28
Nov

A message from the Duke of Wellington, 1812

MESSAGE FROM THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON TO THE BRITISH FOREIGN
OFFICE IN LONDON–written from Central Spain, August 1812

Gentlemen,

Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the
approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been
diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by
H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our
headquarters.

We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles,
and all manner of sundry items for which His Majestys
Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on
the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and
every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable
exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.

Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains
unaccounted for in one infantry battalions petty cash and there
has been a hideous confusion as the the number of jars of
raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm
in western Spain. This reprehensible carelessness may be
related to the pressure of circumstance, since we are war with
France, a fact which may come as a bit of a surprise to you
gentlemen in Whitehall.

This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request
elucidation of my instructions from His Majestys Government so
that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over
these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of
two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue either
one with the best of my ability, but I cannot do both:

1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for
the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London or
perchance.

2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of
Spain.

Your most obedient servant,

Wellington

-Paul S. R. Chisholm

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