Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

on a sudden announced an assault, which, however, the garrison was ready to receive, and the assailants only contributed to increase the number of the dead bodies in question, to the eternal disgrace of the general, who thus disloyally sacrificed them. I saved the life of the Arab from the effect of the indignation of the Turks, and took him off to the Tigre with me, from whence I sent him back to the general with a message, which made the French army ashamed of having been exposed to such a merited reproof. Subordination was now at an end; and all hopes of success having vanished, the enemy had no alternative left but a precipitate retreat, which was put in execution in the night between the 20th and 21st instant. I had above said that the battering-train of artillery (except the carriages, which were burnt) is now in our hands, amounting to twenty-three pieces. The howitzers and medium twelve-pounders, originally conveyed by land with much difficulty, and successfully employed to make the first breach, were embarked in the country vessels at Jaffa, to be conveyed coastwise, together with the worst among the two thousand wounded, which embarrassed the march of the army. The operation was to be expected; I took care, therefore, to be between Jaffa and Damietta before the French army could get as far as the former place. The vessels being hurried to sea, without seamen to navigate them, and the wounded being in want of every necessary, even water and provisions, they steered straight to his Majesty's ships, in full confidence of receiving the succours of humanity, in which they were not disappointed. I have sent them on to Damietta, where they will receive further aid as their situation requires, and which it was out of my power to give to so many. Their expressions of gratitude to us were mingled with execrations on the name of their general, who had, as they said, thus exposed them to peril, rather than fairly and honourably renew the intercourse with the English, which he had broken off by a false and malicious assertion that I had intentionally exposed the former prisoners to the infection of the plague. To the honour of the French army be it said, this assertion was not believed by them, and it thus recoiled on its author. The intention of it was evidently to do away the effect which the proclamation of the Porte began to make on the soldiers, whose eager hands were held above the parapet of their works to receive them when thrown from the breach. He cannot plead misinformation as his excuse, his aide-de-camp, M. Lallemand, having had free intercourse with

a

these prisoners on board the Tigre, when he came to treat about them ; and they having been ordered, though too late, not to repeat their expressions of contentment at the prospect of going home. It was evident to both sides, that when a general had recourse to such a shallow, and at the same time to such a mean artifice as a malicious falsehood, all better resources were at an end, and the defection in his army was consequently increased to the highest pitch. The utmost disorder has been manifested in the retreat; and the whole track between Acre and Gaza is strewed with the dead bodies of those who have sunk under fatigue, or the effect of slight wounds ; such as could walk, unfortunately for them, not having been embarked. The rowing gunboats annoyed the van column of the retreating army in its march along the beach, and the Arabs harassed its rear when it turned inland to avoid their fire. We observed the smoke of musketry behind the sand-hills from the attack of a party of them which came down to our boats, and touched our flag with every token of union and respecth Ismael Pasha, governor of Jerusalem, to whom notice was sent of Bonaparte's preparations for retreat, having entered this town by land at the same time that we brought our guns to bear on it by sea, a stop was put to the massacre and pillage already begun by the Naplausians. The English flag rehoisted on the consul's house (under which the Pasha met me) serves as an asylum for all religions, and every description of the surviving inhabitants. The heaps of unburied Frenchmen lýing on the bodies of those whom they massacred two months ago, afford another proof of divine justice, which has caused these murderers to perish by the infection arising from their own atrocious act. Seven poor wretches are left alive in the hospital, where they are protected, and shall be taken care of. We have had a most dangerous and painful duty, in disembarking here, to protect the inhabitants ; but it has been effectually done ; and Ismael Pasha deserves every credit for his humane exertions and cordial co-operation to that effect. Two thousand cavalry are just despatched to harass the French rear, and I am in hopes to overtake their van in time to profit by their disorder; but this will depend on the assembling of sufficient force, and on exertions of which I am not absolutely master, though I do my utmost to give the necessary impulse, and a right direction.

“I have every confidence that the officers and men of the three ships under my orders, who, in the face of a most formidable enemy, have forti

fied a town that had not a single heavy gun mounted on the land-side, and who have carried on all intercourse by boats, under a constant fire of musketry and grape, will be able efficaciously to assist the army in its future operations. This letter will be delivered to your lordship by Lieutenant Canes, first of the Tigre, whom I have judged worthy to command the Theseus, as captain, ever since the death of

my

much-lamented friend and coadjutor, Captain Miller. I have taken Lieutenant England, first of that ship, to my assistance in the Tigre, by whose exertions, and those of Lieutenant Summers and Mr. Atkinson, together with the bravery of the rest of the officers and men, that ship was saved, though on fire in five places at once, from a deposit of French shells bursting on board her. " I have the honour to be, &c.

6. W. SIDNEY SMITH. Right Hon. Lord Nelson,&c.

All who ever knew, either officially or personally, Sir William Sidney Smith, will avouch that he is incapable of wilful misrepresentation. With all our respect for Bonaparte's splendid genius, and fully entering into the astounding difficulties with which he was surrounded, we must pronounce that the above-quoted document

[merged small][ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »