Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/259

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SIR JOHN MOORE.


formed, that he would find sixty or seventy thousand men, assembled under Blake and Roniana, in the Asturias and Galicia, ready to act along with him. These were stated to be independent of the armies in the front and on the left flank of the French position ; the latter of which, under the command of the marquis De Castanos, was supposed to be numerous, and well appointed. The enthusiasm of the Spaniards in defence of their national independence, was also stated to be such, that it would be utterly impossible for a French army to enter the defiles of the Asturias, without being cut ofF by the armed peasants alone.

All these flattering representations the British general soon found to be ut- terly destitute of foundation. In marching through Portugal, he was hardly treated with civility, and everything furnished to him by the authorities was charged at a high price. Specie, in Britain, was at the time not to be ob- tained, and not only government bills, but even promissory notes, were refused, which subjected the army to great inconvenience, and much extra expense. The ignorance, too, of the Portuguese, was so extreme, that the state of the roads could not be ascertained, but by sending British officers, stage by stage, a-head of the advancing columns. With all these disadvantages, however, the general and a part of the army reached Almeida on the 8th of November. The weather was exceedingly rainy, but the troops moved on, and hitherto had conducted themselves with a propriety and moderation which surprised the in- habitants. Here, however, it was found that some soldiers had committed sev- eral serious crimes, and it being judged necessary that a signal example should be made to prevent their recurrence, one of the most notorious offenders was put to death. The general orders on this occasion, we lay before the reader, as illustrative of the highly dignified and amiable character of Sir John Moore.

" Nothing could be more pleasing to the commander of the forces, than to show mercy to a soldier of good character, who had been led inadvertently to commit a crime ; but he should consider himself neglectful of his duty, if, from ill-judged lenity, he pardoned deliberate villany.

" The crime committed by the prisoner now under sentence, is of this nature; and there is nothing in his private character or conduct, which could give the least hope of his amendment, were he pardoned. He must, therefore, suffer the awful punishment to which he has been condemned. The commander of the forces trusts that the troops he commands, will seldom oblige him to resort to punishments of this kind ; and such is his opinion of British soldiers, that he is convinced they will not, if the officers do their duty, and pay them proper attention. He, however, takes this opportunity to declare to the army, that he is determined to show no mercy to plunderers and marauders, or, in other words, to thieves and villains. The army is sent by England to aid and support the Spanish nation, not to plunder and rob its inhabitants ; and soldiers, who so far forget what is due to their own honour, and the honour of their country, as to commit such acts, shall be delivered over to justice. The military law must take its course, and the punishment it awards shall be inflicted."

On the llth of November, the advanced guard crossed a rivulet, which divides Portugal from Spain, and marched to Ciudad Rodrigo, the governor of which met the British general two miles from the city. A salute was fired from the ramparts, and the general was afterwards hospitably entertained in the principal house in the town. The state of' the country, and the manners of the people, they found here to be remarkably changed, and the change highly to the ad- vantage of Spain. At Ciudad Rodrigo they were received by the people with shouts of " Viva los Ingleses." On the 13th, Sir John Moore arrived at Sala- manca, where he halted to concentrate his forces ; Burgos, the place appointed for that purpose, being already occupied by the French. On his arrival at