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Wellington's Dispatches
July 15th - 16th, 1809


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

' Plasencia, 15th July, 1809.

' I enclose a letter which has been forwarded to me by Deputy Commissary General Dalrymple from Mr. Commissary —, containing an account of transactions at Castello Branco, which does not differ materially from that which you gave me of the same transactions.

' I am not astonished that you and the general officers should feel indignant at the neglect and incapacity of some of the officers of the Commissariat, by which we have suffered, and are still suffering so much; but what I have to observe, and wish to impress upon you is, that they are gentlemen appointed to their office by the King's authority, although not holding his commission; and that it would be infinitely better, and more proper, if all neglects and faults of theirs were reported to me, by whom they can be dismissed, rather than that they should be abused by the general officers of the army. Indeed, it cannot be expected that they will bear the kind of abuse they have received, however well deserved we may deem it to be; and they will either resign their situations, and put the army to still greater inconvenience; or complain to higher authorities, and thereby draw those who abuse them into discussions, which will take up, hereafter, much of their time and attention.

' I do not enter into the grounds you had for being displeased with Mr. —, which I dare say were very sufficient; but I only desire that, in all these cases, punishment may be left to me, who alone can have the power of inflicting it.

' Believe me, Sec. ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

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

' Plasencia, 15th July, 1809.

' After I had written to your Lordship, on the 1st instant, King Joseph Bonaparte crossed the Tagus again, and joined Sebastiani with the troops he had brought from Madrid, and with a detachment from Marshal Victor's corps, making the corps of Sebastiani about 28,000 men, with an intention of attacking Vanegas's corps. Vanegas, however, retired into the mountains of the Sierra Morena, and Colonel Lacy, with his advanced guard, attacked a French corps in the night, and destroyed many of them. ' The French troops then again returned to the Tagus, which river King Joseph had crossed with the reinforcement which he had taken to Sebastiani's corps ; and this last corps, amounting to 10,000 men only, was on the left bank of the Tagus, about Madridejos, in front of Vanegas, who was again advancing. The last accounts from this quarter were of the 8th.

' The French army under Victor, joined by the detachments brought by King Joseph from Sebastiani's corps, and amounting in the whole to about 85,000 men, are concentrated in the neighbourhood of Talavera and on the Alberche.

' General Cuesta's army has been in the same position which I informed your Lordship that it had taken up when I addressed you on the 1st instant.

' The advanced guard of the British army arrived here on the 8th, and the troops which were with me on the Tagus arrived by the 10th. The 23rd light dragoons arrived yesterday, and the 48th and 61st regiments will arrive to-morrow.

' I went to General Cuesta's quarters at Almaraz on the 10th, and stayed there till the 12th, and I have arranged with that General a plan of operations upon the French army which we are to begin to carry into execution on the 18th, if the French should remain so long in their position.

' The Spanish army under General Cuesta consists of about 33,000 men (exclusive of Vanegas's corps), of which 7,000 are cavalry. About 14,000 men are detached to the bridge of Arzobispo, and the remainder are in the camp under the Puerto de Mirabete.

' The troops were ill clothed but well armed, and the officers appeared to take pains with their discipline. Some of the corps of infantry were certainly good, and the horses of the cavalry were in good condition.

' I have the pleasure to inform your Lordship that the seven battalions of infantry from Ireland and the islands, and the troops of horse artillery from Great Britain, arrived at Lisbon in the beginning of the month.

' General R. Craufurd's brigade are on the march to join the army, but will not arrive here till the 24th or 25th.

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

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

' Plasencia, 15th July, 1809.

' I have nothing to add to my public letter of this date. I enclose to you the last state of the army, with such remarks upon it as may be useful to you.

' I have but a bad account of the corps arrived from Ireland and the islands; and I have been obliged to leave them still at Lisbon, till they can get mules and other means to enable them to move; and I have desired the officers to take advantage of that time to put them in a state fit for service.

' Believe me, &c.; ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

. Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to Major General'.
Mackenzie, President of a General Court Martial.

' Plasencia, 16th July, 1809.

' SIR,
' I have perused the proceedings and sentence of the General Court Martial, on the trial of —, private in the — regiment, for striking Ensign —, of the — regiment, and I am concerned that I cannot agree in opinion with the General Court Martial in respect to their sentence, and that I must request them to revise it.

' There appears to be no doubt of the guilt of the prisoner ——; and the question remains for consideration whether any circumstances have appeared upon the trial which ought to prevent the Court from passing upon — the sentence of death.

' The only justification that can be alleged is that Ensign — " collared the prisoner —" to take him to a place of confinement, for it does not appear in any part of the evidence that — was struck by Ensign — ..

' But supposing he was struck by the officer, as it appears he was by the serjeant, it is no justification for the crime of the greatest magnitude that a soldier can commit, and committed, I observe, in this instance, after previous repeated threats. A soldier has modes of redress for violence committed upon him by his officer, without threats and blows; and the General Court Martial cannot intend, by their sentence, to give currency and sanction to an opinion that a soldier can be justified, by any circumstances., in threatening and striking his officer.

' I am the more anxious that the General Court Martial should revise their sentence upon this occasion, because I am concerned to state that several instances have occurred lately of soldiers having struck officers and non-commissioned officers in the execution of their duty.

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

Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to
Major General O'Donoju.

' Plasencia, 16th July, 1809.

' The officer who was sent out to examine the road by Miajadas and Talayuela has reported that it will answer for artillery; so that, in consequence of your letter, we shall march by it. My head quarters will be, on the 18th, at Miajadas, on the 19th, Centinello, and on the 20th at Oropesa. I am sorry to say that we shall march but ill provided with many articles which we require, owing to the deficiency in the means of transport in our possession ; and this country is either unable or unwilling to supply them. I have sent a Commissary to Gata and Ciudad Rodrigo, but he has not been able to procure one mule, and I fear that he will not be more successful at Bejar, as there appears a general disinclination to give that assistance to the army which every army requires, more particularly in a country unprovided with magazines or strong places.

' Nothing shall prevent me from carrying into execution the arrangements which I settled with General Cuesta when I had the pleasure of seeing him, although to do so will be attended with the greatest inconvenience, on account of the deficiency of the means of transport, which I then hoped that this country and Ciudad Rodrigo would have afforded; but I think it but justice to the army under my command, and to his Majesty, to determine that I shall undertake no new operations till I shall have been supplied with the means of transport which the army requires; and but fair and candid towards General Cuesta to announce to him this determination at the earliest moment.

' The British army does not require much assistance of this description; none for the baggage of individuals; and what is wanted is to be applied solely to the transport of provisions, ammunition, money, and medical stores.

' All countries in which an army is acting are obliged to supply these means; and if the people of Spain are unable or unwilling to supply what the army requires, I am afraid that they must do without its services.

' I shall be obliged to you if you will lay this letter before General Cuesta for his information, and tell him that I shall send a copy of it to Mr. Frere for the information of the government. I beg you at the same time to inform General Cuesta that I am convinced Señor Lozano de Torres and Colonel O'Lalor have done every thing in their power to procure for the army the means of transport which we have required.

' Believe me, &c.; ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

Lieut. General the Hon. Sir A. Wellesley, K.B., to the
Right Hon. J. H. Frere.

' Plasencia, 16th July, 1809.

' I enclose the copy of a letter which I have written to Major General O'Donoju, which I beg of you to communicate to the government. ' It is impossible for me to express to you the inconvenience and risk which we incur from the want of means of conveyance, which I cannot believe the country could not furnish if there existed any inclination to furnish them.

' I cannot but observe, however , that although to me, personally, there has been much civility from all classes of the inhabitants since I came into Spain, this has not been the case with the army in general. The officers complain, and I believe not without reason, that the country gives unwillingly the supplies of provisions we have required, and I have been obliged to promise that they shall be replaced from our stores in Portugal; and we have not procured a cart or a mule for the service of the army. This does not look promising; and I shall certainly not persevere if our prospect of good treatment does not improve.

' Believe me, &c.; ' ARTHUR WELLESLEY.

' P.S. We really should not be worse off in an enemy's country; or indeed so ill, as we should there take by force what we should require.

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