The Burial Of Sir John Moore At Corunna Quotes

Charles Wolfe

"We Left Him Alone With His Glory"

Context: Sir John Moore met his death during the Peninsular War of the Napoleonic Wars. In Spain, where he was commander of the British Army, he was able for a time to paralyze the French forces, but when Napoleon himself attacked he was forced to retreat. The retreat, however, ended in a brilliant victory for the British in the Battle of Corunna (La Coruña, on the northwest coast of Spain) January 16, 1809. Unfortunately, the brave commander was mortally wounded early in the day. By his own wish, he was buried before dawn, January 17, in the ramparts of Corunna. In the Edinburgh Annual Register (1808) appeared the following paragraph: "Sir John Moore had often said that if he was killed in battle he wished to be buried where he fell. The body was removed at midnight to the citadel of Corunna. A grave was dug for him on the rampart there, by a party of the 9th Regiment, the Aides-de-Camp attending by turns. No coffin could be procured, and the officers of his staff wrapped his body, dressed as it was, in a military cloak and blankets. The interment was hastened: for, about eight in the morning, some firing was heard, and the officers feared that if a serious attack was made, they should be ordered away, and not suffered to pay him their last duty. The officers of his regiment bore him to the grave; the funeral service was read by the chaplain; and the corpse was covered with earth." Wolfe's moving tribute to the lost leader closes with the lines,

We carved not a line, and we raised not a stone–
But we left him alone with his glory.