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three battalions 632 out of Division of Ruffin, which had 2000,
already been twice badly The figures are enough to beaten at this part of the chasten our latter-day com- field.
It says much for the plaisance. When we remember spirit of these French regisome of our South African re- ments that they could be got verses and retreats, we may to advance at all after two think it almost miraculous, as such disastrous experiences Mr Oman says, that a smaller within a few hours. Anson's force should hold its own and and Fane's brigades of drarepel its assailants with one- goons were sent against them. third of its number killed or It was the only opportunity wounded. Albuera itself was given to the English cavalry scarcely a more amazing ex- at Talavera, and they were hibition of stubborn endurance not able to make much use of than Talavera ; and at Tala- it. As the dragoons charged vera Wellesley's men were not down upon the French inthe veterans of many cam- fantry, which had formed paigns, like some of those who square to receive them, they filled the French cadres, but for came unexpectedly upon the most part young soldiers deep ditch ravine and drafts from the militia cealed by the long grass. The who had never seen active obstacle threw them into conservice till they moved out from fusion; whole squadrons tumCoimbra some three months bled headlong into the trap, earlier. To the majority of and and horses these troops Talavera was their crushed by the rear
rank first battle, as for too many it falling upon them; some of was their last.
the troops managed to scramble It was the combat on the up the farther bank; others right and centre and the hard- reined back just in time and bought success of the British halted under the full fire of and German infantry which the French musketry. The decided the day. With the cavalry attack had clearly failure of the main attack failed; but Arentschildt, who Victor gave up the attempt commanded a German light to storm the keystone hill, horse regiment, and Seymour, the Cerro de Medellin. He of the 23rd Light Dragoons, tried, however, to turn it by contrived to rally their men, an advance along the narrow and very imprudently led them valley which separated it from on against the enemy. The the higher ridge of the Sierra. Germans were repulsed, and Wellesley had expected the rode back up the valley. The movement, and had guarded 23rd lost heavily in charging a his left flank by posting there French square, and then found most of his own and Albu- themselves encompassed by a querque's cavalry, and Basse- muoh larger force of hostile court's Spanish infantry. The cavalry sent up in support of Marshal sent up the valley the the infantry, and two of the brave but much - battered four squadrons were annihil
ated. The regiment had lost captured guns of Laval's Diviover two hundred sabres out sion, to their former position of four hundred and fifty. behind the Alberche. Four days
It was an unfortunate epi- later Wellesley's whole army sode ; but it made no difference was in full march down the to the result of the battle, Tagus towards the Portuguese which was practically decided frontier. For by this time the by the great French repulse at General knew that Soult and the centre. The attack on the Ney, having reorganised their left flank was not pressed, and armies and extricated themRuffin's Division was withdrawn. selves from the northern mounThere were some hours of day- tains, were sweeping in upon light left, and in spite of the his flank with 50,000 men. If losses of the French they were he had waited longer he would still far superior in numbers to have had this great force bethe British. But King Joseph hind him with his Talavera ophad no unbeaten troops except ponents in front, and he could his cavalry and his reserve of hardly have escaped destruc5000; there was the whole of tion. Besides, his army was Cuesta's army intact on his starving, and if he did not left flank; and news had just speedily take it into a region been received that the dilatory where food was to be had, it Venegas was at last moving would perish even without the
So the order aid of French bullets and was given to retire, and the bayonets. last rays of the westering sun Considering the numbers acshowed the English that their tually engaged, Talavera was enemy was in leisurely retreat a very sanguinary battle. On over the hills.
the two days, the 27th and the The retiring host was not 28th of July, the British had molested by its adversaries. 5365 men killed, wounded, and Wellesley's depleted and hun- missing, out of less than 20,000 ger-stricken army, wearied by on the field. The French losses à terrible day, was in no con- were higher, though the perdition to pursue ; and the centage to their force was less. Spaniards, though the few de- The total was 7268, out of an tachments of them who had army of 46,000 men. Cuesta been engaged had behaved well claimed to have lost 1200 men; enough, could not be trusted to but if so, most of these must manoeuvre or advance into the have been “missing" in the open. If they had been able stampede of the evening of the
. to strike in upon the French 27th, for the portion of the left flank after the great re- Spanish army that was under pulse of Sebastiani and Laval, fire was too small for any large or even later in the afternoon, number of casualties to have they might have converted the been sustained. retreat into a rout.
As it was the French returned in good Such was the Battle of Talaorder, and with all their train vera : a victory which gave no and artillery, except the 17 strategic advantage to the one
combatant and inflicted no before him in utter demoralismaterial damage upon the ation in May, would be able to other. The victors lost almost advance into Central Spain in as heavily as the vanquished, July. and the latter within a few Yet the battle of Talavera days were again in possession was not fought in vain. If its of the field of battle. It has actual and immediate result often been contended by French was small, its moral effect was and Spanish writers, as it was prodigious: and in war, in the by Wellington's hostile critics conflict of races and peoples, in England, that nothing the moral effect is everything. whatever was achieved by the Talavera did what neither Talavera campaign; since in Vimiera nor Corunna had acthe end it left the relative complished. It broke the trapositions of the French and dition of French victory; it English unaltered, so that the showed that the Napoleonic British commander might as military system was not inwell have remained quietly in vincible; it proved that there Portugal for all the good that was at least was done by the march and Europe against which the counter - march that cost 80 legions that fought under the much in human life and suffer- eagles could not contend on ing. But this is wisdom after equal terms. For three hours the event. Wellesley could not 30,000 of the best infantry of know beforehand that the two France had striven fruitlessly Spanish armies with which he to force 16,000 British from was to co-operate would be their position and had been useless to him, and one of them hurled back in confusion. Talaworse than useless. If the vera was the beginning of the 70,000 troops of Cuesta and end. It was the first step in Venegas had been led with the sequence of events which reasonable competence, and if terminated in the ruin of the they had been of any real great conqueror and the defighting value in the field, the struction of the tremendous enterprise might have had a military engine he had framed very different issue. Even as
Even as for the enslavement of Europe. it was, if Cuesta had joined And it revealed on a conspicwith Wellesley in attacking uous stage the talent of a Victor on July 22 or 23, before leader of the foremost rank that Marshal had been re- who was
destined to baffle inforced, or if Venegas had Napoleon's ablest lieutenants obeyed orders and kept Sebas- and to strike the final blow in tiani occupied, one French the discomfiture of the Emarmy corps might have been peror himself. Talavera was annihilated and the other com- the forerunner of Waterloo ; pelled to leave Madrid unde- and as an exhibition of the fended. Nor perhaps could sheer fighting quality of Wellesley be expected to as- British soldiers it was not less sume that the army of Soult, glorious. which he had seen disappearing
A MAN'S MAN.
BY IAN HAY, AUTHOR OF THE RIGHT STUFF.'
CHAPTER TEN-THE END OF AN ODYSSEY.
HUGHIE reckoned that they away about north-east, and as might have to steam eastwards we are aiming at a target eight for quite three or four days hundred miles wide we ought before they sighted land. to hit it somewhere.") Then
This was an underestimate. there was a palpitating night
The history of the Orinoco's when the faithful engines, havlast voyage will never be writ- ing wheezily but unceasingly ten. In the first place, those performed their allotted task who took part in it were none for a period long enough to lull of them men who were addicted all who depended upon them to the composition of traveller's into an optimistic frame of tales; and in the second, their mind, broke down utterly and recollections of the course of absolutely; and the fires had events, when all was over to be banked and the Orinoco were hopelessly and rather allowed to wallow unrestrainmercifully blurred. Not that edly in the trough of the sea they minded. One derives no while the entire ship's company, pleasure or profit from recon- with cracking muscles and structing a nightmare—especi- heart-breaking gasps, released ally when it has lasted for a jammed cross-head from the sixteen days and nights. guides and took down a cylinder
Some events, of course, were to replace a split piston-ring. focussed more sharply in their They were evidently out of memories than others. There the ordinary sea-lanes, for they was that eternity of thirty-six sighted only one steamer in ten hours during which the Orinoco, days, and her they allowed to with every vulnerable orifice go by. sealed up or battened down,
of understand her asthmatic engines pulsing proper signalling," said Hughie, just vigorously enough to keep "80 we can't attract her attenher head before the wind, rode tion without doing something out & north-easterly gale absurdly theatrical, like runwhich blew her many miles ning up the ensign upside out of her reckoning. (“Not down; and I'm hanged if we'll that that matters much," said do that-yet. After all, we her philosophic commander. only want to know where we “We don't know where we We may be just off the now,
it's true; but coast of Ireland for all I can then we didn't know where say, and it does seem feeble to we were before, so what's the bring a liner out of her course odds? We'll keep on steering to ask her footling questions.
It would be like stopping the And they got to know each Flying Scotsman to get a light other, thoroughly—a privilege for one's pipe."
denied to most in these days of “Or asking a policeman in restless activity and multifariPiccadilly Circus the nearest ous acquaintance. way to the Criterion Bar,"
It was a lasting wonder to added Allerton. “I'm with Hughie how Allerton could you all the way, captain." ever have fallen to his present
And so these four mendicants estate; for he displayed an allowed a potential Good Sa- amount of energy, endurance, maritan to pass by and sink and initiative during this manbehind the horizon. It was an hood-testing voyage that was action typical of their race : amazing. He himself ascribed they had no particular objec- his virtue to want of opportion to death, but they drew tunity to practise anything the line at being smiled at. else, but this was obviously too Still, there were moments dur- modest an explanation. Pering the next ten days when haps blood always tells. At they rather regretted their any rate, Allerton took undiffidence.
questioned rank as second in But events like these were command over the heads of mere excrescenoes in a plane of two men whose technical knowdead monotony. The day's ledge and physical strength far work was made up of endless exceeded his own. But in his hours in a Gehenna-like stoke- hours of ease-few enough now hold, where with aching backs -he was as easy-going and and bleeding hands they lab- flippant and casual as ever. oured to feed the insatiable fires, Walsh in a sense was the or crawled along tunnel - like weakest of the quartet. He bunkers in search of the gradu- was a capable engineer and an ally receding coal; spells at the honest man, but he lacked the wheel-sometimes lashed to it devil-may-care nonchalance of -in biting wind or blinding the other three; for he had a fog; the whole sustained on a wife and eight children waitdiet of ship's biscuit, salt pork, ing for him in distant Limeand lukewarm coffee, tempered house, and a fact like that
, by brief but merciful intervals gives a a distaste for of the slumber of utter ex- adventure.
He was haustion.
appointed man, too. He had Still, one can get used to held a chief engineer's“ ticket” anything: they even enjoyed for seven years, but he had
: themselves after a fashion. never held a chief engineer's High endeavour counts for billet. He could never afford something, whether you have to knock off work and wait & wife and family dependent until the right berth should upon you, like Walsh, or can come his way: he must always extract la joie de vivre out of take the first that offered, for an eighteen-hour day and a fear that the tale of boots and workhouse diet, like Hughie. bread in Limehouse should