Sir John Moore,
page 4 of 5
a moment, when he had informed them of their error, their line reformed, and with a loud shout they sprang eagerly forward, driving the enemy before their levelled muskets. Delighted with their enthusiasm, Moore followed them, still cheering them onwards. “Highlanders! remember Egypt!” But he had made himself conspicuous. A cannon ball now struck him on the left shoulder. He fell to the ground. Raising himself instantly to a sitting posture, without a muscle of his face quivering, his eye still followed eagerly the gallant advance of his troops. A staff officer, Captain Hardinge, afterwards Lord Hardinge, was quickly by his side, anxiously enquiring if he were much hurt. Moore made no reply, but still looked anxiously toward the conflict: Hardinge noticed this, and at once gave him the welcome intelligence that the 42nd were still advancing. He did not speak, but his countenance brightened. He knew his wish had been performed. Moore’s calmness at first led to the hope that the wound was not mortal, but a very slight examination showed that the gallant warrior’s hours must be few indeed. His shoulder was smashed to atoms — the arm hanging merely by the skin, while the ribs covering the heart were also broken — the shot in its passage having bared them. Yet he sat as if only resting for a little time after hard riding.
A blanket was spread out, and the General being carefully and tenderly placed in it, was carried by his brave Highlanders. Hardinge noticed that his sword was much in the way, the hilt striking against his wounded shoulder, and began to unbuckle the belt. “No, no, Hardinge, I had rather it should go out of the field with me;” and with his sword girded round him — a sword which he had never disgraced — the dying chief was borne from the field to his lodgings in Corunna.
The letter of Colonel Anderson, for one-and-twenty years the friend and companion of Sir John Moore, written next morning, describes the circumstances.
“I met the General on the evening of the 16th, being brought in with a blanket and sashes. He knew me immediately, squeezed me by the hand, and said, Anderson, don’t leave me.’
“After some time, at intervals he said, ‘Anderson, you know that I have always wished to die this way.’ He then asked, ‘Are the French beaten? I hope the people of England will be satisfied. I hope my country will do me justice! Anderson, you will see my friends as soon as you can. Say to my mother—’ Here his voice quite failed. ‘Hope — Hope — I have much to say to him, but cannot get it out. I have made my will, and have remembered my servants. Colborne has my will, and all my papers. Everything Francois (his body-servant) says is right. I have the greatest confidence in him.’
“He thanked the surgeons for their trouble. Captains Percy and Stanhope, two of his aides-de-camp, came into the room. He spoke kindly to both. After some interval he said, ‘Stanhope, remember me to your sister.’ He pressed my hand close to his body, and in a few minutes died without a struggle.”
According to a wish which he had often expressed, that if killed in battle he might be buried where he fell, his body was carried at midnight to a grave dug in one of the bastions of the citadel of Corunna, and after the chaplain-general read the service by torchlight, a band of sincere mourners heaped the earth upon him. Among others detailed for this duty was the young Glasgow ensign, Colin Campbell—destined also to be a distinguished field-marshal, whose thoughts often reverted to that fateful night when they “left him alone in his glory.”