To Charles Stuart, Esq.
Almeida 25 April 1810
My dear Sir, I have this day had the honor of receiving your letter of the 21st Inst, and am much flattered at finding that your ideas are coincident with mine with regard to the plan which I ventured to suggest for the organization of a military force in the remote Provinces of Spain. Lord Wellington also agrees with me in thinking that great advantages might result from such a scheme; but fears that neither the Spaniards would consent to our interference, nor Great Britain furnish the necessary means. I have had no answer at all, as yet, from Marshal Beresford upon the subject; and without both Lord Wellington’s & his entire consent & approbation, I should not like to have any steps taken in this business. Taking these for granted I should have no objection whatsoever to your sending my letter to Mr Wellesley129 or making whatever use of it you may think fit; but if anything is to be done, it should be done quickly. I have the pleasure to send you herewith extracts of two letters written from the village of Garcia Rey to a Spaniard of my confidence who has communicated them to me. The movement amongst the enemy’s troops spoken of in these letters is confirmed by a peasant who is just come in here from Ledesma which place he left yesterday morning. On the 20th Inst three companies of infantry and two pieces of artillery moved out of that town and marched towards Vitigudino. On the 22nd 150 dragoons which were stationed in Formoselle arrived at Ledesma & passed on to Vitigudino; and the same evening there arrived 500 cavalry from the villages in that neighbourhood, which proceeded the following morning in the same direction. Yesterday General Loison with the remainder of the garrison of Ledesma about 1,000 men marched also to Vitigudino. In that town and the neighbouring villages about 4,000 men had collected, besides those which were stationed in them before.
The troops were accompanied by four or five cars laden with scaling ladders; and yet it was not generally supposed that they were going to attack Ciudad Rodrigo; it was rather imagined that they had an intention of passing the Puerto de Perales. The troops which were in Salamanca & that neighbourhood have moved towards Tamames. I enclose a letter for you which I received last night from Ciudad Rodrigo, and have the honor to remain, my dear Sir, your very faithful, William Cox.
Excerpts from two letters in Garci Rey on April 23rd, 1810 I left on Friday for Salamanca and I couldn’t enter my house due to the fact that those in my house and many of my profession were not there as they lacked certain papers which were issued. I stayed outside and notified a friend, who told me that that very evening the cannons had arrived from Zamora and the surrounding area and with it, wheat, flour, biscuit, and even the sick. If we now examine the munitions here we see that in Salamanca there are 36 to 40 cannons of various calibre, some of two calibre, some reinforced of sixteen calibre, some of twelve, of eight, and even of ten calibre,
but all with little ammunition, none of which is kept enclosed, with much of it lying at the base of the cannons. There are approximately 20,000 to 22,000 in all of Ney’s army. There are barely 2,000 of the cavalry and even with this diminished number the following points are covered, Alba and the surrounding area, Marconet [at] Bejar, Marchand & Loison [at] Ledesma, Kellerman [at] Formoselle, One cannot tell which places are occupied because they eat what they can and then abandon some towns. Yesterday they left Barbadillo, Rollan and Santa María and arrived at this town and then the order came to retreat and they retired to the place that they had left. Generally from all points below, movement to the rear have been noticed. I do not know their intentions, but I hope to know them tomorrow at the latest and if there is sufficient movement I will report. What is said in Salamanca with some probability is that they expect to penetrate into Extremadura to help those forces, but that is pure conjecture. Here, there, and everywhere we want the ascent and success of the English, from what I have been able to determine. The French are very unsettled, we do not know their ideas. Those stationed in Barbadillo and Rollan have gone down to Santa María as well as some from Ledesma, and the rest say that they have left by means of Vitigudino, which is what a man hauling coal from La Moral has said. He also said that they seized his cars in Barbadillo and loaded them from Gallego. They have said that tomorrow evening they are coming to sleep at the fountain and Martín del Rio and others are going to Retortillo and that they are coming to establish a permanent seat.