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"Wellington's Crossing of the Douro, 1809" Topic

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373 hits since 29 Mar 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 Mar 2018 11:19 a.m. PST

"NEVER did the morning break more beautifully than on the 12th of May, 1809. Huge masses of fog-like vapor had succeeded to the starry, cloudless night, but one by one they moved onwards towards the sea, disclosing as they passed long tracts of lovely country, bathed in a rich golden glow. The broad Douro, with its transparent current, shone out like a bright-colored ribbon, meandering through the deep garment of fairest green; the darkly shadowed mountains which closed the background loomed even larger than they were; while their summits were tipped with the yellow glory of the morning. The air was calm and still, and the very smoke that arose from the peasant's cot labored as it ascended through the perfumed air, and save the ripple of the stream all was silent as the grave.

The squadron of the Fourteenth, with which I was, had diverged from the road beside the river, and to obtain a shorter path, had entered the skirts of a dark pine wood; our pace was a sharp one; an orderly had been already dispatched to hasten our arrival, and we pressed on at a brisk trot. In less than an hour we reached the verge of the wood, and as we rode out upon the plain, what a spectacle met our eyes! Before us, in a narrow valley, separated from the river by a low ridge, were picketed three cavalry regiments; their noiseless gestures and perfect stillness bespeaking at once that they were intended for a surprise party. Farther down the stream, and upon the opposite side, rose the massive towers and tall spires of Oporto, displaying from their summits the broad ensign of France; while far as the eye could reach, the broad dark masses of troops might be seen; the intervals between their columns glittering with the bright equipments of their cavalry, whose steel caps and lances were sparkling in the sunbeams. The bivouac fires were still smouldering, and marking where some part of the army had passed the night; for early as it was, it was evident that their position had been changed; and even now, the heavy masses of dark infantry might be seen moving from place to place, while the long line of the road to Vallonga was marked with a vast cloud of dust. The French drum and the light infantry bugle told, from time to time, that orders were passing among the troops; while the glittering uniform of a staff officer, as he galloped from the town, bespoke the note of preparation…."
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