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Old February 3, 2010, 06:50 PM   #348
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 19,341
Take care of your captain and how to tame dogs

The following story involves a German rifleman of the British Army's King's German Legion who, like all worthy Napoleonic Era men of war, was adept at foraging. After all, when your army fails to provide for your fare, one must provide for himself as does this soldier. Our hero stands accused of theft and allows his accuser to air her grievances to his commanding officer.

With one of my comrades who had learnt pharmacy I looked for provisions in a loft and found in a corner a packet with flies on, which I angrily threw away and observed that the people here must get very bored. But my comrade took the packet and kept it, then went with me into the local chemist, sold the packet with the flies and paid me four Spanish thaler; he kept an equal sum himself. We continued our investigation and in a wooden shed I found three casks of bacon; I set a piece in front of me and gave the rest to my comrade as a reward. Then we got the order to march again, so we packed up our things together with the bacon, drank a flask of wine with the fly money, heard the signal for departure, were assembled at the appointed place and marched towards Badajoz.

....we marched back over the hill, where the enemy set large dogs on us, which bit the legs of some of our people. Nevertheless we crowded into the wood under steady fire; there I found my brother the butcher, whom I had been very anxious for during the fighting. But he had known how to look after himself very well and had grasped one of the attacking dogs with an arm round its head and clasped it tightly with the other, alternatively giving it a thorough thrashing and coaxing it so that the dog, which he now held on a lead, soon became docile and got used to him.

We embraced here in heart-felt happiness over our deliverance since the French had already withdrawn and some of our people had died. 'Now we want to live once more in ordinary way, dear brother, I have a piece of bacon,' I said to him.

'And I have something to drink,' he replied.

Our captain and another officer, who also felt hungry, shared our meal so that we had nothing left. After the companies had been inspected it was found that we had lost some fifty men; then at around five o'clock in the evening we moved out of the wood and marched back to Olivenza, where we reached our former quarters very late.

Our host received us with a grumble and reproached us that his bacon had been stolen, as far as I could understand Portuguese, about which I had a guilty conscience. When I got up from my straw bed the next morning I went to my captain to clean his clothes; I complained to him that the peasant was so angry and spoke all the time about a stolen pig. He might well mean the bacon that I had taken out of the cask and on which we had eaten heartily yesterday after the skirmish. My captain advised me to appease the peasant and if he could not be pacified to bring him to him. With this comfort I went home and asked my peasant why he was so angry; he showed me the empty cask and again began to chide. I said to him that yesterday he had had Spanish and Portuguese quartered with him. If he meant that we were thieves he should accuse us in front of our officer. The man's wife took up my offer and went with me to our captain, who listened quietly for some time, but when the women began scolding him that the German riflemen were robbers my captain took hold of his sabre hanging on the wall, at which the woman rushed out of the room. My hosts were quiet now...
The above is taken from James Bogle and Andrew Uffindell's book, A Waterloo Hero: The Reminiscences of Friedrich Lindau. Students of the Napoleonic Wars are indebted to Bogle and Uffindell for releasing this book. Rifleman Lindau's memoirs was originally published in German in 1846 and this edition is the first time it has been translated and released in English. It is an extremely valuable addition for anyone studying the Peninsular War and since there are only two other works by private soldiers in the King's German Legion, to anyone interested in that highly regarded but short lived unit (1803-1817).

Born to a weaver, Lindau was apprenticed to a shoemaker and finding his master a hard taskmaster, fled to England where he enlisted in the 2nd Battalion of the King's German Legion. His unit becomes part of Wellington's army that returns to Portugal in 1811. Most of the book is an account of Lindau's foraging across the Peninsula. He does see his share of fighting including brawls involving the Portuguese natives who are unhappy about the "heretics" in their country. Fighting with distinction at Victoria and at Waterloo, Lindau is one of the few riflemen to be awarded the Geulphic Medal (which carried a pension). His account at the famous Belgian farmhouse at La Haye Sainte is vivid and is supplemented by two appendices written by KGL officers who also fought there.
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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