MacMillan's Reading Books eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 344 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.


[Note:  Battle of Albuera, in which the English and Spanish armies won a victory over the French under Marshal Soult, on 16th May, 1811.]

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The whole brigade scarcely made one efficient regiment according to the number of continental armies; and yet it was more than we could spare.  As they passed towards the front, the Russians opened on them from the guns in the redoubt on the right with volleys of musketry and rifles.  They swept proudly past, glittering in the morning sun in all the pride and splendour of war.  We could scarcely believe the evidence of our senses!  Surely that handful of men are not going to charge an army in position?  Alas! it was but too true; their desperate valour knew no bounds, and far indeed was it removed from its so-called better part—­discretion.  They advanced in two lines, quickening their pace as they closed towards the enemy.  A more fearful spectacle was never witnessed than by those who, without the power to aid, beheld their heroic countrymen rushing to the arms of death.  At the distance of twelve hundred yards the whole line of the enemy belched forth, from thirty iron mouths, a flood of smoke and flame through which hissed the deadly balls.  Their flight was marked by instant gaps in our ranks, by dead men and horses, by steeds flying wounded or riderless across the plain.  The first line is broken, it is joined by the second; they never halt or check their speed for an instant; with diminished ranks, thinned by those thirty guns, which the Russians had laid with the most deadly accuracy, with a halo of flashing steel above their heads, and with a cheer which was many a noble fellow’s death-cry, they flew into the smoke of the batteries; but ere they were lost to view the plain was strewn with their bodies and with the carcasses of horses.  They were exposed to an oblique fire from the batteries on the hills on both sides, as well as to a direct fire of musketry.  Through the clouds of smoke we could see their sabres flashing as they rode up to the guns and dashed between them, cutting down the gunners as they stood.  We saw them riding through the guns, as I have said:  to our delight we saw them returning, after breaking through a column of Russian infantry, and scattering them like chaff, when the flank fire of the battery on the hill swept them down, scattered and broken as they were.  Wounded men and dismounted troopers flying towards us told the sad tale:  demigods could not have done what we had failed to do.  At the very moment when they were about to retreat, an enormous mass of lancers was hurled on their flank.  Colonel Shewell, of the 8th Hussars, saw the danger, and rode his few men straight at them, cutting his way through with fearful loss.  The other regiments turned and engaged in a desperate encounter.  With courage

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