Captain Sherer’s record of service in the Peninsular War is second to none. A hard campaigner, he served with the 34th Foot at Busaco, Badajoz, Albuera, Arroyo Molinos, Vittoria and the Pyrenees, during which he was taken prisoner by the advancing French. In this, his service was no different to huge numbers of officers, a good number of whom left their memoirs to posterity. What marks out Sherer and his recollections is their quality. His descriptions of himself, his men and, above all, the actions that he took part in are of the first order, quoted with great frequency by historians - an example of which is below (from his description of the hard fighting at Albuera):
'The French grenadier caps, their arms, and the whole aspect of their frowning masses. It was a momentary, but grand sight: a heavy atmosphere of smoke again enveloped us, and few objects could be discerned at all, none distinctly… This murderous contest of musketry lasted long. We were the whole time progressively advancing and shaking the enemy.
'At a distance of about twenty yards from them we received orders to charge; we had ceased firing, cheered, and had our bayonets in the charging position, when a body of the enemy’s horse was discovered under the rising ground, ready to take advantage of our impetuosity. Already, however, the French infantry, alarmed by our preparatory cheers, which always indicate the charge, had broke and fled.'
A fantastic memoir that deserves reading and re-reading.
Author — Captain Joseph Moyle Sherer (1789-1869)