Mar 25 2011
2nd Battalion: Venda do Valle, Portugal
British troops in bivouac
On the 26th February Major Hamilton organised a field day for the battalion which was not totally satisfactory. Although the men performed the required movements with great rapidity, they did not always perform them accurately. However, events have now moved on, and field days are temporarily a thing of the past.
On the 6th March the adjutant, Lieutenant Stewart, brought news that the battalion should be ready to move at the shortest notice and the following morrning they marched to Cadaval, where they learnt that the French had withdrawn from Santarém, and were now heading north. As the Anglo-Portuguese army advanced in pursuit, the men of the 30th witnessed how the French had revenged themselves on the local population. Leiria was on fire and some of the inhabitants had been burnt to death in their houses. Condeixo was also on fire, while in some of the villages the battalion passed through Portuguese peasants had been hanged in their own houses. Yet for many the most upsetting sight was the discovery of asses and mules that had been hamstrung. At Pombal it was the French themselves who had suffered, dead and wounded men having been left in the streets. Where the wounded could be helped, the men gave what assistance they could.
The battalion is quickly getting used to bivouacking. They are now in the mountains as they head towards the Spanish border, and are finding the nights cold and uncomfortable. Food is a problem as they have outpaced the supplies, particularly of biscuit. They are also dependant upon the efficiency of their guides. On the 15th, they were misdirected and finished up lost in a vineyard. It wasn’t until three o’clock in the morning that they finally found a place to halt.
The 30th Foot are marching in the centre of Wellington’s army, which means that they have not yet encountered the French. The Light Division, however, have had several sharp encounters with the French rearguard, the evidence of which has been clear to the battalion as they have passed dead and dying men.
On an equally sombre note, there have been seven deaths this month. However, six men have joined from Cadiz, recovered invalids, and Thomas Ryan, who apparently deserted on the 24th February, returned on the 27th February.
1st Battalion: Trichinopoly
Elaborate stonework at Srirangam Temple, Trichinopoly
Very little to report. When the muster was taken today, two men were returned as prisoners in the guard room. There have been no deaths, but three men have been invalided to Europe. The apparent good health of the men must in large measure be the result of the favourable climate at this time of the year.
A contemporary cartoon shows the public’s poor perception of the Militia
Recruits continue to join the regiment. One has already enlisted at headquarters, and another eighteen are on their way to join. There are also another three volunteers from the Tipperary Militia.
Three ensigns have joined at headquarters: John Roe, John Carter and William Campbell. They are all destined for the second battalion.
Captain Fullerton is now in temporary command of the depot during Major Spawforth’s leave of absence.