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      But it was full two hours, in the end, before they did start. Flasks had to be replenished, farewell drinks taken, wives and families parted from, the last behests made, of those going upon an errand of death. Citizens burning with ardor to protect their hearths and stock were routed out of saloons and dance halls, only to slip away again upon one pretext or another.


      [113]To approach Ferdinand's forces, the French were obliged to pass a narrow ground between a river and a marsh, and were so cramped that they committed the very error which cost them the battle of Blenheim. They placed the cavalry in the centre, and made wings of their infantry. The cavalry made a succession of furious charges on Ferdinand's centre, but this stood compact and immovable, till the French horse, being discouraged, the Allies charged in their turn, and the centre of the army, the cavalry, being thus driven back, the whole line gave way. At this moment Ferdinand sent orders to Lord George Sackville to charge with the cavalry, which had been kept in reserve, and thus complete the destruction of the flying French. But Lord George, who had been constantly quarrelling with Ferdinand, as well as his own second in command, the Marquis of Granby, now did not appear to comprehend a succession of orders, and sat still. But Ferdinand, having lost patience, sent word to the Marquis of Granby to advance, and he promptly obeyed, but it was now too late; the French had got half an hour's start. Thus the English cavalry was deprived of all share in the victory; but the English foot had borne the chief brunt of the attack, being in the centre. Six British regiments, in fact, for a time maintained the whole shock of the French. Sackville was tried by court martial, and dismissed from all his military appointments. The battle of Minden was fought on the 1st of August, 1759.


      Retreat was now inevitable, and Burgoyne determined to attempt to reach Fort George, at the southern end of Lake George. He had but three days' provisions left, and his force was now reduced to three thousand five hundred men, and these had to make their way through a wilderness swarming with active and elate enemies. Gates, aware of the movement which Burgoyne was intending to make, sent troops up the river to occupy the banks of the Hudson, and to guard all[244] passages of escape. The distance to Saratoga was only six miles, but the rain fell in torrents, the roads were almost impassable, the bridges over the Fishkill were all broken down by the Americans. Burgoyne sent forward detachments of soldiers to repair the bridges and re-open the roads; but they found the woods swarming with riflemen, and that it was impossible to execute the task assigned them. On the 10th, when he arrived at the fords of the Fishkill, he found them obstructed by strong forces of Americans. He soon dispersed them with cannon, but they only retired to the Hudson, where still stronger bodies of troops were posted to oppose his crossing. He might, perhaps, have dispersed these too, but other bodies were seen already in line on the left bank, and to cross there appeared hopeless.

      The Spanish junta sent an officer to Lisbon to consult with General Caraffa, the commander of the Spanish auxiliaries, on the best means of withdrawing the troops from that city. Caraffa, who was an Italian, did not seem to fall into the proposal; but this was of less consequence, for his men took the liberty of deserting, first in small numbers and secretly, but soon by a whole regiment at a time, and openly. Junot sent out six hundred men to stop them; but they attacked, killed, and wounded nearly half the detachment, and pursued their march. General Bellesta, who commanded the Spanish troops at Oporto, seized the French general, Quesnel, who had but a small number of men, and marched away for Corunna, carrying Quesnel and his few soldiers prisoners with him. No sooner were the Spaniards gone, however, than the cowardly governor of Oporto put down the rising and declared for the French. But the fire of revolt was flying too fast all over the kingdom for this to succeed. In a few days the people rose again, seized on the arsenal, and armed themselves. They were encouraged by the monks, who rang their bells to call the people out, and by the bishops, who blessed the banners, and offered up public prayers for the enfranchisement of the country in the cathedrals. There was a similarly successful outbreak at Braganza. From one end of the country to the other the rising was complete and enthusiastic. Deputies were dispatched to England to solicit assistance and arms. For a time Junot managed to keep down the population of Lisbon by collecting troops into it, seizing, altogether, four thousand five hundred of the Spaniards, and making them prisoners. Alarmed, however, at his position, and fearing to move any of his forces from the capital, he ordered Loison, who lay at the fortress of Almeida, on the frontiers, to march to Oporto, and suppress the revolt; but General Silviera, a Portuguese nobleman, put himself at the head of the armed population, and successfully defended Oporto. At Beja, Leiria, Evora, and other places, the French managed to put down the insurgents, but not without much bloodshed and severe military executions. But the hour of retribution was fast approaching. Spanish as well as Portuguese deputies appeared in London soliciting aid. They did not ask for men; for, in the pride of their temporary success, they imagined themselves amply able to drive out the French; but they asked for arms, clothes, and ammunition; and they prayed that an army might be sent to Portugal, which would act as a powerful diversion in their favour.At the commencement of the Session a notice of a motion of want of confidence in the Ministry was given by Sir John Yarde Buller. He assigned as reasons for bringing forward the motion the disturbed and unsatisfactory state of the country, which he ascribed to the system of popular agitation, "nurtured and fostered," as he alleged, by the Ministers during the preceding two years. After a debate of four consecutive nights the motion was rejected by 308 votes to 287. The division was fairly satisfactory, and another source of gratification to the Ministry was the passing of the Irish Municipal Bill, which became law in spite of a characteristic protest from Bishop Phillpotts, who regarded the measure "as a deliberate and wilful abandonment of the cause of true religion which had provoked the justice of Almighty God and given too much reason to apprehend the visitation of Divine vengeance for this presumptuous act of national disobedience." In this Session Sir Robert Peel at last terminated the scandals connected with election committees by a plan which authorised the Speaker to appoint a general committee of elections, with the duty of selecting election committees to try each particular[471] case. Sir Francis Baring's Budget was a considerable improvement upon those of his indifferent predecessor, Mr. Spring-Rice, whose careless finance had produced no less than four successive deficits. He acknowledged a deficit of 850,000, and asked for a vote of credit. He further imposed an additional tax of 4d. a gallon on spirits, increased the customs and excise by 5 per cent., and the assessed taxes by 10 per cent.

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      On the 12th of October General Howe, who would have been better employed in driving the enemy before him than in waiting for his brother's useless negotiations, sent a considerable part of his forces, with flat-bottomed boats, through Hell Gate into the Sound, and landed them at Frog's Neck, about nine miles in the rear of Washington's position, thus cutting off all his supplies from the country. The ships ascended higher up the North River, cutting off the retreat into the Jerseys. Had Howe, instead of landing at Frog's Neck, done so at Pell's Point, he would have rendered Washington's retreat nearly impossible. But this was neglected till the 18th of October, by which time Washington, finding that he was getting gradually hemmed in, and Lee, who had now joined him from Sullivan's Island and the Carolinas, insisting that nothing but instant retreat could save them, they therefore made a rapid retreat into the open country called the White Plains. They had much difficulty in carrying away their artillery; and the whole of it must have been taken, had Howe shown any ordinary activity. Between this date and the 21st there was considerable skirmishing, which compelled Washington to retire farther into the White Plains, and from thence towards the Delaware.

      But, not contented with this superiority, the British were tempted to invest and endeavour to storm New Orleans. This was returning to the old blunders, and giving the American sharp-shooters the opportunity of picking off our men at pleasure in the open field from behind their walls and batteries. This ill-advised enterprise was conducted by Sir Edward Pakenham. Nothing was so easy as for our ships to blockade the mouth of the Mississippi, and thus destroy the trade, not only of New Orleans, but of all the towns on that river; but this common-sense plan was abandoned for the formidable and ruinous one of endeavouring to take the place by storm. The city of New Orleans lies at the distance of one hundred and ten miles from the sea, on a low, boggy promontory, defended on the river side by a chain of powerful forts, and on the other by morasses. Having landed as near New Orleans as they could, the British troops, on the 23rd of December, were met by an American army, and received a momentary repulse; but this was quickly reversed, and on Christmas day Sir Edward Pakenham encamped at the distance of six miles from New Orleans. But he found at least twenty thousand Americans posted between him and the city, behind a deep canal and extensive earthworks. There was no way of approaching them except across bogs, or through sugar plantations swarming with riflemen, who could pick off our men at pleasure. This was exactly one of those situations which the whole course of our former wars in that country had warned us to avoid, as it enabled the Americans, by their numerous and excellent riflemen, to destroy our soldiers, without their being in scarcely any danger themselves. In fair and open fight they knew too well that they had no chance with British troops, and the folly of giving them such opportunities of decimating those troops from behind walls and embankments is too palpable to require military knowledge or experience to point it out. Yet Sir Edward Pakenham, who had fought in the Peninsula, was imprudent enough to run himself into this old and often-exposed snare. On the 26th of December he commenced a fight on these unequal terms, the Americans firing red-hot balls from their batteries on the unscreened advancing columns, whilst from the thickets around the Kentucky riflemen picked off the soldiers on the flanks. Pakenham thus, however, advanced two or three miles. He then collected vast quantities of hogsheads of sugar and treacle, and made defences with them, from which he poured a sharp fire on the enemy. By this means he approached to within three or four hundred yards of the American lines, and there, during the very last night of the year, the soldiers worked intensely to cast up still more extensive breastworks of sugar and treacle casks, and earth.

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      "Landor again," she yawned, ignoring his meaning-fraught tone. But she watched his face from under her long lashes.

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      In England there had been a coalition of what was called the Portland section of the Whigs, with Pitt's Ministry. These Whigs had not only separated from Fox and his friends, but they had, from the first outbreak of the French Revolution, followed the lead of Burke and supported all Pitt's measures. The Duke of Portland, therefore, was, in July, made Third Secretary of State; Lord Fitzwilliam, President of the Council, and, in December, Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland; Earl Spencer was made, at the same time, Lord Privy Seal, and, in December, First Lord of the Admiralty; Pitt's elder brother, Lord Chatham, being removed for him, and made Privy Seal; and Windham became Secretary of War in place of Sir George Yonge.

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