Grant was one of Wellington’s
most trusted and experienced exploring
officers. He had a reputation as a fearless, intelligent man and
a good linguist. On 16 April 1812 Grant and his local guide, Leon,
found themselves surrounded by French soldiers near the Spanish-Portuguese
border. Grant prided himself on always wearing uniform, even behind
enemy lines, because this distinguished him from a spy who would use ‘ungentlemanly’ methods such as disguise and deception.
He was conspicuous in his scarlet jacket and was captured. Leon, not
in uniform, was shot.
Grant was treated by his French captors as a fellow officer and
gentleman and was invited to dine with Napoleon’s
trusted commander Marshal
Marmont. The Marshal was eager to learn more about the great
Wellington, but he became angry when Grant would give nothing away.
The next day Marmont gave Grant the chance to sign his parole.
Believing that this would allow him more rights than an ordinary
prisoner and possibly the chance to continue to send messages to
Wellington, Grant agreed.
Marmont and his Chief of Staff, General de la Martinière,
remained suspicious of Grant and wanted to get him as far away from
the front as possible. They were right to be suspicious, as Grant
used the leniency of his French guards to continue to send and receive