Price: $2,950
BSL Item: 1812-Wellington-Sado Canal Letter



 

 BERRYHILL & STURGEON, LTD.
NAPOLEONIC AND PENINSULAR WAR ARCHIVES

 

DUKE OF WELLINGTON PENINSULAR WAR-DATE LETTER SIGNED (ALS)
MARCH 1st 1812 AT FRENEDA


WELLINGTON WRITES TO HIS FRIEND AND POLITICAL ALLY, SIR CHARLES STUART, LORD ROTHESAY TO OPPOSE A PLAN TO BUILD A CANAL FROM THE SADO RIVER AND PORT OF SETÚBAL ACROSS THE LOWER TAGUS PENINSULA AND JOINING TO THE TAGUS; HIS REASONS ARE BOTH STRATEGIC AND ECONOMIC. A NICE ENGINEERING RELATED LETTER FROM THE PENINSULAR WAR.

THIS DOCUMENTS IS COVERED BY OUR WRITTEN, SIGNED AND SEALED
LIFETIME GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY

  
Wellington ALS

Transcription:
                                    Freneda March 1st 1812

My Dear Sir

     I have perused the paper which you transmitted to me in your letter dated the 27th Ult(imo), & I have reviewed the plan of the proposed Canal from the Sado to the Tagus.

     The proposed Canal cannot effect in one way or another the Military Works on the Heights of Alhandra & on the left of the Lower Tagus.

     Adverting to the Nature of the War in which we are engaged, it may be a question how for it is expedient to establish a Communication by Water, of which the Enemy will have the Command between the Port of Setival [
Setúbal] & the Tagus; and to give the Enemy the Command of such a Resource, as that Canal would give him for the Transport of Stores & Provisions for the attack of the Works [the Lines of Torres Vedras] erected for the defence of Lisbon.

     It does not appear to me at all probable that the Canal would be of much use for the defence of Lisbon; as the Line [Lines of Torres Vedras] is very long, & the Right Flank by no means strong; & whether it could be occupied or not would depend upon the relative force of the attacking & defending troops. It would be useful to the Army, if it could maintain itself on the frontier.

     I say nothing about the expense of the Undertaking or of the expressing of answering it at present, when the Gov't are unable to defray the Expense of their Army; because such observations are useless.


Ever Yours' most Sincerely Wellington



[to] Sir Charles Stuart, Esq

 

 

NOTES

     This handwritten and autograph signed letter by Wellington is addressed to Sir Charles Stuart, Lord Rothesay, K.G.C.B.(1779-1845), British statesman and one of the ablest diplomats of his day, the body of the letter is in his own hand, scarce as such as most of Wellington's letters and dispatches were written by his military secretaries and clerks and only signed by him or a Letter Signed LS.

This autograph letter signed (ALS) by Wellington was written from Freneda which lies between the Portuguese fortress town of Almeida and the Spanish fortress city of Ciudad Rodrigo, near to the Coa River. Wellington's aide de camp, William of Orange, the Crown Prince of the Netherlands, described Freneda in one of his own 1812 letters as "Freneda - miserable village near Almeida". Freneda was Wellington's Headquarters at this time. He was on the verge of launching his next successful push into Spain which would ultimately drive the French back across the Pyrenees and into France.

      While Wellington is justifiably known for his military acumen, he was also a consummate diplomat who often worked with Sir Charles Stuart, His Britannic Majesty's Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary to Portugal, to manage the difficult administrative, logistic and political issues that were vital to the maintenance of the British Army in the field.  In this letter Wellington addresses the suggestion that a canal be built from the Port of Setúbal (what Wellington calls Setival, the British often substituting the "v" for the Portuguese "b") across the peninsula and connecting with the lower left or south bank of the Tagus (Tejo in Portuguese).

Biographical Note
Field Marshal His Grace Arthur Wellesley
1st Duke of Wellington, KG, GCB, GCH, PC, FRS (1769 – 1852)

     Arthur Wellesley, the son of the Earl of Mornington, was born in Dublin in 1769. After being educated at Eton and a military school at Angers, he received a commission in the 73rd Infantry. Eventually Wellesley obtained the rank of captain and became aide-de-camp to the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. In 1797 Wellesley was sent to India where his elder brother Richard Wellesley had been appointed Governor-General of India. While Napoleon was gaining victories in Egypt, Wellesley was dispatched to deal with Tippoo Sahib of Mysore. As brigade commander under General George Harris he impressed his superiors throughout the Seringapatam expedition and was made administrator of the conquered territory. Wellesley returned to England in 1805 and the following year he was elected as the MP for Rye in Sussex. A year after entering the House of Commons, the Duke of Portland appointed Wellesley as his Irish Secretary. Although a member of the government, Arthur Wellesley remained in the army and in 1808 he was sent to aid the Portuguese against the French. After a victory at Vimeiro he returned to England but the following year he was asked to assume command of the British Army in the Peninsular War. In 1809, following his victory at Talavera in Spain, Arthur Wellesley was made Viscount Wellington. In 1812 the French were forced out of Spain and Wellesley reinforced his victory against the French at Toulouse. In 1814 Wellesley was granted the title, the Duke of Wellington. He was then put in command of the forces which defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in June, 1815. Parliament rewarded this military victory by granting Wellington the Hampshire estate of Strathfieldsaye.
     In 1818 the Duke of Wellington returned to politics when he accepted the invitation of Lord Liverpool to join his Tory administration as master-General of the Ordnance. In 1829 Wellington assisted Robert Peel in his efforts to reorganize the Metropolitan Police. In 1828 Wellington replaced Lord Goderich as Prime Minister. Although Wellington and the Home Secretary, Robert Peel, had always opposed Catholic Emancipation they began to reconsider their views after they received information on the possibility of an Irish rebellion. As Peel said to Wellington: "though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger". King George IV was violently opposed to Catholic Emancipation but after Wellington threatened to resign, the king reluctantly agreed to a change in the law.

Document Specifications: Wellington letter is 1 sheet with writing on two sides. This sheet of batonne laid paper measures ≈ 184mm wide x 230mm high or 7¼" wide x 9" high and shows a large "S&C WISE" watermark. The body of the letter is written in Wellington's own hand and autograph signed by "Wellington" and dated March 1st, 1812 dateline: Freneda. Letter text on both sides (shown). Condition: Very Fine with two light file folds. Medium toning to paper. A scarce and desirable Wellington ALS signed Peninsular War Letter from his winter Headquarters in Freneda.

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 not technically the Ambassador to Portugal. The Royal House of Braganza had removed itself to the Brazils earlier in the War and hence the "official capital" and the concurrent British "Ambassador" Strangford were located in Rio de Janiero. Stuart was a personal friend and confidante of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson. During his tenure in Lisbon he was also a member of the ruling Portuguese Regency (the only British Subject in the war ever permitted to hold an official position in a foreign government while also representing Britain). He later was ambassador to: the Netherlands, France (twice), the Brazils and Russia. The most important foreign diplomat of the Peninsular War; his archive of diplomatic, military and intelligence despatches are second only to Wellington's Dispatches.

 




 

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