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Item:  BSL - ROMANA-1810


2 page Autograph Letter Signed (ALS) - Peninsular War


At the death of the Marquis de la Romana, Wellington's most trusted partner in the Spanish Army, he said, "his loss is the greatest which the cause could sustain."



My dear Lord,

As Mr. D’Asanza has left his audience, I think it is important to insist upon the printing of the notes [instructions] in question, which will serve as a precursor to [introduction upon] his arrival in Spain. It would even be suitable to add these words separately and at the end.
Behold how luck always favors the Spanish who have played into their hands the last game of iniquities by the infamous Corsican [Napoleon]. His plans, his fox-like politics are no longer mysteries: if he could, the seas, the moon, the planets and even hell, would all be placed under his vile yoke. Peoples of Europe, and the rest of the world, open your eyes and give haste to purge the earth of the monster that condemned it.”
     If you find that this remark will be good, you can send it to Mr. Stuart so that he can pass it to the editor.

I am with the highest esteem your most faithful devoted.

                                            Marquis De la Romana



My dear Lord,

   Comme Mr. D’Asanza a eu son audience de congé, je crois qu’il est important de presser l’impression des notes en question qui serviront comme d’avants coureur à son arrivée en Espagne. Il conviendrait même d’ajouter à la fin et séparément ces mots.

   He aquí como la suerte siempre favorable a los españoles ha hecho caer en sus manos el último juego de iniquidades del infame corso. Sus designios, su vulpina política no es ya mas un misterio: si pudiera, los mares, la luna, los planetas y hasta el infierno, todo lo pondría bajo su vil yugo. Pueblos de la Europa, y de las demás partes del mundo, abrid los ojos y daos prisa en purgar la tierra del monstruo que la infernó.

   Si vous trouvez que cette apostrophe sera bien vous pourriez l’envoyer à M. Stuart pour la faire passer à l’éditeur.

   I am with the highest esteem your most faithful devoted.

                                                                      Marquis De la Romana

Spanish Translation by Arantza de Areilza, Dean, IE School of Arts & Humanities, Madrid, Spain
French translation by Leanne Lee, French Embassy Staff, New York


     Based upon other letters in the collection, it is likely, given the use of English and the term "Lord", that this letter is intended for Lord Wellington (at that point Viscount Wellington). While there were certainly other English Lords in Portugal and Spain at the time, the nature of this collection of Correspondence (to Sir Charles Stuart, British Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal), demonstrates that Wellington and Stuart often shared information and correspondence.
     It would seem that Monsieur D'Asanza (the Chevalier D'Asanza?) had recently received an audience at which he was given instructions to undertake a trip to Spain (this letter, from timeline and other correspondence, was likely written in Portugal along the border near Badajoz, possibly Elvas or Portalegre). It would seem that the Marquis was interested in having the instructions printed and sent as an introduction or sent ahead as an announcement. The suggested Spanish section is, we believe, La Romana's subtle way of saying that if Wellington and the British wanted to encourage the Spanish to rise up and fight against the infamous Corsican, they needed to say so in a more passionate Spanish style, rather than in a reserved British manner. It seems a delightful letter which shows the close relationship between Wellington, Stuart and de la Romana.
     As this letter was in Stuart's correspondence one would assume that Wellington did indeed find La Romana's "remarks" to be good and did forward it on to Stuart for insertion into the formal instructions (credentials?)
     Stuart knew De la Romana from his earlier diplomatic posting in Madrid, and then Seville, when Madrid fell in 1809. He was the liaison between British General Moore (July 1808 then with Wellington to February 1809), the Central Junta and Spanish military before he left Spain when he was replaced by John Hookam Frere as British Minister.

Page 1

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Biographical Note

October 2, 1761 – January 23, 1811)

     Pedro Caro y Sureda was a Mallorcan, whose adventures and bravery as a General in the Spanish army in the War of Spanish Independence gave him the gratitude of the Spanish monarchy and the trust of Wellington. Born at Palma de Mallorca to a family of Balearic nobility, La Romana received higher education in France at the École de la Trinité in Lyon, then at Salamanca University and also The Nobles Royal Seminary where he studied the humanities and languages which would particularly become of great use during his military service throughout Europe.

 Upon the death of his father, La Romana was awarded a commission in the Spanish Royal Navy by King Charles III. Like many Spanish officers of the Napoleonic era, La Romana began service in the American Revolutionary War and in 1783 participated in the re-conquest of Minorca from the British. In the final months of that war, he was assigned to the blockade and Battle of Gibraltar. Following the war La Romana resigned from the Navy and began travelling Europe. During this time, as a result of his cosmopolitan and polyglot talents, he was asked to conduct various diplomatic and intelligence missions.

In 1793 La Romana, rejoined the service of his country as a Colonel in the Cavalry and fought against Revolutionary France (Spain was aligned against France at this time) in the First Coalition. In 1802, he was named General Captain of Catalonia and Chief of Engineers Corps. By 1805 Spain had re-aligned itself with France and King Carlos IV, pressured by Napoleon, agreed to send veteran troops to support the Napoleonic army in Germany. The Marquis de La Romana was given the command of 9,000 Spanish troops, the “Division of the Northern” of the French Army. This division spent 1807 and early 1808 performing garrison duties in Hamburg and later Denmark under the command of Marshal Bernadotte (later King of Sweden). When the War of Spanish Independence broke out against the Napoleonic invasion and coronation of Napoleon’s brother Joseph as the putative King of Spain, the Marquis of La Romana and his division refused to swear an oath to the new King as he trusted neither Napoleon nor Joseph.

In a masterful escape of seismic proportion, La Romana contacted the British to assist in repatriating his entire division back to Spain. That 9,000 men of the 14,000-strong division were able to board British ships on August 27 and escape to Spain was chiefly the result of his subterfuge and resourcefulness.

La Romana and his men arrived in Santander on the Cantabrian front where he was appointed Commander of the Galician Army on November 11, 1808. This same day they entered battle with General Blake in overall command and his army was decimated. On November 26, La Romana assumed effective command of what remained of the army – 6,000 men all told. With this force he fought rearguard actions for British General Moore's retreat westwards to Corunna. Then, using his limited assets, La Romana, in coordination with British Colonel William Parker Carrol who had been seconded to the Spanish force, conducted several successful small scale attacks against the French in 1809. These attacks against outposts, supply lines and detachments of the enemy disrupted the French operations and they were able to overwhelm isolated garrisons such as Villafranca. Following the French defeat at Puente San Payo on June 6, Marshal Soult abandoned his attempts to re-establish French rule in Galicia. When Soult moved against the British on the Portuguese frontier, La Romana drove the French from Asturias as well.


"In May, 1809, the Marquis of Romana being in Oviedo with a handful of troops, having left his army in Galicia, Marshals Ney and Kellerman made a simultaneous attack on the Asturias, pushing forwards by forced marches, to surprise the Marquis in his weak position. On the night of the 17th May, the latter sent for Colonel Carrol, and informed him he had just received reports that Ney was advancing, but that no official statement had reached him. Colonel Carrol volunteered to march that night, and arriving at daylight at the town of Grado, found Marshal Ney in possession of the boats on the river, and his vanguard actually passing. He fell back to the bridge of Penafior, a very strong defile, commanded on each side by heights, and here, by ringing the alarm bells, he collected about 400 soldiers and one cannon and some armed peasants as a defensive force. Opposing himself to the immense superiority of the enemy, he defended the pass, directing and firing the cannon himself, till the ammunition was expended; giving the Marquis repeated reports of what was passing, that he might quit Oviedo and preserve himself for his army and his country. This defense Colonel Carrol continued during the greater part of the 18th May. The Colonel retreated to Gizon, and exerted himself in embarking stores on river boats until the evening of the 20th, when he himself embarked in an open boat, under the fire of a party of the enemy sent to take him. His escape was effected with the loss of all his baggage and equipage, which, with the town, fell into the hands of the enemy. Ney, in a letter which was later intercepted, said, “Romana has slipped through my fingers. By the greatest chance I have missed my blow: he embarked here (Gizon) to return to Galicia: I shall be soon after him.” Accordingly, on the 8th and 9th of June, the Marshal was as good as his word, and attacked the Spanish army at the bridge of St. Payo, close to Vigo. Colonel Carrol, with sixty British soldiers, stragglers from Sir John Moore's army, was with the Spaniards on this bridge, 300 miles from where he had so obstinately last contested with Ney. The friendship which had been cemented between the Marquis of Romana and Colonel Carrol was unhappily soon after this dissolved by the death of the former. Carrol had the melancholy office of superintending his funeral, and doing justice to his virtues, in an address to the Army of the Left."

[extracts from the Dictionary of National Biography]

It is the remarkable feat of repatriating 9,000 infantry from the Enemy Coast of Denmark, transporting them to the Cantabrian front, throwing them directly into battle and then, despite overwhelming odds, driving the French invaders out of Galicia and Asturias, that remains as one of the most legendary and heroic exploits in Spanish military history.

La Romana was appointed to the Central Junta on August 29 1809 and served until 1810. He then returned to military operations in coordination with Wellington but died suddenly on January 23, 1811 while preparing the relief of Badajoz. With Castaños, La Romana was the Spanish general most trusted and respected by Wellington. At news of his death, Wellington wrote, "his loss is the greatest which the cause could sustain." Colonel, later General William Parker Carrol was at La Romana’s funeral and delivered the British eulogy. He is survived today by the current Marquis of La Romana, Diego del Alcázar y Silvela, who is the steward of La Romana’s literary and artistic collections accumulated by this Patron of the Arts, diplomat, soldier, politician, and patriot.

Document Specifications:  A fine handwritten ALS letter signed by Marquis de la Romana (Commander of the Spanish Army and member of the Junta) without dateline or date, though likely late 1810 or early 1811. Unfolded letter measures 8¼" tall x 5" wide (208mm x 125mm). On one sheet of wove paper, unwatermarked, with general overall toning, heavier spotting or foxing at edges and some small through-spots in upper right first page, writing on two pages, all as shown. This is a rare handwritten letter by one of the most respected Spanish General Officers and heroes of the Spanish War of Independence, what the British call the Peninsular War. His untimely death in January of 1811 cut short a brilliant career and makes such war date letters all the more difficult to find. This is a singular opportunity to acquire an example of his hand and signature, written in three languages, and which would handsomely enhance and help anchor a collection of Peninsular War Letters.

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 Netherlands & France. The most important foreign diplomat of the Peninsular War, his archive of diplomatic, military and intelligence dispatches are second only to Wellington's Dispatches.

 Offered by Berryhill & Sturgeon, Ltd.

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