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The Bridge over the Vouga

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The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 3:17 am

[Waldegrave has come from here: On Duty in the Dark]

Lieutenant Waldegrave completed his round of the picquets, now all replaced by men from the 60th, and returned to the bridge itself. Three companies of the 62nd - the companies which had marched through the night to take the bridge - still held the position on the north side, backed up by the men of Sharpe's company, and the cavalry troops. The Colonel had brought up the rest of the regiment to support them, and they were now on the other side. Later, when the army advanced, and crossed safely over the bridge, the 62nd would join them, to attack the French. The riflemen who had last been on the picquets were eating supper, and stretching out to seize a hour or so's sleep. It had been interesting, Waldegrave thought. Responsibility for the picquets had been shared between the Rifles and the 62nd, and he couldn't really have faulted either. He yawned, and thought that perhaps he could now sit down, eat, and sleep. The officers of the 60th would be responsible for the picquets now.

He looked up at the sound of a horse, but it was the roan and Colonel Edrington, crossing the bridge. The sentry's challenge and the Colonel's response, were exchanged quietly, and the Colonel turned towards the cavalry.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 4:15 am

The horses and men finally quietened down, which was just as well. Pierce knew that the nerves of his men and animals were frayed by the night march over unfamiliar ground, and Sergeants hadn't even bothered to stem the flow of swearing that had come from the men as the horses had stumbled and lost their balance. He was apprehensive: it was exactly this kind of mood that could provoke the hussars into foolish actions when the battle time came. He had called on his Lieutenants, Cornets and Sergeants to make sure they kept the troop in line, but he knew that he could not affect the behaviour of the others. Hopefully, McIntyre was not reminiscing about Scotland right now, but making sure the men were prepared to act like trained soldiers not mounted banshees.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Timothy Willoughby on Fri May 01, 2009 4:25 am

The horses were far from fancying the terrain through which they were made to go, and troopers hadn't looked too pleased either. It was luck that so little came from the stumbling and tripping. It would've come as no surprise if an animal slipped and injured its leg.

Herrerro prooved himself to be a fairly surefooted horse, though even he slipped a couple of times and had a moment of protest in which it wished to go neither forward, nor left or right, but rather back.

He looked as proud as a peacock, and as satisfied as if he'd won himself the prettiest mare, once they halted though. The sounds died down, and troopers sat up, some having to be quietened down. Willoughby had felt relieved for the moment, but the worst could come. The terrain didn't flatter them at all.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 7:33 am

Edrington had never wanted to join the cavalry. He suspected it was tradition as much as anything. But he knew enough about holding a bridgehead to know the uses, and the disadvantages, of having cavalry. The country was not suited to horses - they would find it difficult to patrol, and would probably end up being forced to follow a track right up to the French. According to Major Vereker, he couldn't have pushed the French picquet back without them. And they seemed to know what they were doing now.

Edrington rode across to talk to their Captain.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:11 am

It was Parker who drew his attention to the approaching figure. Pierce turned and waited for the man to approach, his posture as he sat in Karat's saddle becoming stiff when he realised that it was a Colonel.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:12 am

"Good evening, Captain," Edrington said. "It is quiet, so far, at least. Is all well with your men?"

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:19 am

Good evening, sir. Yes, thank you, all's as well as it could be.' Answered Pierce calmly, his face as grim as the moment before.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:28 am

Edrington noted the man's expression. "Is there a problem which I - and possibly the rest of the Army - should know about?"

Possibly just that cavalrymen did not like being under the command of hte infantry, even for short periods. Though they probably would see nothing wrong with letting them command a brigade of foot-wobblers.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:34 am

'No, nothing unexpected, sir. The horses don't like marching at night over this kind of terrain, and that makes men agitated too.' As if in support of his words, somewhere close by a horse snorted in annoyance and a man swore. Sergeant Parker hid a smile and Pierce winced.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:46 am

"Settle them down then, because there will be a lot more of it when we move off again. And this time, we'll be coming up against the French in numbers. You'll be back with the Cavalry by then - no longer slowed down by infantry."

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 01, 2009 8:52 am

'Yes, sir.' Answered Pierce shortly and gave abrupt orders to his officers, who scattered away to their men.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Wed May 06, 2009 10:56 pm

The Hussars would be ready, at least, even if their horses did not like the dark. Edrington turned back towards the bridge, just as Lieutenant Waldegrave returned.

"Well?" he asked.

"Captain Vickery is not with them, my lord. Lieutenants Brady and Jaeger are up there. They will tell Captain Vickery that you are looking for him."

Edrington nodded. The rifles would be needed to dislodge the first line of pickets, and to help the cavalry and the 62nd deal with the advance guard. The rest of the Army would then move in on the main French forward position at Albergaria Nova. He thought that it was not like Vickery not to be around, when his men were so close to the enemy.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  John Vickery on Wed May 06, 2009 11:15 pm

Vickery had completed his rounds of the forward picquet, working backwards so that Roper and Pye were among the last he came to. He managed to hide his annoyance at receiving Roper's message and wondered just how he'd managed to miss Waldegrave, though, to be fair, it was easily done in the dark. He headed back towards the bridge, responding quietly to the sentry's challenge. The man indicated where the Colonel was last seen, and Vickery walked over, glad that he'd left Brandy with the baggage. This was no place for a Rifleman to be on horseback, after all.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Thu May 07, 2009 6:54 am

Edrington turned at the sound of boots, and raised an eyebrow, surprised to find Vickery on this side of the bridge.

"Captain Vickery - I take it the rest of your men are ready?"

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  John Vickery on Thu May 07, 2009 10:47 pm

"Yes, sir, they are as ready as they'll ever be."

It was hardly surprising that Waldegrave had managed to miss him, really. The dark green uniform wasn't exactly easy to see in the dark - which was the whole point of it, after all.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Thu May 07, 2009 11:22 pm

"You came up with the rest of the 2nd Division, I suppose..." It would have been helpful if Vickery had actually reported to him once he had arrived at the Vouga.

"We are going to push the French picquets back onto their advance guard - which is about 3 miles back from the river. They're mainly cavalry, so the 15th and the KGL Hussars will help us clear the road. The plan is to push them all back onto the French forward line - about 10 miles, and to follow that up with combined infantry and cavalry assaults ... "

That would be the difficult part, but his role was at least simple - to clear the road for the rest of the 2nd Division to follow, while Hill's Division crossed the Vouga further west, by boat, and then marched to join their attack from the flank, hopefully catching the French in a trap...

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Fri May 08, 2009 7:08 am

The Colonel of the 5th of Foot was already on the south side of the bridge.

"What do you want us to do?" he asked.

Edrington looked from Vickery to Sharpe, and gave the order to Major Vereker for the 62nd to prepare to march by companies.

"We will push the picquets back on their advance guard, and then - with the help of the 15th Light Dragoons and the 1st KGL Hussars we will push the advance guard back towards their front line, then regroup for an all-out attack at dawn." He drew a breath and looked at the narrow bridge and then down stream. "We'll bring the rest of the Division across the bridge, ready to move forward. Then we will deal with the picquets. It's going to take some time to get everyone across."

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 1:32 am

After the 5th, came the Young Inniskillings, who filed off to re-form behind the 5th. The bridge was narrow, and sergeants, their loud voices kept down to a muted but impressive growl, kept telling the men to get a move on, stop dawdling and get fell in on the other side - NOW.

The 62nd, in the centre, were in companies ready to move when the last of the 3/27th cleared the bridge to make way for the 33rd, the last of the Division's regiments.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 1:38 am

Champion trotted forward, Simmerson bouncing on his back like an excited pig. "Colonel Edrington," he said, civily touching the front of his hat. "I've had no word about that rifleman of mine."

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 1:52 am

"Simmerson," said Edrington flatly. "This is not the most convenient moment to show you the paperwork .... And your Rifleman is going to be in action in a few minutes. If he does well, I am sure you will approve of his transfer ... "

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 1:56 am

"If he does well, I shall want him back in his own regiment," said Simmerson as the 33rd marched over the bridge. "They say there's Frenchies about on the other side - Frogs hopping about, ha!"

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 2:10 am

As if in answer a frog gave its dog-like croak, which was taken up along the river. Edrington smiled to himself.

"There are - and General Wellesley has ordered us to push them back." He inclined his head politely. "With the help of your regiment, of course. There are picquets about a mile ahead of us - the Rifles, backed up by the 62nd will clear them out of the way easily enough. Behind them is cavalry across the road ... According to our scouts they are still there, probably a thousand or so."

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 2:14 am

"Splendid, splendid," said Simmerson, feeling proud of his regiment and himself. He always knew soldiering would be easy.

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 2:34 am

"The cavalry - the 15th and the 3rd German Hussars - will hound them back, while we follow. The 2nd Division will then re-form, and march on to the main French forward position." Edrington smiled. Simmerson had little experience of actual warfare, and he should be encouraged to take part. It would be necessary to keep an eye on what he did with his 33rd ...

"That is about 10 miles north of here. And we will be joined there by the other Divisions. We will be in sufficient strength to push the whole French line back - Wellesley hopes all the way to Oporto."

The 33rd were falling in with the other regiments of the 2nd Division. "Colonel, would you please post a company from your regiment on the bridge, to act as rear guard. We're not expecting attack - but we need to ensure that all the roads between here and the French are kept clear for the army. And that means no baggage train, and no camp followers are to cross the bridge until the French are on the run, and we are well to the north."

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Re: The Bridge over the Vouga

Post  Guest on Sun May 10, 2009 2:42 am

"Sir, I was about to do that very thing. We do not need the common men's whores interfering with the art of soldiering, no sir! Lieutenant Gibbons! Keep your company there, and ensure that the baggage and followers cannot cross!" He smiled in satisfaction as the huge, lumpen-faced sergeant quickly bullied Gibbon's company into order - an efficient man. He turned back to Edrington. "Do not fear, my lord - the 33rd will not fail us!"

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