MESSAGE FROM THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON TO THE BRITISH FOREIGN
OFFICE IN LONDON--
written from Central Spain, August 1812
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 Majesty's 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
Unfortunately the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains
unaccounted for in one infantry battalion's petty cash and there has
been a hideous confusion as 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 Majesty's 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,