of Broadhead, who resided in Cadogan Place, Sloane Street, Chelsea, with whom I stayed for some considerable time. Buckingham Palace, where his royal highness the Duke of York resided, I assisted in making the alterations—in taking down a wall, and putting up iron palisadings, which extended from the gate of St. James’s Park up to the Duke of Leinster’s. After that work was completed I went to Windsor Castle—twenty-one miles from London—and also worked at the Castle, which, at that time, was undergoing repairs. During the winter season, his majesty would reside in the Park. He used to drive into the Castle at various times, generally before our dinner-time, to inspect the works going on the Castle. Our employment was not very severe; our wages were very low, being only thirteen shillings per week for laboring men; tradesmen of different descriptions at twenty-four shillings per week. After the alterations, which lasted about twelve months, I returned to London, and got into employment with my old employer. I proceeded to St. Catherine’s docks, and was working there as a navvy; I was one of the first six employed in taking in the leaden gutters from the roof of St. Catherine’s Church; where the church formerly stood is, now, as near as I can say, the centre part of the Company’s docks. Mr. Burgess was the first contractor, and after his failure, Mr. Robert Banks, of Blackwall, took up the contract. At various times I used to leave the work in order to attain better employment, if possible. I went to the London Bridge pile-driving before a stone was laid; we worked shifts six hours per day, and six hours per night; the night-work was very severe, and we had to be very careful not to touch any drink, on account of the danger of the work, especially in the lower dams. We generally used to drive one pile every six hours, each pile being twenty-three feet long, for which we got paid at the rate of one shilling and three half-pennies per foot; that had to be divided amongst four of us, who worked at the crane. It was very dangerous working in the lower dams, as we had only two nine-inch planks to walk upon, and about every ten feet there was an upright, with a rope attached to it, to enable us to descend to the bottom in safety. During the time of my working there I saw many men meet with their deaths by falling over. 20

I began to grow tired owing to the disagreeable employment. I went one hundred and fifty miles from London to Stonehouse, near Plymouth, were there was a new reservoir to be excavated. I got employment there. I worked at it until it was completed, which was in about six months. I then returned to London, where I got employed by Mr. Grundy, stonemason, Horseferry-road, he having a contract under Government for some stone work at the New Parliament Houses. I worked for him up to the year 1826. His Royal Highness the Duke of York died in the month of December in that year, and lay in state for three weeks at Buckingham Palace. The public were admitted to see the remains. He was taken in January, 1827, to Windsor Castle to be interred with the rest of the Royal Family. The funeral cortege extended 10 miles from Hyde Park corner to Hounslow. The corpse was moved on as follows to Stanford Bridge, three miles from Hounslow. I witnessed the Life Guards, cloaked up, standing holding their horses under the bridge, waiting for orders to take possession of the corpse from the Oxford Blues. The corpse remained two hours owing to the severity of the weather, it snowing heavily all the time they were proceeding from London. After the two hours had elapsed they pushed forward eight miles further to Windsor. I did not witness anything more, but returned to London; during that day going and returning in all 26 miles.

I went a few miles from London, as I heard that there were men wanted at Old Forge-cut, Stratford, to form a basis for barges to come in and unload from the Thames. I worked in and there about as a general laborer at anything I could turn my hand to up to the year 1830, when I heard there were men wanted at Chatham to go out to the Brazils; but when I reached Chatham, I went to the parties who were enquiring for men. When I entered the room, I asked particulars as to what we might be required for. They told me that I was to go out to the Brazils or elsewhere. I told them it was to fight for Donna Maria, the young Queen of Portugal. They observed that I had been in the British army, and they told me that it was correct what I had stated; they said they would allow me more pay, but I was to keep my own counsel; they also told me that if I could obtain any men for them they would make me an allowance of so much for each man. The men whom I engaged I used to tell that they would all be made officers and gentlemen of. After we had mustered about 200 men, we were despatched off to London, in which place we took our residence on the Isle of Dogs, opposite to the Greenwich Hospital, where we lay for further orders. We understood there was a troop barque ship fitting up in the river in order to take us out to Portugal. We had first rate rations served out to us daily, and the balance of our pay paid to us every afternoon. We amused ourselves daily by walking up and down the river 21 side like half-pay officers. After laying there for about a month, the Government learned that we were there for the purpose of going out to Portugal, we were given to understand that we had a good many deserters from the British Army who had deserted on purpose to join us, as our pay was more than they were getting in the British service by sixpence a day. We were not attested men, as we were going out as volunteers. The Government sent the police down to despatch us from the Isle of Dogs, so we were all sent about our business. I was going about London some few weeks; as the winter was approaching I could not get any employment. I was several nights that I had no shelter, having to walk the streets all night, and sometimes nothing whatever in the shape of food. Sometimes I heard there was a place erected for the poor to shelter themselves from the inclemency of the weather. I went to one of these places, where I obtained shelter as well as some food, consisting of a bit of bread and cheese, with a half-pint of cold ale to drink with it. It reminded me something of a rendezvous, with a bit of straw to lay on, and an old covering to keep you warm. I had several times a mind to return back again to Frome to my friends, but I took a second consideration on the subject as the winter was approaching I thought I would take pot luck for it to remain in London till something might turn up. One day I was going over Westminster Bridge to go to some of my old employers in Westminster to see if I could get any work. In passing over the bridge I met with two gentlemen; they made hold to stop me. They asked me if I was not one of the men that was going out to Portugal. I told them that I was one of them, he gave me a half-crown, and told me to meet him at the same place on the following day. Accordingly I proceeded on after wishing them good bye. I went into a leg of beef soup shop to get a feed, and I took a famous good tightener. I had enough left out of my half-crown to pay for my bed and my breakfast in the morning. I thought I was once more all right. According to the orders I had received from the two gentlemen I met them on the bridge according to appointment. They told me that they were going to erect another establishment in Great Windmill street, at the top of the Haymarket, and would I come to get my name enrolled. I told them I would. Accordingly they gave me another half-crown, so I then considered I was a made up gentleman. All at once I went at the time appointed to Great Windmill street. There I found that I had been correctly informed by the gentlemen. I went into the apartment where several gentlemen were. They took my name down, and told me they were very glad to see me as I was a Waterloo man. I had my pay given out to me at the rate of 1s. 6d. per day, and to attend each day at eleven o’clock in the forenoon. In the course of a fortnight we collected about 200 men. On going there the 22 last day to receive our pay as usual, when we had orders to attend all hands at 4 o’clock in the evening. About dusk after we all mustered we were drafted off in different parties under the care of a steady man to each party to convey us down to Vauxhall. There we were put in different barges to float down during the night to Gravesend. On our way down there was bread and cheese served out, but as I had taken a good feed throughout, I thought I did not require any as I had a comfortable seat on the starboard side of the boat I thought if I got up to look after bread and cheese I should not find my seat again. We arrived off Gravesend at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, when we were all put on board of a troop barque. We had orders to all keep below in the day time and to come up at night when we could walk about all night if we chose. We lay there 2 days and part of 2 nights, when we weighed anchor and made for the downs.

We passed through the Downs with the whole of his Majesty (George IV.’s) fleet present that day in the Deal Downs, in two nights and one day. Owing to the weather being very severe, we came in sight of Spithead. We dropped anchor, and lay till further orders. After lying there two days, we weighed anchor and proceeded on our destination. On the 20th November we set sail, and arrived off Flushing on the 23rd December. We lay in Brest, part of the township of Flushing; took Christmas dinner on the 25th; and, on the 26th, we had a grand “spree”—“Sheevo,” we call it; we had lots of fiddling and dancing. On the 27th we weighed anchor to depart from that place. As we were about making our way, there were two Dutch gunboats placed alongside of us to prevent our landing or moving without leave, as they believed we were spies. The Belgians were at war at this time (1830). There was a letter sent from the captain of the ship to the commandant of the town, to inform him that we were British subjects going out to fight for the young Queen Donna Maria, Queen of Portugal. An answer came from the commandant to the captain of the said Edward, barque, troop-ship, that we might go out of the river, which we did, and put round to the bay of Belle Isle, in the South of France, where the whole of the squadron lay at anchorage. The admiral, on the quarter-deck, called out, “Ship a-hoy;” on the third day after our coming out of the river he wished to know what ship it was; the reply was given that it was the Edward, barque, troop-ship. He asked how many men on board; the reply was, 199. He said, “Why not bring another man to make up 200?” We shortly afterwards heaved up alongside the Reine de Portugal, which was the Admiral’s ship. We went on board, fifty of us, to do duty as marines; fifty went on board of the Congress, man-of-war; fifty on board of the Donna Maria, and forty-nine on the Juno. We lay at anchor in the Bay of Belle Isle, as did the whole of the squadron, brigs, schooners and corvettes, all sorts of 23 twenty-gun brigs, &c. Our paymaster came out from home to pay us some back money due to us, and, when we got our two months’ pay, all our British subjects of blue jackets and marines had leave for forty-eight hours to go on shore. Five of my mess-mates and myself went into a brandy shop to “wet our whistles,” where we drank half-a-dozen bottles of brandy; and then proceeded up the town to see what was going on. We called in to take a little drop more, as we fancied we stood very much in need of it, when the gens d’armes, discovering us rolling about, rolled up towards us; thought of taking us into custody, but, as we were not so easily frightened, we set on them and knocked them both up and down; and down it was with many a one. They called a French regiment out of barracks to quiet us, but we set to and beat them back into the barracks. The Commandant of the town sent a letter to the Admiral of the ship for them to bring the marines and seamen on board; but the Admiral would not hear of any such thing; he said he had given them leave for forty-eight hours to spend their money, and they were not to be molested either by the soldiers or the gens d’armes, unless they were outrageous to the inhabitants of the town; and, if he did not like that, he would call them all in and pour a broadside on the town. After that they let us alone, and we were masters of the town. When our leave was up we went to the different boats to put off to our respective ships. Major Lanson was on the gangway, looking over into the boats, when I was coming up the side; he called out, “What kind of a spree, soldier, had you on shore?” I said, “A pretty gone one, sir. We should have had a better one if we had not been molested by the gens d’armes and the soldiers.” He said, “It was all fair to get rid of your money; you will have another one by-and-bye.” I replied, “Yes, sir; and you along with me on the field of battle.” After a few days we cruised off the Island of Madeira. We fell in company one day with a man-of-war up to the starboard side of the vessel, and a twenty-gun brig on the larboard. The Admiral called out to the gunner, “Get the Salamanders ready.” They were accordingly put into the blacksmith’s hands to put them into the fire, and get them ready for action. Accordingly we sailed in midships, the twenty gun brig on the larboard and a man-of-war on the starboard. The drum beat to arms. For my own part I was not fond of going aloft; I got into the long boat over the main hatch, and there I remained till further orders. The Admiral called out to the gunner to fire No. 6 gun on the starboard side of the man-of-war, but she never returned a shot. A shot from No. 6 gun was fired at the brig from the larboard quarter, but she did not return the compliment. The two boats were lowered, the pinnace and the long boat, and a portion of blue jackets and marines jumped into it, under the instructions of an officer of each boat, and went off to the man-of-war and to 24 the gun brig. The man-of-war on the starboard was a French vessel, and, we were not at war with France at this time; so we let her go, as we were bound down to keep the peace twenty-one years after the battle of Waterloo, and only fifteen years had elapsed. But the brig on the larboard was a prize, loaded with arms and ammunition going out to Don Miguel’s party; she was brought in and towed aft of the Admiral’s ship; the men were brought on board and put into irons, and also the captain of the ship, whom I witnessed on his knees on the quarter-deck, praying forgiveness; he agreed to do duty on board the Reine de Portugal, the Admiral’s ship; the seamen were allowed to work on board the Reine, according to their respective abilities. They were well contented to go into the Queen’s service under the control of Admiral Sartonis. Some time after, while cruising off the Island of Madeira, we fell in company with a privateer, and gave chase to her: for part of two nights and a day we just kept in sight of her, until the sea rose, and in the storm, on the evening of the third day, we lost sight of her. At this time I was mixing the grog with my brother, who was a non-commissioned officer. As the grog was issued out a very heavy squall came over, and, the ports being all open, we shipped water very fast. Before the guns could be got in and the ports shut we were shipping water at the rate of a ton per minute. The carpenter being down in the hold, called out that the water was gaining on us; the Portuguese pilot on board told the Admiral that he had better lighten the ship by throwing over some of the guns, as there was every probability of the ship sinking before morning. The Admiral was very angry with the pilot for saying so, and told him that we were all British subjects on board, and in no way frightened.

During the watch from eight to twelve I could scarcely keep my legs to go round and put the men on sentry. There was one man who gave me a great deal of trouble to put him into the nettings to keep a look-out for ships for one hour. I was keenly running after him on the main deck, when my foot struck against a ring bolt, which had the effect of precipitating me into the gun-deck, a distance of nearly ten feet. I was very much hurt; I was taken up, and had sixteen ounces of blood let from me. But I was not fit for duty for three or four days. However, as soon as I was on my first night watch, I caught the man who caused my misfortune, and had the satisfaction of giving him four hours in the nettings. At twelve o’clock the watch accompanied me round the decks again, when we released the man in the nettings, and the watch went below. Shortly after I got below there was an order for Corporal Knight to appear on deck, to which I immediately responded. The officer of the watch asked me why I kept the man for four hours in the nettings. I replied that I preferred that way of punishing him to reporting him and perhaps getting 25 him flogged; also that I considered him the cause of my getting hurt by falling down the hatchway. He objected, and said that I ought at once to have reported the disobedience. He asked me how I came to put him there for four hours. I told him I had put him there for my own pleasure, as he was the cause of my having the fall. I said, “Sir, I did not wish to make a report to the Admiral, to cause him to be brought on the gratings. I would not have the ill-will of the ship’s company to say I was the cause of a man’s being flogged.” “Put him four hours more for my pleasure,” said he; “and give him the early watch from 12 p.m. till 4 a.m.”

After we had cruised for some time about the Island of Terceira, we put in at Nangaros, a seaport town, and landed the marines on shore. We marched to Prior, three leagues (nine miles), and took up our position in a convent, and did duty till further orders. We usually turned out at half-past four in the morning, before the great heat of the day came on, and marched on to the common, where we used to go through our discipline. We drilled the awkward hands of the recruits about two hours each morning, and generally returned about seven for breakfast. We had nothing to do until the following morning. Our parading duty was very moderate.

Our rations were “Buckelow salt fish,” and cob corn bread. But we did not understand this kind of food; so the men lifted up the windows and threw the provisions in the road: they had got into a rebellious state. The colonel, being informed of it, came down to the Convent, and ordered the bugler of the guard to sound, “Turn out the whole.” We formed companies; the colonel ordered the captains of companies to form a solid square, the colonel being inside. He said that owing to our rude character he would punish us. As soon as the word had passed by him, the men called out, one and all, that “they were not men sworn in like British subjects, but that they came out as volunteers to fight for the Queen of Portugal, and expected they should be treated like soldiers.” All through the battalion, one and all shouted, “Hear, hear.” The colonel replied, “Well, my men, I consider you are loyal subjects;” and intimated that it was no wish of his that the men should live in that way; and if we would put up with it for a few days he would write to the Admiral to send us ship rations, as there was nothing on the island that we could discover. In a short time, beef, pork, and biscuits were sent from the squadron, so then we lived very well. There was plenty of wine on the island, of which each man had a pint a day, and a gill of aquadent. We used to follow on then with a good heart to parade, as usual, and go through our discipline. We carried that on for two months, when Don Pedro came on the island, with a portion of his staff, to view the British battalion. When we went through our movements on a field-day he was 26 quite delighted. Soon after, we had orders to march back to the respective Convents where we lay. The colonel ordered the battalion to get an extra allowance that day.

The paymaster came from out from home to pay us some back money that was owing to us, so that there was a captain of each company to go down to the paymaster’s residence to give in the strength of the company; and I being very intimate with the captain, whose name was Shaw, he told me to bring two men with me up to the captain’s quarters, and from there we removed off to the paymaster’s residence. The captain had orders from the paymaster to take one bag of dollars—out of ten. Our pay at this time was two pounds five shillings per month; he ordered me to name the men to pack up the dollars, and bring them on with them; I named one of the men to lift them, who said they were so heavy he could not get them on his shoulder; I said to the next man, “You try them,” and he could not lift them. The captain said, “Hey, mon, what, canna twa strong able men like you lift them small bags of dollars up?” He then said, “Knight, you try them;” I caught hold of them, and had very great difficulty in getting them on my shoulder, so the captain told me to proceed with them. I carried them about two hundred yards, and put them on a wall off my shoulder. “Now,” I said, “you carry them in your turns, each of you, but mind and put them so as another can get them.” So they brought them into the captain’s quarters, and, by the captain’s orders, put them off their shoulders in the captain’s apartment, when he said, “That will do, you can go to your convent.” I was going along with them, and he said, “Stop, Knight;” so I stopped with the captain, and fell into some conversation with him about the British service of Waterloo, etc. He belonged to the same brigade with me; I did not know him at the time; I formerly belonged to the ninety-fifth rifles, and he was in the fifty-second light infantry. After some short time, I asked him when he was going to serve the companies’ money out; he replied not before Monday, as it was Saturday when he got the money from the paymaster; he said, if he was to serve the money out, he should not have a soldier of his company out on parade, as the colonel used to read the service on Sundays at the drum head. I said, “Very well, sir,” and was about making my departure when he called me back, and said, “Here are two dollars for you, keep your own counsel; if the sergeant of the company should ask you any questions as to when the captain was going to serve out the pay, tell them on Monday, for, if he served it out to-day, he would not get any man to attend church parade.”

As I was going through the town, after leaving the captain’s residence, I called into a wine shop and drank a glass of wine; when I arrived at the convent, the sergeant of the companies came about me to know when the captain was going to serve out the pay; I said he had given me instructions to inform them it would 27 be on Monday; so they rested in quiet and contentment. In the afternoon the bugler sounded the non-commissioned officers’ call, and the sergeants of companies had orders to go to the quarter-master’s stores, and to bring the ornaments from the stores to the different companies. The sergeant of the company I belonged to, which was the light company, brought green wings to put on the jackets, and also the grenadiers with white wings, and the other eight battalion companies brought small brass plates, of a horseshoe shape; I did not know much about wings in those days, although belonging to the rifles, but we all had to appear on church parade with our different ornaments on the shoulders of our jackets, so the tailors of the different companies were ordered to get them on as quickly as they could, or any handy men that could use their needle. I had not been used to any such thing in the rifles, and I said to a man in the grenadiers, that if he would comb my wings out, and dress them nicely, I would pay him well for it. As I knew him I took him down into the town and gave him a glass of wine; we seldom had a glass of wine without having the full measure, which was a pint, for three halfpence—he was very thankful. I said, “I will give you a quarter of a dollar if you will dress them nicely.” He replied that he would; I remarked, I “may as well pay you while I am here.” I expected to have found my jacket in the morning in the place where I usually hang it up, on a peg over my bed, but when I took my jacket down in the morning to clean it to go on parade, I found the wings as rough as they were when they were served out. The scamp had got drunk, and neglected combing my wings out, and the only part of my dress looking bad on account of the wings being rough and not combed out; I thought I would have two or three extra guards given me that day, as the colonel used to inspect the battalion when the line had to be formed, for the rear rank to step back two paces for inspection order by the colonel. At the very last minute or two, in turning out, I wetted a brush to lay the nap down, and went on parade; I was the right hand man in the light company. The captain came on parade to inspect the company; he looked at my wings, but said nothing. The colonel came on parade, and he called out for the battalion to form line; after we had formed line, he called out for rear rank inspection order, and then came over to inspect the light company. He looked very hard at me at the time, I was alarmed about my wings looking so ill; I said to myself, “I will get two or three extra guards.” The colonel asked the captain, “What kind of a soldier is this on the right of your company?” The captain gave me an excellent character, and the colonel replied that he had often witnessed me coming through the town, and that I had paid him all military honours. He added, “I appoint him as corporal;” so, in the room of getting two or three extra guards, as I thought I should, I was lucky enough to get made full corporal. 28 On church parade, after the services had been preached by the colonel, he dismissed the battalion, and we went into our respective quarters. In the afternoon, the companies’ call was sounded for sergeants of each company to go to the order room to receive orders. In bringing the orders from the orderly room, the sergeant came into my room and said to his brother sergeant, “Who do you think is made corporal of our company to-day?” he could not tell; the other said, “Thomas Knight.” “Well,” he said, “a man very well fitted for it, and well disciplined in the service, and also bears a good name and excellent character.” I went to the tailor’s shop to get the stripes on, it was the Monday morning following—after I had got my stripes on, I went to parade as usual. Shortly after that, we had orders to march to Nangaros, a seaport town in the Western Islands, and to embark on board of a squadron. All the soldiers, according to the different positions they were in, took up their former position under the care of their officers. Captain Charles Shaw, of my company, acquainted me that we were expecting to land at St. Michael’s, to go through a field-day along with the other regiments. Accordingly, we all landed, and went through a field-day there. The British were very much noticed that day by the inhabitants of the town.

After seven hours under a broiling sun, and the field-day was over, we had an excellent allowance served out to us; and then we returned on board our respective ships. In the evening, after we had joined our ships, we went out in search of the enemy’s squadron, as we had heard the Don Juan was not many leagues from us; and, having a good fine wind, the Admiral ordered all sail to be extended, so we went about thirteen knots an hour. After we had been running about sixteen hours, we had as foul a wind as we had had fair, and never got sight of her during the period I was on board. We put back into our old position, beat up and down the coast, and came into Vigo Bay on Sunday, the 8th of July, 1831. The Admiral gave orders for the Union Jack to be placed on shore, to see if anyone would meddle with it. It was on the beach, and the wind blowing it to its full extent, during the whole of Sunday; but no one came to meddle with it.

On Monday, the 9th, we landed from the Squadron 12,000 men. Captain Shaw, of the Light Company of the British Battalion, learned that the Admiral had to keep us on board to do duty as marines; he gave orders to the company for all to be ready to jump into the boats when they lowered; once into the boat, they would be obliged to let us go on shore. So we all jumped into the different boats to land. There was plenty of swearing, roaring, and laughing, on our landing, coming off to the beach side, as there was, at this time, a very rough surf on the sea. As the boats were running in, one man, standing forward on the gunwale of the boat, was afraid to jump; I pushed him 29 aside, telling him to let me pass. I waited my opportunity for the boats going up on the beach, gave a jump, and cleared it very well, about knee deep in water. The man just behind me, whom I had before put aside, jumped immediately after me, and in he went right up to his chin; he spluttered out mightily, “Arrah, man, I am drowned!” I was standing on the beach, laughing at him. “Come on, man, you’re not half drowned.”

During the time of our landing, the cavalry of the enemy came out of the wood, and rode down on the beach to cut off our landing. When they were within about a hundred and fifty yards from the beach, coming down over the rocks, the ships fired a few rounds over our heads, and sent the cavalry to the rightabout. A portion of them retired back into the wood. As our battalion formed on the top of the rocks, convenient to the wood, Colonel Hodges called out, “I will give eight dollars to whoever can get me a mule.” But no mule was to be found, till we saw one that a countryman was riding up a lane; we seized him and his mule, and gave the mule to the Colonel.

The whole of our army lay extended along the top of the rocks, some distance up abreast of the wood, where the General gave orders to the troops to remain till further orders. When the British battalion was ordered to take the advanced post and proceed into the wood, the Light Company had orders to take the advance of the battalion about four or five hundred yards, and there to lay during the night to keep a sharp look-out. I was called upon to take six men in advance of the company about three or four hundred yards, to take up a good position, and place a sentinel on each side of the road. I was fortunate enough in the position, and stood so that I could discover a small paddock dividing the two woods, in which I placed one man behind a tree. I told him to keep a sharp look-out, and if anyone was seen advancing towards him, to let him come just near enough to make sure of a shot, and then return to where I was lying with the other four men. I placed another man on the left of the road, and gave him proper notice. The man on the right was very timorous; and as I was leaning my elbow on a wall, watching his movements, he was turning his head in every direction as if the devil was alongside of him. I discovered him coming away from his post, so I cocked my musket as he advanced towards me, and I had twenty minds to shoot him. I asked him what was the matter with him. He said, “There is a man in the wood.” “Why not shoot him?” I asked. “I did not like until I saw you,” he replied. So, with musket cocked, I accompanied him back to his post, and said, “Now, you stand there until your time is up; if you offer to run away any more, I will put a ball through you.” “Will you?” he exclaimed. “You may depend on it,” I answered; “because you put all our lives in danger by leaving your post exposed.” Poor fellow! it was a new kind of 30 work to him; and before two hours elapsed he was turning his head in every direction again, as if the devil was still alongside of him. I went over to the man on the left side of the road, who was a staunch one; he called out three times, “Hold! Who comes there?” “Corporal,” I answered. “Advance, Corporal, and all’s well!” cried he. “Have you seen anything to-night since you have been on sentry?;” His name was Witney. “I have seen nothing,” he replied; “I want a shot so bad, I would fire at an old woman if she came in my way.” Shortly after I came back to where my other four men were lying, I warned two men—the next for duty—to go down and relieve those two men. I went over to the right, as usual, to relieve the soldier and to put another in his place; he stood behind a tree, and made no reply as to who was coming. I brought him with me to go over to relieve Witney, and we came back into the road where I had taken up my position.

As near as I could say, the time of night was about twelve o’clock, when the captain of my company advanced towards me “privately.” I challenged him in the usual practice in the British army; he answered the challenge. I said, “Advance, all’s well.” He asked, “Corporal, have you seen anything in the wood?” I answered, “No, I have not seen anything worse than myself.” “I have had an interview with the colonel,” he said, “who said he heard that the army was going to advance.” Shortly after, we heard the enemy was very strong, and had taken up their position in a village in front of us, something about four miles. The army advanced and the British battalion took the lead of the brigades; I was ordered to take the advance with the six men for that distance, viz., four miles. We came into the village, and found it was a false report. There was no enemy whatever there.

We lay neutral until the day approached. I thought to myself I would try to get something to drink, and also some provisions for my haversack; so as to enable me to be strong and long-winded. I got into a house and I thought I heard a noise. I kept my musket ready cocked to shoot the first that might oppose me. Some time after, I found it was some of my own fellows on the same errand as myself, coming up to see what they could lay hands on. I saw an old Portuguese person, about eighty years of age; and I asked him could he fill my canteen (in the Portuguese language) with good wine, and he complied with my request. After I had got my canteen filled, I was fortunate enough to fall in with half a loaf of bread. I went through into a garden, and I shook off a few figs from a tree. In coming back into the yard belonging to the house, I discovered three Portuguese cavalry in the yard. They called out to me, in broken English, “Englishman, Englishman, love wine!” I asked, “Would they have any?” “No, get from old man.” I accordingly 31 went out of the yard and proceeded up the road, and I discovered, over a middling high wall, two very beautiful young ladies; they spoke to me in a little broken English, saying that we were going to fight with Don Miguel’s army to-morrow. They asked me if I would accept of a drop of wine; I replied that I had enough, but was very much obliged to them. They then asked me if I would take any grapes; I answered that I would, so they gave me a few very large bunches of grapes. I kindly thanked them, and wished them good-bye. We shortly afterwards had daylight sufficiently clear to see what we were about.

The army advanced at the dawn of the day to storm the town of Oporto; the British were kept back that day, to bring up all stragglers over brooks, hills, rivers, &c. We were under a broiling sun; it was on Tuesday, the 10th of July, 1831, when we came up in sight of Oporto. The signal was made from the squadron that went round the bay and over the bar, and passed the falls of Lordella, close to the river Doura. When the shipping came up abreast of the township, there was very little to oppose them; the army pushed forward, and took the town without exchanging a shot. We then marched through the town with colours flying, and instruments of the different regiments playing gaily; we came down to the Arsenal Square, and there we formed close columns, and lay there till further orders. I said to my next man, “I will have a glass of wine, as we have taken Oporto.” Captain Shaw coming round, and seeing me drinking, said, I was showing a bad example to the men, but, notwithstanding, I went through my degrees of finishing what I had in the glass (which was a pint one). In the course of the afternoon, about four o’clock, as we had been in close column about four hours, the British had orders to proceed to the convent of St. Lazarus, and there to remain till further orders. We occupied one part of the convent, and the old invalids of the monks (about two hundred of them) occupied the other part; they were supposed to be all in number previous to the time of our taking the town about one thousand one hundred of them, of which about nine hundred disappeared to fight in Don Miguel’s service. We occupied the apartments in the convent in which they had formerly lived; the French regiment occupied another place, at the top part of a street, called Rutendemoza, at the opposite side of the town; and the regiments of the line in and out round about Oporto—the Tachedores lay in another part of the town. There were five regiments of them; as riflemen, they had the skull and marrow bone on their shakos; they were called “Death or Glory,” and were very intimate with the British subjects.

During our stay in Oporto, when at various times we had a combat with the enemy, we went on the Velonga, in the Cassemere road, under an expectation to fall in with the enemy at three leagues distance, but when we came there they retreated to Pennyfields. 32 We were fortunate enough in the morning to fall in with fifty mules loaded with bread to take into the town of Oporto. We proceeded on to Pennyfields, and in the three days’ march towards that place, under a broiling sun, and everything poisoned before us by the enemy, we came into a village two days’ march from Velonga, a distance of ten leagues (thirty miles). On the third day I was appointed to guard the colours, along with my brother non-commission officers; the ensign fell from fatigue, and the oldest sergeant in the regiment took the colours, and so on, according to the period of their service. I was appointed (being the oldest corporal) to take the colours, and carried them about a quarter of a mile; I was getting over a low wall and fell across the wall with the colours, my head on one side and my feet on the other. I lay for some time quite exhausted, never expecting to get up any more. After lying there for some considerable time, I tried to rise. I got up on my knees and fell back again; however, I recovered myself after a short period, and saw an old Portuguese Paysanne, or peasant. I called out to him in Portuguese, as well as I could, and asked him to get me a canteen of water; he did so, and I thanked him in the Portuguese language. I took a hearty good drink of it, and was very much revived, and able to get upon my legs. I went about three hundred yards and discovered another corporal; I called out to him, but he made no reply. I went over to see what was the matter with him, and found he was lying in the same position I had been; I gave him a good drink of water, and he recovered. I got him on his legs, and we both went along together, almost reeling from weakness. I discovered about two hundred yards to the right, a great quantity of soldiers dressed in scarlet; I went over to them to see what they were, and found them to be a portion of our battalion lying dead on the ground, forty-four in number. I could not tell or discover who they were, from their being so much distorted by the poison they had drunk in the water. Some of them I could see were belonging to my own company, and some were grenadiers and battalion companies. I came over to my brother corporal and acquainted him with what I had witnessed; he asked, “Don’t you know any of their names?” I replied that I did not, for they were so much disfigured; he said, “Go back again, and the first man you come to, look at his haversack.” This was done that one man should not rob another; the first man I came to was a man of my own company, he was lying on his back. I turned him on his face and discovered on his haversack, “Richard Ovenden, light company;” “Poor Dick! you’ll never play the fiddle any more!” He used to amuse us at Oporto by playing the fiddle of an evening; I came back to my brother corporal, and told him that Richard Ovenden, of the light company, was the first man I discovered. We went on together, and I observed a sergeant a short distance from the road, leaning up against a wall, with his fusee 33 on his arm; I found he was quite dead and stiff, and the wall supporting him; I took hold of him and put him under the wall. We advanced a little further, and I saw two tailors belonging to the battalion company, one by the name of Pearce, and the other name was Robinson—they had died together, hand in hand; we went on a little further, and I discovered a great number of men of all regiments lying round big waterholes, all poisoned—as many as two or three hundred. It was a very shocking and sickening sight to see so many brave men sent to their long account in such a dreadful manner. Our troops at the time had captured the town, and we got into it more dead than alive. The first gentleman I saw was Captain Shaw, captain of my company (light company); he came up to me and shook hands with me, he was very glad to see me; he heard I was dead under the hill, and I said, “I heard you were dead, too, captain.” There were orders issued for the men not to take too much wine or provisions, as, from being without food some time, it was feared it might have a bad effect. The cavalry had orders to keep their horses closely fastened, so that they might be ready at any moment, as we were laying during the night under expectation of the enemy reinforcing troops from Lisbon. They came up early on the following morning with a reinforcement; our spies came galloping into town, and acquainted the general that commanded the whole of the army (Soldano, a gentleman of Oporto), that they were about twenty-seven thousand strong, and we at the same time were from seven thousand to eight thousand. We were ordered to retire back to Oporto, and as fast as possible we occupied a hill in front, and the enemy in the rear, coming up about a league distance, where we arrived on the second evening. They brought all their reinforcements up to the town of Oporto, and were determined to take the town, if possible; and as they came on the hard roads and across the fields, the orders were that the officer of the outlying duty was to touch the train in order to blow up the road, and the enemy with it. It was reported that there were as many as three thousand blown up by the trains. The guns from the batteries commenced full play on the enemy’s columns, supposed to be about three hours’ engagement. When it came to nightfall the enemy had lost about seven thousand troops; they beat the retreat during the night, so that we heard no more of them. We marched back to the convent, the British battalion at Oporto, and lay there till further orders.

On the 22nd of July we proceeded out on the Cashmere Road, to Velonga. About three days after marching to the left of the Velonga Road (from four in the morning till about twelve), the great heat had completely knocked us up. But I, not quite so bad as the rest, had to draw the companies’ rations of bread and beef; after placing them under a hedge, I told the men to fall to. They said, “Too tired, corporal; could not eat a bit.” “As you 34 please about that; but if you don’t, I’ll make free with your share.” I then cut off a thumping beef steak, thinking I might have some hard work in the course of the day; I cooked it nicely, with the gravy in it, to make me strong and long-winded. But I might have saved myself the trouble; we soon had orders to retire back to Oporto.

One of our sergeants, not having a shot at the enemy, fired at a donkey near the road; the men were quizzing him, and I asked him what was his object for firing at the donkey; he told me to mind my own business. As we were under the retreat to Oporto, one of our men had unfortunately got drunk when near the enemy. The sergeant, who had been firing at the donkey, said he would report the circumstance to the colonel, and the man told the sergeant to mind his own business,—as he had told Corporal Knight before. We were still on our way to Oporto. The sergeant, being on the face of the hill when we halted, fired a shot down among the men. The colonel came galloping down off the hill on his mule, and asked whose piece went off. The men informed the colonel that it was Sergeant Evans’, who had been squabbling with the men, and had got very angry: he had fired a shot among the privates, luckily without doing any harm. The colonel ordered him to strip off his belts and to consider himself as a prisoner; the corporal and four men were ordered to take him on the advance; I was appointed to take him on. The colonel also ordered his arms to be pinioned back by his canteen straps, and that he was to be marched off. I took him on for about three miles: he begged hard that I would loosen the straps round his arms: I said, “I should not much mind, but you might try to bolt; and, if you were not to come back, I should send a messenger after you and order my four men to do the same. If I killed you, or winged you, they would ask me what business I had to let you loose. So, safe bind, safe find: as I have got you I will keep you.” He wanted me to let him walk free with us, but I told him to take it just as easy as he could. I lodged him in the guard-house at Oporto. He was never tried, but shipped off to England soon after, as a bad character.

We used to be originally turned out all hours of a night, and formed close columns in the town, in the Arsenal Square, and there we lay till the day approached. We would have orders from the colonels of regiments to march to our respective convents, and to lay till further orders. On the 22nd July we received orders to go out to a small village about three leagues from Oporto, having heard the enemy had been there; when we came there they were as far to our right. We took up our position there, and remained for four hours, during which period there was an order from the Colonel for a non-commissioned officer of companies to bring up a portion of the men for the purpose of bringing down the companies’ rations. I took four men with me. 35 While bringing the rations into camp, they asked me what they were to do with them. I told them to throw them down there, and let those that liked come and cut them up; but they replied that they were not hungry. I said, “If you don’t, I will.” Accordingly I fell to eating, and very much I enjoyed it.

We heard the enemy had come back to Velonga, and we proceeded on our way to fall in with them. The Tachedores at this time had a strong engagement with them. When we came up to their assistance they were being driven up to the top part of the town, where we were coming in. We opened a smart fire on them, killing and wounding a great many of them; we kept it up for about seven hours, and took a great many field pieces of artillery, and a gun belonging to them, in the top part of the town, which carried a ninety-two pound shot, drawn by twelve working bullocks; after which, they retired and crossed the river at Ponto Ferrado.

The British lay in camp, and on the following morning advanced, and met with the enemy at Ponto Ferrado. We crossed the river up to about our middles. The enemy occupied the hill in front of us. We had about 23,000 men. It being a windy day, the colours were extended to their full size. They brought the guns to bear upon us, and our brigade of 2,000 charged to take possession of the guns. It was supposed that we lost about 1,700 men of the brigade in a very few minutes. The General was very much blamed, from what we could understand, for bringing these men into action before the others had arrived. Shortly after, the right wing of the army came over the bridge, some little way down the river, and, coming round on the back of the enemy, took possession of the artillery, spiked their guns, dismounted them from their carriages, and the whole of our army took the hill to scour the troops off. A few out-skirmishers, under the command of an officer, were beating back skirmishers. Ours were about thirty in number; fifteen out of the thirty were French volunteers. We kept the enemy moving pretty smartly, especially the skirmishers. After going for nearly half a mile, there was, rather at an incline and some little distance from the hill, a big gully in front of us. I looked over into the gully and saw a troop of cavalry belonging to the enemy; they were dismounted, holding their bridle-reins in their hands, waiting for orders to mount. I remarked to Mr. Burton, the officer, “Dangerous route to go any further, sir.” “How so, corporal?” he asked. I replied, “There is a troop of cavalry down there, right before us.” He said he could not discover them; we spoke in a very low voice, in order that the enemy’s cavalry should not hear us. “You come and look over my shoulder,” I said. When he did so, he discovered them, and gave orders to retire to where we had taken the brigade. 36

Before we arrived at the place where the guns had been taken possession of, the cavalry had come over the hill out of the gully to cut off our retreat. There was a Frenchman before me, just on the right; our great coats incommoded him in horse collar fashion; he had undone the strap to get it off his shoulder; he was all of a tremble and so much confused that he could not get it off, when he looked round at me and called out for me to pull it off his shoulder. As I was passing him by, I caught hold of it; and in pulling, as I thought, to pull it off, I pulled him on the broad of his back. I had no time to look about me; the cavalry were just behind charging us sword in hand. Shortly before they got up to us I told the officer to give command, and he asked, “What am I to do, corporal?” I answered, “There is no time for squabbling in words.” I told the men to form a rallying square, fifteen in kneeling position, and fifteen firing over them. They charged right up to us; and one great long soldier reached over his holster pipes, and just cut the top of my eye with his sword. We shot down about seventeen over their holster pipes; they turned their horses heads about to retire, and I jumped off, front rank kneeling, and ordered the men to form line and charge; the enemy had not proceeded far before they turned round their horses’ heads to have another turn at us. I said, “Form square.” So we formed square, and peppered a few more of them down. After the third time, they set off, leaving us master of the field. They shot four of us, and wounded three. I then proceeded on the way up to where we had captured the artillery. Major Lanson came off the hill and called out to me, “Corporal, you had a sharp attack with the cavalry;” as they had possession of the hill and had driven the enemy off. He said he had been looking at me during the time; and the colonel made the observation at the time, that the corporal had shown them gallant play. He asked, “What was Burton up to?” I replied, “I was not looking after him, but for my own safety, and also that of my men, as I was well disciplined for the field. The officer was outside of the square, and wanted me to let him come in; I told the men to keep close, and he rolled himself under the bayonets for protection.” Major Lanson said he was very thirsty, and asked if I had a drop of water in my canteen. I replied that I had. He asked, “Will you give me a drop?” “By all means,” I replied; he stooped down and took a drink, and was very thankful; he asked me if I would take a little spirits out of his flask, of which I was very glad. I returned the compliment; so we remained during the day.

Night came on: we formed camp inside a low wall on a gentleman’s estate; there we lay during the night, chopping down the trees, and anything we could come at, to make fires. We shortly afterwards rolled ourselves up in our coverings; I looked round about me, and discovered some of the French bringing legs and 37 shins of beef over the wall; I jumped up to go and see if I could not get hold of something too, and when I arrived at the place where the cavalry had been bothering us through the day, the French were cutting up the horses to bring into camp to cook. I pulled out my knife, and cut about half-a-dozen pounds off a rump of a nice young horse; I brought it into camp, and took my ramrod out, which made me a very good skewer. After I had riddled it on the ramrod, toasted it on the fire. Some of the young officers lying round the fire, yawned out, “Who’s that cooking beef steaks on the fire?” the soldier replied, “It is Corporal Knight.” “Where did he get beefsteaks to-night?” they asked, as the commissaries were not up. I said that I was roasting some horse flesh. “Have you ventured upon eating horse flesh, corporal?” I replied, “I had better eat that than none; I am cooking it nicely with the gravy in it to make me strong and long winded.” They said, “We never did yet.” One of the officers asked me if I would give him a bit, which I did; as he was taking it off with his delicate finger and thumb, he put it between his grinders, and made a crack at it. He asked me if I would supply him with water. I told him if he would go to the river he could supply himself. After I had refreshed myself, I rolled myself up in my big coat and lay alongside of the fire. The quarter-master sergeant came round to know if any of the soldiers had any water in any of the canteens; I looked up at him, and asked him who it was that wanted water, he said, “Who is that speaking?” I said, “It is Corporal Knight;” he asked, “Have you any water, corporal, in your canteen?” I replied that I had, and was likely to keep it. He said, “I do not want it, but the colonel, who sent me round to know if you had any water.” I asked, “Where is the colonel lying?” “He is laying down under the wall, rolled up in his cloak:” I immediately jumped up, and proceeded with the quarter-master sergeant to where the colonel was laying; he observed us coming, and said, “Who is that coming?” “Quarter-master sergeant Sutherland, and Corporal Knight.” The colonel asked the quarter-master, “Has the corporal got any water in his canteen?” The quarter-master sergeant replied, “He has, but he would got give it up to me.” “He has done right enough, too,” said the colonel, and I pulled my canteen off the strap that was attached to it, and gave it to him; he drank heartily out of it, and was very thankful; I told him he was extremely welcome. I said, “Colonel, shall I get you a beefsteak for supper, as I have been taking a good supper off the same animal, off the rump of a nice young horse?” “No, never mind it, corporal, I can do very well to-night;” I said, “I will leave you the canteen, sir, to drink the remainder of the water.” He was very thankful; I wished him good night, and went back to my old residence to lie down by the fire.

I went down the following morning (the 24th July) to get 38 my canteen, and received it from the colonel. We fell into conversation respecting the cavalry which had been charging us the previous day, and he asked me what Mr Burton, the officer of the outlying picket, had been doing. My answer was that I was not studying him, but was looking after my own interest. Shortly afterwards, we all fell in, and the aide-de-camp came round to the colonel and told him that he was to march to Oporto. Accordingly we proceeded on our way back to Oporto about three miles, when the aide-de-camp came forward and told the colonel that the regiment was to halt; so we lay there for further orders, for about two hours. We heard the enemy was advancing on us, and very shortly after discovered about twenty bullock teams coming on the road from Oporto, with bread and wine to supply the troops. When they came up, the battalion was ordered by the colonel to get their rations; so we had two days’ wine, which was a quart (a pint per day), and also two pounds of bread. After we had refreshed ourselves, we were stronger and better able to attack the enemies that came up against us. The quarter-master sergeant called out for me, and I went up a little way where they were serving out the rations; he told me to give him my canteen, which I handed to him, and he filled it full of wine (three pints); he said that was an order from the colonel. We lay there but a very short time, when we proceeded on our way to Oporto, where we arrived just before nightfall, and marched, into the town with bugles playing and all the colours we had left flying; for they were tattered and torn with shot. The inhabitants of the town gave us a hearty cheer, and had pitchers of wine ready for us as we passed along and went into our old residence at the Convent of St. Lazarus, there to lie until further orders. I threw myself down to get a little sleep which was very much required.

Waking up in the morning, I was as hearty as a trout. After breakfast, the colonel’s orderly sergeant came round (the light company), and wanted to know where Corporal Knight was; he was taken to the room where I was lying in charge of twelve men; the sergeant told me the colonel wished to see me. I asked him if he knew what it was for, and he replied that he did not; but I put on my jacket and cap and went with him. When we came to the colonel’s quarters, the sergeant knocked at the door, which being opened the colonel told me to come in: so I sat down for a few minutes, and he entered into conversation with me; he then gave me ten dollars, and told me that would do; upon which I retired and went back to the convent. I have forgotten to make mention that I asked the colonel what the ten dollars were for; and he answered, “for the water I had given on the twenty-third evening of duty at Ponto Ferrado.” He said, “Corporal, you can now go and have a good “spree.” I went into the town and had a good “sheevo” during the night. 39

Some few days after, the inhabitants of the town made a collection among themselves, which amounted to ten dollars a man in the British battalion. They used generally to encourage us, by giving us ten dollars, to keep them out of the town. So the whole battalion had a good flare up for a night or two,—plenty of fiddling and dancing, which strongly reminded us of dear old England.

After all our money was spent we went back quietly to the convent. In about a fortnight after that our paymaster fortunately came out from home to pay us some back pay due to us (two months). Each soldier had £2 5s. per month; our pay was augmented to that of a British soldier; they received their two months’ money. My pay was fourpence a-day extra, which, amounting to ten shillings a-month, made it £5 10s. per two months. I had it paid to me in Spanish dollars, and I pushed off to the quay to have a “flare up.” In “flaring up” in the course of the night, I “flared down,” and measured my length on the ground, with a stone under my head for a pillow. When I woke up in the morning, the devil might have danced a hornpipe in my pocket; for my money was all gone, and my orders off my breast had followed my money. I said it was all fair in war, the scamps had cleaned me out. “I will be as keen as any other one to-night to look out to see what I can lay hold of.” So I pushed off to the convent, and I had a good sleep through the day, and I proceeded on the way down to the quay, where I found my comrades reeling about from side to side. I reeled up against one fellow, but he had not quite enough in his noddle box; I reeled up against another one, and down we went together; my hands were soon in his pockets, to make up for what I had lost the night before. I had a good “flare up” that night, and took great care I did not “flare down.”

In the morning there was a chap came up to me pulling such a long, wry face. I said to him, “Why so down in the mouth?” He answered, “Some one has been about me and stole all my money.” “The devil they did!” replied I; “it was only the night before they treated me in the same way.” “Well,” he says, “Corporal, let us keep a sharp look out, and, if I catch the scoundrel that treated me so, I’ll make his bones sore for a month.” But I, pitying the poor devil pulling such a long face, took him into a wine shop to give him a glass with his own money. I proceeded then to the convent, and kept myself all night.

I happened to be on guard a few days after this, and was sitting on a low wall opposite the guard room door, and a few soldiers along with me, it being night (somewhere near eleven o’clock), when the rounds came round the corner of a wall; I challenged and got no reply, only a “hoo, hoo;” I jumped off the wall to meet his approach with a lump of a stone in my hand, and hit him full in the face, which made him sing out for his great 40 grandfather. As soon as he came on the ground, I out with my bayonet and ran it into his neck. I told the men with me to lay hold of him by the hind legs, and to bring him on; they brought him down to the guard room, proceeding towards the kitchen, when the sergeant jumped up off the guard bed half asleep as he was, and asked, “What is the matter?” I replied, “You shall have your share when it is ready.” “You Corporal Knight,” said he, “you are a terrible fellow for looking after the pigs.” I answered, “That is what I principally hit on.” I told the men to drag him into the mess kitchen, and make a good fire under the copper to scald him. They complied with my orders, and I said, “Those who eat the most pork will eat the most bristles.” After the pig was got ready, I told them to shoulder the pot and march; they brought the pig into the guard room, and we all took a hearty meal off him. Nothing took place after that for some little time; being very badly off for rations, the colonel issued an order for a non-commissioned officer of a company to take a portion of men daily into the garden, so I called four men to bring their haversacks to proceed into the garden along with me; I went to the Monk’s kitchen door and knocked; he asked in the Portuguese language who was there; he opened the door and told me to come in, and I told the men to follow me. I went into the garden and told the men to fall to and get some vegetables; in the meantime I shook myself off a few figs. After they had supplied themselves with vegetables, I told them they could get a little fruit for themselves, but not to break or destroy the trees. When they had got a supply I told them to come on; accordingly we went into the kitchen, and I observed a pig’s cheek on the block, belonging to the monks; I called the cook, in order to take his attention off the block, and he came over to me; in the meantime I put my hand back as a signal to one of the men to carry away the pig’s cheek; as soon as I saw the pig’s cheek had disappeared from the block, I thought it was time for me to disappear also, so I said to the cook in Portuguese, “Adieu, signor;” he called me a very good man, and said there would be a good deal of heavy firing in a short time, and that the English soldiers were very good in the field.

After I departed from the convent, the pig’s cheek we had carried off and the vegetables in the garden soon disappeared also. But it was best of all when the pigs themselves made their way into the garden; and, not to touch those in the woods, or roads, as they did not seem half fond of the garden, we fell into the plan of driving them into the garden, and then falling upon them and killing them. The captain, on going his rounds the first evening, saw three lying dead in the kitchen, waiting for scalding. I told him not to be too particular about scalding them, for those that eat the most pork would eat the most bristles. Going his rounds the following evening, he saw six pigs, and he said, “The pigs are very 41 partial to the garden. Are you sure you found them all there?” No reply. “Who is butcher among you?” he asked. No reply yet. Seeing me sitting on the mess-room kitchen table, he asked me if I knew anything of the affair. I told him, “No; I had come in promiscuously to get a light of my cheroot.” He remarked, “I think you are one of the ringleaders.” He thought right enough, too. Notwithstanding all his sharpness, we managed to keep ourselves pretty well supplied with pork, and also to get a fair share of aquadente. In fact, we took everything we could possibly lay our hands on. We often turned out of the convent at night, at all hours, and formed close column in the Arsenal Square, there to lay till further orders, under expectation of the enemy, coming up to rescue the town from us. As the day approached, we would march back into the convent. Our rations were very scantily served out; there was scarcely a thing a dog or cat could eat but what was devoured by the soldiers. I had never ventured myself yet on eating dogs or cats. Going up a street called Rue Tendemdza, I met two lancers coming down the street, and they said to me, “Corporal, why so down in the mouth?” I said, “It would make anyone look down in the mouth to be starved as we were.” “Just come along with us; we have been cooking some mutton.” And they brought me into the Horse Barracks, and put some meat before me with some soup. I “progged” hold of a piece of meat with a fork, and lifted it up to my nose and smelt it. “Don’t tell me this is mutton,” I remarked, “it is part of an old tom cat.” “Taste it,” said he, “it will do you no harm. Here, I will show you how to eat;” and taking a leg he munched away at it like a Russian. Having seen this man eat the leg of the cat, and being moreover very hungry at the time, I took a mouthful or two but would not eat any more of it. I would rather have died with hunger. I was nearly choked all the day drinking water to take the dreadful taste out of my mouth. Some time afterwards, however, I was as keen as any one looking after the same animals; necessity compelled me to do so.

The cavalry had two or three horses that died with sheer hunger, as there was no forage to give them. The poor animals used to tremble at the water trough. I made a remark that if the enemy had known how we were situated they could very easily have taken the town from us. The inhabitants of the town were also starving. I have actually seen the cavalry scrape the meat off the dead horses’ bones. The cholera broke out (1832), and the inhabitants began to die off very fast. If the enemy had come against us with a reinforcement, they could have killed and destroyed us all; but it was fortunate for us poor soldiers that they did not know how we were situated. They lived first-rate themselves, but would allow nothing to reach us. We often used to make a sally to beat them back in order to get something to eat, if possible. We used sometimes to get rations served out that 42 were conveyed by the fleet whenever they had an opportunity of working the boats.

There was a 15-gun battery on the north side of the town, just at the entrance to the bar, coming into the river Douro. Our people formed a bridge of pontoons, and our army went over (about 6000) to beat back the enemy and rescue the battery. It was not very difficult to come at, and we took possession of the battery, and the guns were spiked and thrown off the carriages. We beat the enemy about two leagues to the rear, and marched back again into the town. We cut down the body of a soldier from off a tree on the breast of the town, which had been hanging there seven weeks, and buried him. As we often went down the river at low water mark, we supposed the enemy had got hold of the poor man.

We now had an excellent allowance served out by the admiral’s squadron, consisting of beef and biscuit, sometimes pork. Before we captured the battery, when conveying the boats in, they used to muffle the oars to prevent any noise being made by them, so as to do everything as secretly as possible; for they would have swamped us if they had heard any noise. We had very hard times of it.

On the seventeenth of August, I was ordered to take two invalids into the general hospital, and after giving them up to the doctor, I was returning to my residence: eight hundred men arrived a few days before, from Great Britain, called the British volunteers, under the command of Colonel Burrel. The men, who were drinking in the town, saw me passing, and called out to me to come and take a glass of wine. Accordingly I went in with them, and I stopped during the night; early on the following morning (the eighteenth), I heard a gun fire from the battery; they asked me what was the meaning of that gun firing. I told them I thought it was something going to turn up that day, and in a very short period. The battery guns were in full play, I shook hands with them, and made off to where our company lay; when I arrived, the captain asked me where I had been; I told him I had been to the general hospital with two invalids. He said, “Look sharp up into the room and get your accoutrements on,” but when I came into the room they were all taken away and put into the quarter-master’s stores; I came down and informed the captain, then ran over to the quarter-master’s stores, and looked about for my accoutrements, but could not discover them; I picked up an old kit of belts that had not had a bit of pipeclay on them for months; I lifted an old firelock and a bayonet, they were very rusty; I looked into the pouch to see if there was any ammunition, and found it was empty; I went over to the barrel where the ammunition was kept, and filled my pouch with sixty rounds, and forty in an old haversack I lifted; I then made my way out to the company as soon as I could. The battalion was all ready to march 43 off—we proceeded over a gully into the field of action, the battalion companies formed lines, and the light company in skirmishing order; the bugle sounded to commence fire, I primed, and found she was loaded, she flashed in the pan,—I tried her again, and she flashed in the pan again; I said to my next man, “Lend me your worm to draw the charge;” I stooped down behind a lot of stones, thinking I could not get shot while drawing the charge; I sprang the ramrod, and she was all right, I loaded her, and she flashed in the pan again; she was so foul that she would not go off; I lifted her by the muzzle, hit the butt of her on a rock, and broke her short in two, for I was so agitated, thinking I was not going to get a shot at the enemy. I advanced about three hundred yards, when I discovered three sergeants of the enemy lying dead; I lifted one of their fuzees, and tried her to see if she was loaded; she was discharged, but I soon charged her, and she went off most beautifully. I fired sixty-three rounds, and she did not miss fire once.

We beat the enemy back, and lay neutral on the ground, thinking a reinforcement would come up. After two hours they did so. We had a strong attack from them, and kept it up till sundown. Captain Shaw received a wound through both calves of his legs, which caused him to fall. He called out to me (I was not many yards from him) to take him to the rear, and I carried him about two or three hundred yards down under the hill, and put him into a quarry hole. “Hey, mon!” he cried, “ye going to leave me here?” He was a very heavy man. I told him that he was out of the way of the shots, and that I would send a muleteer (the first I could meet with) to carry him into the town. In going back to my company I met a muleteer going into the town for ammunition, and I pointed to the place where the captain lay. Shortly afterwards the enemy beat the retreat, we marched back into the town. We lost upwards of 300, killed and wounded. As I was going into the town, I was very desirous to look where the captain lay, and I observed that he was gone. We took up our old position, and there we lay till further orders.

On the 7th of September, the enemy had a reinforcement from Lisbon; and we had another attack from them, and bonfire convenient to the town. We kept up a strong fire, but were compelled to retreat, as our number was getting weak, and, coming into the town they could not get a sufficient supply of ammunition to keep the guns in full play. There were five regiments of Tachedores, brought from the Foise, placed there to keep that part of the town good. We beat the enemy back again to the lines. Some of the skirmishers belonging to the enemy went down through the gardens under the retreat; they had several walls to go over, which divided the gardens. There was a fellow just before me, getting over the wall, and I ran my bayonet into him to assist him over. He turned round, and said in Portuguese 44 language, that I was a good fellow, which was a hint for me to leave off pushing him with my bayonet. We kept it up till night. The enemy were supposed to have lost about 7000, and our side nearly 2000, from what I could understand.

There was a very old mansion belonging to a gentleman, nearly about the middle of where the action took place, with an immense draw-well erected, very much in the old English style, and a very large wheel for the water to be drawn up by a mule. The well ledge was thrown up, and the dead bodies cast into the well, in order to make a clearance.

On the 29th of September we had another general engagement. We turned out at the break of day, and had a great deal of very heavy firing. The Light Company was extended under a wall of the breastworks; and we kept up a strong fire for seven hours, never shifting our position. The Tachedores of the enemy were very numerous, and very close to us; if we had thrown a stone we could have struck them with it. Captain Mitchell had been speaking to me respecting the engagement; he was appointed from the colonel to take the command of the company, as the captain was not well enough to attend, owing to the wounds he had received through both calves of his legs. I fired sixty-three rounds, and, while loading the sixty-fourth, I got a severe wound through the groin. I fired the sixty-fourth round, but, while loading the sixty-fifth round, I felt quite exhausted, and fell up against the wall. The captain said, “You are wounded, Knight.” I hobbled away to the rear as well as I could. I had about half a mile to go. I was very much exhausted as I crawled, or rather hobbled, along on one leg, the other hanging down useless. On getting into the entrance of the town, I saw a troop of cavalry sitting on their horses—in a little lane off the main road. The officer rode over to me and said something in Portuguese that I did not understand. In the meantime, while I was sitting down talking to him as well as I could, a muleteer came along; the officer spoke to him, and he lifted me on a mule and took me to the General Hospital, where I lay seven hours during that day before the ball was extracted.

The doctor was with a man extracting a ball from his shoulder; the man said he was not able to go through the pain and punishment. With all the attendance of the doctor, he could not keep him steady, so as to extract the ball. The doctor had to leave him. I called out as well as I could for some one to come and attend on me; he came forward and turned the sheet off me, found where the ball was laying, and ordered four men to be in readiness to assist in keeping me down. I told him I did not require any holding at all, saying I was quite capable of undergoing the punishment. As I was propped up in the bed, the pillow being high, I could discover all he was doing. He made a cut of about an inch; the second time he cut the same, just as I began 45 to feel the effect of it; the third cut he made at me came on the ball; he put the instrument in and pulled it out; it was as flat as a penny piece, for it had struck against a rock before it had struck me. The instrument reached from one part to the other, right through my groin. As we were engaged that day we had blue cloth pantaloons on; and the doctor tried if any blue cloth had gone with the ball; but when he found the pantaloons were under my pillow, and that the piece had not been cut out by the ball, and that it lay down neutral after the ball had been extracted from me, I felt quite easy. My wounds were dressed on both sides with lint, and a bandage round to keep it on, so as to bring the discharge from it, every twenty-four hours. I lay in that awkward position for seven weeks before they put the regular dressing on me to heal the wounds.

I lay eleven weeks altogether in the general hospital, and was then removed to the regimental hospital appointed for the battalion. I was carried there by four men on a stretcher. They put me into the non-commissioned officers room, and there I remained for seven weeks.

The doctor came round the hospital and shook hands with the patients, informing us that he was about to go to Great Britain. He shook hands with me personally, and said, “I think you have received too severe a wound to recover; I do not think you will recover it.” We never saw anything of him after he left us; another doctor took his place. I said that I would be glad to see myself once more all right. The doctor allowed each sick individual four ounces of wine per day. In the course of a very short time after his departure I began to gather a little more strength.

The inhabitants of the town were very liberal in bringing us the best of nourishment, as they doted on the English, who were their chief support in protecting the town from the enemy.

There was a sergeant in the next bed to me, named Schofield, a grenadier sergeant; he often looked over to me and said, “How do you feel, corporal?” I told him I felt pretty middling at times. He asked me if I would take a drop of wine. I used to make the reply that I thought I could; and he would hand me a drop that often enabled me to have a sleep. At this time I was getting well round. When the bottle was empty, the sergeant managed to fill it again. I think the wine was my chief support. One day I hobbled out of the bed into the kitchen to take a smoke. I was quite unable to come up again, and I was helped up by two men belonging to the hospital. A few days afterwards I began to think I was capable of getting up, and the sergeant and myself used to walk together daily, for an hour or so, which I thought was a very great benefit to me; and by degrees I became quite capable of walking in the town. The little wine I took daily was the chief support I had. My wounds began to heal quickly, and soon I was able to leave the hospital. 46

The sergeant joined his company, and I was attached to the Scotch battalion, as I was incapable of doing service under the command of my old captain of the British battalion, Captain Shaw, then colonel of the Scottish brigade. I drew rations until further orders; we were then lying where the Scotch took up their position at Lord Della’s.

One morning I was toasting a piece of pork that had been served out to me in ship’s rations, with biscuit to catch the fat of the pork, when all of a sudden the enemy’s pickets reinforced and rode back the Scotch pickets. I jumped up—unable to run much as my sinews at the knees were very stiff—and hobbled away down the lane; the musketry and the big guns were in full play. Colonel Shaw coming up the lane on a mule, ordered the Scotch to come rightabout and charge the pickets of the enemy—I heard them clicking-clacking bayonets against bayonets; they kept up a sharp fire. The Scotch drove the enemy back to head quarters, where they lay for about a month.

There was nothing worth while speaking about after that took place; I retired to Oporto and drew my rations, as usual, from the commissary’s stores, and resided with the quarter-master in an apartment formerly belonging to the British battalion. I used to walk about Oporto, noticed by the inhabitants, having possession on my breast of the Craftic order, of the Town sword, and the Waterloo medal being very much noticed. I very often got gifts from them, and was very well supported; the quarter-master sergeant asked me one morning if I would be a servant to him; I replied, “By all means,” and there I remained until a passage was provided for me to go home to Great Britain. During the short period that I was servant to the quarter-master, I fell very ill, and had to be taken back to the hospital. Owing to the cholera having broken out, I lay some time in the hospital, my head was shaved, and I was fortunate enough to be placed in a bed near the door, where I had the benefit of the sweet air playing on me, it being very hot weather at the time. When I recovered I went out of the hospital and took up my old position along with the quarter-master I had been living with, who was very glad to see me.

Two young officers came one evening to visit the quarter-master, to appoint the time of what was to be done in regard to fighting a duel. The quarter-master had a room over the kitchen, and I was appointed to be in the kitchen. The quarter-master knocked his heels on the boards, which was a signal for me to come up; I was asked when I went up, to supply them with another bottle of wine from the stores, they drank till about twelve o’clock that night. When I took up the last bottle of wine, the two young officers in company with the quarter-master, said to him, “The corporal has been a fine soldier in the field, we have heard;” so they each presented me with a dollar. One gentleman was named Bulgar, and 47 the other Shadwick. The quarter-master told me that would do, and that I could retire. In retiring down into the kitchen, I heard some very heavy talking, as to appointing the place where they where to fight the following morning. I stopped on the stairs to listen to what was going on, and I heard they had arranged to go out at the dawn of day, about three o’clock in the morning, at the upper part of the town in a meadow. The master said to me, coming down to the kitchen after the officers retired, “You have no need to get up when you hear me get me up in the morning, as I am going on some little business.” I knew all about it, so I lay down for a short period, and kept myself awake for about two hours, when I heard the quarter-master coming down stairs; I never let on to make the least word, but soon slipped into the streets after him, hobbled along as well as I could, and kept him in view. It was very fortunate he did not discover me by looking back; I kept myself pretty well concealed by keeping close to the shadow of the houses, and I arrived at the top end of the town. There was a stone wall dividing the road from the paddock, and at the corner of the wall there was a house, I pulled my cap off, looked round the corner of the house, and discovered the three in company.

The quarter-master put them in proper position, back to back, and ordered them to step off, which they did, one going one way, and one the other, for a few paces; when the quarter-master cried out, “Hold!” “Half face to the right, going to the left!” then, “Present!” and he stood so that they could distinguish him. When he dropped the white handkerchief, they fired immediately, and one of them missed. Mr Shadwick wounded Bulgar in the side; he fell down; the other two ran up to his assistance, lifted him up, and took him down to his residence. I then retreated, not liking to wait any longer to see what was going on. I got back into the kitchen, and made some fire to get myself a cup of coffee. I took a smoke of my pipe, and about the hour of five o’clock, as near as I can say, the quarter-master came home and went to his room. I think he laid himself down and fell asleep for about two hours; as I did the same after taking a cup of coffee. I heard him making signals on the board; he wished me good morning, and I returned the salute. “Corporal!” said he, “bring me a cup of coffee.” He took his coffee, and then he had to get himself ready to go to the stores, at eight o’clock a.m., to serve out the rations to the soldiers. After the rations were all served out, he retired to his room and took his breakfast, after which he went out into the town. He told me he did not think he should be home to dinner. He came home in the evening, took a little refreshment, and shortly afterwards retired to bed.

The following morning, when he got up, he asked me if I knew the officers who had been in company with him the night before. I told him I did, Mr Bulgar and Mr Shadwick; he said that was 48 all correct, but that Mr Bulgar was sick, and had got leave from the colonel of the regiment to keep away from parade for a time. This was done in order that the regimental doctor should not know what had happened. The quarter-master asked me if I would attend to his apartments to give him a little hot water each morning I said I would by all means. I attended him every morning with whatever he required; he used to tell me to put it down and that would do. I attended on him several mornings, when I said, “Sir, you do not appear capable of dressing your wounds,” which were very slight flesh wounds. He looked at me very hard, and said, “do you know what is the matter with me?” I then told him all that had taken place, and that I had witnessed the whole of the affair. I said, “you were so grateful, sir, that I had pleasure in attending on you.” He remarked, “keep your own counsel, and do not relate it to any one.” I attended on him for nearly a month, when he became able to go on parade; and he rewarded me handsomely. I frequently saw them both in company afterwards, Mr Shadwick and Mr Bulgar; and they always greeted me, and often gave me the means to purchase a glass of wine. Some time in the early part of ’33, I went to Lord Dullah, two miles from Oporto, to see one of the officers named Captain Shaw, under whom I served when he commanded a British battalion, and who was then colonel of the Scotch brigade, to bid him farewell before my departure for Great Britain. In coming back from Lord Dullah, I fell in with barrack-master McCabe, who asked me if I had seen General Saldamia; he said he wanted to see him particularly. I told him I had not seen the general.

Whilst in conversation with him, concerning the various actions in which I had been engaged, he said, “you have been a very brave soldier in your time” (he was attached to the Rock Brigade) and told me that if I would call on him at his residence in Oporto, he would give me something, as he then knew me to be an invalid waiting for a passage home. I called at the place before my departure, and he told me that he had nothing to dispose of; so the Rock Brigade was none the better for me, nor me for them. I went for some short time to live with one of the old officers, quarter-master of the British battalion, and he offered me every assistance in his power. Previous to the time of my departure from Oporto, I witnessed some little affairs carried on with the enemy on the other side of the River Douro. Our troops had beaten the enemy back, about two leagues from Vellenevue. I often saw the enemy firing shells from their batteries when upon outlying picket duty, and a great many crossing the Douro in the night, as many as eight or ten in each party. As they had laid siege to the garrison for about two years, they did a deal of mischief by throwing shells into the town. I frequently heard the Portuguese people in the town calling out, when under fire, that the shells were “Grande 49 Diabolos,” or “Great devils.” There was scarcely a house in Oporto, but was perforated by shot or shell.

During the three years that I was in the service I could not relate to you every little incident that took place. Had it not been for the British subjects that went out to fight for Queen Donna Maria, and the French also, the town must have been taken by the troops of Don Miguel. The British subjects, as well as the French, were in a great state of starvation in the year ’32. Part of the time I was in the hospital from the wounds I received before Oporto, which had thoroughly disabled me from performing any other duty; and I wish to inform my Sydney readers that during the three years I was in the Portuguese service there did not occur much worth relating.

In my work published recently in England is contained a full and true account of the numerous affairs in which I was engaged, comprising my adventures both in the Portuguese and British service. This is a work I would advise all my friends to peruse; it contains 272 pages, which are fully illustrated in copper-plate, comprising among them two large drawings of the Battle of Waterloo; also one of the action of Ponte Ferrera, in Portugal. This book was published in the year 1834, and can at any time be had on application to the author of the present work, Corporal Knight; or by application to Mr. Murray, Charing Cross; or Effingham Wilson, Royal Exchange, London. The first edition sold rapidly, to the number of 750; as these books were well got up and most interesting, they readily sold at the sum of five shillings per volume. The first days’ sales were fifty volumes, and netted the sum of £12 10s.

I may remark that I left Spithead 20th November, 1830; and I left Oporto on the 20th November, 1833. I then went on board the Samuel, schooner, loaded with wine, and bound for Bristol. I heard the captain say to his mate, concerning my fellow passenger and myself, that one or two passengers would not cost him much for provisions on the passage. Overhearing this remark, I said to him, “Mind, captain, that I don’t astonish your provision chest, as I have been formerly a marine on board the squadron.” He replied, “I am glad to hear you speak so boldly, as I will be rejoiced in your continuing in good health.” During the voyage, one of the seamen having become unfit for duty, I told the skipper that I would do my utmost to supply his place on the passage. He thanked me, and gave me a complete sea rig-out, comprising purser’s jacket, trousers, and a sou’-wester. He said, “Put these on, and doff your military uniform, and then you will look something ship-shape.” I immediately complied by getting down the forecastle, and into my new kit as soon as possible. I packed up my regimentals and stowed them away in the bunk where I usually slept. The captain was mightily pleased to see me come up a perfect seaman, to all appearance at least. I then told him 50 he must excuse me going aloft, as the severity of my wounds prevented me doing so, but would do my utmost on deck. He was well satisfied with me, and, after a few days, we got into the skirts of the Bay of Biscay; our copper on the starboard quarter, containing rations for the ship’s company, during a stormy night, when the waves were actually running over the topmast, this unfortunate copper got loose and drove right across the main hatch and then into the sea. The captain then told the mate to batten down the hatchways, as there was a still worse squall to windward. I lashed myself to the pump. We soon after sprang a leak, and were nearly lost that night. The weather, however, moderated towards morning. The captain said to me, “You’re sticking fast enough to that pump.” I said I was, and told him I did so to make sure of seeing the old country once more, after all my hardships in foreign lands. After the squall was over, I continued at the pump—as we had sprung a leak. I pumped seven hours during the day, and had a glass of grog for every hour. The captain looked at me several times, and said, “Are you not getting tired?” I replied that I was, for my arms began to ache. “As we have lost our copper,” he says, “we must put up with what we have on board.” After we had got into the English Channel we had a very favorable wind, which carried us along in grand twig. When we came in sight of Holyhead a pilot came out with his men. They hove up alongside of us, and the pilot came on board, and conveyed the craft up the Pill. The captain said to me, “Corporal, you can change yourself now, and put on your own apparel.” Accordingly I went down into the forecastle; I dressed myself in uniform, and came on deck. The captain said, “You look a different man, corporal, to what you did some time ago. Get yourself ready to go on shore with me.” I asked him where he was going, and he said, “We are going seven miles overland to the ferry-boat leading into Bristol.” I asked, “Shall I call the other passenger, he is a sick man?” He replied, “No, let him stay there; he is unworthy much attention, as he did not try to assist when the ship was in great danger. I have £4 paid by the Portuguese Government for your passage to Bristol.” He gave it to me, saying, “you are well entitled to it; I will give you a little more when you come to Bristol.” We shortly afterwards went ashore in the boat, leaving the pilot in charge. We did not arrive in Bristol until two days, owing to the wind being so much against her. We proceeded on our way to Bristol, when the captain asked me if I would go into an hotel and take some refreshment; I replied, I would; he asked me what I would like, and I told him I should like a pint of English ale, as I had not drunk any such beverage for nearly three years. The ale took effect on me, more so than a gallon of wine. We then proceeded on our way two miles farther, until we came to the Ferry House Hotel; the captain and myself went into the hotel and took a glass each. On coming out, 51 he felt very sick, and told me the liquor had taken a very bad effect on him. I waited some little time until he was able to go with me. We then got into a boat and went over to Bristol. The captain brought me to his own house in Bristol: he was a married man, having a wife and family. He mentioned having been to sea seventeen years, but had never witnessed such a fearful sea before, as it was touch and go with us. I stayed with the captain at his own residence for two days. We went down to the quay side on the third day to see if she had come up, and the captain discovered her lying alongside of the wharf. I brought some things on shore with me that I had carried from Portugal. The captain and I went into a tavern on the quay-side, where there were a great many other captains of ships assembled. They said, “Captain Kelsey, what kind of a voyage had you?” “A very indifferent one,” replied he; they remarked, “You have brought a soldier home with you.” He said, “Yes, and a very clever man he is. We were in the height of danger in the Bay of Biscay, and one of the seamen fell sick, and he took the man’s place to do anything that might be required on the passage; money had been paid by the Portuguese authorities for his passage; and I have given it to him, for he was very well deserving of it.” “Very good, captain,” they observed, all being very well acquainted with him, “We shall all make him up a little more.” So, from the gentlemen present in the parlour of the hotel, I got five pounds subscribed. They said, as the weather was very cold, that would enable me to proceed on to London; and after the captain, myself, and the majority of the captains had taken farewell of each other, I proceeded to the captain’s residence, and the following day to London. I shook hands very heartily with the captain this morning, and thanked him for his kindness for all I had received; he said I was well entitled to it; so I took farewell of him.

In going up through Bristol I heard a fiddle playing in an hotel, I took a seat and called for something to drink; I kept up the “spree” for two days, when the devil might have danced a hornpipe in my pocket, for my money was all gone. I was prosing my head how to get to London, and thought to myself I would go down to the Portuguese Council Chambers to see the consul, as I had an order for forty-three pounds back payment at Cavenhill’s, Cornhill, agent to the Portuguese Government. I presented this order to the Portuguese consul to ask him if he would grant me a few pounds, and I would leave the order with him, and he could forward it to the agents in London. He said he could not do anything of that kind, but that, owing to my good conduct in the Portuguese service, during the period I was in it, and seeing what I had on my dress coat (which was the united order of the Tower and Sword), he gave me five pounds, saying it was a gift from his own private purse. I was extremely thankful to him, and I retired from his apartment. In going through the 52 hall, where there were a few gentlemen reading the newspapers, one of them asked me if I would please to stop; he asked me what regiment in the service I belonged to; I answered I formerly belonged to the ninety-fifth rifles; he asked me if I was in any engagements with them; I said I was in Holland under Sir Thomas Graham, and also General Adams at the battle of Waterloo. He said he knew them, and asked me several questions, which I answered. He asked me where I had gained the order of the United Sword, and I told him in the Portuguese service. He said he knew Portugal well, and added, “I am aware all you have told me is quite correct; I have been a colonel in the British army under Wellington;” he was satisfied, and asked me if I was going to London, I said, “Yes, sir.” He then gave me a letter of introduction to a gentleman in London. A good few gentlemen in the hall stopped reading their papers and gathered round me to hear what I had to say. The gentleman said to me, “Here is a trifle for you, to help you on to London,” and gave me a pound, and the rest of the company made me up four pounds more. I was very thankful to them all, and so I came out in flying colours, being a pound richer than when I first started.

I now proceeded on my way to London. When I came into Newbury, in Berkshire, I met with a recruiting party, beating up for recruits. The sergeant saw me going through the town, and called out to me to stop; he asked me what services I had been in; I told him I had been in Portugal of late, in the Queen’s service; and that I had formerly belonged to the 95th Rifles. He observed the medal on me, and asked me what brigade I belonged to; I told him the first brigade and second division, commanded by General Sir Frederick Adams. He then asked me if I knew what regiments belonged to the brigade; I told him the 52nd Light Infantry, the 71st Scotch, and the Rifles. He said, “I was in the 71st in the battle of Waterloo.” I observed the medal on his coat. I stopped with him two days; it did not cost me a farthing unless I wished. The sergeant was very partial to me, and wished me to enlist, but I did not comply with his wishes. During the two days I was with him and his recruiting party, he got me to go round the town with a drawn sword over my shoulder. When he pulled up at a tavern, and when the young men of the town would assemble round, he used to tell the inhabitants, pointing to me at the time, that I had been in the service and made an independency. I was the cause of picking up double the number of recruits that he could have got in any other way. I used to gammon the young countrymen they were all going to be made officers and gentlemen of, and they believed me. When I was about making my exit the third morning, he very kindly shook hands with me, and pressed me very hard to stay with him. “As you know a great many officers in the Portuguese service, I can recommend you to gentleman, a squire who lives about three 53 miles from town.” I should come to a gate leading to a park where the squire resided; so I walked boldly up through the park and up to the front door and rang the bell; a servant came out to ask me what I wanted, and I told him I wished to see the squire. When the squire came he asked me what I wanted with him; I said I knew the squire’s brother in Portugal (Colonel Bacon, colonel in the Lancers). He looked at me very hard, and asked me a great many questions respecting him; also if I had been in any engagements along with him at any time. I told him I had been in two general engagements in one brigade with him. He asked me what engagements they were, and I satisfied him. He then enquired if I knew the colonel personally; I said I did, having often had conversation with him about Great Britain. He next asked me if I knew anything that took place at Velonga, and what it was. I informed him that we had liberty to plunder the town for two hours after we had taken it; and that I went into a gentleman’s apartment in the township of Velonga, where I found the colonel, who said to me, “Soldier, what brings you here?” I answered, “My legs, Sir. I have come on the same errand as yourself.” “What is that?” he enquired. I told him it was to fill my pockets or haversack with whatever I could lay hold of. He said, “I did not ask you for that; but I wish to know what you have come after.” “Anything I can lay my hands on,” I replied, “But I am afraid, colonel, there is very little to be got in this room, for I believe you have got it all.” I went into another room as quick as I could, and picked up a very valuable article—a golden crucifix. The colonel coming into the room, I said, “I do not know, colonel, what you got in the other room, but look here what I have got!” So I held out my hand to show him my prize. He was going to take hold of it with his delicate thumb; but I cried out in Portuguese “Parer Poed!” that is in English, “Stop a bit.” After that we both hunted about the room, and then went into two or three more. I got pretty well enough to satisfy myself.

The squire was delighted to think I could give such an excellent account, and made me a present of five pounds. He then rang the bell, and the servant came up, whom he ordered to take me down and give me some refreshment. Afterwards I proceeded on my journey to London.

I met with nothing worthy of mention until I reached London. I found the gentleman out to whom the colonel, in Bristol, had recommended me. I was very well treated by him, and highly recommended by several gentlemen who had relations in the service I had been engaged in; and they were pleased to see me. I got a card of a gentleman’s address (Mr. Thomas Shaw, 16 Woburn Place, Russell-square.) I went to his house, and found him at his office; as I was going up the steps he observed me from the window making an advance towards the office. When I knocked at 54 the door he desired me to come in, and asked me my business. I told him I had been in Portugal with a brother of his, who ranked as Captain Charles Shaw, Captain of the Light Company, of the British battalion under Colonel Hodges; and that I had been corporal in his company for more than two years. In answer to his inquiry I told him my name was Thomas Knight. “Corporal Knight!” said he, looking at me very hard, and asking me a great many questions, which I answered. I mentioned that I had been out with his brother in the Portuguese service; the first time I met him was on board the ship going to Spithead. Mr. Shaw asked me if I would drink a glass of wine; and he ordered the man to bring up a bottle out of the cellar; he poured out a glass, and I drank to his health and to that of the gentlemen in company with him, and also to his absent brother, Brigadier-General Shaw, whom I had left in Portugal. He replied, “Bravo, Corporal!”

After some little time elapsed, Mr. Shaw brought me to the map he had in the office, and asked me if I understood it, I replied that I did. He then pointed his finger to a certain place on the map, and asked me if I knew its name. I answered that, it was a street called Rue Tendemoza. He pointed to another part of the map and asked if I knew what that was. I told him that was the convent of St. Lazarus. I then informed him I had brought his brother out of the field, when he was wounded, in three different engagements; and that the last wound he received to my knowledge was at Bomfine, on the 18th August 1832, where I saw him wounded by shot, in both calves of his legs. We held no farther conversation about him, as it was only on my own affairs. I told him I had been very severely wounded myself, and the captain wished me (if I felt inclined) to remain in the country until it was all over. We used to meet together in Oporto, and often have a chat together—he with crutches and me with a walking-stick to help me along; and that I was unfit for service, being very stiff-kneed. He asked me if I was anything of a scholar, I replied I was. He then said “I have thought of getting up some work to enable you to live during your old age.” He then handed me some sheets of foolscap paper and told me to write an account of my adventures.

He remarked that it would take too long for me to write it, and that he would instruct his clerk to write the account for me after office hours; so after a short time I went to the clerk (who was a short-hand writer), for eight or ten evenings for about three hours each evening, in a private apartment. After that period Mr. Shaw made me a present of five pounds, recommending me not to get tipsy, as he said soldiers were very apt to do so. I thanked him for his kindness, and assured him that I would profit by his good advice.

When I had completed my history he had 750 copies printed, which I sold about London; and now, many years after, I have 55 again had recourse to this method of earning a trifle to support myself, for at the present time my wants are not many, my means are equally small, and now that I am so old, being 73 years, I am quite unable to do any kind of work, and in closing this narrative must ask my kind readers not to criticise too closely my little book, for my hand is not so steady nor my head so clear as they were when I stood in the ranks, in the never to be forgotten battle of Waterloo!

In conclusion, I hope this account of my life and adventures may prove interesting to my readers, and that they may have the gratification of feeling that in buying my little book, they have contributed their mite towards smoothing the rough path of life of the declining days of one of the few still surviving veterans who fought for their country under Wellington.

Thomas Knight.

R. Bell, Printer, 97 Little Collins Street East, Melbourne.

Transcriber’s Note:

Page 4, “friends I had been living him,” changed to read “friends I had been living with,” as in the 1867 printing of this book.

Obvious printer errors corrected silently.

Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation are as in the original.