"Those warlike recollections or the Beauties of a Soldier, is most humbly dedicated to the Worshipful George Barne, Esquire (2) by his most humble and devoted servant
Sir: I became a Soldier in His Majesty's 40th Regiment of Foot (commanded by General Sir George Osbourn) in Taunton on the 18th of July 1799 (3). Immediately we received the Rout to march to Canterbury, in order to encamp on Durham Down with the Grand Army. On the Ground, we was reviewed by the Royal Dukes and Princes &c. And we entertained them with a sham fight. Instantly, we received orders to embark at the Downs, on board the Men of War, and sailed for Holland. We were commanded by the Duke of York, the Soldier's Dearling, the Prince William of Gloucester and General Abercrombie. Admiral Mitchell had the command of the Fleet, We set sail and landed at the Helder (4). We had four Actions there: two of them were General engagements, and indeed the fourth and the last that we fought there on a Sunday was almost a General one. I don't mean to say anything about killing one another, but I saw some very droll customs and very, very, comical manners amongst the fair ones.
When we came to our next destination, I was entertained with many beautyful sights on the passage such as the Peak of Tenerif, the Sword Fish, the Grampuses, the flying fish, the Dolphins, the White Squalls &c. But under, and near the equinoctial line, there was such dreadfull Thunderings, Lightnings and Rains, but it soon passed, much like a soldiers troubles. Then we was obliged to put into Riogenario the capital of Braziels, in order to get our riggen mended, and to water the Fleet. I think this is the finest Harbour that I ever saw, but it is dreadfull hot here, and very unheathfull. Then we sailed for Monte Video in the River of Plate (5).
We made our landing good on the 16th of January 1807. After we had our great guns on shore we advanced and drove the enemy into the city in the action; we took two or three Indians and they were very conducive in getting horses for our Light Dragoons, for the voyage was so far we could not take any horses there. On the morning of the 20th the enemy sallied out and gave us battle but we gave them a sweet brushing and drove them into the town again. We threw up Batteries against them, both for great Guns, and Morters to throw Bombshells with. On a Sunday, about two o'clock in the afternoon just as the people were going to Mass, our shipping was drawn up so nigh to the Town as possible. We opened a tremendous fire on them, and the sun did shine on us most gloriously. We Bombarded them both day and night untill the morning of the third of February. Then we stormed them, and took their city from them and made them all Prisoners of War.
But when it was light enough, the Ladies came out to look for their Husbands, their Fathers and their Brothers. Indeed, the sun was up a long time before the enemy would give up the Castle. At last they let down their flag. And one of their Peace Officers brought some bread and wine on a white plate and presented it to their Governor and to our Commander: and they ate, drank, in each other's presence. Then all hands ahoy, to bury our dead, to liberate the slaves and to march the prisoners on board. We had strict orders not to drink too much. But we could not help disobaing the orders because the Ladies, even on the day we took the city, did give to us eat and drink. And indeed, for all the time that we were there, there was not one Murder committed, neither by them nor us. Indeed they are a people I dearly love. The ladies do dress very neat, very so in the morning, they are all in black silk, they have no caps, nor hats, nor Bonnets, but their hair is dressed in a most delightfull manner, they have no parasols, only a fan. And the combs on their lovely heads, is very rich, being embossed with precious gems. I saw something very singular in this city, that was a very black woman with bright red hair.
I was in good Quarters in the City of Seville (6). Lord Holland the Embassador was with us. This place was in a good state of defence. Then we marched to the City of Sherry. The Nobility and gentry did kindly entertain us, both the officers and men. The ladies solicited the favour of seeing the English exercise. We fell in, in the afternoon to Parade and the Gentry was highly pleased with us. We could not stop long in this dear City. Then our Rout was for Fort St. Mary. Here I had the pleasure to see the Holy Virgins, or what we call the Nuns. they walked through the streets of the city on a Sunday afternoon, the oldest of the sweet Ladies went before, bearing a Flag, and the youngest behind. But we was shocking disappointed for when we was even very nigh with them, we could not see their Beauty, for their Faces was covered with a black veil. But was our English Women to see the Manners of the women in general, in Spain and Portugal.
We then embarked at Cadiz and set sail for Lisbon, landed and marched for the City of Placentia and at Talavera we got up with the Enemy that was commanded by General Massena, on the line of march we formed junction with General Cuesta that commanded the Spanish Army. On the 27th of July 1809 (7), at it we went hammer and tongs but we had the good honour to be their Masters. It was the pleasure and the goodly wisdom of our Commander in Chief, to call a counsil of war.
Then we took a fresh Rout and came to Bajados. Here we lay in cantoonments some time. Sir Arthur Wellesley went h ome to England, leaving the command of the army to General Sherbrook. And both Wellsley's and Sherbrook's valour met King George the Third's approbation. But General Cuesta, in chief of the Spaniards, was put to death (8). Our bold Commander joined us again in this city, and our dear old King George the Third planted a star on our commander's Breast and called him Lord Wellington.
Then we marched through Portugal, and took up our winter quarters in a city called Guardo, and here was a place, and a very large place too, full of those Holy Virgins. Whilst we lay at this place, the French advanced and took the City of Almeida. We was obliged to set at liberty all those sweet ladies or the French would have had them.
I was sent to London, and there I passed the Board. And General Sir David Dundas said to me, "Kibby, you are wanted no more." I then went to Lynn's office, had my instructions and off I started for Tiverton. And here I am at present.
Sir, your most gratefull Servant,
Frog Street, Tiverton
N.B. This is not the Hundredth part of the recollections of what I experienced in the different expeditions in the last wars.
I wish I had not wrote in such haste and so very briefly. But should it be your good pleasure, I will write the Recollections beautifully, and more at large."