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Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Burial of Sir John Moore at Corunna

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note, As his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot O'er the grave where our hero was buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night, The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeam's misty light And the lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin enclosed his breast, Not in sheet or in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said, And we spoke not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face that was dead, And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head, And we far away on the billow!

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone, And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him --
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down, From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone, But we left him alone with his glory!

Charles Wolfe

My father used to recite this to me ; he knew dozens of poems by heart and often would recite them when we went walking.

My ancestor Aonghas Rothaich (Angus Munro) was a witness of the burial at Corunna and a veteran of the Peninsular War. There is a township in the Western Isles named Corunna after this famous rear guard action and burial.

There is a story he saved a Spanish girl and her duenna at Ciudad Rodrigo and he fell in love with her but she did not want leave her homeland and go so far away to Scotland.

Well as he came back from the wars he told this story wherever he went. In one cabin near to Perth he told the story to a Miss Keith who was no an unattractive woman but pushing 30 which in those days was virtually an old maid. She is supposed to have said to him: “ Well I will go away with you to the Highlands and you won’t have to tell the story of the Spanish girl any more! “ Angus married her and so that is how our line of Munro crossed with the Clan Keith

(Richard Keith Munro)

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