previous next

[599] and yet, on paper, the Spanish project promised well .... This man, so cautious, so conscious of the enemy's superiority, was laying the foundation of measures that finally carried him triumphant through the Peninsular War. False, then, are the opinions of those who, asserting that Napoleon might have been driven over the Ebro in 1808-9, blame Sir John Moore's conduct. Such reasons would as certainly have charged the ruin of Spain on Sir Arthur Wellesley, if, at this period, the chances of war had sent him to his grave. But in all times the wise and brave man's toil has been the sport of fools.

The complaint against General Johnston cannot be that he would not fight, for he fought almost every day, killing and wounding forty-five thousand of the enemy, and losing ten thousand himself. It is that he did not stake the cause of his country on a single cast of the dice — that he would not risk all on the issue of a single battle. When urged by the Portuguese regency to a like course in 1810, Lord Wellington replied: “I have little doubt of final success, but I have fought a sufficient number of battles to know that the result of any is not certain, even with the best arrangements.” He persisted in his defensive policy, and saved Portugal from subjugation. When he had determined to abandon Spain and retreat through Portugal to Lisbon, he was urged to relieve the garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo, containing five thousand men. Napier says: “This was a trying moment. He had in a manner pledged himself, his army was close at hand, the garrison brave and distressed, and the governor honorably fulfilled his part. To permit such a place to fall without a stroke would be a grievous disaster, and a more grievous dishonor to the British arms. The troops desired the enterprise; the Spaniards demanded it as a proof of good faith; the Portuguese, to keep the war away from their own country; finally, policy seemed to call for this effort, lest the world might deem the promised defense of Portugal a heartless and hollow boast. Lord Wellington refused to venture even a brigade, and thus proved himself a great commander, and of a steadfast mind. It ”


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Portugal (Portugal) (3)
Lisbon (Portugal) (1)
Ciudad Rodrigo (Spain) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Arthur Wellesley (1)
Napoleon (1)
Napier (1)
John Moore (1)
J. E. Johnston (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1810 AD (1)
1809 AD (1)
1808 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: