Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 48th Regiment of Foot  (The Northants)

By Ray Foster

Facings: Buff                                                                 
Lace:
Gold                                                                               

2/48th

5th April 1809 (land at Lisbon)                                                                                                                                     
PUA 753

This is a battalion made up to fill the gap caused by the losses incurred when Lieutenant General John Moore's army was made to embark from Corunna at the beginning of the year, young willing lads who would soon learn the trade under Wellesley.

A month later after making ready to take the field off they go north to do battle with Marshal Nicholas Soult's army about the Douro. At the southern banks of the river facing across to Oporto they eventually come up with Major General Rowland Hill's 6th Brigade and are to be ferried over this major obstacle once 1/3rd their brigade comrades are safely into a large unoccupied seminary, so far unseen by the enemy. They will be led by Major James Erskine joining the "Buffs" and manning the walls as the French wake up to this sudden threat in their midst. The action is fierce for a short while but, as the artillery howitzers positioned on a south bank bluff get the range and start to pick off the defending gun teams, gunners and horses are blanketed with a rain of shrapnel bullets, a new and surprising weapon which, whilst rarely lethal, was nonetheless disruptive. The Northants lay down a solid musketry from the seminary walls to begin their apprenticeship, Major Erskine is wounded as are 22 of his men but the enemy, having to contend with a steady build up of troops now crossing the Douro both to east and west give up the game leaving Wellesley's men to keep them on the move completely out of Portugal by the rugged hill country to the north;

12th May 1809 (after the fight at the Oporto seminary)                                                                                            
PAB 736   

As this battalion makes its way down country again towards Abrantes its own 1st battalion comes ashore at Lisbon and gets ready to take the field.

1/48th

Early June 1809 (land at Lisbon from Gibraltar)                                                                                             

No figures given

This battalion once allocated its mule train and "necessaries" marches up to Abrantes too late to join but, carries on after the army as it journeys into Spain to meet Captain General Gregorio Cuesta's Spanish army. We shall see them as a part of Brigadier General Richard Stewart's Brigade with 29th and a Battalion of Detachments in good enough time to stand in line at the combats about Talavera in late July;

27th July 1809 (at Talavera)                                                                                                                                             
PUA 807

2/48th

Meanwhile 2/48th are now to be led by Major General Christopher Tilson but have the same brigading as at Oporto namely 1/3rd, 2/66th and a company' of 5/60th. In the period spent chasing after Soult's army and the long march into Spain 2/48th will have shed from its ranks some 69 men for whatever reason so:

27th July 1809 (at Talavera)                                                                                                                                             
PUA 567

It will be of interest that R Stewart's Brigade is a part of the same 2nd Division under Hill so the two battalions of 48th are reasonably close together on the field. On the night of 27th July both battalions are disturbed by an attack coming in over the Portina stream in their front which chances to hit Stewart's Brigade as well as others elsewhere, 2/48th lose only 3 men this night. The attack on Stewart's Brigade has little impact on 1/48th either but 8 men are wounded as a result. The next morning, bright and early the enemy, under the hand of King Joseph Bonaparte/Marshal Jean Baptiste Jourdan with Marshal Claud Victor fire a signal cannon and get things under way. It is just a little after 5am in the morning on what is going to be a very long day.

2nd Division are on top of the most prominent hill on the position chosen by the CIC, Stewart Brigade on the left and Tilson's to the right, by chance, or maybe design 1/48th are on the right of Stewart's line and 2/48th on the left of Tilson's so that they are, in effect together in the centre of the Division.

When the enemy combined Corps artillery start their cannonade the order is given to retire behind the crest of the hill and to lie down, this precaution is however short lived as Victor's infantry columns are soon across the Portina advancing towards their position on the hill. There are no surprises as to the plan of attack, typically the columns keep up a steady climb, reach the desired range, receive a heavy and concerted succession of musket volleys, stand, return fire somewhat weakly, since a great number are already on the ground dead or wounded then, as the inevitable bayonet counter-attack comes at them, all depart who can with an occasional defiant parting shot. This part of the day's proceedings being completed both sides stand down, eat a little food that they may have been able to save and, with a brief negotiation mingle friend and foe to take up their fallen comrades whilst attempting to dredge out the least muddy water from the brackish stream between them. In this part of the field it seems that all was "peaceful" for the rest of the morning and well into the afternoon, the day however was hot to begin with and the heat only increased as time passed. By 2.00pm the cannonade recommenced and, since enemy intentions appeared hostile all about, 2nd Division Brigades were to endure the discomforts of this lethal if only occasional visitation whilst stood to arms.

Away to the right of Tilson's Brigade and down on the flat there is, amongst the dust and smoke, a huge fight developing, there is a clash of arms and the enemy is seen to go off to the rear with hordes of disorganised red-coats chasing after them. The KGL infantry of Löwe and Langworth have joined in, leaving a long gap in the British defensive line. It must have been very soon afterwards, even before this mass of men came to a halt far into the enemy lines of formed reserves that Wellesley rode up to Lieutenant Colonel Charles Donellan of 1/48th and required of him to bring that battalion out of Stewart's line to move forward and to the right down hill some way to fill this ever widening gap as far as possible while Major General John Mackenzie and 3rd Division took up the position further yet towards the right. When the broken troops of 1st Division came routing back, 1/48th stood firm as men rushed through their intervals then, closing, prepared to meet the enemy mass which loomed out of the haze straight at them. Controlled short range volleys once more did their cruel work, but this enemy formation was not to be so easily denied standing and giving fire for fire until both sides, having resolutely held their ground could stand it no more, both Mackenzie on the British, and General Lapisse on the French, had been killed as had hundreds of men on each side.  Wellesley was able to bring in small units to bolster the defence and as there was nothing else to be done the enemy gave back and reluctantly retired.  In all of this 2/48th were to stand up on the Cerro taking the cannon balls interminably as they came as did the rest of 2nd Division.

For 1/48th it remained to hold their ground also seemingly forever, the sun beat down just as steadily, cannons roared on both sides but, the serious work was over, it was not until well into the evening that it was safe to start to go forward to find fallen friends. Donellan had been, as it turned out, mortally wounded and being forward as was his task taken into the French lines to die some days later in captivity, Captains H F Wood, William French and Molyneux Marston, Lieutenants William Cheslyn, John Cuthbertson, Bartholomew Drought, William Gill and William Page and Ensign Charles Vandermuelen [Light company], John Dixon [Adjutant], James Johnstone and John Renny were wounded from a total for the two days and from 1/48th a total of 176 and 2/48th of 71 KW&P so:

28th July 1809 (after the battle at Talavera)     

1/48th                                                                                                                                                                                   

PAB 631

2/48th                                                                                                                                                                                   

PAB 496

Although the regiment had only 38 of their own dead to dispose of there was still 200 wounded to be cared for and once the tactical situation had become clear most of these would need to be carried first into Talavera township then, leaving the worst cases to the mercy of the enemy, the rest would simply have to help each other following the army on a long, hot, hungry trail westwards away from the scene of their "triumph" over the Tagus, then, after a short stop about Almaraz, off again, leaving those that could no longer keep up, to stagger on losing men all along the way to Truxillo where a hospital of sorts was established. The enemy forces that had combined to bring about this retreat also felt the heat and ever dwindling supply of sustenance, gave up the game to attend to their own needs leaving Wellesley to make what he could of his "victory"!

Henceforward he would style himself Wellington, Lieutenant Colonel George Duckworth would lead 1/48th and most likely Major William Brooke would command the 2nd Battalion until James Erskine might return from his Douro injuries to take up 2/48th again. Moving into the Guadiana valley Hill's 2nd Div' as also the rest of this much reduced army could at last count on receiving some food, but only by its own commissary and to offset this small mercy receive the attentions of the malaria mosquito it still being high summer in this pestilent watershed.

By mid September 1809 this army began to take up small reinforcements, Tilson's Brigade receiving 2/31st, transferred from 3rd Division, whilst a little later 1/57th from Gibraltar joined Stewart's Brigade replacing that 1st Battalion of Detachments; which was dissolved. A more important change took place as the New Year opened, by now the CIC had broken off his connection with the Spanish armies and taken his still half-starved men into more friendly cantonments in Portugal. Seeing the need to leave a small corps of men to watch his southern flanks Wellington gave Hill the partially independent control of a large Division [3 Brigades] of British infantry with a strong Division of Portuguese infantry under Major General John Hamilton to actively occupy an area south of the Tagus, firstly based on Portalegre, but later to roam about the upper Alemtejo and most of Estremadura.

Whilst this strategy was roughly maintained for the rest of the war Hill's Corps was often drawn into the tactical needs of the whole army where the particular campaign might require its presence.

Such an occasion arose when Marshal Andre Massena had gathered a powerful force together during the late summer of 1810 and was seen to be threatening an invasion of Portugal with Lisbon as his final goal. Hill has his orders to concentrate up by the Mondego valley during September, we shall see at this time that Duckworth has been at the head of Tilson's 1st Brigade but is replaced by none other than the overly rash Major General William Stewart and Richard Stewart we discover has gone down to Lisbon, ostensibly "ill", he would be replaced at the head of 2nd Brigade by Lieutenant Colonel William Inglis of 1/57th.

We are supplied with sound figures for both battalions when the Division is assembled on the ridge at Busaco at the end of September, so:

27th September 1810 (on the ridge at Busaco)     

1/48th                                                                                                                                                                                  

PUA 551

2/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PUA 481

It is of some comfort to find that these two battalions, like the rest of 2nd Division are not engaged in the battle this day being well to the south of the parts attacked by Massena's men. Retiring down country to the environs of Lisbon and its defensive ring of redoubts, earthworks and strong-points has no good effect on those figures of September, by the time that we are given another count the regiment has shed 86 men for whatever reason and for some other un-revealed reason the previous Brigadier Richard Stewart has died in Lisbon falling from a very risky balcony [there is a story there I suspect], 48th can only show:

1st November 1810 (in the Lines of Torres Vedras)

1/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PUA 492

2/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PUA 454

It is about this time that Hill goes down with a recurrence of malaria first contracted in the swamps of Walcheren he hangs on, remaining for some time at his HQ whilst Stewart stands in as Division Commander and Lieutenant Colonel John Colborne of 2/66th picks up the 1st Brigade. In the 2nd Brigade Major General Daniel Hoghton of 8th Reg't had taken over from Inglis whilst the composition of these brigades remained the same as before. When Beresford is placed at the head of Hill's Corps [whilst still attempting to hold down his Generalissimo role as Marshal of all Portuguese Forces] the stage is set for a military drama of grave portent!

Massena is compelled to cry enough before the "Lines" defending Lisbon thus releasing the southern component of Wellington's army to go about its chosen duty in Estremadura, all of this in the spring of 1811. Badajoz is sacrificed as the CIC juggles with his options and off goes Beresford in an attempt to restore some balance on this southern flank. It comes down in the first instance to a rather pathetic blockade of the fortress of Badajoz which never really rose to the title of a serious siege before Marshal Nicholas Soult brought up with him a force to challenge this rather mild "offensive", the contenders, both somewhat reluctantly, met on the line of the Albuera stream, a meeting which was to have a sobering effect on all concerned, none more than 48th Regiment.

It is 16th May 1811 and the battalion figures are almost the same as those for 1st November of the previous year. Colborne's Brigade is made to feel the heat as Stewart injudiciously brings them on and up to the right of the Spanish line already heavily engaged against a sweeping flank attack of massed columns, we are told that Colborne, with ordinary military caution was unhappy with the formation as it came up with its own right flank "in the air". Too late, its parts were charged from this open end by tightly formed squadrons of Polish Lancers and French Hussars, 1/3rd and 2/48th and to some extent 2/66th were overpowered, overridden and largely eliminated as field units. Strangely, Colborne received not a scratch whilst the swashbuckling Stewart was only very slightly wounded; yet again something here is not being told!  In records it is almost denied by omission that this John Colborne, later to lead the 52nd Regiment could possibly be the same one as the Lieutenant Colonel of the 2/66th and in fact that descendant of the Packenham family Lizzie Longford in her otherwise excellent "'Years of the Sword" has the temerity to give him in charge of the "Light Brigade" in this action. Not so, the men and their officers in 2/48th knew otherwise too. Two hundred are made to surrender arms and be taken prisoner, forty-eight die fighting and ninety six are wounded leaving a mere 103 men and 6 officers still standing at the end. Major William Brooke is captured with Captain Francis Allman, Lieutenants Charles Ellwood, John Marshall, and George Sach, Captains Thomas Bell, William Watkins, Robert Waugh, Lieutenants Robert Shea and Adjutant William Steel and Ensigns Patrick Macdougall and William Norman wounded while Captain Edward Parsons, Lieutenants Francis Drew, Harry Loft, John Lyddon, and John Sharp were killed as was Ensign Thomas Rothwell, six more un-named officers were either KW or P this day and we are yet to examine 1/48th!

Hoghton brought up his Brigade to the left rear of Colborne's and perhaps only a very short time after the slaughter of the cavalry charge had been exhausted.  With 29th in the lead they came first upon General Jose Zayas' Spaniards, still holding on and suffering mightily themselves from close range musketry, this first battalion of Hoghton's was able to extend its right and begin to augment the allied efforts there. Lieutenant Colonel George Duckworth had to bring his line of 1/48th through the many intervals of dead and wounded Spaniards but once through and to the left of 29th they too commenced their musket volleys. It only remained for Lieutenant Colonel William Inglis to draw up 1/57th and the Brigade was in full action across its front. There was no shortage of targets even though the smoke between them prevented any sort of particular aiming to be done.

It was simply a matter of load and fire, load and fire, close up and load again until the only ammunition available would be from the cartridge boxes of fallen comrades. This fire fight had to end but, only did so when other forces intervened elsewhere, Duckworth and Lieutenants John Ansaldo and William Page had been killed and Lieutenant Robert Herring and Ensign Charles Vandermuelen seriously wounded, of the rest, Captains William French, James Morisset, James Wilson and H F Wood, Lieutenants John Duke, Alexander Macintosh, Edward O'Donaghue, Edward Vincent and Thomas Wright, Ensigns Stephen Collins and James Johnstone were only recorded as "slightly wounded" however, a further 64 men had been killed and 194 wounded, to complete the list another six had either been captured or left on the field unrecognisably, so:

16th May 1811 (after the battle at Albuera)                     

1/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PAB 217

2/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PAB 109

Hoghton was dead and to all intents so was his Brigade, Colborne completely vanishes from view as though he never had existed, his Brigade of course had definitely ceased to exist and it comes as no surprise to discover that William Stewart conveniently disappears too playing no further part in the restoration work required here, the main concern for the next few days was to nurture the wounded and bury the dead. Some few days later Wellington arrives on the scene, there is much to be done but, at least it is a small decision which brings him to order the drafting together of 1st and 2nd 48th with the 2nd battalion cadre going down to Lisbon and England to recruit new men. By 6th June this still numerically weak battalion was transferred to 4th Division and its 2nd Brigade that had previously been led by Lieutenant Colonel William Myers, just another commander killed on 16th May!  There is much confusion of command amongst this shattered southern army but, Hill returns from his bout of fever, gets on with the job and 48th Regiment now departs, nominally under Packenham to the "main" army taking their walking wounded with them.

The army spends the middle of summer in the Caya valley on the defensive against a combined force under Marshals Soult and Marmont with some small assistance from General Joseph Souham's army of the north. In this part of the greater Guadiana watershed the malaria mosquito at this time of the year would play no small part in offsetting the efforts of the army to restore its numbers after the twin campaigns of Fuentes' and Albuera, they are to be kept on the alert well into July before the French combination breaks off the concentration here and goes its separate ways. There must however have been a return to the ranks of quite a number of those lightly wounded men of Albuera because as we see them assembled in a rather loose string of outposts observing the enemy at Cuidad Rodrigo in September their figures show a small improvement,

15th September 1811 (about Fuentes Guinaldo)                                                                                                        
PUA 383

It is as well to remember that this regiment in its time since June of 1809, a little over two years has brought into line no less than 1600 men of all ranks, even with the well documented losses through action and making an allowance for sickness this suggests that a significant number of men of 48th Regiment might be found lurking in the "Belem Rangers" class, it remains to be seen if the regimental serjeant at arms can winkle them out. On 28th September Packenham's Brigade of 4th Division are to be found as a part of the rearguard falling back on Alfayates, they are in possession of the village of Aldea de Ponte when they are challenged by General Theibault's infantry, Captain J F Turnpenny and his Light company' along with the rest of the Brigade Light company's have a brief tussle and are ejected from the village, this will not do for the CIC who is close at hand.

The Brigade is sent in as the day begins to wane once more gaining possession, Theibault equally determined is reinforced and comes back again as darkness deepens, we are told that Wellington then allows the enemy to keep the place because fighting in the dark is too full of uncertainty. This small encounter costs the battalion two men caught and made prisoner and eight more wounded, Captain Turnpenny being one of them so:

28th September 1811 (after the combat at Aldea de Ponte)                                                                                     
PAB 373

There is little more of consequence happens during the rest of the year, the northern and larger part of the army will go into winter quarters but, only at the very edge of early winter, by 1st January 1812 they come out into the field to put Cuidad Rodrigo under close blockade and in very cold but sharp frosty conditions commence the siege operations. It falls to 2nd Brigade [it is void of a Brigadier at this time] to do rostered work in the trenches with all the discomfort which that implies, they are spared the fighting when the breaches are stormed and will merely march off further south lighter by 19 men wounded in those trenches and by being too close to the storm itself, to do it all again before the fortress walls of Badajoz. It is late March by now, not any better weather though nor any better working at the trenches either and this time 4th Division, now in the hands of Major General Charles Colville will be called on to join the assault on the breaches. 2nd Brigade has a new Brigadier Major General Barnard Bowes and it is he who will lead them on the night of 6th April when the storm is set to be mounted, the 1/48th have no recorded figures going into this affair but with some hindsight cannot be far from;

6th April 1812 (at the storm of Badajoz)                                                                                                                       
PUA 405

Almost from the moment that the assault went in there was no way to describe its form of attack, nowhere was there any point at which a concentrated effort could be pressed home, the breaches themselves were so intermixed at the bases that the charging companies of men more often than not were deflected away from the best approach finishing up at a perfect killing ground where bodies piled on bodies in an ever increasing mass. This slaughter went on for an interminable time until the CIC had to call his remaining survivors off, it is a great saving of his reputation that others made entries to either end of the defence works whilst all of this butchery was keeping the garrison so busy, it is as well then to count the cost to 1/48th this night, Captain W H Brooke was killed, Captain  French received a mortal wound to die six days later, Lieutenant Charles Chilcot and Ensign John Barker were killed, Major General Bowes and Lieutenant Colonel James Erskine, were seriously wounded  as were Major Brooke and, Lieutenant John Brooke, and Ensign Samuel  Johnson, slightly wounded were Major  James Wilson, Captain Turnpenny, Lieutenants John Cuthbertson, Henry Robinson and Thomas Stroud, and Ensigns Francis Armstrong, Charles Bourke, James Johnson, Henry Poutney, Sackville Thatcher and Benjamin Thompson, of the rank and file 32 died and 124 were wounded, once more 1/48th was down to dangerously low numbers at:

7th April 1812 (after the storm of Badajoz)                                                                                                                   
PAB 230

It would appear that the wounds suffered by Bowes of 6th Regiment did not prevent him from transferring out to 6th Division less than a month later, the brigade falling to Lieutenant Colonel Henry Ellis of 23rd Regiment who would have it at least to the end of the 1812 campaign season. Following these two frontier successes it seems that 1/48th was to receive a solid draft of several companies because by the time that the main army was to embark on its campaign about Salamanca figures once more are beginning to look respectable;

18th July 1812 (at or about Castrejon)                                                                                                                          
PUA 426

This same day the Light company' is involved in a rearguard skirmish losing six men whilst crossing the Guarena river, all a part of the hard marching game being played out between Marshal Auguste Marmont and Wellington.  As we know the climax came on 22nd July some way south east of Salamanca around those two prominent hills in the rolling plains known as the Arapiles. Lieutenant General Galbraith Lowry Cole's 4th Division and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Ellis Brigade in particular are to be found facing a steadily rising ground ahead, 3rd Division away to the right has commenced the action with a concerted drive on an enemy Division which is soon in great difficulty, 5th Division, nearest to the right have got well ahead and are coming to grips with another French formation which is not doing all that well either when Cole puts his men into movement full ahead.

Major General William Anson's Brigade to their left have only a lightly supported flank to their left again but all advance in good order taking the usual incoming cannonade to be followed by skirmisher fire before they are able to make the enemy feel the full power of their musketry. For a while things go well enough and for 1/48th by pure chance less casualties come their way than those being felt by their comrades of the "fusiliers". A counter-attack holds them up then, when Anson's men are violently thrown back by a fresh Division under General Bertrand Clausel the whole of 4th Division becomes heavily engaged, the danger comes from this now very risky left flank and is only stabilised when Beresford gathers up a brigade of Portuguese infantry to plug the gaps, getting himself shot in the chest for his trouble.

The fighting about here dies down when 6th Division, somewhat belatedly drives forward to send all of the enemy counter-attackers off to the rear leaving Ellis' Brigade to slowly take up the vacated ground to form a link with the victorious 3rd & 5th Divisions whilst 6th Division to their left front are in a do or die fire fight with Marmont's last rearguard stand. Ellis had been wounded, surprisingly none of the officers of 1/48th were killed however, Ensign Henry Le Mesurier had his right hand and forearm shot away, Lieutenants Edward Vincent, John Marshall, George Leroux and Ensign Edward Johnstone were severely wounded and Captain George Thwaites, Lieutenants Thomas Stroud and Thatcher, and Ensign Thomas Warton all received slight wounds, of the rest 9 men were killed and 61 wounded leaving 1/48th the strongest battalion in the brigade at:

22nd July 1812 (after the battle at the Arapiles)                                                                                                          
PAB 341

Although Ellis' Brigade now stood at only a little over 1000 men PUA they were considered sufficiently "regular" to be able to go down with the main force to Madrid after the great victory but, once having arrived there and spent time enjoying the adulation of the Madrilajos they are left behind when Wellington heads off north to Burgos. William Anson has had to take over the 4th Division Cole having been shot by a Portuguese sentry at the end of the night's work at the Arapiles, he will hold the Division until mid-October while Ellis Brigade seems to manage still led by the wounded Brigadier. Going from August when Wellington has departed north until October when the enemy returns to the offensive 1/48th would have little other than occasional outpost duties in an area that fanned out for some miles radius about the Capital Madrid. Hill had come up from the south with his Corps plus a small force who had marched all the way from Cadiz under Skerrett, this General during October would pick up Ellis's brigade but, 1/48th luckily are sent to join the 4th Division’s 1st Brigade as Cole returns and Anson goes back as its normal brigadier.

So, 1/48th now has 3/27th, 1/40th and a company' of 5/60th as comrades as they prepare to depart from the Madrid theatre retiring back onto Salamanca and the old fighting positions about the Arapiles. The weather has already turned wintry so that as the whole army comes together and retires yet again into Portugal they all suffer varying degrees of attrition. It can be expected that during the quiet period around Madrid 1/48th would restore its numbers to something approaching 400 PUA but in default of any figures during this time it is only conjectural, even when all are back in the safety of the line of the Agueda we are given but scanty information and that, at Divisional levels. This does however suggest that 1/48th would come to rest and stand at:

29th November 1812 (behind the Agueda about Cuidad Rodrigo)                                                                         
PUA 313

The winter months in secure quarters plus the realisation that the French cause is in rapid decline results in many of the battalions hitherto down at dangerously low figures receiving large drafts of new recruits from overseas marching up to join as also those constant small numbers of returning convalescents.  For the Northant’s this is a slow process, we have figures near the end of April at:

26th April 1813 (cantoned in Portugal)                                                                                                                           
PUA 471

With spring and the unseasonably late growth of green fodder being the deciding factor it is not until almost the end of May that the army starts its 1813 campaign. Anson's Brigade has, during the winter received yet another battalion, this the 2nd Provisional Battalion composed of the parts of 2nd Regiment and 2/53rd both out of 6th Division, making the brigade up to almost 3000 PUA, in particular 1/48th must have had a late rush of new men to stand at around;

25th May 1813 (on the march out of Portugal)                                                                                                           
PUA 700

4th Division have a position which is to the centre of the army's great flank march crossing the natural lateral river obstacles by a series of turning movements which brought the enemy to a halt and an about face in the valley of the Zadorra before Vittoria less than a month later.  Cole's men are to be seen in a tight part of the centre on the main road south of the enemy positions there is a grand battery of massed artillery defending this feature, the road and the river taking up most of the narrow valley floor hereabouts. On the morning of 21st June as the fight develops out on the hills to the right this front can merely be kept under close observation presenting as it did a dangerous "killing ground", it was only after others had made incursions across the Zadorra River and the right flank attack had taken on major proportions that this centre was seen to have become vulnerable to turning movements. Anson's Brigade are so positioned as to provide rear support to Stubbs Portuguese Brigade as the Division moves to take up an attacking line, it would seem that 1/48th caught stray cannonballs as they came through the line up ahead, casualties on the day being one man killed and eighteen wounded of which, not a single officer, so:

21st June 1813 (after the battle of Vittoria)                                                                                                                  
PAB 681

As soon as the CIC could recover from the army's plundering of the French loot left behind in their dash for safety he had the hard marching 4th Division on the roads going north east in an attempt to find the whereabouts of Clausel's Corps, which had not been present at Vittoria and was known to be previously coming to the aid of King Joseph. There was much marching and counter-marching but it all came to nought as Clausel had discovered the disaster which had befallen his master and made off for the French side of the Pyrenees as fast as he could go. This left Cole's Division drawing close to the great fortress city of Pamplona where there was a short rest period before a re-grouping of Divisions to secure the high Passes which crossed the Pyrenees Ranges at this western end. It is not until King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jourdan have been deposed by Napoleon and replaced by Marshal Soult that there will be any action to report, however, when that General rapidly re-organises the troops now under his full authority back they come into these 'Passes to dispute their possession. Anson's Brigade will only feel the effect of this new enemy offensive by 26th July 1813 others having already been attacked with various degrees of success and failure. There are absolutely no figures to show the strength of individual battalions but on this day 1/48th may well have stood at:

26th July 1813 (at the fight at Linzoain)                                                                                                                        
PUA 675

Cole has already drawn his men back from their original positions in the 'Passes but Anson has the rearguard which, as the day dawns in a heavy mist will have its Light company's out in front and the whole brigade in line to receive whatever is to come at them. As it turns out it is not to be much at all, such attacks as are pressed home come very late in the day and out on the flanks, there is sufficient fighting to cause 168 casualties amongst Anson's and Stubbs' men, amongst 1/48th however only Lieutenant Colonel James Wilson and Captain George Thwaites are wounded and a likely 26 more of the battalion killed and wounded so:

26th July 1813 (after the fight at Linzoain)                                                                                                                    
PAB 647

The whole of Cole and Picton Divisions are evacuated from this area during the night, going down the hill paths into Sorauren village and then next day being extended to the east of that place with Anson's Brigade occupying a long ridge which overlooks the ground by which an enemy might deploy to attack them. Wellington, who has been "otherwise engaged" to the far west arrives on the scene and has other Divisions brought up smartly to reinforce the area in expectation of a general action here.

Sure enough Soult manages to struggle through the narrow 'Passes with his Divisions drawing them out in full view of the defenders so that on 28th July they will contest this strong hill position. When 4th Division 2nd Brigade under Ross have been assaulted and caused their right wing to be exposed the CIC orders forward 3/27th and 1/48th to swing left and forward to come in on the enemy who by now are quite disordered by their long toiling advance uphill followed by the fierce fight at the top, they are unprepared for these two battalions coming at them at the charge and angling downhill in excellent order. All are swept away down into the low ground from whence they came while 3/27th and 1/48th are left to gather themselves together again and retire back to their original place at the top of the hill.  t times during all of this these two battalions must have had some hard fighting on their hands because this action being near the end of their part of the contests has seen 1/48th lose 135 men eleven of which are captured, a sure sign that at some part of it they were being pressed back to lose ground. Captain H F Wood, Lieutenant Martin Lima and Ensign Lucius Parsons have been killed as have 10 more of the men, Major William White, Captain William Parry, Lieutenants John Cuthbertson John Duke, Henry Robinson, and Charles Vandermuelen and Ensigns Henry Poutney and  Edward Johnstone are wounded as are 104 others so that when all is over and the enemy gone 1/48th will stand down at:

28th July 1813 (after the fight on the Oricain Hill, Sorauren)                                                                                    
PAB 512

In the fighting and pursuing of the beaten enemy which takes place over the next few days 1/48th sees none at all to cause problems, they will only march up into the vacated ground picking up scattered prisoners, discarded military loot and very rarely a little food and brandy to eventually come to rest a month later behind the Bidassoa near San Marcial. As a side issue there is a call to all who might like to volunteer to be present at the storm of San Sebastian that is to take place at the end of August. Those few of 1/48th who are allowed to join this band of desperados go off with Captain Robert Gray and on 31st August he and some few others will go at the walls, we are not given any figures for this enterprise and can be confident that it will make no difference to all-up numbers, but of course any survivors will have a tale or two to tell! There follows two months of comparative calm during which 1/48th will sit first behind the Bidassoa and then when that river is crossed, behind the Nivelle.  When the CIC decides that it is time to drive Soult's men away from this very long position which the enemy have spent much time and energy fortifying we shall see for the first time for some years a definite battalion number count, 1/48th will bring to the field:

10th November 1813 (at the crossing of the Nivelle)                                                                                                 
PUA 512

Cole's Division takes a central position for this assault on the earthworks, redoubts and various connecting trenches which had been thrown up by Soult's much demoralised forces, they are to attack first a sparsely manned strongpoint, the St' Barbe redoubt starting early on this late autumn day and it is Anson's Brigade which has the lead hereabouts. Other attacks are going in along the much extended defensive line so that, as the Brigade begins to close in the small garrison, seeing men passing by on the flank decide that discretion is the better part of valour and depart! So far so good, on they go to converge with others at the river, cross by the Nivelle River bridge at Sare and together overwhelm that place, there is a pause to collect into formation before heading forward again, this time it is the Louis X1V redoubt, the rapid taking of ground has caught the garrison unawares so that after a brief struggle they are ejected but not before the attackers receive some troublesome canister fire from a flanking battery. By now the enemy in many places has been thoroughly beaten going off to the rear at pace, Anson's men will move forward only a little before settling down at the town of Serres and to count the cost, in 1/48th seven men have been killed and a further three lie dead or critically wounded, hidden in the thick brush and boulders through which the attacks passed, Lieutenants Stephen Collins and Francis Scott and Ensign Benjamin Thompson are severely wounded and Lieutenant Sackville Thatcher slightly, of the rest 57 have received wounds also, so:

10th November 1813 (after the crossing of the Nivelle)                                                                                             
PAB 441

A month later the army is heavily engaged in separate fights about the Nive in front of Bayonne none of which affects 4th Division Anson's Brigade other than to give them more marching practice, this in poor weather, the roads being reduced to a mire of deep mud. There are periods where the conditions are so bad as to force a halt to all things and an attempt made to find dry quarters, (at least for the officers), during these short spells of rest there is first of all a confirmed check on numbers from the office of the DAG,

16th January 1814 (in quarters about the Nive)                                                                                                            
PUA 434

A small return to the ranks for 1/48th, probably as much as a whole company will help to stop a slide down so that when we do see them again in the middle of February 1814 they should stand at about:

15th February 1814 (marching east on Orthez)                                                                                                           
PUA 483

For about a fortnight the opposing contestants’ manœuvre across the several rivers that flow out of the French Pyrenees until Soult saw that he must halt and turn to face his tormentor. Choosing an elevated position overlooking the Gave de Pau to the west with the large town of Orthez on his left Soult placed his Divisions along a series of low ridges commanding the rising ground on which the enemy must approach. It is 27th February and in Cole's 4th Division it is the turn of Ross' Brigade to lead off its attack, this develops into an early success taking possession of the small church at St' Boes but, as the advance crosses a dip in the ground and the front is narrowed along a spur at right angles to the defensive line the enemy put down a heavy barrage of artillery fire from full ahead and with other well placed guns able to enfilade this path make it too hot for comfort.

Cole, having seen Ross' Brigade’s sufferings, with the Brigadier hit and his men gone to ground, calls a halt, the CIC with little else going forward has to re-arrange his plan, bring up fresh troops and then come on again at several points at once.

Anson's Brigade is not used on this occasion but 7th Division already close at hand does the business, and so it is that 1/48th will finish the day with only one man killed and another 13 wounded, not an officer touched all day, so:

27th February 1814 (after the battle at Orthez)                                                                                                           
PAB 469

The defeated enemy has gone off eastward at some pace so yet again the army must march on through the cold rain in a steady pursuit, for 4th Division this does not last for very long, Cole is ordered to re-direct his route to the north away from the main army and head for Roquefort and then further north via Bazas to Langon with the express task of supporting the local Governor at Bordeaux to defect from the Imperial cause and raise the flag of the Bourbon's. 4th Division is held back at Langon for three days as others march on to "liberate" the great city, when it is seen that they are not required back they go down country to re-join the army. All of this hard marching is in vile weather on ruined roads so it is little wonder that upon reaching their comrades on the roads to Toulouse numbers will have fallen in 4th Division, we can estimate that when 1/48th arrive before this large regional capital they can be no more than;

10th April 1814 (at the perimeter defences of Toulouse)                                                                                          
PUA 435

In the run up to this day Anson's men have escorted the critically inadequate pontoon train up and down the Garonne seeking a good river crossing but eventually there they are on the eastern banks with 6th Division all under Beresford and ready to do battle. To reach that part of the long hill running south of Toulouse where they might chance to climb to its flat top they have to plod along a soggy valley floor close to the river Ers, Anson's Brigade being well to the right of the columns advance come in for much attention from the enemy batteries stationed along the edge of the hill, Mont Rave, no doubt the order to extend and bring round their left and advance up the hill would be a great relief. As the line climbs steadily up it is to be their comrades of 6th Division on the right who will be confronted by General Taupin's Division as it charges down upon them, some action will come their way but perhaps only scattered musketry as Anson Brigade climb relentlessly on to reach the hilltop as the enemy has been put to flight. The Brigade is able to take up a line position along the hill edge facing west and overlooking Toulouse itself as Beresford calls a halt whilst his artillery, left way behind is able to be brought to the valley end and heaved up onto the Mont Rave plateau.  Several hours have passed before 6th Division go on the attack back north along the hill whilst 4th Division have the job of keeping any enemy reinforcements from climbing the western side. There is desperate fighting for 6th Division but little of consequence for 4th Division that has arrayed itself in much too strong a position to be interfered with and even have a skirmishing force part way down their western front. Of the officers hit this day Ensigns George Skeene and William Fox have had a leg each shot off, Captain James Reid is severely wounded and Lieutenant John Campbell is slightly wounded, in the ranks five men are killed and 39 wounded leaving the rest to celebrate the end of the war just a few short days later, the battalion at this time could be no stronger than;

10th April 1814 (after the battle at Toulouse)                                                                                                              
PAB 387

Note; Here we have a Regiment that fought and marched and fought again, suffered its crippling 65% casualties at Albuera, ‘got over it’ and carried on, did everything asked of it losing in excess of a thousand men for  its troubles, as ‘regular’ as they come and tough as ‘old-boots’ what more could be said?

This Regiment is not to be found on the field at Waterloo!

                                                                                                                                                                                 

PUA 454

It is about this time that Hill goes down with a recurrence of malaria first contracted in the swamps of Walcheren he hangs on, remaining for some time at his HQ whilst Stewart stands in as Division Commander and Lieutenant Colonel John Colborne of 2/66th picks up the 1st Brigade. In the 2nd Brigade Major General Daniel Hoghton of 8th Reg't had taken over from Inglis whilst the composition of these brigades remained the same as before. When Beresford is placed at the head of Hill's Corps [whilst still attempting to hold down his Generalissimo role as Marshal of all Portuguese Forces] the stage is set for a military drama of grave portent!

Massena is compelled to cry enough before the "Lines" defending Lisbon thus releasing the southern component of Wellington's army to go about its chosen duty in Estremadura, all of this in the spring of 1811. Badajoz is sacrificed as the CIC juggles with his options and off goes Beresford in an attempt to restore some balance on this southern flank. It comes down in the first instance to a rather pathetic blockade of the fortress of Badajoz which never really rose to the title of a serious siege before Marshal Nicholas Soult brought up with him a force to challenge this rather mild "offensive", the contenders, both somewhat reluctantly, met on the line of the Albuera stream, a meeting which was to have a sobering effect on all concerned, none more than 48th Regiment.

It is 16th May 1811 and the battalion figures are almost the same as those for 1st November of the previous year. Colborne's Brigade is made to feel the heat as Stewart injudiciously brings them on and up to the right of the Spanish line already heavily engaged against a sweeping flank attack of massed columns, we are told that Colborne, with ordinary military caution was unhappy with the formation as it came up with its own right flank "in the air". Too late, its parts were charged from this open end by tightly formed squadrons of Polish Lancers and French Hussars, 1/3rd and 2/48th and to some extent 2/66th were overpowered, overridden and largely eliminated as field units. Strangely, Colborne received not a scratch whilst the swashbuckling Stewart was only very slightly wounded; yet again something here is not being told!  In records it is almost denied by omission that this John Colborne, later to lead the 52nd Regiment could possibly be the same one as the Lieutenant Colonel of the 2/66th and in fact that descendant of the Packenham family Lizzie Longford in her otherwise excellent "'Years of the Sword" has the temerity to give him in charge of the "Light Brigade" in this action. Not so, the men and their officers in 2/48th knew otherwise too. Two hundred are made to surrender arms and be taken prisoner, forty-eight die fighting and ninety six are wounded leaving a mere 103 men and 6 officers still standing at the end. Major William Brooke is captured with Captain Francis Allman, Lieutenants Charles Ellwood, John Marshall, and George Sach, Captains Thomas Bell, William Watkins, Robert Waugh, Lieutenants Robert Shea and Adjutant William Steel and Ensigns Patrick Macdougall and William Norman wounded while Captain Edward Parsons, Lieutenants Francis Drew, Harry Loft, John Lyddon, and John Sharp were killed as was Ensign Thomas Rothwell, six more un-named officers were either KW or P this day and we are yet to examine 1/48th!

Hoghton brought up his Brigade to the left rear of Colborne's and perhaps only a very short time after the slaughter of the cavalry charge had been exhausted.  With 29th in the lead they came first upon General Jose Zayas' Spaniards, still holding on and suffering mightily themselves from close range musketry, this first battalion of Hoghton's was able to extend its right and begin to augment the allied efforts there. Lieutenant Colonel George Duckworth had to bring his line of 1/48th through the many intervals of dead and wounded Spaniards but once through and to the left of 29th they too commenced their musket volleys. It only remained for Lieutenant Colonel William Inglis to draw up 1/57th and the Brigade was in full action across its front. There was no shortage of targets even though the smoke between them prevented any sort of particular aiming to be done.

It was simply a matter of load and fire, load and fire, close up and load again until the only ammunition available would be from the cartridge boxes of fallen comrades. This fire fight had to end but, only did so when other forces intervened elsewhere, Duckworth and Lieutenants John Ansaldo and William Page had been killed and Lieutenant Robert Herring and Ensign Charles Vandermuelen seriously wounded, of the rest, Captains William French, James Morisset, James Wilson and H F Wood, Lieutenants John Duke, Alexander Macintosh, Edward O'Donaghue, Edward Vincent and Thomas Wright, Ensigns Stephen Collins and James Johnstone were only recorded as "slightly wounded" however, a further 64 men had been killed and 194 wounded, to complete the list another six had either been captured or left on the field unrecognisably, so:

16th May 1811 (after the battle at Albuera)                     

1/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PAB 217

2/48th                                                                                                                                                                                    

PAB 109

Hoghton was dead and to all intents so was his Brigade, Colborne completely vanishes from view as though he never had existed, his Brigade of course had definitely ceased to exist and it comes as no surprise to discover that William Stewart conveniently disappears too playing no further part in the restoration work required here, the main concern for the next few days was to nurture the wounded and bury the dead. Some few days later Wellington arrives on the scene, there is much to be done but, at least it is a small decision which brings him to order the drafting together of 1st and 2nd 48th with the 2nd battalion cadre going down to Lisbon and England to recruit new men. By 6th June this still numerically weak battalion was transferred to 4th Division and its 2nd Brigade that had previously been led by Lieutenant Colonel William Myers, just another commander killed on 16th May!  There is much confusion of command amongst this shattered southern army but, Hill returns from his bout of fever, gets on with the job and 48th Regiment now departs, nominally under Packenham to the "main" army taking their walking wounded with them.

The army spends the middle of summer in the Caya valley on the defensive against a combined force under Marshals Soult and Marmont with some small assistance from General Joseph Souham's army of the north. In this part of the greater Guadiana watershed the malaria mosquito at this time of the year would play no small part in offsetting the efforts of the army to restore its numbers after the twin campaigns of Fuentes' and Albuera, they are to be kept on the alert well into July before the French combination breaks off the concentration here and goes its separate ways. There must however have been a return to the ranks of quite a number of those lightly wounded men of Albuera because as we see them assembled in a rather loose string of outposts observing the enemy at Cuidad Rodrigo in September their figures show a small improvement,

15th September 1811 (about Fuentes Guinaldo)                                                                                                        
PUA 383

It is as well to remember that this regiment in its time since June of 1809, a little over two years has brought into line no less than 1600 men of all ranks, even with the well documented losses through action and making an allowance for sickness this suggests that a significant number of men of 48th Regiment might be found lurking in the "Belem Rangers" class, it remains to be seen if the regimental serjeant at arms can winkle them out. On 28th September Packenham's Brigade of 4th Division are to be found as a part of the rearguard falling back on Alfayates, they are in possession of the village of Aldea de Ponte when they are challenged by General Theibault's infantry, Captain J F Turnpenny and his Light company' along with the rest of the Brigade Light company's have a brief tussle and are ejected from the village, this will not do for the CIC who is close at hand.

The Brigade is sent in as the day begins to wane once more gaining possession, Theibault equally determined is reinforced and comes back again as darkness deepens, we are told that Wellington then allows the enemy to keep the place because fighting in the dark is too full of uncertainty. This small encounter costs the battalion two men caught and made prisoner and eight more wounded, Captain Turnpenny being one of them so:

28th September 1811 (after the combat at Aldea de Ponte)                                                                                     
PAB 373

There is little more of consequence happens during the rest of the year, the northern and larger part of the army will go into winter quarters but, only at the very edge of early winter, by 1st January 1812 they come out into the field to put Cuidad Rodrigo under close blockade and in very cold but sharp frosty conditions commence the siege operations. It falls to 2nd Brigade [it is void of a Brigadier at this time] to do rostered work in the trenches with all the discomfort which that implies, they are spared the fighting when the breaches are stormed and will merely march off further south lighter by 19 men wounded in those trenches and by being too close to the storm itself, to do it all again before the fortress walls of Badajoz. It is late March by now, not any better weather though nor any better working at the trenches either and this time 4th Division, now in the hands of Major General Charles Colville will be called on to join the assault on the breaches. 2nd Brigade has a new Brigadier Major General Barnard Bowes and it is he who will lead them on the night of 6th April when the storm is set to be mounted, the 1/48th have no recorded figures going into this affair but with some hindsight cannot be far from;

6th April 1812 (at the storm of Badajoz)                                                                                                                       
PUA 405

Almost from the moment that the assault went in there was no way to describe its form of attack, nowhere was there any point at which a concentrated effort could be pressed home, the breaches themselves were so intermixed at the bases that the charging companies of men more often than not were deflected away from the best approach finishing up at a perfect killing ground where bodies piled on bodies in an ever increasing mass. This slaughter went on for an interminable time until the CIC had to call his remaining survivors off, it is a great saving of his reputation that others made entries to either end of the defence works whilst all of this butchery was keeping the garrison so busy, it is as well then to count the cost to 1/48th this night, Captain W H Brooke was killed, Captain  French received a mortal wound to die six days later, Lieutenant Charles Chilcot and Ensign John Barker were killed, Major General Bowes and Lieutenant Colonel James Erskine, were seriously wounded  as were Major Brooke and, Lieutenant John Brooke, and Ensign Samuel  Johnson, slightly wounded were Major  James Wilson, Captain Turnpenny, Lieutenants John Cuthbertson, Henry Robinson and Thomas Stroud, and Ensigns Francis Armstrong, Charles Bourke, James Johnson, Henry Poutney, Sackville Thatcher and Benjamin Thompson, of the rank and file 32 died and 124 were wounded, once more 1/48th was down to dangerously low numbers at:

7th April 1812 (after the storm of Badajoz)                                                                                                                   
PAB 230

It would appear that the wounds suffered by Bowes of 6th Regiment did not prevent him from transferring out to 6th Division less than a month later, the brigade falling to Lieutenant Colonel Henry Ellis of 23rd Regiment who would have it at least to the end of the 1812 campaign season. Following these two frontier successes it seems that 1/48th was to receive a solid draft of several companies because by the time that the main army was to embark on its campaign about Salamanca figures once more are beginning to look respectable;

18th July 1812 (at or about Castrejon)                                                                                                                          
PUA 426

This same day the Light company' is involved in a rearguard skirmish losing six men whilst crossing the Guarena river, all a part of the hard marching game being played out between Marshal Auguste Marmont and Wellington.  As we know the climax came on 22nd July some way south east of Salamanca around those two prominent hills in the rolling plains known as the Arapiles. Lieutenant General Galbraith Lowry Cole's 4th Division and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Ellis Brigade in particular are to be found facing a steadily rising ground ahead, 3rd Division away to the right has commenced the action with a concerted drive on an enemy Division which is soon in great difficulty, 5th Division, nearest to the right have got well ahead and are coming to grips with another French formation which is not doing all that well either when Cole puts his men into movement full ahead.

Major General William Anson's Brigade to their left have only a lightly supported flank to their left again but all advance in good order taking the usual incoming cannonade to be followed by skirmisher fire before they are able to make the enemy feel the full power of their musketry. For a while things go well enough and for 1/48th by pure chance less casualties come their way than those being felt by their comrades of the "fusiliers". A counter-attack holds them up then, when Anson's men are violently thrown back by a fresh Division under General Bertrand Clausel the whole of 4th Division becomes heavily engaged, the danger comes from this now very risky left flank and is only stabilised when Beresford gathers up a brigade of Portuguese infantry to plug the gaps, getting himself shot in the chest for his trouble.

The fighting about here dies down when 6th Division, somewhat belatedly drives forward to send all of the enemy counter-attackers off to the rear leaving Ellis' Brigade to slowly take up the vacated ground to form a link with the victorious 3rd & 5th Divisions whilst 6th Division to their left front are in a do or die fire fight with Marmont's last rearguard stand. Ellis had been wounded, surprisingly none of the officers of 1/48th were killed however, Ensign Henry Le Mesurier had his right hand and forearm shot away, Lieutenants Edward Vincent, John Marshall, George Leroux and Ensign Edward Johnstone were severely wounded and Captain George Thwaites, Lieutenants Thomas Stroud and Thatcher, and Ensign Thomas Warton all received slight wounds, of the rest 9 men were killed and 61 wounded leaving 1/48th the strongest battalion in the brigade at:

22nd July 1812 (after the battle at the Arapiles)                                                                                                          
PAB 341

Although Ellis' Brigade now stood at only a little over 1000 men PUA they were considered sufficiently "regular" to be able to go down with the main force to Madrid after the great victory but, once having arrived there and spent time enjoying the adulation of the Madrilajos they are left behind when Wellington heads off north to Burgos. William Anson has had to take over the 4th Division Cole having been shot by a Portuguese sentry at the end of the night's work at the Arapiles, he will hold the Division until mid-October while Ellis Brigade seems to manage still led by the wounded Brigadier. Going from August when Wellington has departed north until October when the enemy returns to the offensive 1/48th would have little other than occasional outpost duties in an area that fanned out for some miles radius about the Capital Madrid. Hill had come up from the south with his Corps plus a small force who had marched all the way from Cadiz under Skerrett, this General during October would pick up Ellis's brigade but, 1/48th luckily are sent to join the 4th Division’s 1st Brigade as Cole returns and Anson goes back as its normal brigadier.

So, 1/48th now has 3/27th, 1/40th and a company' of 5/60th as comrades as they prepare to depart from the Madrid theatre retiring back onto Salamanca and the old fighting positions about the Arapiles. The weather has already turned wintry so that as the whole army comes together and retires yet again into Portugal they all suffer varying degrees of attrition. It can be expected that during the quiet period around Madrid 1/48th would restore its numbers to something approaching 400 PUA but in default of any figures during this time it is only conjectural, even when all are back in the safety of the line of the Agueda we are given but scanty information and that, at Divisional levels. This does however suggest that 1/48th would come to rest and stand at:

29th November 1812 (behind the Agueda about Cuidad Rodrigo)                                                                         
PUA 313

The winter months in secure quarters plus the realisation that the French cause is in rapid decline results in many of the battalions hitherto down at dangerously low figures receiving large drafts of new recruits from overseas marching up to join as also those constant small numbers of returning convalescents.  For the Northant’s this is a slow process, we have figures near the end of April at:

26th April 1813 (cantoned in Portugal)                                                                                                                           
PUA 471

With spring and the unseasonably late growth of green fodder being the deciding factor it is not until almost the end of May that the army starts its 1813 campaign. Anson's Brigade has, during the winter received yet another battalion, this the 2nd Provisional Battalion composed of the parts of 2nd Regiment and 2/53rd both out of 6th Division, making the brigade up to almost 3000 PUA, in particular 1/48th must have had a late rush of new men to stand at around;

25th May 1813 (on the march out of Portugal)                                                                                                           
PUA 700

4th Division have a position which is to the centre of the army's great flank march crossing the natural lateral river obstacles by a series of turning movements which brought the enemy to a halt and an about face in the valley of the Zadorra before Vittoria less than a month later.  Cole's men are to be seen in a tight part of the centre on the main road south of the enemy positions there is a grand battery of massed artillery defending this feature, the road and the river taking up most of the narrow valley floor hereabouts. On the morning of 21st June as the fight develops out on the hills to the right this front can merely be kept under close observation presenting as it did a dangerous "killing ground", it was only after others had made incursions across the Zadorra River and the right flank attack had taken on major proportions that this centre was seen to have become vulnerable to turning movements. Anson's Brigade are so positioned as to provide rear support to Stubbs Portuguese Brigade as the Division moves to take up an attacking line, it would seem that 1/48th caught stray cannonballs as they came through the line up ahead, casualties on the day being one man killed and eighteen wounded of which, not a single officer, so:

21st June 1813 (after the battle of Vittoria)                                                                                                                  
PAB 681

As soon as the CIC could recover from the army's plundering of the French loot left behind in their dash for safety he had the hard marching 4th Division on the roads going north east in an attempt to find the whereabouts of Clausel's Corps, which had not been present at Vittoria and was known to be previously coming to the aid of King Joseph. There was much marching and counter-marching but it all came to nought as Clausel had discovered the disaster which had befallen his master and made off for the French side of the Pyrenees as fast as he could go. This left Cole's Division drawing close to the great fortress city of Pamplona where there was a short rest period before a re-grouping of Divisions to secure the high Passes which crossed the Pyrenees Ranges at this western end. It is not until King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jourdan have been deposed by Napoleon and replaced by Marshal Soult that there will be any action to report, however, when that General rapidly re-organises the troops now under his full authority back they come into these 'Passes to dispute their possession. Anson's Brigade will only feel the effect of this new enemy offensive by 26th July 1813 others having already been attacked with various degrees of success and failure. There are absolutely no figures to show the strength of individual battalions but on this day 1/48th may well have stood at:

26th July 1813 (at the fight at Linzoain)                                                                                                                        
PUA 675

Cole has already drawn his men back from their original positions in the 'Passes but Anson has the rearguard which, as the day dawns in a heavy mist will have its Light company's out in front and the whole brigade in line to receive whatever is to come at them. As it turns out it is not to be much at all, such attacks as are pressed home come very late in the day and out on the flanks, there is sufficient fighting to cause 168 casualties amongst Anson's and Stubbs' men, amongst 1/48th however only Lieutenant Colonel James Wilson and Captain George Thwaites are wounded and a likely 26 more of the battalion killed and wounded so:

26th July 1813 (after the fight at Linzoain)                                                                                                                    
PAB 647

The whole of Cole and Picton Divisions are evacuated from this area during the night, going down the hill paths into Sorauren village and then next day being extended to the east of that place with Anson's Brigade occupying a long ridge which overlooks the ground by which an enemy might deploy to attack them. Wellington, who has been "otherwise engaged" to the far west arrives on the scene and has other Divisions brought up smartly to reinforce the area in expectation of a general action here.

Sure enough Soult manages to struggle through the narrow 'Passes with his Divisions drawing them out in full view of the defenders so that on 28th July they will contest this strong hill position. When 4th Division 2nd Brigade under Ross have been assaulted and caused their right wing to be exposed the CIC orders forward 3/27th and 1/48th to swing left and forward to come in on the enemy who by now are quite disordered by their long toiling advance uphill followed by the fierce fight at the top, they are unprepared for these two battalions coming at them at the charge and angling downhill in excellent order. All are swept away down into the low ground from whence they came while 3/27th and 1/48th are left to gather themselves together again and retire back to their original place at the top of the hill.  t times during all of this these two battalions must have had some hard fighting on their hands because this action being near the end of their part of the contests has seen 1/48th lose 135 men eleven of which are captured, a sure sign that at some part of it they were being pressed back to lose ground. Captain H F Wood, Lieutenant Martin Lima and Ensign Lucius Parsons have been killed as have 10 more of the men, Major William White, Captain William Parry, Lieutenants John Cuthbertson John Duke, Henry Robinson, and Charles Vandermuelen and Ensigns Henry Poutney and  Edward Johnstone are wounded as are 104 others so that when all is over and the enemy gone 1/48th will stand down at:

28th July 1813 (after the fight on the Oricain Hill, Sorauren)                                                                                    
PAB 512

In the fighting and pursuing of the beaten enemy which takes place over the next few days 1/48th sees none at all to cause problems, they will only march up into the vacated ground picking up scattered prisoners, discarded military loot and very rarely a little food and brandy to eventually come to rest a month later behind the Bidassoa near San Marcial. As a side issue there is a call to all who might like to volunteer to be present at the storm of San Sebastian that is to take place at the end of August. Those few of 1/48th who are allowed to join this band of desperados go off with Captain Robert Gray and on 31st August he and some few others will go at the walls, we are not given any figures for this enterprise and can be confident that it will make no difference to all-up numbers, but of course any survivors will have a tale or two to tell! There follows two months of comparative calm during which 1/48th will sit first behind the Bidassoa and then when that river is crossed, behind the Nivelle.  When the CIC decides that it is time to drive Soult's men away from this very long position which the enemy have spent much time and energy fortifying we shall see for the first time for some years a definite battalion number count, 1/48th will bring to the field:

10th November 1813 (at the crossing of the Nivelle)                                                                                                 
PUA 512

Cole's Division takes a central position for this assault on the earthworks, redoubts and various connecting trenches which had been thrown up by Soult's much demoralised forces, they are to attack first a sparsely manned strongpoint, the St' Barbe redoubt starting early on this late autumn day and it is Anson's Brigade which has the lead hereabouts. Other attacks are going in along the much extended defensive line so that, as the Brigade begins to close in the small garrison, seeing men passing by on the flank decide that discretion is the better part of valour and depart! So far so good, on they go to converge with others at the river, cross by the Nivelle River bridge at Sare and together overwhelm that place, there is a pause to collect into formation before heading forward again, this time it is the Louis X1V redoubt, the rapid taking of ground has caught the garrison unawares so that after a brief struggle they are ejected but not before the attackers receive some troublesome canister fire from a flanking battery. By now the enemy in many places has been thoroughly beaten going off to the rear at pace, Anson's men will move forward only a little before settling down at the town of Serres and to count the cost, in 1/48th seven men have been killed and a further three lie dead or critically wounded, hidden in the thick brush and boulders through which the attacks passed, Lieutenants Stephen Collins and Francis Scott and Ensign Benjamin Thompson are severely wounded and Lieutenant Sackville Thatcher slightly, of the rest 57 have received wounds also, so:

10th November 1813 (after the crossing of the Nivelle)                                                                                             
PAB 441

A month later the army is heavily engaged in separate fights about the Nive in front of Bayonne none of which affects 4th Division Anson's Brigade other than to give them more marching practice, this in poor weather, the roads being reduced to a mire of deep mud. There are periods where the conditions are so bad as to force a halt to all things and an attempt made to find dry quarters, (at least for the officers), during these short spells of rest there is first of all a confirmed check on numbers from the office of the DAG,

16th January 1814 (in quarters about the Nive)                                                                                                            
PUA 434

A small return to the ranks for 1/48th, probably as much as a whole company will help to stop a slide down so that when we do see them again in the middle of February 1814 they should stand at about:

15th February 1814 (marching east on Orthez)                                                                                                           
PUA 483

For about a fortnight the opposing contestants’ manœuvre across the several rivers that flow out of the French Pyrenees until Soult saw that he must halt and turn to face his tormentor. Choosing an elevated position overlooking the Gave de Pau to the west with the large town of Orthez on his left Soult placed his Divisions along a series of low ridges commanding the rising ground on which the enemy must approach. It is 27th February and in Cole's 4th Division it is the turn of Ross' Brigade to lead off its attack, this develops into an early success taking possession of the small church at St' Boes but, as the advance crosses a dip in the ground and the front is narrowed along a spur at right angles to the defensive line the enemy put down a heavy barrage of artillery fire from full ahead and with other well placed guns able to enfilade this path make it too hot for comfort.

Cole, having seen Ross' Brigade’s sufferings, with the Brigadier hit and his men gone to ground, calls a halt, the CIC with little else going forward has to re-arrange his plan, bring up fresh troops and then come on again at several points at once.

Anson's Brigade is not used on this occasion but 7th Division already close at hand does the business, and so it is that 1/48th will finish the day with only one man killed and another 13 wounded, not an officer touched all day, so:

27th February 1814 (after the battle at Orthez)                                                                                                           
PAB 469

The defeated enemy has gone off eastward at some pace so yet again the army must march on through the cold rain in a steady pursuit, for 4th Division this does not last for very long, Cole is ordered to re-direct his route to the north away from the main army and head for Roquefort and then further north via Bazas to Langon with the express task of supporting the local Governor at Bordeaux to defect from the Imperial cause and raise the flag of the Bourbon's. 4th Division is held back at Langon for three days as others march on to "liberate" the great city, when it is seen that they are not required back they go down country to re-join the army. All of this hard marching is in vile weather on ruined roads so it is little wonder that upon reaching their comrades on the roads to Toulouse numbers will have fallen in 4th Division, we can estimate that when 1/48th arrive before this large regional capital they can be no more than;

10th April 1814 (at the perimeter defences of Toulouse)                                                                                          
PUA 435

In the run up to this day Anson's men have escorted the critically inadequate pontoon train up and down the Garonne seeking a good river crossing but eventually there they are on the eastern banks with 6th Division all under Beresford and ready to do battle. To reach that part of the long hill running south of Toulouse where they might chance to climb to its flat top they have to plod along a soggy valley floor close to the river Ers, Anson's Brigade being well to the right of the columns advance come in for much attention from the enemy batteries stationed along the edge of the hill, Mont Rave, no doubt the order to extend and bring round their left and advance up the hill would be a great relief. As the line climbs steadily up it is to be their comrades of 6th Division on the right who will be confronted by General Taupin's Division as it charges down upon them, some action will come their way but perhaps only scattered musketry as Anson Brigade climb relentlessly on to reach the hilltop as the enemy has been put to flight. The Brigade is able to take up a line position along the hill edge facing west and overlooking Toulouse itself as Beresford calls a halt whilst his artillery, left way behind is able to be brought to the valley end and heaved up onto the Mont Rave plateau.  Several hours have passed before 6th Division go on the attack back north along the hill whilst 4th Division have the job of keeping any enemy reinforcements from climbing the western side. There is desperate fighting for 6th Division but little of consequence for 4th Division that has arrayed itself in much too strong a position to be interfered with and even have a skirmishing force part way down their western front. Of the officers hit this day Ensigns George Skeene and William Fox have had a leg each shot off, Captain James Reid is severely wounded and Lieutenant John Campbell is slightly wounded, in the ranks five men are killed and 39 wounded leaving the rest to celebrate the end of the war just a few short days later, the battalion at this time could be no stronger than;

10th April 1814 (after the battle at Toulouse)                                                                                                              
PAB 387

Note; Here we have a Regiment that fought and marched and fought again, suffered its crippling 65% casualties at Albuera, ‘got over it’ and carried on, did everything asked of it losing in excess of a thousand men for  its troubles, as ‘regular’ as they come and tough as ‘old-boots’ what more could be said?

This Regiment is not to be found on the field at Waterloo!

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2010

 

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