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WATERLOO - ALS June 1815 to the Dean of Windsor giving details of the battle

  • £1,250.00

 [WATERLOO]

Autograph Letter Signed (“J. Wallace”) to the Dean of Windsor, giving an account of “the intelligence … from London of the splendid victory obtained by the allies”. 
3 pages 4to with integral address leaf, ½ past 7 oclock, n.p., n.d. [but 22 June 1815].

 
On Monday, 19 June 1815, Major Henry Percy, younger son of the Duke of Northumberland and aide de camp to the Duke of Wellington set out from Brussels to carry the momentous news of the Allied victory at Waterloo to London. As well as Wellington’s most important despatch, he was given two captured French eagles, with orders to lay them at the Prince Regent’s feet. Young, dashing and resourceful, Percy was nevertheless chosen for the task by default, as all of Wellington’s other aides de camp had been either killed or wounded in the battle.
He delivered the despatch to Lord Bathurst, Secretary for War, on the evening of Wednesday, 21 June, whilst Bathurst was dining in Grosvenor Square. Despite his exhaustion, Percy completed his mission, interrupting a ball at St. James’s Square to lay the eagles at the Prince Regent’s feet.
The news of Napoleon’s final defeat spread through London immediately, and had reached Windsor by the following morning.
I am sure you will forgive my disturbing you to communicate the intelligence just brought me by a messenger from London of the splendid victory obtained by the allies. The officer arrived in the course of the night with the dispatches which will be published in the Gazette as early as possible. My note says nothing could be more desperate than the contest & nothing more complete than the victory – 210 pieces of cannon taken Eagles Colours & the whole personal Baggage of Bonaparte & even his own Carriage. The French army totally annihilated – where Bpte is is not known – there is nothing said of Prisoners & I believe no regular return of the killed & wounded – but it is known Picton has fallen & I am grieved to add poor Alexr. Gordon. He was first Aide de Camp to the D. of Wellington & fell by his side – a Col. Canning is also killed – Lord Uxbridge has lost a leg & Lord Fitzroy Somerset an arm. These are all the details my note contains – it is impossible to calculate the effects of such an event, but I do not think it is going too far to believe that if it has not absolutely decided the fate of the war it must lead to results that will very soon bring it to a conclusion.
A pencilled note by a previous collector suggests that the letter was written by General Sir John Wallace, who had fought in the Peninsula, but returned to England before the final phase of the wars, suffering from severe fever. The Dean of Windsor at the time was Edward Legge, son of the Earl of Dartmouth, and later Bishop of Oxford.
There are minor traces of mounting at the left, and the now-absent seal has left two marks on the last page of the letter, but this remains an exciting and evocative missive.

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