Collections - Letters
Letters of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan, 1804-1811.
Letter Number 79
Dated: 19 June 1811. CB Castelo Branco Addressed to Mrs C Bevan,
Money Hill, Nr Rickmansworth, Herts. Stamped on address fold ‘JY 18
My dearest Mary, I have just had the happiness to receive your letter of
the 20th May, and am glad to find that your Mother is on the return to
Money Hill, which place is now I can easily imagine a high Beauty – I
need not tell you I wish myself an inhabitant of that or any other place
with you and our Children, it is as unnecessary as it, alas! fruitless
to wish it.
We are now in this place expecting an order to proceed to cross the
Tagus & join the main body of the army. We hear many and various
reports, however it is certainly believed that Soult is advancing in
force what is to be the consequences of this it is not easy to judge,
most probably a general action – We have not yet got together the whole
of the force; I am afraid this reappearance of the French will give the
grumblers at home great pleasure --- But Lord Wellington knows how to
deal with them, and I have no doubt of a favourable issue. I have not
very lately heard from Paterson but hope now soon to see him; for I have
no very literate Friend in my new Corps and it is always a pleasure to
be with people with whom one can communicate without reserve.
I am sorry to have so bad an account of Colonel Dacres’s health but I
hope he will get better of this ?plethoria? habit. The other disorder
you allude to is from my own knowledge about distinguishing (illeg
The weather here begins to be indeed Toasting, it does not suit me so
well as the more temperate season. But I am very well.
Your continued good accounts of our dear little ones always give me much
pleasure; I hope they will always be to you a fount of comfort and of
happiness, I am sure they ought to be. I hear that another Mail is
arrived from England & therefore flatter myself with new letters; we
also hear that the Duke of York is Commander-in-Chief. I believe this
would give much satisfaction in the Army –What will the good folks at
home say to it?
I am very tired of this marching backwards and forwards – our men get
badly off for Shoes & it occupies one’s time to try and furnish new
articles of equipment. I say try because I cannot always succeed; I beg
you will give all my best love to all your family – I hope we shall at
last be rewarded by a successful action with the Enemy and the return to
our friends at home. Ah! Those dear dear friends!
God Bless you, my best Mary,
Always your own
Tell Charles I am glad to hear he is fond of his tutor
NOTES BY TRANSCRIBER
i) Castelo Branco – substantial town some 80k north of Portalegre, near
ii) Money Hill – house taken by Admiral Dacres & his wife on return from
his last posting in Jamaica in late 1809. There were also there three
unmarried daughters as well as Mary and Eleanor whose husbands were in
the Peninsula. There is now on the Uxbridge Road on the edge of
Rickmansworth, a ‘Money Hill Parade’ boasting a fish and chip shop, and
near by ‘Money Hill Cottages’.
iii) Tagus – cross towards Badajoz
iv) Soult – in fact after Albuera on 16 May Soult retired to lick
wounds, continuing with his siege of Castile. Of the many French
failures which contributed to their losing the war – apart from
Wellington’s superior skill – perhaps the most glaring was the lack of
central direction of effort; each Marshal fought his own campaign, so
that Soult had made little effort to assist Massena, either before
Torres Vedras or during his retreat. The French notionally had a single
Imperial Army facing which was Wellington with a much smaller British
Army, Portuguese who, now British led, trained and equipped were proving
good, a mass of effective guerrillas, Portugese & Spanish and a largely
ineffective Spanish army poorly officered. Soult came into his own in
the Pyranees, where although still overborne his efforts held up
Wellington and delayed the final surrender.
v) CB still gave Mary no hint of feeling about Erskine or Wellington or
of being unfairly treated although this was written within a month of
vi) Paterson – perhaps his looking forward to seeing Paterson was a cri
de Coeur, perhaps CB was experiencing the loneliness of command and
wanting to pour out pent-up emotion and anger – he had probably had this
command too early and although a dashing Regimental soldier was
emotionally immature. Duke of York – had been forced to resign as C in C
in 1809 – now the Regent insisted on bringing him back against the
wishes of his Tory Cabinet – he continued to have difficulties but they
remained close. Though cautious and conservative, he was generally seen
as a good administrator.
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