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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 1811’

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 medical term?)

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


i) Castelo Branco – substantial town some 80k north of Portalegre, near Spanish border
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 his suicide
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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