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Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 30

Dated: 26 March 1810 from CB Ceuta
Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts

From the contents of my last letter, my dearest Mary, you will not be surprised at the date of this letter; we arrived here but days ago and after much objection on the part of the Spanish Governor, or rather on the part of some people here, styling themselves the Junta. The 4th Regiment marched into the Citadel, from which I hoist the English Flag we’ll never cease to fly. They are exceedingly jealous and very distrustful; doubling even the number of men we have landed, which was by them strictly limited to 800, and which we have not exceeded; we have a few artillery and some additional gunners – Captain Heywood of the Nerine (or Heroine?) Frigate, a very choice man had much to say in softening down the objecting made by our Friends! Of whom I have a more detestable opinion than ever. This place is itself far preferable to Gibraltar and to me as well as my Regt particularly clear airs. – I can lock them in the Citadel whenever I please and there are plenty of grounds for exercise etc etc The mens barracks the best I ever saw. There are hardly any quarters for Officers. We have none yet and are all day long employed in getting our Baggage provisions etc etc to the Citadel which is on the top of a very high and steep hill or a mountain. That work was too severe for our men and I have succeeded in getting the slaves or convicts who are sent here from various parts of Spain, chained together, very much looking like Don Quixote’s Fiends for this purpose. You may suppose we are all in confusion. Not a cart or Mule in the place – No Fuel to cook the men’s dinner – In short I am occupied from night to morning in Husbandry and from morning till night in this quest of a nature not very amusing – The -?- of our Quartermaster fall very heavy on my shoulders. In a fortnight I hope we shall be settled. It is now half past six in the morning – I got up on purpose to write to you, for if I once go out of my appartment (which is a neat one) I am called upon by one horror or the other all day – having the honour to command all the troops in the Citadel which are here – and we also own a Regt 50 Royal Veterans, sad fellows, and six Artillery men. Write and tell Mrs Shaw how relieved I am Which confines my letter to yourself.

The place is full of Spanish refugees from the Continent. Some Grandees of the first Rank in Spain – The Duke of Medina Celi and his duchess – The very bluest blood. Oh! – and with a face was never seen of the contemptible whelps (?) and s----- animals (sure it is the most so – The duke of Osuna whose description I gave you in another letter, is an Apollo compared. Where some of the Spanish young Ladies are pretty but dirty – at least I always think so. Knowing that and ------- in their houses – The new Governor held a levee last night which we attended, that is to say the General, his staff and myself. I could not be off as I had dined with him and some of the ladies early and you are obliged to be tortured with the noise and then express your admiration at their excellence – But this however, happens in our own country. – Could I speak Spanish it would be pleasanter or less disagreeable – but to go with a circle of fifty women to be gaped at like a wild beast is horrible. I have not yet been to any of their private parties but they keep on much to visit them which for many reasons we must do, as it is very necessary to keep them in good humour -- and I fancy the Ladies have a good deal to say in Spain – I suppose by this time the French are in possession of all Spain but Cadiz.

I hope our dear Boys and you my dear Mary, are quite, quite well – Now do I rejoice you are in England – you would grieve to see the alteration to little Tom Mullins even in this early part of their (tour). What will he be after a Gibraltar summer. I hope I shall be with you ere long – I am writing in great haste If you be out money before I can send you some home there is 400 in Hoare’s at your disposal. I hope your Mother and father are all quite well – When is Paterson’s Majority formal –
God Bless you
Ever yours C.B.


i) Ceuta – Spanish possession in N. Africa. Spain was in alliance with Britain – most of Spain was occupied by France save besieged Cadiz
ii) Gibraltar – C.B. had considerable experience of Gibraltar, having served there as Ensign & Lieutenant for four years before purchasing his Captaincy in 28th Foot in 1800. His last two years were as ADC to Lieut Gen Grinfield
iii) Quartermaster – the QM of 2nd Bn 4th Ft had been with those captured by the French after shipwreck in Biscay on the passage from England
iv) Mrs Shaw – the cousin who eventually bequeathed her house to the children of C.B.
v) Dike of Medina Sidona – premier Duke in Spain – a predecessor had commanded the Armada. Medina Celi not explained. Osuna – town in Spain near Medina and Cadiz – from the siege of which these two were no doubt refugees
vi) General – General Frazer – not yet identified – GOC British Ceuta which had presumably been occupied to forestall a move there by the French which could have increased the French Naval threat to Gibraltar and British command of the Straits
vii) Mullins – Capt Mullins had been a friend in 28th whose wife Mary knew. Mrs Mullins accompanied her husband to Gibraltar when the 1st Bn 28th went there in Jan 1810 en route to Tarifa. Mullins was killed at Barrosa
viii) Hoares – Presumably Hoare’s Bank


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