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Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 76

Dated: 15 May 1811. CB Nave DAver Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts. Stamped on address fold JU 5 1811

My dearest Mary

Since I last wrote to you we have been marching and counter-marching so as to occupy all our time; on the 11 we had a skirmish with the garrison of Almeida on their retreat but were unfortunately a little too late to do more than what you will see by the Papers took place these events is a matter of great annoyance to us all As the Marching that Massena had experienced the day or two before would have puzzled him to account for his retreat The French, we believe, are divided; the General in Chief gone to Paris. Lord Wellington is again off to the Alentjo and has taken two divisions of the Army with him Genl Picton & General Houston. We are in a most miserable quarter; how long we are to stay God knows It is imagined that something important will take place near Badajoz before long, and on the event of what happens in that part, I suppose, depends our destiny. No change can be for the worse on point of quarters, and indeed situation for we are exposed to the cold at present and shall be equally so heat when the warm weather sets in: you would hardly believe that in the middle of May in this country we are surrounded by mountains covered with snow; and at all day raining and longing for fires; but so it is.

I am certainly not a little surprised that you was not lodged in Montague Square. But I hope you are or --- was in Margaret Street; most likely more so then you would have been in the other situation.

When I am to see you again the present crisis affords me But little hope to conjecture; there seems to no end to this war and especially in this part of the Continent. Unless the French Emperor chooses to send very numerous armies into Spain they can do nothing decided against Portugal. But it is --- to think of the possibilities of this move.

I (hole under seal) sorry to hear your account (hole -?of) Mr & Mrs M-. I assume these things will happen and cannot be prevented. I very much envy the domestick arrangements of William Adams, but he has a good ---- to suffer it; which some of his family have not. They are both in my estimation very (crickout??) people, and with whom I should on all accounts not wish to be on intimate terms: but my destiny does not point to comfort or to happiness just now; I must hope for a change of Fortune. You will say this is the old story so I will give you no more of it.

I am looking out for another packet from England as this wind has been favourable for access for these for some days past. I have not very lately heard from Paterson but I know he was well a few days ago. Will you, I pray, tell Mrs Shaw with my best love that we have been so much occupied and living in the field that I have had no time to write to any body but you, and as I conclude that you tell her all news concerning me I hope she will excuse my not having written to her. I shall take an early opportunity to do so. To my Mother and sister pray say the same thing. I conclude James is well on his way to Halifax, you did not tell me how he was to go. I should much like to see my little daughter in a suit of white ---- -----?

Poor little fellows; they will forget me. I hope your young lady continues to thrive as you wish. Tell Jemima I thank her for the mail of her letter You do not tell me that she is going to be married. I hope your Mother continues well Eleanor I imagine is at Money Hill pray give my best love to her, and write to Mrs Shaw. God Bless and protect you my best and dearest Mary

I am always yours C.B.
Nave DAver
In Portugal, unfortunately for us ? (sic)


i) This is a surprisingly muted account of the escape of the Almeida garrison, in which 4th suffered their first casualties since C.B. took over 2 killed, and 1 officer 10 wounded. No mention of any confrontation with the duke which some have suggested. It may be that he was unaware that Erskine had alleged that Bevan had lost his way, until the Dukes dispatch to Lord Liverpool was published in England and leaked back to Portugal
ii) Massena was certainly recalled by Napoleon and replaced by Marshal Marmont
iii) Wellington certainly had gone to the Alentjo (the Portugese district opposite Badajoz) Beresford had been too late to besiege as the French had reinforced, and had moved on 13 May to intercept Soult who was marching to relieve Badajoz. On 15 May Beresford arrived at Albuera with under 10000 British about 5/6000 Portugese and about 10000 Spanish (who hardly participated) and on 16th overcame Soult who suffered some 7000 casualties to Berefords under 6000. Wellington in taking Gen Thomas Picton of 3rd Div and William Houston with 7 Div was clearly preparing for the worst case.
iv) Montague Square CBs mothers house Margaret Street near Cavendish Square was where his previous letter was forwarded to, care of Mrs Dacres
v) William Adams mentioned briefly and not identified, in earlier 1808 letter. Probably a Dacres friend or relation. There was a secretary of Pitt of this name but there is no evidence of connection.
vi) Paterson CBs old friend and now in 2nd 28th, and married to Marys sister Eleanor who was at Money Hill
vii) James Halifax. Marys brother Capt James Dacres RN had just been given command of the former French Frigate Gueriere and was on his way to Halifax Nova Scotia which was RN HQ for America
viii) Mrs Shaw CBs cousin from whom he hoped for an inheritance

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