减堵点破难点挖掘发展点 无锡助企复工打出“组合拳”

Being conveyed to St. John's, Burgoyne there disembarked, and on the 16th of June he commenced his march for Crown Point, the shipping following him by the lake. On the 1st of July he appeared before Ticonderoga. The place required ten thousand troops effectually to defend it; but St. Clair who commanded them had only three thousand, very indifferently armed and equipped. St. Clair saw at once that he must retire, as the Americans had already done, at Crown Point; but he sought to do it unobserved. Accordingly, in the night of the 5th of July the flight took place; but St. Clair's orders were immediately disobeyed; the soldiers fired the house which had been occupied by General de Fermoy, and the British were at once apprised of the retreat. The sailors soon broke up the obstructions at the mouth of the river, and a fleet of gunboats was in instant pursuit. They overtook the Americans near the falls of Skenesborough, and quickly mastered the protecting galleys, and destroyed the vessels. General Burgoyne followed with other gunboats containing troops, and at the same time dispatched Generals Fraser and Reisedel by land after St. Clair.

The purport of these Cabinet Councils was generally understood by the country; but as yet only the most sanguine anticipated the proposal of Sir Robert Peel, when the Times newspaper on the 4th of December announced, apparently from secret information, that it was the intention of the Government to repeal the Corn Laws, and to call Parliament together in January for that purpose. The assertion was received with incredulity, not only by the Opposition, but by the Ministerial journals. One organ of the Tory party placarded its office with a bill, headed "Atrocious fabrication of the Times!" But the latter journal, on the following day, declared that it "adhered to its original announcement." Day by day the controversy raged in the newspapers; but the news was too probable not to gain credence. The result was a conviction throughout the country that the Times had really obtained information of the Government's intentions; but as a matter of fact its information was incorrect, as the Cabinet, far from intending to repeal the Corn Laws, had made up its mind to retire.

[409]

Parliament met on the 15th of November, when Mr. Abercromby was unanimously re-elected Speaker. On the 20th the Queen opened the new Parliament in person. In the Royal Speech the serious attention of the Legislature was requested to the consideration of the state of the province of Lower Canada, which had now become a question that could not be any longer deferred. The demands of the inhabitants of that province were so extravagant that they were regarded by Sir Robert Peel as revolutionary. They demanded, not only that the Executive Council should be responsible to the House of Representatives, but also that the Senate, or Upper House, then nominated by the Crown, should be elected by the people. The Home Government, sustained by an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons, rejected the demand; and when the news reached Canada, the Lower Province was quickly in a flame of rebellion. Violent harangues were delivered to excited assemblies of armed men, who were called upon to imitate the glorious example of the United States, and break the yoke of British oppression. Fortunately, disaffection in the Upper Provinces was confined to a minority. The Loyalists held counter-demonstrations at Montreal; regiments of volunteers to support the Government and maintain the British connection were rapidly formed, and filled up by brave men determined to lay down their lives for the fair young Queen who now demanded their allegiance. Sir Francis Head had so much confidence in the inhabitants of the Upper Provinces that he sent all the regular troops into Lower Canada for the purpose of suppressing the insurrection. A small force, under the command of Colonel Gore, encountered 1,500 of the rebels so strongly posted in stone houses in the villages of St. Denis and St. Charles that they were obliged to retreat before the well directed fire from the windows, with the loss of six killed and ten wounded, leaving their only field-piece behind. Among the wounded was Lieutenant Weir, who was barbarously murdered by the insurgents. At St. Charles, Colonel Wetherall, at the head of another detachment, stormed the stronghold of the rebels, and completely routed them, after an obstinate resistance, with a loss of only three killed and eighteen wounded. The strength of the insurgents,[446] however, lay in the country of the Two Mountains, where they were pursued by Sir John Colborne in person, with a force of 13,000 men, including volunteers. Many of them took to flight at his approach, including their commander Girod, who, on being pursued and captured, shot himself. But 400 rebels, commanded by Dr. Chenier, took up a position in a church and some other buildings, around which they erected barricades, and there made a desperate resistance for two hours. Next day the British troops proceeded to another stronghold of the rebels, St. Benoit, which they found abandoned, and to which the exasperated loyalists set fire. Papineau, the leader of the insurrection, had escaped to New York.

Meanwhile Ministers had not yet perceived the military genius of Sir Arthur Wellesley, notwithstanding his services in India, at Copenhagen, and his brilliant victories at Roli?a and Vimiera. Instead of making him at once commander-in-chief of the forces destined to co-operate in Spainfor they now resolved to make a decided movement in favour of the Spanish patriotsthey gave that post to Sir John Moore. Sir Arthur had assured Ministers that he was far better qualified for the chief command than any of the superior officers then in the Peninsula. He had now displayed the qualities necessary for a great general: prudence as well as daring, and the sagacious vision which foresees not only difficulties, but the means of surmounting them. Sir Arthur had carried victory with him everywhere, a circumstance one would have thought sufficient to satisfy the dullest diplomatist that he was the man for the occasion. But there was one thing which demanded attention, without which the successful operation of our armies was impossiblethe thorough reform of the Commissariat Department. This department was at that time in a condition of the most deplorable inefficiency. The commissariat officers had no experience; there was no system to guide and stimulate them. Sir Arthur had learned the necessity, in India, of the most complete machinery of supply; that it was of no use attempting to advance into a hostile country without knowing how and whence your troops were to be provisioned, and to have always ammunition in plenty, and tents for shelter. This machinery all wanted organisingthe absolute necessity of its[563] perfect action impressing itself on every individual concerned in it. Until this were done, Sir Arthur would never have advanced into the heart of Spain as Sir John Moore did. Considering the state of the roads, and the want of mules, horses, and waggons to convey the baggage, he would not have proceeded till he had first brought these into existence. Still more, Sir Arthur would not have marched far without securing, by one means or other, correct information of the real state and localities of the Spanish armies. On all these things depended success, and no man was more alive to the knowledge of this than Sir Arthur Wellesley. He had already pressed these matters earnestly on the attention of Government, and had they had the penetration to have at once selected him for the command, they would have spared the country the disasters which followed.

On the 8th of February was fought the great and decisive battle of Sobraon, the name of the tte du pont, at the entrenched camp of the Sikhs, where all the forces of the enemy were now concentrated. The camps extended along both sides of the river, and were defended by 130 pieces of artillery, of which nearly half were of heavy calibre, and which were all served by excellent gunners. The British troops formed a vast semicircle, each end of which touched the river, the village of Sobraon being in the centre, where the enemy were defended by a triple line of works, one within another, flanked by the most formidable redoubts. The battle commenced by the discharge of artillery on both sides, which played with terrific force for three hours. After this the British guns went up at a gallop till they came within 300 yards of the works, where it was intended the assault should be delivered. Halting there, they poured a concentrated fire upon the position for some time. After this the assault was made by the infantry, running. The regiment which led the way was the 10th, supported by the 53rd Queen's and the 43rd and 59th Native Infantry. They were repulsed with dreadful slaughter. The post of honour and of danger was now taken by the Ghoorkas. A desperate struggle with the bayonet ensued; the Sikhs were overpowered by the brigades of Stacey and Wilkinson; but, as the fire of the enemy was now concentrated upon this point, the brave assailants were in danger of being overwhelmed and destroyed. The British Commander-in-Chief seeing this, sent forward the brigades of Ashburnham, as well as Smith's division, against the right of the enemy, while his artillery played furiously upon their whole line. The Sikhs fought with no less valour and determination than the British. Not one of their gunners flinched till he was struck down at his post. Into every gap opened by the artillery they rushed with desperate resolution, repelling the assaulting columns of the British. At length the cavalry, which has so often decided the fate of the day in great battles, were instrumental in achieving the victory. The Sappers and Miners having succeeded in opening a passage through which the horses could enter in single file, the 3rd Queen's Dragoons, under Sir Joseph Thackwell, got inside the works, quickly formed, and galloping along in the rear of the batteries, cut down the gunners as they passed. General Gough promptly followed up this advantage by ordering forward the whole three divisions of the centre and the right. It was then that the fighting may be said to have commenced in earnest. The struggle was long, bloody, and relentless. No quarter was given or asked; the Sikhs fighting like men for whom death had no terrors, and for whom death in battle was the happiest as well as the most glorious exit from life. But they encountered men with hearts as stout and stronger muscle, and they were at length gradually forced back upon the river by the irresistible British bayonet. The bridge at length gave way under the enormous weight, and thousands were precipitated into the water and drowned. But even in the midst of this catastrophe the drowning fanatics would accept no mercy from the Feringhees. Our losses amounted to 320 killed and 2,063 wounded. Of the European officers, thirteen were killed and 101 wounded. The loss of the Sikhs in the battle of Sobraon was estimated at from 10,000 to 13,000 men, the greater number being shot down or drowned in the attempt to cross the bridge. They left in the hands of the victors sixty-seven guns, 200 camel swivels, nineteen standards, and a great quantity of ammunition.

BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE. (See p. 570.)

Reports that the king was rapidly recovering now began to fly about Court, daily gaining strength. The Whigs, impatient to seize on office, were in a state of strange excitement; but to go in with the prospect of being immediately dismissed by the king, did not accord with the dignity of the leaders. On the other hand, there were so many good things to be given awayone or two bishoprics, the office of Chief Justice in Eyre, sundry commissions of Major-General, besides expectations of promotions to the rank of Field-Marshalthat the dependents of the party grew impatient. Neither the Whigs nor Pitt knew well what to do. The Lords did not commit the Bill till the 17th, when they made two important additions to it, namely, to place all the palaces, parks, houses, and gardens of the king under the control of the queen, and to give her the care of all the royal children under the age of twenty-one. But, at that very crisis, the king was pronounced convalescent. On the 19th, Lord Thurlow announced this, on the certificate of the physicians; and it was declared by him that their lordships could not, in these circumstances, proceed with the Bill, but had better adjourn till Tuesday next. The Duke of York observed that he should most gladly have corroborated the statement of the Lord Chancellor, but could not, having called the day before at Kew, to desire that he might see his father, but had not been permitted. The House, however, adjourned, and on Tuesday, the 24th, Thurlow informed it that he had seen his Majesty, had found him perfectly recovered, and therefore he moved another adjournment to the Monday following, which was agreed to.

DEAN SWIFT.