Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/262

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.


formed there, in case this army should be obliged to fall back ; perhaps the same should be done at Elvas. In this case, we might check the progress of the enemy whilst the stores were embarking, and arrangements were made for taking off the army. Beyond this, the defence of Lisbon, or of Portugal, should not be thought of."

The news of Castanos being defeated having reached him on the 2Sth of November, he determined to fall back upon Portugal, and sent orders for general Hope to join him by forced marches, and for Sir David Baird to re- treat upon Corunna; desiring the latter, however, to send back his stores, and keep his design, and the fact of his retreat, as much out of view as possible. He wrote to lord Castlereagh on the 29th, that he had so done, and requesting that transports might be sent to the Tagus to receive the troops, as he was still of opinion that Portugal was not defensible by a British army. On the 5th of December, he wrote again to his lordship, that the junction of general Hope had been secured, and that Bonaparte had directed his whole force upon Madrid, in consequence of which he hoped to reach Portugal unmolested. The idea of a retreat, however, was exceedingly disagreeable to the army, and in this letter Sir John Moore gives his reasons for adopting such a measure at con- siderable length, and seems extremely anxious to justify it. He did not pro- pose, however, wholly to desert the Spaniards ; but he thought they might be aided upon some other point, and for this cause had ordered Sir David Baird to sail with his troops to meet the remainder of the army at the mouth of the Tagus, if he did not receive other orders from England. He had also written a long letter of the same kind, on the 1st of December, to Sir Charles Stuart at Madrid, in which he also requests that some money might be sent him from that place. " Such," says he " is our want of it, that if it can be got at a hundred per cent., we must have it; do, therefore, if possible, send me some at any rate." To this letter Sir John Moore received an answer, soften- ing down the defeat of Castanos, which was followed by a requisition on the part of the Junta, military and civil, of all the united authorities of the kingdom, that he would move forward to the defence of Madrid, which was threatened by the enemy, and preparing to make the most de- termined defence. This was seconded by Mr Frere, the British, resident, and by another person who had been an eye-witness of the extraordinary effer- vescence at Madrid. Sir John Moore, in consequence of this, on the 5th of December, the same day that he had written to lord Castlereagh, ordered Sir David Baird to suspend his inarch, and determined to wait in the position he occupied till he should see further into the matter, and afterwards to be guided by circumstances. Sir David luckily had proceeded but a little way back, so that little time was lost General Hope had brought up his division close to Salamanca, which made the little army complete, having both cavalry and ar- tillery ; and by a single movement to the left, Sir John Moore could make his junction with Sir David Baird a matter of certainty. Madrid, however, had capitulated on the third of the month, and was in the hands of the enemy two days before Sir John Moore had resolved to countermand the retreat. The in- telligence upon which he had acted was, in fact, void of any real foundation; and the prince of Castlefranco, and his excellency, Don Thomas Morla, had al- ready commenced a treaty for delivering up Madrid to the French, when they signed the pressing requisition of the Junta to him to hasten to its relief. Mr Frere, too, the dupe of his own warm fancy, or of the interested representations of the feeble but sanguine spirits who at this time held the government of Spain, was weak enough to assist this imposture, and to take the most unwar- rantable liberties. He sent to Sir John Moore a flippant Frenchman, named