Storming and Capture of Ciudad Rodrigo

This is from Highwasys & Byways on the Border, comes from a letter written by an ensign in the  Scots Brigade, from 9 Jan 1812:

About 5 in the afternoon orders came that we were to make the attack at 7 min the Evening, the Light Division at one breach and ours at another. Picks and axes were given to the front rank of the Grenadiers, and to the first Company of our Regiment, and also Ropes to swing us down into the Ditch, which we were to clear of any obstructions that were supposed would be laid in our way. Accordingly we moved off about dusk, and got under cover of a Convent, to a short distance from the Ditch; there we remained till the hour of attack; it being come, and everything read, we rushed forward as fast as our legs could carry us, cheering all the way On reaching the Ditch, we found it only about 6 feet high, so we leaped down as quick as possible and made to the beach with all possible speed, and met with no obstacles. After getting to it, we found ourselves to be the first there; on the front rank getting to the top of it, the Enemy saluted us with a volley of grape shot and shells (the latter they had laid across the top in rows) the explosion of which was so dreadful that I thought we should have been all blown up in the air together… Some of the Men that had got up to the top came tumbling down, dead as herrings. It stunned us for a moment, but we gave another cheer and rushed on, scrabble to the top and drove the fellows from the Guns opposite the breach. Our Regt was about 5 minutes in the Town (and it is only 200 men strong) before any other Regt came to its support; at last the 5th came, and the others followed. The French dogs kept peppering at us with Musketry and Hand-grenades at such a rate that I well thought we would all have been slain together. At last we drove them from the ramparts into the town, and then they threw down their Arms and surrendered…I went down from the Ramparts into the Town, but such a scene of confusion I never beheld; there were our troops plundering the houses as fast as they were able, one fellow to be seen with 2 or 3 loaves stuck on his bayonet, another with as much pork, and in another place a parcel of fellows knocking out the end of a Wine Cask, with their Firelocks and drinking away with the greatest try; some ravishing the Woman, others breaking open doors, ad into all such a noise, altogether inconceivable. This continued 4 or 5 hours, and our Brigade was shortly moved out of the Town, at which I was very glad.. We had 2 Captains killed, but immediately on their falling a Sentry was placed over them, to guard them from being strip’t, and had them afterwards brought to the Camp and decently buried… The enemy that night blew up the Mines, which killed a great many, both of their own men and ours. It was a shocking spectacle, the sight of the dead bodies lying at the place where it happened, all bruised and burnt quite black, some wanting both Legs, others blown all to pieces, Legs and Arms mixed together in confusion; it was there where Genl M’Kinnon was killed.

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