"April 10, Castle Grand itself is got; nobody found in it when we storm. Don Blas and the Spaniards seem much in terror; burning any Ships they still have, near Carthagena; as if there were no chance now left." This is the very day of Mollwitz Battle; near about the hour when Schwerin broke into field-music, and advanced with thunderous glitter against the evening sun! "Carthagena Expedition is, at length, fairly in contact with its Problem,--the question rising, 'Do you understand it, then?'
"Up to this point, mistakes of management had been made good by obstinate energy of execution; clear victory had gone on so far, the Capture of Carthagena now seemingly at hand. One thing was unfortunate: 'the able Mr. Moor [meritorious Captain of Foot, who, by accident, had spent some study on his business], the one real Engineer we had,' got killed in that Boca-Chica struggle: an end to poor Moor! So that the Siege of Carthagena will have to go on WITHOUT Engineer science henceforth. May be important, that,--who knows? Another thing was still more palpably important: Sea-General Vernon had an undisguised contempt for Land-General Wentworth. 'A mere blockhead, whose Brother has a Borough,' thinks Vernon (himself an Opposition Member, of high-sniffing, angry, not too magnanimous turn);--and withdraws now to his Ships; intimating: 'Do your Problem, then; I have set you down beside it, which was my part of the affair!'--Let us give the attack of Fort Lazar, and end this sad business.
"Sunday, 16th April, Wentworth, once master of the Uppermost Lake or Harbor (what the Natives call the SURGIDERO, or Anchorage Proper), had disembarked, high up to the right, a good way south of Carthagena; meaning to attack there-from a certain Fort Lazar, which stands on a Hill between Carthagena and him: this Hill and Fort once his, he has Carthagena under his cannon; Carthagena in his pocket, as it were. 'Fort not to be had without batteries,' thinks Wentworth; though the sickly rainy season has set in. 'Batteries? Scaling-ladders, you mean!' answers Vernon, with undisguised contempt. For the two are, by this time, almost in open quarrel. Wentworth starts building batteries, in spite of the rain- deluges; then stops building;--decides to do it by scalade, after all. And, at two in the morning of this Sunday, April 16th, sets forth, in certain columns,--by roads ill-known, with arrangements that do NOT fit like clock-work,--to storm said Hill and Fort. The English are an obstinate people; and strenuous execution will sometimes amend defects of plan,--sometimes not.
"The obstinate English, nothing in them but sullen fire of valor, which has to burn UNluminous, did, after mistake on mistake, climb the rocks or heights of Lazar Hill, in spite of the world and Don Blas's cannonading; but found, when atop, That Fort Lazar, raining cannon-shot, was still divided from them by chasms; that the scaling-ladders had not come (never did come, owing to indiscipline somewhere),--and that, without wings as of eagles, they could not reach Fort Lazar at all! For about four hours, they struggled with a desperate doggedness, to overcome the chasms, to wrench aside the Laws of Nature, and do something useful for themselves; patiently, though sulkily; regardless of the storm of shot which killed 600 of them, the while. At length, finding the Laws of Nature too strong for them, they descended gloomily: 'in gloomy silence' marched home to their tents again,--in a humor too deep for words.
"Yes; and we find they fell sick in multitudes, that night; and, 'in two days more, were reduced from 6,645 to 3,200 effective;' Vernon, from the sea, looking disdainfully on:--and it became evident that the big Project had gone to water; and that nothing would remain but to return straightway to Jamaica, in bankrupt condition. Which accordingly was set about. And ten days hence (April 26th)) the final party of them did get on board,-- punctual to take 'three tents,' their last rag of Siege-furniture, along with them; 'lest Don Blas have trophies,' thinks poor Wentworth. And sailed away, with their sad Siege finished in such fashion. Strenuous Siege; which, had the War-Sciences been foolishness, and the Laws of Nature and the rigors of Arithmetic and Geometry been stretchable entities, might have succeeded better!" [Smollett's Account,
"Evening of April 26th:"--I perceive it was in the very hours while Belleisle arrived in Friedrich's Camp at Mollwitz; eve of that Siege of Brieg, which we saw performing itself with punctual regard to said Laws and rigors, and issuing in so different a manner! Nothing that my Constitutional Historian has said equals in pungent enormity the matter-of-fact Picture, left by Tobias Smollett, of the sick and wounded, in the interim which follow&d that attempt on Fort Lazar and the Laws of Nature:--
"As for the sick and wounded", says Tobias, "they were, next day, sent on board of the transports and vessels called hospital-ships; where they languished in want of every necessary comfort and accommodation. They were destitute of surgeons, nurses, cooks and proper provision; they were pent up between decks in small vessels, where they had not room to sit upright; they wallowed in filth; myriads of maggots were hatched in the putrefaction of their sores, which had no other dressing than that of being washed by themselves with their own allowance of brandy; and nothing was heard but groans, lamentations and the language of despair, invoking death to deliver them from their miseries. What served to encourage this despondence, was the prospect of those poor wretches who had strength and opportunity to look around them; for there they beheld the naked bodies of their fellow-soldiers and comrades floating up and down the harbor, affording prey to the carrion-crows and sharks, which tore them in pieces without interruption, and contributing by their stench to the mortality that prevailed.
"This picture cannot fail to be shocking to the humane reader, especially when he is informed, that while those miserable objects cried in vain for assistance, and actually perished for want of proper attendance, every ship of war in the fleet could have spared a couple of surgeons for their relief; and many young gentlemen of that profession solicited their captains in pain for leave to go and administer help to the sick and wounded. The necessities of the poor people were well known; the remedy was easy and apparent; but the discord between the chiefs was inflamed to such a degree of diabolical rancor, that the one chose rather to see his men perish than ask help of the other, who disdained to offer his assistance unasked, though it might have saved the lives of his fellow- subjects." [Smollett, IBID. (Anderson's Edition), iv. 466.]