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June 14 1812: Wellington Advances on Salamanca


On June 14, 1812, Wellington is leading his Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies towards Salamanca in Spain. He is concerned that  the French General Marmount will try to concentrate his forces and attack. The main battle between the two forces is still over a month away. It will take place on July 22, 1812. Wellington's dispatches of June 14 1812 are reproduced below. 

General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., 
to Lieut. General Sir R. Hill, K.B.
Cabrillas, 14th June, 1812.


My Dear Hill,

We crossed the Agueda yesterday, and are so far advanced towards Salamanca.

I have received your letters of the 9th and 11th, and I think Zafra as convenient a position, in the view of your former instructions, and more healthy than that which you before occupied. I hope that the Conde de Penne Villemur will not get himself into a scrape.

 We have deciphered the letter you sent, and it goes back to you with the key of the cipher. We have got some letters, however, in cipher, which we have not been able to decipher; but as far as I can judge, it appears to me that King Joseph has ordered Soult to send to the Tagus one third of the force under his command, in order to join some other troops to be assembled there, probably belonging to the army of the centre. I at first thought this assembly was to take place at the bridge of Arzobispo, and that Soult's troops were to march without cannon; but having seen by a letter of the 12th, received this day from Clementi Pereira, that a body of troops, attended by five boats, had arrived on the 9th at Talavera, and that the troops had moved on to the neighbourhood, and it is probable that the boats will follow, I think that Almaraz will be the point of assembly for these troops, and that they will communicate by the flying bridge to be formed of these boats.

It is most probable, that if Ballesteros has been beaten, which I am afraid is not unlikely, that Soult will, with a part of his army, cover the movement of the third, which are going to the Tagus, and if this is the case, you can do nothing to prevent the movement, but must attend to your own situation; but if Ballesteros has not been much hurt, and the third of Soult's army should attempt to move through Estremadura alone, you might make their march very dangerous and difficult; and I shall be obliged to you to attend to it.

I shall hear from you, of course, the extent of the force which the enemy will send this way.
Believe me, &c. 'Lieut. General . 'Wellington.
*******
General the Earl of Wellington, KB. 
to Lieut. General Sir T. Graham, K.B.
Cabrillas, 14th June, 1812. 
12at Noon


My Dear Sir,  I received last night from General Castanos some very interesting intercepted documents; among others, a return of the 1st of April of the army of Portugal.

'The effective fit for duty are 51,492; of which, 48,396 are infantry; 3204 are cavalry; 3393 artillery; and the remainder sapeurs, &c. &c. There are besides, about 1500 infantry, and 1000 cavalry, returned on command at Salamanca, Alba, &c., which ought to be added to the present fit for duty, and would make the army 43,800 infantry, and above 4000 cavalry.

'Bonet's division, consisting of 6270 infantry, are in the Asturias. Castanos tells me that the French are about to evacuate Astorga; and he mentions that the Adjutant, who carried there the order, went on to order Bonet likewise to retire from the Asturias. I reckon that he would receive the order about the 9th, and he might be on the Tormes on the 19th or 20th.

The army of Portugal have 98 pieces of cannon ; but they are very badly provided with horses, and I see that some of the cannon have been left at Avila, and some at Talavera; and Marmont has ordered that they may be drawn by bullocks to Tordesillas.

I enclose a letter just received from Salamanca, from which you will see that it is reported that Bonet is coming to ioin the army. It is also said that some of Foy's troops are about Talavera; but that I do not credit.

Notwithstanding that the enemy is considerably stronger than I believed he was, I propose to continue our movement forward. We shall at least force them to collect their troops; and I see by Castanos' letter, that he is about to move the army of Galicia, and he has ordered Mendizabal to move all the troops and guerrillas in the north, so as to cut off all Marmont's communications; and if Marmont should detach, or he should not be joined by Bonet, or the whole of all his divisions, or by the division at Valladolid, we shall be superior to him. I have ordered the march for to-morrow.

Believe me, &c. 'Lieut. General 'Wellington.

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