Collections - Letters
Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.
Letter Number 76
Dated: 15 May 1811. CB Nave D’Aver 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
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.
In Portugal, unfortunately for us ? (sic)
NOTES BY TRANSCRIBER
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 o.rs 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 Duke’s dispatch to Lord Liverpool was published in England and
leaked back to Portugal
ii) Massena was certainly recalled by Napoleon and replaced by Marshal
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 – CB’s mother’s house Margaret Street near Cavendish
Square was where his previous letter was forwarded to, care of Mrs
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 – CB’s old friend and now in 2nd 28th, and married to
Mary’s sister Eleanor who was at Money Hill
vii) James Halifax. Mary’s 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 – CB’s cousin from whom he hoped for an inheritance
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