We started after them at daylight next morning and, crossing at a ford of the Tormes, we found their rearguard, consisting of three regiments of infantry, with some cavalry and artillery, posted on a formidable height above the village of Serna. General Bock, with his brigade of heavy German dragoons, immediately went at them and, putting their cavalry to flight, he broke through their infantry and took or destroyed the whole of them. This was one of the most gallant charges recorded in history. I saw many of these fine fellows lying dead along with their horses, on which they were still astride, with the sword firmly grasped in the hand as they had fought the instant before, and several of them still wearing a look of fierce defiance which death itself had been unable to quench.
We halted for the night at a village near Penaranda. I took possession of the church and, finding the floor strewed with the paraphernalia of priesthood, I selected some silk gowns, and other gorgeous trappings, with which I made a bed for myself in the porch, and where, "if all had been gold that glittered," I should have looked a jewel indeed; but it is lamentable to think that, among the multifarious blessings we enjoy in this life, we should never be able to get a dish of glory and a dish of beefsteak on the same day; in consequence of which the heart, which ought properly to be soaring in the clouds, or at all events in a castle half way up, is more generally to be found grovelling about a hen-roost, in the vain hope that, if it cannot get hold of the hen herself, it may at least hit upon an egg; and such, I remember, was the state of my feelings on this occasion, in consequence of my having dined the three preceding days on the half of my inclinations.
Adventures in the Rifle Brigade by Captain John Kincaid. (Leo Cooper, London, 1997) from the electronic version that can be found here.Smith & Co. 1855)
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