25th May-15th July 1809.
The 1st Battalion 95th Regiment had been under
orders to embark at a moment's notice for some days.
A Sudden Order
The order arrived last night, and at two o'clock this
morning the Battalion was formed in the Barrack
Square, consisting of 1000 as fine young fellows as
were ever collected to fight their country's battles.
For my part, my heart was as light as a feather when
we marched off; and, if I may judge from appearances, every person had the same feelings. We entered
Dover about six o'clock and marched through it.
The windows were crowded with inhabitants; some
greeted us, but in general the women seemed sorry
to see us depart, knowing well that numbers must
never return to their native land again.
The Battalion embarked in three transports.
Fortune, Malabar, and Laurel, and sailed immediately
for the Downs, where we came to anchor. The 1st
Battalion 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry joined us
here, which with ourselves formed a Light Brigade,
under the command of Major-General Robert Craufurd, who took post on board the
44 guns, commanded by the Honourable Captain
Percy, and also the Kangaroo sloop of war under his
command. Foul winds and sometimes very stormy
until 3rd June. June
The Commodore hoisted the signal for sailing at
daylight. The fleet got under weigh towards
evening and stood down the Channel.
Saw the Isle of Wight at daylight; we neared it 4th
and anchored at St. Helens.
The weather very squally. The fleet weighed and 5th
moved close to Cowes, where we were detained by
contrary winds for six days.
The wind seeming to become favourable, the fleet nth
was put once more nito motion, but provmg a
false alarm, we brought up opposite Yarmouth, and
were again detained with foul winds until the 18th.
Yesterday a boat upset coming to our ship, the
Fortune, from the Commodore's, and a young midshipman and one sailor met with a
The midshipman was coming to invite Captain
Pakenham to dinner. Our fleet sailed now in good
earnest with a fair wind, passed the Needles, and bid
adieu to the shores of Old England.
Saw land ahead at daybreak, which was found to
be Cabo Prior, near Coruna in Spain; weathered
Cape Finisterre. At noon the Commodore chased
a strange sail; it proved to be a Spanish brig, and
being a friend she was allowed to proceed.
Sailed along the coast of Portugal, passed the
mouth of the Douro at 4 p.m.
The Kangaroo took her departure for England.
Passed through the inner passage of the Berlengas,
having previously taken on board a Portuguese pilot.
The Berlengas are a cluster of small rocky islands;
on the largest of them the Portuguese have established a battery.
Saw the Rock of Lisbon at daybreak. It is a
bold mountain, whose sombre front overhangs the sea.
About noon we entered the Tagus, and our fleet
came to anchor close to Lisbon, which from the sea
appeared a most magnificent place indeed. On landing the charm ceased, as the
streets are exceedingly
filthy. The quays are built of stone, and very good
along the river.
The Citadel is on a commanding eminence in the
town, from whence in every direction you may observe
churches, monasteries, convents, etc. The most
magnificent church is that of S. Roche, The French,
under Junot, robbed this church of many valuables,
but the priests were fortunate enough to save some
things by hiding them from the grasp of these rapacious plunderers. We remained
on board for four
days waiting for orders.
A number of Portuguese and transport boats
came alongside each ship for the purpose of conveying
us up the Tagus. The tide began to flow about
midnight; we entered the boats and proceeded up the
river. The boats were crowded with men and we
rowed on slowly up the river, anxious for the approach
of day, which at last arrived. The men were tugging
at the oars all day, and occasionally the boats ran
upon banks of sand.
At dusk we arrived at the village of Vallada, July
where we halted, and for the first time in my life I
was treated with a bivouac. Hungry, wet, and cold,
and without any covering, we lay down by the side
of the river. I put one hand in my pocket and the
other in my bosom, and lay shivering and thinking
of the glorious life of a soldier until I fell fast asleep.
We fell in at daylight. I found the dew had wet
me through, but the sun soon made his appearance
and dried me.
Marched into the town of Santarem, and halted
two days until the whole of the Brigade and the
baggage animals purchased in Lisbon arrived. The
town is surrounded with hills that are covered with
innumerable olive-trees, a great source of wealth to
the inhabitants. The place has a most respectable
appearance, the ground very fertile, and plenty of
wine, grapes, oranges, and vegetables of every description in the greatest
abundance. I made my way
immediately with many hungry fellows to a bodega.
Breakfast was instantly produced, but the quantity
of each article did not at all agree with our ideas
of a breakfast, so that we were continually calling
out for more of this thing and the other in broken
Portuguese, which bothered the landlord so much
that he took to his heels and we saw no more of
him. I got a billet upon a blacksmith, and found
his family very kind. They brought me fruit, wine,
and cakes, but, as I do not understand one word of
the language properly, everything was done by signs.
I went on guard as supernumerary with Lieutenant
Macleod at a convent. At night I had lain down on a
marble slab near the men, when a monk requested
me to rise and follow him. He led me upstairs and
into a large apartment, where a number of his
brotherhood were assembled, and soon had the table
filled with rich food, plenty of fruits, and good wines
in abundance. I passed a few hours very agreeably
with these hospitable monks, who all appeared, from
their roundity of body, to pay more attention to
feeding than praying.
This morning at daylight I left the hospitable
blacksmith, who filled my calabash with wine and my
haversack with food. I slung these across my
shoulder and marched to Goleg^o, which is a small
town on the banks of the Tagus.
Marched to Punhete and Tancos. The former
town stands on the junction of the Zezere and Tagus,
and the latter on the Tagus. In the river is an island
with an old castle in ruins named Almorel; I paid it
March through Portugal.
A bridge of boats enabled us to pass the Zezere
A short sultry march brought us to Abrantes,
which being an hospital station, there was no room
for us in the town. We crossed the river over a bridge
of boats, and took up our bivouac.
Abrantes is a town of some importance, with a
citadel and fortifications round it. Marshal Junot
took his title as Duke of Abrantes from it.
Marched to Gaviao; weather exceedingly hot.
Marched over an uninteresting and hilly country
to Niza, which has a wall all round it in ruins, and
the remains of an old Moorish castle in tolerable
preservation. One observes on entering the town
that several storks have built their nests near the
gateway, which the inhabitants seem to be very
careful of preserving, as they say that good luck
attends those who are fortunate enough to be honoured
by these birds building their nests in their grounds
or upon their houses.
Marched to Villa Velha, and crossed the Tagus
over a bridge of boats, and bivouacked upon the
opposite bank. The scenery at this place is very
bold and romantic indeed, particularly by the pass.
The country round has a barren appearance, except
that portion covered with the gum cistus. The village
is poor and miserable enough.
Marched to Sarnadas, a miserable place.
Marched to Castello Branco; halted two days in
this town, which has many good houses in it. The
Bishop's house and gardens are superior to any other.
The small river Ocreza runs close to the town.
Researched & Compiled by Way-Mark.