Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 1st Foot Guards

By Ray Foster

1/2/3/1st Guard


Having completed the regimental records of the British Regiments of Foot we come to a totally different group of battalions, no less British but, in no respect the same as those journeymen of the army already dealt with.

To start with these men and certainly it is the officers at all levels we are now to examine were to a great extent the sons [legitimate or otherwise] of the country's well-heeled gentry whether by aristocratic descent or the good fortune of industrial endeavour.  In the case of these officers a good deal of money changed hands to advance promotions herein so that it will come as no surprise that amongst Guard regiments there was a system not entirely different to that which was set up to recruit junior officers into the Portuguese Service.

It appears that once an Ensign had decided to remain with his fellow guardsmen beyond the short term his next step in rank not only made him a Lieutenant in his own right but also a Captain as and when he might move on to an ordinary [non-Guard] regiment, thus allowing the status already achieved, and perhaps grossly over-paid-for, [of being an officer/Guardsman] to be maintained over the more common Lieutenants from the "lower orders".

This preferential system carried right through the upper ranks; Captains of the Guard were automatically seen as Lieutenant Colonels when moved amongst the normal regiments and rather strangely seem to miss out the step of Major altogether.

It is not the purpose of this compendium to question the peculiarities of the British Army of that time but a decision must be taken as to where all Guard officers fit within their own ranking structure.

Where records show two steps of rank for any one officer I take the lower one as being substantive since it is plain that this is where they operate within their own battalion structure.

We shall see, at least for this 1st Guard regiment that a disproportionate number of officer casualties are borne by Ensigns! Almost 50% of all the officers recorded by JA Hall are Ensigns and of them almost 50% killed outright or mortally wounded. How can this be one must ask? It is a factor well worth study, the history of their contacts with the enemy may well reveal an answer.

So, let us begin;


1/3/1st Guard (arriving at Corunna October 1808)

Drawn out of their home garrison in England 1/3/1st Guard are shipped down through the Bay of Biscay during the first weeks of October 1808 to enter the harbour of Corunna from 13th October onward, their Divisional Commander Lieutenant General David Baird has great difficulty in securing permission to land his very large contingent here, only receiving this after much passing of the buck between the local Junta and its own higher authority. Nevertheless all is settled after a full fortnight of wrangling and 1st Guard will set foot in the Peninsula:

Landed at Corunna between October 26th and November 4th 1808

1/1st Guard (on leaving England)                                                                                                                    
PUA 1340   

3/1st Guard (on leaving England)                                                                                                                    
PUA 1102                                          

Already the serious student will see that I call that second battalion 3/1st not 2/1st as shown in Oman Vol 1 Appendix 13; this is because no officer of 2nd Battalion ever shows as a casualty during what became known as the Corunna Campaign whilst three of 3rd Battalion certainly did. There was no benefit for Oman within CT Atkinson's compilation at this early time as it did not to start until April of 1809. I prefer the official records quoted in The Biographical Dictionary of British Officers Killed and Wounded 1808-1814 by JA Hall, they do after all come down to money that the British have to pay in pensions and as we know money rules all! Major General Henry Warde will take in hand this elite brigade and along with two other brigades all under Baird still, make a start inland marching eastward to Astorga, arriving there by late November. The weather has turned cold, they are put on hold for a while then sent back by the same route as far as Villafranca where there is yet another set of orders which require them to retrace their steps not only to Astorga but then forward again via Benevente meeting Lieutenant General John Moore and the major part of his force at Mayorga, it is 20th December.

19th December 1808 (at Mayorga)                                                      

1/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                         
PUA 1300                                    

3/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                         
PUA 1027                                                          

The next day they are on the offensive looking for a fight with Marshal Nicholas Soult's Corps at the Carrion River, this sterling initiative becomes tarnished, halts and, when the imminent appearance of none other than Napoleon himself with his massive army is revealed it is about-turn-and-march-as-you-have-never-done-before time.

By 30th December Warde's Brigade, leading the retreat is passing through Astorga for the last time, they drop off and abandon their heavy baggage to keep up the pace as the New Year and snow make their appearance. A week later 1st Guard will be at Lugo behind the Minho river standing to arms awaiting the French vanguard and a possible combat on favourable ground, this offer is not taken up by Soult who prefers to wait for support from his own struggling infantrymen. Off goes Moore's army again with the Guard to the fore until 9th January at Valmeda where, being first on the scene our lucky guardsmen are able to take up all of the available dwellings and have a decent rest for two whole days. It is now time to march the last few miles to Corunna, discover the absence of the embarkation fleet then, when the rest of Moore's men have come in, to take up the positions allotted to them in line of battle and receive attention from Soult's steadily advancing Corps.

This turns out to be a soft spot in the defence in second line reserve behind Lieutenant General William Bentink's Brigade when the enemy finally show up in serious numbers on 16th January. The fighting itself is done in their area by Bentink's men whilst we are told that something like 800 men of 1st Guard are all that is standing in the line [where, one might ask are the other 1500?], of these 800 just 13 are killed and probably about 40 wounded, of these casualties three Ensigns are hit, Francis Blunt, Thomas Rous and Paul Burrard, this last one [a son of Lieutenant General Harry Burrard] while acting as an ADC to Moore himself and like his leader Burrard has a mortal wound for his troubles, Captain Matthew Griffith is wounded to fill the list.  As earlier mentioned we see that Griffith, Blunt and Rous are all men of 3/1st Guard, QED.

No doubt those missing 1500 have been busy preparing for the departure of their own regiment with as much comfort as the conditions will allow, upon landing back in England they will be counted off at:

21st January 1809

Disembarked in England fit, injured or sick

1/1st Guard
Present 1266          

3/1st Guard
Present 1036                                  

Six months later these two Guard battalions with many a thousand other British Infantry are considered fit and well enough to be part of that ill fated Walcheren expedition, their combined strength being just a few hundred less than that last set of figures. By 1st August 1809 they are set down in the Scheldt estuary to see how well they can combat the deadly mosquitoes of the island of South Beveland, no better nor worst than any other troops present one should imagine. Just over a month later with sickness statistics going "off-the-scale" back they go to England to once more recover some of their vitality, we shall see!

Another battalion of 1st Guard however will enter the stage.

3rd April 1810

2/1st Guard (6 companies) landed at Cadiz                                                                                                  

No figures given                                               

These men will go un-noticed for a short while but, when they do enter, look out for action.

February 1811

2/1st Guard (drawn from the Cadiz garrison)                                                                                                  
PUA 611                                         

It shows stand-alone figures which under ordinary Guard battalion circumstances would indicate that it had no more than that original six companies [first mentioned in April 1810] present for the enterprise about to be embarked upon so perhaps its "landed numbers" would be very much the same. Lieutenant General Thomas Graham in February of 1811 had been given the opportunity to join with a Spanish force under Captain General La Pena and take this combination by sea from Cadiz to put ashore again at a favourable beach or port on the Tarifa shoreline, the task, to break the siege of the great seaport of Cadiz being maintained by enemy forces under Marshal Claud Victor. By 21st February the transport fleet is on its way, strong winds hold them to a rapidly completed journey, so much so that they are blown past the tricky harbour at Tarifa only to be able to put ashore in Gibraltar Bay at Algeciras two days later. Marching back to Tarifa Graham is then able to sort his troops into Brigades, 2/1st Guard being joined to two part battalions of 2nd and 3rd Guard, they are given two companies of 2/95th Rifles to make up a small 1360 man brigade all in the hand of Brigadier General Thomas Dilkes. The Spanish Captain General has the operation to handle as he sees fit and proceeds to march about the countryside, mainly at night and eventually across a shallow lagoon several miles in expanse before reaching a beach road that returns the whole assembly almost back to Cadiz itself.

Passing a prominent hill on their right Graham's men who are in rear of the Spanish force are to come out upon a broad beach area as La Pena well ahead has already had a fight with elements of Victor's Corps at a creek which delivers its waters into the San Petri channel by the Isle de Leon. While one of  the enemy’s Divisions, General Villate's is keeping La Pena's men occupied two other of Victor’s Divisions are moving at pace to come around Graham's rear to force him into a "killing ground" by the beach. They have the advantage of good cover from a pinewood forest just inland of the beach. Not for long however. Graham is not so easily caught out, sensing that all is not as it should be he sends a Brigade of men through this wood to do his own surprising while a quick appraisal of the terrain to his right rear shows him that the hill just passed by will be of great importance if the enemy are in fact coming at him from that direction.

Everything is taking place at speed, General Ruffin's Division has climbed the back of the Cerro del Puerco and has the ability already to come down on Graham's open flank, it only has to get itself into order and all is lost. Not so, a rapid turn about for Dilke's men would allow them to counter the seemingly triumphant men of Ruffin's command, but they would have to put up first a sort of forlorn hope to give them more time to come up to a decent firing position, all uphill it has to be noted.

"A bad business" as Graham observed to his sacrificial lamb Lieutenant Colonel John Brown of 1/28th  whose task was to take up his few hundred men who were closest to the scene to be decimated while Dilkes got the Guards into a swift advance at the same time as closing up for violent action. All of this went as expected; Brown's "made-up" battalion of various line flank companies received the enemy's concentrated volleys as they kept closing the range. With less and less men still able to return this withering fire the remnants reluctantly went to ground, still giving fire but obviously to no great effect once up to 50% casualties.

Instead of the French columns now coming forward to finish off these brave men there was a halt; they had seen the Guard units [11 companies] forming and were not too sure of their next move. Dilkes, sizing up the terrain cover advantages such as they were came up to the right of those scattered red-coated bodies to attempt to get to close quarters without suffering the same fate as Brown's men. We are told that this Guard attack was able to present a concave line, ragged in formation but solidly closed up for all that. On reaching effective musket range the Guard, quite literally "let-them-have-it", the result was stunning, down went whole files of the on-coming columns stopping their comrades in their tracks, the rapidly following re-load volleys shattered the resolve of these previously victorious men. A counter attack put in yet further again away to the British right although fiercely contested had, in the end the same result, coming almost face to face the contestants traded volley for volley in a mad bloody show of resolve. As was to be the case two months later to others at Albuera the French in the end could not stand the price, back they went up the hill, no amount of encouragement would stop them from first retiring but then breaking off to join others who had had no better luck in the other part of the action. With the day won and the enemy taken to flight it is time to count the cost, no less than a couple of Captains, John Colquitt, Edward Sebright and Lieutenant Henry Stables being seriously wounded, Lieutenant Robert Adair just a slight wound, but six Ensigns hit William Commerell and Gervase Eyre are killed and William Cameron, William Fielde, Henry Lambert and Nicholas Vigors are all wounded, of the men in the ranks 33 are dead and 177 wounded a total of 220 of all ranks. It is of some interest to see that neither Dilkes nor Brown received as much as a scratch while on the other side Ruffin the French Divisional General had collected a mortal wound and was left on the field to the mercy of his captors.

5th March 1811 (after the battle at Barrosa)

2/1st Guard (6 companies)
PAB 391                                             

It is well known that following this infamous fight Graham refused to be involved further with Spanish military initiatives, resigning his command at Cadiz and sailing up to Portugal to join Wellington who agreed with his sentiments on the same subject.

For 2/1st Guard there is a return to the Cadiz garrison and a wait of some months, now under the garrison command of Major General George Cooke, the last word is that they are relieved of their duties by the arrival of a complement of 3/1st Guard from England and by the end of 1811 are shipped back home to serve no more in the Peninsula.

Thus it is that we can now take up with matters, chronologically, as they affect once more 3/1st Guard.

3/1st Guard

Having landed in England in late January 1809 with a little more than 1000 men albeit an assortment of fit, sick and wounded from the Corunna evacuation then having suffered the diseases of the Walcheren Campaign here they are arriving at Cadiz something a little more than two years later to sit as garrison troops. We shall hear nothing of them until the balance of power in Spain has shifted dramatically in favour of the Portuguese/Spanish/British cause. The victory over Marshal Auguste Marmont and his men on the Arapiles close by Salamanca and the dispersal of his Army of Portugal causes Marshal Soult to withdraw his Army of the South out of Andalusia leaving Cadiz free and the British forces therein able to march closer to where the action is. Anticipating Wellington's preferences Colonel Skerrett is ordered by Cooke to gather a mixed force of men as early as 11th August 1812 to join a roaming Spanish Division in the Condado de Niebla that was to come in from the west and seize Seville itself.  By the last week of August he has with him six companies of the men of 3/1st Guard as a part of his advancing array, since Guard battalion companies frequently mustered in excess of 100 bayonets we can visualise a figure of PUA 650 for this unit their first mention being to be put ashore at Huelva to threaten Seville as Soult's rearguard is going through the motions of departure.

This rearguard remains behind to slow down the pursuit putting up sufficient fire to be taken seriously, the bridge across the Guadalquivir at the Seville suburb of Triana being defended came in for an assault. After a few valiant attempts by others Skerrett sent the Guard companies forward, many of the bridge's floor timbers had been torn out but those few left were enough for the attack to be sustained Captain Colquitt was mortally wounded here and an undisclosed number of his men, no doubt killed or injured. The survivors of 3/1st Guard would naturally be first on the scene to get amongst the spoils on offer in this rich Andalusian Provincial capital city as a period of anarchy reigned.

It seems that Skerrett’s force was delayed hereabouts for some considerable time, while Soult's army was able to clear the whole of this southern province with little more than his own logistics to consider.

1st October 1812 (after the taking of Seville)                                                                                                 

3/1st Guard
PAB 625                                            

Meanwhile, away up on the most northern tip of Spain

1/1st Guard

It will be remembered that this premier corps of guardsmen after Corunna landed back in England in January of 1809 with a complement of 1266 men fit or otherwise. They will return to resume warlike duties in the late autumn of 1812 landing at Corunna on 1st October, yet again to march eastward to re-enact a somewhat similar performance to that of 1808. Wellington has been making heavy weather of his siege of Burgos Castle to the point where he can no longer stand before this obstinate heap of stone. The French coming in from the north have assembled forces much superior in number to his against him and here we are again on the retreat. By 24th October 1/1st Guard have joined, the army is on the River Carrion and of course on the defensive, we have at this time no figures to show the battalion strength PUA and, since this drawn out retreat devolves into a dismal withdrawal down through central Spain, first to Salamanca and then back in wintry weather to Cuidad Rodrigo the numbers game becomes totally clouded, there almost seems to be a reluctance on behalf of the historians of the day to face up to the cruel losses incurred in a disastrously mis-managed foul-weather retreat as bad, if not worse than that suffered on the road to Corunna. There is a small point however in favour of 1/1st Guard, as usual in all cases they have pride of place in the column of march picking out first option for shelter at the end of each day and, perhaps most importantly having the roads and paths in front of them largely un-trampled by others. Of course any sustenance procurable would fall into their hands so: they would have the best of a bad situation.

What then of 3/1st Guard in all of this?

In the march up from Seville under Lieutenant General Rowland Hill to join Major General Charles von Alten's Divisions about Madrid little is said of their travels, it is possible that a few more companies of 3/1st Guard have cleared out from Cadiz to join their comrades, certainly none are left behind in that garrison. As 1/1st Guard are making their way ever back towards the frontier at Cuidad Rodrigo 3/1st Guard must, from Salamanca onwards, be very close to their senior battalion. Oman in making a rationalisation of "the retreat" shows them together behind the Agueda with absolutely no way of getting at numbers, worse is yet to come.

When the army is preparing itself for the 1813 campaign it appears that 1/3/1st Guard are in deep trouble, they are cantoned about the Oporto seaport area and the fevers of Walcheren have returned, to not just haunt them but to cut them down as fatally as any battle lost. The warmer the weather becomes as the spring turns to summer the more guardsmen die, matters turn so seriously bad that this 'pride-of-the-army' have to be taken out of service and be virtually quarantined, not one to be Present Under Arms. Incredibly perhaps no more than a couple of officers can be traced from those recorded by JA Hall as dying as a result of this tragic turn of events, Ensign Thomas Style [confirmed through Lionel Challis] and almost inevitably another Ensign Wyndham Knatchbull when we know for sure that as many as 700 guardsmen died during this time, much too depressing we must suppose for the good folks back home to read of such loss of the 'sons of gentlemen'!!

Let us move on.

Brevet Colonel Peregrine Maitland it is, who will eventually bring 1/3/1st Guard back into field service, the battle of Vittoria has already been fought and won, the spoils divided and the army moved forward close to the French frontier.

These two battalions have with them a company of 5/60th and quite naturally form the 1st Brigade of 1st Division being hard by the western coastline and the fortress of San Sebastian, it is the end of August before anything is heard of 1/3/1st Guard. Volunteers are being called from some of the Divisions close by as yet another attempt is to be made to capture this stubborn obstacle in their path. We know that all of the Guard battalions [4 in number] are given the opportunity to seek death or glory here so, from the 200 men allowed perhaps 50 would come from each of 1st and 3rd 1st Guard; these things were ever taken seriously and with meticulous care.

On the fateful day 31st August 1813 the storm begins, the part played by the 100 men of 1/3/1st Guard is reasonably understood, certainly not first in but moving to support Major General Frederick Robinson's Brigade of 5th Division which is well onto the main breach, these men follow and mingle with the attackers who are being systematically shot down. A fully manned and well thought out second traverse rakes the lip of the breach with musketry while canister shot from the two ends pours across their flanks in enfilade. No access can be gained against this defence, all who come up will remain there as dead or wounded or crouching behind scattered boulders, heaps of bodies and lumps of masonry until the British and Portuguese gunners who have been at work throughout the siege seek permission to try a concerted barrage aimed beyond the breach and onto this second traverse. When approved and executed it is a great success it now being the turn of the defenders to be shot down in swathes. A bloody business for all involved and seemingly not a brief combat either, several hours have passed for all of this to have occurred, the result for the volunteers of 1/3/1st Guard being a 60% loss, [provided that we are prepared to accept that sort of rationale from the figures given].

We are aware that Ensign William Burrard [another son of Sir Harry] has been mortally wounded to die two days later, unsurprisingly another Ensign, Orlando Bridgeman is wounded, it is likely that 11 of their men are dead 38 wounded and a further 11 not to be found [smashed up in the debris or made prisoner early].  It will be two months or more before we see sure figures for our two battalions of 1st Guard, they have not been used at the passage of the Bidassoa in early October so:

10th November 1813 (on the line of the Nivelle)                                      

1/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                            
PUA 868             

3/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                            
PUA 779                                                        

When this battle is joined Maitland's men will be a part of the line of attack very much to the left, that is, virtually on the coastline end of affairs. The terrain here is all marsh and estuary flats so that their task is merely to keep a portion of the enemy in position and occupied to prevent the attackers from having an unopposed advance.     As the day is being lost for the defenders elsewhere this, their right flank has to be abandoned so that Maitland's Brigade with others can come on taking up ground by degree. Casualties such as they might be in 1/3/1st Guard must be virtually nil so, a very gentle day.

A month later however things are not so gentle, it is December and they are at the combats about the river Nive; still on the coastal side of the various points of attack 1st Division have been for a while now organisationally joined with 5th Division and others all under Lieutenant General John Hope their task at this time to probe forward along the manageable ground on this far left flank towards Bayonne and its defences. As the series of fights hereabouts are set in train numbers for 1st Guard cannot be much different from those recorded before the battle of the Nivelle so, in we go.

Early in the morning of 9th December 1813 Hope gets his men on the move, Maitland's Brigade set out from Guthary well to the rear of their other brigades of 1st Division and those attached Brigades of this wing.  Fighting of a scattered nature is encountered by the vanguard units all the way up as far as Anglet but, nothing for 1/3/1st Guard to do this day other than to retrace their steps when all is over. This turns out to be quite a long march back even further than Guthary, all the way to St' Jean de Luz from where they advance next day in answer to an urgent call from those still out ahead as far as Barrouillet.The CIC here had obviously miscalculated the enemy's intentions, Marshal Soult had come on in large number and was gradually forcing his way forward, bitter fighting through difficult terrain this the only thing holding him back, just long enough for 1st Division to tramp up the main road in company with Major General Matthew Aylmer's Brigade arriving late in the day. This entry on the scene effectively brought matters to a close, both sides had had quite enough fighting for the day the end result for 1/3/1st Guard being only a lot of marching and no casualties to account for. On 11th December therefore there were sufficient reinforcements to hand for use by Hope to stave off any untoward attacks from his immediate enemy, 5th Division because of its mounting accumulation of casualties on this front should be withdrawn and the obvious replacement 1st Division brought into front line. This only took place during the last hours of 11th December but ensured that on the morning of 12th December it would be the turn of Maitland's and Major General Kenneth Howard's Brigades to face "the music". And so it was, fortunately this was to be a holding action for the contestants here, other moves were under way elsewhere but, rather than settle down to an easy day these opponents opted to give each other as much trouble as the situation would allow engaging in what must have been a steady fire fight.

It is only recorded that the two Guards Brigades lost here between them 186 men, quite enough for a day of containment tactics but, how to judge casualties for 1/3/1st Guard then? We must resort to Oman's own formula often used when dealing with Frenchmen, the officer component, JA Hall no less than Martinien gives us the tool to work with.  1/3/1st Guard this day had two officers killed outright and one more mortally wounded, also one other slightly injured, leaving one officer of 2nd and 3rd Guard [dealt with elsewhere] killed and three injured, from this list simple arithmetic suggests that of the other ranks casualties should fall to 1/3/1st Guard after the fashion 12 men killed and 77 wounded, the officers named being Captain Samuel Martin [1/1st] and Lieutenant Charles Thompson [1/1st] killed, Ensign James Latour [3/1st] mortally wounded and Lieutenant Thomas Streatfield [3/1st] slightly injured, after the day's work then,

12th December 1813 (after the fire-fight at Barrouillet)

1/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                            
PAB 821

3/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                            
PAB 733                                                         

Not only will the year pass without further disturbance but also 1814 will be well on the way before we hear more of 1/3/1st Guard. Before going on into action in the field it will be necessary for us to see figures produced by the Office of the Adjutant General at St Jean d Luz, so:

16th January 1814 (in cantonments south of Bayonne)

1/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                             
PUA 819

3/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                             
PUA 807

These take into account only the rank & file and commissioned officers at their normal 8:1 ratios.

It will be on 23rd February of the final year of this war when serious work resumes, it will however be very early, in fact just after midnight when orders have them out on the road north from Bidart marching for the left banks of the Adour estuary. The road soon turns to fine deep sand as they fall in behind their 2nd Brigade Major General Edward Stopford, no matter, it will be morning when the column arrives at the river mouth ready to make the crossing.

Seemingly the chosen spot has only three hundred yards of water to pass, against this is the very strong tide that runs in and out of this river, Commander Hope, however, when it comes to a risk or two, is no shrinking violet. After a short pause impatiently awaiting the promised flotilla of luggers from St Jean de Luz he starts to put his Guardsmen across without them by the decidedly shaky method of using rowboats and improvised pontoons and a simple hawser, it will be members of Stopford's Brigade who will be called upon first to 'chance their arm".  Incredibly all goes well and by night time next day both Guard Brigades are on the right banks ready for anyone who might challenge them, there are no recorded mishaps other than those to the gallant crews of various craft from the St' Jean de Luz flotilla which had by then arrived. 

When Hope considers that he has ferried over sufficient men he goes on the offensive storming the earthworks and fortified houses about St' Etienne on this northern side of the Bayonne fortifications. Once more the work is done by others, members of the Guard's Brigades only having a supportive role, it may well be here that a handful of casualties are sustained but not enough to warrant mention in the history. March comes and goes and April advances to such affect that the war ends, but, not to the satisfaction of the Governor of Bayonne, Thouvenot has other ideas, British military history writes him down as a miserably spiteful man, events may speak for themselves. Messages are conveyed to him that yes indeed, his Emperor has abdicated after his final defeat in defence of Paris and on 10th April 1814 hostilities between the opposing forces have been suspended. Thouvenot requires some official document from his masters before he will submit, he has after all a large garrison of fine troops and while the whole countryside about him is coming to terms with peace he refuses to accept defeat without absolute proof. All of this goes on for four days before this Governor decides for a last defiant show of force, he will mount a sortie, where will it aim?  Well, since he is aware that the flower of the British army is at his gates why not straight at them, as one Colonel remarked, an amour propre, a matter of ego! Ego or not the target was the Guard regiments and the place the St Etienne gates. With 6000 men of the finest infantry remaining to the French [Abbe's Division & five more willing battalions] he waited until 3.00am on the night of 13-14 April to burst out of the gates to the right of St' Etienne dashing down the pickets of Stopford's Brigade and joining another column which had come out to their left. The overly gallant Sir John Hope in "coming-to-the-rescue" was wounded and captured thereby having no more to say on the subject. Major General Howard, ever his handmaiden gathered up Maitland's men and hurried them forward into what had become a totally confused fight.

From battalion casualty returns it is obvious that 3/1st Guard come up to the fighting first, little is said of details excepting that their part of the struggle was centred about the Jewish Cemetery, we know that all of the officers wounded were of 3/1st Guard and that 1/1st Guard only managed to make enough contact to suffer 1 man killed and 6 injured. In 3/1st Guard then Lieutenant Philip Perceval and Ensign Walter Vane had been wounded, Captain Horatio Townshend whilst later claiming to have been wounded had been taken prisoner with a comment that this 'bon vivant', always a great indulger at the table was given a severe booting and prods with bayonets to encourage him into captivity, how sad, Ensign Vane unfortunately only lasted 6 days before dying of his wounds. Of their men two only had been killed, 31 wounded but, 17 more taken prisoner, it is obvious then that for a short while 3/1st Guard had been thrown back a little, so:

14th April 1814 (after the sortie from Bayonne)                                            

1/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                            
PAB 812                                                             

3/1st Guard                                                                                                                                                            
PAB 754                                                          

No doubt the 17 men captured would return to the ranks when Thouvenot finally made his official surrender, a year down the track a good deal of these men would be back at the trade.

They will of course have quite a significant part to play at Waterloo still led by Maitland.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: March 2012

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