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WELLINGTON'S DISPATCHES
PENINSULA AND WATERLOO: 1808 - 1815


 
These British Army dispatches give a fascinating insight into the nature of operations in the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns during the Napoleonic Wars. They also reveal a thoughtful yet stern Arthur Wellesley, whose many concerns as commander-in-chief included the needs of his officers, the feeding of his men and endless negotiations with British, Spanish and Portuguese leaders. The ravages of politics however, did not leave these dispatches unmarked. In at least one instance – the Battle of Albuera – Wellington ordered his officers to re-write their combat reports in order to present more optimistic impressions than those really existing in the field. He sometimes attached detailed correction notes for leaders back in England. The final result were two series of dispatches: those crafted for public and political consumption, and those written to inform his superiors of actual events.

The Peninsular campaigns of 1808 through 1814 were a grueling series of struggles which strained the resources of all the major participants. The resulting battles were not the easy victories that are often imagined today, and on various occasions all of the major combatants suffered defeats and lost opportunities. Certainly it was only after he arrived in Spain that Wellington came to appreciate the full value of the many captured French documents regularly passed on to headquarters by the Spanish. Much like later eras when good intelligence made a difference, the details of British Intelligence successes and the people responsible for them were only vaguely alluded to in the text of these dispatches.

A number of contemporaries criticized Wellington for treating his men's lives as "no more than mice in an air pump," but he was also known to have agonized over losses suffered at numerous battles, so the former accusation is unlikely. It should be remembered that there commonly was a need to capture enemy fortresses by storm before regional French forces could mobilize. This sometimes forced Wellington to make bloody bids for success before his numerically superior enemies combined their full strength against him. His apparent habit of giving preferential treatment to high-born officers might have contributed to the varying opinions of his motives. Ultimately most people understood that regardless of these other issues, Wellington was a vital link in the string of successes enjoyed by the multinational Allied armies that served in Spain and Belgium between 1808 and 1815.


THE 1808 CAMPAIGN — DEPARTURE FOR SPAIN
June 14 - 23, 1808 -
Wellington receives news of the impending assignment.
14 June 1808 : C-in-C to Wellesley
21 June 1808 : Castlereagh to Wellesley
23 June 1808 : Wellesley to Hill
 
June 25 - 30, 1808
25 June 1808 : Wellesley to Hill
25 June 1808 : Wellesley to Stuart
29 June 1808 : Wellesley to Hill
30 June 1808 : Castlereagh to Wellesley
30 June 1808 : Castlereagh to Wellesley
 
July 7th - 15th, 1808
07 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
08 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
08 July 1808 : Wellesley to Floyd
10 July 1808 : Wellesley to Cheeseman
10 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
15 July 1808 : Castlereagh to Wellesley
15 July 1808 : Castlereagh to Wellesley
15 July 1808 : Castlereagh to Dalrymple
 
July 21st, 1808
21 July 1808 : C-in-C to Dalrymple
21 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
 
July 21st - 25th, 1808 - The departure for Spain.
21 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
23 July 1808 : Wellesley to Stuart
25 July 1808 : Wellesley to Pulteney
25 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
 
July 26th - 30th, 1808
26 July 1808 : Wellesley to Spencer
26 July 1808 : Wellesley to Spencer
26 July 1808 : Wellesley to Spencer
26 July 1808 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
26 July 1808 : Wellesley to Spencer
29 July 1808 : Memorandum for Disembarkation
30 July 1808 : Wellesley to Cotton
 
THE 1809 CAMPAIGN — TALAVERA
July 1st - 2nd, 1809
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Craufurd
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Roche
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Erskine
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Sec. C-in-C
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to C-in-C
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere
01 July 1809 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
02 July 1809 : Wellesley to Cox
02 July 1809 : Wellesley to del Parque
02 July 1809 : Wellesley to de la Romana

July 3rd - 6th, 1809
03 July 1809 : Wellesley to de Garay
03 July 1809 : Wellesley to Murray
03 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere
04 July 1809 : Wellesley to Roche
04 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers
05 July 1809 : Wellesley to Berkeley
06 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers
06 July 1809 : Wellesley to Beresford
06 July 1809 : Wellesley to Junta of Plasencia
06 July 1809 : Wellesley to Berkeley

July 8th - 9th, 1809
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Boys
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Commissary General
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Castello Branco
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Castello Branco
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Peacocke
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Roche
08 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers
09 July 1809 : Wellesley to Beresford
09 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers

July 13th - 14th, 1809
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to O'Donoju
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Beresford
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers
14 July 1809 : Wellesley to Judge Advocate
14 July 1809 : Wellesley to Cox
14 July 1809 : Wellesley to Beresford
14 July 1809 : Wellesley to Berkeley
14 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers

July 15th - 16th, 1809
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Sherbrooke
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Castlereagh
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to Mackenzie
13 July 1809 : Wellesley to O'Donoju
14 July 1809 : Wellesley to Frere

July 17th - 19th, 1809
17 July 1809 : Wellesley to Flint
17 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers
17 July 1809 : Wellesley to Beresford
17 July 1809 : Wellesley to Berkeley
18 July 1809 : Wellesley to O'Donoju
18 July 1809 : Wellesley to Junta of Plasencia
19 July 1809 : Wellesley to O'Donoju
19 July 1809 : Wellesley to Villiers


THE 1810 CAMPAIGN — BUSACO
September 18th - 20th, 1810
18 September 1810 : Wellington to Stuart
18 September 1810 : Wellington to Pavetti
19 September 1810 : Wellington to Leith
19 September 1810 : Wellington to Cotton
19 September 1810 : Wellington to Beresford
20 September 1810 : Wellington to Waters
20 September 1810 : Wellington to Cotton
20 September 1810 : Wellington to le Cor
20 September 1810 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool

September 21st - 24th, 1810
21 September 1810 : Wellington to Cotton
21 September 1810 : Wellington to Spencer
21 September 1810 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool
22 September 1810 : Massena to Berthier
22 September 1810 : Wellington to Hill
22 September 1810 : Wellington to Wellesley
24 September 1810 : Wellington to Massena
24 September 1810 : Wellington to Hill
24 September 1810 : Wellington to Craufurd
24 September 1810 : Wellington to Stuart

September 27th - 30th, 1810
27 September 1810 : Wellington to Stuart
28 September 1810 : Wellington to Leith & Hill
28 September 1810 : Wellington to Hill
29 September 1810 : Massena to Hill
29 September 1810 : Wellington to Cotton
30 September 1810 : Wellington to Berkeley
30 September 1810 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool






THE 1811 CAMPAIGN — FUENTES DE ONORO
April 30 - May 1st, 1811
30 April 1811 : Wellington to Beresford
30 April 1811 : Wellington to Stuart
30 April 1811 : Wellington to Stuart
01 May 1811 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool
01 May 1811 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool

May 6th - 7th, 1811
06 May 1811 : Wellington to Beresford
06 May 1811 : Wellington to Stuart
07 May 1811 : Wellington to Stuart
07 May 1811 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool

May 8th, 1811
08 May 1811 : Wellington to Beresford
08 May 1811 : Wellington to Beresford
08 May 1811 : Wellington to Stuart
08 May 1811 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool
08 May 1811 : Wellington to Earl of Liverpool


THE 1812 CAMPAIGN — SALAMANCA
July 14th - 16th, 1812
14 July 1812 : Wellington to Earl Bathurst
15 July 1812 : Wellington to Wellesley
15 July 1812 : Wellington to Wellesley
15 July 1812 : Wellington to Stuart
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Graham
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Hill
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Clinton
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Clinton
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Clinton
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Clinton
16 July 1812 : Wellington to Clinton

July 21st - 24th, 1812
21 July 1812 : Wellington to Earl Bathurst
23 July 1812 : Wellington to Hill
24 July 1812 : Wellington to Peacocke

July 24th - 25th, 1812
24 July 1812 : Wellington to Earl Bathurst
25 July 1812 : Wellington to Graham


THE 1815 CAMPAIGN — QUATRE BRAS, WATERLOO
June 1st - 5th, 1815
01 June 1815 : Wellington to Uxbridge
01 June 1815 : Wellington to Brunswick
01 June 1815 : Wellington to Brunswick
01 June 1815 : Wellington to King of the Netherlands
01 June 1815 : Wellington to Judge Advocate
01 June 1815 : Wellington to Bathurst
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Cole
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Prince of Orange
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc de Feltre
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Schwarzenberg
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Wellesley
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Torrens
02 June 1815 : Wellington to Earl of Mulgrave
04 June 1815 : Wellington to King of the Netherlands
04 June 1815 : Wellington to King of the Netherlands
04 June 1815 : Wellington to (Unknown)
05 June 1815 : Wellington to Hardenberg

June 6th - 7th, 1815
06 June 1815 : Wellington to du Plat
06 June 1815 : Memorandum to the Commissary General
06 June 1815 : Wellington to Washington
06 June 1815 : Wellington to Allen
06 June 1815 : Wellington to Duke of Cambridge
06 June 1815 : Wellington to Earl Bathurst
06 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc d'Orleans
06 June 1815 : Wellington to Hardinge
07 June 1815 : Wellington to Prince of Orange
07 June 1815 : General Defense Orders
07 June 1815 : Defense Orders for Tournay
07 June 1815 : Defense Orders for Mons
07 June 1815 : Defense Orders for Ghent
07 June 1815 : Wellington to Decken
07 June 1815 : Wellington to Hardinge

June 8th - 12th, 1815
08 June 1815 : Wellington to Decken
08 June 1815 : Wellington to Castlereagh
08 June 1815 : Wellington to Castlereagh
08 June 1815 : Wellington to Hügel
09 June 1815 : Wellington to Stuart
09 June 1815 : Wellington to Bathurst
10 June 1815 : Wellington to Hardinge
10 June 1815 : Wellington to Torrens
11 June 1815 : Wellington to Orange
11 June 1815 : Wellington to Bathurst
12 June 1815 : Wellington to Mulgrave
12 June 1815 : Wellington to (Unknown)
12 June 1815 : Wellington to Prince of Orange

June 13th - 15th, 1815
13 June 1815 : Wellington to Prince of Orange
13 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc de Berri
13 June 1815 : Wellington to Lynedoch
13 June 1815 : Wellington to Bathurst
14 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc de Feltre
14 June 1815 : Wellington to Prince of Orange
14 June 1815 : Wellington to Metternich
15 June 1815 : Wellington to Clinton

June 15th - 18th, 1815
15 June 1815 : Wellington to Emperor —
15 June 1815 : Memorandum for the Deputy Quarter Master
15 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc de Berri
15 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc de Feltre
15 June 1815 : Wellington : Movements of the Army
16 June 1815 : Wellington : Movements of the Army
17 June 1815 : Wellington : Movements of the Army
17 June 1815 : Wellington to Colville
18 June 1815 : Wellington to Stuart
18 June 1815 : Wellington to Duc de Berri
18 June 1815 : Wellington to Governor of Antwerp

June 19th, 1815
19 June 1815 : Wellington to Bathurst
19 June 1815 : Wellington to King of the Netherlands
19 June 1815 : Wellington to Earl of Aberdeen
19 June 1815 : Wellington to Duke of Beaufort
19 June 1815 : Wellington to Bathurst

 
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