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SOULT Nicolas Jean de Dieu - LS 1811 following the battle of Albuhera with a list of English prisoners

  • £1,495.00

Nicolas Jean de Dieu SOULT, duc de Dalmatie (1769-1851)

Letter Signed (“Mal. Duc de Dalmatie”) to Marshal Berthier, giving an account of French losses at the Battle of Albuhera less than three weeks previously, recommending promotions and honours and telling him of the escape of English prisoners.
3 pages folio in French, Llerena, 4 June 1811.
Together with a one page list of English officers taken prisoner at the battle, signed on the verso by General Mocquery, “au Bivouac devant albuhera”, 17 May 1811.       
A long and detailed letter, written in the aftermath of one of the fiercest battles of the Peninsular War. Badajoz, then in French hands, was besieged by one of Wellington’s most brilliant generals, William Carr Beresford. Soult advanced in an attempt to force him to lift the siege and, with 23,000 men attacked Beresford’s 30,000 troops near the bridge at Albuhera on 16 May. Fought in pouring rain, Albuhera proved to be one of the most hard-fought and costly of English victories. With 7000 Allied and 8000 French losses, it was one of the bloodiest battle of the Peninsular War. After fierce resistance, Badajoz would eventually fall to the Allies, under Wellington, on 6 April. Soult again tried to relieve the town, but arrived too late.
Trans: “I have the honour of sending your Serene Highness the original reports from Generals Latour Maubourg, Commander of the Cavalry, Girard, Commander of the Infantry of the 5th Corps.Godinot, Commanding a division of the Infantry reserve, and Ruty, Commanding the artillery of the army, on the parts played by various regiments and corps under their orders at the battle of Albuhera on 16 May last.
Included with this report are enclosed requests for promotion and for admission to the Légion d’honneur, as well as proposed notes for the replacement of officers whose position has been left vacant following their death on the battlefield.
I have also the honour of sending Your Highness the report of the losses we suffered in this bloody affair, and the rank of the English prisoners of war taken (all officers have been named).
I beg Your Highness to have the kindess to place before the Emperor the requests for recompense and replacements which have been set out. The soldiers concerned have earned the goodness of His Majesty, the majority of them having already been put forward after the taking of Badajoz, and have now again distinguished themselves.
I also take this opportunity to renew before Your Highness my request for promotion and recompense which I had the honour to make in my report dated Solana 18 May and to beg you to solicit the Emperor to include in his goodness the military leaders and officers who were the object [of that report].
I present General of Division Gazan as worthy of being awarded the grand cordon of the Legion of Honour in recognition of his devotion and for the honourable service which he has given; the wound he received, although quite serious, did not stop him fulfilling his duties. I hope that he will soon be fit enough to join me.
I propose Brigade Generals Godinot and Maransin as Division Generals, the latter was seriously wounded, but we still hope he will be saved.
Colonel Schwiter of the 55th Regiment, wounded, Colonel Quiot of the 100th Regiment, Colonel Rignoux of the 103rd, Colonel Bouchu of the artillery, Colonel Konopka of the 1st Regiment of lancers of the Vistula, and adjutant Commander Mocquery, deputy head of staff are all proposed for the grade of brigade general and are worthy of this promotion.
With regard to the officers at General Headquarters I can only reiterate the request I made on their behalf after the siege of Badajoz. At the battle of Albuhera they behaved with their usual distinction.
I will repeat the well-deserved praise for Intendant General Mathieu Favier, for the solicitude which he displayed in tending to the needs of the troops, insofar as circumstances allowed him to do, and for their care for the wounded, Chief Surgeon Rapatel, and doctor Brasnir, both seconded for this duty.
The Emperor will be grieved that a great many of his soldiers unhappily fell on the field at Albuhera, of the wounded 3400 were brought to Seville and are being well looked after; already several have returned to their Corps, to which more than half will have returned at the end of the month; 600 stayed with their Regiment in spite of their wounds, 500 who could not be moved are being tended in Extramadura, the rest remained on the battlefield, I do not think that the enemy took more than 200 prisoners. I deplore the loss of so many valiant soldiers, the sadness I feel cannot even be lessened by that of the enemy, who according to their own admission lost 7 to 8000 men, of which 4500 are English. 
The prisoners are in Seville, but unfortunately some escaped, some officers did not even worry about breaking their parole which they had given us, they escaped while en route, but their names and descriptions could help identify them. 
I will send the six English flags which we have taken by the first available officer.
I hope that I will soon be able to present to the Emperor some more satisfactory results. Your Highness will be able to give His Majesty an account of the dispositions I have made for this based on the report on the aftermath of my operations which I will have the honour to send him.
Soult, a hero of Austerlitz, was one of the most able and intelligent of Napoleon’s marshals. After fighting for Napoleon at Waterloo, he was exiled from France, but allowed to return four years later. Louis Philippe appointed him to represent France at Queen Victoria’s coronation, where he was cordially welcomed by his old adversary, the Duke of Wellington. It is said that on the way to the ceremony, Wellington was loudly cheered by the people, but they cheered even more for Soult.
Remains of mount to verso and slight tearing at the central vertical fold.
From the Crawford collection.

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