William Carr Beresford

(1768—1854) army officer

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Peninsular War

Duke of Wellington (1769—1852) army officer and prime minister


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(1764–1854). A leading British participant in the Peninsular war, Beresford was the illegitimate son of the Anglo-Irish Marquess of Waterford. His first independent command, an expedition in 1806 to occupy Buenos Aires, supposedly in rebellion against Spain, ended in a humiliating rout, pursued by the far from friendly natives. Oddly, this did his career no harm and in 1807 he was made governor of Madeira. Either then or previously he learned the language, so when the Portuguese government requested that a British officer be sent to take command of its ramshackle army in February 1809, he was selected. Portuguese troops were an important asset to Wellington during the Peninsular war and Beresford deserves the credit. Unfortunately he had no talent for field command, and material not included in the published version of Wellington's correspondence suggests that he came close to a nervous breakdown on the only occasion he was forced to command in battle, at Albuera in May 1811. At the end of the war he continued as C-in-C of the Portuguese army, but the revolution of 1820 forced him to return to England. His last military appointment was Master General of the Ordnance from 1828 to 1830. Surprisingly, he lacks a biographer.

From The Oxford Companion to Military History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Military History.

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