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Wellington's Dispatches
July 26th - 30th, 1808


Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Major General Spencer.

H.M.S. Crocodile, off the Tagus, 26th July, 1808.


' I have the honor of receiving your letters of the 15th and 16th instant.

' As the instructions which I have received from his Majesty's ministers positively direct me to make an attack upon the French troops in the Tagus, if I should find the force under my command sufficient to enable me to make it; as these instructions were framed at the instance of the Juntas of Galicia and Asturias; and the Junta of Galicia, with which I have communicated lately at Coruna, have again pressed me to carry into execution the object of those instructions; and, above all, as I am convinced that the most effectual mode in which Great Britain can serve the Spanish cause, is by driving the French out of Portugal, and thus to make that kingdom the point of communication between the northern and southern parts of Spain itself, I cannot avoid urging you to embark the troops under your command, as soon as you shall receive this letter, and to proceed to the Tagus, when you shall receive further orders from me.

' If, when you receive this letter, you should be engaged in any active operations, the relinquishment of which would, in your judgment, be detrimental to the Spanish cause, you will not obey this order, but still continue such operations; but if you should not be so actually engaged, and should embark as ordered, you will take care to apprise the Junta of Seville of the motives which have induced His Majesty's ministers to make an effort to wrest the kingdom of Portugal from the power of the French; and of the reasons for which I think that I shall most effectually forward the interests and objects of the Spanish nation, by persevering in carrying into execution the orders I have received, as detailed in the first part of this letter.

· I have the honor to be, &c. ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

Lieut, General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Major General Spencer.

' H.M.S. Crocodile, off the Tagu 26th July. 1808.

' SIR,

' In case you should quit Cadiz according to the instructions contained in my dispatch of this date, it occurs to me from the representation you have made of the wants of the Junta. Seville, that the Spanish nation would be most effectually served, and the minds of the principal persons among them would be reconciled to your departure, if their pecuniary distresses could be relieved by an immediate advance of money.

' I therefore beg you to inform them, if they can procure money for a bill on the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury of England, that you are authorised to draw upon them for or hundred thousand pounds; and I authorize and beg you give bills on the Lords of the Treasury for that sum of money which you will pay to the persons who may be appointed to receive it by the Junta of Seville, and you will take the receipt for the same.

' I think it probable that his Majesty may have directed sum of money to be sent to the Junta of Seville, as he has that of Galicia, which has been received; and if you should be able to procure the money for the bills which I have above requested you to give, I beg of you to leave a letter for the gentleman who may come up with the money which may be sent by his Majesty's directions, in which you will inform him that you have made this advance; and you will request him to send to the Tagus, for the use of the army, an equal sun out of the money which it is supposed he will have brought out from England.

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

Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, KB., to Major General Spencer.

H.M.S. Crocodile, off the Tagu, 26th July, 1808.


' As Lieut. Colonel Bathurst is appointed Deputy Quart' Master General to the troops under my command, and M Hunter, Deputy Paymaster General, I feel great inconvenience from the want of the assistance of those officers; and as believe Major Rainey is present with your corps' who can take charge of the Quarter Master General's department, I request you to send Lieut. Colonel Bathurst and Mr. Hunter to join me immediately, in the schooner which will take you this dispatch.

' As I understand that some of the transports you have with you are heavy sailers, and as it is most desirable to the King's service that your corps should arrive here at an early period, I recommend you to apply to Lord Collingwood, to allow some of the troops to come here in men of war, as being the most expeditious mode of sending them.

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

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

' H.M.S. Crocodile, 26th July, 1808.


' I have the honor to inform you that I joined the fleet off Cape Finisterre on the 22nd instant, and continued my voyage in this ship to Oporto, (leaving them to follow me,) where I arrived on the 24th, and the fleet on the following morning.

' I saw the Bishop of Oporto, who is at the head of the Junta, and the general officers commanding the Portuguese troops, on that night; and I learned from them and from Lieut. Colonel Brown, that the Portuguese troops, militia, and regulars which had been collected, amounted to about 5000 men, and were posted at Coimbra, in the province of Beira, about eighty miles from Oporto, towards Lisbon. That, besides these troops, there were in advance about 1200 peasants armed in different modes, and a corps of about 1500 Portuguese infantry, and 300 Spanish infantry, at Oporto, besides volunteers and peasants. The whole of these troops, however, are badly armed and equipped. The peasantry have, I believe, no arms but pikes, and those called regular infantry are composed of individuals belonging to different corps of the Portuguese army. The corps of Spanish infantry, consisting of 2000 men, which I informed your Lordship in my letter of the 21st instant was ordered to march from Galicia into Portugal, had not left the former kingdom by the last accounts, and was not expected at Oporto.

'A post at Figueira upon the river Mondego, which falls into the sea at Mondego Bay, is occupied by 300 marines belonging to the fleet under the command of Captain Thigh, of H.M.S. Alfred, which was likewise detained there.

'On my arrival at Oporto, I received from Sir Charles Cotton a letter of the 9th instant, a copy of which I enclose, in which the Admiral recommends that I should leave the fleet at anchor to the northward, and go to the mouth of the Tagus to communicate with him, as he thought it probable that it would be deemed advisable that the troops should land at Mondego Bay, or at Peniche. I have accordingly requested Captain Malcolm to anchor at Mondego, and I am now on my passage to the mouth of the Tagus.

' While I was at Oporto I requested the Bishop to supply me with 150 horses for the remount of the 20th dragoons, of which corps there are nearly that number of men dismounted. I also requested him to supply the troops with 500 mules, of a description which could be applied either to draft or carriage, which I propose to apply to the carriage of the musket ammunition and entrenching tools, (there being with the army no ammunition, tumbril, or intrenching tool carts,) of a certain quantity of provisions, and, if I should find it necessary, of the camp equipage of the army. The Bishop promised that I should have the horses and mules at Coimbra by the time that the army would be disembarked, if I should determine to disembark at Mondego Bay. I also made arrangements with him for the supply of fresh meat for the troops, and of forage and grain for the horses of the cavalry and artillery, and for the mules with the army.

'Having made all these arrangements, in the course of the night of the 24th instant I embarked from Oporto, on the morning of the 95th joined the fleet, and am now on my passage to the Tagus.

' I have the honor to be. &c. 'ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

lieut, General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley. K.B., to Major General Spencer.

H.M.S. Crocodile, off the Tagus, 26th July, 1808.

The public letters which Captain Cooke will deliver to you with this, will apprise you of my wishes that you should come here as soon as possible, and of the reasons for which I wish that you should do so.

' In addition to those stated in my public letter, I have to mention to you, that, from all that I have heard, I think there is reason to believe that Buonaparte is not now very strong in Spain; and that he has not at his command the means of reinforcing his troops sufficiently, to strike any blow which can have a permanent effect. It is obvious that Dupont to the southward does not think himself sufficiently strong for Castanos, otherwise he would not halt and take up a defensive position. Even supposing that we should deem it expedient eventually to return and carry on operations in the south of Spain, it is not probable, from the general state of the French, that any great misfortune can happen before we return.

' In the mean time the Spaniards will acquire strength and experience; and I must observe that nothing we can do can be so useful to them as to get possession of and organize a good army in Portugal.

' On the other hand, if the efforts of the Spanish nation should fail, and if the French are now able to obtain possession of Cadiz, I do not think the presence of your corps would be of much avail to prevent the occurrence of this misfortune; while its presence here is of the utmost importance, to enable me to perform the operations intrusted to me, the success of which would be a great benefit to Great Britain,-even if all should unfortunately fail.

' Therefore, in either and all the views of the case, whether Spain is to continue or to fail, Portugal is an object, and your presence here is most necessary.

' You will find, on your arrival with Admiral Cotton, instructions for your operations. 'Do not delay on account of the bill which you are to draw for £100,000, but leave Tucker or somebody to settle it with the Junta with the bills in his hands.

' Believe me, &c. ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.


29th July, 1808

In the event of a landing being determined upon in Mondego Bay, a signal will be made to Captain Malcolm, when will be settled at what period it may be proper to move the horse ships, and the ships having the ordnance on board, in the river.

' The infantry will be directed to be landed from the transports in the roads, and to be rowed in the boats up the river and landed on the south bank of it: General Fane's brigade first, excepting the Veteran battalion, which is to remain on board; then General Ferguson's; then General Craufurd's.

'In the mean time the following arrangements are to be made.

' 1st. The haversacks and canteens now in the regiment stores are to be given out to the men.

' 2nd. Tin camp kettles are to be issued from the Quart Master General's stores to the regiments.

'3rd. The Commissary must issue to such of the Paymasters of regiments, on account of the Paymaster General, the sum of £1000 for each of the regiments, and in that proportion for the artillery, dragoons, and 95th companies, which he will receive from the Donegal. A month's pay may also be issue on the same account to the officers of the Staff.

'4th. General Hill will inform the officer commanding the 20th light dragoons, that he is to receive a sufficient number of horses to mount all his men; that he will therefore be prepared to land the horse appointments of the men who have present no horses. '5th. The following arrangement to be made respecting baggage. The men to land, each with one shirt and one pair of shoes, besides those on them, combs, razor, and a brush which are to be packed up in their great coats. The knapsacks to be left in the transports, and the baggage of the officers, excepting such light articles as are necessary for them. A careful sergeant to be left in the head quarter ship of each regiment and a careful private man in each of the other ships, in charge of the baggage; and each officer who shall leave any baggage in a transport, must take care to have his name marked on each package, and each numbered, and give a list of what he leaves to the soldier in charge of the baggage, in order that he may get what he may require.

`6th. The men will land with three days' bread and two days' meat, cooked.

' 7th. The commanding officer of artillery is to land the three brigades of artillery, each with half the usual proportion of ammunition, the forge cart, &c. He will also land 500,000 rounds of musket ammunition for the use of the troops, for which carriage will be provided.

'8th. Each soldier will have with him three good flints.

' 9th. Besides the bread above directed to be landed with the soldiers, three days' bread to be packed up in bags, containing one hundred pounds each, on board each of the transports for the number of soldiers who shall be disembarked from it.

' 10th. Mr. Commissary Pipon to be directed to attach a commissary and the necessary number of clerks, &c., to each brigade, to the cavalry and to the artillery. He will hereafter receive directions to take charge of the bread above directed to be prepared, and to make his arrangements for victualling the troops.

'11th. Three days oats to be landed with each of the horses.

'12th. The horses of the Irish commissariat to be handed over, when landed, to the commanding officer of the artillery, who will allot the drivers to take charge of them; and then the officers and drivers belonging to the Irish commissariat to place themselves under the orders of Mr. Pipon.

'13th. The officers commanding companies will make an arrangement for purchasing mules for the carriage of camp equipage, for which they have received an allowance in the embarkation money.


Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Admiral Sir Charles Cotton.

' H.M.S. Donegal, off Figueira, 30th July, 1808.


' I arrived here this day, and have received dispatches from England dated the 15th instant, from which I learn that a reinforcement to the amount of 5000 men is likely to arrive here immediately.

' I propose to disembark here the day after to-morrow, but I shall not move forward till I shall hear of my reinforcement from England, or of the arrival of General Spencer. I think it probable that he will now come here, for I understand that General Castanos defeated Dupont in an action fought on the 20th instant, and that Dupont surrendered on condition that he should be sent to France by sea. If this should be true, there can be nothing to detain General Spencer in that quarter.

' I propose to look at Peniche as I shall march towards Lisbon, and if there should be any prospect of early success, I shall attack the place. But in order to be able to effect this object I must have 24 pounders; and the necessity that there may be to have this ordnance at Peniche, and the desire which I have to profit as long as possible by the assistance of Captain Thigh, induce me to ask you to allow the Alfred to remain with us as long as may be possible. I shall not ask to detain either that ship or the Donegal, as soon as the moment shall arrive at which you may have it in your power to attack the fleet.

' If either the fleet having on board the ordnance stores, or General Spencer's corps, or the reinforcements from England, should go to the mouth of the Tagus, I shall be obliged to you if you will order them here, directing that they may keep in shore, in case we should have occasion to communicate with them. ' Captain Malcolm will write to you about the marines, who shall be sent in the Blossom and Lively.

' Believe me, &c. ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY,

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