Page:A biographical dictionary of eminent Scotsmen, vol 6.djvu/263

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SIR JOHN MOORE. 57


(Jharmilly, with a demand, that before he commenced his proposed retreat, the said Frenchman should be examined before a council of war. To mark the opinion he entertained of Charmilly, Sir John Moore ordered the adjutant of the army to give him a written order to retire, and he requested Mr Frere, when he had such messages to deliver, to employ some other person, as he en- tertained a strong prejudice against all such characters ; otherwise he treated Mr Frere with the usual deference. Anxious to be useful to the cause of Spain, the British general wrote to the marquis de la Honiara, to suggest measures for their acting in concert, that they might, if possible, support Madrid. On the 7th, Sir John Moore was favoured with a most patriotic address from the Junta of Toledo, Avhich declared that the members of the Junta were determined to die in defence of their country. Pleased with this manifestation of public spirit, though it was only on paper, Sir John sent one of his officers to form with them a plan of defence for the city ; but, as the French approached, the Junta prudently retired, and the duke of Belluno took peaceable possession of the place. Nothing could be more hopeless than the condition of the Spaniards at this time. Bessieres was driving the wretched remains of the centre army, as it was called, on the road to Valencia ; Toledo was occupied by Belluno ; the duke of Dantzic, wilh a strong division was on the road for Badajos, with the design of seizing upon Lisbon or Cadiz. The duke of Treviso was proceeding against Saragossa. The duke of Dalmatia was preparing to enter Leon, and Bonaparte at Madrid was ready to second all their movements, together or separately, as events should require. It was in circumstances of which he was totally unaware, that Sir John Moore found himself called upon to commence active operations. He was necessarily prevented from advancing upon Madrid by the knowledge that the passes of Somosierra and Guadarama were in the hands of the French ; but, having ordered Sir David Baird to advance, he him- self moved forward to Toro, intending to unite with Sir David Baird at Valla* dolid. The object of this movement was to favour Madrid and Saragossa, by threatening to intercept the communication with France. On the 12lh, lord Paget, with the principal part of the cavalry, inarched from Toro to Tordesil- las ; while brigadier-general Stuart, commanding the 18th and king's German dragoons, was moving from Arevolo. In his march, general Stuart, with a party of the 18th dragoons, surprised a party of French cavalry and infantry in the village of Reveda, and killed or made prisoners the whole detachment. This was the first encounter of the French and British in Spain, an earnest of what was yet to be there achieved by British skill and British valour. On the 14th, the head quarters of the army were at Aloejos, when, by an intercepted despatch, Sir John Moore was put in possession of the real state of affairs, with the objects which Bonaparte had in view, by despatching after him the duke of Dalmatia, with whom he was already almost in contact This intelligence de- termined the general, instead of going on to Valladolid, as was intended, to face about, and hasten to unite himself with the part of his army which was un- der Sir David Baird, and, if possible, to surprise the duke of Dalmatia at Sal- danha before he should be further reinforced. Writing of his intended junction with Sir David Baird, to lord Castlereagh on the 16th, he adds, " If then mar- shal Soult is so good as to approach us, we shall be much obliged to him ; but if not we shall march towards him. It will be very agreeable to give a wipe to such a corps, although, wilh respect to the cause generally, it will probably have no effect, Spain being in the state described in Berthier's letter. She has made no efforts for herself; ours came too late, and cannot, at any rate, be suf- ficient"

The armies were now near one another, The patrols of the cavalry reached