Collections - Letters
Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.
Letter Number 77
Dated: 28 May 1811. CB Nave D’Aver Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money
Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts. Stamped on address fold ‘JU 13 1811’
My dearest Mary, I have had the happiness to receive your letters of the
29 April and 6th May, both giving good accounts of yourself and of our
children; for which God be thanked. Since my last letter to you I have
heard more particularly of the Fight under Marshal Beresford in the
Alentjo – it was indeed a most desperate conflict but certainly most
highly honourable to our troops. I have not heard from Paterson yet but
expect to do so in a day or two. He is still happily to bear quite well.
You will hear the backlog of all this before we do, at least the
official report which we never see in this country till the arrival of
the English papers. Badajoz is expected to fall very soon; what
operations D.W. will then determine on, we are ignorant, probably he
will besiege Ciudad Rodrigo where the French are reported to have about
three thousand men. We still remain in the vile Nave D’Aver and are
afraid we are likely to continue here till contrary decision has taken
place in the South. You will have heard of poor Col Duckworth and the
death of Sir W. Myers – I thank you for your politeness; often people in
England do not do justice to the merit of Lord Wellington they deserve
to be a province of France. This has nothing to do with the propriety or
impropriety of sending a force to this country, as the Commander of that
Force he has most admirable performed his duty – as to the remarks of Mr
Burdette or his Cousin it is too contemptible even for them.
I am glad to find you dined with our Cousin in Westminster (?) I think.
I have heard from my Mother who still claims to long for the Country. I
think it is a pity there is not something finally determined upon, as it
must be very uncomfortable to be always wavering on a point so essential
to repose. From what you say in your letter I imagine that Colonel
Paterson is coming out to Portugal; or am I mistaken – poor James, I
know alas! by too constant experience how to feel for him. I, however
hope he may return richer and as rich as when he left home. I could wish
his Wife will be at her own house, when she is not with Lady D of whom
(I mean the later) your account a good deal surprises me.
What a great satisfaction to her that Eleanor is with you; I do not know
a person in the world of a kinder or such excellent disposition – She is
above my praise.
With regard to a Spanish Campaign I should think if the French are to be
employed in the North of Europe, we could not do better than rouse the
Spaniards once more: if it be profitable!
I shall again write in a day or two. At present I have something to do
in condescending (?) to equip our tattered garments & in case of another
march; which we may always expect.
Oh My dear friend I hardly dare think when we are to meet again. But in
the mean time that God may protect you & our Children is the constant
prayer of your own C.B.
28th May 1811
NOTES BY TRANSCRIBER
i) Location agrees with Cowper who lists this as 15 May – 6 June
ii) Written 17 days after the escape of the Almeida garrison. No
complaint against Erskine (or the Duke) – certainly nothing to
foreshadow CB’s suicide. Perhaps too soon for British papers to have
iii) Beresford – refers to battle of Albuera. General Viscount William
Beresford 1764-1854, Marshal in Portugese Army 1809 to reorganise the
British-led Portugese. Had been sent to besiege Badajoz but found it
reinforced and moved to intercept Soult’s attempt to relieve it. With
under 10,000 British plus about 7,000 Portugese (& large Spanish army)
Beresford overcame Soult despite Spanish refusal to move forward towards
the end; Beresford’s pessimistic draft was rejected by the Duke – “Write
me down a Victory”. Marshal Soult was swept away with heavier
casualties. But in the final campaign in the Pyranees Soult showed his
iv) Badajoz – CB’s expectations were not fulfilled – the summer siege in
1811 failed; it was not taken until June 1812 (when 4th were prominent)
v) Duckworth – Lieut Col George Duckworth 48th (Northants) killed
leading his Regt on 16th May. Son of Adm Sir J., and married to daughter
of Commissioner Fanshawe then of Plymouth (where no doubt friend of
Mary’s father; later an Adm Fanshawe wrote a strong letter in defence of
Bevan to British papers – probably this man)
vi) Myers – Sir William Myers Bart 7th Royal Fusiliers seriously wounded
when leading his 1st Bn and the Fusilier Brigade (1st/7th.
2nd/7th.1st/23rd) – when they faltered, he sprang from his horse, seized
a Colour and shouted “Follow me Fusiliers” and led a charge which
arguably won the day
vii) Burdett – eccentric Whig MP who barricaded his Piccadilly mansion
against a Speaker’s Warrant, in the face of Footguards, 16th Dragns and
Life Guards (but a wily Constable climbed in a back window) and took him
to the Tower). He was supported by the dashing Tom Cochrane who brought
along a keg of gunpowder, with whom possibly the Dacres might have
viii) My Cousin – no doubt Mrs Shaw from whom CB hoped to inherit.
Westminster is a guess – the word is illegible but begins with W – she
lived near Reading
ix) Colonel Paterson – although CB’s friend did become a Brevet Lt Col,
it was not yet – and he was already there. Perhaps this was his father
x) Capt James Dacres RN was en route to America in his new Frigate and
no doubt adding up prize money to come
xi) Lady D – no doubt Lady Dalrymple, James Dacres’ mother-in-law
xii) Tattered garment – all accounts agree that the troops generally at
the end of the marches of the pursuit, lacked boots and trousers which
were falling to pieces – condescend look a clear word but it may be
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