Adventures in Holland and at Waterloo; and Expedition to Portugal
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Title: Adventures in Holland and at Waterloo; and Expedition to Portugal
Author: Thomas Knight
Release Date: September 14, 2018 [eBook #57905]
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Holland and at Waterloo;
EXPEDITION TO PORTUGAL.
PROCEEDINGS IN HOLLAND, UNDER THE COMMAND
OF GENERAL SIR THOMAS GRAHAM, &c., &c.
By Corporal Knight.
R. BELL, PRINTER, 97 LITTLE COLLINS STREET EAST.
About thirty-three years ago, Thomas Knight (theauthor of this work) published a very interesting accountof his adventures. A few members of the Stock Exchangebore the principal portion of the expense of printing them.While attached to the Army in Portugal, he was in thesame regiment as my brother, Major F. E. Ebsworth,and servant to him.
Sydney, 11th March, 1867.3
Adventures in Holland and Waterloo;
EXPEDITION TO PORTUGAL.
My father was a cabinet maker at Frome, in Somersetshire. Iwas bound apprentice to a weaver, not liking such a quiet life Iran off to sea, and entered on board a collier at Southampton, ascabin-boy. In returning we were driven into Ramsgate by asquall. The cook and I left the captain to prepare his own dinner.We were fortunate enough to fall in with a return post-chaise,and were carried along like gentlemen to Canterbury.This was in the year 1811, or the beginning of 1812, when soldierswere much wanted, and I thought myself a sharp sort offellow, and was fond of a frolic. More than one sergeant tried tocajole me. Two rifle brigadesmen came to the town on furlough;they had green jackets; but their fine promises were too much forme. At length they got the best of me, and enlisted me. I wastaken down to Shawn Cliff to the regiment, and had to be inspectedby the doctor; and the following day I was taken to Hydeto be sworn in by the magistrate. He asked me which I wouldgo for—limited service or unlimited service. “What is the differencein the money?” I asked. “Limited service is 10 guineas,and unlimited service 16 guineas.” I said, “as I may not liveseven years, I will take the 16 guineas.” I received 8 guineas(one half of my bounty) and returned towards the barracks. I wasgaping about at what the soldiers were doing, when one old chapcame up to me and said I was his first cousin. “I am not quiteso green as to be done in that way,” I answered. However, I soonfell in with a few jolly comrades, and spent forty shillings out ofthe half of my bounty. After buying a few articles I stood inneed of, the rest of my bounty went in two days more. Then Ihad to go through my discipline, after which I went on guard, andconsidered myself an old soldier. There were 200 of the ablestmen picked out to go to Holland. One was a married man, whohad a family of children; the wife was making a great fuss4about her husband going out, and I said I would not mind takinghis place. I did so. The following day the general had to inspectus. He said it was not proper I should go out, as I could notstand the fatigue; and asked who selected me. I told him I hada notion of going out in place of private Rourke, who had a wifeand family. “Bravo!” he cried. “Well, we will try you.”
The day after, we marched to Dover, and then went on to Deal,in all eighteen miles. This I found severe work, but did not letit appear so, as we were about to leave England. I and fiveothers were billetted at Deal Castle, in the Walmer Road. In thecourse of the evening a mutton pieman came into the room, callingout, “All hot! toss or buy.” We bought and ate all his pies,shied the little dishes at one another, made the pieman drunk,and enlisted him. His master came to fetch him away, and wecompelled him to pay a guinea smart money, which lengthenedthe treat.
The next day we went to Ramsgate, and had hopes of passing anight there; but were marched through the town, put on boardship, and not allowed to pass the sentry without leave from thecommanding officer. As I and the rest of my comrades could notget leave, I was resolved to get the better of them; so when nightcame I pulled off some off my clothes, slipped over the side, andswam on shore. I had a good “spree” that night among somefriends I had been living with, as I thought it might be my last inGreat Britain. The next morning I went on board, and was confinedin the chain locker, which I did not mind, since I was happythere as on the quarter-deck. We set sail the following day, andsoon came in sight of Ostend. We had to land in boats; and beforethe last men were on shore, the first were quite uproarious fromdrinking Hollands. The colonel, in “falling us in,” said he wouldwork us for that. We then marched to Ghent, and were quarteredin some old outlandish buildings for that night.
We then proceeded to Bergen-op-Zoom, to which our army waslaying siege. After the town had been taken, additional troopswere placed to keep possession of it, whilst other regiments had tomarch to the rear. We next marched to Cotterie, from there toYpres, and then (in 1814) to Dixmieux, and quartered at a housein the town. The people were very sulky; they obliged me to cookin my canteen, and gave me a pretty piece of work to make it looksmart on field-day, which was not so whenever I found people desirousto attend on me and treat me as they ought. But these peoplewere so bothersome and troublesome, that I bothered them in everyfashion, by marching into their clean rooms with my dirty shoes,till at last I forced them to pay me proper attention. Notwithstanding,I went to the billet-master to procure a fresh billet; andhe asked me where I would like to go. I was fortunate enough toget a billet on a shop. I went with the billet to a house in theMarket-square, knocked at the door, and two beautiful girls made5their appearance, one about my age (seventeen years), the otherabout nineteen. They kindly accepted the billet, and in I walked;and they sent me down good refreshment, which I required. I wasvery thankful to get into such good quarters, and assisted them inall the little jobs about the house, such as cooking and servingother men.
Our rations were drawn from the town butchers and bakers, andour grog issued by the non-commissioned officers of companies.Some used to take the bottles and canteens “after,” but I usedto take the right sort of canteen (when once down my throat Ithought it was the best place for it), consisting of a half-pint ofgood Hollands gin. One afternoon, after the gin had been servedout, some of us soldiers assembled and decided that we would havesome sport with snowballs. There were a dozen or fifteen roundit, and we consulted as to what we had better do with it. It wouldnot do to leave it in one of the public streets, and the colonel notbeing a favorite with us, we rolled the snowball up to the frontdoor of his quarters, which obliged him to go out at the back of thehouse. He laughed at the trick, but was never after without asentry. Sometimes the inhabitants gave us a challenge (arrangedto be outside the town) to have some sport with snowballs. Therewe commenced the battle with officers and soldiers. We beat theinhabitants up and down, the snow congealing over the ditches andhouses; and down it was with many a one: plump they went intothe ditches, roaring out for help. The windows that day had abad time of it. After all was over we offered to pay for the brokenones, but the inhabitants would not permit such a thing; as weaccepted the challenge they would pay all expenses.
What with skating, sliding, and drinking “schnapps,” we spentour time pretty merrily; and then had orders to advance into thefrontiers of France (1815). We marched to Louis, and brigadedwith the 52nd Light Infantry, the 71st Scotch, and the 15th Hussarsattached to our brigade (the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division), commandedby General Sir Frederick Adam. Our field-days (two inthe week) were Tuesdays and Fridays; the French occupied theground on Mondays and Thursdays. Our brigade sent out daily100 rank and file, one captain, two subalterns, and a portion of thesquadron considered on piquet duty. The river divided the smalltown called Munge. The 15th Hussars, with their horses, occupiedthe Market House; the sentries were on a portion of the bridge (adivision across it), the French sentry on one side, and the Britishon the other; the 7th Black Horse had the barracks, opposite theFrench side of the river; fourteen sentries by day and twenty-eightby night, a portion of the 15th Hussars, patrolling on the banks ofthe river, looking out for any alarm. Two companies of the Rifleswere ordered to take the advance post. We marched to Turp,two leagues from Louis, head-quarters, there to remain till furtherorders.6
Our field-days were as usual. We had a league further to go.I was very badly off for clothing at the time, and the colonel toldus we could patch our clothing with any thing of a dark nature, asour rifle uniform was supposed to be of a dark green. I went tothe quarter-master’s stores to procure two pairs of pantaloons, ateighteen francs per pair; I also drew a pair of boots at the sameprice. I put on a pair of pantaloons to go to field-day in. Injumping of ditches in skirmishing order, I split the first pair ofpantaloons into pieces; the other pair went in the same manner; Ithen had to put on my old patched friends, while I could get onepair made out of the two damaged ones; my boots went in thesame way,—coming home from field-day the weather was verysevere, the soles parted company from the upper leathers, so I hadto tread along on my bare toes.
I went on guard on the 15th day of June: it came to my turnat eleven o’clock at night to relieve a soldier on outlying sentry.The sentry, in giving up the orders to me, said that “I was tokeep a sharp look out betwixt those two trees, and when you seethe beacon guard blaze up, you are to set fire to this.” I said,“What do you mean, you gapes? Do you mean to set fire to aturnip field as the seed of the turnips is up to our heads?” Ifound out by his winks and words that I was not to set