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"Elvas, May 25th, 1811.
"I have had the honour of receiving your letter of the 26th of April, in which you have enclosed the resolutions of the House of Commons of that day, conveying the approbation of the House of the conduct of the army under my command in Portugal, during the late campaign, which I have communicated to the allied British and Portuguese army.
"I attribute the result of the operations of which the House have been pleased to approve, (under Providence,) to the support and assistance which I have invariably received from the general and other officers, and to the good conduct, the discipline, and bravery of the troops; and it must be highly gratifying to them to find that their services have been deemed worthy of that distinction of which all are ambitious, the approbation of the House of Commons.
"The favour with which the House of Commons have viewed my services, and the honor by which they have been pleased to distinguish them, have made an indelible impression upon me; and I hope, by the continuance of my zealous endeavours to serve his Majesty, according to the best of my judgment, to prove my gratitude to the House for their favours. I beg that you, Sir, will accept my acknowledgments for the handsome terms in which you have again conveyed to me the sense of the House of Commons. And I have, &c.
(Signed) "Right Honorable Charles Abbot, Speaker of the House of Commons."
Previous to the commencement of Marshal Massena's retreat from Santarem, Marshals Soult and Mortier advanced from the South of Spain, in order to form a combined operation with the army of Portugal. In pursuance of this object they attacked and defeated the Spanish army under General Mendizabel, and forthwith invested Badajos. Marshal Beresford, with the 2d division of the allied army, was directed to march to the relief of this city, and was reinforced with the 4th division under MajorGeneral (now Sir Lowry) Cole, as soon as Lord Wellington was confirmed in his opinion that Marshal Massena's retreat was a decided one. Badajos, however, was surrendered by General Juaz
on the 10th March, although apprised that Marshal Beresford was marching to his relief. On the 25th of the same month, Marshal Beresford advanced against Campo-Mayor, and found the enemy's corps, consisting of four regiments of cavalry, three battalions of infantry, and some horse-artillery, drawn up on the outside of the town. Two squadrons of the 13th dragoons, and two squadrons of Portuguese, charged the French cavalry, who were broke and pursued to Badajos; but the infantry effected their retreat in a solid body, although with considerable loss, and recovered 16 pieces of cannon, which had been taken by the allied cavalry.
On the 7th May, Badajos was invested by Marshal Beresford's army, in conjunction with a Spanish corps, commanded by Don Carlos D'Espagne. On the following day the batteries were opened against fort St. Christoval, and a very brisk fire was returned by the garrison. Marshal Beresford, having received information on the 12th that Marshal Soult was advancing from Seville, sent a courier to Lord Wellington with that intelligence, on receipt of which, the 3d and 7th divisions of infantry were ordered to his assistance, and his Lordship proceeded forthwith to Elvas, where he arrived on the 19th May. Meantime, however, the battle of Albuera was fought on the heights above the village of that name, and Marshal Soult was repulsed by the allied British and Portuguese army under Marshal Beresford, and a corps of 10,000 Spaniards, commanded by Generals Blake and Castanos. The superior number of the enemy enabled him to make good his retreat to wards Seville, which he commenced on the morning of the 18th, two days after the action.
The siege of Badajos was now resumed, and on the 2d of June batteries were re-opened against fort St. Christoval, and the body of the place. A breach having been effected in fort St. Christoval, an attempt was made on the 6th June, to carry the work, and subsequently on the night of the 9th, both of which failed, and the besiegers retired with loss. By an intercepted dispatch, which Lord Wellington received on the 10th June, the intention of the enemy to collect the whole of his disposable force in Estremadura, was ascertained; the siege of
Badajos was, therefore, converted into a blockade; and the advance of Marshal Soult from Lerena, after he had been re-inforced by a part of the corps of General Sebastiani and Marshal Victor, and the 9th corps under General Drouet, from Toledo, determined his Lordship to raise the siege of Badajos a second time, and to take up a position at Albuera; offering battle to Marshal Soult, before the junction of the armies of the north and south. Marshal Marmont's advanced guard arrived at Merida on the 17th June, and the combined army having re-crossed the Guadiana, took up a position near Elvas, with their advance at Campo-Mayor. In the beginning of July, Marshal Soult, leaving a strong garrison in Badajos, placed his army in cantonments, having his head-quarters at Asugal, Marshal Marmont at Truxillo, and General Regnier in Merida. The allied army continued in the field until the latter end of the month, when Lord Wellington fixed his head-quarters in Portalegre.
Marshal Marmont having crossed the Tagus, and established himself at Placentia, in the beginning of August, the main body of the British army made a parallel movement by crossing the river at Villa Velha, and Lord Wellington fixed his head-quarters at Fuente Guinaldo, about two leagues from Cuidad Rodrigo. Part of the infantry was pushed forward on the Salamanca road, and all communication cut off betwixt that fortress and the enemy. Lord Wellington, by taking up this position, compelled the enemy to assemble a very large force, for the purpose of throwing supplies into Cuidad Rodrigo, which object being accomplished, Marshal Marmont again withdrew behind the Aqueda, and Lord Wellington placed his army in winter-quar
The local rank of General in Spain and Portugal was this year, 1811, conferred upon his Lordship by the British Government; and the Prince Regent of Portugal created him Condé de Vimiera-an honour which was approved of at home in the following manner.
"Whitehall, October 19th, 1811.
"His Royal Highness the Prince Regent hath been graciously pleased, in the name and on the behalf of his Majesty, to grant
unto the Right Honorable Arthur Lord Viscount Wellington, one of his Majesty's most Honorable Privy Council, Knight Companion of the most Honorable Military Order of the Bath, Lieutenant-General in the army, and General and Commanderin-chief of his Majesty's forces serving in Spain and Portugal, also Marshal-General in the army of his Royal Highness the Prince Regent of Portugal, &c. his Majesty's royal licence and authority that he may accept the dignity and use the title of Condé de Vimeira, together with all the rights, privileges, and immunities thereunto annexed, and that he may also accept and wear the insignia of a Knight-grand-cross of the Royal Portuguese Military Order of the Tower and Sword, which honours have been conferred upon the said Lord Viscount Wellington by the Prince Regent of Portugal, in testimony of the high estimation in which his Royal Highness holds his distinguished and glorious services on various important occasions. And also to command, that the said Royal concession and declaration be registered, together with the relative documents, in his Majesty's College of arms."
The winter had set in with particular severity, and Lord Wellington's investment of Cuidad Rodrigo was equally sudden and unexpected. His Lordship opened his batteries on the 10th January 1812, and carried the place by storm on the 19th. Marshal Marmont had assembled the whole of his army at Salamanca on the 22nd, for the purpose of relieving it, intending to offer Lord Wellington battle on the 28th. The rapidity of his Lordship, however, completely disconcerted the plan of the French chief, who, on receiving the intelligence of Cuidad Rodrigo being taken, confessed it was beyond his comprehension. What greater eulogium could Lord Wellington receive than such a confession, from a French Marshal of acknowledged abilities and great military talents?
To the thanks of Parliament on the capture of Cuidad Rodrigo, Lord Wellington thus replied.
"Fuente Guinaldo, April 29th, 1812. "I have had the honor of receiving your Lordship's letter of the 15th of February, in which you have enclosed the resolutions of the House of Lords of the 10th February, expressing the ap
probation of their Lordships of the conduct of the general officers, officers, and troops under my command, in the siege and assault of Cuidad Rodrigo.
"I have communicated to the general officers, officers, and troops, the honorable testimonies of the approbation of their Lordships.
"I request your Lordship to convey to the House of Lords my acknowledgment. for the high honor which they have conferred upon me, to assure their Lordships of my gratitude for their repeated favours, and of my desire to prove myself not unworthy of their Lordships' notice by my continued exertions in his Majesty's service.
"I beg your Lordship will accept my thanks for the handsome terms in which you have conveyed to me the sense of the House of Lords. I have, &c.
"The Right Honorable Lord Eldon, Lord High Chancellor."
"Fuente Guinaldo, 29th April, 1812. "I have had the honor of receiving your letters of the 11th February, and 8th instant, in which you enclosed the unanimous votes of the House of Commons of the 10th February, and 8th of April, expressive of their approbation of the conduct of the general officers, officers, and troops under my command, which were employed in the siege and assault of Cuidad Rodrigo.
"In obedience to the orders of the House I have communicated to the general officers, officers, and troops, these honorable testimonies of their approbation; and I beg that you will do me the favor to make my acknowledgments to the House for the notice which they have taken of my services, and to assure them of the sense which I entertain of the honor which they have conferred upon me, and of my gratitude for their repeated favours. I request you to accept my thanks for the handsome terms in which you have conveyed to me the sense of the House.
"I have, &c.
(Signed) "The Right Honorable Charles Abbot, Speaker of the House of Commons."