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Swift & Bold

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Swift & Bold
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Author(s): Gibbes Rigaud
Date Published: 2008/08
Page Count: 272
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-525-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-526-0

Celer et Audax—the 5th battalion of the 60th (Rifles) against Napoleon's French Army

Among those fascinated by the Napoleonic Wars and the war in Spain in particular there has been much focus on the activities of Wellingtons famous green clad riflemen—the 95th. These were not the only riflemen in the famous Peninsula Army. An older rifles regiment—the 60th—distinguished by red facings on their rifle green jackets, also served with distinction alongside their comrades of the 95th in virtually every action and battle of the war. The regiment could trace its ancestry to the New World where as the Royal Americans it fought in the French and Indian War. Always a multi-national regiment it recruited Hungarians, Swiss, Germans and even Frenchmen who could demonstrate the unique flair for independent action and skill at marksmanship essential for a rifleman. The 60th were almost always broken up into detachments serving in all the divisions of the army ensuring their honours roll would read like chronology of the war. This rare book—celebrated by Leonaur as its 250 title published—chronicles their Peninsular War from Rolica to Toulouse and will be essential reading for anyone fascinated by the period.

The river Ceira was very full, and the supplies were running very short, and Lord Wellington was not unwilling to halt a few days to rest his troops, who had all had much work, though a very large proportion of the severest toil and hard fighting had fallen to the share of Picton’s third division and the light division.<br>
In the despatch of 16th of March describing the operations of the 13th and succeeding days he especially mentions that:<br><br>
. . . . the light troops of General Picton’s division under Colonel Williams (60th Rifles) and those of General Nightingale’s brigade were principally engaged on the right; and the 95th Regiment in front of the light division; and the troops behaved in the most gallant manner.<br><br>
In the fighting on the 13th, Lieutenant Joyce of the 60th Rifles was wounded; and on the 15th another, Lieutenant Sawatsky, an officer of merit and future promise, was amongst the killed.<br>
The position assumed by Massena on the 18th behind the Alva was strong, and Junot, Ney, and Reynier had judicious orders given to them, had they but obeyed them. Reynier took himself off through the Sierra de Moita in pique, which caused Massena to leave his position in haste and make the best of his way to Celorico, where he arrived, unpursued, on the 21st; whence he continued his retreat to Guarda on the 22nd. Marshal Ney’s insubordination was so great that Massena had no choice but to dismiss him, and having ordered him to the rear placed his corps under the command of Loison.<br>
The city of Guarda has the reputation of being the highest inhabited town in Europe: situated on the summit of one of the loftiest branches of the Sierra de Estrella, it obtains the name of Guarda, ‘watch-tower,’ from its position, and has always enjoyed the military reputation of being the ‘key of Portugal.’ The Prince of Essling resolved to stop his retreat here and to rest his army, but he was dislodged by one of Wellington’s masterly combinations—a pressure on his flanks. On the 28th of March Picton’s division drove the French out of Freixadas, while Trant and Miller, bringing up their ordenanzas, secured Pinhel and cut off communication with Almeida.<br>
The French officers, little apprehensive of an assault in such an eyrie, relaxed their accustomed vigilance, and, to their utter confusion, were suddenly pounced upon by five columns of attack, consisting of infantry and cavalry, which had ascended the mountain by roads, the lengths of which, as they wound in numberless sinuosities along the sides of a precipice overspread with trees, were difficult to calculate. It was intended that the columns should reach the summit almost at one and the same moment without having been discovered, but Picton with the 3rd division was much earlier on his ground than the others. The brigade Maucune, posted considerably in front of the city, with difficulty escaped being cut off, but all were driven hastily from Guarda with the loss of 300 men.
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