Item: BSL-Wellington Brussels 1815






                               Brussels May 6th 1815


     I beg leave to inform you that I have thought it expedient to lodge in the Fortress of Maestricht one Million Rounds of Musquet Ammunition, in order to provide for any possible occurrence, which might take part of the Army in that direction, and I shall be much obliged to you if you will apply to the Government of the King of  the Netherlands for permission for that Ammunition to be received in the Stores at Maestricht.

                   I have the Honor to be Sir,
             your most obedient servant


His Excellency
The Right Honorable
Sir Charles Stuart K.G.C.B.

To further demonstrate this connection, Wellington, several weeks later, writes to the Prince of Orange, G.C.B. from Bruxelles on the 2nd of June, 1815:   "I received in the night your letter of the lst, and I have no objection to the disposition you propose for the heavy brigade of cavalry of the Netherlands. You will of course give them orders in case of attack. I shall probably have the pleasure of seeing you here tomorrow at Sir Charles Stuart's ball, and I should be most happy if your Royal Highness would do me the honor of dining with me."
                               Believe me, &c.

Wellington, Stuart, and William were at the very center of all strategic planning during the Waterloo Campaign.

Historical Note

Prepares for the Waterloo Campaign

     Wellington writes to Sir Charles Stuart, Lord Rothesay, K.G.C.B.- Britain's Ambassador to the Netherlands - in order to get the King of the Netherland to acquiesce to the pre-positioning of One Million Rounds of Musquet Ammunition in the Fortress at Maestricht. A month later, following Waterloo, Stuart, one of the great statesman and diplomats of his day, became Great Britain's Ambassador to France.
     Wellington gained fame and his title fighting Napoleon’s armies in Spain and Portugal, later defeating Napoleon himself at Waterloo. After the War he was to become for a time the Prime Minister of Great Britain. This letter [in a clerical hand] is signed by Wellington and addressed to Stuart (from the Stuart Correspondence). The letter is dated May 6th, 1815, and concerns the transfer of “Musquet Ammunition” to the Fortress at Maestricht, “to provide for any possible occurrence,” with Stuart to secure the necessary authorization from the Dutch government. An especially interesting Wellington letter, written as it was during the Waterloo campaign, about a month before the battle, and showing as it does Wellington’s strategic thinking as he tries to anticipate Napoleon’s next move.
     This is an exquisite document on heavy cotton, batonne laid paper with crisp ink and no tears, thins, stains or other impediments. It ties together three major forces at work during the Waterloo Campaign, along with Wellington were: Sir Charles Stuart, Lord Rothesay, who was at this time representing England in the Netherlands - having just successfully been Ambassador to, and uniquely part of, the Regency Council in Portugal during the Peninsular War. He had just recently been appointed in to his current posting and would follow this successful assignment by being made the British Ambassador to France following Waterloo and Napoleon's capitulation. The King of the Netherlands, William I, had only recently returned from his exile in Great Britain, following the defeat and retreat of Napoleon from the Low Countries after the battle of Leipzig in 1813. The King's Son, the Prince Regent, William II, had been on Wellington's Staff during the Peninsular Campaign and rose from a Lieutenant Colonel to a General in the British Army. On March 1, 1815 Napoleon, who had escaped from Elba, landed in France. He was met by General Ney and began to reassemble the Grande Armée. In response, the Seventh Coalition was formed and Wellington returned to the Continent to anticipate Napoleon's Moves. Here is a wonderful insight into his thorough strategic preparation. [He had scouted the ground around Waterloo a year earlier!]. This is truly a lovely Waterloo Campaign letter, signed by Wellington, tying together the essential elements of any successful coalition: military planning, diplomacy and political savvy.

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. With Napoleon 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 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:  This is an absolutely exquisite document. It is written on a thick batonne laid cream paper with the watermark "S & C WISE 1811". The writing is crisp and clear. The text and salutation are written in a staff hand, but it is signed with the autograph signature "Wellington". It measures 7¾" wide x 12½" tall (195mm x 315mm) and has several normal folds none affecting the signature. This is a beautiful Wellington signed document and given its condition, the import of the subject, the key historical figures involved, and the insight into his strategic planning for the Waterloo campaign, this would be a significant addition to any collection. Wellington letters close to Waterloo are now scarce 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, 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.

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Item: BSL-Wellington Brussels 1815

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