Bones of Burgos
General Sir Robert Thomas Wilson was a "very slippery fellow" in the words of Wellington.
Several biographical books were published along the years:
Giovanni Costigan (1932). Sir Robert Wilson: a soldier of fortune in the Napoleonic wars.
Michael Glover (1978). A very slippery fellow: the life of Sir Robert Wilson, 1777-1849.
Ian Samuel (1985). An astonishing fellow: the life of General Sir Robert Wilson, K.M.T., M.P.
Sir Robert Wilson lived a spectacular life, serving all around in the world in important military positions. He fought in Flanders, Holland, South Africa, Egypt, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Russia, and Germany. Friend of Czar Alexander I, of the Queens of Prussia and Sicily, of the Duke of York, of Canning, Peel, and Lord Grey. He was dismissed from the army, when a major-general, for inciting the Household Cavalry to mutiny at the funeral of Queen Caroline, but was reinstated nine years later, became a radical MP and eventually Governor and Commander in Chief of Gibraltar.
According to Costigan (1932, p. 28), he had an “… inability to work in harmony with his superiors which was to be the source of many future troubles, and that restless spirit of insubordination which was to assure him the occasions of martyrdom which alone could satisfy his love of self-advertisement”.
In the Peninsula, he was promoted to Brigadier in the Portuguese Army, led the Portuguese Loyal Lusitanian Legion (L.L.L.), from August 1808 to December 1809, and later a Brigade before returning to England.
During the British retreat from the Iberian Peninsula in January 1809, Wilson refused to comply with the withdrawal and instead decided to oppose the incoming 9,000-man corps commanded by the French General Pierre Belon Lapisse in the Salamanca Province. He installed half of his 1,200 Lusitanian Legion in the fortress of Almeida and arranged the rest in a thin screen. He then harried the opposition with such remorseless energy that Lapisse, convinced he was confronted by a far more numerous enemy, switched entirely to the defensive. In summer 1809, Wilson's L.L.L. again formed an important part of the Anglo-Portuguese network of advance posts and was placed on the Spanish frontier to provide early warning of French moves while the British commander Wellington advanced on Oporto. In Wellington's advance on Talavera in spring 1809, Wilson's Lusitanians again formed a valuable North flank guard, threatening to seize Madrid. Later the L.L.L. was the basis for the 7th, 8th and 9th Caçadores Battalions.
Wilson was also a prolific writer and based on his memoirs, journals, narratives, and correspondence, his nephew and son-in-law, Reverend Herbert Randolph, edited in 1862 Volumes I and II of the biographical book: LIFE OF GENERAL SIR ROBERT WILSON (https://bit.ly/Life_Sir_Robert_Wilson).
On Volume I Introduction, page X, we can read: "The two volumes of Biography now published bring down Sir Robert Wilson's personal history to the peace of Tilsit. The third volume will follow as speedily as time and circumstances permit : containing a narrative of his services in the formation and command of the Lusitanian Legion in the Peninsular war in 1808-9."
I do not think this third volume was ever published.
Can anyone confirm, please? Where in the world can we find his manuscripts on the Portuguese Lusitanian Legion? Were they ever studied, edited and published?
Maybe some hints can be found it
Unfortunately, the book you reference does not give a clue to Sir Robert Wilson memos and notes on the L.L.L.. It is an account of British officers on the service of the Portuguese Army belonging to the L.L.L., most probably: Captain John Scott Lillie and Lieutenant-colonel William Mayne.
Oman, on Volume 2 of his History of the Peninsular War (p. 255), on footnote 299 writes:
"It is most unfortunate that while Wilson wrote and published admirable narratives of his doings in Prussia and Poland in 1806-7, and of his Russian and German campaign of 1812-3, he has left nothing on record concerning Portugal in 1808-9. Moreover the Life, by his son-in-law, breaks off in 1807, and was never finished. My narrative is constructed from his dispatches in the Record Office, the correspondence of Wellesley and Beresford, and Mayne and Lillie’s Loyal Lusitanian Legion."
Captain Lillie (1790-1868) an Ensign of the 6th (or 1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot, joined the Portuguese Army and the L.L.L. only with 18 years of age, was later promoted to Major and Lieutenant Colonel on the Portuguese Army and commanded the 7th Caçadores Batallion throughout the War, up to Toulouse (1814).
He joined the Portuguese Army in December 1808 as a captain in the Lusitanian Legion and took part in various engagements in defence of Portugal. Promoted lieutenant in the British Army in 1810, he fought at the Battle of Busaco (1810) and the retreat to the lines of Torres Vedras that year as a company commander of the 1st Batallion/L.L.L.
The 7th Caçadores was formed from the 1st Battalion of the Lusitanian Legion. Lillie commanded the 7th Caçadores in several battles which included the Pyrenees (1813), Nivelle (1813), Orthes (1814), and Toulouse (1814), for which he received the Army Gold Cross. He also received the Military General Service Medal (1793-1814) with seven clasps for these engagements. He was also awarded the Order of the Tower and Sword, the Portuguese Commander's Cross for Five Actions: Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes and Toulouse and the Portuguese Gold War Cross for 4 Campaigns (https://bit.ly/Scott_Lillie_medals).
At the Battle of Toulouse, he was severely wounded and left for dead on the battlefield for some 48 hours.
It is amazing that he was photographed, proudly wearing his medals, in his later years:
Lapisse's command was an infantry division in Victor's I Corps in Spain in 1808. He didn't command a corps.
He commanded the 2d Division of Victor's I Corps. He had assumed command of the division in place of Rivaud in February 1807 and had been promoted to general of division in December 1806. He was mortally wounded at Talavera on 28 July 1809. He had served at Jena as a brigade commander in Augereau's VII Corps before being transferred to command a division in Bernadotte's I Corps. Bernadotte was later replaced by Victor who commanded the corps at Friedland and it was the I Corps artillery commander, General Senarmont, who undertook the decisive artillery attack that destroyed the Russian center.
There is more detailed information on Lapisse in Six's Dictionary.
Just for information, the French corps d'armee was instituted in 1800 both in the Armee de la Reserve by Napoleon and in Moreau's Armee du Rhin by Napoleon's order.
The order is in Napoleon's Correspondence and it gives Moreau clear direction to organize his army in the new corps structure.
Yes, you are right that General Lapisse was a Division commander under Victor I Corps. However, I use a personal manual of style/upper-lower case letter for military units and the text for me is correct: it is used "corps" and not "Corps".
I wrote "9,000-man corps commanded by the French General Pierre Belon Lapisse", in the alternative I could have written "9,000-man Division commanded by the French General Pierre Belon Lapisse". But I am not a native speaker and I may be wrong.
I understand "Corps" as a military echelon, above Division and below Army (from the french Corps d'Armée, an innovation of Napoleon in 1805), and "corps" in a generic way with the meaning of a military body, as was used before and during the Napoleonic era, until today.
For your reference I bring one example from the French military bibliography, where "corps" is used in a generic form encompassing from Compagnie to Batallion, to Regiment and to Brigade:
Martinien, A. (1899). Tableaux, par corps et par batailles, des officiers tués et blessés pendant les guerres de l’Empire (1805-1815). Retrieved from http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k503971d/f4.image
But I am diverging as my point is to find Robert Wilson's memories on the L.L.L.
Generally speaking, a corps is a body of troops, usually a homogenous one, such as the Continental Corps of Light Infantry in the War of the American Revolution, the Corps of Cadets at West Point, or the corps of grenadiers or chasseurs in the French Imperial Guard. In this case, the use of corps or Corps has to be taken in context to understand what is being referred to.
Military terminology can be confusing at times. For example, (1) the term division in the period 1792-1815 can be a division of all arms such as the French employed up to 1796 and then an all infantry or all cavalry organization which may or may not have supporting artillery attached to it. (2) in an French infantry battalion it referred to two companies that would maneuver together, usually the same two. (3) it could be the number of field pieces served by a company of artillery.
In the same vein, the artillery term battery had two meanings. In some continental armies it was a company organization of artillery. The French and Americans used the term company instead, the French until ca 1827-1829. Battery was also used to indicate an emplacement of artillery of any number of artillery pieces including just a single piece.
Totally agree with
I have moved the off-topic postings elsewhere to your request. And I apologize for anything that took away from your topic.
Hopefully I did remove all, in case you spot one, please let me know.
The British library doesn't have the 3rd volume, but they do have his papers!
In the course of my researches, I have come across a number of interesting things about Wilson and the LLE. First of all, it appears that a good part of the Legion's rank and file consisted of Spaniards from across the frontier who had fled to Portugal to avoid conscription, only immediately to be pressed by the authorities as vagrants. And, second of all, there is Wilson's involvement in the extraordinary story of John Downie, the Scottish commissary in Wellington's army who eventually became a Spanish general via the formation of a force modelled on Wilson's called the Loyal Extremaduran Legion. If you would like to e-mail me - I am, of course, Charles Esdaile and am easy enough to find - I can send you a conference paper in which I tell the full tale.