General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to
the Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State.
' Cabrerizos, near Salamanca, 21st July, 1812.
' MY LORD,
' In the course of the 15th and 16th the
enemy moved all their troops to the right of their position on the Duero, and
their army was concentrated between Toro and San Roman. A considerable body
passed the Duero at Toro on the evening of the 16th; and I moved the allied
army to their left on that night, with an intention to concentrate on the
' It was totally out of my power to prevent the enemy from
passing the Duero at any point at which he might think it expedient, as he had
in his possession all the bridges over that river, and many of the fords; but
he recrossed that river at Toro in the night of the 16th, moved his whole army
to Tordesillas, where he again crossed the Duero on the morning of the 17th,
and assembled his army on that day at La Nava del Rey; having marched not less
than ten leagues in the course of the 17th.
' The 4th and light divisions of infantry, and Major General
Anson's brigades of cavalry, had marched to Castrejon on the night of the 16th,
with a view to the assembly of the army on the Guareña, and were at
Castrejon under the orders of Lieut. General Sir Stapleton Cotton on the 17th,
not having been ordered to proceed further, in consequence of my knowledge that
the enemy had not passed the Duero at Toro, and there was not time to call them
in between the hour at which I received the intelligence of the whole of the
enemy's army being at La Nava and daylight of the morning of the 18th. I
therefore took measures to provide for their retreat and junction, by moving
the 5th division to Torrecilla de la Orden; and Major General Le Marchant's,
Major General Alten's, and Major General Bock's brigades of cavalry to Alaejos.
' The enemy attacked the troops at Castrejon at the dawn of
day of the 18th, and Sir Stapleton Cotton maintained the post without suffering
any loss till the cavalry had joined him. Nearly about the same time the enemy
turned, by Alaejos, the left flank of our position at Castrejon.
' The troops retired in admirable order to Torrecilla de la
Orden, having the enemy's whole army on their flank, or in their rear, and
thence to the Guareña, which river they passed under the same
circumstances, and effected their junction with the army.
' The Guareña, which runs into the Duero is formed by
four streams, which unite about a league below Canizal, and the enemy took a
strong position on the heights on the right of that river; and I placed the
5th, 4th, and Light divisions on the opposite heights, and had directed the
remainder of the army to cross the Upper Guareña at Vallesa, in
consequence of the appearance of the enemy's intention to turn our right.
' Shortly after his arrival, however, the enemy crossed the
Guareña at Castrillo, below the junction of the streams; and manifested
an intention to press upon our left, and to enter the valley of Canizal. Major
General Alten's brigade of cavalry, supported by the 3rd dragoons, were already
engaged with the enemy's cavalry, and had taken, among other prisoners, the
French General de Carrié; and I desired Lieut. General the Hon. L. Cole
to attack with Major General William Anson's and Brigadier General Harvey's
brigades of infantry, the latter under the command of Colonel Stubbs, the
enemy's infantry, which were supporting their cavalry. He immediately attacked
and defeated them with the 27th and 40th regiments, which advanced to the
charge with bayonets, Colonel Stubbs's Portuguese brigade supporting; and the
enemy gave way; many were killed, and wounded; and Major General Alten's
brigade of cavalry having pursued the fugitives, 240 prisoners were taken.
' In these affairs, Lieut. General the Hon. L Cole, Major
General V. Alten, Major General W. Anson, Lieut. Colonels Arentschildt of the
1st hussars, and Hervey of the 14th light dragoons; Lieut. Colonel Maclean of
the 27th, and Major Archdall of the 40th; Colonel Stubbs, Lieut. Colonel
Anderson, commanding the 11th, and Major de Azeredo, commanding the 23rd
Portuguese regiments, distinguished themselves.
' The enemy did not make any further attempt on our left,
but having reinforced their troops on that side, and withdrawn those which had
moved to their left I brought back ours from Vallesa.
' On the 19th, in the afternoon, the enemy withdrew all the
troops from their right, and marched to their left by Tarazona, apparently with
an intention of turning our right. I crossed the Upper Guareña at
Vallesa and El Olmo, with the whole of the allied army, in the course of that
evening and night; and every preparation was made for the action which was
expected on the plain of Vallesa on the morning of the 20th.
' But shortly after daylight the enemy made another
movement, in several columns, to his left along the heights of the
Guareña, which river he crossed below Cantalapiedra, and encamped last
night at Babila-fuente and Villoruela; and the allied army made a corresponding
movement to its right to Cantalpino, and encamped last night at Cabeza Vellosa,
the 6th division and Major General Alten's brigade of cavalry being upon the
Tormes at Aldea Lengua.
' During these movements, there have been occasional
cannonades, but without loss on our side
' I have this morning moved the left of the army to the
Tormes, where the whole are now concentrated; and I observe that the enemy have
also moved towards the same river near Huerta.
' The enemy's object hitherto has been to cut off my
communication with Salamanca and Ciudad Rodrigo, the want of which, he knows
well would distress us very materially The wheat harvest has not yet been
reaped in Castille, and even if we had money, we could not now procure any
thing from the country, unless we should follow the example of the enemy, and
lay waste whole districts in order to procure a scanty subsistence of unripe
wheat for the troops.
' It would answer no purpose to attempt to retaliate upon
the enemy, even if it were practicable. The French armies in Spain have never
had any secure communication beyond the ground which they occupy; and provided
the enemy opposed to them is not too strong for them, they are indifferent in
respect to the quarter from which their operations are directed, or on which
side they carry them on.
' The army of Portugal has been surrounded for the last six
weeks, and scarcely even a letter reaches its commander; but the system of
organized rapine and plunder, and the extraordinary discipline so long
established in the French armies, enable it to subsist at the expense of the
total ruin of the country in which it has been placed; and I am not certain
that Marshal Marmont has not now at his command a greater quantity of
provisions and supplies of every description than we have. Any movement upon
his flank, therefore, would only tend to augment the embarrassments of our own
situation, while it would have no effect whatever upon that of the enemy; even
if such a movement could have been made with advantage as an operation purely
military: this, however, was not the case, and when the French attempted to
turn our right, I had the choice only of marching towards Salamanca, or of
attacking the enemy in a position highly advantageous to him, which, for
several reasons, I did not think expedient.
' I have invariably been of opinion, that unless forced to
fight a battle, it is better that one should not be fought by the allied army,
unless under such favorable circumstances as that there would be reason to hope
that the allied army would be able to maintain the field, while those of the
enemy should not.
' Your Lordship will have seen by the returns of the two
armies that we have no superiority of numbers, even over that single army
immediately opposed to us; indeed, I believe that the French army is of the two
the strongest; and it is certainly equipped with a profusion of artillery
double ours in numbers, and of larger calibres. It cannot be attacked therefore
in a chosen position, without considerable loss on our side.
' To this circumstance, add that I am quite certain that
Marshal Marmont's army is to be joined by the King's, which will be 10,000 or
12,000 men, with a large proportion of cavalry, and that troops are still
expected from the army of the North, and some are ordered from that of the
South; and it will be seen that I ought to consider it almost impossible to
remain in Castille after an action, the circumstances of which should not have
been so advantageous as to have left the allied army in a situation of
comparative strength, while that of the enemy should have been much
' I have therefore determined to cross the Tormes, if the
enemy should; to cover Salamanca as long as I can; and above all, not to give
up our communication with Ciudad Rodrigo; and not to fight an action, unless
under very advantageous circumstances, or it should become absolutely
' Since I wrote to your Lordship on the 14th, I have learnt
that General Drouet had not crossed the Guadiana, nor had he moved in that
direction. Lieut. General Sir Rowland Hill therefore still remains at
' The siege of Astorga continues. General Santocildes had
detached a division of 4000 infantry under General Cabrera, to Benavente.
General D'Urban, with the Portuguese cavalry, joined on the left of the allied
army, on the 17th instant.
' The enemy abandoned and destroyed the fort of Mirabete on
the Tagus, on the 11th instant, and the garrison marched to Madrid to form part
of the army of the Centre. They were reduced to five days' provisions.
' From all that I have seen and heard, I am quite certain
that the King is making every effort to collect a body of troops to oppose us.
I have the honor to be, &c.
' I enclose a return of the killed and wounded on the 18th
Return of the Killed, Wounded and Missing of
the Army under the Command of General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., near
Castrejon, on the 18th July, 1812.
General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to
Lieut. General Sir R. Hill, K.B.
'On the heights near Alba de Tormes, 23rd
' MY DEAR HILL,
' I write to let you know that we beat
Marshal Marmont's army yesterday evening, near Salamanca, and they are now in
full retreat, and we are following them.
' Our loss has not been severe, I believe, in men; Marshal
Beresford, Generals Leith, Cole, and Victor Alten, are wounded; General Le
Marchant killed. Sir Stapleton Cotton was likewise wounded last night by a shot
from one of our own sentries, who took him for one of the enemy.
' We have taken a good many prisoners and cannon, above 3000
of the former, and I should think 20 of the latter, and I understand two
eagles. All the troops behaved admirably.
' Believe me, &c.
' Let the Marques de Monsalud know of these
General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to
Major General Peacocke.
' Flores de Avila, 24th July, 1812.
' MY DEAR GENERAL,
' I beg that if Lord Robert Manners is
not quite well when you shall receive this letter, you will tell him from me
that I desire he will go to England forthwith. It is of no use his endeavoring
to struggle through the next two months in the Peninsula, which are the most
unhealthy of the whole year. The sooner he goes, the sooner he will return.
' Believe me, &e.