The Battle of Sahagun was fought on 21 December 1808, during the Penninsular War
‘Twas in quarters we lay, as you quickly shall hear,
Lord Paget came to us and bade us prepare,
Saying ‘Saddle your horses by the light of the moon
For the French they are lying in the town of Sahagun.’
We saddled our horses and away we did go
O’er rivers of ice and o’er mountains of snow,
To the town of Sahagun then our course we did steer,
‘Twas the Fifteenth Hussars, who had never known fear.
We rode on all night till the daylight did break,
When eight of those French on a bridge we did take
But two got away and rode off to Sahagun,
To tell the French there that the English had come.
The French they turned out of the town of Sahagun,
Well mounted, well armed, full eight hundred strong
So loud they did cry for Napoleon, their king,
With three cheers from the Fifteenth the vineyards did ring.
They formed themselves up and the fight it began,
They thought they could frighten the brave Englishman,
With our glittering broadswords right at them we sped,
They turned threes about and away they all fled.
We soon overtook them as frightened they fled,
Cut through the brass helmets they wore on their head,
‘Have mercy, have mercy! ‘ So loud they did cry,
‘Have mercy, you English, or else we must die!’
‘Mid the snow in the vineyards the French they lay dead,
Three hundred were taken, the rest of them fled,
Their Colonel, likewise, he was taken in the field,
‘Twas the Fifteenth Hussars made those Frenchmen to yield.
The Spaniards turned out of the town of Sahagun
To welcome the Fifteenth, the King’s Light Dragoons,
With jugs full of wine, our thirst for to quench,
Crying ‘Long live the English and down with the French!’
Lord Paget came to us and thus he did say
‘I thank you, Fifteenth, for your valour this day,
Dismount now your horses and feed every one,
For the battle is over and the fight it is won.’
The twenty-first of December, my boys, was the day
When three hundred Fifteenth made those French run away,
Although they then numbered eight hundred or more,
We’ll drink and we’ll sing now the battle is o’er.
Here’s health to Lord Paget, so endeth our stave,
Likewise Colonel Grant and our officers brave,
With a full flowing bowl now we’ll drink and we’ll sing,
‘Success to the Fifteenth and God Save the King.’
This song was composed by one of the men and was first sung on 21 December 1808.
It is still sung every year when the anniversary of Sahagun Day is celebrated and on other occasions.