Captain Gordon led a troop of the 15th Hussars during the first of the British army’s campaigns into Spain, commanded by Sir John Moore. Unearthed and published many years after it was written by the esteemed Regimental historian Colonel Wylly, his diary bears testimony to the events of the retreat to Corunna.
Gordon writes of his adventures with verve, wit and in some places a little venom when talking of his erstwhile commander Moore; he is fulsome in his description of the Portuguese and Spanish people to whom the British had come to aid. For example when relating the qualities of a local wine he could “only compare the taste of it to a mixture of vinegar and ink”
On military matters he is no great respecter of rank, and distributes blame and praise where he believes they should be rightly apportioned. He gives a great first-hand account of the famed skirmish of Sahagun, to which he believes started a moral ascendancy of the British cavalry over their French counterparts. Despite some defective equipment and, as Gordon attributes it, dilatory conduct by the commander, he reaches Corunna unlike a number of his comrades and fellow country-men.
A fine read, which despite its format as a journal retains some pace, it gives a great view of the retreat from an expert military eye.
The Corunna Campaign 1808-1809
1990 Worley Publications UK - facsimile of 1913 edition