Collections - Letters
Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.
Letter Number 75
Dated: 9 May 1811. CB near Almeida Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money
Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts. Stamped on address fold ‘MA 25 1811’
We have, my dearest Mary, now been seven days packed upon these hills
opposite the French Army under Massena hourly expecting to engage on the
5th there took place a very ----- affair on the right: The Enemy was
repulsed in his attempts to turn our right flank with considerable loss,
that on our side was also severe, but I do not know really what: report
says from 12 to 13000 killed & wounded. The attack on the front of the
Enemy was chiefly made by Cavalry, all beastly drunk. Our Division is on
the left where they only skirmished & wounded about 35 or 40 men. The
Light Company only were engaged, that of the 4th fortunately did not
lose a man. We are just now quite at a loss to guess what the Enemy are
about, it was yesterday reported that they were on the retreat, but
whether to make them attack on another part of the line or to fall back
has not yet been properly ascertained. However do what they can, they
must be beaten. This Army is in high Spirits & confident of success.
Patersons Army have been active on the other side of the Tagus. I have
not lately heard from him. We are also yearning for a Mail from England.
And as the wind is now come to the north (monstrous cold) I hope we
shall soon have letters. Our situation is as comfortable as such a
situation can be. All our baggage about twenty miles from us. The
weather is fine and I hope it may continue so as long as the French
choose to remain in their position.
I hope, my dearest Mary, you are quite well and all our dear little
fellows; I hardly know when I may hope to see you, for there seems to be
no end to this war. I trust the People will do Ld Wellington justice,
and as he now sends home a Gazette united to the English taste perhaps
Pray when you write to my Mother say everything for me as this is not a
time for writing letters. I can hardly get will to write this.
I am not without hope that in a day or two I may be able to send you an
account of the defeat of Massena’s Army; this however will wake (?) them
if they had enough for our 5. They will not venture to attack again. The
general (?) will not attack Ld W to do so against so superior a Cavalry.
They have 4 or 5000 we have not 1500.
God Bless you my best friend
To all forget not Mrs Shaw – I am always yours
NOTES BY TRANSCRIBER
i) CB writes after the battle of Fuentes D‘Onoro in which Massena’s army
was decisively beaten. CB in 5th Div was on the extreme left and out of
the battle, which centred on the village of Fuentes D’Onoro in the
centre of Wellington’s line. The French lost over 2000; the British
1500. The French cavalry were formidable but British squares stood up to
it. At the start CB seems to reflect the high Morale of the victors but
the somewhat obscure end of the letter hints at worry – possibly worse
because since getting his command CB has had no action and the 4th was
for him untried. The end of the letter must be due to sheer fatigue.
ii) This letter is remarkable for the speed of its passage – written on
the field it is stamped on arrival in England only 16 days later.
iii) Gazette – the writing in this letter is mostly fairly clear – but
the sense of this passage is difficult – probably CB is still echoing
the fears that with the Regent there might appear a Whig government
opposed to the French war, and of course there had been considerable
unrest and street disturbances in England. Many middle-class people
feared this might lead to Revolution on the French pattern.
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