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Wellington's Dispatches
September 27th through 30th, 1810


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

' Convent of Busaco, 27th Sept., 1810.

' We have been engaged with the enemy for the last three days, and I think we shall be attacked again to-morrow ; as I understand they must carry our position, on which, however, they have as yet made no impression, or starve. Our loss has been trifling ; that of the British troops about 300 men ; that of the Portuguese, who have conducted themselves remarkably well in several brisk attacks, rather greater ; the loss of the French must have been very large indeed, and we hear from deserters that they are much discouraged. Our position is an excellent one, and it is certainly no easy task to carry it ; but I think they will make another trial.

' Pray detain the packet till the result of the action is known.

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

' Be so kind as to tell the Admiral that I saw his son this day, after the action, in which General Leith's corps were engaged, and that he was quite well.'

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Major General Leith, and to Lieut. General Hill.

' Busaco, 28th September, 1810, 8 A.M.

' Have you had any patrole out to the front of your right, towards Gondalem, or beyond Carvalho Velho ? ' Has General Hill any intelligence from the left bank of the Mondego ?


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

'Busaco, 28th September, 1810, half-past 10 A.M.

' Send to Le Cor, and desire him to have at least a battalion and two guns on the northern extremity of the Serra da Murcella, in order to defend the right flank of the post of Na Sa del Monte.

' Let Fane watch well the movements of the enemy's left, and give me the earliest intelligence of them. Foz d'Alva is a very important point.

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

' 28th September, quarter before 6 P.M ' Observe the enemy upon the right, and if there is no attack directed upon that side, close the British infantry to the right.'

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

' Fornos, 29th September, 1810.

' It appears that the enemy withdrew last night from their position in front of the Serra; but we do not yet know which way they have marched, after passing the hills between the Serra and Mortagoa. Our cavalry have not seen them on the road from Mortagoa to Sardaõ; nor are they seen passing the road which leads to the rear from the Criz. It is possible, therefore, that they may be about to cross the Mondego, and endeavor to force your right.

' Give me the earliest intelligence of any movement of this description. Let Fane occupy the Serra de Moita with his cavalry, and show himself upon the Mondego, and well forward in the valley.

' If you should find that the enemy cross the Mondego, send Le Cor immediately to Arganil, and depend upon my being with you, with the whole army, in a few hours.

' If they try our left instead of our right, I shall give you instructions for movements corresponding with ours. ' General Craufurd is still upon the Serra; General Cole and General Spencer near this place; Generals Leith and Picton between this and the Mondego.

' Believe me, &c.; ' WELLINGTON.

' P. S. Since writing the above, I have received accounts which induce me to believe that the enemy have moved to our left.'

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

' Fornos, 29th September, 1810, quarter past 3 P.M.

' If the enemy should advance upon you in force, you must retire from Mealhada.

' General Cole is with his division at Carqueijo, about a mile and a half in front of this, where I wish you to go if you should retire. Craufurd will be at Botao this night.

* I propose that you should fall back in the morning, according to your former instructions from the Quartermaster General.

' Send off your baggage early.

' Believe me, See. ' WELLINGTON'.

Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B., to Vice Admiral the Hon. G. Berkeley.

' Coimbra, 30th September, 1810.

' SIR,
' I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 24th instant, with the proposal to land the regiments, which may arrive from England at the mouth of the Mondego. I am much obliged to you for the suggestion, but I wish all I ships with troops to proceed to the Tagus.

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

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

' Coimbra, 30th September, 1810.

' While the enemy was advancing from Celorico and Trancoso upon Viseu, the different divisions of militia and ordenanza were employed upon their flanks and rear; and Colonel Trant with his division attacked the escort of the military chest and reserve artillery near Tojal, on the 20th instant. He took 2 officers and 800 prisoners, but the enemy collected a force from the front and rear, which obliged him to retire again towards the Douro. I understand that the enemy's communication is completely cut off, and he possesses only the ground upon which his army stands.

' My dispatch of the 20th instant will have informed you of the measures which I had adopted and which were in progress to collect the army in this neighbourhood, and, if possible, to prevent the enemy from obtaining possession of this town. "

' On the 21st the enemy's advanced guard pushed on to Sta Combadaõ, at the junction of the rivers Criz and Daõ; and Brigadier General Pack retired across the former and joined Brigadier General Craufurd at Mortagoa, having destroyed the bridges over those two rivers.

' The enemy's advanced guard crossed the Criz, having repaired the bridge, on the 23rd, and the whole of the 6th corps was collected on the other side of the river. I therefore withdrew the cavalry through the Serra de Busaco, with the exception of three squadrons, as the ground was unfavorable for the operation of that arm.

' On the 25th, the whole of the 6th and of the 2nd corps crossed the Criz in the neighbourhood of Sta Combadaõ; and Brigadier General Pack's brigade and Brigadier General Craufurd's division retired to the position which I had fixed upon for the army on the top of the Serra de Busaco. These troops were followed in this movement by the whole of the corps of Ney and Regnier (the 6th and the 2nd) ; but it was conducted by Brigadier General Craufurd with great regularity, and the troops took their position without sustaining any loss of importance.

' The 4th Portuguese Cacadores, which had retired on the right of the other troops, and the piquets of the 3rd division of infantry, which were posted at Sta Antonio de Cantaro, under Major Smyth of the 45th regiment, were engaged with the advance of Regnier's corps in the afternoon, and the former showed that steadiness and gallantry which others of the Portuguese troops have since manifested.

' The Serra de Busaco is a high ridge which extends from the Mondego in a northerly direction about eight miles. At the highest point of the ridge, about two miles from its termination, is the convent and garden of. Busaco. The Serra de Busaco is connected by a mountainous tract of country with the Serra de Caramula, which extends in a north easterly direction beyond Viseu, and separates the valley of the Mondego from the valley of the Douro. On the left of the Mondego, nearly in a line with the Serra de Busaco, is another ridge of the same description, called the Serra da Murcella, covered by the river Alva, and connected by other mountainous parts with the Serra d'Estrella.

' All the roads to Coimbra from the eastward lead over the one or the other of these Serras. They are very difficult for the passage of an army, the approach to the top of the ridge on both sides being mountainous.

' As the enemy's whole army was on the right of the Mondego, and it was evident that he intended to force our position, Lieut. General Hill crossed that river by a short movement to his left, on the morning of the 26th, leaving Colonel Le Cor with his brigade on the Serra da Murcella, to cover the right of the army, and Brigadier General Fane, with his division of Portuguese cavalry and the 13th light dragoons, in front of the Alva, to observe and check the movements of the enemy's cavalry on the Mondego.

' With this exception, the whole army was collected upon the Serra de Busaco, with the British cavalry observing the plain in the rear of its left, and the road leading from Mortagoa to Oporto, through the mountainous tract which connects the Serra de Busaco with the Serra de Caramula.

' The 8th corps joined the enemy in our front on the 26th, but he did not make any serious attack on that day. The light troops on both sides were engaged throughout the line.

' At 6 in the morning of the 27th, the enemy made two desperate attacks upon our position, the one on the right, the other on the left of the highest part of the Serra. The attack upon the right was made by two divisions of the 2nd corps, on that part of the Serra occupied by the 3rd division of infantry. One division of French infantry arrived at the top of the ridge, where it was attacked in the most gallant manner by the 88th regiment, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Wallace, the 45th, under the command of Lieut. Colonel the Hon. R. Meade, and by the 8th Portuguese regiment, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Douglas, directed by Major General Picton. These three corps advanced with the bayonet and drove the enemy's division from the advantageous ground which they had obtained. The other division of the 2nd corps attacked further on the right, by the road leading by St Antonio de Cantaro, also in front of Major General Picton's division. These were repulsed, before they could reach the top of the ridge, by the 74th, under the command of Lieut. Colonel the Hon. R. Trench, and the brigade of Portuguese infantry of the 9th and 21st regiments, under the command of Colonel Champelmond, directed by Colonel Mackinnon. Major General Leith also moved to his left to the support of Major General Picton, and aided in the defeat of the enemy by the 3rd battalion of Royals, the 1st battalion of the 9th, and the 2nd battalion of the 38th regiments. In these attacks Major Generals Leith and Picton, Colonels Mackinnon and Champelmond, of the Portuguese service, who was wounded, Lieut. Colonel Wallace, Lieut. Colonel the Hon. R. Meade, Lieut. Colonel Sutton, of the 9th Portuguese, Major Smyth of the 45th, who was afterwards killed, Lieut. Colonel Douglas, and Major Birmingham, of the 8th Portuguese regiment., distinguished themselves.

' Major General Picton reports the good conduct of the 9th and 21st Portuguese regiments, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Sutton and Lieut. Colonel A. Bacellar, and of the Portuguese artillery, under the command of Major Arentschildt. I have also to mention in a particular manner the conduct of Captain Dansey of the 88th.

' Major General Leith reports the good conduct of the Royals, 1st battalion, and 9th, and 2nd battalion of the 38th regiments; and I beg to assure your Lordship that I have never witnessed a more gallant attack than that made by the 88th, 45th, and 8th Portuguese regiments, on the enemy's division which had reached the ridge of the Serra.

' On the left the enemy attacked with three divisions of infantry of the 6th corps, on the part of the Serra occupied by the light division of infantry commanded by Brigadier General Craufurd, and by the brigade of Portuguese infantry commanded by Brigadier General Pack.

' One division of infantry only made any progress to the top of the hill, and they were immediately charged with the bayonet by Brigadier General Craufurd, with the 43rd, 52nd, and 95th, and the 3rd Portuguese Cacadores, and driven down with immense loss.

' Brigadier General Coleman's brigade of Portuguese infantry, which was in reserve, was moved up to the right of Brigadier General Craufurd's division, and a battalion of the 19th Portuguese regiment, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Mac Bean, made a gallant and successful charge upon a body of another division of the enemy, which was endeavoring to penetrate in that quarter.

' In this attack, Brigadier General Craufurd, Lieut. Colonels Beckwith, of the 95th, and Barclay, of the 52nd, and the Commanding Officers of the regiments, distinguished themselves.

' Besides these attacks, the light troops of the two armies were engaged throughout the 27th; and the 4th Portuguese Caqadores, and the 1st and 16th regiments, directed by Brigadier General Pack, and commanded by Lieut. Colonel Hill, Lieut. Colonel Luis de Regoa, and Major Armstrong, showed great steadiness and gallantry.

' The loss sustained by the enemy in his attack of the 27th has been enormous. I understand that the Generals of Division, Merle, Loison, and Maucune are wounded, and General Simon was taken prisoner by the 52nd regiment; and 8 Colonels, — officers, and 250 men.

' The enemy left 2000 killed upon the field of battle, and I understand from the prisoners and deserters that the loss in wounded is immense. ' The enemy did not renew his attack, excepting by the fire of his light troops on the 28th ; but he moved a large body of infantry and cavalry from the left of his centre to the rear, from whence I saw his cavalry in march on the road from Mortagoa over the mountains towards Oporto.

' Having thought it probable that he would endeavor to turn our left by that road, I had directed Colonel Trant, with his division of militia, to march to Sardaõ, with the intention that he should occupy the mountains, but unfortunately he was sent round by Oporto, by the General Officer commanding in the north, in consequence of a small detachment of the enemy being in possession of S. Pedro do Sul ; and, notwithstanding the efforts which he made to arrive in time, he did not reach Sardaõ till the 28th at night, after the enemy were in possession of the ground.

'As it was probable that, in the course of the night of the 28th, the enemy would throw the whole of his army upon the road, by which he could avoid the Serra de Busaco and reach Coimbra by the high road of Oporto, and thus the army would have been exposed to be cut off from that town, or to a general action in less favorable ground, and as I had reinforcements in my rear, I was induced to withdraw from the Serra de Busaco.

' The enemy did break up in the mountains at eleven at night of the 28th., and he made the march I expected. His advanced guard was at Avelans, on the road from Oporto to Coimbra, yesterday, and the whole army was seen in march through the mountains. That under my command, however, was already in the low country, between the Serra de Busaco and the sea; and the whole of it, with the exception of the advanced guard, is this day on the left of the Mondego.

' Although, from the unfortunate circumstance of the delay of Colonel Trant's arrival at Sardaõ, I am apprehensive that I shall not succeed in effecting the object which I had in view in passing the Mondego and in occupying the Serra de Busaco, I do not repent my having done so. This movement has afforded me a favorable opportunity of showing the enemy the description of troops of which this army is composed ; it has brought the Portuguese levies into action with the enemy for the first time in an advantageous situation; and they have proved that the trouble which has been taken with them has not been thrown away, and that they are worthy of contending in the same ranks with British troops in this interesting cause, which they afford the best hopes of saving.

' Throughout the contest on the Serra, and in all the previous marches, and those which we have since made, the whole army have conducted themselves in the most regular manner. Accordingly all the operations have been carried on with ease; the soldiers have suffered no privations, have undergone no unnecessary fatigue, there has been no loss of stores, and the army is in the highest spirits.

' I have received throughout the service the greatest assistance from the General and Staff Officers. Lieut. General Sir Brent Spencer has given the assistance his experience enables him to afford me ; and I am particularly indebted to the Adjutant and the Quarter Master General, and the officers of their departments, and to Lieut. Colonel Bathurst, and the officers of my personal staff; to Major General Howorth and the artillery, and particularly to Lieut. Colonel Fletcher, Captain Chapman, and the officers of the Royal Engineers. I must likewise mention Mr. Kennedy, and the officers of the Commissariat, which department has been carried on most successfully.

' I should not do justice to the service, or to my own feelings, if I did not take this opportunity of drawing your Lordship's attention to the merits of Marshal Beresford. To him exclusively, under the Portuguese Government, is due the merit of having raised, formed, disciplined, and equipped the Portuguese army, which has now shown itself capable of engaging and defeating the enemy.

' I have besides received from him all the assistance which his experience and abilities, and his knowledge of this country have qualified him to afford me.

' The enemy have made no movement in Estremadura, or in the northern provinces, since I addressed your Lordship last. ' My last accounts from Cadiz are of the 9th instant.

' I enclose a return of the killed and wounded of the allied armies in the course of the 25th, 26th, 27th, and 28th.

' I send this dispatch by my aide de camp. Captain Burgh, to whom I beg to refer your Lordship for any further details, and I recommend him to your Lordship's notice.

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

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