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Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 55

Dated: 19th October 1810 from CB Ceuta
Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts

My dearest Mary You will in all probability have heard the news I am going to communicate long before this letter arrives that is to say if it is due. We have just heard that the French effected a landing in Sicily during the night (I know not of what date). They were attacked the next morning by a small force under the orders of Gen Campbell and most completely defeated. Many Prisoners – The rest with difficulty regained their boats -- The 21st Regt commanded by Frederick Adams was chiefly engaged – so much for Sicilian news – From Portugal we hear that a division of Massena’s Army has been engaged with one of ours and obliged to retire with considerable loss, and that a general action is daily expected – so much for Portugal, & now for Gibraltar – the expedition I have mentioned to you under the command of Lord Blaney has most completely failed – My Lord a Prisoner, several Officers killed and wounded & prisoners, among the latter I greatly fear is poor Mullins who was Major of Brigade to Ld B. But I have not yet heard the particulars of how this ill-conceived and I fancy ill-conducted enterprise. It appears that the French General Sebastiani who commands that Province, and whose head quarters are at Grenada, only six and thirty hours march from Malaga, was perfectly aware of the Expedition, and took his measures accordingly. Our friends the Regt of Toledo which went from Ceuta I hear behaved very well. But I am sorry to say that this does not appear to have been the case with all the Troops –

I hope, my beloved that this letter will find you quite well and all your little ones – I shall not be at all at ease until I hear by the next packet news from you – I have every confidence that this will be good news, as I well know the affectionate attention you will receive from your Mother, and sisters and all around you – I wish to God I was one of that number – But alas! It does not fall to my lot to feel much happiness – However I ought not to complain and I will not. I have some things to be thankful for – as well as to be illeg (?)

I beg you will make my most affectionate regards to your Mother and to all your family – I hope very soon to see you and our dear little Boys – I expect Major Piper out here every day & then I have a right to expect a little leave of absence. May God Bless and protect you my dearest Mary and preserve you for the – of all your sons & their Father who is always yours

Ceuta 19th Oct


i) 21st – later Royal Scots Fusiliers, later still Royal Highland Fusiliers
ii) Massena’s Army – as CB surmised a general action was coming – The battle was fought at Busaco on 27 September 1810 – was this the ‘division of ours’ engagement, perhaps relating to the Light Divisions engagement at the start of the Battle – after which of course Wellington slipped away to his prepared Lines at Torres Vendras.
iii) Blaney (Blayney) – his expedition, see letters 52, 53, included 300 men of 89th (R. Irish Fusiliers) Regt of Toledo and a mixed bag of Poles, Germans etc. Blayney was surprised on the landing beaches where he and half of the 89th party were taken prisoner. Mullins was a friend from 28th Foot. It was customary for the ‘Major of Brigade’ to be a substantive Captain, as was CB when in that appointment with Edward Paget.
iv) Sebastiani, General Horace, later Marshal. 1772-1851 commanded IV Corps. Had fought at Talavera. Was to command cavalry in Russia. Became a politician – Minister of Foreign Affairs 1830-32. Ambassador in London 1835-40
v) Major Piper – Major John Piper became 2i/c 1st Bn 4th Foot to CB and wrote about CB’s death to Mary. Subsequently acted as C.O. 1st/4th, later as LieutenantColonel until wounded on the Nive – led with distinction at Badajoz, Salamanca and San Sebastian Gold Crosses.




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