Behobie – heard and not seen (1874)


Source: Wanderings of a War artist (W.H. Allen & co, London, 1889)
Irving Montagu (1842-1901)
Chapter I. Fighting in a fog. Page 219.

In the course of years, I have witnessed war under many strange aspects; but this fighting in a dense fog was certainly unique to me then. Imagine a stage on which actors are heard and not seen, a court of law full of empty benches, where, nevertheless, prosecuting and defending council attack each other in furious harangue, yet all are invisible ; and then, picture for a moment the odd effect of a battle, of sounds rather than of substance, the shrieks of the wounded, the oaths and curses of both sides as they come within shouting distance of each other, the “quack, quack, quack” of the Carlists, whose wildest form of derision is to dub the Republicans ducks, while they in return bark like one vast pack of yelping hounds in retaliation (for the Carlists were to them “dogs”). Picture, I say, the strange unreality of it all, mingled the while with the sharp rattle of musketry and the bursting of those shells which came at intervals from the Republican forts, and which, owing to the difficulty of sighting under such circumstances, fell, in many cases, into the river, and occasionally over on to French soil.
These combined sounds of strife, the terrible din of war, yet no living creature visible, were an experience which I shall not easily forget. They were the prelude to the drama which was about to commence.

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Author: Irving Montagu (1842-1901)
Date: 21/10/1874