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From: Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815. Ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow. Clausewitz.com, 2010. ISBN-10: 1453701508. ISBN-13: 9781453701508. 318pp. List price: $18.00.

4.
CORRESPONDENCE WITHIN WELLINGTON'S CIRCLE

Liverpool[1] to Wellington,
10 September 1840
Wellington Papers[2] 2/71/28

 

My dear Duke:

 

A German friend of mine in the course of the last Spring recommended to me the posthumous works of Gen. Clausewitz. My object was to learn something with respect to York's[3] going over to the allies in the campaign of 1812-13, but having dipped into this book I found it a work of exceeding interest. It is entitled a work “on war & the mode of conducting war.”  Several volumes are devoted to general principles & the others contain details of many of the campaigns of the revolutionary war in which the author's principles are exemplified by actions in many of which the author was an eye witness. One whole volume is devoted to the campaign of Waterloo. The greatest part of this I have translated & having submitted my translation to Col. Gurwood[4]  I have begged him at a proper & convenient opportunity to lay it before you.

We both agree in thinking that if at your leisure you could read what I have translated your observations on this part of the work would be invaluable.

Pray believe that if I have any motive in this matter beyond the desire of acquiring accurate information it is that your great & admirable actions should be thoroughly known & duly appreciated.

This letter will be sent open to Col. Gurwood that he may use it or not with the translation which is in his possession as he may judge most proper.

 

Believe me dear Duke
with every feeling of
regard & attachment
sincerely yours,

Liverpool

Lt. Col. John Gurwood to Wellington,
The Tower,
12 September 1840
WP 2/71/37

 

My Lord Duke:

 

I have the honor to inclose a letter from Lord Liverpool to your Grace, relating to a translation which he has forwarded to me, at different times during the last month, of that part of the posthumous work of General Clausewitz, giving a detail of the operations of the British, Prussian and French armies, previous to and at the battle of Waterloo. He’s written on 50 sheets of foolscap paper, half margin, and with your Grace's permission I will forward it to you.

Gen. Clausewitz having died in 1830, and the work, 10 Volumes, having been published by his widow between 1836 & 1838,[5] it has not had the advantage of many corrections which would have presented themselves in your Grace's dispatches, since published.

General Clausewitz I understand to have been an officer of great reputation in the Prussian army; and Lord Liverpool’s translation proves his anxiety to ascertain the truth, although his sources of information probably did not always enable him to obtain it.

It has not yet been translated into either French or English, and I have not been able to ascertain the opinions of any French officers, to whom I have written respecting the work, as they generally have a great contempt for anything military not exclusively French, but particularly when it is Prussian.

If I should be permitted by your Grace to forward it to you at Walmer castle, I shall send at the same time the few original letters of your Grace to the late Sir Robt. Barsley, which I have obtained from his niece, W. Gordon.

 

I have the honor to be your Grace's faithful servant,

 

J. Gurwood

Wellington to Liverpool,
Walmer Castle
14 September 1840
The British Library [BL], Papers of the Third Earl of Liverpool,
Additional Manuscripts [Add Mss] 38,196, fol. 143

 

I am very much obliged to my dear Lord Liverpool for his letter which Col. Gurwood has sent me. I will receive with much interest your translation of Gen’l Clausewitz’ Work. I should like most of all his account of Grouchy’s operations at the period of the Battle of Waterloo.

 

Believe me yours most sincerely,

 

Wellington

Gurwood to Wellington,
The Tower
22 September 1840
WP 2/71/72

 

My Lord Duke:

 

I have the honor to forward to your Grace Lord Liverpool's translation of that part of Gen. Clausewitz's work relating to the operations of General Grouchy and Gen. Thielmann on the Dyle on the 18th & 19th of June, 1815.

Lord Liverpool writes to me "that there is a long military description upon the whole combined operation of Waterloo, but this I do not think worth troubling his Grace with, as it might be truly considered in the light of Reveries."  I returned him for answer that there was no want of "Reveries" on this or any other military operation; the object was, if possible, to obtain a history of facts as they occurred, not as they might have occurred.

 

I have the honor to be your

Grace's faithful servant,

 

J. Gurwood

Charles Arbuthnot to Lord Francis Egerton,[6]
22 July 1842

 

Dear Lord F[rancis],

 

Last night the Duke read out to me your paper, which I had given him,[7] and said, “Oh, this will do exactly, but I will make some additional remarks.” . . .   I had written this far when the Duke came into my room with his 12th volume[8] in his hand, and said, “I have it all here,”—said it with high delight. He stayed with me for some time, and read to me various pages from page 375 to 476. I took down the pages by his desire and send them to you. You never saw a man so delighted as the Duke is, and saying that he would go and write his Memorandum, and make out Alison[9] to be a damned rascally Frenchman. This between ourselves.

 

C.A.[10]

Arbuthnot to Egerton,
Apsley House,
25 July 1842
From Ellesmere, Personal
Reminiscences
, pp. 236-237

 

I send you the paper which the Duke has drawn up,[11] and I return the one you gave to me for him to read. The Duke’s paper contains a complete narrative of all that has happened from Napoleon’s quitting Elba till the battle of Waterloo, and I think you will find it conclusive against a surprise. It details all that he had ordered, which proves that he had good reason for not collecting his troops until Napoleon had committed himself to the place of attack upon which he had determined. At the conclusion of the paper the Duke represents Alison as a Whig. Whether so or not I don’t know, but you do probably. I think you will make a capital article from your own notions, and from the Duke’s information. When written, you had better send it straight to the Duke, as I might not be returned to London.

 

C.A.

 

P.S.—Alison states his numbers from those which were to have been collected. The actual numbers were nothing like what had been intended, and the Duke had not more than 50,000 men on the field of battle.[12]

Gurwood to Liverpool,
70 Lowndes Square
1 August 1842
BL Add Mss 38,303 fols 1-192

 

My dear Lord Liverpool,

 

I passed two hours with the Duke yesterday with more interest & satisfaction than on any previous occasion. He has written a Memorandum on the operations of the Waterloo campaign of considerable length, and great clearness in refutation of the charges made by Clausewitz & Alison. I shall be able to show you a copy of it some of these days, although I believe it will form the foundation of a paper that will be written and published in the Quarterly Review (this “entre nous“). I know no one who will be more interested in this paper than yourself after what you have described to me in reading Clausewitz & Alison. The Duke does not confess it, but I think that the Memorandum was not wholly written the week before last, for he enters into the detail of the whole operations as I recollect stated in your translation of Clausewitz although his remarks are directly chiefly at the misrepresentations of Alison.[13]

I am at the Tower at night, but I pass the greater part of the day here.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

J. Gurwood

 

Luckily I have made no notes in your book that are not borne out in the Duke’s memorandum.

Wellington to Gurwood,
Walmer Castle
28 August 1842
WP 8/3/1

 

My dear Colonel

 

I return the inclosed paper which according to your desire I have shewn to Arbuthnot.

Lord Francis’ design has been carried into execution very ably.

I do not exactly understand the corrections in Red Ink in the margins; that is whether they are made by you with knowledge of the facts from documents; or by Lord Francis himself.

I wish to add a Word about the Initiative, about which I think that I have not expressed myself clearly. All acquainted with Military Operations are aware that the Initiative of the operations between two Armies en Presence is a great advantage, of which each Party would endeavour to avail Himself.

We the Allies in the Netherlands and on the Meuse in 1815 were necessarily on the Defensive!  We were waiting for the juncture and cooperation of other Large Armies to attain our object.

But our defensive position did not necessarily preclude all idea or plan of attack upon the enemy.

The Enemy might have so placed Himself, as to have rendered the attack of His Army advisable and even necessary. In that case we must and we should have taken the Initiative!

But in the case actually existing in 1815 the enemy did not take such a position. On the contrary he took a position as is explained in my Memm in which His Numbers, His Movements, His Designs would be concealed, protected and supported up to the last moment previous to their execution by his formidable fortresses at the frontier.

We could not attack this position without being prepared to attack this superior Army so posted: and to lay on at least two sieges at the same period of time. We could not have the Initiative therefore in the way of Attack.

We could have it and we had it in the way of Defensive movement: But the object of my memorandum was to shew that such movement must have been founded upon Hypothesis: our original position having been calculated for the Defence and protection of certain objects confided to our care; any alteration previous to the first movement of the enemy; and the certainty that it was a real movement: which is much more than an Hypothesis, must have exposed to injury some Important Interest. Therefore no movement was made till the Initiative was taken by the enemy and the Design of his movement was obvious. If any movement had been previously made it would have been what is commonly called a false movement!  And whatever people may think of Bonaparte; of all the Chiefs of Armies in the World, he was the one perhaps in whose presence it was least safe to make a false movement!  This is what I endeavoured to explain in the Memorandum.

Therefore, I did not desire or order a movement till I knew on the 15th that a movement had been made: and its direction although I knew for days before that the whole Army with Bonaparte at its Head was at the frontier.

When I was certain of the movement and its Direction I ordered the March and it is obvious that I was in time! And if foolish accidents had not occurred; upon which I ought not to have reckoned, the whole Army would have been at Quatre Bras on the 16[th] before the Battle commenced at the front of our position.

Wellington to Gurwood,
Walmer Castle
31 August 1842
WP 8/3/2

 

My Dear Colonel

 

I return Lord Francis Egerton’s letter and I send up in the Horse Guards’ Bag[14] this day Lord Liverpool’s Translation of Clausewitz, which I beg Lord Francis will cast his eye over. If it should be correct, I will read it: and afterwards my Memm upon the situation previous to the Battle of Waterloo, and the letter upon the Initiative which I wrote to you two days ago. I beg that Lord Francis will mark any passage in Clausewitz, which he may think requires explanation.

Having all these papers before me I shall be a better judge of the case. I beg you forward me the Memm and letter abovementioned, of which I don’t know that I have copies.

 

Ever Yours most sincerely

 

W

Gurwood to Wellington,
70 Lowndes Square
1 September 1842
WP 8/3/3

 

My Lord Duke

 

Agreeably to the orders contained in your Grace’s letter, which I received this morning, I have forwarded to Lord Francis Egerton, Lord Liverpool’s translation of Clausewitz, requesting that he would see that it is correct, and that he would make any remark which he thought might require explanation.

I received a letter this morning from Lord Francis in which he states that he has a severe attack of gout in his bridle hand wrist, but as his Yeomanry were yesterday dismissed, he hopes the gout will keep out of his right hand and not prevent him getting on with Clausewitz

I have seen Mr. Lockhart,[15] who has decided on including in the forthcoming number of the Quarterly Review only that part of Lord Francis’s paper relating to Blücher, leaving out the battle of Waterloo, but noting the intention of dedicating a future article to it in answer to Clausewitz, Alison, etc.

This motive he will introduce in a note to the article “Blücher” by stating that Mr. Alison and others in presuming to attack your Grace and Marshal Blücher, were like the self sufficient Greek lecturer mentioned by Cicero, who requested Hannibal to attend his lectures on the art of war, in which he would point out the errors he had committed in the command of armies.

I have seen Colonel Freeth[16] this morning, who thinks he shall be able to find in the Archives of the QMG [Quartermaster General] Department the orders of movement of the 15th June 1815. Those which I inserted in the 12th volume of the Dispatches, I obtained from other quarters, as I had heard that Lady Delancy had destroyed the originals among her husbands papers. But there must be a copy of them in the QMGs department over which neither Sir William nor Lady Delancy could have had any control. I recollect however referring to Sir Willoughby Gordon for them when completing the 12th volume but without success. Colonel Freeth however thinks they are in the office. If so they will afford proof of the hours in which they were circulated to the different corps and divisions if they do not also state the exact hour they were received from your Grace for such circulation.

 

[Unrelated paragraph omitted.]

 

I have the Honor to be Your Grace’s faithful servant

 

J. Gurwood

Wellington to Gurwood,
Walmer Castle
4 September 1842
WP 8/3/4

 

Many thanks for your note of the 3rd my dear Colonel. I will not lose a moment in perusing Clausewitz and in writing upon the subject if necessary after I shall have perused the same; when Lord Francis will return the manuscript.

The bag comes down from the Horse Guards every night.

 

Ever Yours most faithfully

 

Wellington

Egerton to Arbuthnot,
Worsley,
5 September 1842
WP 2//148

 

My dear Arbuthnot,

 

Ld Liverpool’s translation of Clausewitz is not only correct but in my opinion remarkably good. The main error of the work is that he postpones all political & moral to the purely military considerations of the case, & even with respect to these makes nothing of the possibility of either Army losing its communications, or even its materiel. He seems to me free from national prejudices & nonsense. People will judge of things after the event, & it is difficult now to persuade them that the Duke could not know enough of the points on which Bonaparte was clustering his masses to be sure that he would not come on from Lille upon Mons. Clausewitz’ main principle is that the Allied Generals might have forced Be [Bonaparte] to fight them on their own field of battle by merely collecting & remaining together, & all that the Duke has to do is to shew the risk of such a proceeding.

[Unrelated material omitted.]

I think I shall translate & publish Clausewitz’s Russian Campaign. It is full of curious particulars, & well worth being known to military readers here.[17]

[Unrelated material omitted.]

 

Ever Yours faithfully

 

F. Egerton

Gurwood to Wellington,
70 Lowndes Square
6 September 1842
WP 8/3/5

 

My Lord Duke

 

The Quarterly Review will be published next Saturday week, the 17th inst., and will contain Lord F. Egerton’s paper on Blücher, which, by being transposed according to chronological arrangement, with some additions which escaped Lord Francis, will, I think, very much interest its readers.

Lord Francis had quite overlooked your Grace’s letter to Genl. Dumouriez,[18] 26 Sept 1815, where you disclaim ever having seen Fouché, or having had communication with him, previous to July. But I shall have the Honor to forward the corrected copy tomorrow, by which your Grace will see the changes made.

I was at the Horse Guards today, and I regret to say that Colonel Freeth has been unable to find any documents of movements between the 13 June & 3 July 1815. It appears that the QMGl’s [Quarter Master General’s] office, although in great pen and ink order when there is little to do, is always the contrary during very active operations, and there is no registries of memorandums of movement. Colonel Delancy, I hear, was particularly careless on these subjects, but after his death, these orders might have been collected from the corps, if not from the division, to which they were issued.

 

I have the Honor to be
Your Grace’s
faithful Servant

 

J Gurwood

Egerton to Gurwood,
Worsley
6 September 1842
WP 8/3/6

 

My dear Gurwood,

 

I hope you will get Ld L’s [Lord Liverpool’s] Mss safe with this. It seems to me not only a correct but a remarkably good translation & leaves nothing to desire as the parts omitted have no interest for us.

I do not quite understand why Clausewitz supposes that if the battle of Waterloo had begun earlier Blucher would have been earlier in the field. This would have been the case if the battle had begun earlier in consequence of better weather, but he is blaming Buonaparte for losing time by an ostentatious & needless deployment & parade of his forces. I dare say he is right & I hope he is.

I have marked with pencil some passages which I think deserve the Duke’s attention but I hope he will find an hour to read it through as it contains little verbiage, & he will nowhere find the argument on the other side more fully stated.

It is founded after all on the notion that Brussels & our communication with England were of no value in comparison of a junction with the entire army with Blucher; & this is the real point at issue.

 

F. Egerton

Gurwood to Liverpool,
70 Lowndes Square
12 Sept 1842
BL Add Ms 38,303 fols 195-196

 

My dear Lord Liverpool,

 

[Unrelated paragraph omitted.]

 

I have sent to the Duke the paper of Lord F Egerton on Marshal Forwards [Blücher] as arranged by Mr. Lockhart and myself. It will be out next Saturday. I have however requested the Duke, that as the Quarterly Review is but an ephemeral publication, and difficult of reference as a record of historical facts, to arrange his own memorandum as a document of authority, with the assistance of your translation of Clausewitz to particular parts of which Lord Francis has drawn his attention for elucidation. I shall know in a day or two whether he pays attention to my request, but it is very difficult to ascertain how to urge, when he is so overwhelmed with business of all departments of the State. I have been preparing a new edition of the Dispatches, and as there is much new matter, I have it set up in type for his consideration, before it is placed according to date in the sheets. He has had about 70 pages of this new matter ever since July last, and I have 15 sheets, or 240 pages, standing ever since in type, waiting his decision as to what letters of this new matter he approves of for insertion in them. He writes me long letters on the employment of his time, one half of which that he takes in writing to me would suffice for drawing his pen through what he does not wish to be published—and, after flaring up, he then apologises to me for the delay, as he knows that I have but one object in view—his honor. If I can get the Dukes memorandum before the 1st of next month, I shall run over to Bruxelles to make arrangements to have it printed in French, and in German at Berlin.

 

Sincerely yours

 

J. Gurwood

Gurwood to Wellington,
70 Lowndes Square
16 September 1842
WP 8/3/9

 

My Lord Duke,

 

[Three unrelated paragraphs omitted.]

 

The Quarterly Review is published, and I suppose it has been sent to your Grace. I see in the index under the head of “Wellington, the Duke of” “The Duke at Waterloo. 465. Fallacy of the theory that he was surprised 470 etc.”

[Unrelated paragraph omitted.]

 

I have the Honor to be
Your Grace’s faithful servant

 

J. Gurwood

[Unrelated postscript omitted.]

Wellington to Gurwood,
Walmer Castle
17 September 1842
WP 8/3/10

 

My Dear Colonel

 

I return the papers inclosed in your letter of the 16th Inst with many thanks.

 

I am sorry to hear that Major Elrington is so unwell.

 

Ever yours most sincerely

 

I am trying to finish the Memo on Clausewitz for Lord Francis. I will send it to you as soon as it will be finished. But I am really too hard worked to become an Author and review these lying works called Histories.

 

Ever Yours most sincerely

W.

Egerton to Arbuthnot,
Worsley,
23 September 1842
WP 2/94/103

 

My dear Arbuthnot,

 

Charge your glasses. I give you Nankin & Cabool with three times three!!  I understand that Alison expresses himself much pleased with the Edinburgh review of his work which, being interpreted, means that he is much displeased with mine. I see also that Siborne,[19] the officer who made that curious model of the battle, is about to publish a detailed account. Under these circumstances I think it probably that a good opportunity may present itself of such further use of the Duke’s memm. as may be required. When I first saw Siborne’s model I suspected that he had been humbugged by the Prussians, & I remember mentioning my opinion to Fitzroy Somerset. I see he advertises something like a confession of the fact, & says he has made corrections as to the position of their corps. I fully understand the Duke’s objections, & knowing his position with regard to Prussia, I took care to state what  I knew were his opinions with regard to Ligny in such a qualified form as might avoid offense to [2 words illegible], & might not commit him.

Wellington to Gurwood,
24 September 1842
WP 8/3/14

 

My Dear Col.

 

I send you the inclosed. A nice little Work for a Man who has so much to do as I have.

You will see that it requires a good deal of revision and more illustration.

 

 

Ever Yours most faithfully

 

Wellington

Gurwood to Liverpool,
24 September 1842
70 Lowndes Square24
BL Add MS 38,303 fols 197-198

 

My dear Lord Liverpool,

 

The Duke left town for Windsor at ½ past 12—he is very well and in good spirits. He had been awake and left his bed at Walmer. He evidently feels a shock at Lord Wellesleys[20] illness, but I think it is as relates to himself for on remarking on it, he said, “but he is 8 years older than me”. He sent me last evening his revised memorandum, in which he has left out the remarks on Alison & taken up Clausewitz. I cannot send it to you, but I will send a copy of it to you when I have made it, which will take a little time as it covers 12 sheets of foolscap, half margin; & he has omitted to send me one of the sheets. The latter part is evidently written in a hurry & I shall bring it again before his revision when I shall have made a fair copy of it. There is now and then a bitterness, in allusion to Clausewitz, which I shall take the liberty to mark for correction, as I think it unworthy of him and that it does not strengthen his argument. The paper is much improved upon the one I sent to you. Let me know whether I shall send it to you to Buxted or keep it until you return to town.

 

Sincerely yours

 

J. Gurwood

Gurwood to Liverpool,
26 September 1842
BL Add MSS 38,303, fol. 199-200

 

My dear Lord Liverpool

 

I have a note this morning from the Duke, who says that he shall be in town this morning and at Walmer Castle in the evening, where he shall possibly find the 7th sheet of his Memorandum on Waterloo, omitted in the copy he sent to me—I send you his notes to show you how good natured he is about it. Have the goodness to return them to me.

You are quite right about the truth. I have made it my object to endeavour to attain it—with discretion. I have, however, been occasionally indiscreet, it appears, and have always been shewn up—hitherto, without having lost the confidence of the Duke. I have had several lessons which, at time, have caused me much uneasiness, in the apprehension of misconstruction. Fortunately for me, the Duke has never attributed to me wilfulness, when what I have done has been misrepresented by others; and although not unassailed, I remain unblemished, as far as I can judge by his conduct to me. I am perhaps paying myself too high a compliment in saying that I am sometimes overconfident with those who are unworthy, when I have wished to elucidate and prove truth, and destroy common report by what I personally knew. All this causes wound to me, but, unfortunately, does not diminish any misplaced confidence. My great desire to save the Duke from controversy is a difficult task. I believe I have hitherto succeeded in so doing, in what I have hitherto done; but there are two persons about the Duke, Arbuthnot and Lord F. Somerset, who are always on the look out to catch me tripping. I am confident that if, unfortunately, I should stumble, that it will not be from deviating from rectitude of principle, but it may arise from too much zeal in a career, in which I am without a rival. This is not forgiven by them and others. I have never hinted at this to anyone but yourself. You may have guessed it, however, by what I have previously told you. It is painful to disguise one’s feelings, particularly when it is possible that I may be mistaken, therefore for the object which I have always had in view, I am obliged to act with what I should otherwise call duplicity. In this I have however a great example in his Grace, when good is the object, but which however is difficult of attainment.

[Unrelated material omitted]

I will send to you at Buxted the copy of the Memorandum on Waterloo, when I have made it and when I get, tomorrow or the next day, the 7th sheet of it, from the Duke on his arrival at Walmer.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

J. Gurwood

Gurwood to Liverpool,
28 September 1842
70 Lowndes Square

 

My dear Lord Liverpool,

 

My letter of yesterday, which you will have received this morning will account for my blunder.[21]  I was about copying the Duke’s memorandum to send to you but I received a note from the Duke this morning  “I cannot find the 7th sheet any where. I must write another. But I must have the whole paper in order to be able to do so. If you will send it down to me by the bag I shall be able to write a 7th sheet which shall fit in. I am glad you like the paper.”

When I get it back I will send you the copy of it. The Duke treats the complaint of Genl. Clausewitz of a want of a Return of the Duke’s army, called ‘A Line of Battle’ and the assembly of the Army under the Duke as having taken place earlier than that under Blücher very satisfactorily. But he shows, on speaking of a position in which the Genl. Clausewitz recommends the position of the 2 Armies “It is obvious that the historian could not indicate such position. He was too wise to make the attempt.” This shows a little humour, which may offend, but is very conclusive.

I am delighted at the paper and I am sure it will be agreeable to you to have the pleasing reflection that you are the cause of its having been written.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

J. Gurwood

Captain William Siborne to Gurwood
1 October 1842
WP 8/3/21

 

Dublin, Oct. 1, 1842

 

My dear Colonel,

 

I beg to thank you for your very obliging letter of the 26th ult., by which I am glad to perceive that the Duke of Wellington has himself written a memorandum on the strategy of the campaign of 1815, as so valuable a document may hereafter be required to be made public in order to set aside the silly and groundless questions advanced by certain writers. I am well aware that my History will displease some people—I may not be able to tell the whole truth but I am quite satisfied that my account of Waterloo will be found to differ materially from all others hitherto published, and I feel very confident that it will prove far more satisfactory to military men.

 

 

Believe me
My dear Colonel
Very faithfully yours

 

W. Siborne

Philip Henry, 5th Earl Stanhope,
Notes of Conversations with the Duke of Wellington, 1831-1851
(London, 1888; reprint edition New York: Da Capo Press, 1973), p. 279.
4 October 1842

 

Walked with the Duke on the Castle ramparts. He then took me to his room and read to me a memorandum on the battle of Waterloo, which he has drawn up lately. It is of great length, filling thirteen folio sheets—or rather half-sheets, the other half being left blank as usual in drafts. It is a truly interesting and important document. Some erroneous statements of General Von Clausewitz in a German history of the campaign are refuted, and it is unanswerably shown that the Duke was not surprised, but was ready and prepared on all points. I was also much struck with the opinion incidentally expressed, that after the battle of the 16th it might have been a more judicious movement on the part of Napoleon to march against the right instead of the left of the English army—that is, along the chaussée from Mons to Hal and Brussels. But the Duke adds of Napoleon—that there never yet existed a general in whose presence it would have been more dangerous to make a false step.

This memorandum is written throughout in the third person. “The Duke of Wellington heard—the Duke of Wellington did.”  It is to be lent to Lord Francis Egerton, who wishes to write an article upon Clausewitz’s work in the ‘Quarterly Review.’  Meanwhile it goes back by to-night’s post to Gurwood. The Duke has had to replace and write over again one of the sheets which was lost.

Wellington to Gurwood,
Walmer Castle
4 October 1842
WP 2/93/17

 

My dear Colonel

 

I return this paper with another seventh sheet which I have had much difficulty to make out so you can put it in its place.

I could have written another paper more easily in a shorter space of time.

[Two unrelated or illegible paragraphs omitted.]

 

 

Ever yours most faithfully

 

W.

 

I don’t mean that this paper should be published!

I have written it for Lord Francis Egerton’s information to enable him to review Clausewitz’s History.

I don’t propose to give mine Enemy the gratification of writing a Book!

Excerpt from a Wellington Memorandum
enclosed in a letter from Arbuthnot to Egerton,
10 October 1842

Ellesmere, Personal
Reminiscences
, p. 237

 

I don’t know that I can suggest any alteration of this. There is in some of my papers an argument upon the inconvenience and danger of taking up a false position, and of making a false movement, in front of such a Captain as Buonaparte, having an Army in such a position as that of the French frontier of the Department of the North covered (hérisée) with fortresses, in which he might cover and protect, and through which he might in safety and secrecy move hundreds and thousands of troops; while the allies, whether to correct or improve their position erroneously taken up, must have moved along the frontier, and confronted with this formidable position of the enemy, no part of which could be attacked by us, we should have been exposed to be attacked by each part in detail.

A common inspection of the map will show this. Place our right at Ostend, and the left at Namur on the Meuse, and take any central position you please. Then take the French position, with its right at Givet and Charleroi, by Le Quesnoi, Valenciennes, Courtrai, Lisle, Dunkirk, on the sea. And the folly and danger of a central position will be seen, we being, par force on the defensive, and moreover, we could not move without being attacked.

Even my position ... as it was in comparison, could not have been take up if I had not fortified and rendered defensible against a coup de main, Mons, Ath, Tournay, Ypres, Ostend, and Nieuport.

 

Wellington

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