MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
the bridge of El Burgo was alone open for a retreat.  On the other hand, to fight in the dark was to tempt fortune; the French were still the most numerous, their ground strong, and their disorder facilitated the original plan of embarking during the night.  Hope, upon whom the command had devolved, resolved therefore, to ship the army, and so complete were the arrangements, that no confusion or difficulty occurred; the pickets kindled fires to cover the retreat, and were themselves withdrawn at daybreak, to embark under the protection of Hill’s brigade, which was in position under the ramparts of Corunna.

From the spot where he fell, the general was carried to the town by his soldiers; his blood flowed fast, and the torture of the wound was great; yet the unshaken firmness of his mind made those about him, seeing the resolution of his countenance, express a hope of his recovery.  He looked steadfastly at the injury for a moment, and said, “No, I feel that to be impossible.”  Several times he caused his attendants to stop and turn round, that he might behold the field of battle; and when the firing indicated the advance of the British, he discovered his satisfaction and permitted the bearers to proceed.  When brought to his lodgings, the surgeons examined his wound; there was no hope, the pain increased, he spoke with difficulty.  At intervals, he asked if the French were beaten, and addressing his old friend, Colonel Anderson, said, “You know I always wished to die this way.”  Again he asked if the enemy were defeated, and being told they were, said, “It is a great satisfaction to me to know we have beaten the French.”  His countenance continued firm, his thoughts clear; once only when he spoke of his mother he became agitated; but he often inquired after the safety of his friends and the officers of his staff, and he did not even in this moment forget to recommend those whose merit had given them claims to promotion.  When life was nearly extinct, with an unsubdued spirit, as if anticipating the baseness of his posthumous calumniators, he exclaimed, “I hope the people of England will be satisfied!  I hope my country will do me justice!” In a few minutes afterwards he died; and his corpse, wrapped in a military cloak, was interred by the officers of his staff, in the citadel of Corunna.  The guns of the enemy paid his funeral honours, and Soult, with a noble feeling of respect for his valour, raised a monument to his memory on the field of battle.


[Note:_Battle of Corunna_.  The French army having proclaimed Joseph Buonaparte, King of Spain, the Spanish people rose as one man in protest, and sought and obtained the aid of England.  The English armies were at first driven back by Napoleon; but the force under Sir John Moore saved its honour in the fight before Corunna, 16th January, 1809, which enabled it to embark in safety.]

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MacMillan's Reading Books from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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