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To the Hon. Emma Vickery, Fallbrooke House, nr Winchester

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To the Hon. Emma Vickery, Fallbrooke House, nr Winchester

Post  John Vickery on Fri Aug 12, 2011 11:19 am

Letter dated 4th June 1809, British Army, Portugal

My dearest Emma,

I hope this letter finds you, and Mama and Papa, quite well?

Please do not let Mama read this without preparing her first. You will probably not have heard about the minor skirmish between ourselves and the French on the 1st instant. I received a gash to the side and a blow to the head, but I am quite recovered now, although my side still pains me somewhat. We were over-run by French cavalry, who managed to cut my men off from the Division after I was wounded.

It was a Lieutenant Sharpe of the 95th who rallied them and brought them back to the Division, a repeat of the feat he performed during the last winter when he brought about forty men south to Lisbon from Sir John Moore's retreat. He was commissioned from the ranks by Sir Arthur Wellesley in India and is a most remarkable fellow.

I am more pained by the loss of my soldier-servant, Rifleman Cotton, who was captured by the French, along with seven or eight of his fellow Riflemen. I do not believe I have mentioned him before, although he came into my service at Christmas. He is a cheerful enough sort, from Kent and very handy to have around. I am currently borrowing the services of the soldier-servant to a Lieutenant in the Second Foot Guards, to whom we have been attached for service during this campaign.

The countryside we are travelling through is very hilly, providing but a poor living for the local inhabitants, who are welcoming and friendly once they realise that we are not French. Their villages are unfortunately mean and poor, although the larger towns are the equal of anything you might see in England. Coimbra, which we passed through recently, has a university dating back to the thirteenth century and its red-tiled roofs are as striking in their own way as the spires of Oxford.

You may rest assured that I have no intention of forming any sort of attachment to Miss Price. I do not think that I could stand any one simpering at me over the breakfast table. I have no doubt that Mama has half a hundred other eligible ladies in mind, but I shall endeavour to remain free of any attachment, as I have my military duty to consider.

My men have recovered their spirits from our late reversal and wish only to be able to strike back at the French, to repay them for the treatment they have lately received. If they can somehow rescue their fellows from the clutches of the French, I feel confident that they will do so.

My luncheon is now served, so I must close this missive.

Your devoted brother,
John Vickery

Post Scriptum, 10th June
I find I must share some good news with you. I wrote that my man had been captured, together with seven other men. Well, they have just returned to us, having made their escape from the French on the 2nd inst and spent the week making their way towards us in the hills so as to evade recapture.

I remain your devoted brother,
John Vickery

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Over the hills and far away ~ Traditional

An officer must be confident in giving orders, or else the soldier will not be confident in executing them.
John Vickery

Species : Captain; 5/60th Rifles
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