ALICANT is a Town of the greatest Trade of any in the Kingdom of Valencia, having a strong Castle, being situated on a high Hill, which commands both Town and Harbour. In this Place I resided a whole Year; but it was soon after my first Arrival, that Major Collier (who was shot in the Back at Barcelona, as I have related in the Siege of that Place) hearing of me, sought me out at my Quarters; and, after a particular Enquiry into the Success of that difficult Task that he left me upon, and my answering all his Questions to satisfaction (all which he receiv'd with evident Pleasure) he threw down a Purse of Pistoles upon the Table; which I refusing, he told me, in a most handsome Manner, his Friendship was not to be preserved but by my accepting it.
After I had made some very necessary Repairs, I pursu'd the Orders I had receiv'd from the Earl of Peterborow, to go upon the erecting a new Battery between the Castle and the Town. This was a Task attended with Difficulties, neither few in Number, nor small in Consequence; for it was to be rais'd upon a great Declivity, which must render the Work both laborious and precarious. However, I had the good Fortune to effect it much sooner than was expected; and it was call'd Gorge's Battery, from the Name of the Governor then commanding; who, out of an uncommon Profusion of Generosity, wetted that Piece of Gossiping with a distinguishing Bowl of Punch. Brigadier Bougard, when he saw this Work some time after, was pleas'd to honour it with a singular Admiration and Approbation, for its Compleatness, notwithstanding its Difficulties.
This Work, and the Siege of Cartagena, then in our Possession, by the Duke of Berwick, brought the Lord Galway down to this place. Cartagena is of so little Distance from Alicant, that we could easily hear the Cannon playing against, and from it, in our Castle, where I then was. And I remember my Lord Galway, on the fourth Day of the Siege, sending to know if I could make any useful Observations, as to the Success of it; I return'd, that I was of Opinion the Town was surrender'd, from the sudden Cessation of the Cannon, which, by our News next Day from the Place, prov'd to be fact. Cartagena is a small Sea-Port Town in Murcia; but has so good an Harbour, that when the famous Admiral Doria was ask'd, which were the three best Havens in the Mediterranean, he readily return'd, June, July, and Cartagena.
Upon the Surrender of this Place, a Detachment of Foot was sent by the Governor, with some Dragoons, to Elsha; but it being a Place of very little Strength they were soon made Prisoners of War.
The Siege of Cartagena being over, the Lord Galway return'd to his Camp; and the Lord Duncannon dying in Alicant, the first Guns that were fir'd from Gorge's Battery, were the Minute-Guns for his Funeral. His Regiment had been given to the Lord Montandre, who lost it before he had Possession, by an Action as odd as it was scandalous.
That Regiment had received Orders to march to the Lord Galway's Camp, under the Command of their Lieutenant-Colonel Bateman, a Person before reputedly a good Officer, tho' his Conduct here gave People, not invidious, too much Reason to call it in Question. On his March, he was so very careless and negligent (though he knew himself in a Country surrounded with Enemies, and that he was to march through a Wood, where they every Day made their Appearance in great Numbers) that his Soldiers march'd with their Muskets slung at their Backs, and went one after another (as necessity had forc'd us to do in Scotland) himself at the Head of 'em, in his Chaise, riding a considerable way before.
It happened there was a Captain, with threescore Dragoons, detach'd from the Duke of Berwick's Army, with a Design to intercept some Cash, that was order'd to be sent to Lord Galway's Army from Alicant. This Detachment, missing of that intended Prize, was returning very disconsolately, Re infecta; when their Captain, observing that careless and disorderly March of the English, resolv'd, boldly enough, to attack them in the Wood. To that Purpose he secreted his little Party behind a great Barn; and so soon as they were half passed by, he falls upon 'em in the Center with his Dragoons, cutting and slashing at such a violent Rate, that he soon dispersed the whole Regiment, leaving many dead and wounded upon the Spot. The three Colours were taken; and the gallant Lieutenant-Colonel taken out of his Chaise, and carried away Prisoner with many others; only one Officer who was an Ensign, and so bold as to do his Duty, was kill'd.
The Lieutenant who commanded the Granadiers, received the Alarm time enough to draw his Men into a House in their way; where he bravely defended himself for a long Time; but being killed, the rest immediately surrender'd. The Account of this Action I had from the Commander of the Enemy's Party himself, some Time after, while I was a Prisoner. And Captain Mahoni, who was present when the News was brought, that a few Spanish Dragoons had defeated an English Regiment, which was this under Bateman, protested to me, that the Duke of Berwick turn'd pale at the Relation; and when they offer'd to bring the Colours before him, he would not so much as see them. A little before the Duke went to Supper, Bateman himself was brought to him, but the Duke turn'd away from him without any further Notice than coldly saying, that he thought he was very strangely taken. The Wags of the Army made a thorough jest of him, and said his military Conduct was of a piece with his Oeconomy, having two Days before this March, sent his young handsome Wife into England, under the Guardship of the young Chaplain of the Regiment.
April 15. In the Year 1707, being Easter Monday, we had in the Morning a flying Report in Alicant, that there had been the Day before a Battle at Almanza, between the Army under the Command of the Duke of Berwick, and that of the English, under Lord Galway, in which the latter had suffer'd an entire Defeat. We at first gave no great Credit to it: But, alas, we were too soon woefully convinced of the Truth of it, by Numbers that came flying to us from the conquering Enemy. Then indeed we were satisfied of Truths, too difficult before to be credited. But as I was not present in that calamitous Battle, I shall relate it, as I received it from an Officer then in the Duke's Army.
To bring the Lord Galway to a Battle, in a Place most commodious for his purpose, the Duke made use of this Stratagem: He ordered two Irishmen, both Officers, to make their way over to the Enemy as Deserters; putting this Story in their Mouths, that the Duke of Orleans was in a full March to join the Duke of Berwick with twelve thousand Men; that this would be done in two Days, and that then they would find out the Lord Galway, and force him to Fight, where-ever they found him.
Lord Galway, who at this Time lay before Villena, receiving this Intelligence from those well instructed Deserters, immediately rais'd the Siege; with a Resolution, by a hasty March, to force the Enemy to Battle, before the Duke of Orleans should be able to join the Duke of Berwick. To effect this, after a hard March of three long Spanish Leagues in the heat of the Day; he appears a little after Noon in the face of the Enemy with his fatigu'd Forces. Glad and rejoyc'd at the Sight, for he found his Plot had taken; Berwick, the better to receive him, draws up his Army in a half Moon, placing at a pretty good Advance three Regiments to make up the Centre, with express Order, nevertheless, to retreat at the very first Charge. All which was punctually observ'd, and had its desired Effect; For the three Regiments, at the first Attack gave way, and seemingly fled towards their Camp; the English, after their customary Manner, pursuing them with Shouts and Hollowings. As soon as the Duke of Berwick perceiv'd his Trap had taken, he order'd his right and left Wings to close; by which Means, he at once cut off from the rest of their Army all those who had so eagerly pursu'd the imaginary Runaways. In short, the Rout was total, and the most fatal Blow that ever the English receiv'd during the whole War with Spain. Nor, as it is thought, with a great probability of Reason, had those Troops that made their Retreat to the Top of the Hills, under Major General Shrimpton, met with any better Fate than those on the Plain, had the Spaniards had any other General in the Command than the Duke of Berwick; whose native Sympathy gave a check to the Ardour of a victorious Enemy. And this was the sense of the Spaniards themselves after the Battle. Verifying herein that noble Maxim, That Victory to generous Minds is only an Inducement to Moderation.
The Day after this fatal Battle (which gave occasion to a Spanish piece of Wit, that the English General had routed the French) the Duke of Orleans did arrive indeed in the Camp, but with an Army of only fourteen Attendants.
The fatal Effects of this Battle were soon made visible, and to none more than those in Alicant. The Enemy grew every Day more and more troublesome; visiting us in Parties more boldly than before: and often hovering about us so very near, that with our Cannon we could hardly teach 'em to keep a proper Distance. Gorge the Governor of Alicant being recall'd into England, Major General Richards was by King Charles appointed Governor in his Place. He was a Roman Catholick, and very much belov'd by the Natives on that Account; tho' to give him his due, he behaved himself extremely well in all other Respects. It was in his Time, that a Design was laid of surprising Guardamere, a small Sea-port Town, in Murcia: But the military Bishop (for he was in a literal Sense excellent tam Marte, quam Mercurio, among his many others Exploits), by a timely Expedition, prevented that.
Governor Richards, my Post being always in the Castle, had sent to desire me to give notice whenever I saw any Parties of the Enemy moving. Pursuant to this Order, discovering one Morning a considerable body of Horse towards Elsha, I went down into the Town, and told the Governor what I had seen; and without any delay he gave his Orders, that a Captain with threescore Men should attend me to an old House about a Mile distance. As soon as we had got into it, I set about barricading all the open Places, and Avenues, and put my Men in a Posture ready to receive an Enemy, as soon as he should appear; upon which the Captain, as a feint, ordered a few of his men to shew themselves on a rising Ground just before the House. But we had like to have caught a Tartar: For tho' the Enemy took the Train I had laid, and on sight of our small Body on the Hill, sent a Party from their greater Body to intercept them, before they could reach the Town; yet the Sequel prov'd, we had mistaken their Number and it soon appeared to be much greater than we at first imagin'd. However our Out-scouts, as I may call 'em, got safe into the House; and on the Appearance of the Party, we let fly a full Volly, which laid dead on the Spot three Men and one Horse. Hereupon the whole Body made up to the House, but stood a-loof upon the Hill without reach of our Shot. We soon saw our Danger from the number of the Enemy: And well for us it was, that the watchful Governor had taken notice of it, as well as we in the House. For observing us surrounded with the Enemy, and by a Power so much superior, he marched himself with a good part of the Garrison to our Relief. The Enemy stood a little time as if they would receive 'em; but upon second thoughts they retir'd; and to our no little Joy left us at Liberty to come out of the House and join the Garrison.
Scarce a Day pass'd but we had some visits of the like kind attended sometimes with Rencounters of this Nature; in so much that there was hardly any stirring out in Safety for small Parties, tho' never so little away. There was within a little Mile of the Town, an old Vineyard, environed with a loose stone Wall: An Officer and I made an Agreement to ride thither for an Airing. We did so, and after a little riding, it came into my Head to put a Fright upon the Officer. And very lucky for us both was that unlucky Thought of mine; pretending to see a Party of the Enemy make up to us, I gave him the Alarm, set Spurs to my Horse, and rid as fast as Legs could carry me. The Officer no way bated of his Speed; and we had scarce got out of the Vineyard but my Jest prov'd Earnest, twelve of the Enemy's Horse pursuing us to the very Gates of the Town. Nor could I ever after prevail upon my Fellow-Traveller to believe that he ow'd his Escape to Merriment more than Speed.
Soon after my Charge, as to the Fortifications, was pretty well over, I obtain'd Leave of the Governor to be absent for a Fortnight, upon some Affairs of my own at Valencia. On my Return from whence, at a Town call'd Venissa, I met two Officers of an English Regiment, going to the Place from whence I last came. They told me, after common Congratulations, that they had left Major Boyd, at a little Place call'd Capel, hiring another Mule, that he rode on thither having tir'd and fail'd him; desiring withal, that if I met him, I would let him know that they would stay for him at that Place. I had another Gentleman in my Company, and we had travell'd on not above a League further, whence, at a little Distance, we were both surpriz'd with a Sight that seem'd to have set all Art at defiance, and was too odd for any thing in Nature. It appear'd all in red, and to move; but so very slowly, that if we had not made more way to that than it did to us, we should have made it a Day's Journey before we met it. My Companion could as little tell what to make of it as I; and, indeed, the nearer it came the more monstrous it seem'd, having nothing of the Tokens of Man, either Walking, Riding, or in any Posture whatever. At last, coming up with this strange Figure of a Creature (for now we found it was certainly such) what, or rather who, should it prove to be, but Major Boyd? He was a Person of himself far from one of the least Proportion, and mounted on a poor little Ass, with all his warlike Accoutrements upon it, you will allow must make a Figure almost as odd as one of the old Centaurs. The Morocco Saddle that cover'd the Ass was of Burden enough for the Beast without its Master; and the additional Holsters and Pistols made it much more weighty. Nevertheless, a Curb Bridle of the largest Size cover'd his little Head, and a long red Cloak, hanging down to the Ground, cover'd Jackboots, Ass, Master and all. In short, my Companion and I, after we could specifically declare it to be a Man, agreed we never saw a Figure so comical in all our Lives. When we had merrily greeted our Major (for a Cynick could not have forborn Laughter) He excus'd all as well as he could, by saying he could get no other Beast. After which, delivering our Message, and condoling with him for his present Mounting, and wishing him better at his next Quarters, he settled into his old Pace, and we into ours, and parted.
We lay that Night at Altea, famous for its Bay for Ships to water at. It stands on a high Hill; and is adorn'd, not defended, with an old Fort.
Thence we came to Alicant, where having now been a whole Year, and having effected what was held necessary, I once more prevail'd upon the Governor to permit me to take another Journey. The Lord Galway lay at Tarraga, while Lerida lay under the Siege of the Duke of Orleans; and having some Grounds of Expectation given me, while he was at Alicant, I resolv'd at least to demonstrate I was still living. The Governor favour'd me with Letters, not at all to my Disadvantage; so taking Ship for Barcelona, just at our putting into the Harbour, we met with the English Fleet, on its Return from the Expedition to Toulon under Sir Cloudsly Shovel.
I stay'd but very few Days at Barcelona, and then proceeded on my intended Journey to Tarraga; arriving at which Place I deliver'd my Packet to the Lord Galway, who receiv'd me with very great Civility; and to double it, acquainted me at the same time, that the Governor of Alicant had wrote very much in my Favour: But though it was a known Part of that noble Lord's Character, that the first Impression was generally strongest, I had Reason soon after to close with another Saying, equally true, That general Rules always admit of some Exception. While I was here we had News of the taking of the Town of Lerida; the Prince of Hesse (Brother to that brave Prince who lost his Life before Monjouick) retiring into the Castle with the Garrison, which he bravely defended a long time after.
When I was thus attending my Lord Galway at Tarraga, he receiv'd Intelligence that the Enemy had a Design to lay Siege to Denia; whereupon he gave me Orders to repair there as Engineer. After I had receiv'd my Orders, and taken Leave of his Lordship, I set out, resolving, since it was left to my Choice, to go by way of Barcelona, and there take Shipping for the Place of my Station; by which I propos'd to save more time than would allow me a full Opportunity of visiting Montserat, a Place I had heard much Talk of, which had fill'd me with a longing Desire to see it. To say Truth, I had been told such extravagant Things of the Place, that I could hardly impute more than one half of it to any thing but Spanish Rhodomontado's, the Vice of extravagant Exaggeration being too natural to that Nation.