« ElőzőTovább »
HONEY-STEALING AND PIG-KILLING.
THE soldiers during the Peninsular War appear to have had a penchant for honey, as more than one general order was issued by the Duke of Wellington,. to prevent the bee-hives from being plundered. The following is a specimen :
"Jaraicejo, 16th August, 1809. "G. O. 1.-The soldiers are again positively prohibited to plunder bee-hives; any man found with a bee-hive in his possession will be punished."
It was during this war that the unmilitary practice of pig-shooting caused two men to suffer the penalty of death, in addition to the two dragoons accidently shot. The Duke's views are shown in the accompanying orders.
"Aldehuela de la Boveda, 16th November, 1812.
"G. O. 1.-The Commander of the Forces requests the General Officers commanding divisions will take measures to prevent the shameful and unmilitary practice of soldiers shooting pigs in the woods, so close to the camp and to the columns of march, as that two dragoons were shot last night; and the Commander of the Forces was induced to believe this day on the march, that the flank patrols were skirmishing with the enemy. ""
"2. He desires that notice may be given to the
soldiers, that he has this day ordered two men to be hanged who were caught in the fact of shooting pigs;. and he now orders that the Assistant Provosts may attend their divisions on the march, and that they will do their duty, as well as in respect to this as other offences."
A far different kind of pig-killing is narrated in the following singular incident, which is stated to have occurred during the war of American independence in the year 1779. At that period a division of the British army was encamped on the banks of a river, and in a position so favoured by nature, that it was difficult for any military art to surprise it. War in America was rather a species of hunting than a regular campaign. "If you fight with art," said Washington to his soldiers, "you are sure to be defeated. Acquire discipline enough for retreat, and the uniformity of combined attack, and your country will prove the best of engineers." So true was the maxim of the American general, that the English soldiers had to contend with little else. The Americans had incorporated the Indians into their ranks, and had made them useful in a species of war to which their habits of life had peculiarly fitted them. They sallied out of their impenetrable forests and jungles, and with their arrows and tomahawks, committed daily waste upon the British army-surprising their sentinels, cutting off their stragglers; and even, when the alarm was given, and pursuit commenced, they fled with a swiftness that the speed of cavalry could not overtake, into the rocks and fastnesses, whither it was dangerous to follow them.
In order to limit as far as possible this species of war, in which there was so much loss and so little honour, it was the custom with every regiment to extend its out-posts to a great distance beyond the encampment; to station sentinels some miles in the woods, and keep a constant guard round the main body.
A regiment of foot was at this time stationed upon the confines of a boundless savannah. As its particular office was to guard every avenue of approach to the main body, the sentinels, whose posts penetrated into the woods, were supplied from the ranks, and the service of this regiment was thus more hazardous than any other. Its loss was likewise great. The sentinels were perpetually surprised upon their posts by the Indians, and were borne off their stations without communicating any alarm, or being heard of after.
Not a trace was left of the manner in which they had been conveyed away, except that, upon one or two occasions, a few drops of blood had appeared upon the leaves which covered the ground. Many imputed this unaccountable disappearance to treachery, and suggested as an unanswerable argument, that the men thus surprised, might at least have fired their muskets, and communicated the alarm to the contiguous post. Others, who could not be brought to consider it as treachery, were content to receive it as a mystery which time would unravel.
One morning, the sentinels having been stationed as usual over-night, the guard went at sunrise to relieve a post which extended a considerable distance into the wood. The sentinel was gone! The surprise was great; but the circumstance had occurred before.