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Peninsular War Letters (1812/3)

Below are two letters from Thomas Fell the first written in 1812 from Hyde Park Barracks, London the second in 1813 from Salamanca, Spain.

I cannot place Thomas Fell in the family tree. I assume that he is realted somehow as the letters were found in my wife's grandmothers effects after she died (along with other family letters), however, he could have been a family friend? From the letters it is clear that he was with the 1st Life Guard Regiment. (as he signs this on the letters and the 1st Life Guards were barracked in Hyde Park in 1812 and in Salamanca in May 1813).

The Life Guards had not seen foreign service for sixty years, but in 1812 were deplyed on foreign service against the armies of Napoleon in Spain. The first letter was written in January about ten months prior to deployment to Portugal and Spain. The Life Guards embarked ship in London and travelled to Portugal where they remained until the new year, the journey saw rough weather and several horses were lost. They arrived in Portugal at the end of November and over wintered near Lisbon.

In February 1813 the Life Guards moved from Lisbon to quarters on the banks of the river Tagus where they remained until the 23rd April when they marched to Castello Bronco where they remained two days. The allies obtained possession of Salamanca on the 26th May, the enemy retreating upon their approach. At Salamanca the Life Guards were staitoned in monasterys that the French had converted into barracks.

Much of this is referred to in the letters:

1812 Letter from Thomas Fell

[Page 1]

Hyde Park Barracks Jany 3rd 1812

Dear Brother
Yours I duly received and it gives me
no small pleasure on perusing it to find
that it left you all well. I should most
Certainly have to Father & Mother
but I suppose Dear Brother that by me
writing to you it answers one and the same
and I hope my Dear Mother will not
give herself any further uneasiness
on my account as I am happy to in-
form you I am nearly well again and
shall come out of the hospital in a few days
I hope you will communicate the contents
to my Dear Parents as soon as you have
the opportunity – We have a cheerful
Christmas here in the Barracks as each troop
has a separate Dance or Ball but I have
not the satisfaction of being present at
any of them, we have no particular news
with us in London there is some who find it
hard fighting against the times

[Page 2]

There is some thousands of families whom
you would wonder how they kept Life & Soul together
you mention that if I was in want of any
thing that my friends could procure me
I might have it, I feel myself very much
indeed to you all for your affection & love towards me
and return you my sincere thanks but
but it is not my wish to give you any trouble
or expense which I can by any means avoid
as I am by no means extravagant I hope
to get over this trouble Dear Brother I sho[uld]
conclude my letter by wishing you all
the compliments of the season & remain
your affectionate brother

Thos Fell
1st LG

PS please to give my love to all
our family & Respts  to all friends
your letter always comes free but
there has been so many  of my comrades who
have been oblig’d to pay full price that I
made free to mention it hoping no offence

1813 Letter from Salamanca

[Page 1]

Salamanca May 30th 1813

Dear Parents
I received your kind on the 10th of last month
We had then marched into Castello Branco in Portugal
we are now in Spain have taken Salamanca with
without any serious resistance our Regt was not
engaged a few Dragoons and Light Infantry took
possession of the place the French march’d out
the night before leaving only a few troops in
the rear with which our brave troops had a slight
engagement they took we understand about
a hundred prisoners which are now in Salamanca
there are a great many in the hospitals here  &
several are dead of their wounds they have had
several of their legs and arms taken off, some have
died since the operation of amputation, we have
6 or 7 English wounded, chiefly Dragoons which is [###ling]
I was very happy to hear of you all being in
good health I can assure you that nothing will
ever give me greater pleasure  we are in
expectation of marching from here every day
but we can not tell when, the French are all 12
Leagues from us they have a river between our
advanced troops and them Their is a report that
the French have burnt the Bridge & retreated
the rivers name is the <illegible>

[Page 2]

You that I am very well in health and hope you
are the same, we are in an old Monastery which
holds the Blues and the 2nd Regt besides ours, the
horses and men you may suppose it is a large place
there are 15 or 20 buildings as large as it, all knocked
down to the ground half of the city of Salaman[ca]
to Convents Monastery’s Churches& places of tha[t]
kind the Spaniards are fairer people than the Portug[use]
and don’t seem have so distress’d they are better dre[ss’d]
and fairer, some of the women are as fair as the
females of our own country then men are not
so tall as the Life Guard but they are well made
swarthy sharp looking people but not so
much [illegible due to crease]
[illegible] sharp clean looking
people but not so adventurous as the as the English
I have nothing particular to say only that
you will give my kind love to all Brother
& Sister and all friends accepting the same you[r]
selves and until I hear from you I remn
your affecte Son

Thos Fell
1st LGR

Sources: