Monday, 23 February 2015

war diaries part 7

February 17th  1798

At last the enemy is in sight. They are positioned on a ridge on the other side of a river called  the Volar,
we the light infantry are tasked with fulshing out the enemy to the east ot the bridge , our scouts have found an island to the east of our position where there is a ford with the island in the middle. I was posted with the carabiner and two companies of chasseur  there was  four companies  to our left and a further two companies on our extreme left the other battalion of the 20th was held in reserve to force the bridge itself, once we had control of the ford. Once we were over the ford we were to form a skirmish screen  to the east of the main advance.
We advanced quickly but almost as we cleared our lines we came under heavy fire from  enemy skirmishes along the line of our advance, we extended our order and pushed the enemy before us. At this point more enemy fired at our flank and we were forced to withdraw  and regroup this new attack melted away. We had lost 8 men in the early part of the skirmish this was going to be a hard fight the enemy were skilled skirmishers better than we had seen before, as we advanced again the enemy had already withdrawn to the island again we came under heavy fire as we advanced on to the ford using what cover we could we put as much fire into the tree line that the enemy now occupied. The island was heavly wooded with scrub  and fallen trees. The General d'Bridgade sent up half a battery of light guns, they soon set about firing on the enemy infantry i could see branches landing on there heads and a chear raind out each time an enemy was bolled over by a shot.
Three companies charged the for and island we ran knee deep in water as the enemy open up on us, several men fell into the freezing water but we rushed the island were there was a stiff fight at the bayonet point. We fought our way throught the island, we had to fight for every tree. The enemy were as determined to hold the island as we were to take it. They fell back leaving many dead and wounded. We had also lost heavly 38 killed and 60 wounded. Our new boys had foufgt well, it had been a true baptism of fire. We crossed the island and we formed our skirmish screen to cover the main afvance of the big battalions some of the men were sent back to tend the wounded. We advanced all day in skirmish order as the eneny once again melted away the battalion had done well but was tired the advance was halded but we were to advance a little further that day but we could go no further that day as the enemy slipped away yet again.
We cooked what little food we had and prayed for sleep.

Mo from the 20th soon.