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Wellington's Dispatches
July 14th - 16th, 1812


General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to the Earl Bathurst - Secretary of State.

'Rueda, 14th July, 1812.

' I have but little to add to my official dispatch of this day. The determination of - - to land in Italy is a great disappointment to me. His arrival upon the Eastern coast at this moment, which would have been certain, would have relieved me effectually. He would have taken Tarragona, and most probably Valencia, and we should have made a glorious campaign of it altogether. His success in this Peninsula, or even his appearance here, would have had permanent good effects. I hope that he has decided right, and that he will be successful where he is going; but I cannot believe that the French will allow 15,000 British and Neapolitan troops to remain in Italy; and I am apprehensive that, however successful he may be at first, he will eventually be obliged to embark.

'Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to the Right Hon. Sir Henry Wellesley, K.B.

'Rueda, 15th July, 1812.

' SIR,
' I have had the honor of receiving your letter of the 2nd instant.

' I concur entirely with you respecting the expediency of General Ballesteros carrying on his operations at present on the side of Gibraltar.

' It is true that I at one time preferred that he should be in the Condado de Niebla; and I think it not improbable that occasions might occur in which it might be possible to concert an operation with more advantage between his corps and the allied troops in Estremadura if he were in the Condado de Niebla, than it is, his troops being in the neighbourhood of Gibraltar. But it must be observed that the great object of all, the safety of General Ballesteros's corps, is best provided for in his station near Gibraltar. From the activity of his operations likewise, and the greater scope there is for them from Gibraltar than from Niebla, I think it very doubtful whether they could be carried on with so much advantage from any station on the right of the Guadalquiver.

' From the information received of the strength of the French army of the South, and from the account which you transmitted in your letter of the 12th June of the nature of the enemy's works at Seville, I consider it quite certain that General Ballesteros could not gain possession of the Carthusian Convent, and he would have no chance of entering the city from the right of the Guadalquiver. All that we can expect from General Ballesteros is, that he should, by his operations, prevent as many of the enemy as he can from quitting Andalusia to carry their operations into Estremadura. They must maintain the blockade of Cadiz; they must have garrisons in Seville, and in their works on the Guadalete; and likewise one in Malaga, if General Ballesteros should remain where he is, and a corps of observation on his movements.

' I should hope that, after providing for those services, they would not have the power of detaching into Estremadura such a number as would overpower Lieut. General Sir Rowland Hill.

' An attack upon Seville is doubtless the operation in Andalusia which is most likely to have decided effect; but that should not be undertaken which the evidence before us proves cannot be accomplished. We must not lose in an undertaking of this description such a corps as that under the command of General Ballesteros; and if we cannot undertake that operation, of which the successful result would have the most decided effects, we must others, of which the success is more easily attainable, although the advantage to be derived will be smaller.

' These general principles will be perfectly understood; and I am convinced that General Ballesteros will do every thing in his power to prevent the enemy from detaching largely to Estremadura, particularly now that I have been obliged to order a detachment of Lieut. General Sir Rowland Hill's troops across the Tagus.

' I have the honor to be, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to the Right Hon. Sir Henry Wellesley, K.B.,

' Rueda' 15th July, 1812.

' I have received your letter of the 2nd; and I enclose one for Sir Edward Pellew, which I beg you to peruse and forward.

' Lord William's decision is fatal to the campaign, at least at present. If he should land any where in Italy, he will, as usual, be obliged to re-embark; and we shall have lost a golden opportunity here.

' I have an intercepted letter, stating that the King would collect 12,000 men, of which six regiments are cavalry.

' Castaños tells me he has ordered the Galician army to Benavente; but I have no account of it from Santocildes.

' I enclose my dispatch of yesterday.

' Ever yours most affectionately'

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to His Excellency Charles Stuart.

' Rueda, 15th July, 1812.

' I have just received your letter of the 8th, and I return the estimates for July. I have not yet heard of the money expected from England. Till it arrives I can give nothing.

' I shall be very much obliged to you if you will mention this subject to Lord Castlereagh, as I have to Lord Liverpool and Lord Bathurst. War cannot be carried on without money. We are to find money as we can, at the most economical rate of exchange, and then comes Lord William Bentinck to Gibraltar, and carries off four millions of dollars, giving one shilling for each more than we give; and after all, he sends his troops upon some scheme to some part of Italy, and not to the Eastern coast of the Peninsula, as ordered by Government, and arranged with me.

' I have never been in such distress as at present, and some serious misfortune must happen if the Government do not attend seriously to the subject, and adopt some measures to supply us regularly with money.

' The arrears and distresses of the Portuguese Government are a joke to ours, and if our credit were not better, we should certainly starve. As it is, if we do not find means of paying our bills for butchers, meat, there will be an end to the war at once.

' I have not leisure to go through the returns; but there never was any thing so fallacious as the statement of 45,000 militia in arms in March and April, or 20,000 at other times. The whole militia are now disbanded, excepting four battalions with Silveira, three battalions in Almeida, and about 4000 men in the garrison of Alentejo. I fully believe that the establishments would not amount to half the number of 25,000, and the effectives to be paid, not to one quarter of it. I shall speak to Sir William Beresford on the subject.

' Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Lieut. General Sir Thomas Graham, K.B.

' La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812.

' I enclose a letter from Admiral Martin, from which you will see that he was to send the Peterel to Oporto for your use on the 9th. I think it probable that that ship will have arrived before you will.

' Since my last Marmont has continued to reinforce his right to Toro, and at last, this morning, has moved every thing from opposite Pollos. I came here last night, and have not yet received the reports from Tordesillas. The enemy have continued to repair the bridge of Toro, and Marmont was there yesterday. Astorga is not taken, but I believe Santocildes is at Benavente. It is impossible to communicate with him excepting by a very circuitous route.

' Either the Galician army have induced Marmont to collect his troops near Toro, or he has heard that the King is collecting the army of the Centre at Madrid; and he threatens our left and our communications in order to prevent us from molesting the King. I should think that he would do the business more effectually by his left. But he would then leave the communication open between Santocildes and us.

' The King has ordered Drouet to cross the Tagus, and we thought some days ago that he was about to obey that order. But by a letter from Hill of the 12th, from Llerena, just received, I find they have sent to Zalamea three regiments of infantry and a small body of cavalry; the main body of the army having retired into Cordova.

' Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Lieut. General Sir R. Hill, K.B.

' La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812.

' I have just received your letter of the 12th, and I hope that, being convinced that the enemy were not carrying into execution the King's orders of the 23rd June, you will not have detached the troops, notwithstanding my orders of the 11th and 13th.

' I have this day got a letter from the King to Marmont of the 9th, in cipher, which I cannot entirely decipher; it appears, however, that he thinks that Drouet cannot cross the Tagus, and I suspect that he has ordered General Treillard to collect some troops in the valley of the Tagus, and to move up by Plasencia.

' I think it desirable, therefore, at all events, that General Campbell's Portuguese, and Colonel Byng's British brigades, and a brigade of Portuguese artillery, should move in the direction of Merida, and there remain. Let General Campbell put himself in communication with Colonel Diggens, who is at Plasencia with a regiment of Portuguese cavalry; and if he should find the enemy advancing in that direction, he is to move by Caceres or Alcantara (to order the bridge to be laid for himself), to cross the Tagus, and beat Treillard, if he is sufficiently strong; if he is not, he will retire before him on Castello Branco, and thence into the strong country between the Tagus and the Zezere: if he should retire beyond Castello Branco, he will order the bridge of Villa Velha to be taken up, and floated gradually down the river. Let General Campbell take Colonel Diggens under his orders, if he should cross the Tagus.

' I am not quite certain that Treillard will not cross the Tagus and join Drouet; but if that should be the case, General Campbell cannot be better placed than at Merida, neither can he be better placed than at Merida, if Drouet should carry into execution the King's orders of the 23rd June.

' Drouet cannot, at all events, cross the Guadiana by Medellin. It will be necessary that some of your cavalry should attend General Campbell's movement, but they need not stay with him, as he will find cavalry on the right of the Tagus. It may be a question whether you ought to stay so far forward as Llerena, when you shall send away General Campbell, of which you must be the best judge: of course, if Drouet should cross the Tagus, you will do as directed in my letter of the 11th July, and it will be particularly necessary to attend to that part of it which relates to the force to come to Caceres, in case of Treillard becoming part of the game with Drouet in the valley of the Tagus.

' Remember that the bridge of Alcantara takes time to be prepared for the passage of troops.

' Believe me, &c. ' WELLINGTON.

' Marmont has collected his troops about Toro, with what object I do not know; but we have rather drawn in our right.'

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Major General Clinton.

' La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812. 7 a.m.

' MY DEAR GENERAL,' The only alteration which I wish to make in your instructions, in consequence of the enemy's great movement to their right, and the movement which we made yesterday evening, is, that in case the enemy should cross the river at Toro, or the fords below Castro Nuño, you should move at once upon Fuente la Peña with the 6th division, and two regiments of General Le Marchant's brigade. I will order the 7th division to follow you as soon as the other troops from the right shall approach Alaejos.

' You should endeavor to get some peasants to watch what passes at the bridge of Toro at night, and desire Lieut. Shanahan to do the same.

' These movements of Marmont's are certainly intended to divert our attention from the army of the centre, which is collecting at Madrid; if he knows of this circumstance, which I doubt.

' I have a letter from - - of the 9th of June. He had sent the 1st division of the expedition to Minorca, and the 2nd division was about to go to Sardinia; but neither of them destined for the operations concerted on the Eastern coast of the Peninsula. He has determined in lieu thereof to try his fortune in Italy with 15,000 men, instead of 6000, which be was to send into Spain. I hope he will succeed; but I doubt it. There is no solid foundation for his plan. He has not even fixed the degrees of latitude for his operations, much less the place of his landing, nor arranged any of the circumstances which ought to be settled before such a service should be entered on. The French cannot have less than 15,000 men in Italy, and I fear that he will be obliged to re-embark.

' If he were again to alter his determination, and now to appear upon the coast of Spain, I believe the army of the Centre would do us but little harm; at the same time that he would succeed in his objects.

' Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Major General Clinton.

' La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812. ¼ before 9 A.M.

' Since I wrote to you I have heard from General Picton that the enemy have withdrawn entirely from opposite Pollos a very large body of cavalry in the morning early, and their infantry at about half-past seven, and marched in the direction of Toro.

' I am anxious to hear from you what movements they have made on their left.

' Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Major General Clinton'

' La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812. 6 P.M.

' General Picton has informed me at half-past nine, that the enemy had sent a battalion and a few cavalry out of the wood of Cubillas to the heights opposite his left.

' I have just now heard from General D'Urban, who commands about 800 or 900 Portuguese cavalry, which have hitherto been in the rear of the enemy; but thinking they could be more useful on this side of the Duero, I desired him to cross the river; and he is to be this night in the wood of El Piñero, which you will see in the map about a league south from Benialbo, and about the same distance east by north from Fuentes Preadas, on our left of the Val-de-finjas road. I wish you would communicate with him this night through Lieut. Shanahan. The officer at Val-de-finjas might also communicate with him.

' Let General D'Urban know that I wish him to be on our left of the Val-de-finjas road, observing the enemy's movements from the neighbourhood of Toro, and keeping his communication with Lieut. Shanahan and you. In case the enemy should cross the Duero, and he should be obliged to retire, he must join the 6th division on the Gareña. He must let you know beforehand if he should want provisions, and I will take care that he shall be supplied.

' From the accounts received by the officer who brought D'Urban's letter, I guess that the enemy are en masse between Toro and and the Palacio de Cubillas. They have nothing on their right of Toro, and nothing in the valleys in their rear.

' Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Major General Clinton.

La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812. Half-past 6 P.M.

' Since I wrote to you half an hour ago, I have received an intercepted letter, which makes it clear that the enemy propose to cross the Duero.

' I beg that you will communicate this night with the officer belonging to Don Carlos's corps at Villa Franca, in order to receive the earliest information of the enemy's movements on the Duero, whether at that ford, or at the bridge of Toro, where I think it certain that the enemy will cross.

' If you should move upon Fuente la Pena, send your baggage to Canizal.

'Believe me, &c.

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to Major General Clinton.

' La Nava del Rey, 16th July, 1812. 7 P.M.

' I have just now heard that the enemy have crossed the Duero at Toro in strength, and are in march upon Villa Buena. If you have not already moved, you should move immediately on Fuente la Penal

' I order the 1st division to march immediately; and the 7th must follow you as soon as the 1st shall cross the Timarrias.

' Believe me, &c.

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