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For this purpose, General O'Hara digested a distinct and masterly plan of attack, which he communicated, on the evening of the 29th of November, to the commanding officers of the troops of each nation.
Accordingly, on the morning of the 30th, this plan was so far executed as to surprise the enemy's redoubt most effectually. The British troops having obtained full possession of the height and battery, their ardour and impetuosity were not to be restrained in this moment of success; but continuing to pursue the flying enemy, in a scattered manner, a full mile beyond the works, the consequence was, that the latter, collecting in great force, in their turn obliged our troops to retreat, and to relinquish the advantages they had at first obtained.
General O'Hara arrived at the battery at the moment it was retaken, and, perceiving the disorder of the troops thus driven back, was hastening to rally them, when, most unfortunately, he received a wound in the arm, which bled so much as to render him incapable of avoiding the enemy, by whom he was made prisoner as he sat down under the shelter of a wall.
Let us see the account that, in his own words, Bonaparte gave of this transaction.
"I made General O'Hara prisoner, I may say, with my
own hand. I had constructed a masked battery of eight twenty-four-pounders and four mortars, in order to open upon the Fort Malbosquet, which was in possession of the English. It was finished in the evening, and it was my intention to have opened upon the English in the morning. While I was giving directions to another part of the army, some of the deputies from the Convention came down. In those days they sometimes took upon themselves to direct the operations of the armies, and those imbeciles ordered the batteries to commence, which order was obeyed.
“ As soon as I saw this premature fire, I immediately conceived that the English general would attack this battery, and most probably carry it, as another had not yet been arranged to support it. In fact, O'Hara, seeing the shot from that battery would dislodge his troops from Malbosquet, from which last I would have taken the fort that commanded the harbour, determined upon attacking it. Accordingly, early in the morning, he put himself at the head of his troops, and actually carried the battery and the lines which I had formed-(Napoleon here drew upon a piece of paper a plan of the situation of the batteries)—to the left, and those to the right were taken by the Neapolitans. While O'Hara was busy in spiking the guns, I advanced with
three or four hundred grenadiers, unperceived, through a bog, and covered with olive trees, which communicated with the batteries, and commenced a terrible fire upon his troops. The English, astonished, at first supposed that the Neapolitans, who had the lines upon the right, had mistaken them for French, and said it is those canaglie of Neapolitans who are firing upon us; for even, at that time, your troops despised the Neapolitans. O'Hara ran out of the battery and advanced towards us. In advancing, he was wounded in the arm by the fire of a sergeant; and I, who stood at the mouth of the boyau, seized him by the coat, and drew him back among my own men, thinking he was a colonel, as he had two epaulets on.
“ While they were taking him to the rear, he cried out that he was commander-in-chief of the English. He thought that they were going to massacre him, as there existed a horrible order at that time from the Convention, that no quarter was to be given to the English. up, and prevented the soldiers from ill-treating him. He spoke very bad French, and as I he imagined that they intended to butcher him, I did everything in my power to console him, and gave directions that his wound should be immediately dressed, and that
every attention should be paid to him. He afterwards begged that I would give him a statement of how he had been taken, in order that he might forward it to his government in his justification.”
Though we are not among those who give more implicit credence to all the conversational statements of Bonaparte than we do to his state documents, we believe his version of the transaction to be the right one. The previous description of this misfortune is.compiled from the documents furnished to our government. We do not think them rigidly, though they may be essentially, correct. For the glory of the English army, we would rather place Bonaparte's account upon the records of our history. We will not suppose that the English troops were so undisciplined as to pursue a flying enemy in a disorderly manner for more than a mile, not only without orders, but against the will of their officers. It is very ad captandum to the misjudging public to represent the French flying before the English, even though it ended in the discomfiture of the latter. Still less can we credit that the commander-in-chief would join in so wild a sally, and upon so trifling an occasion. The real facts were, that the English had
surprised their enemies, and were, in their turn, themselves surprised.
We dwell thus long upon these affairs, firstly, because Sir Sidney certainly bore in them the most conspicuous, and performed the most useful part. Without his exertions, it will be immediately seen, that from this fierce contest we should not have plucked a single laurel wherewith to console us for our defeat; and secondly, we wish to place the odium of this cruel, momentous, and disastrous defeat, upon those who were, undoubtedly, its cause.
At this time the French army before Toulon amounted to forty thousand men, and after the surrender of Lyons, considerable as it already was, it became augmented daily. The army of the coalesced powers never exceeded twelve thousand, and even these were composed of five different nations, speaking five different languages; consequently not well formed to co-operate the one with the other. Of the actual British, there were never more than two thousand three hundred and sixty.
The circumference necessary to be occupied for the complete defence of the town extended fifteen miles, with eight principal posts, and several immediate dependencies. It will naturally excite astonishment