April 6 1815: Wellington’s Warning

On April 6 1815 , the Duke of Wellington writes to the Earl of Bathurst about the conditon of the army.

My Dear Lord,

Your Lordship will see by my letter to General _____ in what state we stand as to numbers. I am sorry to say that I have a very bad account of the ____troops; and _____ appears unwilling to allow them to be mixed with ours, which, although they are not our best, would afford a chance of making something of them.

Although I have given a favorable opinion of ours to General ____, I cannot help thinking, from all accounts, that they are not what they ought to be to enable us to maintain our military character in Europe. It appears to me that you have not taken in England a clear view of your situation, that you do not think war certain, and that a great effort must be made, if it is hoped that it shall be short. You have not called out the militia, or announced such an intention in your message to Parliament, by which measure your troops of the line in Ireland or elsewhere might become disposable; and how we are to make out 150,000 men, or even the 60,000 of the defensive part of the treaty of Chaumont, appears not to have been considered.

If you could let me have 40,000 good British infantry, besides those you insist upon having in garrisons, the proportion settled by treaty that you are to furnish of cavalry, that is to say, the eighth of 150,000 men, including in both the old German legion, and 150 pieces of British field artillery fully horsed, I should be satisfied, and take my chance for the rest, and engage that we would play our part in the game. But, as it is, we are in a bad way.

I beg that your Lordship will take this proposition into consideration.’I beg you also to send here the waggon train, and all the spring waggons for the carriage of sick and wounded; and that you will ask Lord Mulgrave to send here, in addition to the ordnance above mentioned fully horsed, 200 musket ball cartridge carts at present, and as many more hereafter; and an entrenching tool cart for each battalion of infantry, and 200 more for the corps of engineers, and the whole corps of sappers and miners. It would be also desirable that we should have the whole staff corps.

‘I request your Lordship likewise to mention to Lord Mulgrave that it is desirable that measures should be taken to horse the forty pontoons already here, and that forty more should be sent out immediately, fully horsed.

Without these equipments, military operations are out of the question.
‘Believe me, &c. ‘Earl Dathurst.’ ‘Wellington.

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