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Collections - Letters

Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.

Letter Number 77

Dated: 28 May 1811. CB Nave D’Aver Addressed to Mrs C Bevan, Money Hill, Rickmansworth, Herts. Stamped on address fold ‘JU 13 1811’

My dearest Mary, I have had the happiness to receive your letters of the 29 April and 6th May, both giving good accounts of yourself and of our children; for which God be thanked. Since my last letter to you I have heard more particularly of the Fight under Marshal Beresford in the Alentjo – it was indeed a most desperate conflict but certainly most highly honourable to our troops. I have not heard from Paterson yet but expect to do so in a day or two. He is still happily to bear quite well. You will hear the backlog of all this before we do, at least the official report which we never see in this country till the arrival of the English papers. Badajoz is expected to fall very soon; what operations D.W. will then determine on, we are ignorant, probably he will besiege Ciudad Rodrigo where the French are reported to have about three thousand men. We still remain in the vile Nave D’Aver and are afraid we are likely to continue here till contrary decision has taken place in the South. You will have heard of poor Col Duckworth and the death of Sir W. Myers – I thank you for your politeness; often people in England do not do justice to the merit of Lord Wellington they deserve to be a province of France. This has nothing to do with the propriety or impropriety of sending a force to this country, as the Commander of that Force he has most admirable performed his duty – as to the remarks of Mr Burdette or his Cousin it is too contemptible even for them.

I am glad to find you dined with our Cousin in Westminster (?) I think. I have heard from my Mother who still claims to long for the Country. I think it is a pity there is not something finally determined upon, as it must be very uncomfortable to be always wavering on a point so essential to repose. From what you say in your letter I imagine that Colonel Paterson is coming out to Portugal; or am I mistaken – poor James, I know alas! by too constant experience how to feel for him. I, however hope he may return richer and as rich as when he left home. I could wish his Wife will be at her own house, when she is not with Lady D of whom (I mean the later) your account a good deal surprises me.

What a great satisfaction to her that Eleanor is with you; I do not know a person in the world of a kinder or such excellent disposition – She is above my praise.

With regard to a Spanish Campaign I should think if the French are to be employed in the North of Europe, we could not do better than rouse the Spaniards once more: if it be profitable!

I shall again write in a day or two. At present I have something to do in condescending (?) to equip our tattered garments & in case of another march; which we may always expect.

Oh My dear friend I hardly dare think when we are to meet again. But in the mean time that God may protect you & our Children is the constant prayer of your own C.B.

Nave D’Aver
28th May 1811


i) Location agrees with Cowper who lists this as 15 May – 6 June
ii) Written 17 days after the escape of the Almeida garrison. No complaint against Erskine (or the Duke) – certainly nothing to foreshadow CB’s suicide. Perhaps too soon for British papers to have arrived.
iii) Beresford – refers to battle of Albuera. General Viscount William Beresford 1764-1854, Marshal in Portugese Army 1809 to reorganise the British-led Portugese. Had been sent to besiege Badajoz but found it reinforced and moved to intercept Soult’s attempt to relieve it. With under 10,000 British plus about 7,000 Portugese (& large Spanish army) Beresford overcame Soult despite Spanish refusal to move forward towards the end; Beresford’s pessimistic draft was rejected by the Duke – “Write me down a Victory”. Marshal Soult was swept away with heavier casualties. But in the final campaign in the Pyranees Soult showed his mettle.
iv) Badajoz – CB’s expectations were not fulfilled – the summer siege in 1811 failed; it was not taken until June 1812 (when 4th were prominent)
v) Duckworth – Lieut Col George Duckworth 48th (Northants) killed leading his Regt on 16th May. Son of Adm Sir J., and married to daughter of Commissioner Fanshawe then of Plymouth (where no doubt friend of Mary’s father; later an Adm Fanshawe wrote a strong letter in defence of Bevan to British papers – probably this man)
vi) Myers – Sir William Myers Bart 7th Royal Fusiliers seriously wounded when leading his 1st Bn and the Fusilier Brigade (1st/7th. 2nd/7th.1st/23rd) – when they faltered, he sprang from his horse, seized a Colour and shouted “Follow me Fusiliers” and led a charge which arguably won the day
vii) Burdett – eccentric Whig MP who barricaded his Piccadilly mansion against a Speaker’s Warrant, in the face of Footguards, 16th Dragns and Life Guards (but a wily Constable climbed in a back window) and took him to the Tower). He was supported by the dashing Tom Cochrane who brought along a keg of gunpowder, with whom possibly the Dacres might have sympathised.
viii) My Cousin – no doubt Mrs Shaw from whom CB hoped to inherit. Westminster is a guess – the word is illegible but begins with W – she lived near Reading
ix) Colonel Paterson – although CB’s friend did become a Brevet Lt Col, it was not yet – and he was already there. Perhaps this was his father
x) Capt James Dacres RN was en route to America in his new Frigate and no doubt adding up prize money to come
xi) Lady D – no doubt Lady Dalrymple, James Dacres’ mother-in-law
xii) Tattered garment – all accounts agree that the troops generally at the end of the marches of the pursuit, lacked boots and trousers which were falling to pieces – condescend look a clear word but it may be other

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