"...the Action was Very Brisk for three howers and Upwards Untill we got to Close Quarters then we crossed the River and Got a fresh Rilease of Artillery and Some more Regiments the men Kept there ground for A Considerable Space of time with A Very heavey Loss but Generall Hill came Across thse Mountains into the Very Centre of the Action..."
This remarkable memoir is eloquent and detailed although its author was an ordinary soldier with little formal education. The Battle of Vittoria, which Parker describes above, was the most significant engagement of his military career, but he provides a vivid account of the whole crucial Peninsular campaign of 1813-14: the ravaging of the countryside, the deaths of friends and officers, and the repeated engagements with the French. Parker describes, for example, the storming of San Sebastian on 31 August 1813 when they "Received an order to Put both man Woman and Child to Death at the Point of the Bayonett", and suffered 2000 casualties before forcing their way into a nearly deserted town ("...the old Quartermaster was in the Stores of the Town ... he had his Cocked hat on and he was Scuffed about with the Rest of the Prisoners .. there was no Inhabitants in the Town they had all left it Except A few old Decriped men and Wommen ... they were treated Very badly what we found in this Town was all Wearing Aparell and Plenty of french brandy ... and the Pots boiling with there dinner...").
Parker later served in Bombay and Pune, and provides a full account of both places. He also provides narratives of other events that may not be his own, but those of old comrades in arms. The most dramatic is the account of a shipwreck off the Australian coast. The narrator, having travelled as a guard on a convict ship, was wrecked when the Royal Charlotte struck a reef off Moreton Bay near Brisbane soon after having embarked to take troops to India. The narrative describes the panic of the impact, the failed attempts to save the ship, the following 41 days spent on the wreck and a nearby islet, and (in the accompanying loose leaves that appear to be fragments of an earlier draft) the final rescue.
"...Vivid Flashes of Lightning ... Illuminated the whole horizon Round the whole of us and was Suckseeded by Loud Peales of thunder while the Roaring of the Surff and the cracking of the Ship on the Rocks and the cryes of the Poor Women and Children Added to the Uncertainty of the Fate that Awaited us..."
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