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Wellington's Dispatches
July 7th through 15th, 1808


Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, KB., to Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State.

' Cork, 7th July, 1808.

My Dear Lord,

'I arrived here last night, and I find that the 20th light dragoons and the 3000 tons of shipping for the infantry are not arrived. The Irish commissariat horses, for the draught of the artillery, are not yet all arrived, and will not be on board until Saturday. I propose to wait till that day for the dragoons and the additional tonnage, and if they should not have arrived, I shall sail with what is ready, and let the rest follow.

' By some accident which, from not having seen the agent of transports, I cannot yet account for, we have four transports, as stated underneath, which have not been returned to me in any statement from the Transport Board or from your brother. These vessels have enabled General Floyd to embark the 95th, and to make some provision for the embarkation of the 36th, But it appears to me that the whole are too much crowded, and if the additional tonnage does not arrive to-morrow, I shall settle to leave behind the Veteran battalion or the 86th, to follow with the additional tonnage and the 20th dragoons, to give more space to all the troops in the transports. If the additional tonnage should arrive, and I should find that I do not want these four ships, I shall leave them behind..

'Upon a review of your instructions, and a consideration of the state of affairs in Spain, according to the last accounts, I rather think that, as soon as I have got every thing away from Cork, I shall best serve the cause by going myself to Coruna, and joining the fleet off Cape Finisterre or the Tagus. I propose accordingly to go on board one of the craft, and I expect to be at the rendezvous before the troops.

' Believe me, &c.


Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State.

'Cork, 8th July, l808.

My Dear Lord,

'Since I wrote to you yesterday, the ships having on board the 20th light dragoons, excepting the Rebecca, Albion, and Jackall, the Minerva laden with hay, the Britannia and Harford with arms, and the Britannia with entrenching tools, have arrived. The empty transports have not, however, yet appeared, and I propose in the morning to land part of the Veteran battalion, to make room for the whole of the 36th, and I shall then sail with the first fair wind.

' All the horses of the commissariat will be on board early to-morrow.

' Upon consulting with Malcolm, I find that no inconvenience can result from my going to Coruna, and that he should make Cape Finisterre in his passage to the Tagus at all events. As I must derive the greatest advantage from going there, I shall therefore embark in one of the smaller vessels, and join the fleet again when it comes off the Cape.

Believe me, &c. ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Lieut. General Floyd, commanding at Cork.

Cork, 8th July, 1808.


' I have the honor to acquaint you that camp equipage for 13000 men only has been provided for the army about to sail under my command, and I have it not in my power to make the necessary issue to the 36th and 45th regiments. I therefore request that you will be pleased to give the necessary orders that camp equipage for 1500 men may be issued from the stores of this place, and delivered over to the Deputy Assistant at the head of the Quarter Master Generals department at Cove.

'I likewise beg leave to acquaint you that the camp kettles provided for the use of my force are of the Flanders pattern, the size of which would cause considerable inconvenience in the service in which it is probable I shall be engaged: and having been given to understand that small tin kettles are in store here, I request you will be pleased to cause an issue to be made of them for the use of the troops under my command. The Deputy Assistant Quarter Master General at Cove will give to the Assistant Commissary General at Cork the necessary receipt for the same, as well as for the camp equipage for the 45th and 36th regiments.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Lieut. Cheeseman, R.N., Resident Agent of Transports, Cork.

' Cork, 10th July, 1808.


' In consequence of no hospital ship having yet arrived for the use of the army under my command, I have to request that you will forthwith appropriate an empty transport, for the reception of such medical staff and sick, as the Deputy Inspector of Hospitals may send on board the same.

' I have the honor to be, &c.,


Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State.

' Cove, 10th July, 1808.

'My Dear lord,

' The wind is still contrary, but we hope it will change so as to sail this evening. We are unmoored, and shall not wait one moment after the wind may be fair.

' I see that people in England complain of the delay which has taken place in the sailing of the expedition; but, in fact, none has taken place; and even if all had been on board we could not have sailed before this day. With all the expedition which we could use, we could not get the horses of the artillery to Cork till yesterday, and they were immediately embarked; and it was only yesterday that the 20th dragoons arrived, and the ships to contain the 36th regiment and a detachment of the 45th, which arrived yesterday evening and embarked.

'Your instructions to me left London on the Friday evening, and I was at Cork on the following Wednesday, which is as much expedition as if the instructions had come by the post.

' I leave here, at the disposal of Government, 1668 tons of shipping. The Resident Agent will report the names of the ships to the Transport Board

Believe me, &c.


Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State, to Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B.

' Downing Street, 15th July, 1808.


' Since my dispatches to you of the 30th ultimo, marked secret No. 1, and No. 2, the enclosed intelligence has been received from Major General Spencer with respect to the state of the enemy's force in Portugal.

' The number of French troops immediately in the vicinity of Lisbon (so far as this information can be relied On) appearing much more considerable than it was before reported to be by Sir Charles Cotton, his Majesty has been pleased to direct a corps of five thousand men' consisting of the regiments mentioned in the margin *, to be embarked, and proceed, without loss of time, to join you off the Tagus.

*Ramsgate - Under Brig. General Anstruther.
9th Foot, 2nd Battalion 675
43rd Foot, 2nd battalion 861
52nd Foot, 2nd Battalion 858
97th Foot 769
Harwich - Under Brig. General Acland
2nd or Queen's Foot 813
20th 689
95th, 2 companies 180
2 Companies Artillery 200

' His Majesty has been further pleased to direct, that the troops under Lieut. General Sir John Moore, which are arrived from the Baltic, as soon as they shall be refreshed, and their transports can be re-victualled, should also proceed without delay, off the Tagus.

'The motives which have induced the sending so large a force to that quarter are:

' First, to provide effectually for an attack upon the Tagus; and, secondly, to have such an additional force disposable, beyond what may be indispensably requisite for that operation, as may admit of a detachment being made to the southward, either with a view to secure Cadiz, if it should be threatened by the French force under General Dupont, or to cooperate with the Spanish troops in reducing that corps, if circumstances should favor such an operation, or any other that may be concerted.

' His Majesty is pleased to direct that the attack upon the Tagus should be considered as the first object to be attended to. As the whole force (of which a statement is enclosed), when assembled, will amount to not less than 30,000 men, it is conceived that both services may be amply provided for; the precise distribution as between Portugal and Andalusia, both as to time and proportion of force, must depend on circumstances, to be judged of on the spot; and should it be deemed advisable to fulfil the assurance which Lieut. General Sir Hew Dalrymple appears to have given to the Supreme Junta of Seville, under the authority of my dispatch of the 6th instant, that it was his Majesty's intention to employ a corps of his troops to the amount of 10,000 men to cooperate with the Spaniards in that quarter, a corps of this magnitude may, I should hope, be detached without prejudice to the main operation against the Tagus, and may be reinforced according to circumstances after the Tagus has been secured: but if, previous to the arrival of the whole force under orders from England, Cadiz should be seriously threatened, it must rest with the senior officer off the Tagus, at his discretion, to detach, upon receiving a requisition to that effect, such an amount of force as may place this important place out of the reach of immediate danger, even though it should, for the time, suspend operations against the Tagus.

' As the force which may be called for on the side of Cadiz can only require a field equipment, the ordnance preparation which has been sent with a view to the reduction of the Tagus will remain at that station.

' With the exception of the ordnance preparation sent for the attack of the forts on that river, it has not been deemed necessary to encumber the army with any larger detail of artillery than what belongs to a field equipment, with a proportion of horses.

'Exclusive of the period for which the transports are provided, a due proportion of victuallers will accompany the armament, which with the supplies which may be expected to be derived from the disposition and resources of the country, it is conceived, will remove all difficulty on this head, so long as the army shall continue to act near the coast.

'The great delay and expense that would attend embarking and sending from hence all those means which would be requisite to render the army completely moveable immediately on its landing, has determined his Majesty's Government to trust, in a great measure, to the resources of the country for their supplies.

' There is every reason to believe, from the ardour of the inhabitants, both of Spain and Portugal, that so soon as a British army can establish itself on any part of the coast, not only numbers will be anxious to be armed and arrayed in support of the common cause, but that every species of supply which the country produces for subsisting and equipping an army will be procurable; it therefore becomes the first object of consideration (if a direct and immediate attack upon the defences of the Tagus cannot in prudence be attempted), on what part of the coast between Peniche on the north, and St. Ubes on the south of that river, a position can be taken by the British army, in which its intercourse with the interior may be securely opened, and from whence it may afterwards move against the enemy, endeavouring, if possible, not only to expel him from Lisbon, but to cut off his retreat towards Spain.

'A proportion of cavalry, as far as the means of transport exist. will accompany the troops, which can be hereafter increased, according as circumstances shall point out.

I have the honor to be, &c.


Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State, to Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B.


' Downing Street, 15th July, 1808.


' I am to acquaint you that his Majesty has been pleased to intrust the command of his troops serving on the coasts of Spain and Portugal to Lieut. General Sir Hew Dalrymple, with Lieut. General Sir Harry Burrard, second in command.

' The Lieut. General has been furnished with copies of your instructions up to the present date exclusive. These instructions you will be pleased to carry into execution with every expedition that circumstances will permit, without awaiting the arrival of the Lieut. General, reporting to him your proceedings. And should you be previously joined by a senior officer, you will in that case communicate to him your orders, and afford him every assistance in carrying them into execution.

' I have the honor to be, &c.


Viscount Castlereagh, Secretary of State, to Lieut. General Sir Hew Dalrymple.

' Downing Street, 15th July, 1808.


'Permit me to offer you my congratulations on the flattering commands I have been charged to convey to you from his Majesty, and to request you will, at the same time, accept my personal thanks for the zeal and ability with which you have discharged your public duties during the late important period. ' I trust the force which has been provided will enable you' to give a new and decisive turn to affairs both in Portugal and Spain.

' Permit me to recommend to your particular confidence Lieut. General Sir Arthur Wellesley. His high reputation in the service as an officer would in itself dispose you, I am persuaded, to select him for any service that required great prudence and temper, combined with much military experience.

'the degree, however, to which he has been for a length of time past in the closest habits of communication with his Majesty's ministers, with respect to the affairs of Spain, having been destined to command any operation that circumstances might render necessary for counteracting the views of France against the Spanish dominions in South America, will, I am sure, point him out to you as an officer of whom it is desirable for you, on all accounts, to make the most prominent use which the rules of the service will permit.

I have the honor to be, &c.


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