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Twenty-Five Years In The Rifle Brigade
     

Twenty-Five Years In The Rifle Brigade

by William Surtees
 

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CHAPTER I.

Birth and Parentage--Enters the Militia--Volunteers into the
Line--Joins the Army destined for Holland--The Troops embark at
Deal--Land at the Helder--Laxity of discipline--March for
Schagen--Detachment under Sir Ralph Abercromby sent to surprise
Hoorne--Hoorne surrenders.


I was born on the 4th

Overview

CHAPTER I.

Birth and Parentage--Enters the Militia--Volunteers into the
Line--Joins the Army destined for Holland--The Troops embark at
Deal--Land at the Helder--Laxity of discipline--March for
Schagen--Detachment under Sir Ralph Abercromby sent to surprise
Hoorne--Hoorne surrenders.


I was born on the 4th of August, 1781, in the village of Corbridge, in
the county of Northumberland; of parents who may be said to have been
among the middle classes, my father being a tradesman. They gave me such
an education as was customary with people of their station in life; viz.
reading, writing, and arithmetic. My mother having sprung from a pious
race, was the first to implant in my mind any sense of religion; indeed,
it is to the spiritual seed sown in my heart by her during my youth,
that I am indebted, under God, for having been brought, many years
afterwards, to consider my ways, and to turn to Him. Nevertheless, being
naturally of a sensual and wicked disposition, I, as might be expected,
spent a dissolute youth, which often caused great pain and uneasiness to
my good and pious mother. But I did not continue long under the paternal
roof; for, having from my infancy a great predilection for a military
life, I embraced almost the first opportunity that offered, after I
became sufficiently grown, to enter into the militia of my native
county. I enlisted on the 15th of November, 1798, being then little more
than seventeen years of age. I entered this service with the
determination that, should I not like a soldier's life, I would then,
after remaining a few years in it, return home; but, if I did like it,
to volunteer into the line, and make that my occupation for life. It
will readily be believed that this undutiful step affected deeply my
excellent parents; for though my father was not _then_ a religious man,
he had a heart susceptible of the tenderest feelings; and I really
believe that no parents ever felt more deeply the combined emotions of
tender regret at my leaving them so young, and for such a purpose, and
at the disgrace which my wayward conduct had, as they imagined, brought
upon myself. But though evil in itself, God overruled it for good to me,
and, I trust, to them also. I would here remark that the life of a
soldier was by no means considered in my native village, at that time,
as at all creditable; and when I sometimes in my boyhood used to exhibit
symptoms of a military inclination, I was often taunted with the then
opprobrious expression, "Ay, thou likes the smell of poother,"
intimating thereby that I was likely to disgrace myself by going for a
soldier.

I left my family in much grief in the beginning of 1799, and marched
with several other recruits to join my regiment at Chelmsford in Essex,
where we arrived in about a month, and where I began my military career.
I always liked a soldier's life, consequently I did not suffer from many
of those parts of it which are so unpleasant to those of a contrary
disposition; and, as I took pleasure in it, I of course made more
progress in acquiring a knowledge of my duty than some others who set
out with me. I was early placed in the first squad, an honour which I
considered no trifling one in those days,--but none of us finished our
drill; for, in July of the same year, an order was issued, permitting
such men as chose to extend their services, to volunteer into the line,
in order to recruit the army then destined for Holland. We had
previously marched from Chelmsford to Colchester, a distance of
twenty-one miles, which march was to me, I think, the severest I ever
underwent; for being young, and totally unaccustomed to any thing like
it, the weight of the musket, bayonet, accoutrements, and knapsack,
appeared, towards the latter end of the march, to be almost intolerable;
but I kept up, although excessively tired. This will show how necessary
it is at all times to accustom troops, destined for service, to move in
such order as they will be expected to do when they take the field--for,
if unaccustomed to the carriage of the knapsack, and to frequent marches
with it for exercise, they will be utterly unable to perform any
movement against, or in the face of an enemy, with that celerity
necessary to ensure success.

Product Details

BN ID:
2940013158368
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
07/30/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
349 KB

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