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Wellington's Dispatches
May 6 - 7, 1811


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

' Villa Fermosa, 6th May, 1811

' I have not been able to write to you for some days, as we have had the enemy in our front, and on the 3rd, and yesterday, we were very warmly, but partially engaged with them. They have a very superior body of cavalry in very good order, but we maintain our ground well, and they have as yet made no progress towards raising the blockade of Almeida.

' I have received your letter of the 2nd. If General Blake does not positively agree to every thing proposed in my memorandum, and does not promise to carry it strictly into execution, I think that you ought not to be in a hurry with the siege of Badajoz. I must finish this blockade in one way or other in the course of a few days.

'Believe me, &c.

' The enemy are still close to us. You will have heard that Joseph has quitted Madrid : one consequence of this will be to increase the disposable force of the French, by the number of troops constantly kept at Madrid as guards to his person. This circumstance is worthy of attention.'

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

' Villa Fermosa, 6th May, 1811.

' We have been so close to the enemy since the 1st, that I have not been able to write to you. We were warmly but partially engaged on the 3rd and yesterday; and the enemy are still close to us; but they have made no progress in raising the blockade. Their loss has been very great in both affairs. They have again got a very superior cavalry, owing to my having believed that the Visconde de Barbacena's brigade was something.

' I do not know well what to advise you respecting your seat in the Regency. The principle on which you accepted that situation was, that you might be useful to your own Government, and to the general cause of the allies; and I should not think that you ought to resign it without the permission of your own Government, if I had not received the other day the Prince's Carta Regia, in answer to my letter.

' In that he tells me that he shall write to inform the King that he shall dismiss Principal Souza from his situation, provided His Majesty will recall you from Lisbon, and that no objection is made to his calling Dom M. de Forjaz to his presence, to answer for the delays of which I complain ; which delays, by the by, he declares, in another part of the letter, that the Governors of the kingdom had proved to him never existed. It may be said that you have no occasion to be acquainted with the contents of this letter, but being acquainted with it, I think there is no doubt whatever that you cannot continue for a moment a member of the Regency. I also think that, sooner or later, the King's Ministers must consent to your withdrawing from the Regency; and as I do not see any advantage likely to result from your continuance, which will at all compensate for the loss of dignity in omitting to withdraw at the moment at which it may be supposed that you were aware of the Prince's objection to you, I should advise you to withdraw whenever your own feelings suggest to you that you ought to do so ; you are therefore at liberty, if you think proper, to withdraw," and to make any use you please of this communication.

' In respect to Dom M. de Forjaz, his loss will be irreparable ; and I think, from the contents of the Carta Regia to me, and the temper in which it is written, that the step which he proposes to take is the only one which can avert the storm ; and in my answer to the Prince, I shall take care to avoid saying any thing which can lead to a belief that I am at all acquainted with his intention to resign.

' I learn that you and I are to be appointed to distribute the £100,000 voted by Parliament to the Portuguese nation. Lord Liverpool desires that we should give in kind rather than in money, of which I also approve. The question is, in what kind ? And corn is, I fancy, now too late.

'Believe me, &c.

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

' Villa Fermosa, 7th May, 1811.

' SIR,
' I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 2nd instant, and I have to inform you that Mr. Dunmore has orders to pay the chest of the " Aids" the sum of 100,000 dollars recently received from Cadiz.

' It follows as a consequence of the arrangement of the 6th of March, for supplying with provisions the greatest part of the Portuguese army, that the sum paid monthly as subsidy must be diminished. Under that arrangement the expense of the provisions was to be deducted monthly from the amount of the subsidy. The expense of the British Commissariat has been increased in consequence of the arrangement, and of course it is possible to allot only a diminished proportion of the monthly receipts to the chest of the " Aids. "

' I see no mode, therefore, by which the distresses of the Portuguese Government can be effectually relieved, and they can be enabled to transmit to Sir William Beresford the money which he requires to pay for supplies in Spain, excepting only by the adoption of some of those measures so repeatedly recommended to them to increase their own resources.

' I have the honor to be, &c.

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

' Villa Fermosa, 7th May, 1811.

' I had the honor of receiving yesterday morning, by the messenger, your Lordship's letter of the 11th of April, to which I proceed to reply without loss of time.

' Your Lordship will have observed in my recent reports of the state of the Portuguese force, that their numbers are much reduced, and I do not know what measure to recommend which will have the effect of restoring them.

' All measures recommended to the existing Government in Portugal are either rejected, or are neglected, or are so executed as to be of no value whatever; and the countenance which the Prince Regent of Portugal has given to the Governors of the kingdom, who have uniformly manifested this spirit of opposition to every thing proposed for the increase of the resources of the Government., and the amelioration of their military system, must tend to aggravate these evils.

' The radical defect, both in Spain and Portugal, is want of money to carry on the ordinary operations of the Government, much more to defray the expenses of such a war as that in which we are engaged.

' The increase of the subsidy by Great Britain will have no direct effect in increasing the pecuniary means of the Portuguese Government, as the greatest part of the increase must necessarily be given in kind, and that which will be give will most probably be in lieu of what was irregularly plundered from the country heretofore.

'On all these accounts I have urged the Portuguese Government most earnestly to adopt every measure in their power to augment their own pecuniary resources, but hitherto without much effect. And yet until the amount of money at their command is increased, it will be impossible to apply an effectual remedy to the evils which have gradually and continue daily to decrease the numbers of the army.

' However, I am decidedly of opinion that if the British Government are determined to do no more in the Peninsula than to maintain themselves in Portugal, 30,000 effective British troops would be sufficient, to be aided by a reserve maintained in Great Britain or Ireland, and ready to sail at a moment's notice. But these troops ought to be effective; and I would beg to refer your Lordship to the first letter which I addressed to you upon the subject on the 14th of November, 1809.

' In respect to the second question which your Lordship has referred for my consideration, viz., the use to be made of our existing force in the present state of the Peninsula for active operations; I will inform your Lordship what plan I intended to follow under the existing instructions, and indeed, however they may be enlarged, something of the same kind must be done.

' The first object of our attention must be to regain Badajoz. This is very important, not only in respect to Portugal, but to the subsistence of Cadiz, the greatest part of which is, I understand, drawn from the Condado de Niebia. If Badajoz were not regained, it could not be expected the war could be maintained at all in the Condado de Niebia. The loss of Badajoz is also very important in reference to the safety of Portugal. The siege of Elvas might be opened immediately,

' Circumstances have enabled us to attempt to reduce Almeida by blockade, at the same time that we attempt to obtain possession of Badajoz by siege. A few days must bring the blockade to an issue ; but if I find that I can neither maintain it. nor bring the enemy to a general action on terms which I shall think advantageous, I shall have no scruple in giving it up; as I undertook it not as a part of a plan, but as the consequence of our preceding operations during Massena's retreat, upon finding by intercepted letters, and other intelligence, that the place was but ill supplied with provisions.

' If we should obtain possession of Badajoz, circumstances may render one or other of two lines of offensive operations expedient: viz., one directed to the south for the relief of Cadiz, remaining on the defensive in Beira; the other, supposing Almeida to have fallen by blockade, to undertake siege of Ciudad Rodrigo; or, if Almeida should not have by the blockade, to undertake the siege of both places; and afterwards to push on our operations into the heart of Spain, and open the communication with Valencia. This latter plan, if practicable, would relieve Cadiz and the south of Spain as soon, and as effectually, as the first mentioned.

' I consider myself authorized to undertake the first by the existing instructions: the instructions must be altered to enable me to undertake the second. Circumstances vary to such a degree in this extraordinary war, every day, that it is impossible for me to say which plan would be best, at the moment at which I should have it in my power to execute either.

' Just to give you a notion of the degree in which circumstances have altered within this last month, which ought to weigh in determining upon any of the operations which are now carrying on, or which must be carried on in future, I mention to you the detachment of a considerable body of Spanish troops under General Blake from Cadiz ; on the other hand, the removal of the King from Madrid, which will set at liberty a considerable force which always attended his person ; the junction with Massena of all the French cavalry in Old Castille, Leon, &c., while the army in Galicia, which was kept in check by this cavalry. still remain inactive. Then all plans would be overturned by the defeat of one of the Spanish corps which must co-operate with us; or by the refusal of the

Spanish Government to co-operate with us according to any plan founded on the reasonable system of security, on which alone I can venture to act under your Lordship's instructions.

'All plans of offensive operation would also of course be destroyed by the arrival in Spain of fresh reinforcements to the enemy's armies.

' From this statement your Lordship will see how difficult it is for me to lay down a plan of operations for the campaign. I have not yet received the consent of Castaños and Blake to the plan of co-operation which I proposed for the siege of Badajoz : and I have been obliged to write to Beresford to desire him to delay the siege till they shall positively promise to act as therein specified, or till I can go to him with a reinforcement from hence. All that I can say is, therefore, that I shall carry on offensive operations against the enemy as far as it may lie in my power, and as my instructions will allow me, on one or the other of the plans which I have above detailed to you, according to the best judgment which I may be able to form of the situation of affairs at the time

' It will be necessary that you should continue to reinforce us, and that you should send out to us particularly good horses for the cavalry and artillery.

' I earnestly recommend to you not to undertake any of the maritime operations on the coast of Spain upon which you have desired to have my opinion. Unless you should send a very large force, you would scarcely be able to effect a landing, and maintain the situation of which you might obtain possession. Then that large force would be unable to move, or to effect any object at all adequate to the expense or to the expectation which would be formed from its strength, owing to the want of those equipments and supplies in which an army landed from its ships must be deficient.

' It is in vain to hope for any assistance even in this way, much less military assistance to such expeditions, from the Spaniards. The first thing they would require uniformly would be money ; then arms, ammunition, clothing of all descriptions, provisions, forage, horses, means of transport, and every thing which your expedition would have a right to require from them ; and after all, this extraordinary and perverse people would scarcely allow the commander of your expedition to have a voice in the decision on the plan of operations to be followed, when the whole should be ready to undertake one.

' Depend upon it that Portugal should be the foundation of all your operations in the Peninsula, of whatever nature they may be; upon which point I have never altered my opinion. If they are to be offeoffensivessive, and Spain is to be the theatre of them, your commanders must be in a situation to be entirely independent of all Spanish authorities, by which means alone they will be enabled to draw some resources from the country, and some assistance from the Spanish armies.

' While writing upon this subject, I may as well reply to your Lordship's official dispatch of the 11th ; No. 19.

' Of course all operations of an offensive nature must cease if the battalions, mentioned in the memorandum enclosed in that dispatch, are sent home before they shall be The plan which I would propose would be,—

' First; to draft the seven battalions of the Legion into the three others, and send home the officers and non commissioned officers of the seven line battalions.
' Secondly; to form into six companies the 2nd battalions of the 24th, 31st, 38th, 42nd, 53rd, 58th, and 66th, and to send home to recruit, or to form the recruits, the officers and non commissioned officers of the four companies drafted.
' Thirdly ; to send home entirely the 2nd battalions of the 24th, 53rd, and 66th, as soon as they shall be relieved; although, by the by, the last two are two of the best 2nd battalions we have.

' According to this plan we should reduce in some degree our expense in this country. We should keep here officers inured to the climate, and accustomed to the service; at the same time that we should send to England officers and non commissioned officers to raise and train recruits. Indeed it would be desirable if I were authorised from time to time to incorporate the ten companies of a regiment into eight or six companies, according to their numbers, and to send home to recruit, or train recruits, the officers and non commissioned others of the drafted companies.

' Believe me, &c.

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