Belem Rangers



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    Edward Costello on Officers on the Peninsular:

      During the Peninsular war our men had divided the officers into two classes; the 'come on' and the 'go on'; for as Tom Plunkett in action once observed to an officer, 'The words "go on" don't befit a leader, Sir.'-To the honour of the service, the latter, with us Rifles, were exceedingly few in numbers.

    The most loathsome person for most of the soldiers in Wellington's army was the Belem Ranger - this from Costello:

      We were on private parade one morning, when a party of convalescents from hospital came up. Amongst others was a sergeant of the name of Jackson, who had been absent from our company for the two previous years, during which period it would seem he had been chiefly employed as hospital-sergeant at Belem, near Lisbon.
      The Major's aversion to absentees from the regiment was very well known among us, and we anticipated a scene-nor were we deceived.
      'Is that you, Mr Sergeant Jackson?' exclaimed the Major, as soon as the party came up. 'And pray where, in God's name, have you been for the last two years? The company have seen a little fighting during that period.'
      'The doctors would not allow me to leave the hospital, Sir' replied Jackson.
      "I am sorry for that,' dryly observed the Major. 'All that I can do for you is, to give you your choice of a court-martial for absenting yourself from duty without leave, or to have yours stripes taken off.'
      The sergeant, after a little hesitation, preferred surrendering quietly his non-commissioned dignity to standing an inquiry into his conduct.
      Turning round to the men, the Major remarked aloud, 'By God, I will not have these brave fellows commanded by skulkers.' Then taking the sash and stripes that were cut off by the Sergeant-Major, he handed them to Corporal Ballard, observiug at the same time, 'You will not disgrace them.'

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