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    JEDBURGH ABBEY. (After the Painting by Sir George Reid, P.R.S.A.)[501]
    The French left six hundred killed and wounded on the field; the British had four hundred and eighty killed or disabled. Laborde retreated amongst the hills to the village of Azambugueira, and thence to Torres Vedras, where he looked for the junction of Loison, and where that general really appeared. Still the British force was equal, if not superior, in numbers to the French, and Sir Arthur Wellesley advanced along the sea-coast to Vimiera, where he was joined by Generals Anstruther and Acland. Unfortunately, at this moment arrived Sir Harry Burrard, whom the Ministry had ordered to supersede Sir Arthur Wellesley in the chief command till the arrival of Sir Hew Dalrymple, who was to be the General-in-Chief; Burrard, second in command; and Wellesley, Sir John Moore, Lord Paget, Sir John Hope, and Macdonald Frazer, to command different[560] divisions. Thus, by the old system of routine, the real military genius was reduced from the first to the fourth in command. Sir Arthur went on board Sir Harry Burrard's vessel on the evening of his arrival, the 20th of August, and explained to him the positions of the armies, and his plan of advancing along the coast to Mafra, thus turning the flank of Laborde and Loison, and compelling them to fight or retreat on Lisbon. This was clearly the view of every one of the officers, who were eager to press on; but Sir Harry, old and cautious, was of opinion that nothing more should be risked till Sir John Moore arrived with his reinforcements. Sir Arthur must have returned under a sense of deep disappointment, but, fortunately for him, the enemy did not allow of his waiting for Sir John Moore. At midnight he received a hasty message that the French were in motion, and coming in one dense mass of twenty thousand men to surprise and rout him. Sir Arthur was strongly posted in the village of Vimiera and on the hills around it. He sent out patrols, and ordered the pickets to be on the alert, and he then called out his troops, and had them in good fighting order by the dawn of day. At about seven o'clock the advance of the enemy was perceived by the clouds of dust that rose into the air, and soon they were seen coming on in columns of infantry, preceded by cavalry. By ten o'clock the French were close at hand, and made an impetuous attack on the British centre and left, to drive them into the sea, according to a favourite French phrase, the sea actually rolling close to their rear. The first troops which came into collision with them were the 50th regiment, commanded by Colonel Walker. Seeing that the intention of the French, who were led by Laborde himself, was to break his line by their old method of pushing on a dense column by a momentum from behind, which drove in the van like a wedge, in spite of itself, Colonel Walker instantly changed the position of his regiment so as, instead of a parallel line, to present an oblique one to the assailing column. This was, therefore, driven on by the immense rear, and, instead of breaking the British line, was actually taken in flank by it, and the musketry and grape-shot mowed down the French in a terrible manner. This was at once succeeded by a rapid charge with the bayonet; and so astonishing was the effect of this unexpected movement, that the French were thrown into irretrievable confusion, and broke on every side. Whilst this was the effect on the centre and left, General Sir Ronald Fergusson was attacked with equal impetuosity by Loison: bayonets were crossed, and the same result as took place at Maida occurredthe French fell back and fled. Nothing was wanted but a good body of cavalry to follow up the flying foe, and completely reduce them to surrender. The small body of horse, commanded by Colonel Taylor, fought with an ardour that led them too far into the centre of Margaron's powerful cavalry, and Colonel Taylor was killed, and half of his little troop with him. Kellermann, to stop the pursuit, posted a strong reserve in a pine wood, on the line of retreat, but they were driven out at the point of the bayonet. Had the orders of General Wellesley now been carried out, the French would have been cut off from much further retreat. General Hill was commanded to take a short cut, and interpose between the French and the strong position of Torres Vedras, and General Fergusson was directed to follow sharply in their rear. In all probability they must have capitulated at once; but here the evil genius of Sir Harry Burrard again interfered to save them. He appeared on the field and thought sufficient had been done till Sir John Moore arrived. It was not enough for him that the French had now been twice put to rout within a few days, and were in full flight, and that they were found not to be twenty thousand, but only eighteen thousand strong. He ordered the pursuit to cease, and the army to sit down at Vimiera till the arrival of Moore. To the great astonishment of the French, and the equal mortification of the British, the retreating enemy was thus allowed to collect their forces and take possession of the heights of Torres Vedras. SHOP NOW
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