Jack Archer eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 293 pages of information about Jack Archer.

At dawn a strong body of Russians were seen upon the heights opposite to those occupied by the Sardinians, and thence, being on ground higher than that upon our side of the river, they commanded both the Sardinian and French positions.  The bridge was held by a company of infantry and a company of Bersaglieri, and General Della Marmora at once despatched another company of Bersaglieri to enable the advance to hold their post until the army got under arms.  They mounted the opposite plateau, but this was so swept by the Russian guns, that they were forced at once to retire to the bridge.

Soon the artillery opened along the whole line on both sides.  The French outposts had also been driven in, and before the troops were fairly under arms, the Russians had crossed the bridge, and were charging forward.  The aqueduct, which was nine or ten feet wide and several feet deep, now formed the front of the French defence.  It ran along on the face of the hill, with a very steep slope facing the Russians.

In spite of the fire of the French artillery in front, and of the Sardinian artillery which swept them in flank, the Russian soldiers pressed most gallantly forward, crossed the aqueduct, and tried to storm the height.  The Sardinian fire, however, was too severe, and after ten minutes the Russians fell back.  It met another column advancing at the double, and uniting, they again rushed forward.  While they forded the river, two guns crossed by the bridge and another by a ford, and opened upon the French.  The infantry, rushing breast deep through the water, began to scale the heights.  But the French met them boldly, and after a fierce fight drove them down and across the bridge.  On their left another column had attacked the French right, and in spite of the Sardinian guns which ploughed long lanes in their ranks, crossed the aqueduct and scaled the heights.  But as they reached the plateau so terrible a storm of grape and musket-balls swept upon them, that the bead of the column melted away as it surmounted the crest.  Fresh men took the place of those that fell, but when the French infantry, with a mighty cheer, rushed upon them, the Russians broke and ran.  So great was the crowd that they could not pass the river in time, and 200 prisoners were taken, while the French and Sardinian artillery swept the remains of the column, as it retreated, with a terrible cross fire.

At the bridge, however, the Russians made one more effort.  The reserves were brought up, and they again crossed the river and aqueduct.  The French, however, were now thoroughly prepared, and the attack was, like the preceding one, beaten back with terrible slaughter.  The Russians fell back along their whole line, covered by the fire of their artillery, while five regiments of cavalry took post to oppose that of the allies, should they attempt to harass the retreat.

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Jack Archer from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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