July 12 1812: Wellington to Bathurst

On July 14 1812, Earl of Wellington, in Rueda, Spain, writes to the Secretrary of State, the Earl of Bathurst to update him the Peninsular campaign. Wellington has been shadowing the French forces of Marshall Marmont for some time. He is hesitant to attack.  He writes: "In truth, the enemy's numbers are equal, if not superior to ours; they have in their position twice the amount of the artillery which we have, and we are superior in cavalry alone, which arm, it is probable could not be used in the attack we should have to make". Wellington's full letter is reproduced below.
General the Earl of Wellington, K.B., to the Earl Bathurst,
Secretary of State.
Rueda 14th July, 1812.

My Lord, General Bonet joined the enemy on the evening of the 7th instant, and they have since extended to their right as far as Toro, where they have been actively employed in repairing the bridge which they had before destroyed.
It is generally reported that they propose to cross the Duero at that point, when they are reinforced by the troops expected from the armies of the North and Centre.

In regard to the reinforcements from the army of the North, I have reason to believe that General Caffarelli has altered his intention of sending them. Marshal Marmont certainly expected a division under General Palombini, which had been detached from the army of Aragon at Aranda de Duero, in the beginning of this month, but they have not yet arrived there; and I understand have marched towards the Ebro.

The King has, however, given orders for the collection of the army of the Centre at Madrid, and he has abandoned all the posts occupied by that army in La Mancha, and those in the valley of the Tagus.

The posts of Avila and Monbeltran, and all those destined for the preservation of the communication between the armies of Portugal and of the Centre, have likewise been abandoned bv his orders, and the troops have marched to Madrid, in order to enable him to take from thence a body of troops. 

I have not any account on which I can rely, of the strength of the army of the Centre. It has been stated to be lately as 19,000 men, of which, 5000 cavalry. But this account is much exaggerated, or many of the troops must be Spanish Juramentados.

The King has besides ordered General Drouet to join him with a body of troops to be taken from Estremadura; and from the late movements of that general, I conclude that he has received those orders, and is about to cross the Tagus with about 10,000 men, and to join the army of the Centre.

Lieut. General Sir Rowland Hill broke up from Albuera on the 2nd instant, and moved upon the enemy, who retired before him towards Cordova. His last letter is of the 9th, from Llerena; and at that time, part of the enemy's force had marched upon Fuente Ovejuna from Berlanga; and General Drouet with 10,000 men, with a very small proportion of artillery, had marched through Campillo upon Zalamea.

Sir Rowland Hill has been informed of the King's order, that General Drouet should cross the Tagus, and join the army of the Centre, and he has marched after him; and I ordered him to detach a force to join this army, proportionate to that which General Drouet should take with him across the Tagus, as soon as I was made acquainted with the King's order to General Drouet.

I have no authentic account of the siege of Astorga of a later date than the 5th instant, at which period General Santocildes, who was conducting that operation, entertained no hopes of bringing it to an early termination, and he expected to be in want of ammunition. It is reported that there are two breaches in the place; but I am apprehensive that there is no foundation for these reports.

The enemy's position on the Duero is very strong, and their army is sufficient to occupy it. On their right they have the strong places of Zamora and Toro, which cannot be taken excepting by a regular attack.

Their left rests upon the Pisuerga. which is not fordable any where. They have a fortified post at Simancas, where there is a bridge over that river, and they have fortified, and have a garrison in Valladolid, where there is another bridge. They occupy with their army, and nearly 100 pieces of cannon, the bridge of Tordesillas, and the heights which command the fords of the Duero, from Toro to the Pisuerga.

It is obvious that we could not cross the river without sustaining great loss, and could not fight a general action under circumstances of greater disadvantage than those which would attend the attack of the enemy's position on the Duero.

In truth, the enemy's numbers are equal, if not superior to ours; they have in their position twice the amount of the artillery which we have, and we are superior in cavalry alone, which arm, it is probable could not be used in the attack we should have to make.

I have again written to suggest the expediency that the siege of Astorga should be carried on by those troops only which are necessary for the operation, and that the remainder of the army of Galicia should be brought forward to the Esla; but in the mean time, I have deemed it expedient to order General D'Urban to cross the Duero, and join the army with the Portuguese cavalry, in order to be more equal to the enemy in that important arm, even though the King should not join the army of Portugal with a reinforcement from the army of the Centre.

I expect that the 5th, 38th, and 82nd regiments will join the army in the course of the next three weeks; and there are not less than 2000 recruits and convalescents on the road. But at this season of the year it is impossible to rely upon the fitness for service of troops just arrived, or recovered from sickness, after such a march. I likewise hope that the detachment from Lieut. General Sir Rowland Hill's corps will be near us almost as soon as General Drouet can join the army of the Centre.

I have this day received a letter from Lieut. General Lord William Bentinck, of the 9th of June, in which he has enclosed the copy of one of the same date to the Earl of Liverpool, from which I am concerned to observe that his Lordship does not propose to carry into execution the operations on the eastern coast of the Peninsula, which had been in contemplation, until he shall have tried the success of another plan on the coast of Italy.

I am apprehensive that this determination may bring upon us an additional force of the army of Arragon, but I still hope that I shall be able to retain at the close of the campaign thoseacquisitions which we made at its commencement.

I have the honor to be, &c. 'The Earl Bathurst: 'Wellington.

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