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Wellington's Dispatches
September 21st - 24th, 1810


Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Lieut. General Sir Stapleton Cotton, Bart.

' Convent of Busaco, 21st Sept., 1810,
half-past 9 P M.

' By the accounts which Lord Fitzroy Somerset has brought of the enemy from General Craufurd, I judge that the 6th corps, at least, is assembled on the left bank of the Criz ; and I conclude that it did not attempt to pass this day, because the other corps were not ready.

' Their first operation must be to drive in the squadron of the Royals which are on the Criz, in order to repair the fords or the bridge ; and when this body is driven in, you may be certain that the whole, not only of this corps, but of the others, will advance in a few hours afterwards ; you should therefore have all your dispositions made to retire the troops in advance, when the squadron of the Royals should be obliged to quit the Criz.

' I have not yet heard the result of the examination of the Ponte de Vagia, above the bridge, near Sta Combadao. You should observe this point, as it is the nearest to Tondella ; and not only the bridge exists, but the banks of the river are more practicable than they are lower down.

' If you withdraw from Mortagoa, bring the whole of the troops to the villages on the fall of the hill between this place and that. I shall be with you in the morning. ' We have an excellent position here, in which I am strongly tempted to give battle. Unfortunately Hill is one day later than I expected ; and there is a road upon our left by which we may be turned and cut off from Coimbra. But I do not yet give up hopes of discovering a remedy for this last misfortune ; and as for the former the enemy will afford it to us, if they do not cross the Criz to-morrow.

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Lieut. General Sir B. Spencer, K.B.

' Convent of Busaco, 21st Sept., 1810,
half-past 9 P.M

' I had the pleasure of receiving your letter of this day at 6 P.M. from General Stewart.

' I am much concerned that you did not receive the orders to march till 8 in the morning. I gave them at 6 in the evening, as soon as I found that it was desirable you should march.

' I was also concerned to learn from General Stewart that, although the march was short, some of the troops, owing to that circumstance, did not reach their ground till morning.

' You received a note from General Craufurd which I opened. Lord Fitzroy Somerset arrived here since, having left the Criz at 3 ; the 6th corps was certainly collected on the left bank, but we had a piquet of the Royals on the right bank which was not driven in ; and while that piquet remains, the enemy cannot repair the bridge or the ford to pass.

' I do not think there is any chance of your being attacked ; at all events, none, at present, of your being attacked without my being on the spot to state the nature of the resistance ; and I therefore do not now think it necessary to give any particular instructions upon that subject.

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to the Earl of Liverpool, Secretary of State.

' Busaco, 21st September, 1810.

' I think it proper to enclose to your Lordship an extract of a letter which I have received from the Marquis de la Romana stating his sentiments on the good conduct of the brigade of the Portuguese cavalry under Brigadier General Madden in the action with the enemy's cavalry on the 14th instant.
' I have the honor to be. &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

Le Maréchal Prince d'Essling, Commandant en Chef de l'Armee de Portugal, à San Altesse te Prince de Neufchatel.

' Viseu, le 22 Septembre, 1810.

' L'armée est partie le 16 d'Almeida, comme j'ai eu l'honneur d'en rendre compte à V. A. Les trois corps d'armée sont arrivés le 19 à Viseu, après avoir parcouru des chemins affreux. L'ennemi s'est retiré partout à notre approche, et il s'est réuni sur Coimbra. J'ai porté le 2me et 6me corps sur le pont du Criz.

' Les Anglais qui occupaient ces points en ont été chassés ; le 8me corps est encore & Viseu. Le grand parc d'artillerie et les gros bagages sont encore en arriére, et n'arriveront que demain. Les bagages ont été attaqués par 2000 Portugais, que 200 hommes ont suffi pour repousser avec perte. Il est impossible de trouver de plus mauvais chemins : ils sont hérissés de rochers : notre artillerie et nos bagages ont considérablement souffert, et je suis obligé de les attendre. Je les laisserai deux jours à Viseu, à leur arrivée, pour s'y reposer, et je continuerai ma marche sur Coimbra, où on m'assure que je trouverai les Anglais et Portugais réunis.

' Monseigneur, nous ne marchons qu'à travers du désert ; pas une ame nulle part ; tout est abandonné. Les Anglais poussent la barbarie jusqu'à faire fusiller le malheureux qui resterait chez lui ; femmes, enfans, vieillards, tout fuit. Enfin on ne peut trouver nulle part un guide. Nos soldats trouvent des pommes de terre, et d'autres légumes; ils sont fort contents, et ne respirent qu'après le moment de rencontrer l'ennemi.

' Les marches nous ont fort peu donné de malades.

' Je suis, &c.,
Le Maréchal Prince d'Essling,
Commandant en Chef de l'Armée de Portugal,

' Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Lieut. General Hill.

' Convent of Busaco,
22nd September, 1810, half-past 8 P.M

' The enemy have appeared upon the Criz in force, and have crossed that river apparently with the intention of repairing the bridge for the passage of their army. We have our advanced guard still at Mortagoa; General Leith's, General Picton's, and General Cole's divisions in the Serra de Busaco; and General Spencer, with his own division and two Portuguese brigades, at Mealhada. The British cavalry is also in front at Mortagoa.

' The enemy have this day made some demonstrations of an intention to recross the Mondego. The French are not in the habit of separating their forces much ; and I do not entirely credit this report, but still the movement which they have made must be attended to.

' We have a detachment of cavalry under Lieut. Cordemann, of the 1st hussars, K.G.L., on the left bank of the Mondego, near Sampayo, who reports that this day several parties of the enemy appeared on that side of the river. These parties certainly belong to Regnier's corps ; and I wish you to make the arrangements as follows, to be prepared for any event that may occur.

' First ; to send a regiment of cavalry to Moita, about nine miles in front of Ponte da Murcella ; and to have small piquets of cavalry on all fords of the Mondego from Foz Daõ to Foz d'Alva.

' Secondly ; to have strong piquets of Colonel Le Cor's infantry at Ponte da Murcella and Ponte de Val d'Espino on the Alva ; and to be prepared to spring the mines in these bridges if the enemy should advance.

' Thirdly ; to have small piquets on the Serras to communicate between these and your cantonments or camp in the rear.

' Fourthly ; if the enemy should cross the Mondego in force, you must make the disposition of your force as follows.

' Colonel Le Cor's division at Arganil. The cavalry in the open ground between Arganil and the Alva. General Hamilton's Portuguese division on the Serra of Saboga, and keeping the communication with Le Cor. The 2nd division of the British infantry on the Serra da Murcella.

' The infantry need not go on the Serras till the piquets in front of them shall be attacked, but the communication between the Serra de Saboga and Arganil must be effectually provided for ; and Arganil, if the enemy attacks that point with his whole force, must be supported by the whole of yours.

' Fifthly ; in order to provide for the most probable event, viz., the attack by the enemy's three corps on this point and the Serra between this and the Mondego, with the exception of the cavalry and the piquets mentioned in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd instances, you will have your whole force in readiness to move by its left, at a short notice, across the Mondego at the Barca de Pena Cova, and thence to this place. Upon this point of preparation orders will be sent to you, as well as for the momentary disposition of your corps ; but if I should have occasion to call you here, I shall send an officer with the order, who will be able to show you the road. I shall go over to see you, if I can venture from this point so long. In the mean time,

' Believe me, &c.;. ' WELLINGTON.

' Send any sick you may have to the Barca de Pena Cova, where there will be boats to take them to Coimbra. Let somebody, however, first inquire whether the boats are there.'

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to the Right Hon. Henry Wellesley.

' Convent of Busaco, 22nd Sept., 1810.

' I enclose my dispatch to Lord Liverpool of the day before yesterday. There has been no alteration since. ' The enemy have not passed the Criz, and are all on this side of the Mondego. I am in a capital position, but I fear it may be turned by its left. Its right is quite secure ; and I have always the retreat open on Coimbra. '

Believe me, &c. ' WELLINGTON.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to the Commander in Chief of the French Army (Marshal Massena, Prince d'Essling).

' Au Quartier General de l'Armée Anglaise,
ce 24 Septembre, 1810

' J'ai eu l'honneur de recevoir la lettre que votre Excellence m'a adressé le 14 de ce mois.

' Ce que vous appelez " des paysans sans uniforme," "des assassins et des voleurs de grand chemin," sont l'Ordenanza du pays, qui, comme j'ai déjà eu l'honneur de vous assurer, sont des corps militaires commandés par des officiers, payés et agissant sous les lois militaires. Il paraît que vous exigez que ceux qui jouiront des droits de la guerre soient revêtus d'un uniforme; mais vous devez vous souvenir que vous-même avez augmenté la gloire de l'armée Française en commandant des soldats qui n'avaient pas d'uniforme.

' Vous vous plaignez de la conduite de l'Ordenanza a Nave d'Aver envers M. le Colonel Pavetti. La question est seulement si un pays qui est envahi par un ennemi formidable a le droit de se défendre par tous les moyens en son pouvoir. Si ce droit existe, le Portugal est justifié en mettant en activité l'Ordenanza, un corps reconnu et organisé par les anciennes lois du pays. Je peux assurer votre Excellence que l'Ordenanza de Nave d'Aver a bien traité M. le Colonel Pavetti, et il aurait été puni s'il l'avait maltraité. Je voudrais n'avoir pas entendu que malgré que cet officier fût aussi bien traité et par le Capitaine de l'Ordenanza et par moi, la maison du Capitaine de l'Ordenanza à Nave d'Aver avait été brûlée, et que quelques uns de sa compagnie ont été pris et fusillés parcequ'ils avaient fait leur devoir envers leur pays.

' Je suis fâché que votre Excellence sent quelques inconvéniens personnels de ce que les Portugais quittent leurs foyers à l'approche de l'armée Française. Il est de mon devoir de faire retirer ceux que je n'ai pas les moyens de défendre ; et j'observe que les ordres que j'ai donné là-dessus n'étaient presque pas nécessaires. Car ceux qui se ressouvenaient de l'invasion de leur pays en 1807, et de l'usurpation du Gouvernement de leur Prince en tems de paix, quand il n'y avait pas un seul Anglais dans le pays, pouvaient à peine croire aux déclarations que vous faites la guerre aux Anglais seuls ; et ils pouvaient à peine trouver la conduite des soldats de l'armée Française, même sous vos ordres, envers leurs propriétés, leurs femmes et eux-mêmes, conformes aux déclarations de votre Excellence.

' II n'est pas étonnant donc qu'ils quittent leurs foyers volontairement, brûlant et détruisant tout ce qu'ils ne peuvent pas emporter ; et je n'ai nulle excuse à offrir pour l'encouragement que je leur en donne, excepté pour les inconvéniens personnels qu'ils peuvent causer à votre Excellence. ' Votre Excellence a été mal informée sur l'affaire de la milice ci-devant partie de la garnison d'Almeida. Avant de vous plaindre de l'infraction de la capitulation d'Almeida, votre Excellence aurait dû se ressouvenir qu'elle a été violée aussitôt que signée. Votre Excellence s'est engagée que les officiers et soldats de la milice retourneraient chez eux ; et malgré cet engagement, vous en avez détenu 7 officiers et 200 soldats de chaque régiment, pour en faire un corps de pioniers'. La capitulation d'Almeida est donc nulle, et je suis en droit d'en faire ce que je voudrais. Mais je puis vous assurer qu'il n'y a pas un soldat de la milice qui était a Almeida, au service.

' J'ai l'honneur d'être, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Lieut. General Hill.

' Busaco, 24th September, 1810,

' I was not able to go to you as I intended. I think it would be desirable to place the whole of Fane's cavalry upon the Serra de Moita, keeping piquets upon the fords of the Mondego between Foz Daõ and Foz d'Alva. The enemy were yesterday enquiring the road to Galizes, &c.;

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Brigadier General B. Craufurd.

' Convent of Busaco, 24th Sept., 1810.
8 P.M.

' I have a letter from Waters of yesterday from the Serra de Caramula, in which he says that the enemy's plundering parties are in the Serra, but they retire from it in the evening.

' I have desired General Leith to get some Portuguese dragoons to be stationed in his front at Gondalem, near the Barca de Cerco, but you had better send a small party there this day. Sir Stapleton will take care of the Serra on your left.

' You will make a handsome retreat from your present situation if you are only prepared in time. Indeed I believe it would now be time to place the different corps of your division, and Pack's brigade, en echelon, on the two sides of the road, from the entrance of the heights to the village where you have your quarters.

Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to C. Stuart, Esq.

' Busaco, 24th September, 1810.

' I have received your letters of the 17th and 19th. I concur in the queries which you have made to the Admiral respecting the tonnage in the harbour.

' However, unless some terrible accident happen, or unless the French raise the siege of Cadiz, I hope there will be no occasion to embark this winter. The French advanced guard is on this side the Criz, ours at the bottom of this Serra; their whole army between the Criz and Tondella, or Viseu at farthest ; ours upon this Serra, or that of Murcella. We are in an excellent position, indeed one which cannot easily be attacked in front ; and if they wait another day or two, they will be unable to turn it on the only vulnerable point. I shall do every thing in my power to stop the enemy here. If I cannot do it here, I shall still try to stop him at Coimbra. The army is in good spirits, and all going on well. I beg you will transmit the French prisoners taken by the Spaniards to England.

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

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