King's Own Royal Regiment Museum


Museum & Collections
Contact Us

17th Century
18th Century
19th Century
20th Century
First World War
Second World War
Actions & Movements
Battle Honours

Further Reading


Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 71

Dated: 30th March 1811. C.B. Porco Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts
Stamped on address fold ‘MY 2 1811’

My dearest Mary,

We are now resting, but I know not for how long a period in a small village named Porco, most agreeable indeed to the natives of the place, in a most beautiful valley under the high ground on which stands the city of Guarda, about 5 English miles distant, the French left that place yesterday and whenever their route is exactly ascertained we shall I imagine follow; most likely this day, for 24 hours is a long rest in our present state. They have not succeeded in burning Guarda although they had set it on fire, some people were too quick upon them, but they have left it in so filthy a state that it is impossible to describe – The people would actually bless us to bear witness to such nastiness. There are or rather have been some very charming houses in this valley, the property of rich people, the French have burned them all – The poor servants who were left in charge of these country residences had buried various articles of their masters’ property such as china & &tc – very valuable, in and about the gardens belonging to these places; but the cunning of the French was superior to this for whenever they observed and they took pretty good care to examine, the earth newly turned, they probed with thin ramrods, or other equally searching instruments until they discovered the hidden goods and which they could not carry away or did not want, they broke in a thousand pieces & left them for us. The horrid cruelties they committed are too shocking to relate but it is not by order of their officers – on the contrary I have been told by the French officers themselves that they are strictly forbidden to murder; but the burning of the Towns & &tc is an order of Massena. Whenever the Po (hole by seal - ?Portugese) catch any of these prisoners without an English sentry they wreak a bitter vengeance upon them. I have not heard from Paterson, but I imagine they will have enough to do in their neighbourhood – We are very hardly off for eating and drinking and are not likely to be better for some time –

We expect to move into Guarda but most likely shall not remain there more than a day, at least I suppose so for it is the worst ------ in the country and now perfectly deserted. The poor 4th had left behind on this march one hundred men – To you may seem a -------- we had been a little pushed out of Eight Hundred men we have only five hundred and twenty now at Porco. General Hay has this morning called to tell me we march tomorrow morning and I trust to God do not remain at Guarda but march through it, after a Corps of about 76000 French who are marching towards Belmonte. But I am afraid they have too much the start of us. I must now go and prepare my family for getting under weigh. Spare you my boys are full as troublesome to keep in any order as yours can be: I wish I would be so pleased as only to think and attend to our own instead of The King’s Own! – But that is ------ foolish and therefore I must do the best I can to attend to both

Do you make my best love to all my Friends. I hope I shall be finished ere very long to be among you. God Bless you, my best friend, I am always most affect ly yours C.B.

Porco 30th March 1811


i) Porco – does not appear on modern maps – may be too insignificant
ii) Guarda – now a substantial town in Beira Alta at the junction of the E80 and N18 highways and boasts a 3 star hotel
iii) 100 men – apparently he had left behind men who from sickness or other causes fell out – and presumably the deficit of 250 from 800 is since the pursuit began – some would no doubt be those left with fever – but the 4th had just had a rough road having been sent to climb the hills south of the Mondego in the vain hope of outflanking the French
iv) Gen Hay - Maj Gen Andrew Hay 1762 – 1814 commanded 3rd/1st at Corunna, a Brigade at Walcheren and died of wounds at Bayonne 1814 – at this time he was commanding the other Brigade inn 5th Div (3rd/1st, 1st/9th, 2nd/38th)
v) Corps of 76000 French: This seems likely to have been an over estimate: Massena had disposed of about 66000 at Busaco but had lost a large number through starvation facing the Lines. He brought about 48000 to Fuentes D’Onoro so if CB was talking of Massena’s Rearguard it was more likely to have been from 2000-10000
vi) Belmonte – a small town south of Guarda now on Highway N18 but the French move was probably towards Sabugal, where on 4/5 April 4 British Divisions attacked but owing to fog and to Major Gen Erskine who was temporarily commanding the Light Division and who lost his way, the French withdrew towards Ciudad Rodrigo


Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2015 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum