Peninsular Campaign – Dispatches from the front

Several dispatches have been received by the national capitals and commanders in chief this past couple of days. First, a couple of messages being talked about around Fontainebleau after receipt by Napoleon discussing the French victory at Vittoria earlier this month.


Evening, 8th March 1808

Your Majesty

It is my great honour to report to Your Majesty that my I Corps has today fought a general engagement with the enemies of France at the town named Vittoria in the Spanish province of Aragon.

My forces deployed, 2nd & 3rd Divisions and part of the cavalry arriving from Tolosa and the 1st and part of the cavalry divisions from San Sebastian. Our friend Marechal Ney and part of his VI Corps had occupied Pancorbo in the enemy’s rear on the previous day and elements of his 1st division and cavalry marched to the battle, arriving from the south behind the enemy during the day.

All of my divisions advanced aggressively and struck the enemy positions from the NE just after midday and by the mid-afternoon his lines were crumbled and in the early evening gave way, his troops scattering into the hills to the west and south east of the town in great disarray.

His scattered remnants were pursued until dark by our light cavalry.

Our losses were a mere 800 men killed and wounded, each of the fallen a hero to France. I have captured 16 pieces of artillery and upwards of 20 standards. The enemy army is destroyed.

I am, and remain, Your Majesty’s loyal and obedient servant.

Victor, Duc de Belluno

Your Imperial Majesty,

I have the honour to send you word of the first great victory in the Iberian Peninsula. A Spanish army has, on this day, been scattered to the winds at Vittorio. Marechal Victors troops conducted a fine combined force assault upon the defenders and I have nothing but fine words for their conduct.

The Spanish army had foolishly advanced aggressively to relieve our sieges on the border fortresses. With alacrity my own corp penetrated deeply into enemy held territory to fall upon their lines of communication. With growing enemies forces at Burgos we held the line at PanCorbo, completing the encirclement of the enemy at some risk to being crushed in a pincer. Our own contribution to the battle at Vittorio was modest, but our Cuirassier and Dragoons charging into their rear areas finally broke their wavering spirit.

Vive la France!

Marechal Ney, Duc d’Elchingen

And then a message sent some time ago has reached King George

Sire, on landing I alerted our Spanish allies to my presence and willingness to assist, but have as yet received no response. I have had no contact with Welesley since landing.

Your obedient servant, Beresford.