It is ever the same! Historical letter
Allied Headquarters, 1812
to Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French
forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have
been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and then by dispatch rider to our
We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent
poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government holds
me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of
every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two
regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.
the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry
battalion's petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number
of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in
western Spain. This reprehensive carelessness may be related to the pressure of
circumstance since we are at war with France, a fact which maycome as a bit of a
surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.
This brings me to my present
purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty's
Government, so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these
barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative
duties, as given below. I shall pursue either one with the best of my ability,
but I cannot do both.
1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in
Spain for the benefit of the accountant and copy boys in London or, perchance,
2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.
Your most obedient servant,