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Operations of Sir David Baird's Division:
Department was landed and set to work, stables were provided for the horses of the army, and as the horse transports were wanted in England, the horses were landed.
Some confusiou arose respecting the issue of provisions and forage; the orders from the Supreme Junta directing the nation to provide the British troops with whatever they might need, and the Junta at Corunna gave every demonstration of readiness to meet the wishes of their superiors; notwithstanding which, the issue of provisions and forage was tedious and inconvenient.
A change now took place in the cantonments, and the army were directed to commence disembarkation. The light brigade was lauded and commenced their march the next day for Batanzos on their way to Astorga, which place was destined for their cantonments. During the time delayed for certain arrangements, orders were issued for the officers
pigeons. The partridge is larger and more beautiful than the English partridge, but the hares are very similar to ours.
The generality of the roads in Galicia are remarkably good, which may be owing in some measure to the mode of transplanting heavy goods, being chiefly on mules. A few ill-constructed carts are employed, drawn by two small bullocks, driven, or rather led, by a stout man, who, walking in front of the aniinals, leads them witle a halter from the head of each; he has a stick with a small spike at the extremity to goad them occasionally. This vehicle being extremely low, narrow, and clumsy, will carry but from six to eight hundred weight; and as the Spaniards have no idca of greasing the axletree, when loaded they send forth a horrible noise. The cart requires five hours to travel three leagues, or something more than two miles. The mode of conveyance for travellers is by post, in exactly the same kind of vehicle as represented in Gil Blas, viz. a carriage similar to a one-horse chaise covered in, with a platform behind for trunks. It is drawn by one mule in the shafts, and another on the leader, on which a man rides. The trappings and barness are chiefly made of cords, with leather ornaments and belts. This machine proceeds about four miles in an hour. A single traveller may bire a mule for him.self, which will carry him and his portmanteau. The man to whom the mule belongs will rau before, at the same rate of four miles an hour, but all is tedious and ioconvenient. The Spanish stable is a room in the house, with a sort of manger, badly constructed. The cavalry barracks at Coranna are large rooms, forming two sides of a parallelogram, very incouveaient, and excepting a few for officers horses, bave no rack or manger. la general, these stables have three or four stone steps to ascend to them.
Corunna is proverbially called the fountain of Galicia ; St. Jago the fountain of - Spain.
The road froin Corunna to Carrol exhibits a bare country, few trees, but here and there a chesaut orchard, and one or two stunted oaks. The little land that bears any appearance of cultivation is a wretched proof of the state of agriculture in Galicia. On quittiog Carrol the road is a gentle ascent for some miles, on the right of which is a valley somewhat superiorly cultivated, with a river running through the centre, and one or two better houses, with rather more woud around. The Lombarily poplars and ash are here and there observed, amongst a few oaks and chesnuts. The best dwelling house appeared to consist of a tarm-louse and
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
to purchase mules for the conveyance of baggage, which, by His Majesty's orders, was directed to weigh according to rank, and consequently that there was a general hue and cry for mules. The Spaniards soon understood this, and the price of those animals trebled. For a remedy, the Commander-in-Chief directed the Deputy CommissaryGeneral to send out people to purchase mules; but these gentlemen failed; and after the officers had received a further order not to purchase, they were again ordered to obtain them immediately, and one hundred dollars was the extent of the price fised upon. The subaltern officers, received three pounds fifteen shillings, or something less, as bát and forage money, which was to enable them to purchase mules, consequently they could not pay the price required for even the worst kind, and much distress was tlie result. The contracts made for forage opened a door for royuery; the rye of the country is ipfiuitely cheaper than
will, with a tolerable garden and orchard. The cottages are very indifferent, having no chimney; the smoke, when they do light a fire, penetrates through all parts of the roof. They have little or no furuiture; and pigs, which are certainly of the largest and best proportioned kind, with the mules, &c., are inmates of the cottage. Every thing but the Lugo bear strong marks of extreme poverty, filth, and disgust.
On leaving the vale, the country loses at once all appearance of cultivation, and exhibits barren heath, interspersed with broom and furze. The road is a continuation of hills till you reach Ordenes. The troops which -rested there, on their march, found no one thing to refresh them after their fatigue.
The roads froin St. Jago to Lugo are certainly extremely bad, narrow, and rocky;. frequently so deep and hilly, that a horse can with difficulty keep bis fouting; and even the little heavy clumsy cart can get along but a mile in an hour.
, The country from St. Jago to Sobrado is a continuance of hill and dale; very little fertilization, and scarcely an appearance of a live animal. Heath and furze area the only coverings in this bleak part of the country. Houses, or rather huts, thinly scattered, and the people who inhabit them a set of miserable clothed mountaineers, though both men and women are stronly limbed. Half way between St. Jago and Lugo is an astonishing large convent of friars, which was liberally thrown open for the reception of the British colomn. At this place the officers and mer were accommodated with comfortable lodgings, and a table was prepared for the former, consisting of savory Spanish dishes, and tolerable wine. This religious bouse consists of three very large quadrangles of two stories, with double rows of piazzas. There are commodious lodging rooms in part of this immense pile of stone buildings. It has been building eight years, and is not at present half finished. Tbe original edifice, with a most costly and wonderfully well finished chapel, the Monks describe to have been built one thousand years. The chapel is, in the interior, infinitely superior to any building in that part of Spain ; the most striking effect to a stranger on entering it is the altar piece. The altar is advanced from the window, and througla the arch openings is seen the sun in full splendour, painted on the glass. There are two large rooms, the roofs of which are dooms of stone, but of very light and beautiful architecture, and at least a dozen altar pieces, that are highly gilded and painted, particularly the Passion of our Saviour in basse relievo. All the tigures are naked, excepting the Holy Virgin and her sister, who are dressed in brocade gowns, and have gold ear-rings. The couveut bas gardene' about it, and a paddock of Go acres, surrounded by a very high wall. The garden Operations of General Baird's Division.
than the barley, and the contract was for the latter, if it could be procured. A pretence was very soon made that it could not be obtained, and many horses died from the want of it.
The Guards and another brigade had now marched for St. Jago. It seems they were to make three stages of this route, resting one night . at Carrol, a very filthy and small village; the second night at Ordenes, consisting of a church and three wretched farm-houses. These stages were about ten miles each ; the third, to St. Jago, is about eighteen · English miles. The conduct of the officers and soldiers of the Guards was highly to their credit from the time they disembarked; fewer excesses were committed by those men than in any regiment of similar . numbers, and their officers preferred sharing with them their quarters, than profiting by the billets offered them. Out of 2,500 men, when they
produces cabbages, and the paddock a kind of pasturage, but the church seems to occupy all their attention; in fact the rapacious jaws of the church devour every thing, and paralize all efforts of industry, whether manufactures or agriculture.
Leaving Sobrado, the country still continues to have a dreary aspect, till you reach Faodi, a miserable village half way to Lugo. Some officers were quartered at the only house, that had the appearance of a room, and that inhabited by people, mules, figs, and poultry, filthy and smoaky. The entrance to this room is through a hay-loft, and bad but one window with shutters, glass being a stranger to country houses. The owner was a lawyer, or scrivener, and the only man who could write. Like the country towns and villages in Great Britain, this limb of the law occupied the best house of the place; nor was he at all behind hand in his charges. Io short, the lawyer of Favoli is the lawyer of the world; only with one difference, this Mount-scrivener had neither peu, ink, or paper in his louse.
On quitting this place, the road continues as bad as heretofore, with the addition of some rocks and stones, which frequently oblige the horses to proceed with greaty caution. In approaching Lugy the country begios to assume a more fertile aspect, and presents a view of a fine river, whose banks are shaded with oak and chesnut. The oak trees in this part of the country are more numerous, and of a larger size, than those before mentioned. Several farm houses and home-stails, with plenty of cattle, agreeably surprised the troops.
Lugo is a town situated similarly to St. Albans, and about the same size. It is oppressed by having a great number of2 religious houses; there is a square, two sides of which have piazzas, and a cathedral, but if we except a sort of altar in the centre of a square place, over which is a dome, and a profusion of silver, there is nothing particularly striking; there are hot baths to 100 degrees of heat, built by the Romans, and which are effectual remedies for the rheumatism. Lugo is sur. rounded by a wall, said to have been built 300 years before Christ. It withstood all the attacks of the Moors, never having been taken by them. At present a small battery would soon shake it to pieces. The country from Lugo is hill and dale, some parts cultivated, but in general barren beatlı, and a few scattered houses. Half way to Villa França is a small village called Constantine, of the same description as those already mentioned. Villa França is a town less than Lugo, and contains little worthy of mention. The road from it to Bunbetri is very good, and the country exhibits variety of vine-yards, mountains, 'Woods, valleys and water. On the right of the road, about three leagues over a plain, and passing two villages with woods of oak, the land fertile, but covered with numerous large stones, is Ponteferado, a better built town than Villa França, but not quite so large; it is dirty and VOL. IV, No. 19,
Operations of General Baird's Division.
were put in motion, they only left twenty sick at Corunna. Other regiments, not half their numbers, left twice as many.
Whilst on their march, the inclemency of the weather obliged the troops to seek for shelter, and to effect this, many were obliged to proceed four and five miles further, with a miserable prospect of obtaining some kind of covering during a tempestuous night, and then not one thing prepared for them to eat or drink. The other regiments of the column suffered like distresses, which were certainly brought upon them from negligent conduct somewhere. The words of a distinguished Officer on this subject were as follows:—“I am not willing to fix blame so atrocious on any particular person. As far as one is able to judge, no blame can attach to the Lieutenant-General commauding, but, I beg to be silent respecting the heads of departments of the staff under bis com
ill paved; the inhabitants like those of the other places. Whilst our troops were tbere, snow covered the tops of the mountains, and altogether exhibited a fine wirter season. The river is shallow, but rapid, and runs on a rocky bed. From thence to Astorga the road is partly on the side of mountains. Astorga is a small clay built town, at the commencement of a plain, measurable with the eye. It is alike miser. ably poor; the inhabitants burn duug for fuel, and the country around, during the time the troops were there, was covered with fog.
The mode of living in Spain is certainly not congenial to that in this country. The first orders take in the morning, either in bed, or soon after they rise, chocolate, with cakes or bread, having first drank some cold water, which is always brought with the chocolate. They dine from eleven to two o'clock, seldom later. The dinner tables are about eight feet wide, and ten long, covered with one large table cloth, and a plateau is generally placed in the centre with figures in wax, and bottles of wine corked, placed round the brim of it. Bread covered with a napkin denotes the place of each of the party. The dinners consist of youps and a variety of dishes, which eucircle the plateau. Each person sitting opposite to a dish, whetber of meat, fish or vegetable, fills his own plate, carves the contents, and hands it round; so that during the whole time of dinner, if a large party, they are continually passing and repassing plates of different meats, &c. The Spaniards, who are great eaters, fill their plates with something of every sort which passes. Some of tbe dishes are palateable to Englishmen, but their meats are covered with oil and garlick. Their soups are good. The meat is generally boiled in large unshapen junks, or in pieces, and mixed with potatoes mashed with oil. The Spaniards rarely eat salt or pepper. They seldom úse a kuife, except in cutting up the contents of the dish next to them. A piece of bread and a fork answers their purpose as to what is in their own plates. The pastry is particularly good; the fish is a side dish. Generally after the soup are two disles, one of meat boiled, and boiled fowls together, and the other a sort of stew with sausages, of which garlick is a material ingredient; the vegetables are frequently mixed together.
Strangers eat and drink as they please ; no healths drank, &c. The deserts con. sist of apples, pears, chesnuts, walnuts, dates, prudes and olives. The cloth remains, but wapkins on each side of the plateau are taken off, before the desert is introduced.
There is not that reserve or respect observed by the servants who attend the table as in England. They laugh at a joke, set you right where they think you wrong, &c. &c. Both men and maid servants are dirty, slovenly, and awkward.
Operations of Sir David Baird's Division.
mand. Should this fine army, by the time of its arrival on the scene of action be reduced to one-lourth of its numbers, the system of employing boys at the heads of departments or regiments will be proved, and for which no excuse can be made. For my own part, I consider the life of our brave soldiers of too great an importance to be frittered away by youth, interest, ignorance, or folly.”
The troops were quartered at St. Jago, generally in convents, the officers billetted on private families. The novelty, or possibly a more honourable sentiment, induced the superior orders of the inhabitants to treat the strangers with great hospitality and kindness, loaded them sumptuously, and were disappointed when they found that delicacy prevented the officers living entirely with them. The lower orders, having a different conception of things, would have put two officers in one miserable bed in garrets, but a remedy was effected by a palace belonging to the Duke of - -, being opened for their convenience, and a suit of rooms anfurnished were allotted for the reception of officers, who gladly made their beds in their commodious apartments. The stables, which in England would be the cellars, were given up for the horses. A handsome saloon for a dress-room, &c. &c. The soldiers were lodged in the apartments of the convents of different orders of friars. Monks and military jumbled together, cordiality was maintained, and all seemed satisfied with their accommodations.
With much difficulty, patience, and perseverance, the men got provisions and the horses provender, after remaining without almost one whole day; the men had then to dress their meat, and the wood supplied was old trunks of trees, wet and hard. Good humour overcame all those difficulties, and in this early stage of the campaige, a good lesson was learned, viz. for every one to be at all times prepared, if possible, with twenty-four hours provision in their bays.
An order now arrived for the column to march to Lugo. It appeared strange to many that they should have been obliged to make two sides of the triangle, when one would have placed them at Lugo ,from Corunna. A report prevailed that the army should march in two columns, the one with artillery by Lugo to Astorya, the other by St. Jago to Orreusa; but a change was made, and the whole column was to march through Lugo.
On the 7th of November the right wing of the 1st battalion of the 1st regiment of Guards marched for St. Gregorio, the weather extremely wet. The rest of this column followed the same route successively, At St. Gregorio the troops were obliged to encaip, there being no other mode of sheltering them for the night. It appears extraordinary, but such was the confused state of Spanish government at that period, that no regularity existed for the means of supplying the troops with provisions. Whether this arose from the Spaniards being averse to supply us, or from their natural indolence, or from what cause soever, the