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The Creevey Papers
Sir Arthur Wellesley to Gen. Ronald Craufurd Ferguson, 22 June 1809

Vol. I. Contents
Ch. I: 1793-1804
Ch. II: 1805
Ch. III: 1805
Ch. IV: 1806-08
Ch. V: 1809
Ch. VI: 1810
Ch. VII: 1811
Ch. VIII: 1812
Ch. IX: 1813-14
Ch X: 1814-15
Ch XI: 1815-16
Ch XII: 1817-18
Ch XIII: 1819-20
Vol. II. Contents
Ch I: 1821
Ch. II: 1822
Ch. III: 1823-24
Ch. IV: 1825-26
Ch. V: 1827
Ch. VI: 1827-28
Ch. VII: 1828
Ch. VIII: 1829
Ch. IX: 1830-31
Ch. X: 1832-33
Ch. XI: 1833
Ch. XII: 1834
Ch XIII: 1835-36
Ch XIV: 1837-38
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“Abrantes, 22nd June, 1809.
“My dear Ferguson,

“I am in general callous to the observations of party and to the remarks of writers in the newspapers, but I acknowledge that I have been a little disturbed by a statement which it appears was made in the House of Commons by Mr. Whitbread—viz.: that I had exaggerated the success of the Army under my command, or, in other words, that I had lyed.

“I complain that Mr. Whitbread before he made this statement in the House did not read my letter with attention; if he had, he would have seen, first, that we were engaged on the 10th only with cavalry and a small body of infantry, with some guns; secondly, on the 11th with about 4000 infantry and some squadrons of cavalry; and on the 12th I stated nothing of numbers, but that the French were under command of Soult.

“From the nature of the action it was impossible for me to see the numbers engaged, so as to form an estimate of them in a dispatch; but I saw Soult, and knew when I was writing, not only that he was in the action, but that he was either wounded or had a
fall from his horse; and I saw a very large body of troops march out of Oporto to the attack. I have since heard that the whole of the French infantry in Portugal, with the exception of Loison’s Corps, which might amount to 4000 men, were in this attack, and this [illegible] estimated to be 10,000 men. We took two pieces more cannon in action than I stated in my dispatch, and I believe the return of cannon which the French were obliged to leave on that day was not less than 50 pieces.

“After that, I don’t think it quite fair that I should, in my absence, be accused of exaggeration, or, in other words, lying. I believe you know that I am not in the habit of sending exaggerated accounts of transactions of this kind. In the first place, I don’t see what purpose accounts of that description are to answer; and in the second place, the Army must eventually see them; they are most accurate criticks: I should certainly forfeit their good opinion most justly if I wrote a false account even of their actions, and nothing should induce me to take any step which should with justice deprive me of that advantage. As you are well acquainted with Mr. Whitbread, I shall be obliged to you if you will mention these circumstances to him. I have thought it better to set him right in this way than to get any friend of mine in the House of Commons to have a wrangle with him on the subject.

“Believe me, Yours most sincerely,
Arthur Wellesley.

“I’ll tell you what I might have said without exaggeration—that, whenever we were engaged, we had fewer numbers than the enemy.”