2/83rd Regiment to Garrsion Duties, Lisbon.

Wednesday, 30 August, 1809

After the Battle of Talavera, General Wellesley's Army retreated to the high mountainous positions south of the River Tagus. During this time the remnants of the 2nd Battalion of the 83rd Regiment, commanded by Major Napper, suffered shortages of rations, including no bread, and this weakened the survivors just when fitness and stamina were required to match the arduous terrain and tasks. Lack of horse transport meant that human labour had to shift and haul heavy supplies and drag guns up steep mountain tracks. A diary record stated:

... the troops are beginning to sink under their fatigues.

Wellesley's policy was that when a battalion fell below 300 it was ordered to the rear. The 2/83rd suffered such privations that it soon received orders to march to Lisbon in Portugal where it would perform garrison duties until it recovered its strength sufficiently; the Battalion, owing to recruiting difficulties in Ireland and the priority for drafts to the 1st Battalion at the Cape, was destined to remain in Lisbon for nearly a year. Before its departure, General Cameron in his Brigade Order of 29 August 1809 had given the 2/83rd a generous testimonial:

... the conduct of the 83rd in the arduous contest of Talavera merits the Brigadier General's warmest thanks, and he hopes that Major Napper will justly appreciate the merits of those few that are left. The very weak state of the 83rd renders it necessary to send them to Lisbon. The Brigade General requests them to accept of his best acknowledgement for their uniform good conduct while under his command, and has (at the same time) to assure them that he shall be proud to have the 83rd again in his Brigade when re-established in health and numbers.