The battle of Vittoria



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    Edward Costello describes the battle at Vittoria and an insight into the slowness of warfare at the time:

      Though hotly engaged at the time, I determined to watch their movements. The 88th next deployed into line, advancing all the time towards their opponents, who seemed to wait very coolly for them. When they had approached to within three or four hundred yards, the French poured in a volley or I should say a running fire from right to left. As soon as the British regiment had recovered the first shock, and closed their files on the gap it had made, they commenced advancing at double time until - within Fifty yards nearer to the enemy, when they halted and in turn gave a running fire from their whole line, and without a moment's pause cheered and charged up the hill against them. The French meanwhile were attempting to reload. But being hard pressed by the British, who allowed them no time to give a second volley, came immediately to the right about, making the best of their way to the village.
    At Vittoria, perhaps because they felt sure of success, the French had failed to remove their baggage train and so put all their belongings at risk. The English were victorious. Edward Costello describes the post battle merriment:
      As soon as our fires were lighted, the men, who had been under arms from three o'clock in the morning until eleven at night, and consequently had not tasted food for the whole of the day, began to fill their hungry maws from the luxuries of the French camp. Roast fowls, hams, mutton, &c., were in abundance, and at midnight the wine and brandy went round in horn tots which we generally carried about us. The men mostly lay stretched on the ground, their feet towards the fires, and elbows resting on their knapsacks; as soon as the grog began to rouse up their spirits from the effects of the day's fatigue each one commenced inquiries about their absent comrades, for riflemen in action, being always extended, seldom know who falls until the afray is over.
      The next morning the sale of the spoils which fell into our hands took place in the village, near the camp ground, where our battalion lay. The Spaniards were in general the purchasers, and property late belonging to the French, such as uniforms, horses, camp-equipage, was sold in abundance at about one-tenth of its value. Mules worth thirty or forty dollars brought on an average three. As I had no means of conveyance for the spoil I had obtained, I set about depositing it where I thought it would be safe: three hundred pounds I intrusted to our quartermaster, and several sums to other officers of the battalion, distributing nearly the remainder of the silver, to the amount, I suppose, of about one hundred pounds, among the men of my own squad, who undertook to carry it for me; very little of the latter, however, I ever received back. But after all money, as may be imagined, was of very little use during some of the hardships we afterwards endured, when I state that I frequently offered a doubloon for a single glass of rum, and was not always able to obtain it.

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