It was hard to say which disturbed their first night ashore more: the din of bullfrogs, the churning of empty stomachs or the aching of limbs confined too long on the passage. The battalion landed at dusk on 3 July. After weeks on the transports they had been disgorged in Lisbon – for Portugal was indeed their destination – the previous day. Their relief at escaping the smelly old tubs on which they had been shut up throughout June was short-lived, because it was followed immediately by a passage up the River Tagus in shallow-draught river boats. They were packed together on narrow benches, rifles between their legs, as the boats scraped and wobbled across sand bars, the soldiers expecting at any moment to be capsized into the river and consigned to a watery grave.
Once they had got off for the night at Vallada, the new men began to realise what life on service involved. Their short passage on the river boats had deposited them a little up the Tagus, saving them a couple of marches on their way to the Spanish frontier. The baggage was not yet organised, so no camp kettles appeared for cooking. There were no tents, for the 95th had not been issued with them.
As the sun slipped down, a hot day gave way to cool, damp night, the dew impregnating their woollen clothing. Second Lieutenant Simmons jotted in his journal, ‘Hungry, wet, and cold and without any covering, we lay down by the side of the river. I put one hand in my pocket and the other in my bosom, and lay shivering and thinking of the glorious life of a soldier until I fell fast asleep.’
To the man not used to channelling his body between tree roots or stones, the night offered little refreshment. A mere three hours after they had sought refuge in sleep, the bugles sounded reveille. The men fell in by companies, began their march, and as they went, the sun, climbing into the Portuguese sky, heated the dew out of their clothing. They reached the town of Santarem, where matters began to look up a little.
The new campaigners soon discovered that it only takes a day without food to re-educate a soldier’s stomach. So upon reaching the town, the officers piled into little restaurants and coffee houses and paid with their own money for the meal with which the military commissariat had not provided them. The realisation, barely a day into their campaign, that the individual rifleman would often have to dip into his own pocket to provide for the essentials of life, would be reinforced many times in the coming years.
The quartermaster and a party of helpers soon appeared with dozens of mules they had bought in Lisbon and the rudiments of a regimental baggage train began to form. There was an official allowance of pack animals for each regiment, and some in addition for the more senior officers. Captains commanding companies were entitled to a horse to ride and a mule or donkey to carry their valises and canteens. The subaltern officers – thirty-three of them in the battalion – were allocated just a single beast of burden between two from the public purse.
There was nothing to stop those lieutenants with an extensive equipage and ample funds buying their own mules or indeed their own riding horses. For Simmons, this was out of the question. A pack animal might cost ten or twelve pounds, a good horse considerably more. He would be walking.
From Santarem they headed off towards the Spanish frontier, in pursuit of the main British army. Their brigade commander may have had highly trained men under his command, but he appreciated they had been weeks at sea. Things began in measured stages: from Santarem to Golegao, four Spanish leagues (getting on for sixteen or seventeen miles); then more gently from Golegao to Punhete, three leagues; Punhete to Abrantes, two leagues.
As they marched along the dusty Portuguese roads, all became aware of their brigadier, Robert Craufurd. He rode back and forth along the column, watching them, measuring them. Every straggler claiming he couldn’t keep up aroused Craufurd’s notice. Every officer who fussed about leading his column across bridges or fords excited stronger emotions.
Craufurd was a small man, the product of a well-connected Scottish family. Sitting behind a large cloak rolled on the front of his saddle, his ‘black muzzle’ peered over. However freshly shaven, his chin always carried a blue-black tinge of stubble. His actions were quick, his eye missed little. There was something terrier-like about him. When he was angered by what he saw, which was often on this march, he would let fly with imprecations and abuse. The greater his rage, the reedier or squeakier his voice became.
Craufurd’s character was sufficiently well known even in 1806 for him to have been described by one newspaper as ‘an opinionated, an ungracious and even ill tempered man’. And that was before the disgrace.
During the 1806–7 expedition to the River Plate in South America, one in which both Captain O’Hare and Private Almond had served, Craufurd had been obliged to surrender his brigade. Surrounded by enemy troops in the streets of Buenos Aires, Craufurd’s force had made its stand in a convent before, under a heavy fire of sharpshooters, its commander was forced to capitulate.
A court martial had exonerated Craufurd for the failure, blaming the expedition’s overall commander instead. But the distinction of having surrendered a British brigade in action was an odious one, and he knew it would always cling to him. Even as this new campaign continued, he would find himself again and again coming back to the memory of Buenos Aires, writing home to his wife, ‘In that very town, the capture of which would have raised me to the height of military glory if I had been left to myself, I, two days afterwards, found myself in the humiliating situation of a prisoner.’
Whatever his temperament, those who ran the Army, at Horse Guards in London, knew Craufurd as an officer of unusual education and vision. He had attended reviews of the Prussian Army and served as a British representative in the field with Archduke Charles of Austria. His German and French were fluent and he had the self-confidence necessary to discuss military theory with any of the great captains of the day. After Buenos Aires, Craufurd was saved from obscurity by the court-martial verdict, political connections, and a reputation for being a scientific soldier.
Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley, who would shortly become known as Lord Wellington, commanding the British forces in the Iberian Peninsula, knew that these qualifications made Craufurd a very rare creature indeed among a pedestrian corps of generals. What better man to entrust with the outposts at the front of his army?
For those marching in Craufurd’s brigade, this grasp of military theory counted for little, of course. Old soldiers chatting around the campfire could piece together certain chapters in the brigadier’s turbulent career. Captain O’Hare and a few of the others had been in Buenos Aires, where they too had been subjected to the ignominy of surrender and a few months’ captivity before returning home. William Brotherwood had been with the 2nd Battalion of Rifles in Craufurd’s brigade during the campaign of that previous winter. The wholesale reorganisation of the 95th had brought Brotherwood, his captain Jonathan Leach and many others into the 1st Battalion for this new campaign. Brotherwood could tell the others some stories: he was among the riflemen who’d seen Craufurd beat his men and order floggings for the most frivolous of disciplinary offences. During that long retreat to Corunna seven months before, the lads called him Black Bob.
Craufurd’s strictness arose from a conviction that he must rule the brigade entrusted to him with the greatest zeal. He did so because it was the vehicle for the resurrection of his reputation. Its every movement and evolution must be calculated to excite the admiration of Sir Arthur Wellesley and the envy of his peers. Its marches must be regulated with the precision and predictability of a fine timepiece.
To this end, Craufurd issued a series of Standing Orders on the morning of 10 July, as the brigade had a day of rest in Abrantes. Less than a week into the campaign proper, this set of instructions confirmed his reputation for strictness in the eyes of the 95th’s officers and established the commander as their enemy. Captain Jonathan Leach, commander of 2nd Company, wrote in his diary: ‘Brigadier General Robert Craufurd (damn him) issued this day to the Light Division an immensity of the most tyrannical andoppressive standing orders that were ever compiled by a British officer [emphasis in original].’
Craufurd’s system was designed to govern the troops’ behaviour from their first waking moment to their last. Reveille, the blowing of a bugle horn, would sound an hour and a half before any intended march got under way. The Standing Orders set out what had to happen before a second horn blast an hour after the first, noting, for example, ‘the baggage must be loaded at least ten minutes before the second horn sounds’. A quarter of an hour later, at the third horn, companies were to form, ready to set up. On the fourth blast, the head of the column would begin its march.
At the other end of the day, everything was prescribed, from the posting of a guard to catch stragglers who’d fallen behind without leave, to the choice of correct sites for cooking and measures to stop ‘the men easing themselves in improper places’. In order to prevent the excrement piling up, ditches would have to be dug, ‘covered over daily and fresh ones made as often as expedient’. Craufurd, it could truly be said, intended to regulate his brigade’s every motion.
Standing Orders reached their most pedantic extreme when describing arrangements for what was usually the day’s main business: marching. Article 3 No. 4 stipulated that ‘any man who, for the sake of avoiding water or other bad places, or for any other reason, presumes to step on one side, or quit his proper place in the Ranks, must be confined.’
The reasoning for this last injunction was contained in Article 3 No. 7: ‘the defiling of one Regiment on the march … will cause a delay of ten minutes; one such obstacle, if not passed without defiling, would, therefore, delay a Brigade consisting of three Regiments, half an hour, and in the winter, when obstacles of this kind are frequent, and the days short, a column, which is constantly defiling without cause will arrive at its quarters in the dark.’
Craufurd’s orders ran to many pages, which officers were expected to learn by rote. While they were the product of much careful reflection on military science by their author, they were tainted by obsessions such as his conviction that small deviations on the line of march ruined all calculations. Furthermore, his ideas would be enforced with such harshness that they excited the unbridled hatred of almost every officer in the 95th, who had been infused in the newest and most liberal notions of disciplining and motivating soldiers.
If the Rifle officers found Craufurd especially insufferable, then he seems to have regarded them and their ideas with similar disdain. There was something so different about the 95th – its appearance, its weaponry, its conduct – that offended Craufurd’s sense of order. He tried to use fear to change their ways. During the Corunna campaign, the whole brigade had often been paraded to witness floggings. He’d struck his soldiers with his own hand, too, for what he saw as insolence. The veterans of that campaign knew well that at one point, after beating a man of the 95th to the ground, Craufurd had shouted at the soldiers around him: ‘You think, because you are riflemen, you may do whatever you think proper, but I’ll teach you the difference before I have done with you!’
In July, many riflemen regarded the prospect of serving under Craufurd for the foreseeable future with dread. One captain in the 95th, who knew him from the previous campaign, wrote home, ‘You have heard how universally General Craufurd was detested in the retreat to Corunna. If possible he is still more abhorred now and has been so ever since we landed in Portugal.’
For the next fortnight they fell into a daily routine of marching. Reveille was usually sounded in the early hours of the morning and the troops would trudge along until about 11 a.m. As the July heat reached its peak, they would be resting and cooking up their main meal of the day.
Craufurd had to reconcile his desire gradually to build up the marching powers of his Light Brigade (so that he did not leave too many stragglers behind or kill off soldiers with heatstroke) with his determination to catch up with the main army he’d been sent to reinforce. General Wellesley had moved his small force of sixteen thousand through the mountainous country of the Hispano-Portuguese frontier, in the direction of Madrid, linking up on the way with a Spanish force of thirty-five thousand under General Cuesta, together with which they now threatened their common enemy, the French. The aim of all this was to stop the French from pushing into the south of the country by threatening Madrid, the centre of their operations.
On most days the Light Brigade marched between twelve and sixteen miles. This was tough enough, and it killed a couple of the weaker men through heatstroke. Craufurd took to inspecting the soldiers’ water bottles to make sure they were full. He did not want the rogues to fall out fetching water, or a whole column to halt at some stream while they filled up. The soldiers saw things differently: a full bottle added several pounds to your marching kit and they already felt crushed by the burden of full regulation equipment:
We each had to carry a great weight during this long and harassing march. There was a knapsack and straps, two shirts, two pair of stockings, one pair of shoes, ditto soles and heels, three brushes, a box of blacking, razor, soap box and strap, and also at the time an extra pair of trousers. There was a mess tin, centre tin and lid, haversack and canteen, greatcoat and blanket, a powder flask filled, a ball bag containing thirty loose balls, a small wooden mallet used to hammer the ball into the muzzle of our rifles, belt and pouch – the latter containing fifty rounds of ammunition – sword belt and rifle … thus we were equipped with from seventy to eighty pounds of weight in the melting month of July.
This already difficult situation changed decisively on the morning of 28 July, when a dusty rider, carrying an express from Sir Arthur Wellesley, found Craufurd. In it, the commander of forces told Craufurd that he was in the presence of a large French army and that a general action was to be expected at any moment. Any limits that the chief of the Light Brigade had placed on his men had to be thrown to the wind.
Craufurd did not intend to lose what might be his only chance to redeem his reputation in battle. What’s more, everyone from private soldier to the commanding officer of the 95th shared the desire to measure himself against the French. So with little delay, Craufurd’s brigade was launched into a series of crushing forced marches into the mountains of Iberia.
They began at 2 a.m. on the 28th and stopped at 11 a.m., as usual. Now, instead of resting for the remainder of the day, they started marching again, at about 5 p.m., as the early-evening cool began. ‘Every man seemed anxious to push on, and all were in high spirits, hoping soon to be on the field of battle,’ one of the marchers wrote. They kept going until 10 p.m., when they stopped for a few hours.
As the Light Brigade struggled up the mountain roads of the borderlands, Wellesley’s army was attacked by the French at Talavera de la Reyna. The British general had chosen his ground with the care that was to become one of his most celebrated trademarks. On his right was the River Tagus and the city of Talavera: these obstacles would prevent the French simply going around, or turning, this wing of the Allied Army. Spanish troops occupied that right section of the line, and at the seam where their forces met the British – the junction of two armies being often a weak point – a defensive fieldwork had been built, a small fort bristling with cannon.
The left of Wellesley’s position was anchored on another natural obstacle, the hills of the Sierra de Segurilla. Although these were no lofty peaks, the ground itself, being strewn with huge boulders and rocky outcrops, denied any movement to formed troops.
The French would have no choice but to attack in the centre, so this is where Wellesley placed his most powerful formation, the four brigades of General Sherbrooke’s 1st Division. In front of them was a stream, the Portina, which ran down from the Sierra, above their left, to the Tagus down on the right. Although it wasn’t deep, its banks were difficult in places, which hopefully would break the formation of the French regiments, leaving them vulnerable to a British countercharge.
As the Light Brigade was still marching up behind Wellesley’s main army, the battle they fought on 28 July demonstrated very well the military orthodoxies of the day – precisely those ideas that the 95th and the other Light Brigade battalions would revolutionise.
For much of the morning of the 28th, Sherbrooke’s men were forced to stand under the fire of French cannon. Their armies, under King Joseph (Napoleon’s brother), had lined up their guns on some ground across the Portina and proceeded to batter away at the British line. In many places, particularly higher up the gradual slope to the Sierra, the nature of the ground allowed Wellesley to pull back his troops a little and get them to lie down, so that the ground protected them against the cannon balls.
Much of Sherbrooke’s division, though, being deployed on the plain of the Tagus, had no such shelter. They had to put up with the cannonade at about six hundred yards’ distance. Fortunately for them, this was not close enough for the really murderous effects of canister or grapeshot and the French gunners were obliged to hurl standard iron cannon balls at them, knocking down the redcoats like some devilish game of skittles. For the targets, this was an unpleasant experience, but it was not necessarily catastrophic, since the British battalions had deployed their companies in line abreast, so that their formation was only two soldiers deep. Only the most exceptional cannon ball could therefore carry off more than two men at a time. Every now and then, with the growling of sergeants making itself heard above the bombardment, the men shuffled a little from both wings towards the middle so that the gaps made by the French cannon were closed. It was vital to preserve a compact formation, both so that the battalion could fire effectively and so that it could defend itself against infantry and cavalry.
At about 3 p.m., it became clear that a general advance had been ordered by the French generals Lapisse and Sebastiani, who began moving twenty-four battalions towards Sherbrooke’s eight. These two gentlemen had served long apprenticeships under their imperial master: having humbled Austrians, Prussians and Russians, they were skilled exponents in the French art of war. They had drawn up their forces in two waves. The first, of twelve battalions, marched forward with companies in line, matching the British formations. Behind this first echelon were the other battalions, deployed in columns, each of about forty to fifty men across the front and nine deep. Each of these French battalions had its own company of light soldiers and they were sent ahead of both waves. They ran forward taking potshots, ducking down in cover while they reloaded and then moving off again.
The French intent, with both the skirmisher fire and the artillery that had preceded it, was as much to unsettle the British troops as it was to kill them. Napoleon’s victories had demonstrated that this long-range firing often unbalanced an enemy: many soldiers would begin shooting back perhaps at two hundred yards or even further, others might leave the ranks and try to save themselves. In this way, those facing a French charge would be goaded into a spontaneous, ineffective, long-range musket fire which would do nothing to check the onslaught, which in turn would so damage the defender’s nerve that they often ran away before the Emperor’s advancing regiments reached them. If not, a close-range French volley and the bayonet would usually decide the matter.
Sherbrooke’s men watched the French formations moving down to the Portina in front of them, and loaded. Each man took a cartridge, and bit the top off the paper packet of gunpowder. He trickled some of the powder into a small pan on the right of his musket’s barrel and then snapped shut the metal lid that covered this priming. Then the remaining powder, the bulk of it, was poured down the barrel, the paper packet scewed up and placed into the same hole, followed by the musket ball itself. The soldier then drew the ramrod from under the barrel, using it to force the ball down to the bottom so that powder, paper and ball were packed snug together.
While he was performing these actions, the soldier kept the hammer or cock sprung back in a half-open position: half-cock. On loading the cartridge, he would make the weapon ready by bringing it up to his chest and pulling the hammer back to full distance (you did not want to go off at half-cock). On hearing the command ‘Present!’ he would bring the musket up to the firing position.
When the order to fire was eventually given, he would pull the trigger, causing the hammer of his weapon to fly forward with the flint it held striking the cover. This in turn produced a spark that ignited the initial priming charge; which, burning through a small hole on the side of the barrel in a fraction of a second, then caused the main explosion which sent the ball out of the weapon and towards the enemy.
General Sherbrooke had given very strict orders that his men should not fire until the enemy was just fifty yards away. It should be a single volley, and it should be followed by a cheer and a charge with fixed bayonets. Sherbrooke’s orders showed that he well understood the limitations of the musket and of his soldiers’ training.
Muskets were so inaccurate that those carried by the British, the famed Brown Bess, had no sights. The men were not taught to aim them either. In fact, some regulations of a few decades before had even encouraged them to close their eyes at the moment of firing: packed together shoulder to shoulder in firing formation, the flash from their neighbour’s priming, coming momentarily before the shot itself, might cause them to flinch and fire wildly. They were ordered not to aim but to ‘Present!’, which meant pointing in the enemy’s direction. In theory, they were taught to ‘level’ their weapon for different ranges, firing at their enemy’s waist at very close range, the chest when a little further away and so on. In practice, very few private soldiers knew anything about this. Once firing began, most soldiers tried to load as quickly as possible, discipline broke down and a ragged contest of ineffective musketry took place, with both sides rooted to the spot. The chances of hitting anything would be further reduced by the thick smoke that billowed about the field with each discharge of powder.
As the French marched up towards Sherbrooke’s battalions, his orders were followed exactly. The French came forward with their customary shouting and calling, while the British line waited impassively. They waited indeed until the enemy formations were so close that their skirmishers could no longer provide any effective screening for them. In the process, a British screen of light troops, including a few dozen mercenary riflemen of the 60th, had been easily beaten back by the French and done little to trouble the advancing French heavy infantry.
When they were barely fifty yards away, so close that the lines of French troops would almost fill his battalions’ field of view, the redcoats presented their pieces and fired. The slaughter was tremendous – hundreds of French troops dropped, perhaps one-third of the attacking echelon. The Brown Bess might be inaccurate but a man hit by its great slug of a ball suffered terrible trauma, often being hurled backwards several feet or having a limb ripped off by its shock.
Then came the cheer, in order to remind Sherbrooke’s men not to get carried away in their musket shooting, the common soldier’s delusion being that making a lot of noise and smoke was a substitute for more decisive action. Of course, the cheer was also intended to frighten the reeling Frenchmen.
As the Guards and King’s German Legion of the 1st Division rushed forward, Lapisse and Sebastiani’s men did not wait to be impaled on their bayonets: they broke, turned around and started running back towards their own lines. Six of Sherbrooke’s battalions hurtled forward, many of the men going beyond the Portina in pursuit. Their blood was up and their commanders lacked the experience or ability to check their headlong rush.
It was at this point that the second echelons of Lapisse and Sebastiani’s divisions came into play: fresh troops with an unbroken formation. What was worse for the British was that two regiments of enemy dragoons were also close at hand. As the horsemen careered into the clumps of redcoats streaming across the ochre plain they began sabreing them mercilessly. Two battalions of the German Legion, mercenaries serving the British crown under mostly Hanoverian officers, got the full impact. In rushing forward, the Legion had lost all formation or order. Once cavalry appeared there was no way they could be rallied into the virtually impregnable defensive square. Half of this Legion brigade of 1,300 men were lost, even the brigade commander paying with his life for his moment of impetuous pursuit.
The survivors among Sherbrooke’s battalions came running back to their own lines, exhausted, many bearing sabre wounds, and prepared to meet a fresh French assault. This, somehow, they succeeded in seeing off. Sherbrooke’s division ended the day with almost 1,700 killed, wounded and captured; the opposing French suffered similar losses despite their much greater initial numbers. The Battle of Talavera concluded with a British victory, but with heavy losses that Wellesley felt he could ill afford.
The lessons of Sherbrooke’s fight would seem to have justified most of the British Army’s orthodoxies: effective musketry could only be delivered at very short range; at these distances fire achieved its devastating effect with a blast like a ship’s broadside, not with each man aiming; skirmishers capering about, trying to choose their own targets with inherently inaccurate weapons, would never decide the outcome of a battle between two forces of infantry formed in battle lines; steadiness was everything and to keep men in line required the maintenance of fierce discipline; once infantry lost their formation, they could be easily annihilated by charging infantry or cavalry. All of these principles, strongly held by Wellesley and his fellow generals, seemed to offer only an incidental role in battle for the Rifles.
The 95th set out on the morning of 29 July from Oropesa, where they’d rested for two or three hours, for a five-hour march to Talavera. One young officer recorded that over ‘the last ten miles the road was covered with Spanish wounded and fugitive soldiers’.
The final stage of the march saw the men struggling forward against the incline. Their leather straps cut into shoulders, the stock or collar on their necks partially throttled them. Within an hour or two of starting, tongues were lolling about parched mouths, and haversacks bobbing on top of sweat-soaked backs. As the battalion halted for a moment by a fetid pool, garnished with cow dung, many fell flat on their bellies and lapped at the greenish water like animals.
When Craufurd’s column appeared near Talavera around 7 a.m., it was cheered by the exhausted British battalions that remained on the field after a battle that had left something like twelve thousand men of the two sides dead or wounded. In some places the dry grass had caught fire, touched off by the smouldering cartridge papers, and many wounded men, unable to crawl away, had been badly burned.
Few of the French soldiers witnessed the scene on the 29th, for they had pulled back several miles from the battlefield. Wellesley wasted little time in pushing forward Craufurd’s brigade to secure this new front, as surgeons and stretcher parties struggled to answers the plaintive cries of the wounded.
While the 95th had not tasted battle on the 28th, they most certainly saw its bloody consequences, one of the new soldiers remarking, ‘The horrid sights were beyond anything I could have imagined. Thousands dead and dying in every direction … and, I am sorry to say, Spaniards butchering the wounded Frenchmen at every opportunity, and stripping them naked, which gave admission to myriads of pernicious flies and the heat of a burning sun.’
During the next two days, riflemen were posted on picket duty to observe the French scouts. Sometimes they exchanged fire, but to little effect. It took no more than a meal or two for everyone to realise that Wellesley would not be able to supply his army in this position. It was a horribly poor part of Spain, and its slender resources had already been stripped by the French. The British commissaries, inexperienced in operations of this scale, soon showed themselves incapable of acquiring either transport or the required number of rations.
While General Wellesley was deciding on his best course of action, attempts were made to burn hundreds of the putrefying bodies that still littered the field. Recalling this miserable stay, one officer of the 95th remembered that ‘the feelings which constant hunger produces were, however, in some degree counteracted two days after the battle by the insufferable stench arising from hundreds of dead bodies of men and horses still unburied.’
If the battalion’s recent arrivals had now seen a battlefield for the charnel house it was, not a few also took advantage of its fruits, plundering the dead. Second Lieutenant Simmons relieved one fallen Frenchman of his backpack: as an officer he’d not been issued with one, but he’d keenly felt the need for such a contraption during his march.
That dash was already the subject of comment in the brigade and the Army at large. During the last twenty-four hours they had covered something between twenty-nine and thirty miles on atrocious stone-strewn roads that were little better than goat tracks. Their whole journey over the previous twenty-five days was something like 360 miles. Men had dropped dead trying to keep pace with that. The rest of the Army was deeply impressed by this march, so much so that the final day’s mileage was exaggerated as reports circulated on how Craufurd had driven his men onwards.
For Craufurd, though, it had all been futile. He had not made it in time to share in the laurels of a hard-fought general action. Like many officers in Wellesley’s army, he suspected that this campaign would last no longer than the previous one in Iberia – a matter of several months – and then they would be embarked and taken home again, and it was to home that the despondent brigadier’s thoughts turned. Craufurd was a faithful and loving correspondent with his wife Fanny. His letters to her were full of a tenderness and sympathy of which his many detractors would never have imagined him capable. They ended with passages like, ‘God of Heaven bless you, my dearest love, Ever your most affectionate husband, R. C.’ On 31 July he sat down to write her a swift note from his bivouac near Talavera. Noting his brigade’s failure to reach the town in time for the battle, it ended, ‘This will perhaps be a subject of joy to you, though you will at the same time find it natural that it should have mortified us.’ Craufurd’s desire to prove himself and his brigade burned with an undiminished intensity.