§ Sir G. De Lacy Evans
said, it was with great reluctance that he rose to call the attention of the House to the subject of which he had given notice, as it was in some degree of a personal nature. He had hoped that he should not have been obliged himself to bring this subject before the House, because during his absence it appeared to have been frequently discussed by hon. Members on the opposite side of the House, and therefore he had anticipated that on his return they would have afforded him an opportunity of addressing himself to this subject in reply to some statement or motion that might be brought forward by some hon. Member opposite in his presence, as statements and observations on this subject had not been spared during his absence. He had no doubt, however, that the reason for hon. Gentlemen opposite not proceeding with any such motion was, the triumphant result of the debate and division on this subject which took place in the month of April last year. That, he had no doubt, was the ground on which many hon. Gentlemen opposite had recently preserved a careful silence. Before he proceeded further on the subject, he begged to say, that, deeply interested as he was in this matter, yet that, knowing as he did, his own imperfections as a speaker, he intended to be as brief as possible. It was his wish to avoid unnecessary discussion and repetitions, his object being merely to have an opportunity of meeting the charges which had been urged. Whatever difficulties he otherwise 824 might have had to encounter had been augmented by the course which had been taken by his opponents. There was also another party in the House against which he had some grounds of complaint; and the hon. Members to whom he alluded were those with whom he more generally concurred in political opinions, and with whom he had been more in the habit of acting. One of those hon. Members, he had had even some reason to think, in the first instance, intended to give the expedition the benefit of his powerful personal assistance. If that had been the case, it appeared that the hon. Baronet had changed his mind. But if the hon. Baronet had thus decide not to draw his sword in the cause, he might, at all events, have hoped the hon. Baronet would not have drawn his pen against it, which, however, the hon. Baronet or some one else had done in the hon. Baronet's publication, the London Review. He could not avoid complaining, that in those attacks he had been most unfairly dealt with, not only by Gentlemen at the opposite side, who were influenced by party motives, but by those who, not having similar considerations to influence them, ought rather to have been disposed to render him, if not support, at least justice. The object which he had in view by the present proceeding was, to show, as much as he possibly could, that the statements which had been made in that House and elsewhere with respect to the force under his command, were either wholly unfounded or grossly exaggerated, or merely the ordinary occurrences incident to all armies. He did not mean to say, that these unfounded statements had been intentionally put forth from any improper or personal feeling, but from the habits and feelings of those who had quoted them, they had been induced to give more weight to them than they would in ordinary occurrences. Many of these statements, then, were gross exaggerations of the real facts, and others of them were the common casualties to which every army was exposed. He should, he hoped, be able to prove to the satisfaction of the House, that these troops, so far from being liable to censure, had faithfully and zealously discharged their duty, and that, too, under the most adverse circumstances. He had had nothing to do with the original raising of the corps, and he had taken the command of it in consequence 825 of the communications that had passed between himself and General Alava, then minister of Spain in this country. At that time, a short debate took place on the subject, and he would briefly allude to one or two statements which were then made. An observation then made was, that the rank and experience of the individual chosen to command the Legion was not sufficient. His answer was, that he was not so much in love with this enterprise but that he was ready to surrender the command to any other officer of greater experience and abilities than himself; for although he was not aware of all the difficulties with which he should have to contend, he knew they would be great, but he had always stated, that he should not have had any insuperable objections to yield the command to any other officer. Another circumstance occurred at the time, which had been adverted to more than once since, and which at the time was thrown out by the noble Lord, the Member for Hertford (Lord Mahon). That noble Lord then referred to the Legion as an army of mercenaries, and as a revival of the system of Condottieri. He had no objection to the use of these terms, and he stated his opinion frankly at the moment. He was not accused of being actuated by these motives himself, but the imputation was thrown out against the officers and men under his command, and he could not refrain from noticing it, although it was one of those technical objections which he should not dwell upon. He was not acquainted with instances of civil or military officers serving a government without emolument, and he certainly did not feel offended, therefore, at being situated in that respect as all other functionaries were. He believed that in the case of soldiers employed in the service of free states, and even when troops were fighting in a revolutionary cause, although the entire mind and feelings of the people were with that cause, still it was necessary for the sake of discipline and for the organization of a military force, that they should receive pay. Indeed, the very name of soldier implied the receiving pay. However, if the practice was, as had been stated, improper and unchristian, he must be content to be in the same situation as many of the most distinguished men in different periods of the history of this country, among whom he could mention the names 826 of Sir Philip Sidney, the Marquess of Hamilton, Lord Clare, and the Duke of Marlborough, and in our own times, Lord Beresford, and even the right hon. and gallant Officer opposite. All these individuals had received commissions from foreign powers, and fought under foreign standards, and if he were a mercenary so were they. He did not believe that anything seriously wrong was meant to be imputed to those distinguished officers by the use of such an epithet. He knew of no difference, upon a question like the present, between the auxiliary force under him and the force under the officer, commanding the Portuguese army in the Peninsular war. There was one difference, it was true, namely, that that officer had received a larger rate of pay. He believed that there was no instance on record of a body of troops sent from the shores of this country having been so much followed by the spirit of persecution and aspersion as that which followed the British legion. The force had not been in Spain more than a month when, for the purpose of adding to the difficulties it had to contend against, some of the public prints in this country began to draw comparisons between these raw recruits and the great and illustrious commander who had formerly performed such glorious deeds of arms on the same soil. He could not but complain of this comparison as a great injustice towards the Legion. It would have been a great injustice towards them to compare them with so great an army, even had they been well trained, which, however, he was quite ready to admit to have been far from the case. Nearly all the persons constituting the force, officers as well as men, were utterly inexperienced in military service, and the only wonder was, that considering the materials of which it was composed, the Legion had distinguished itself as it had done. To compare them with the great Peninsular army, however, was the acme of injustice. Some time after the arrival of the troops in Spain, during the severe struggle attending the raising of the blockade of Bilbao, he directed a movement to be made towards Hernani; not, however, with the intention of taking it. A slight action happened on this occasion with the Carlists, respecting which circumstances were stated in England which evinced a total ignorance of the facts. The affair was represented as a brilliant victory on the part of the Carlists, and the Legion 827 were reported to have acted with the utmost cruelty. It would seem, or was asserted that four or five men had been put to death by the Carlists, and that some of the Christino Spanish troops put to death four or five of the Carlists; but whatever the transaction was, at all events the Legion, to his knowledge, had nothing to do with it. It was determined by the Spanish Government that the number of the Legion should not extend to 10,000, and accordingly the force engaged was 8,000 men, whose numbers were to have been afterwards augmented by a battalion of Portuguese Caçadores. A great portion of these 8,000 men had, on their arrival in Spain, and even for some time after, received but the most elementary and imperfect instruction. Nor were the discouragements which the Legion had had to contend against merely of a physical nature. These disarrangements had been greatly augmented by one or two circumstances which took place before the Legion left England. One of these circumstances was the notice given by the Duke of Wellington of a motion on the subject in the other House. That noble Duke he would most readily admit always acted with the utmost forbearance and generosity when he alluded to anything connected with military affairs, and he was bound to offer his warm acknowledgments to that noble Duke for the generosity and forbearance which he had exhibited in reference to this subject throughout its whole progress; but, at the same time, he could not avoid remarking that the notice which the noble Duke had given on the subject was a circumstance which had a very unfavourable effect upon the prospects of the Legion. True, the notice in question was never acted upon, but it notwithstanding had this effect, that whereas previous to that notice a great number of officers—a greater number than he had expected—had stated their readiness to join the force, many of these, after the notice was given, declined to proceed to Spain, in consequence of the impression generally made by the tenour of the notice, that the Duke of Wellington was unfavourable to the expedition. Another circumstance that created an impression unfavourable to the enterprise was an impression that the nobleman at the head of the British army was opposed to the expedition. He could only say in passing that in any interviews which he had had with that noble Lord on the sub- 828 ject he had experienced from him the utmost politeness and consideration. But an impression did go abroad, first here and afterwards throughout the country, which prevented that degree of confidence which ought to have existed in the head of the army, and which he thought had had the effect of deterring many excellent officers from subsequently joining the Legion. Those circumstances necessarily added to the other difficulties he had mentioned, and which had operated as a moral obstacle to the efficiency of the force, more than any of those physical difficulties which had been so frequently noticed in that House. The duration of the service of the Legion was appointed to be two years, but, deducting six months for recruiting, and the points of assembling in Spain, the real period of active service was thus prevented from extending over more than eighteen months. The Legion was four months at Vittoria. In reference to the affair which occurred there, the noble Lord opposite had sneeringly described it as the second battle of Vittoria. The sneer conveyed in that expression was most uncalled for and unwarranted, and he thought he had a good right to complain of it. It was most unjust to institute so invidious a comparison between the 4,000 or 5,000 raw troops engaged on the late occasion and the brilliant achievements of a great and well-disciplined army. On the late occasion the troops on both sides retired to their positions. He could tell the noble Lord that he was misinformed, and that, in point of fact, the Legion lost neither artillery nor baggage. Imputations had been cast on General Cordova for alleged misconduct on this occasion; but so far from there being any grounds for supposing that he acted with treachery towards the British auxiliary troops, he (Sir G. Evans) must, in candour to that gallant Officer, say, that there was no foundation whatever for the accusations which had been made against him in the public prints and other quarters. On the contrary, as soon as he determined to retire he sent an aid-de-camp to him (Sir G. Evans); but owing to a portion of the enemy occupying the wood through which he had to pass he was obliged to make a detour, and, therefore, could not reach his position until the next day. He was happy to say, that General Cordova was wholly blameless, and that no imputation could rest puon 829 him for his conduct in that instance. He knew not whether there was any difference between his political views and those of General Cordova, neither had he ever been at the trouble of making any inquiry on such a point; but of this he was convinced, that, in respect of the transaction which led to the accusations, the conduct of General Cordova was as honourable and as faithful to his Sovereign as that of any man could be, and that he performed his duty to the best of his abilities. He would now advert to the statement made with regard to the sickness at Vittoria. That the sickness was great he did not deny, but he did not think it was such as to justify the obloquy which had been cast upon those in charge of the Legion. He believed that the object of the parties who had made those complaints was not so much to impute improper conduct to the officers of the Legion as to throw discredit on the Spanish Government. He might be wrong, but that was his opinion. Now the number of the British Auxiliary Legion who had perished had been differently stated. By some it was said to consist of 15,000 men, and by others 12,000, but it had seldom been estimated under 10,000. It had been stated, that 12,000, of the Legion had perished either in action or from sickness and disease, and that their bones lay bleaching on the hills. The number had never been stated at less than 4,000 or 5,000. He knew that statements of this kind were always loosely made. The whole force of the Legion amounted to about 8,000 men, but having been reinforced by the recruits subsequently sent out at different periods he might state it at 9,600. It afterwards became necessary to institute an inquiry as to the number who were fit for actual service, and this examination was undertaken by a medical board, at the head of which was a medical officer of much experience, who had served during the Peninsular war. The report made by that board was got up with great care, and it would appear that when they marched from Bilboa the whole of the infantry of the Legion, with the exception of about 100 men, was composed either of very young men, or of men who were too old for service. There were 2,300 so crippled, either from disease or other causes, as to be incapable of bearing arms, and the reason why they were allowed to remain with the Legion was because there was no means 830 of transport for them home. The system of recruiting adopted by the agents of the Spanish Government was bad, and hence it was, that they had so many men who were so tainted with disease or disability as to be nearly wholly useless. This fact was important, as it had a strong bearing on the sickness which afterwards took place. At least two-thirds of those men died in the hospital without having done even a single day's duty; and that fact showed how the numerical strength of the Legion was swelled by parties being included in the returns who never ought to have been taken into account. The effective force of the Legion did not exceed 4,700. The whole number of the men who perished in Vittoria, and its environs, in six months, was 1,223, and the total loss in the two years, including the killed and those who died of their wounds or from disease, amounted to about 2,078. This was out of the force of 9,600. The number who passed through the hospitals during that period was 1,430, and yet this was what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had spoken of as a proof of unexampled sickness and mortality. That number did not indicate an unheard-of prevalence of disease. The evidence of Sir J. Macgregor, the chief of the medical staff in the great Peninsular campaigns against the French, showed that such could not be supposed to be the case. All great armies, during military operations, were subject to very considerable loss by disease, and, indeed, so far from its affording matter of astonishment that so many of the Legion had died during this expedition, the wonder was that so few had died. The evidence of Sir J. Macgregor showed that during the thirty months' campaign of the Duke of Wellington's army in the Peninsular the number of British who passed through the hospitals was not less than 346,000 on a standing force of about 60,000 men. When it was recollected that the same medical officer had declared that old soldiers were so much less liable to disease than recruits—that three hundred men who had been five years in the army were of more service, and more to be counted on, than one thousand men who had served only one year—and when it was recollected that a greater part of the troops who were engaged in the great Peninsular war were men who had been five years in the army, the comparison between the mortality of the veteran troops of the Duke of Wel- 831 lington and the raw soldiers of the Legion was favourable to the latter. With regard to the fate of the Legion, charges had been brought against him by the newspapers and in that House. He had been asked what had become of them, and it had been stated that they had all perished, but was this the case? So far from there being any truth in this statement he must beg leave to say that so soon as they received their pay from the Spanish Government they would return to this country, and about 6,000 were entitled to gratuities or rewards for their services. They had many difficulties to contend against. Some things were fair and others were not in times of war, but he believed that the Carlist agents in this country had induced men to go out in the Legion merely for the purpose of deserting from it on their arrival in Spain, and inducing others to follow their example. He had been informed, and strongly believed, that the fact was so. At all events, 350 of the men who had gone out in the Legion went over to the enemy; but it was well known that during the former war a great number of desertions occurred. This, however, was only a proof of the discouraging character of the service. It had been made a ground of complaint that there was a want of certainty with regard to the conditions in reference to the period of service, and whether it was for one or for two years. He regretted this imperfection as much as any one, but he had nothing whatever to do with these conditions, as they had been drawn up before he accepted the command. The only duty that devolved on him was to see them properly executed, and it was untrue that he had signed them, or that they bore any other signature than that of General Alava, the minister from Spain at that time in this country. When parties expressed a wish to return at the end of the first year he told them that all he could do was to represent the matter to the Spanish Government. He did so, and he thought the interpretation which they put on the conditions was the right one. They considered that those who wished to leave at the expiration of the year ought to have given notice of their intentions, and the more particularly as they had received their pay for the year without having performed more than six months' service. The number of the parties who applied to be discharged was at first considerable, but 832 they were subsequently, by means of persuasion, reduced to about 350. As this subject had been so frequently alluded to he thought it right to give this explanation, in order to show that the Spanish Government had incurred no blame on that ground. It was not until he received orders to raise the siege of St. Sebastian, which was blockaded by the Carlist force, that he felt himself placed in a responsible position. He was there instructed to wrest from the Carlists the advantages which they had gained, and to co-operate with the British squadron, which for the first time took part in the contest. The duties which had been assigned to him he performed to the best of his ability. Amongst other charges against the Legion was that it had been engaged in action on Sundays. If this was a military offence it was one that the gallant Officer himself (Sir H. Hardinge) and many of his companions in arms had often been guilty of. Some Friend of his, having noticed the attack, had sent him a letter, in which he said that the charge might be met by a reference to many similar acts perpetrated by the most distinguished commanders, and he included a list of them, beginning with Vimiera, and ending with the battle of Waterloo. He really did not feel that this was at all a serious matter; indeed his only reason for adverting to it was to show the zeal and minuteness with which their conduct had been scrutinized. He believed it was the first time that any body of troops had such a charge brought against them, and he viewed it as conclusive evidence of a disposition to point out any little defects that might appear in their conduct. Had this been the heaviest of the charges against them, he need not have troubled the House on the subject; but they were accused of ferocity, of drunkenness, of murder—in short, of every sort of offence and crime that it was possible to imagine—of offences of the most trivial and of crimes of the gravest character. A noble Lord had stated in his place in Parliament, that on one occasion the whole Legion was intoxicated when in action, and that after the action, being still in a state of intoxication, they had murdered the whole of their prisoners. In a letter which he subsequently addressed to the electors of Westminster he took the opportunity of stating that this charge which the noble Lord had made, as he said, on good authority, and no doubt he 833 must have believed his authority at the time to be sufficient. The noble Lord had said that the Legion was intoxicated, that they murdered their prisoners, and that they retired in a state of great confusion and disorder. He begged to declare that, as far as he was aware, there was not the slightest truth in these statements: they were not intoxicated, nor did they murder their prisoners, nor did they retire in disorder, for in fact there was no pursuit. He thought when the noble Lord hazarded that statement, on what he considered to be good authority, having been challenged to produce his authorities, as a matter of fairness and justice, he ought to have done so, or to have acknowledged that he was in error. The noble Lord, the Member for Hertford, said, that half the Legion were intoxicated. [Lord Mahon: I made no such statement.] He was glad the noble Lord had corrected him, and disavowed statements that had certainly been attributed to him by the public prints. He assured the House that he came to this discussion without the slightest feeling of vindictiveness. His own conscience assured him that he had performed his duty during the period he was in the service; and, entertaining no unpleasant feelings himself, he did not wish to aggravate any of the circumstances. As to the statements made on the subject of his want of skill, and such matters, every one knew that men who occupied a prominent position, whether in civil or military life, must lay it to their account to have their conduct publicly questioned, and must be content to abide by the general decision. The probability always was, that such a man would receive a small measure of justice from his opponents, and that would be counterbalanced by an overflowing quantity of approbation from his friends. He conceived that the general charges were all of them triumphantly dealt with by the noble Lords and other hon. Members on his side of the House in the discussion on the subject last year. So ably and completely were the reputation and conduct of the Legion then defended, that he should not have thought it necessary again to advert to the subject if it were not that some few statements had been made which it was impossible that any one could answer who was not on the spot and in an official situation. He took this opportunity of expressing his gratitude to those hon. Gentlemen who, in his absence, had 834 espoused the cause in which he and his comrades had been engaged. He must at the same time express his respectful acknowledgments to the right hon. Baronet opposite, who, he must say with reference to his reported speeches, had never uttered a word that could hurt his feelings. The right hon. and gallant Officer opposite, however, had not only complained of the murders the Legion had been in the habit of committing, but said it was a matter for the serious consideration of this Christian country, whether they would allow a large body of troops to be trained up in a course of bloodshed and murder. He would now appeal to the right hon. and gallant Officer, and ask him, if he had any just grounds to persist in his statement, to give them to the House. If the troops under his command needed any justification, he might refer to several instances of irregularity described by the Duke of Wellington as having occurred in the army the noble Duke had commanded—an army infinitely superior in all respects to the one he had commanded. Speaking of the Peninsular army of 1810, that noble Duke said that the convoys of money were continually robbed; military law was not enough to keep the men in order, and that perjury was as common as robberies and murders. These things were inevitable in war, as every military man well knew; and they ought not to be lightly made the subject of complaints. If one of the greatest men that was ever known as a commander was unable to prevent these irregularities and crimes, surely some allowance ought to be made for him. The power he had given to inflict summary punishment had also been complained of; but the authority he had just referred to, in speaking of the state of the army, had given it as his opinion that the only remedy for the evil was the extension of the provost system. The course he had adopted in that respect was, therefore, not altogether without precedent. Nor were such occurrences confined to the English army, they were found to quite as great an extent in the French army. The statements that had been made being partial, amounted to taking advantage of the ignorance of civilians as regarded such affairs; they would be very likely to think the conduct complained of as extraordinary, not being aware that similar offences were committed by the armies of other nations. The consequences of his system of discipline had been, that, on no 835 one occasion, had the offences been of such a character as to require capital punishment. The number of graver crimes was small, and the severer punishments had been avoided. With regard to corporal punishment, the sentences for the offences with which he individually had to deal were commuted, and no corporal punishment was inflicted. He believed, that one of the great reasons why no dreadful crimes were committed was, that capital punishments were not resorted to. He felt, also, that his experience justified him in saying, that the abolition of flogging tended rather to the prevention than to the commission of crime. The hon. and gallant Gentleman next adverted to the pay that had been received by the Legion, and entreated the public press not to encourage the system of asking alms in the streets, which some of the discharged men had resorted to. Every one of the soldiers and non-commissioned officers had received the whole of their pay, except 120 men, who were absent from head-quarters. They had received the whole of the money they would have been entitled to had they been in the British army. Men incapable of service from wounds, and widows, had also received their pensions and allowances. His humble services, such as they were, should be continued for the purpose of obtaining their gratuities for such soldiers as had not yet received them. He would not, however, conceal from the House, that, in his opinion, the officers of the Legion had serious grounds of complaint against the Spanish government. When any funds had come from that quarter into his hands, he had taken care that the junior officers and men should receive their pay first. The non-commissioned officers and men had, in consequence, received their pay up to the time he left the Legion. But there were arrears of pay due to the subalterns for six months' service, to the captains for seven or eight months' service, to the superior officers of ten or eleven months, and to himself for fourteen or fifteen months. He felt perfectly convinced, that the statement made by Lord Melbourne, in the other House of Parliament, would be fairly acted up to, and that no efforts to make the Spanish government fulfil its engagements with the officers of the Legion would be left unrealized by the British Government. Indeed, he believed that those officers had more than an equitable claim upon the 836 British Government, supposing they failed in obtaining their due from the Spanish government. ["Hear, hear!"] He was glad to find that the hon. Gentlemen who had exhibited so much hostility towards the officers of the Legion, during their absence upon service, were so well inclined to act with humanity towards them now they were seeking to obtain the recompense for their labours. He trusted that the hon. Gentlemen to whom he had just alluded would prove the sincerity of their late cheers by supporting any grant in advance, by the English Government, to the officers of the Legion. He believed, that the only objection felt by her Majesty's Government to such a grant was, the opposition which they apprehended would be made to it by those very persons who were then giving to the officers so much apparent commiseration. With regard to the destitution and want of supplies from which the Legion suffered, owing to the conduct of the Spanish government, he thought, that, after the remarks which he had made upon what had occurred at Vittoria, he had no occasion to say a word more. He repeated, that, though the troops of the Legion suffered hardships, they had not suffered any thing like the physical hardships to which our better appointed Peninsular army had been frequently exposed. If his brave comrades had been unfortunate, it was not because they had suffered greater physical wants or greater ravages from disease than the British army in the Peninsular, but because they had not met with that sympathy from their countrymen at home during their absence, to which he thought they were fairly entitled. Before he entered upon this digression he had been stating the duties which the Legion and its commander were sent to perform in the north of Spain, in co-operation with a British squadron. The whole of the Legion did not arrive at St. Sebastian till the 5th of May. On that day operations commenced, which were entirely successful. The enemy were driven from their lines, their chief was killed, and their artillery was taken. The next operation was on the 28th, when the Urumea was passed, and the town and fortress of Passages were taken. On the 31st the enemy attacked the Legion in its cantonments, and were repulsed. On the 6th of June the enemy repeated their attack, and were again repulsed, and that time with a loss of 1,400 men. On the 837 9th they were again repulsed. The Legion had made the attack on Fontarabia to create a diversion. An intimation was received from the General-in-chief of the Queen's forces on the Ebro, that it would be of advantage to him to draw the Carlists from his left on that river, whilst he was operating, as he intended to do, in the valley of the Bastan. A movement on Fontarabia was therefore made by the Legion as a diversion in his behalf. At the time it was made it was uncertain whether it would be persevered in, when made, and also whether any operations would be made in the Bastan. It turned out afterwards that the General-in-chief abandoned his intention of going into the Bastan, and the consequence was, that the movement upon Fontarabia, where the Legion lost ninety men in killed and wounded, was abandoned. About a month afterwards—that was some time in the month of October—the enemy again attacked the Legion in its cantonments, and again lost a great number of men in the attack. It was unfortunate, that about that time the Queen's troops on the Ebro were reduced to the necessity of acting on the defensive, in consequence of the events which took place at Madrid, and which terminated in the overthrow of the Executive Government. It was unfortunate that that was the second time in which the Executive Government of Spain had been overthrown since the arrival of the Legion on its shores. It was very true that he had not anticipated any such serious obstacles to the progress of its operations; but it required the greatest prudence and forbearance to approximate even to the course of events; and he was not to be blamed, because he had failed, as well as others, in judging accurately of futurity. Perhaps the conduct of the right hon. Baronet would not have been exactly that which it had been had he been able to foresee six months before the event that the repeal of the Test and Corporation Act would be carried. Perhaps the right hon. Baronet's opposition to the great measure of reform would not have been so strenuous had he foreseen that, in spite of all his efforts, it would be at last triumphantly carried. Revolutions like these could not be foreseen, and no man could fairly be blamed because he could not penetrate through the veil with which Providence wisely concealed the future from our view. In consequence, then, of the events at La 838 Granja and Madrid, the Queen's troops remained on the Ebro upon the defensive. On the 16th of March the Legion again commenced the offensive. On that day the heights of Hernani were captured. A short time previously he had received a communication from General Sarsfield that he intended to move upon the enemy by Tolosa on the 14th. The intention of that gallant officer was again to move through the centre of the enemy's forces by the Bastan; but though such was his intention, the General had not called upon him to undertake any operation at all. It appeared to him and his gallant comrades at St. Sebastian, that as General Sarsfield would, in the course of his march, be opposed to all the troops of the enemy, his column must be destroyed unless some diversion was made in its favour; and it was with the intention of giving his column an opportunity of marching with safety through the mountains that the operations of the Legion on the 14th, 15th, and 16th, were undertaken. He did not expect to take Hernani on that occasion. It so happened that he remained in complete ignorance of the movements of General Sarsfield till the close of the day of the 16th; and in expectation of General Sarsfield having marched upon the Bastan, he had extended his troops for the purpose of enveloping Hernani. It turned out that General Sarsfield abandoned his intended movement on the 11th; and at the moment that the troops who had marched from St. Sebastian were in extended order around Hernani, twelve Carlist battalions suddenly arrived, and turned them. On the left the troops were driven in, and so too on the right. A retreat was made, but for not more than 1,000 or 1,500 yards. The retreat was effected without much loss. The killed and wounded amounted to 400. On the two days 700 men were killed and wounded, but on neither were any prisoners taken from the Legion. This retreat had been adverted to by the noble Lord, the Member for Hertford, "as the greatest stain which had fallen on the British arms for the last 500 or 600 years." It was scarcely fair—nay, it was most unjust—that such language should be applied to such a check as that which the Legion then received. The Peninsular war, full as it was of glorious recollections, was also full of alternate successes and defeats, and it was not reconcilable to any principles of justice with which he was 839 acquainted, that its glorious victories alone should be recollected for the purpose of throwing discredit on the 4,000 British bayonets assembled before St. Sebastian. If a retreat of a mile and a half at most by the Legion was a stain on the British arms, what were they to say of those retreats of 400 or 500 miles at a time, which had been made more than once during seven of the most glorious campaigns of the Duke of Wellington in Spain? He had no hesitation in affirming, that in making those retreats the Duke of Wellington had placed on the records of history the finest proofs of his military genius and skill. The noble Lord, the Member for Hertford, had written with great care, and the most elaborate study, the history of a former war in Spain respecting a disputed succession. In that war an officer of high talents, with whom he did not mean for a moment to place himself on a level, was, by the course of events, not at all attributable to himself, compelled to surrender with an army of 8,500 British troops, then under his command, to the enemy. And what remarks had the noble Lord made upon that catastrophe? If the remarks of the noble Lord on that occasion were correct, then had he been most unfortunate in the severity of the remarks which the noble Lord had made upon his military conduct. [The gallant Officer read an extract from Lord Mahon's History of England, to shew that the noble Lord had stated that Lord Galway was more unfortunate than blame-able for the defeat which he sustained at the battle of Almanza]. He regretted that the noble Lord had not displayed the same degree of indulgence towards him that he had displayed towards that gallant but unfortunate officer. He contended, that considering all the difficulties with which the Legion had had to contend, and considering the smallness of its force, every operation of the Legion had been as honourable to it as had been the efforts and performances of any troops he had ever heard of. The custom, unfortunately, had been to place in a strong light all the adverse circumstances which had befallen the Legion, and to cast a dark veil over all its successes and exploits. He respected very highly the military character of Lord Beresford; but it was a fact, that in the early part of his military career that noble Lord had been obliged to surrender with 840 all the troops under his command. It would, however, be most unfair to refer to that incident alone in the noble Lord's life, and to forget all the glorious and valuable services which he afterwards rendered to his country in the campaigns of Portugal. He would here advert to the assertion of a noble Lord in the other House of Parliament, who had accused the Legion of having fled disgracefully on the 16th of March to St. Sebastian. "The troops," said he, "fled to St. Sebastian, and in such a state of disorder that nothing could restrain their flight," Now, the fact was, that the troops had not fled, they had only retreated to the lines—they had no occasion to fly, for the enemy did not venture upon a pursuit. The noble Lord had proceeded to observe, that the Legion would have been destroyed, had not the British Marines and some forty British sailors stood firm, and enabled them to carry off their artillery. "But for them," said the noble Lord, "they would have lost every piece." He would here observe, that it had been made matter of charge against him in the public prints, that he had not been in his place on a former evening to support the claims of the officers of marines to increased allowances, knowing, as he was alleged to know, that that corps had saved his Legion from destruction. Now, it was not from any want of a proper appreciation of the services of the Royal Marines on his part that he had been absent from the debate of a former evening; but it was from a feeling that his testimony on their behalf, and that his vote in their support, were not wanted. As the last officer who had served with that gallant corps, he hoped that the claims of its officers would be properly attended to; for no corps was more worthy of having its claims attended to either in the naval or the military service of the country. With regard to that corps of them with which he had had the honour of co-operating on the north coast of Cantabria, he would merely observe, that he had never seen any regiment, not excepting the most crack corps in the British service, superior to them. For courage and steadiness in the field, and in quarters, they were entitled to the very highest degree of credit. But in rendering this just tribute to their valour and discipline, it was not necessary to bestow on them laurels which they had not earned, nor to cast odium 841 upon other troops who had gallantly performed their duty. The marines had not covered the retreat of the Legion. The marines had performed to admiration the duty which they were that day ordered to perform. He again repeated it. They did not cover the retreat, nor were the guns of the Legion saved by the marines: and though that force had been of the greatest service, it was chiefly placed in reserve. The marines received orders to retire as soon as the Queen's troops had re-occupied the lines on the Urumea, and they accomplished the retreat with admirable order. The best proof that the marines had not borne the brunt of the action was, that they had only one man killed and twenty wounded. He was most glad, however, to acknowledge that they had been of the greatest possible benefit, and he had no doubt that if a few such corps were sent out, the war would be very speedily brought to a conclusion. It was said, that the marine force had been employed seven miles from the sea, and that it was impossible to justify this by any interpretation of the terms "naval cooperation." With respect to the signification of those terms, though he was not very well qualified to discuss points of international law, he had had opportunities of observing the way in which they were practically construed in the course of the Peninsular war, during the occupation of the Isle of France, as well as on the north coast of America, and he could say, that the naval co-operation on land in those places had been much more extensive than during the contest in Biscay. He had pleasure in reflecting, after all the aspersions cast on the Legion, that the Spanish Government was satisfied that that force had discharged its duty as a body of auxiliaries most effectually and with strict fidelity. He could say for himself, that he had never attempted intentionally to insult, affront, or hurt the feelings of any hon. Gentleman, as he did not think that House a very convenient place to establish a character for pugnacity, and therefore he took it for granted that the attacks which had been directed against himself and the character of the troops he had commanded proceeded, not from personal motives, but from the ardour of political feeling. He was willing to believe that hon. Gentlemen on the opposite side, and the powerful party in the country who supported them, with the 842 press which advocated their views, were of opinion that the Legion was calculated to promote those principles of constitutional liberty in the Peninsula which they did not usually deem it advisable to favour. He presumed that the difference between the great principles held by the adverse parties was the cause of the unsparing attacks made against the Legion in that House. He had now attempted, in a cursory manner, to exonerate himself from the charges brought against him, and he hoped he had done so without wounding the feelings of any man. After all, it was a matter of comparatively little importance whether the small body of troops employed under his command had discharged their duty or not; the great question was as to the result of the civil war now raging in Spain, which he hoped to see brought to a termination favourable for the cause of liberty. No part of the attacks made by the public press had caused him so much uneasiness, or wounded his feelings so keenly, as the charges brought against the general officers of the Spanish army. He considered that those charges had created great jealousy and bad feeling in the Spanish people. He said at once that there was no foundation for those charges; the conduct of General Espartero, under whom, more particularly, he had served during the latter part of the contest, was admirable, and he did not believe a more honourable man, or a braver and more faithful soldier, or a truer friend of his countrymen than that General existed. He humbly hoped that this testimony might go some small way, as he had had so many opportunities of judging of the merits and patriotism of those individuals. With respect to the extent of the loss of life among the prisoners, he begged to say that no prisoners had been taken from the Legion in action, not even a corporal's guard; no part of the artillery or equipage of the Legion had been captured by the Carlists. The Legion, however, had taken twenty-seven pieces of artillery from them, and 1,100 prisoners, the lives of whom were spared. The number of soldiers of the Legion who fell into the hands of the enemy was forty-seven, all of whom were put to death. It was unnecessary to dwell on the diabolical cruelty of such conduct; but a party in this country appeared to have considered that Carlos was not so much to blame as the Government of this country for sub- 843 jecting them to the danger. Surely the proper course for men who professed to be the enemies of inhumanity, would have been, not to denounce the Government, who did all they could to prevent these atrocities, but to lend their support to Government, in adopting such measures as might benefit their countrymen. It was impossible to deny that the Carlists had put to death the whole of the forty-seven men they had taken, while the lives of 1,100 Carlist prisoners had been spared by the Legion. It was disgraceful to attempt to palliate the barbarity of the monster who could perpetrate such cruelties. It ought not to excite surprise, that the civil war was not yet terminated. He rejoiced that there was a fair prospect that, by the union of the two parties of the Spanish Liberals, the whole nation would conjoin their efforts to extinguish the rebellion, and place the rightful heir securely on the throne. Not a single town of 10,000 inhabitants, in the whole Peninsula had espoused the cause of the Pretender. The whole body of the Spanish aristocracy was favourable to the reform Government. The grandees, he believed, amounted to about 150, and of these there were no more than three who countenanced Don Carlos. Surely that circumstance ought to recommend the Queen's cause to the support of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Perhaps the church question was one of the chief causes of the delay which had taken place, and we ought not to reproach the Spaniards too severely for not having brought the contest to a close, so long as that question remained unsettled among ourselves. The property belonging to all the monastic establishments in the country had been confiscated, and the consequence was, that the whole of the monks were zealous adherents of Don Carlos. He had only to add, that he felt conscious that he had done his duty, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that the troops he commanded had received the approbation of the Government under whom they had served, as well as of the Government under whose sanction they had entered into engagements to perform that service. He felt most grateful for having rendered assistance, however humble it might have been, to the cause of constitutional government; he was happy to have this opportunity of saying, that he continued to feel the deepest sympathy for their cause; and he 844 lamented much, that in a British House of Commons, among the representatives of a free people, persons should be found who did not sympathise with a cause in which that people had a common interest—the cause of constitutional liberty throughout the world. So far from thinking that this country had fully acquitted itself of its obligations to the Spanish Government, he did not think all had been done that ought to have been done. Both of the great parties which had divided this country, had identified themselves with the quadruple treaty; and he hoped that, for the sake of humanity, for the preservation of the balance of power in Europe, and for the benefit of the manufacturing interests of Britain, both parties would unite to aid the cause of rational freedom, and terminate the miseries of the civil war that now convulsed the Peninsula. The hon. and gallant Officer concluded by moving, that an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying her Majesty to direct that there should be laid before the House copies of any correspondence which may have taken place on the subject of any communications between the Spanish Government and the British Minister at Madrid, expressive of the feelings and opinions entertained by the Government of her Catholic Majesty, with respect to any services which may have been rendered to the Government of Spain by the British Auxiliary Legion, from the date of its embodiment till the termination of its period of service.
§ Sir Henry Hardinge
had listened with the greatest attention to the speech of the hon. and gallant Officer, who, he freely admitted, had performed his task of vindicating the Legion in a very creditable manner. But he must avow, that as far as any statements of his were affected by what had fallen from the hon. and gallant Officer, he could not find that any of them was refuted. He could assure the gallant Officer if he thought he could not, upon documents on which he might rely, maintain every one of those statements, he would take the opportunity of withdrawing every one of them which appeared to be not founded in fact, but he had nothing now to withdraw—nothing to retract; he had made those statements on the authority of several officers of the Legion, and he had not heard the gallant Officer refute any of 845 them. Without meaning any discourtesy to the gallant Officer, he must beg leave to say that he had nothing to withdraw; but he wished to say a few words regarding one or two observations of the gallant Officer. The gallant Officer said it appeared to him, that the taste for Spanish affairs had subsided since last year. He begged leave to assure the gallant Officer, that he would find, before he sat down, that the taste had not in the least subsided. He would also remind the gallant Officer, though he was sure the gallant Officer did not intend to convey any insinuation that they were deterred from bringing forward the Spanish question by anything that took place last year, that he had informed his officers, on taking leave of them to return to this country, that his object in departing was to resume his place in the House of Commons for the purpose of vindicating them from the aspersions cast upon them at the earliest possible moment. That was very natural; but what had occurred? The gallant Officer was in the House of Commons for a month after his return before the last Parliament was dissolved, and had offered no explanation of his conduct in Spain. He must say, that as far as regarded any delay in discussing this subject, and coming to a decision on disputed points, the blame, if there were just grounds for imputing any, rested not with that side of the House, but rather with the gallant Officer himself. If any officers had been unjustly calumniated, and been deprived of an opportunity of defending themselves, the blame was not attributable to him (Sir H. Hardinge) or any one who had taken an interest in Spanish affairs on that side. The gallant Officer complained, that the press had used very ungenerous, violent, and obnoxious terms in speaking of the Legion, but could he be surprised at it? Had not the gallant Officer, in his political letters to his constituents in Westminster, expressed sentiments entirely at variance with those entertained on that side of the House? Had he not, in his political despatches, retorted on the Tory party the charges brought against him? Could the gallant Officer then be surprised that the Conservative press had shown a disposition to recriminate, perhaps more severely than was justifiable? But the Liberal press had attacked the gallant Officer with even more severity than the Conservative press. During the last two years 846 he believed about 250 officers had quitted the British Legion in disgust. They had left it, no doubt, for various reasons; but it was impossible that so large a body should abandon it without impressing on the minds of a great part of the public their sentiments with respect to its management. Consequently a large proportion of what the hon. and gallant Officer called misrepresentations proceeded from those individuals who had left the Legion in disgrace. Therefore, as to the charge brought by the hon. and gallant Officer against the press, he thought the hon. and gallant Officer could not be surprised at what had been thus stated. But the hon. and gallant Officer had taken umbrage, it appeared, at what the gallant Officer represented as a statement of his, to the effect that the hon. and gallant Officer had gone out to reconnoitre at Hernani on a Sunday, a circumstance mentioned in the House with some degree of reprehension. Now, the fact was, that in the course of the speech which he had last addressed to the House on this question, he was proceeding to quote from a book written by Major Hall, one of the gallant General's own officers, and he had just got to the word "Sunday," when he was interrupted by a burst of ironical cheers from hon. Gentlemen opposite, upon which he immediately remarked, that he knew the battle of Waterloo was fought on a Sunday. As far as his private feelings were concerned, he would say, that he was not at all squeamish about doing his duty on Sunday any more than any other day. But what was the statement in Major Hall's book, which he was about to read when he was interrupted as he had described? The hon. and gallant Gentleman then read a remark from Major Hall's book, to the effect, that on Sunday, the 1st of August, when the hearts of thousands of his fellow-countrymen were lifted up in prayer to God, he first saw the ground covered with bodies of men who had fallen in battle. These he thought were very natural reflections for an officer to make on seeing, at his first landing, the ground strewed with the bodies of Spaniards killed by Spaniards. But with reference to the question of the Sunday reconnoisance, he must declare it to be his opinion as an officer, that there was something objectionable in taking out the troops on that day. There were only two 847 points of view in which the affair could be considered—either the gallant Officer had an object of a military nature in view, or he had not. If, as an officer, he had any particular object in view, then this movement was perfectly right; but if he wished merely to take out his young troops, then he must say it was very objectionable. Now, he begged to call attention to the circumstance that the gallant Officer, in the order of the day, had described the reconnoisance of Hernani as "excellent practice," and greatly beneficial to the troops. Therefore, the hon. and gallant Officer's own statement did not put the matter on any other ground than that of merely taking out the troops. On military grounds, however, he should say, that it was not very advantageous for young troops to accustom them to show their backs to the enemy on the very first day that they were called upon to do service. On these grounds, therefore, he certainly could not concur in the judgment of the hon. and gallant Officer on this occasion. But the gallant Officer's troops were accompanied by a body of Chapelgories, and these troops, be it remembered, were not included in any treaty having in view arrangements for the safety or interchange of prisoners; there was a mortal enmity between them and the Basques; they neither received nor gave quarter. He thought that it was unfortunate the hon. and gallant Officer should have been associated with those Chapelgories. He found that always, according to one of the officers who had served under the gallant Officer opposite, always, without any exceptions, did these people put to death whomever they captured. He did not feel ashamed of having adverted to the circumstance of this movement having taken place on a Sunday, for he begged to state that he never had, and he never should fail to give utterance in that House to the feelings of Christianity in mitigation of the horrors of war. The number of men whom he had stated in the speech to which the hon. and gallant Officer had referred to have fallen at Hernani amounted to 700. For this, Major Hall was his authority, and almost every other officer who had written on the subject made the same statement. Major Richardson had also been quoted by him, and he begged it to be remarked, for it was important to be borne in mind, that he quoted from the first edition of 848 the work, and that edition, he had reason to know, lay on the table of the hon. and gallant Officer for a period of nine or ten months without meeting with any contradiction to any of its statements from the hon. and gallant Officer. He contended that, in these circumstances, he was justified in taking Major Richardson's book as a sufficient authority, and one on which he might safely depend. But, besides this, although he was not acquainted with Major Richardson, that officer had written him a letter, in which he stated that the hon. and gallant Officer had given him leave to come home to England for the purpose of supporting the interests of the Legion in this country. He had also in his possession a letter of the hon. and gallant Officer to Major Richardson, in which the hon. and gallant Officer thanked him for this very book. Another letter of the hon. and gallant Officer to Major Richardson, also in his (Sir H. Hardinge's) possession, stated the great accuracy and fidelity of his book, and adding that he should cause it to be circulated extensively in the Legion. [Sir De L. Evans intimated, that the books referred to by Sir H. Hardinge, and by himself in the above mentioned letter, were distinct and separate works.] His quotations, he begged to repeat, had been made from the first edition of Major Richardson's book, which, as he had said, lay on the table of the hon. and gallant Officer for a considerable period without animadversion or reply on his part. He thought, he could bring the matter back to the hon. and gallant Officer's recollection. Major Richardson had been tried for his preface, in which he was supposed to have reflected on the officers of the British Legion; and in that preface, Major Richardson had stated that he came to England to support the cause of the officers of the Legion. This statement had lain, as he said, on the table of the hon. and gallant Officer from July, in 1836, to April, 1837, when he had made his statement. With regard to the sick of the Legion, the arguments of the hon. and gallant Officer appeared to him, he must say, most erroneous—he seemed to have taken a wholly mistaken view of the sentiments of hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House with respect to this part of the subject. They did not mean to say, that there would have been any ground of complaint in case the Legion had suffered the losses which it had been 849 described as having sustained in the discharge of its necessary duties in the field of battle, but the complaint was of the numbers who died of disease; and, if the Legion was composed of striplings and cripples, as the hon. and gallant Officer called them, then it ought to be recollected not merely that the men died, but that they died unnecessarily—not that they died of sickness, but of sickness brought on by neglect, the cruel neglect, of their wants and comforts which had been shown by the Spanish Government; they had not found fault that the soldiers died, but that they died in the cantonments at Vittoria, and within the space of four or five months. But, good God! did the hon. and gallant Officer seriously, as an officer, mean to compare the condition of the British Legion during these four or five months at Vittoria with that of the army of the Duke of Wellington during any part of the Spanish campaigns? Why, the Duke of Wellington, in his first campaign, had taken Ciudad Rodrigo by storm; he next marched to Badajos, which he took with great loss, but with a manifestation of most exquisite skill; the next operation was the march to Salamanca, then the battle of Salamanca; after that, he forced Marshal Soult to evacuate Madrid, or which 100,000 men had been concentrated for the purpose of driving the British General from the territory of Spain. But when our troops began to retreat the sick suffered intensely, because the poor fellow; had frequently to move under a burning sun for thirty, or forty, or fifty, or eves sometimes 150 miles, before they cam, to a hospital where they might be fitly received and attended to. The consequence was, as might be expected, that these men died in great numbers. But they died, let it be remarked, under the pressure of the exigencies of the public service. Besides, they must have died if they had been left behind. Therefore when the hon. and gallant Officer too three or four regiments of the Duke of Wellington's army—namely, those whit Dr. Alcock, in his Notes on the Medical History and Statistics of the British Legion of Spain, had stated to have bee particularly unhealthy, he ought to remember, that though it was true the, regiments were especially and remarkably unhealthy; yet the circumstances and situation in which they were placed during the Peninsular war were, in no respect, 850 similar to those of the British Legion in Spain. What were the leading events of the next campaign? The march to Vittoria, the battle of Vittoria; then the march to prevent Soult taking possession of Pampeluna; then the battle of Pampeluna; then the march to the Pyrenees. This might, indeed, be called a campaign. Then, in the last campaign, there was the march across the Pyrenees; the battle of Orthes; the advance to Toulouse, and the battle there, when, as he recollected, an hon. and gallant Friend of his on the opposite benches had been wounded severely. Such were the character of these campaigns, and surely the hon. and gallant Officer did not mean to compare anything which the British Legion had effected with this? He did not mean to say, that there was anything similar in the campaigns? But in another point of view let the House observe how the case stood. The troops which Sir William Clinton had taken out in the expedition to Portugal in 1826 and 1827 were young, raw, unseasoned, and suddenly-levied men; they went out with every disadvantage; and the result of an examination of the average deaths was much more in favour of the hon. and gallant Officer than the case of the Duke of Wellington's Peninsular army. It appeared, from the statement of Dr. Alcock, that the Legion lost, by sickness, while in cantonments at Vittoria, in six months of the winter of 1835–6, no less than 1,223 men out of 7,000, making an average of about one in five: the average mortality, from sickness, of the army employed in Portugal during parts of the years 1826 and 1827, was, for six months, one in sixty-six men. Now, with respect to the Duke of Wellington's army, he found, that in Sir James M'Gregor's returns, to which the hon. and gallant Officer had alluded, the mortality was given for every six months; from which it would appear, that in two years and a half the total loss, by sickness, in the Peninsular army (deducting wounds and extra patients) was 13,822 on a force of 60,000 men, making the average loss for six months about one in twenty-one. But, according to Dr. Alcock's statement, the mortality of the last six months of the Peninsular war—namely, from December, 1813, to June, y 1814, was, in deaths by sickness, 2,016 out of 60,000 men, or at the rate of one in thirty. This was Dr. Alcock's state, meat, on which, however, he was not in- 851 clined to place very much dependence; but such as it was it made out the average mortality of the Duke of Wellington's army to have reached only to one in thirty. The army, it would be observed, was occupied at the same season and in the same locality as that under the hon. and gallant Officer opposite. Upon the whole, he must repeat, he thought the case of the troops in the expedition to Portugal was much more analogous to that of the Legion than was the case of the Duke of Wellington's army; yet the average of the former was still less favourable to the argument of the hon. and gallant Officer. The Duke of Wellington's army in the same locality, and at the same period of the year, had lost by sickness one man in thirty, while the hon. and gallant Officer had lost one in five. And mark the difference in their situations: the Duke of Wellington's army were living during a great portion of this time under tents; and therefore, in his opinion (which he wished to state with all humility), the excuses of the hon. and gallant Officer with reference to this part of the subject did not apply. But it might be worth while to see what Dr. Alcock said, when they found the hon. and gallant Officer opposite attempting to extenuate the conduct of the Government of Spain, and that the cripples and boys who formed his Legion had not fallen under sickness in consequence of any neglect on the part of that Government. Now, Dr. Alcock at page 28 of the work to which he had referred had these words—"This number of deaths (1,223 for Vittoria and its environs in six months) took place out of 7,000 men who were at head-quarters. And, besides deaths, there were at least 500 men incapacitated for further effective duty. Thus the defective arrangements of the Government or its agents, and the hostility or inertness of the provincial authorities lost to the cause the services of nearly 1,800 men out of a force of 7,000, for this was exclusive of nearly 200 who were swept away at Santander and Briviesca, while labouring under the miseries and hardships of the same bad management. Thus in one winter they lost the lives and services of 2,000 men of the Legion, besides crippling and enfeebling the whole force for six months, if not for the whole period, even were no account taken of the mass of human suffering necessarily entailed." He thought it ap- 852 peared from this book, which had been quoted by the hon. and gallant Officer himself, that this amount of suffering was "unnecessarily entailed." Therefore, with every disposition to do honour to the humanity and zeal of the officers of the Legion in endeavouring to alleviate the sufferings of the sick and wounded, and with every wish to do justice to the exertions of the hon. and gallant Officer in the same cause—indeed, he believed, that the hon. and gallant Officer did everything that a man could do—he must say, that the Spanish Government, whom he thought the hon. and gallant Officer had too much attempted to extenuate, was much to blame, not the men or officers of the Legion. He did not consider the hon. and gallant Officer to be responsible in any way for the impolicy of sending out troops to Spain. Her Majesty's Government were the parties responsible, and they alone should take upon them the obloquy of the measure; or rather the two Governments between them should share the obloquy of the measure. He had seen a book which had been written by a gallant Officer high in the service of the Legion—he meant Brigadier-General Shaw, from which he had taken care to have some passages extracted, which he hoped would settle the question as to whether the men there described fell a sacrifice to inevitable circumstances, or in consequence of the cruelty and neglect of the Spanish Government. Brigadier-General Shaw stated—"Many of the sick have died from having no comforts. I do not believe we can muster 4,000 bayonets. The hospitals were very bad, but this convalescent depot was terrible; I believe no officer had gone through it; and no wonder, as the filth was shocking. All were lying huddled together on the bare stones of a convent, without windows, and no blankets. Entering a small room in a corner, I was nearly knocked down from effluvia; there nine men had been for four days without any surgeon to look after them. I suppose they are now all dead. I proceeded to another dark room, and there seventeen men had been for forty-eight hours abandoned, all suffering from severe dysentery. The scarcity of medicine was dreadful; about two thirds of the medical men have died, and a great many officers." Good God! here were these men lying in this house and totally abandoned in a dysentery for forty-eight hours. The general 853 proceeded—"I went up stairs into this dépôt, and feel convinced no officer had ever been there before; those who were unable to rise were in a horrid state. Never can I forget this scene! A state of things brought on decidedly by want of foresight and management. Officers were afraid to enter this pest-house; in short, many of them who tried to do duty caught the fever and died." He could not but say that these deaths were owing to the impolicy of the Government in sending out troops at all. What did Major Hall say on the same subject? Major Hall stated—"Our sufferings and mortality at Vittoria were invariably and solely to be attributed to want of proper accommodadation, bad food, little clothing, and the absence of all the necessaries of life!" "Privation of food, covering, and lodging, added to the total want of faith in the Spanish authorities, were the cause of this frightful mortality." Major Hall spoke of "the infamous want of faith on the part of the Spanish Government." These were the authorities to which he had referred last year. Had the hon. and gallant Officer touched any one of those authorities in the statements he had made? With regard to any statements of his the hon. and gallant Officer had not invalidated any one of them, with the partial exception of one word or two that had fallen from him on the affair of Hernani. There was another authority, one which he believed was known in that House to be a good authority, if not as good as that of the Brigadier-General himself—he meant Serjeant Somerville, and he believed he might be able to recall the name of this officer to the recollection of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, if he were present; for the fact was, Somerville had been flogged while in the Scotch Greys; but this was his authority, given in a work which he had written on the subject of the Legion. Serjeant Somerville stated—"Many suffered dreadfully from frostbitten feet. There were some who lay huddled together in corners, and were a moving mass of vermin and filth."* * "As we proceeded to remove some of the sick, a horrible scene presented itself. Dead and dying were mixed together. In one apartment thirteen lay together, six of whom were dead, and the rats not scared by those who still groaned in life, had begun their part of destruction. Only one man was sensible, and he said he 854 would have come out of the place but for his feet, which had mortified. He said the orderly who put him into the room, and who had given a little assistance at first, came in, laid himself down, and soon after died, and no other person had visited them till we came." Then again, Lieutenant-Colonel Humfrey stated—"Sixty officers and 2,000 men had died in one winter of disease, misery, and starvation, without pay, and almost without rations." It was impossible, after hearing the extracts which he had read to the House—extracts from the writings of a General in the service, an Aid-de-camp, and a Serjeant—and all corroborating each other as to the state of the hospitals—it was impossible to entertain a doubt of the dreadful sufferings and destitution of those unhappy men. After hearing these statements, too, he asked the House whether the case against the Spanish Government was not fully made out, and whether the charge had not been sustained that these men died unnecessarily? When he had shown that upon the occasion of their own expedition to Portugal in 1827 only one man died out of sixty-six, while one out of five had died at Vittoria; he thought he was justified in saying that her Majesty's Government who had sent out their unhappy countrymen for the service of the Queen of Spain to be subject to such ill-treatment were very much to blame. The gallant Officer had stated that these deaths were contingencies to which all soldiers were liable and common to every kind of warfare. He would earnestly ask whether the dreadful occurrences which he had stated to the House could be called contingencies. The gallant Officer appeared also to speak as if the destitution had not been great. He had read in Major Humfrey's book, which was very ably written on the military parts of the subject, that the men were in the greatest destitution, from want of clothing, rations, &c. Major Humfrey described the privations to which they were subjected almost in the same terms with General O'Connell, who seemed to be a gallant and resolute officer, and who had thrown up his command in disgust at the conduct of the Spanish authorities. That officer stated in a general order, that the conduct of the Spanish Government was most infamous, and that the Legion had suffered from the most cruel inflictions and the most unjust privations. Why, that was the very state- 855 ment which had been made by him last year, and he could not now, any more than then, release the Spanish Government from the imputation of the most gross and scandalous neglect. Then, with regard to the unfortunate state in which the Legion were at present, the gallant Officer must have read in the Morning Chronicle of yesterday the letter of the private correspondent of that journal, giving an account of the embarkation of 700 men of the Legion, who were represented as being in such a dreadful state of destitution and nakedness that Lord John Hay, very properly, as he thought, was obliged to supply them with clothing, and provide for their immediate wants. Now, that was the condition of the men; what did the House suppose was the condition of the officers? Was it any thing better? Let him quote from the same authority.—"I am personally acquainted with a mess of four officers, two field-officers, and two captains, who for the last three months have not had a breakfast other than bread and water.* * * * I know others who have for a considerable time past been confined to their rooms for want of shoes to appear in the streets during daylight." Good God! Was that the way in which British officers were served in Spain? He felt strongly upon this subject. He thought after such treatment it was utterly impossible to exculpate the Spanish Government from the charge of neglect and breach of faith. They appeared to him to have first injured, and afterwards to have added to injury insult and degradation. When the Portuguese Legion were embarking for their own country, after having successfully fought for and placed the Queen of Portugal upon the throne, they were deprived of their arms and embarked under the guns of the castle of St. Belem. And what was the case as regarded the troops at St. Sebastian? After the Spanish government had defrauded the men and officers of the Legion of their just dues, and after treating them in the manner described, what now did they do? They added insult to injury by issuing an order to compel, at the point of the bayonet, the officers and men to embark at St. Sebastian, if they did not choose to embark voluntarily. He must say, therefore, that the whole conduct of the Spanish government towards the Legion was infamous. The next point to which he 856 wished to draw the attention of the House was a military point. The gallant General had alluded to it, and really, from the temperate manner in which the gallant General had made his speech, which they had all heard with great attention and interest, he must say it was with pain he drew attention to this subject. He must say that he differed entirely from the system which the gallant General had established for carrying on the war. He thought that the gallant General had conducted the discipline of the Legion in a manner that was not justified by the articles of war. The gallant General must admit that the terms and conditions under which the men enlisted in the Legion was that its discipline should be regulated according to the Mutiny Act and the articles of war in the British service. But the gallant General issued an order at St. Sebastian by which a soldier, at the mere will of his commanding officer, might receive two dozen lashes; and any officer commanding a regiment might inflict this punishment for an offence which he had himself seen committed, or upon the testimony of any competent witness. The result was that the men were constantly flogged at the will and pleasure of the commanding officers, and in some instances this power devolved upon captains; and even in some instances a subaltern, a strip of a lad fresh from this town, and without any experience, might order an old Waterloo soldier to receive two dozen lashes. Now, the allowing any commanding officer to inflict such a punishment, without a court-martial, was diametrically opposed to the articles of war. The rule in the British service was then when the army was in the field under arms and before the enemy, the provost system came into force, but the provost system was one of emergency. It applied to extraordinary cases and not to ordinary ones, and, therefore, when a man was under arms on parade the commanding officer had no more right to order him to be flogged than to be shot. But, again, the provost-marshal must see the soldier in the commission of the act for which he was punished. He could not take the fact upon the evidence of another person. The gallant General must have read the order issued by the Duke of Wellington in 1811, in which he directed that an officer should on no account order the provost-marshal to flog a man, and cer- 857 tainly the gallant General, when he commanded a brigade in the Peninsula, would not have ordered a man to be flogged. But the gallant General gave the commanding officers in the Legion this power, and on this account he thought the system of the gallant General bad and objectionable, and he did not think that the gallant General had answered the objection. Even on board a ship, where three or four hundred men were cooped up in a small space, the captain, before causing a man to be flogged, must cause him to be confined, must examine him in public before a certain number of officers, must state in writing the offence, and the punishment, and the number of lashes, and then twenty-four hours must elapse before the punishment could be inflicted, except in cases of mutiny. And when he saw the system established by the gallant General, and the monstrous power exercised, the gallant General must forgive him for saying that when the gallant General expressed his opinion in that House the gallant General had always been the advocate of the total abolition of this punishment. He recollected that in the year 1834 the gallant General voted for the entire abolition of corporal punishment; but, notwithstanding, these opinions, the gallant General, the moment he was charged with the responsibility of commanding a force, thought it right to establish the system. Instead of finding fault with the gallant General for this, he gave him credit for it. He thought the gallant General did what was right. He was one of those who for sixteen or seventeen years had incurred unpopularity, and lost the support of many of his constituents, by maintaining his conscientious opinions on the subject. He believed that without corporal punishment the discipline of the army could not be maintained. He must also do the gallant General the credit to state that, before he came into Parliament, he had always been opposed to corporal punishment, and therefore it was far from him to say that the gallant General, on coming into Parliament, had altered his opinions. He recollected that when the gallant General was elected for Westminster he came in upon the shoulders of the right hon. the President of the Board of Control on this very question. The fact, he believed, was, that the right hon. the President of the Board of Control, when he filled the office 858 of Secretary at War, had preferred doing his duty to the Crown to conceding to his constituents the abolition of flogging in the army; and in so doing he incurred that unpopularity which turned him out of his seat for Westminster. He thought this circumstance ought, at least, to have caused the hon. and gallant Officer who succeeded him in the representation of that city to act with very great caution when he found it necessary to adopt this practice in regard to the Legion in Spain; and he should be extremely glad if the hon. and gallant Officer, in his reply, would take occasion to give some explanation in reference to the points which he had referred to on this subject—an explanation which he thought was essentially demanded by the circumstances, lest on any future occasion, when an officer might be going abroad in command of troops, he might fancy that he was empowered to flog the men under him at his mere caprice and discretion. That such had been the case in the Legion he thought was so clear as to require no additional statements from him; they had, however, the evidence of Colonel Dixon, who stated that whenever a man came on parade with his coat dirty, or whenever his coat was not properly folded up, he was turned out and got his two dozen lashes; so that ten or fifteen men were often served in this way. With respect to the conduct of the men, he had, last year, stated that the men were in a state of mutiny, and that, in his opinion, this was mainly owing to two circumstances, namely, the want of pay, and the dispute about the terms of their service. Lieutenant Shaw said, that the corps was in a downright mutiny on several occasions, and refused to go on board when they were ordered. On one occasion, General Evans (he said) was blamed for not sending men to Bilbao; but why did he not do so? Because on a former occasion when he was required to send some men to Santander, the men mutinied on the march to the port, and afterwards, when they had arrived at Santander, they again mutinied; but on receiving their pay they were more quiet. He (Sir Henry Hardinge) thought, therefore, that it was evident that it was not from any bad feeling, any inherent principle of insubordination in the men themselves, that they mutinied, but because they were not paid, because they were not treated as 859 they should be, and desired to be, by the Spanish government; this, and this only, was the cause of the unfortunate state of mutiny into which they fell. General M'Dougal, who was one of the best officers in the set vice, and who had seen a great deal of service in the Peninsular war, said of the men at Vittoria, that he never saw men bear their sufferings with more patience and submission, and that he believed there was no cause of complaint amongst them but what arose out of the conduct of the Spanish government. With regard to the Durango decree, the gallant Officer in his speech, seemed to insinuate, that the party opposed to the Government had palliated this decree. So far from this being the case, he had never said a word in its defence; on the contrary, he had always denounced it as a diabolical decree, and had declared that Don Carlos, by enforcing it, had disqualified himself from sitting on the throne of Spain. He had never said a word in justification of the murder of his own countrymen in Spain; but he had heard statements of atrocities committed on both sides, which would fill any one with horror. A gentleman called upon him the other day whose son was in the cavalry, (the 2nd Lancers) at Logrono, and who stated, that the practice was to surround the Carlist villages at night, and when the men inhabiting them were taken, they were generally put to death. But on the subject of the Durango decree, the hon. and gallant Officer would surely recollect his own letter to his constituents some time back, in which he said, that "this was the first time that a great power like Great Britain had allowed itself to be treated in this way, and that when he returned to this country he would do something to rectify it." Against whom was this taunt directed? Not merely at Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House, but at the noble Lord, at the head of her Majesty's Government. As the hon. and gallant Officer, however, had not impugned the statements which he (Sir Henry Hardinge) had made, of the manner in which the war was carried on in Spain, he should not trouble the House further on these points at present, but proceed to a few other of the points contained in the hon. and gallant Officer's speech. The hon. and gallant Officer, in the course of his explanation of the disaster at Hernani, said, that this was the only one which the Legion had experienced; 860 that all armies were subject to retreats; and that the Legion, after their first retreat, again rallied, and that the loss of the day was only four hundred men. But, he thought, it could be shown that the exertions of the men to maintain their ground on this occasion were not very great. Nothing, however, could be more disparaging than the account given by the hon. and gallant Officer himself in his dispatch. The hon. and gallant Officer's dispatch stated, that the first battalion was the first to give way; that they retired from the ground at a time when they might have destroyed the enemy; that the disorder thus occasioned, gained ground until it affected the rear; that the men became intermixed so that it became impossible to rally them. Such was the hon. and gallant Officer's description of the defeat at Hernani; yet this defeat, it should be recollected, took place at mid-day, in the face of forces not superior to their own, and who were fatigued by their previous match. The total number of men under the command of the hon. and gallant Officer was 14,000; besides which, he had sixteen pieces of British artillery well manned, and nine or ten of Spanish artillery, making altogether twenty-six pieces of artillery, whilst the Carlists had only three pieces of artillery in all. Under these circumstances, he thought that he had not been very far wrong in describing this event as one unprecedented in the history of warfare. At the same time, if he had ever said anything which savoured of unfairness towards the men or officers of the Legion, he was very anxious to atone for it; he had before this, borne testimony to the good services and conduct of both officers and men; but what could he say in their favour after reading the dispatch of the gallant Officer himself? At the same time, however, he repeated again his conviction that the fault generally was not attributable to the men, but to the state of mutiny to which they had been reduced by the ill-treatment they had experienced from the Spanish government, and the habit of ill-discipline into which they had fallen in consequence. It was not his intention to enter at length upon a military discussion of this subject: but as the hon. and gallant Officer had justified the military operations in which he had taken part, by stating that the three armies of the Spanish government contemplated attacking the Carlists from three distinct points, namely, 861 Pampluna, Bilbao, and Hernani. He submitted, with all respect and deference to the hon. and gallant Officer, that there could not be any safe co-operation in military proceedings without a safe communication between the co-operating generals; and that no such safety of co-operation appeared to have existed on the present occasion, for that each of the three Government forces was inferior in strength to the Carlist force which separated them from one another; neither of the Government forces exceeding 14,000 men, whilst the Carlist force was 30,000. When the hon. and gallant Officer referred to instances in history of retreats, he appeared to confound disasters on the field with retreats, which, however, were very different things. A disaster on the field was always a misfortune, whilst a retreat might, under circumstances, be one of the most glorious of military achievements, both in its conduct and consequences. But he believed that this might safely be affirmed of the British army in the Peninsular war, that they never attacked a position which they did not take, nor ever defended a position which they did not hold. The hon. and gallant Officer had instanced the case of Almanza; but he would beg just to relate an anecdote of Bonaparte in reference to this event. Napoleon was on one occasion remarking that the British force were stoutly defending a position in which it had been vigorously attacked. "Yes," said General Foy, "these English always keep a position when they get it." Napoleon said it was always so. He knew of no instance in history to the contrary. "Yes," said General Foy, "there was the battle of Almanza." "But at that battle," replied Napoleon, "the French army was commanded by an Englishman (the Duke of Berwick), and the English by a Frenchman (Rouvigny, Earl of Galway)." He thought he had now said sufficient in order to show that the conduct of her Majesty's Government in regard to Spain had been most erroneous and disastrous. There was only one other point on which he had to say a word before he sat down. The hon. and gallant Officer had said, that the fondness of Gentlemen on the Opposition side of the House for Spanish discussions appeared to be subsiding. He could assure the hon. and gallant Officer that this was not the case. He and his Friends around him felt that the policy 862 pursued by her Majesty's Government had been bad—that the lives of their countrymen had been thrown away in an unjustifiable manner—that discredit, in spite of all which could be urged in explanation, had attached itself to the officers and men of the Legion—that misery and ruin had been entailed upon a great number of valuable officers and men, subjects of this kingdom; and he thought that they should not be doing their duty unless they took steps to mark, by public protest, the disapprobation with which they contemplated the conduct of the Government in respect to the affairs of Spain. He had great pleasure, therefore, in anticipating that at an early opportunity the noble Lord, the Member for East Cornwall, who was instrumental in procuring the treaty called the Eliot convention, promised to bring forward a motion on the subject of Spanish affairs, when he would take the sense of the House upon the subject.
§ Lord Eliot
said, that as his hon. and gallant Friend had informed the House that it was his intention on an early day to bring forward a motion affecting the policy of her Majesty's Government in respect to the affairs of Spain, he rose for the purpose of saying a very few words as to the purport of the resolution which he intended to move, and how he proposed to bring the subject before the House. He could assure the House that it was from no overweening sense of his own abilities he was induced to undertake this task, but at the suggestion of several friends to whose opinions he was accustomed to pay great deference, and who assured him that, having been commissioned from this country to Spain for the accomplishment of the convention to which his hon. and gallant Friend had alluded, it would' not be altogether unbecoming in him to come forward to introduce a motion on this subject. With regard to the military conduct of the hon. and gallant Officer who commanded the Legion, that was a point upon which he was not prepared to enter. With respect to the occasion which existed for his motion, he would remind the House that since this question had been last discussed, a new Parliament had been elected, and he thought it highly desirable that under these circumstances a public expression of the opinion of Parliament should be obtained.
Sir Hussey Vivian
said, that as the hon. 863 and gallant Officer, the Member for Westminster, had been some time on his staff as a general officer, this circumstance might be pleaded by him as an apology for rising to address the House on the present occasion. When this question was last touched upon by his hon. and gallant Friend opposite, he ventured to express his conviction, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman, in whatever he might have said, had intended to say nothing which should wound the feelings of his hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Westminster, and he was delighted to perceive in the mode and temper in which the hon. and gallant Member had to-night spoken, that his assurance upon this point had been fully borne out. It was not his intention to go into the particulars of the British co-operation in the affairs of Spain, but he would declare his opinion, that the assistance which this country afforded to Spain was that which the latter had every right to expect from us by virtue of existing treaties. It was predicted during the late European war, that the next war which took place would be a war of opinion, and he was delighted to see that in this war of opinion, which had already commenced, England had been found foremost in giving her assistance in support of a constitutional government in Spain. He did not intend to defend the conduct of the Spanish Government in regard to the Legion; he was fully aware of the sufferings which the latter had endured at Vittoria, and he believed that they were greatly owing to the want of proper attention and treatment on the part of the Spanish Government. But he feared that in time of war the sufferings of our own army had frequently been as severe. He believed that he should have no difficulty in showing, were he inclined to enter upon the subject, that after long marches and fatiguing campaigns, the sick were as numerous and suffered as much as amongst the troops which were commanded by his hon. and gallant Friend. With respect to the practice of corporal punishment, he was not prepared to say whether the measures of his hon. and gallant Friend were strictly in accordance with the articles of war; but, at the same time, he thought that very great allowance should be made for the extraordinary circumstances in which his hon. and gallant Friend was placed, having under his command officers and men, the greater 864 number of whom had never served before, and who had been previously altogether unacquainted with one another. He did not know whether the provost system was recognised by the articles of war, but he always understood that it was enforced when the army was in the field, and he believed that his hon. and gallant Friend had done no more than to extend its operation under some other circumstances. On no occasion, however, had his hon. and gallant Friend inflicted capital punishment. He did not wish to institute any comparisons between the Duke of Wellington and his hon. and gallant Friend. He could not help remarking, however, that it was from the outset greatly to the disadvantage of his hon. and gallant Friend to come upon ground whereon that great commander had achieved such glorious renown for the British arms. This was a circumstance much against his hon. and gallant Friend; and when, in addition to this, the nature of the troops which he had to command was considered, men drawn together from all parts of the country, most of whom had never carried a musket before, with a mixture of a few of the worst of those who had served in the army, and landed at once in a foreign country where every man they met was their enemy. [Hear, hear!] He understood that cheer from the Gentlemen opposite. He supposed hon. Gentlemen meant to insinuate that these men ought never to have been landed there. But he must say again, that he was glad that this country had given assistance to a nation which had a right to demand it under existing treaties. He could revert, if he thought proper, to the misfortunes which characterised the early part of the late war—but he would not do so, as the stigma which had been entailed by them upon the British renown had been subsequently wiped away by the glorious achievements of the Duke of Wellington. With regard to the general conduct of the Legion, he believed he might assert that, out of sixteen occasions on which they had been engaged with the Carlists, they had only experienced defeat twice. The affair of Fontarabia was intended for a mere demonstration, and when it was ordered, his hon. and gallant Friend ought properly to have been in his bed; but this he would not submit to, but took his place on the field; and when he found that the place could not possibly be taken by such a 865 force as that under his command, he very prudently retired. The affair of Hernani was undertaken by his hon. and gallant Friend, who saw the necessity for effecting a diversion in favour of General Espartero. Circumstances enabled the Carlists to direct all their forces against his hon. and gallant Friend, who was not prepared for the severity of the attack which was made upon him by the Carlists, whom he suddenly met at the top of the hill. The troops first in advance suffered a repulse, which being perceived by those behind them, they began to retreat also, and the consequence was, the confusion and disaster which they had heard of. After a short time, however, order was re-established, two regiments of the Legion remained on the field for two hours after, and the Marines took up their position in the rear, and rendered an important service in the results of the day. It had been said, that the Marines alone saved the army. He did not wish to do an injustice to this brave corps, but he was sure that the officers and men of the Marines themselves would not wish to engross a larger share of praise than they were entitled to at the expense of the brave men with whom they co-operated on the occasion. An instance of the courage and moderation of the men of the Legion he would mention. After their retreat, they recollected that in a house which they had left in their rear, some of their comrades had been suffered to remain; a body of the Legion immediately went back to rescue their fellow-countrymen; but when they arrived at the barn they found that they had been massacred by the Carlists. Some of the men were for immediately avenging the deaths of their friends by slaying the Carlists; but a Scotch corporal who was with them interfered, and succeeded in saving the lives of the latter. Now, this he maintained was a circumstance which redounded greatly to the credit of the Legion. On another occasion some men of the Legion had been put to death by the Carlists by a cruel process of torture; some of the Carlists were subsequently taken by the comrades of the former, but their lives were spared. With respect to the gallantry and courage of the Legion, he would refer to the actions of the 10th, 14th, and 15th of March, when they attacked the Venta Hill. Where, he would ask, was more gallantry displayed by any troops than on that occasion? 866 There were many other occasions on which the deeds of the Legion were such as did honour to their country. At Irun, for instance, they were not aware at first how strongly the place was barricaded, and after twenty-four hours of siege, when a storm was ordered, the men got ladders, broke through the houses one after another, and when they came to the Piazza, where the inhabitants were congregated, they obliged them to capitulate, but spared their lives. He must again express his satisfaction that his hon. and gallant Friend opposite, in what he had said on this subject, had not in any way disparaged the character of his hon. and gallant Friend who commanded the Legion. The Legion had been maligned by a profligate press, in a manner which no Englishmen deserved. He thought it right to pay a due tribute to the gallantry of this corps, which he had heard attested by eye witnesses, of their services. He was convinced that, however party spirit might depreciate their conduct for the present, the time would come when the men, and his hon. and gallant Friend who led them, would be universally considered not to have acted in any way unworthy of the country to which they belonged.
Viscount Mahon felt
called on to make a few observations, with a view rather to set the hon. and gallant Officer right in respect to himself, than of protracting the debate. He had no complaint to make in regard of the manner in which the hon. and gallant Officer had introduced his name into the observations he had thought proper to make—it was marked with courtesy, and he hoped that in the same spirit it should be met by him. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had said, that he had stated on a former occasion, that a great number of the Legion had at one time gone into action drunk. Now the fact was, that he had never stated any such thing. He had no authority for doing so, and without good authority he would never think of making such a statement. The hon. and gallant Gentleman had also said, that he and those hon. Members on his side of the House had reserved all their pity for the soldiers of the legion, as regarded the stoppage of their pay, until the Spanish government, by refusing to pay them, left them in distress; but he could speedily convince the hon. and gallant Gentleman that such was not the case, especially as regarded him- 867 self; for in the debate of the 24th of June, 1835, he had expressed a wish to know who would secure to the soldiers of the Legion the pay for which they had contracted. He had also showed, that many of the men had joined that corps in the belief that their pay, and all other contingencies, were guaranteed by the British Government, and that it would be a great hardship on them to find no compensation when they had given their services; and no mode of recovering it in case anything should occur. He was not competent to enter on the military part of the question, and, therefore, those were the only parts of the hon. and gallant Gentleman's speech which he felt called on to answer. The political question involved in the whole transaction would be a subject of discussion on a future day; and he should reserve any observations he had to make on it until then. While, however, fully admitting, that the Legion behaved gallantly on many occasions, he could not conceal from himself that they had, on the whole, been involving the credit of the country without any advantage to the party for whom they fought. At all events, he trusted that the House would ask the noble Lord opposite (Palmerston) how, with no military glory acquired, and no advantage of any kind obtained, he could justify the sacrifice of British treasure and British life which had taken place in Spain under his auspices?
§ Mr. Tennyson D'Eyncourt
condemned the negligence of the Spanish government in permitting such a state of hostility to the Legion as had been manifested in Spain; but at the same time he considered her Majesty's Ministers had acted with good faith in keeping the terms of the treaty with it. The topic, however, which he should touch on was the deficiency of the payment. There was no doubt whatever that the Spanish government did not do right on that subject. The men of the first Legion had never received the gratuities which had been promised them on their enlistment, though they had received their pay; and the officers had received pay for one year only—the first—the second year being wholly unremunerated. A great number of the men of the second Legion, he believed, were now at large on the shores of Spain, in the extremity of distress described by the hon. and gallant Officer opposite. The feelings of his noble Friend (Lord Palmerston) he well knew, 868 when it was asserted and uncontradicted, that these men had been invited to enlist in the Legion by the Order in Council; and he thought, therefore, that every attention should be paid to the claims of these deserted individuals by his noble Friend. He hoped that an effective commission sitting in this country would be the result, and that a large proportion of what was owing to these poor creatures would be paid. It was the bounden duty of her Majesty's Government to enforce on the Spanish government the necessity of keeping faith with these hapless men, who had poured out their blood in its service. If the noble Lord failed in this object, then he might rest assured that a feeling of disgust would arise in this country which would render it difficult, if not impossible, for him to continue the friendly relations which at present prevailed between this country and Spain. At this moment there was not less than from 200,000l. to 250,000l. due to the Legion.
§ Sir R. Inglis
would take that opportunity of expressing his opinion in the presence of the hon. and gallant Officer. No person had a right to destroy life without lawful commands, but he denied the legality of the commands in the present instance. Allusion had been made to an Order in Council, but, if that allusion were correct, it would only be transferring the guilt from the hon. and gallant Officer to the Government. He had not heard the gallant Officer justify himself by the Order in Council. What offence, he would ask, had warranted his attack on the Basque provinces? If the attack were made by Government stipulation, Government had done too little; if not, it was a murder on a great scale. He had stated these opinions last year, and had said, that he should be glad to hear an explanation from the gallant Officer, and he now repeated the statement in his presence. With respect to the policy of the noble Lord (Lord Palmerston), he would defer expressing his opinions until the motion on the subject, of which notice had been given, was brought before the House.
§ Colonel Davies
was understood to say, that, notwithstanding the moral degradation some parties felt inclined to attribute to the government of Spain, he thought that the British Government had acted discreetly in supporting the cause of civil liberty in that country.
§ Captain Boldero
said, that the hon. 869 Member for Lambeth had thrown most properly the whole blame of the failure of the Legion on the Spanish government; for he certainly thought, that the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster was not to bear the whole responsibility of it. At the same time, it was his opinion, that the hon. and gallant Member ought, immediately on his arriving in this country, when he first took his seat, to have placed on the order-books of the House a list of the claims of the officers and privates that remained unpaid. When the Legion left this country, the commissariat and medical department had not been properly attended to; and he would just inquire, whether the force sent out to Canada would be equally unprepared? In his opinion, the whole evil which had attached to the Legion was attributable to the treatment they had received at Vittoria. When they were ordered to march to that place, they found, on their arrival, the barracks already occupied, and they were compelled to encamp in places about the outskirts of the town. Soon after the French Legion arrived; but where were they billeted? Why, in the town; and if the gallant Member had shown the same determination as the French commander, his troops would have been equally fortunate. The troops were almost enticed to leave this country, and when they arrived in Spain, this was the treatment they had met with. Such a kind of warfare must have had a most demoralizing effect on them. Now, the gallant Member, in his address to his constituents, had said, that the war in Spain was not a civil war, but one of principle. Why, what was it but a civil war? When two parties belonging to the same country were contending for the crown, the contest in which they were engaged was, undoubtedly, a civil war. With respect to the marines, to whom he had alluded on a former evening, he hoped the gallant Member would bear witness to the eminent services which they had performed. This was a subject in which he felt great interest, and he had only to refer to a dispatch of the gallant Member of the 16th of March, to show that the gallant Member had thought that the marines had done their duty in a most efficient manner. Looking back to the whole course of the proceedings in Spain, he was of opinion, that the Government should withdraw their assistance and countenance from the contest, and let 870 the blood-thirsty scoundrels of that country fight it out for themselves. Reference had been made to the case of Captain Napier, and an analogy had been attempted to be drawn between the two, but he thought them by no means similar, and it must be remembered, moreover, that the same breath which had struck that gallant Captain from the navy list, had promised, also, to re-insert his name on his return. He had bravely attacked Don Miguel's navy, and did he leave his men in the lurch? No; he had seen all of them properly settled with before he left Portugal, and if he could not have done that, he would rather have run away with them than have left them behind. But what had the gallant Member for Westminster done? Why, he had left his men at St. Sebastian to the mercy of the Spanish government, and afterwards an order came from that government to ship them on board of ships at the point of the bayonet, because they refused to leave without their pay. Then, again, the Spanish government had paid some of them, but had not furnished ships for them to leave, so that they had no alternative but to enlist in the service again. General O'Connell had behaved very differently, and had acted in a most liberal and manly manner towards his men. The hon. Member concluded by saying, that, from beginning to end, the expedition of the gallant Member for Westminster had been a total failure.
§ Mr. C. Wood
felt himself called upon to rise in consequence of an observation of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down, to the effect, that the course pursued by the Spanish government had tended to force the men of the Legion to re-enlist in their service. He had before him a letter from Lord John Hay, which gave a most positive contradiction to such an assertion. Lord John Hay, it appeared, had taken the disbanded men of the Legion under his protection, and no man, except by his own free will, to ascertain which every possible means were taken, had been suffered to re-engage. About eighty of the best men of the old Legion had reentered, and the reason they had given for doing so, was their present attachment towards the officer whom the Spanish government had selected to command the new force. He should only further say, with respect to the allegation of his hon. and gallant Friend having deserted his men without seeing them paid, or tran- 871 sports provided for their return home, he knew it to be a fact, that every non-commissioned officer and private of the Legion had received the full amount of pay due to him up to the day of his discharge, together with marching money to the place where he had been enlisted; and, moreover, that all the pensions, whether to officers or men, for wounds received in the service, or to the widows of those slain in action, had been regularly paid, be believed, up to the present hour.
§ Viscount Palmerston
said, that as the noble lord (Lord Elliot) had given notice of an intention to bring the general question of the policy of the Government in regard to Spain under the consideration of the House, he should not on the present occasion enter at all upon the political part of the discussion which had taken place, but should reserve for that occasion any thing he had to say upon that subject. On the part of the Government he was perfectly ready to meet the noble Lord's motion whenever it was brought forward, and he was equally satisfied that he would then be able to prove to the satisfaction of the House that the policy towards Spain had been both expedient and honourable. Upon the military part of the question before the House it would be great presumption in him to offer any opinion of his own; but still he must say, that, as far as an individual not of the military profession could judge, he thought his hon. and gallant Friend had completely succeeded in not merely vindicating—if vindication were necessary—his own conduct, but had repelled the imputations that had been thrown on the officers and men under his command. As far as that House was concerned nothing had passed within its walls to call for the vindication his hon. and gallant Friend had thought proper to make; and if there had been attacks made upon him in other quarters, be thought the statement they had heard that night was calculated to secure him against their repetition. In the course of the debate an hon. Member had called the attention of the House and of the Government to the claims of the officers of the Legion upon the Spanish Government, and expressed a hope that the matter might be taken up in their favour. He begged to say that the attention of the Government had already been directed to the subject. It was true a very large sum was owing to those officers, but the precise 872 amount had not been ascertained; as yet no detailed accounts had been rendered to the Spanish Government. He had, however, through the British Minister at Madrid, most urgently applied to that Government to take steps to settle these claims, whatever their amount might be, and he was happy to add, that this appeal had been attended to. At one time the Spanish Government proposed a commission to inquire into these accounts at Madrid—at another time they nominated a commission at St. Sebastian; but at length it had been decided that the inquiry should take place in London, which on every account was more convenient, as the parties would then be on the spot. The Spanish Government had also promised, without waiting for the termination of the inquiry, to send to this country a sum of money to make payments on account of the officers' claims. It had been correctly stated by his hon. Friend near him that the claims of all the non-commissioned officers and privates had been paid up to the period of their discharge, and that marching-money, according to the regulations of the British service, had been paid to them, and that what was due to them was only the gratuity promised by the Spanish Government. All pensions likewise had been paid, and though the officers were in arrear of pay, their field allowances up to the expiration of the service had been discharged. It had been said, that the only fitting comparison for the sufferings of the Legion in Spain was to be found in those of the force under Sir Henry Clinton in Portugal. This he was far from admitting. The force under Sir Henry Clinton was not engaged in any military operations, and their services were in no point of view to be compared with those of the Legion. He thought the only parallel to the career of the Legion was to be found in that of the army under the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular war. He had only farther to state, that he had no objection whatever to the production of the papers moved for. Upon the general question of the Government policy in regard to Spain, he repeated he should reserve himself, until the noble Lord should bring forward his motion, of the precise nature of which he hoped due notice would be given.
§ Sir De Lacy Evans
, in reply, said, that he had heard so little affecting the statement which he had taken the liberty of 873 submitting to the House, that he should have no occasion to trespass on their in dulgence but with one or two observations. The hon. and gallant Member for Chippenham (Captain Boldero) had expressed good wishes for his health and happiness and he could not but feel assured that whatever sentiments he had dropped were expressed in good feeling, and that part of his address, therefore, should not induce him to make any comment on it. The hon. and gallant Officer, in his observations on the subject of the Legion, had referred to the period (the 10th of June 1837), when he (Sir De Lacy Evans) left St. Sebastian. At that period the term of service of the Legion had actually expired He (Sir De Lacy Evans) certainly had therefore, no authority over, nor any control, of those men. They were waiting in fact, to receive the pay which was a that time on its way from Madrid to be issued to them, after which they propose, to decide as to whether they would c would not enter into a new engagement with the Spanish Government. With that new engagement or the formation c the new Legion he (Sir De Lacy Evans) had, no connection or responsibility whatsoever The men were free agents, and were quit at liberty to re-enlist and enter into a new engagement if they thought proper, thong a large number did re-enter the Spanish service, and those who desired to come away were furnished with ships and were brought to this country. The ground of imputation brought forward on that head by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was therefore, entirely imaginary. But the fact was, that the tenderness and affectionate regard at present evinced by hon. Gentlemen opposite towards the Legion were so great that nothing seemed adequate to satisfy them unless these men were withdrawn from the shores of Spain, whether the men themselves chose it or not. On the subject of the observation of the noble Lord, the Member for Hertford he had not in the slightest degree intended to impugn the authenticity, merit, or impartiality of the noble Lord's historical work which had been adverted to; neither had he meant that the noble Lord ha suppressed or concealed any of the fad concerning the disaster which had occurred to the noble Lord's ancestor, General Stanhope. What he had merely meant t convey was, that the same measure of candour shown by the noble Lord to the 874 case of his own relative was an indulgent feeling not quite so manifest when he came to pass his strictures upon the Legion. With regard to the statements of the right hon. and gallant Member for Launceston, he saw nothing in them which called for particular observation on the present occasion. He had culled a number of statements from pamphlets, the authors of which were obviously hostile in their motives to him (Sir De Lacy Evans); and their purport seemed to be for the most part a description of the distresses and horrors to be witnessed in military hospitals. But if any body had thought proper to paint descriptions or write pamphlets on the distressing scenes exhibited in the hospitals in the former war of the Peninsular army, or of any other army, equally melancholy and equally harrowing pictures might at all times have been painted with at least equal truth. On the subject of the provost system alluded to by the hon. and gallant Gentleman he must surely have forgotten or not beard the extracts read by him (Sir De Lacy Evans) from the letters of the Duke of Wellington, and which observations of the Duke of Wellington particularly pointed out his Grace's doubts as to the strict legality of the provost system. He had himself avoided all corporal as well as all capital punishments and the extension of the provost system was in accordance with the opinion expressed by the Duke of Wellington of the total impossibility of maintaining discipline in the field without the aid of that system. As for his opinion on the subject of the abolition of corporal punishments, it remained exactly the same as it previously had been, and which the right hon. and gallant Gentleman correctly stated. He was of opinion, however, that it must be abolished in the first instance in the home service before it could be dispensed with in the field. His evidence before the Royal Commission on this subject was on record, and it described in detail his view of the mode in which this reform might be accomplished, and was in every respect completely consistent and in accordance with what had occurred in Spain. It was also in unison with the opinions of every one who advocated the repeal of that punishment. The hon. and gallant Gentleman, after observing that this subject could be more fully gone into on the Mutiny Bill, concluded by thanking the House for the patience and attention 875 with which he had been listened to, and sat down amidst loud cheering.
§ Motion agreed to.