The story of the doings of the British Legion under Sir de
Lacy Evans in Spain is but little known. The expedition was
a failure, and that from no want of heroic courage on the part
of the soldiers, but from the most scandalous neglect and
ill-treatment by the Government of Queen Christina. So gross
was this neglect that within six months of their arrival in the
Peninsula nearly five thousand, that is to say half the Legion,
had either died from want, privation, or fever in the hospitals
of Vittoria, or were invalided home. The remainder, although
ill-fed, ill-clothed, and with their pay nine months in arrear,
showed themselves worthy of the best traditions of the British
army, and it was only at the end of their two years' engagement
that, finding all attempts to obtain fair treatment from
the Government unavailing, they took their discharge and
returned home. The history of their doings as described in the following
story is largely founded on a pamphlet by Alex. Somerville,
a man of genius who enlisted in the Legion; and the events
subsequent to its disbandment are taken from the work of
Major Duncan, one of the Commissioners appointed by the
British Government to endeavour to see that the conditions
of a convention entered into by our Government and the
leaders of the contending parties in Spain were duly observed--a
convention, however, that had very small influence in
checking the atrocities committed by both combatants.
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