Collections - Letters
Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.
Letter Number 73
Dated: 15th April 1811. CB Aldea de Bispo Addressed to Mrs C Bevan,
Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts. Stamped on address fold ‘MY ?11? 1811’
We have at length I believe finished our chase and have the great good
fortune to cast anchor in a Spanish district of a Portugese village; was
much that we have a roof over our heads and chairs and tables; to people
who have been nearly Six weeks living almost in the open air this little
comfort is, I assure you, felt very much. The name of our place of abode
is Aldea de Bispo (The village of the Bishop) We have been here for the
last two or three days very much ----- in blockading Almeida which is
about 5 miles from hence. Not daily however this morning given to
another diversion & we have some hopes of a little rest. Our men stayed
much in need of repose for we are 150 men short since we left Torres
Vedras – The French has left a garrison also at Ciudad Rodrigo; I
believe about 5 Thousand men: in Almeida about 1500 – both these places
Lord Wellington is this morning going into the Alentejo we hear to
superintend at the siege of Badajoz. Therefore we may expect not to move
till he returns. The French Army gave out that they are going to Russia
and in two years they will return and drive the English into the sea. In
the meantime they have lost many men and have been very roughly handled
wherever they came, on Coa last with our troops.
I am most especially glad to hear James has a Frigate and so good a
station – I hope his Wife is quite well and has presented her husband
with a boy? before his departure from home. I hear not a word more about
my Mother’s plan of moving to the Country is it given up? I am sorry to
hear poor Mr B ??? is so – an invalid. He is I imagine in the house by
Wainford Street and I shall write thanking him by the next opportunity.
--- (hole by seal) I have plenty to do I assure you, our people have
hardly any boots and --- and I am very certain I do not know where to
get them nearer than Lisbon.
I think (hole on crease of letter) they would send us home if --?war is
over (?), we have no business here. But God knows what is to become of
us. I am well - -- us.
I have not heard lately from Paterson. I imagine, like my self, he has
but little time for writing letters.
He has the advantage of being in a plentiful country while we are
wanting of everything. However that to me at least is no novelty
therefore I am patience itself.
The weather now is very hot 5 days ago it was the most excessive cold I
ever all felt with a continual fall of snow during a whole day. I am
very tired of this campaign. We are, to use a favourite expression of
yours poked away in a very bad Brigade. The sooner we are out of it, the
better for all parties – we have only 500 men here the rest sick.
I hope my little ones are all well and all very good and do not give
their Mother too much trouble to keep them in order. I expect to find
little Charles able to read like a man – pray tell him so with my love –
Tom I expect to find extremely impudent, Edward easily sharpest (but it
could be ‘stupid’) & the young lady exceedingly pert. What do you think
of my ideas? God Bless you my dearest Mary. I shall write again in a day
or two. Best love to my friends
I am always yours C.B.
Aldea de Bispo
15 April 1811
By the Bye you cannot think how pleased I was to find my wife can direct
her letters better than other people. I assure you it has paralyzed the
Drum Major to make out some officers directions & these letters go
through a variety of hands.
On the reverse flap:
Lieut Colonel Bevan
With the British Army
To Lieutenant Colonel Bevan
Lieut Colonel Bevan
Lieut Colonel Bevan
NOTES BY TRANSCRIBER
i) Aldea de/del/Bispo – now del Obispo is still a small but apparently
thriving village close to the ruins of Fort Concepcion, more or less
demolished by British Engineers on the British retreat in 1810. Also
close is a village Vale da Mula. Cowper shows 1st/4th at Aldea 9 April &
Fort Concepcion 2-11 May – but the two are 1-1˝ miles apart so the Bn
may have been split between them.
ii) Almeida – This town is still mostly within the walls of the original
Vauban-type fortress – it guards the main Northern route between
Portugal and Spain. In the Peninsula War it changed hands several times.
In 1811 Massena’s retreat left it isoloated and besieged – the 6th
Division were investing it with 5th Division (& CB 5 miles further east
near the Spanish border)
iii) Alentjo – the Portugese District running down the Spanish border to
and including Elvas – opposite Bedajoz.
iv) Ciudad Rodrigo – the Spanish fortress town on the same route – now
considerably larger than the original though the walls still exist. In
1811 it was for the moment Massena’s base until after Fuentes D’Onoro
v) Poor Mr B--- not identified
vi) Wainford Street – the name is not clear – there is a Wainford Close
in SW9, also Warneford Street in E9
vii) James – frigate: Mary’s brother Capt James Dacres RN had at last
got a ship – the Frigate Gueriere
viii) His Brigade – 4th were Brigaded with 2/44th & 2/30th – both
inexperienced Bns of undistinguished Regiments 1st 4th was clearly there
to give stiffening as a Battalion which had fought long and well in this
campaign. Indeed CB’s close regard for his old C.O. and patron Edward
Paget has always suggested that he would have gone to Paget for advice
if not for assistance in obtaining his Lieut Colonelcy – and if 28th had
no vacancy 4th could be seen his likely second choice. CB’s time as
Paget’s BM perhaps gave him ideas above his station
ix) The Drum Major – was clearly in charge of mail – CB was not
unnaturally pleased to be flattered by his Senior WO
x) Lieut Colonel Bevan – CB wrote his rank and name of three lines –
perhaps testing his pen or ink
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