FROM THE BERRYHILL & STURGEON
NAPOLEONIC & PENINSULAR WAR ARCHIVES

FIELD MARSHAL GENERAL WILLIAM CARR BERESFORD,
COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE PORTUGUESE FORCES

VISCOUNT BERESFORD, BARON OF ALBUERA,
COUNT OF TRANSCOSO, MARQUIS OF CAMPO MAIOR, GCB GCH
SIX PAGE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED (ALS)

DATELINE: LEIRIA 3 OCTOBER 1810


 
BERESFORD REPORTS TO CHARLES STUART, BRITIAN'S DIPLOMATIC EMISSARY IN LISBON, ON THE GLORIOUS VICTORY AT BUҪACO & THE YET THE PENDING FEAR OF MASSENA'S ADVANCE AND THE PLANS FOR EMBARKATION

"I learn that the accounts of our success over the Enemy at Buçaco
has considerably elated the feelings & imaginations of the Lisbon People
"

"You will have heard of the good countenance of the
Portuguese Troops in the business of Buçaco
"

"tho! I am convinced there will be no necessity for emigration
yet I can not help feeling for those that have to fear it"

"The Count d’Alva it is quite useless arguing with, and I have this day
again had a long conversation with the Count of Lumiares"

"It is I think one of the most extraordinary enterprises known in modern times, He [Massena] has given up all his communications and leaves not even a rear guard, so that the country between Almeida & Coimbra has no other trace of an Enemy than the devastation he has occasioned."


 



Marshal General William Carr Beresford to Charles Stuart:
This is a beautiful, extensive, handwritten letter by the Field Marshall of the Portuguese Forces as he shares the "glorious" victory at Buçaco (English Bussaco) and attempts to counterbalance the gnawing fear of defeat and a rushed embarkation from Lisbon coming from both his staff officers and the fidalgos (Portuguese hidalgos).

A nice opening reference to the glorious victory at Buçaco and some closing remarks upon the foolishness of Massena to have permitted himself to be cut off from Spain's supplies, communications and reinforcements. This proved to be prophetic as on November 15, 1810, Massena was forced to withdraw from the Lines of Torres Vedras as they had insufficient supplies once they had pillaged and foraged all available supplies from the land in front of the British defensive lines. Interesting side commentaries on the state of Coimbra and the French advance guard.

 

       

    

Six page handwritten and signed letter

 

TRANSCRIPTION

Leiria 3rd October 1810



My dear Sir -
    
In correspondence I am, I believe, a good deal in your debt but I am sure that, with you, the Circumstances of Bustle etc in which we have of late been so constantly will plead my excuse. I learn that the accounts of our success over the Enemy at Buçaco has considerably elated the feelings & imaginations of the Lisbon People, perhaps more than it need to have done tho! In truth it has been to us not less and full than glorious, and I hope the Lisbonites will not be much cast down on hearing of the after advance of the Enemy, and our retiring towards them. You will have heard of the good countenance of the Portuguese Troops in the business of Buçaco and I will not therefore repeat what you already must have heard.
     I have for some time past wished to answer more of your letters on the subject of the embarkation of those that wish to emigrate at least as far as it related to those of my family who have that inclination. In respect to all others tho! I think my opinion equally applicable to them, yet I have no business to meddle myself in what does not immediately concern me, but I am sure in the regulations & arrangements what they may, if the People & families to go are not embarked previous to the decision between the two armies should the result be unfortunate to us, few of them would be embarked at all, and the whole would be one scene of confusion. I am therefore sending Arbuthnot to Lisbon to endeavour to make some arrangements for those families of any staff who are determined to go away, and I can not but wish they should be embarked as soon as the French approach our position and if that is not conformable to the General Regulations, to which every individual must submit, at least that they should leave Lisbon for some place down the river and near the vessels on which they are to embark. I have done every thing I could to persuade them not to emigrate, tho! I think that may be a thing of necessity to my Adjutant General & Military Secretary, certainly to the former. The Count d’Alva it is quite useless arguing with, and I have this day again had a long conversation with the Count of Lumiares pointing out to him that at least he ought by all means to persuade his mother (to whom personally belongs the greatest part of the Property of the Family) and his Uncle who is married to her to stay, they can fear nothing beyond the loss of their Property, and which their going away will absolutely insure. I think it quite insanity in those two going, as he has never taken any part Military or Civil, and they will scarcely inquire into his desires. Then would I mean to let the married men of my Family go into Town in a day or two, that they may be enabled to make some little arrangements Respecting their Families, and be back to me before any action takes place tho! They will all of course call upon you, yet to save you trouble I send Arbuthnot to make what arrangements can be made for them, and I will feel particularly obliged to you for what assistance you can give in the business. This is a melancholy subject & tho! I am convinced there will be no necessity for emigration yet I can not help feeling for those that have to fear it.
     Yesterday morning the Enemy had not advanced from Coimbra, indeed his advance guard had rather fallen back, as a Patrol of ours not find it in the Place it had been in the preceding night. I suppose he must want some aid and some arrangement after his march, this possible from Almeida. It is I think one of the most extraordinary enterprises known in modern times, He has given up all his communications and leaves not even a rear guard, so that the country between Almeida & Coimbra has no other trace of an Enemy than the devastation he has occasioned. I can not comprehend how he can long exist under such circumstances, I am sure we could not, it is quite indifferent to him (Massena) whether he is on the mountains, in the plains, or in Cities, every place is to him a desert, there is not about - stays. I do not think 20 People stayed in Coimbra & at this time the Inhabitants of this town have everyone abandoned their houses, not even a servant remaining. I must ere very long to have the pleasure of seeing after our works & Labours are well over. Lord Wellington is in Excellent Health & spirits which I very sincerely hope he will long enjoy.  Believe me to be my own dear Sir



      
Yours most Sincerely,
                          W. C. Beresford


To His Excellency Charles Stuart

 
 

 

Document Specifications:  An extremely very fine six page letter written and signed (ALS) by William Carr Beresford as Commander in Chief of the Portuguese Army. DATELINE: Leiria - October 3rd 1810. Folded letter page measures 9⅜" tall x 7½" wide (240mm x 193mm). On one bifolium sheet (forming four pages) and an unattached single sheet (written both sides) of heavy cream stock, batonne laid paper, watermarked "Fleur-de-Lis on shield under Crown with Script HEG", minor edge toning along bottom right corner, not affecting any writing, normal letter folds. Writing on six pages as shown.

This is a beautiful, extensive, handwritten letter by the Field Marshall of the Portuguese Forces as he attempts to counterbalance the gnawing fear of defeat and a rushed embarkation from Lisbon coming from both his staff officers and fidalgos. An excellent example of the hand and signature of Marshall William Carr Beresford. Beresford's war date autograph letters are considerably more scarce than Wellington's in the marketplace.

From the Sir Charles Stuart, Lord Rothesay Correspondence. Stuart was His Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal during the greater part of the Peninsular War (10 January 1810 to 26 May 1814). He was a personal friend and confidante of Wellington and Nelson, a sitting member of the Portuguese Regency (the only British Subject in the war ever permitted to hold an official position in a foreign government while also representing Britain), and later ambassador to The Netherlands, Russia & France. The most important British diplomat of the Peninsular War, his archive of diplomatic, military and intelligence dispatches are second only to Wellington's Dispatches.

 



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