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Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 60

Dated: 9th January 1811. C.B. Lisbon Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts
Stamped on address front ‘Lisbon’ ‘Foreign 30 Jan 1811’

My dearest Mary After fifteen days passage from Gibraltar we anchored in the Tagus, when to our most unspeakable mortification we were put under Quarantine where we remained eleven days, every hour expecting release; I came on shore last night and have been the whole of this morning occupied in arranging and in attending the funeral of poor Colonel Wynch; his death was very sudden, in consequence of very violent fever. He had succeeded to the command of one of the Light Brigades of the army, in perfect health, happiness and good spirits, expecting every day to be confirmed as Brigadier, he was the Colonel on the staff; not quite so good a thing as to pay but in all other the same; Lord Wellington had given him this command and in the General flattering manner and such is the end of the hopes of man – I have not nor do I expect to see Paterson, but I have seen some of the 28th who tell me he is perfectly well and they never saw him so fat. He is on the other side of the river – This army is, I understand, is expecting strong reinforcements from home. People say that the ?cause is his faulty intelligence. The moment I can procure some animal to carry my Baggage and another to carry myself I am off for Torres Vedras where the Battalion now is – a vast number of them are sick in Lisbon but I believe we can muster five or six hundred: and that is I imagine in this army a strong Regiment. I am afraid to equip myself for this service I must be obliged to draw on Hoares. I will therefore thank you to prepare them for such an occurrence should I be compelled to do so – for nothing but compulsion or rather absolute necessity shall make me do so – I hope you received the Bill for 192 that I sent home. I also hope that you are perfectly well with our little daughter and our tribe – I am perfectly well - a little bothered just now with the old complaint poverty: but patienza per forza, every beast of every description sells here for ten times its value – and I heard that the marches are very harassing and very sudden; it is therefore necessary to be prepared and not to be penny wise & pound foolish. Lord Wellington is at Cartaxo – a short distance from the Enemy. Torres Vedras is about 30 miles from hence – Roads almost unpassable in some parts of the country.

Of all the voyages I ever made the last was the most uncomfortable; we expected to be three days on board and had prepared accordingly as we were obliged to pay eleven pounds each for the favour of having all – Whatever money I am obliged to draw for on Hoare I shall consider as a debt to you & repay it as soon as I can – after the first expense, we should get on fairly well – I am worse off for creatures? than for any other thing for I shall get some here, I understand. The part of the country between our Lines and those of the French is perfectly devastation; this Town is crowded with all sorts of people; refugees from Spain and Portugal. The French army has lately been reinforced and threatening some problems – but the opinion is that an attack on our Lines is out of the question –

Pray give my best love to Mrs Shaw I will write to her as soon as to Torres Vedras. To my Mother and sisters and to your (hole by seal) ... very many thanks for the (more holes)

Direct your letters:
Lt Col Bevan
4th Regt
British Army
X Via Falmouth
X or wherever the Packet sails from/when you write by the Packet.

I am now going to an old friend of the 28th who tells me he knows of a (sic-an omission) that will suit me; and will also show me where I can find the necessary things at a cheap rate – This is a good friend is he not? I hope you will receive this letter very promptly as it goes by a very lucky opportunity – the Adjutant General – You will now hear regularly from me –

God Bless you my best friend – I am only yours C.B.
Lisbon 9 Jany
Do not forget to write to Hoares


i) Quarantine – because of fever at Gibraltar, his embarkation point after Ceuta
ii) Wynch – Had been C.O. 1st Bn 4th & C.B. had been awaiting his promised promotion, to succeed him in 1st Bn
iii) Paterson – CBs old friend in 28th, now married to Mary’s sister, whereby he had become fat
iv) Torres Vedras: 4th Ft after short stays in several locations in the Lines, were now at the town which gave its name to the whole defensive complex. The town is at the Atlantic end of the foremost line; on the hill above is the last major fort, San Vicente. Inland is Monte Agraca where 4th had briefly stayed
v) ... faulty intelligence = this passage is difficult to read and this version may well be wrong – especially as Wellington’s intelligence was seldom wrong, and certainly was correct about this phase, and about Massena’s moves
vi) Expenses – interesting to contrast these passages with CB’s letters as a Major in 1808 when he evidently saw all his troubles ending if only he could get promoted
vii) Hoare – Hoares Bank
viii) Attack on the Lines unlikely: certainly Massena, after a few small probing ventures evidently saw these positions as too strong
ix) Mrs Shaw – CB’s cousin from whom he hoped to inherit
x) Adjutant General – CB had been an ADC for 3 years in Gibraltar, and BM to Edward Paget for over 4 years – and he never lost the habit of cosying up to useful contacts



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