BERESFORD Sir John - Autograph Letter Signed 1811 regarding a skirmish
Sir John Poo BERESFORD (1766-1844)
Autograph Letter Signed (“JP Beresford”) to “My dear Croker!” [John Wilson Croker, Secretary to the Admiralty], commenting on news of a skirmish near Badajoz and adding that “the noble Lord Cochrane . . . took 15,000£ . . . at Cadiz . . .”
3 pages 4to with integral address leaf with an almost intact red wax seal, Lisbon, 18 February 1811.
“You will add to yr. former kindness if you will send the order which you have obtained from their Lordships to pay me as commander in chief which I was in America to my agent Mr. John Atkins, No. 2 Austen Friars in the City. . . we are all impatient for the arrival of Sir Joseph York. This is the mom[en]t for the reinforcem[en]ts to come, I do believe your f[riend]d Lord Wellington c[oul]d do a great deal if they were now on the spot. Accounts have come from near Badajos of a partial skirmish; we may hourly expect to hear from thence of some attack between the French & Spaniards without the Place . . . My Brother still continues at Chamousca with an excellent division . . . Nothing can excel Lord Wellington’s conduct. He is a surprisingly fine officer.
I hope the House know that the noble Lord Cochrane . . . took 15,000£ (or an order for it at Cadiz) for the purpose of speculating in Barbary on corn where him & his Brother the other Captn. RN now are – This may make up for extra changes in Prize causes.”
Sir John Poo Beresford spent the winter of 1810-11 stationed in Lisbon, supporting the army, hence his close observation of Wellington’s command. The following year, he was posted to the coast of America, where he served for two years in the war against the States.
His brother, Sir William Beresford, who had achieved remarkable results with the Portuguese troops under his command, was soon to march towards Badajoz, where he laid siege to the city. Reports of the approach of French reinforcements caused him to lift the siege, and soon thereafter he achieved a notable victory against the French at Albuera.
The reference to Lord Cochrane in the postscript of the letter to Croker is interesting. There was a great antipathy between the sober Croker and the more turbulent Cochrane. The question of prize money was, of course, of great importance to all sailors at the time, but perhaps even more so to Cochrane, always aware of his own father’s financial difficulties.
The last page of the letter has been somewhat torn at the folds, probably when the letter was opened, but it remains in clear and legible condition throughout.
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