BEZVICE. OP YILITARY r enlisted in the Seventy-third Foot. This
regiment formed part of the troops (for they were not numerous enough to be called an army) despatched to " assist " the immense hordes then moving against Napoleon in Germany, in compliance with some whimsy at home and against the caustic remonstrances of Wellington. Only one regiment, however, stirred from their quarters, or saw an enemy ; and that was our author's, which engaged in an affair in conjunction with a German army, and turned the scale of victory against the French. The Seventy- third Foot was next employed in Holland ; and was all but annihilated at Waterloo. During the occupation of France, our hero was promoted to a Sergeantcy ; but having only enlisted for seven years, and his early visions of captaincies and glory having vanished, he withdrew from the Army on the expiration of his term.
Excepting Waterloo, Thomas Morris saw but little striking service ; thrligh he experienced hardships enough from weather, privation, and fatigue. Nor has the journal of a private soldier now any inherent no- velty. The feature of the book is the character of its author, and the individuality and every-day air of his pictures of battle and campaigning life, compared with the generalisms of gazettes and histories. These cannot derive their truth, but they too derive their vivid plainness, from the character of the writer ; which is that of the educated respectable youth, connected apparently with the lower branches of the middle class, who enlists not from any quarrel or scrape but from liking to the service, love of "glory," and some idea of rising in the world. The experience of our author, however, does not encourage the experiment as regards the individual ; for even if he draws a prize in the myriad of blanks, his position with the other officers is rarely agreeable, and his means are insufficient to support his rank. As respects the Army under its present constitution the advantage of having such men in the ranks may be more questionable than it would seem at first sight. Greater in- telligence and a better morale is undoubtedly gained, with more zeal at starting. On the other hand, as time wears on, the mind of such a man becomes soured and Cynical, and probably prone to vent itself not only against the regulations, officers, and constitution of the Army, but even against the society which supports it in such a form. There must always, we imagine, be more speculation in such men than men with commissions altogether like ; and the privates must possess, what somebody has called, the dangerous faculty of being able to criticize their superior officers.
Sergeant Morris has various stories of cruel floggings and injustice perpetrated by the power or influence of officers, acting not in the form of conspiracy but by the mere operation of opinion ; but as Ca.r as Morris himself was concerned, we do not see that he had anything to complain oL On the contrary, he seems to have been treated with remarkable consideration, especially at starting, when his general appearance and carriage could alone have told in his favour. Nor, indeed, do there appear instances of anything but good feeling where we have the whole of the story told; though this may depend upon the accident of good
Officers. • One point which comes out rather strongly in this volume, is the reckless insensibility to danger, that habit, and perhaps an obtuse na- ture, produce in the minds of men who have no responsibility of station or command to induce concealment of their thoughts by means of speech. Here are some examples, from Waterloo.
Our Sergeant-Major was a brave soldier, and had been through the whole of the engagements in the Peninsula, with the Forty-third Regiment. During the day, when our men were falling so very fast, he turned deadly pale, and said to the Colonel, "We had nothing like this in Spain, Sir." The worst fault he had, was an inveterate habit of swearing; which he could not avoid, even under these awful circumstances. Noticing one of the men, named Dent, stooping every now and then, as the shots came whizzing by, he said, "Damn you, Sir, what do you stoop for? You should not stoop if your head was off!" He had scarcely spoken the word when a musket-ball struck him full on the nose, killing him on the art. Dent immediately turned round and said, "Damn you, Sir, what do you lie there for? You should not lie down if your head was off r
When we were ordered to retire from the French infantry, a young man be- longing to us, named Steel, a lad of rare courage, was in the act of firing, when a cannon-shot, in rolling along the ground, took his foot off at the ankle. He did not fall, but advancing a step on his shattered stump, said, "Damn you, I'll serve You out for that ! " and fired his piece among the enemy.
Having returned to our regiment, and distributed the usual allowance of spirits to the company, I had three canteens-full left; being the allowance for those men who had been placed hors-de-combat. I took an extra drop with my old friend Sergeant Burton; and he ordered me to keep some to drink together after the battle. I told him, I thought very few of us would live to see the close of that day; when he said, "Toni, nt tell you what it is, there is no shot made yet for either you or me."
The only Captain we now had left invited us from the shelter of the bank, to follow him in an attack on about three thousand of the French infantry. About a dozen of us accepted the invitation; and such was the destructive fire to which we were opposed, that we had not advanced more than six or seven paces before every one of the party except me and my brother was either killed or wounded. We carried the Captain back to the shelter of the bank; where we found our first Major, who bad not been with us during the day, having been attached to the gaff He ordered the Captain to be taken to the rear, and then caused us to be mustered. We ntunbered two officers and seventy men: the battalion, when we gatered the field the first day, had twenty-nine officers and five hundred and fifty men. My worthy friend Burton gave me a hearty slap on the back, and said, Out with the grog, Tom I did! not tell yon there was no shot made for you or me ? "
THE NIGHT BEFORE WATERLOO.
As the storm continued without any sign of abatement and the night was set tiug in, orders were given to pile arms; but no man was on any account to quit
his position. Under such circumstances, our prospect of a night's lodging wait anything but cheering; the only provision we had being the remnant of the salt provision served out on the 16th. Having disposed of that, we began to consider in what way to pass the night: to lie down was out of the question, and to stand up all night was almost equally so. We endeavoured to light some fires, but the rain soon put them out; and the only plan we could adopt was, to gather arms- ful of the standing corn, and, rolling it together, made a sort of mat, on which we placed the knapsack, and sitting on that, each man holding his blanket over his head to keep off the ruin,—which was almost needless, as we were so thoroughly drenched: however, this was the plan generally adopted and maintained during the night.
THE NIGHT AFTER WATERLOO.
While we had any daylight left, I went among my wounded comrades, render- ing all the assistance in my power; binding up some of their wounds, and placing them in more easy positions. All their cry was for " Water ": but, alas, we had none to give them; we were ourselves suffering the most intolerable thirst, from the heat of the weather, the exertion, and the salt provisions. The cries and shrieks of the poor creatures would have been dreadful in the night if we could have heard them; but the continued discharges of the artillery during the battle had so affected the drams of the ears that we could scarcely hear anything for two or three days afterwards but the roaring of cannon. We lay on the ground that night. I fell asleep, but awoke again about mid- night, almost mad for want of water; and I made up my mind to go in search of some. By the light of the moon I picked my way among the bodies of my sleep- ing as well as of my dead comrades: but the horrors of the scene created such a terror in my mind that I could not muster courage to go by myself, and was turning back to get my brother along with me, when, on passing where a hors* was lying dead on its side and a man sitting upright with his back against the horses belly, I thought I heard the man call to me; and the hope that I could render him some assistance overcame my terror. I went towards him, and p • my left hand on his shoulder, intended to lift him up with my right: my
however, passed through his body, and I then saw that both he and his horse been killed by a cannon-ball. I now fairly ran back again to my resting-place, and, arousing my brother,. begged of him to go with me for water. The thought struck us that we might find some among our comrades who were sleeping around. We came at last to a, man named Smith, who for his foraging propensities was called "Cossack Smith"— the man I have before alluded to as refusing some potatoes to an officer in Ger- many. Well, on sounding his canteen, we found it full of water; and he was sleeping with his head upon it, and the strap passed round his body. The strap we unbuckled; and gently raising his head, we substituted an empty canteen for the full one, and retired to the spot where we had been previously lying. We between us emptied the canteen and flung it from us, and then laid down and slept till sunrise; when the first sound we heard was Smith blustering and swearing about the loss of his water, and threatening, if he knew who had taken it, he would run him through; and I knew sufficiently of the man to believe he would do so. In order to satisfy my own conscience about the matter, I offered him a portion of the spirits out of my canteen, he took it, but observed that spirits then was not like water. As he was of a very revengeful disposition, we thought it prudent to keep him in the dark as to who the thieves were.
One prominent feeling in Sergeant Morris's mind, and his book too, is the injustice with which non-aristocratic regiments are treated by com- menders, who leave unnoticed their exploits in the despatches, but exhibit conspicuously anything that has been done by " crack " regiments. The first battle in Germany our author was engaged in was never noticed at all ; and notwithstanding their terrific loss at Waterloo, no mention has been made of the Second Battalion of the Seventy-third, "either in the Duke's despatches or in the histories of the battle extant." We neither doubt the fact nor see a remedy. " Kissing " is not the only thing that "goes by favour " : but we should like to know whether any despatch was ever written that satisfied aU engaged