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The Complete Adventures in the Connaught Rangers

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The Complete Adventures in the Connaught Rangers
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Author(s): William Grattan
Date Published: 2009/07
Page Count: 560
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-725-7
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-726-4

A famous account—two volumes complete in one book

Grattan's account of his service with the famous 88th—The Connaught Rangers—the hardest fighting and possibly least appreciated regiment in Wellington’s famous Peninsula Army fighting Napoleon's French, is well known and highly regarded by scholars and students of the Napoleonic Wars alike. For those who may be unfamiliar with it, this is a memoir full of incident and action, well written and charmingly enhanced by the many characterisations of and anecdotes about the irrepressible Irish soldiery who made up its ranks. This edition, at some 560 pages, should not be confused with edited versions in print; it is quite different. Grattan's account originally ran to two volumes and later editors have seen fit to considerably cut the text; had that editing only removed uninteresting, irrelevant or unentertaining material there would have been no purpose in this ‘restored’ edition. The Leonaur editors are pleased to offer the entire 'Adventures in the Connaught Rangers' unedited—both vital volumes in one edition for your enjoyment. Available in soft cover and hard back with dust jacket for collectors.

Towards three o’clock in the afternoon our works had been materially advanced, several small magazines were in progress, the batteries destined to act against La Picurina were armed, and the losses which we sustained amongst our engineers repaired by the arrival of others to replace their fallen companions. It was at this time, while I was seriously occupied with thirty men, in covering with boards and sand- bags a magazine which had been, with great labour, formed during the forenoon, that a shell of huge dimensions exploded at the entrance of it.<br>
There were, at the moment, above a dozen or so of the staff corps and engineers, with some of the line, placing a quantity of gunpowder in the vault which had been prepared to receive it. The roof of the magazine was, in defiance of the dreadful fire which was incessant upon this point, crowned by a few soldiers of the party under my command; some kegs of gunpowder, which were at the entrance of the cave, unfortunately blew up, destroying all at that side of the magazine, and hurling the planks which were but in part secured upon its top, together with the men that were upon them, into the air, caused us a great loss of lives and labour, but fortunately the great store of powder which was inside, escaped.<br>
The planks were shivered to pieces, and the brave fellows who occupied them, either blown into atoms, or so dreadfully wounded as to cause their immediate death; some had their uniforms burned to a cinder, while others were coiled up in a heap, without the vestige of anything left to denote that they were human beings.<br>
An 88th soldier, of the name of Cooney, barber to the company he belonged to, escaped the effects of the explosion, unhurt, except a slight scratch in the face, caused by a splinter from a rock that had been rent in pieces by the blowing up of the magazine; he was an old and ugly man, but yet so vain of his personal appearance, as to be nearly in despair at the idea, as he said, “of his good looks being spoiled.”<br>
While he was in the midst of his lamentation, a round shot struck his head and carried it off his shoulders, when one of his companions exclaimed, with that humour which none but an Irishman could possess at such a time, “Well! upon my sowl, he was always an ugly-looking cratur, but now he’s the very devil!”<br>
All the men laughed, and said, “It was thrue for him he was.”<br>
In his coat pocket was found his soap and razor, which were instantly drawn lots for, but to whose “lot” they fell I know not. Those—ill-timed, some will say—jokes, may appear to many, out of place, but they are not so nevertheless; it is much better that soldiers while enduring fatigues, and braving dangers such as those I am describing, should have a light and cheerful bearing, and it is plain that he who passes his joke in this manner against his fallen comrade stands a fair chance of being similarly placed himself, without any risk of his taking offence at it. It is this gaiety of demeanour—this steel-hardiness in moments of peril—that makes soldiers, in the true acceptation of the word, what they ought to be.<br>
No matter what a man’s feelings may really be, he should, and must stifle them, because it is well known—at least to those who have seen service—how readily the opinions of a few act upon the great mass of the multitude; and if soldiers were to indulge themselves in mourning over the dead bodies of their fallen companions, it would act like a contagion, and it would be difficult to say how the great body might be infected by it.<br>
The Duke of Wellington was never known to pay attention to the reports carried to him of the fall of any of his officers: no more was Nelson. At Trafalgar, when his ship, the Victory, was along side of the Spanish Santissima Trinidada, one of the first discharges from that mountain of floating timber killed eight men on the quarter-deck. Nelson quietly turned round to his Captain, and said, “This is too good to last long.”
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