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Wellington's Dispatches
April 30 - May 1, 1811


Lieut. General Viscount Wellington, K.B. to Marshal Sir W. C. Beresford, K.B.

' Villa Fermosa, 30th April, 1811.

' I arrived here on the 28th. The enemy are certainly in strength on the Agueda, their principal force being at Ciudad Rodrigo. The river is not yet fordable, at least not for infantry, and they have hitherto made no movement, excepting two of reconnaissance towards the bridge on the Azava near Marialva.

' I am much concerned to be obliged to write to you again upon the continued and increasing inefficiency of the Portuguese regiments with this army, which I am afraid cannot now be attributed to the Portuguese Government. The brigade in the 5th division. Sir William Erskine reported yesterday to be only 700 men; General Pack's brigade, General Campbell has just told me, is only 1400; the 9th regiment has 700 men; the 21st 400, as General Picton informed me this morning. All the General officers, and the staff officers, of the army, are calling out about the Portuguese hospitals.

' The recent movements of the enemy of course rendered necessary the removal of all encumbrances from the army, and I saw on Sunday the sick of the 9th and 21st regiments going away in a most shameful state, some men being scarcely able to crawl; others, who were able to walk, plundering the country ; and some of them having arms, or accoutrements, or necessaries, and there being no carriage for arms or accoutrements with them, of course the arms, and accoutrements, and necessaries of all the soldiers sent away upon this occasion will be lost, if the head quarters of the regiment should be moved from their present station.

' Then upon all these complaints and difficulties I can give no answer, and can apply no remedy, because I do not know upon what principle any of your regulations have been framed ; indeed I do not know what your regulations are, and I have no means whatever of acquiring the necessary information. I hope that you will have sent off Hardinge, or somebody, immediately upon your return to Olivença on the 24th.

' I assure you that, if some effectual steps are not taken, the Portuguese force with this part of the army will be annihilated , and I can venture to take no steps till I can get here a staff officer who understands what has been done, upon what principle, and what is the regulation.

' Among other complaints which General Picton made this morning, one was of the absence of Mr. Robertson, the staff surgeon.

' I must report to Government the state of the Portuguese army. The ministers and the English public believe that we have 30,000 men for whom we pay, and half as many more supported by the Portuguese Government. I do not believe that I have here 11,000, or that you have 5000, and of the number many are not fit for service. There is really now no excuse for this inefficiency, excepting the want of order and regularity, which I cannot enforce without the assistance of some of the staff of the Portuguese army. The men have halted for nearly a month, they have nothing to do, and arc as well fed as our own soldiers.

' Believe me, &c.

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

' Villa Fermosa, 3Oth April, 1811

' I have received your letters of the 21st, 23d, and 24th, and I am concerned to say that I have not leisure to read the voluminous documents to which they relate. I shall read them, however, upon the first opportunity I have, and shall send you answers to them. I can only now say that the British Commissary General can have nothing to say to the Portuguese Commissariat, excepting under the arrangement of June, 1809.

' I have referred to Mr. Kennedy all the complaints respecting the officers of the British Commissariat.

' I wish that there were no complaints of wants from the Portuguese troops, but it is really a fact that I have not 11,000 men with this army.

' I cannot allow French prisoners to work at any works on our account. It is hard upon me that neither the British nor the Portuguese Government can or will take care of the prisoners taken by this army. I suppose, therefore, I must send them back to the enemy. I have written to England upon the subject, which is all I can do.

' The enemy have as yet made no movement, they are, however, very strong on the Agueda, particularly at Ciudad Rodrigo.

' I have unfortunately lost my keys, and many of your letters are locked up in my boxes. If you should want answers to any, you must send me duplicates.

' Believe me, &c.

' I enclose another anonymous letter received this day, which I think comes from the same person.'

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

' Villa Fermosa, 30th April, 1811,

' SIR .
' I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 21st instant, conveying the desire of the Portuguese Government that larger proportions of specie than have hitherto been paid into the military chest, should be paid in future, as a part of the army is in Spain under the command of Sir William Beresford.

' The Portuguese Government appear to forget that the British army are in Spain likewise ; and that four-fifths of the Portuguese army are supplied with provisions by the British Commissary: they have also omitted to notice that the Portuguese troops with this part of the army have not been paid since January last, in consequence of which, desertion begins to be very prevalent among them.

' In respect to the issue of paper or metal to the chest of the aids by the Commissary General, it is a matter of indifference in respect to the expense. If the Commissary General issues paper, he allows for the discount, and the Portuguese Government, I should imagine, are able to purchase the metal in the market as well as the Commissary General.

' The object of this request, therefore, appears to be to throw upon the British Commissariat trouble and responsibility which ought properly to belong to the Portuguese Treasury.

' But to demand metal from the British Commissariat, although the common, is not the most efficient mode of procuring specie to pay the armies, and provide for the demands upon the Government; some mode should be devised of collecting the taxes, particularly that upon the property of rich merchants, which has frequently been recommended by me, but hitherto without effect.

' I have the honor to be, &c.

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

' Villa Fermosa, 1st May, 1811.

' Having received intelligence from Lieut. General Sir Brent Spencer on the 27th April, two days after I addressed your Lordship last, that the enemy were increasing their force on the Agueda, I arrived here on the 28th.

' The enemy had, on the 23rd, attacked our piquets on the Azava, but were repulsed. Captains Dobbs and Campbell, of the 52nd, and Lieut. Eeles of the 95th regiment, distinguished themselves upon this occasion, in which the allied troops defended their post against very superior numbers of the enemy. Lieut. Prichard, 1st batt. 52nd regiment, and 17 soldiers, were wounded.

' The enemy repeated their attack upon our piquets on the Azava on the 27th, and were again repulsed; and this day again they reconnaitred the banks of this river with 8 squadrons of cavalry, and 3 battalions of infantry. They did not make any attempt to pass the river, nor did they attack the piquets upon the bridge of Marialva.

' They have collected a very large force at Ciudad Rodrigo. Marshal Massena, and the head quarters of the army, are at that place ; and it is generally reported in the country that they propose to raise the blockade of Almeida. I do not intend to allow them to relieve this place, unless I should be convinced that they have such a superiority of force as to render the result of a contest for this point doubtful.

' From all the accounts which I have received, I believe that they have still in that place provisions for the garrison, which is stated to consist of 1500 men, for one fortnight.

' The enemy may be stronger than they were when they were obliged to evacuate Portugal, and they may be reinforced

by detachments of troops, particularly the Guards, under the command of Marshal Bessieres; but still I feel confident that they have it not in their power to defeat the allied army in a general action; and I hope to be able to prevent them from relieving this place, unless they should bring the contest to that issue in a situation unfavorable to us.

' The river Agueda is not yet fordable for infantry, but is so for cavalry.

" Sir William Beresford has taken up the position which I had proposed for him in Estremadura, but I have not yet heard that he had re-established his bridge at Jurumenha,

' I have no late intelligence from Cadiz, or from the north ' of Spain..

' It has been frequently reported that King Joseph was about to quit Madrid; and I have always considered these reports to be so little founded, excepting in the wishes of those who circulated them, that I have omitted to communicate them to your Lordship. However, at last, I have reason to believe that there is some foundation for a report which I have received that King Joseph was to be at Valladolid, on his road . to France, on the 27th of April. The guerrillas are all active to intercept his progress, but he has with him a considerable escort, of 1000 French troops, and all the Spanish troops in his cause, called Juramentados.

' The departure of the King, whatever political effect it may have in Spain, will relieve the French from the necessity of taking care of his. person, and will increase their disposable force, particularly in the southern provinces. But if we should be able to obtain possession of Almeida, I hope to have it in my power to reinforce our troops in that quarter to such an extent as to render our operations, at least in Estremadura, free from risk, whatever may be the force which the enemy may be enabled by circumstances to assemble.

' I have the honor to be, &c.

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

' Villa Fermosa, 1st May, 1811.

' I have the honor to enclose the States of the army to the 15th of April,

' Although the number of sick on the Return is consider able, I have the satisfaction of informing your Lordship that the soldiers of the army are remarkably healthy, notwithstanding the fatigues which they have undergone in the last two months. Many of those returned sick absent, are recovered and on their road to join; or are at the depots at Lisbon or Coimbra, and waiting for an opportunity to join.

' I enclose a letter from Sir William Beresford, regarding the loss of horses by the 4th dragoons in the late service in Estremadura. Your Lordship will observe how few remain of the horses recently sent to that regiment from the 3rd dragoons.

' I am concerned to be obliged to report to your Lordship the very inefficient state of the Portuguese army. His Royal Highness's Ministers will have had under their view the complaints which had been made from time to time by Marshal Sir William Beresford and myself, of the want of provisions by the Portuguese troops while the army were in cantonments on the Rio Mayor river. These wants have produced the usual fatal effects. The twelve Portuguese regiments of infantry, five battalions of Cacadores, one battalion of the Lusitanian Legion, and two regiments of cavalry, which are with this part of the army, and which ought to amount to 21,800 rank and file, do not amount to 11,000 fit for duty. Some regiments which ought to have 1400 men, have only 300 for duty, others 400; and General Pack's brigade, which has always been distinguished on service, and of which the General has taken the utmost care, which ought to have 3400 rank and file, has only 1545, by a return sent me this day.

' The brigade of Portuguese cavalry, which ought to have 1000 rank and file, has only 400!

' I have not a late Return of the Portuguese army, by which I can show your Lordship the state of the whole; but I am certain that, including the garrisons of Elvas and Abrantes, there are not 20,000 rank and file present and fit for duty.

' I am sensible that there must always be a considerable difference in the number of men effective on the establishment, and those present for duty ; but when the Portuguese Government maintain an establishment of nearly 50,000 regular troops' which is nearly complete, it might be expected that more than half would be fit for duty ;yet the number is now reduced below 20,000.

' The expense of every man produced in the field, is therefore enormous; and the Portuguese Government is ruined by the failure to keep in order its own departments..

' Your Lordship is aware that I have frequently represented this subject to the Portuguese Government; and at last, I deem it proper to draw to it the attention of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent's Ministers.

' I have the honor to be, &c.

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