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 72

Dated: ? 1811. Date see Transcriber’s Notes. Near Nave de Aver Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Mrs Dacres 35 Margaret Street Cavendish Sq. Stamped on address fold ‘? 24 1811’

A whole day halt in a miserable village called Nave do Aver gives me time to address my dearest Mary. Here Ld Wellington’s Army continues still in close pursuit of the French, who are now almost out of Portugal. Two hours march carries us into Spain; we are but 4 leagues from Ciudad Rodrigo (about 12 English Miles or 15). It is reported that they have Thirty Thousand men on the banks of the Agueda a river that divides these two countries or nearly so – just to the North. They disputed the passage of the Coa and we had some loss. Theirs, however, was much more severe. The 5th Division were ordered to drive a Corps from their position, but this Corps made off as we advanced upon them. The 4th Regt have not yet fired a shot! I indeed thought that on that day we should have come in for our share of laurel; but the Enemy would not give us the opportunity, although they waited till we were within a few hundred paces from them.

What is hard to believe of us, we know not whether a second Spanish campaign or what else is difficult to fancy; we had two men made prisoners last night who straggled a little to the front in search of something to Eat and what is very provoking, one of the best musicians we have. I suppose tomorrow or the next day the Enemy will be off; if he does not choose to now I imagine he will receive a hint from D.W. similar to that he got at the Coa.

I understand Paterson’s part of the Army is besieging Badajoz but I am not sure. We also hear that Gen Graham has failed in some enterprise he undertook from Cadiz; at the same time I hear that Browne has covered himself with glory.

I am very anxious to know what people think of this campaign at home. We have now been upwards of one month constantly marching with very little respite & not too much to eat. A loaf of white bread sells here for nine shillings, you may imagine it is a rarity. Even the soldier gives only two/3 dollars he has in the world for this treat. Sir H.D. would give James all the military talk upon this concern. The troops chiefly employed have been the Light Division, that is the 52, 43, 95 & one Portugese Regt of Riflemen (Cacadores) these supported by the 3rd Division of the Army commanded by Picton. Out div (hole under seal) (the 5th) has had plenty of fatigues but no fighting.

I hear a mail is just arrived at head quarters from England if this is so I shall have your letter in a day, but I must send this to head quarters tonight. Probably we march tomorrow, we never get our orders until the middle of the night to march generally very early in the morning.

Our weather is very bad, cold and raining and most comfortless. I hope to hear by my next letter that poor Mrs Bevan is better but if she can bear the journey from you to London she must be considerable recovered.

I long to hear now our little Eleanor goes and all her brothers, not to say one word of another person. What has my Mother done about a house? I wish she was settled somewhere. It is very unpleasant to have one’s friends every year changing their mode of life. If we do not go with them I shall have plenty of idle time to keep up my correspondence in England at this moment, I mean upon the march, it is impossible to do any thing, one is worn out with fatigue before the account of the Troops. We are very short of shelter – I continue very well and shall not be coming to go to England – There is talk --- keep us replace between France and Russia and peace between England. All -?- fashion country. This is French news.

I hope your London Party are well – give my love to all and believe me Ever yours C.B.


i) Date – CB gives no date but the slightly obscured stamping on the envelope is most likely to be 24 April on arrival in England – That would put it between Letter 69 and Letter 70 i.e. between 27 March and 30 March. A later hand, perhaps the editor of the volume of typed letters has written on the first page in pencil “Betn Ap 22 and May 9th”, but in Letter 71 of 15 April CB writes of ‘nearly 6 weeks on the march’. Since in this letter he says ‘upwards of a month’ that should put this as about 21st March – and as letter 68A or after the battle of Sabugal (3 April) when 5th Div might have reached Nave do Aver turning North to Aldea del Obispo. Cowper has following movements of 1st/4th 20-25 Mar Moita, 29 Mar Celorico, 2 Apr Guarda, 3 Apr Sabugal, 9 April Aldea del Obispo, 2-11 May Concepcion, 11 May Barba del Puerco, 15 May – 6 Jun Nave do Aver. CB’s letters show 1st 4th – 16 Mar Marching 27 Mar Vinho 30 Mar Porco 15 April Aldea del Obispo 22 April ditto. The engagement on the Coa spoken of in this letter, with the 5th Div moving to attack the French must on reflection have been the Sabugal engagement so it seems to this transcriber most likely that this letter was written about 4 or 5 April, and thereafter 1st 4th moved to Aldea del Obispo wherefore it becomes Letter 70/1
ii) 5th Div confronting French on the Coa: this must have been the engagement at Sabugal on 3 April when the Light Division was unfortunately temporarily commanded by Erskine, who lost his way in fog fortunately the superior force he found in front of them had to withdraw as the French Right wing had retreated from the threat of 3rd & 5th Divisions
iii) Corps – CB often uses ‘Corps’ as ‘unit’ might be used today, and not necessarily as an Army Corps consisting of 2 or more divisions – though it was already so used e.g. at Waterloo
iv) Graham & Browne – General Sir Thomas Graham 1743 – 1843 had just won the battle of Barrosa on 5 March when Major F Browne, 28th won merit for his brave handling of a scratch Battalion of Flank companies who lead the way in a frontal attack
v) Sir H.D. not identified. Could this refer to Sir Huw Dalrymple of the Sintra Convention. Capt James Dacres RN, Mary’s brother, had married a Miss Dalrymple who might have been related to this General
vi) Light Division – 43rd & 52nd became the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Inf., later 1st Royal Greenjackets 95th became Rifle Brigade later 3rd R. Greenjackets
vii) Picton – Lieut Gen Sir Thomas Picton at this time commanded 3rd Div. He fell at Waterloo leading 5th Div in a charge
viii) Eleanor – CBs new daughter
ix) Peace – this very difficult passage, badly written – is probably another reflection of the fears, probably shared by CB that the Regent would substitute one of his Whig friends many of whom favoured peace with France (the Regent, to the surprise of many, did no such thing)
x) Mary’s address? The Money Hill address has been scratched out (probably there) and a London one at Margaret St substituted. Margaret St still exists off Cavendish Square.

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