Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 60th Regiment of Foot (The Royal American Rifles)

By Ray Foster

Facings: Red                                                                   
Lace: Black

Author’s note: This single 5th battalion of 60th Foot as a regularly designated member of the British Army’s infantry had its origins in the battles fought in America at the time of that country’s struggle for independence half a century earlier.  It featured prominently in the resulting British initiative to establish a unique light infantry element into that arm’s operations. Rather than being composed of “American Colonials” its ranks were filled by Germans from a mix of Hessians, Hanoverians and Swiss sharpshooters all of whom were adept in the use of rifle bored weapons.

Contrary to the protestations of latter day wargamer/historians their prime role was the elimination of enemy officers. 


2nd August 1808 (landed at Mondego Bay from Cork)                                                                                               
PUA 936

Coming under Brigadier Major General Henry Fane with 1/45th and four companies of 2/95th this battalion of sniper/sharpshooters as might be expected was the very first to come into action opening their account in front of Obidos just 13 days after making their landing, here they lost a number of men, one killed, five wounded and as many as seventeen captured, [a story there waiting to be told], no officers were reported lost so, on they go following up General Henri DeLaborde's men who are outnumbered four to one but, on instructions are set to stand about Roliça to delay Wellesley until General Androche Junot in Lisbon can gather a field force sufficient to give a good account of himself.  At Roliça Fane's Brigade are put at the centre left to advance against a hill spur with 5/60th and 2/95th drilled to adopt the extended open order heavy skirmish screen so well developed by their opponents ever since the old Revolutionary days. There is hard fighting to do as DeLaborde uses his men and the terrain economically only giving ground after inflicting some telling volleys at advantage, by the end of the fighting here 5/60th will have collected 66 casualties, of these eight men killed, forty wounded, as many as sixteen captured and Ensign Fredrick de Gilse and one un-named officer wounded so, with just a little over a fortnight in the country the battalion could be down to certainly no more than:

17th August 1808 (after the combat at Roliça)                                                                                                             
PAB 847

With reinforcements coming ashore at Maceira Bay Wellesley is able to re-arrange his brigades so that we see 1/45th gone and replaced by 1/50th but, still under Fane when Junot obliges and makes an attack on the British expeditionary force.  The CIC [but not for long] is able to use a quite short battle line based on the village of Vimiero standing the assault on 21st August.

Strangely 5/60th will show figures down by 260 from just four days earlier, the most likely reason being that three companies had been for some reason set aside.  The loss of 33 men “captured/missing” after only two minor engagements is suggestive of perhaps a need to screen out those suspected of desertion from such a diverse ‘catchment’.

No matter, we are informed that they would stand ready at:

21st August 1808 (at the battle of Vimiero)                                                                                                                 
PUA 604

Being on defence the battalion was now deployed well forward in the regular picket line in the centre area which Junot had decided to drive in first, this he did but only succeeded in making these men join up into thick clumps as they slowly gave back onto the rest of the brigade. It remained for 1/50th to come forward, put in a few short-range volleys and charge the enemy down into the lower ground sending them off completely out of range and in some disorder. Another attack is mounted but, this time the enemy is greeted with mixed artillery missiles and some flank fire from Fane's riflemen too, these attackers meet further musket volleys and a bayonet charge which effectively puts an end to activity on this section of the line.  We are expected to find the casualty lists in Oman's Vol I Appendix [see note 4 P261] but his otherwise faithful gazetteer failed to oblige in this, however with Steve Brown’s lists we know the ‘butcher’s bill’ for this fight, as we suspect there is a strong chance that a few men would be taken prisoner at the outset and indeed so it was no less than ten of them going into ‘the-bag’, with 14 men killed and 22 wounded their leaders are still learning the game, with one officer recorded hit that day, Lieutenant Charles Koch and one other un-recorded they would stand down  at:

21st August 1808 (after the battle at Vimiero)                                                                                                             
PAB 556

Over the next few weeks the army comes to a stand watching the antics of the new CIC Lieutenant General Hew Dalrymple as he sets in motion the surrender negotiations which history names the Convention of Cintra, 5/60th like so many others are lost sight of for a while but then get a mention as receiving into their ranks an excess of 200 men who defect from that French army which is to be shipped off again into France to do service once more for the Emperor, this during September. They are all from 4th Swiss Regiment and in light of those earlier experiences will need to be sifted through for reliability and then supplied with new dark green uniforms and all of the equipment so necessary to conform to regulations. All of this must have kept them busy down about Lisbon, or at least a large proportion as simple arithmetic will show that this battalion can now call on some 800 +/- PUA, not to be just yet though [on the ground].  It will be as much as two months later that there is a reference to 5/60th being brigaded under Lieutenant General William  Bentinck and going by stages up as far as Salamanca as a part of Lieutenant General John Moore's army, not in those large numbers above however, just four companies, at best then no more than 260 men.

None of this is of any consequence since this fragment of 5/60th is, on 5th December sent down to Lisbon again escorting the sick men of Moore's force and a number of the heavy baggage and ammunition vehicles deemed too cumbersome to make the journey into Spain. Arriving back at the Capital they will come under the overall control of Lieutenant General John Cradock remaining out of sight throughout the rest of the winter but could have been one of those battalions mentioned in early February of 1809 as being at Almeida or Lamego and busy still absorbing the deserters of 4th Swiss Regiment. Cradock calls in all of his scattered battalions so that 5/60th will march down to Lisbon with other remnants all under a Brigadier Cameron where perhaps it might establish a solid base HQ and certainly have no shortage of good men to call upon to keep up its numbers. Things begin to buzz when Wellesley returns to Lisbon during late April, the Horse Guards have been sending more battalions into the theatre from far and wide and by the beginning of May all is revealed.

The role played by 5/60th from here on in is now defined, five companies are given to Marshal William Carr Beresford to augment his supply of riflemen, these being brigaded under Major General Christopher Tilson and sent up country by the right of the main army in its drive to push Marshal Nicholas Soult's men out of Portugal by the northern frontier. The other five companies are split up, one each to various brigades in Wellesley's central array, there is no easy way to get at the exploits of 5/60th from this time on, they are to be seen here there and everywhere, truly ubiquitous! One thing we do know however is that each company would be commanded by its Captain and perhaps a Lieutenant and/or Ensign and, at this early stage some 60 riflemen. In the first week of May 1809 they would put in the field a combined strength of:

3rd May 1809 (setting out on the Oporto campaign)                                                                                                 
PUA 625

It can be reasonably argued that the function of these specialist single rifle companies as a part of a brigade was not to put themselves at risk beyond the normal duties of picket and skirmish, this principle applying at all times, there are other occasions of course where we see the Lieutenant Colonels or Majors involved in some enterprise where the companies have been drawn together and may well be compelled to act in a similar way to the regular line battalions, and suffer accordingly. It has to be observed too that this battalion often supplied individual officers to other Line units of the army and, notably to the Portuguese infantry, especially its Caçadores, acting as a kind of depot for well trained and highly skilled sharpshooters. Meanwhile, back in Portugal 5/60th have done their duty in the six different brigades of the army without recording a single casualty to its officer corps but, when next we see figures presented, less than three months after the beginning of the Oporto adventures 5/60th have gone down by more than 70 men, mostly it can be conjectured by attrition, the chase into the mountains of the Portuguese northern borders having been conducted in very unseasonably wet and cold conditions. These new figures take us to the field in front of the Alberche stream a little east of Talavera de la Reina in the Tagus valley. There has been a small change to the arrangements for 5/60th in that those five companies that had been with Beresford now went to Colonel Rufane Donkin who had taken over Tilson's Brigade otherwise the single companies remained as they were. Average strength of each company however was now down to 55 men and the next few days are to be exciting to say the least, so:

25th July 1809 (at the Alberche stream, Talavera campaign)                                                                                    
PUA 552

The enemy under the command of Marshal Claud Victor are on the defensive and retiring onto Madrid but, through the vacillations of Captain General Gregorio Cuesta no advantage is taken and, as Victor is soon being reinforced by King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Jean Baptiste Jourdan with General Horace Sebastiani bringing up the rear the British-Spanish allied armies are themselves thrown onto the defensive. The Alberche separates the two opponents for a while then, on 27th July on come the enemy with a large screen of tirailleurs up ahead to sweep away the rather loosely positioned pickets on the west side of the stream, although the five companies stand their ground long enough to hold off the rush no less than 19 of 5/60th are captured here from Donkin's Brigade amongst them Captain John Wolff and Lieutenant George Zuhlcke who had both been seriously wounded, three of the riflemen were killed and four more wounded, so:

27th July 1809 (at the combat at the Casa de Salinas, Talavera)                                                                               
PAB 526

During that night the army retired back to positions to the left of Talavera township and all the way northward onto the Medellin hill which for 5/60th meant a scattering of the single companies all along the field. At dawn on the 28th July the enemy cannonades opened up as an introduction to a long hot day with periods of frantic action interspersed with others of so much inactivity that both sides were able to sit down and eat or collect their wounded and scoop up water from the turgid pools in the Portina stream, a slowly trickling brook which for most of the day separated the two main contestants. Having the responsibility of manning the skirmishing line it would be difficult for 5/60th to avoid trouble in those violent sequences of fighting which burst on the scene, they would rely on their skill at other times to minimise risk, in the end they would lose 50 of their number of which Major John Galiffe, Captains Alexander Andrews and Philip Majer, Lieutenants Robert Mitchell and Lewis Ritter and Ensign Henry von Altenstein are wounded, seven of the riflemen are killed, twenty-five wounded and twelve taken prisoner, so:

28th July 1809 (after the battle at Talavera)                                                                                                                 
PAB 476

There is to be a good deal of suffering to endure after this battle so hard won, the survivors walking sick and injured had to be left by the roadside as they succumbed to the heat, the rough going and the ever present hunger, precious little wheeled transport would be available and that, no doubt reserved for the officers, sergeants and female camp followers who notoriously foraged for themselves. Back in the comparative safety of the Guadiana basin it was the turn of the mosquito to plague the men so weakened by their recent ordeal, down they went with what was known there as Guadiana fever, not a good sign for their future if they were to remain a part of British/Spanish initiatives. By the end of the year Wellington could no longer watch his army melt away around him so the "alliance" was broken off and away went the army into the much more friendly Portuguese hinterland with the CIC vowing not to concern himself with affairs Spanish for many a long day. During the early part of 1810 the internal structure of 5/60th became ever more refined as a single company specialist organisation. Hill was being given a semi-independent command of a large Division whose task would at all times be to protect the most southern right wing of the army, having broken his links with the Spanish military it would be very necessary to guard against incursions of the enemy from Estremadura and the Alemtejo. Hill would have attached during the early part of this separation three companies of 5/60th, one to each of his British brigades. Quite often his whole corps would act some great distance from his CIC so that those three companies would have to draw on the internal logistics of their respective British brigades, it is noticeable that their officer content was minimal whilst back in the main army their parent body was to be based in 3rd Division for the rest of the war. It is natural that for the time that Lisbon was to be used as the main port of entry for the army there would also be a "clearing house" there used to process long term convalescents and to screen out the constant trickle of foreign deserters and émigré’s wishing to offer their services. It seems most probable then that as this tiny officer content with Hill's Corps suffered loss they would look to recruit new blood from within Hill's numbers but failing that would perhaps have to fall back on the Lisbon depot. There are no figures to work on until late in 1810 when Wellington has called up Hill to concentrate on the Busaco hill position in response to Marshal Andre Massena's advances along the Mondego. By this time 5/60th have, in their various single companies, been in the field covering the movements of their own British brigades and will only show a small increase in overall numbers, it may be as well to take these in two parts, so:

27th September 1810 (on the ridge at Busaco) 

[7 companies with 1st, 3rd & 4th Divisions,]                                                                                                                                  
PUA 378 

[3 companies with 2nd Division,]                                                                                                                                                      
PUA 129

Total 507

Oman is coy about how to get at casualties in 5/60th at almost every general action merely noting that they are all equated under 3rd Division HQ however, in the case of the battle at Busaco it will be fair to expect that those riflemen attached to 3rd Division will indeed have borne the brunt of casualties in this affair, 1st Division having received its losses only from stray cannon-fire and 4th Division not even engaged at all!  We are made aware through JA Hall that Lieutenant Colonel William Williams, Senior Captain Andrews, Lieutenants Franz von Eberstein, John Joyce and Ignatius Franchini were all wounded, and from Oman that three riflemen were killed, sixteen wounded and five taken prisoner.

27th September 1810 (after the battle at Busaco ridge)                        

[7 companies]                                                                                                                                                                                
PAB 349

[3 companies] no losses                                                                                                                                                               
PAB 129

Total 478

Once back down country and distributed about the Lines of Torres Vedras there would be quite a change to the overall strength of 5/60th even to say that they might show a moderate increase during the early part of their time here. This, in the main will be brought about by yet another change to the distribution of single companies about the British brigades that may see the battalion swell to eleven companies. 1st Division has been re-arranged now having three complete British brigades, each has its own company of 5/60th attached, a 6th Division has been created and its single brigade gets a company of 5/60th, 3rd Division retains three companies and HQ whilst 4th Division holds on to only one losing one of its companies by exchanging for one of Brunswick Oels Jagers. Hill's Corps retains its ordinary quota at three companies and of course it is not at all possible to break strengths down to companies or even give an overall total to this supposed enlargement with any surety. Before proceeding further it will be best to mention the reason for all of this uncertainty, a stray company of 3/95th known to have landed at Lisbon during this period occasionally gets juxtaposed with that new brigade in 1st Division [Erskine's, then Howard's] throwing the whole question of whether or not 5/60th do in fact raise an eleventh company or whether Oman & his Appendix compiler fail to recognise the importance of this occasional duplication. No matter, following the precise history of 5/60th is always going to be a difficult task! When Hill gets a renewed attack of malaria it falls to Beresford to pick up the Estremaduran Corps eventually to be sent south east on their independent mission to embarrass the enemy garrison at Badajoz they, the French having only recently captured that place from the Spanish. By now Massena has begun to retire his army along a line of retreat that will take him via Ponte de Murcella all the way out of Portugal. As Wellington discovers his departure the large northern portion of his army gets in touch with Marshal Michel Ney's rearguard having a number of formal actions on the way, the companies of 5/60th involved here would come in the main from those three belonging to 3rd Division and occasionally from those others of 4th & 1st Divisions. With no real chance of estimating the strengths of these companies as they came out of the "Lines" it is only possible to run through the casualties during this period from 12th March to 3rd April.

Five riflemen are killed, twenty-three wounded and six captured, Lieutenant Charles Sawatzky is killed and Lieutenant Abraham Wynne injured, a loss of 36 altogether and with little doubt that they all come from the three companies of 3rd Division. Travelling south into the Estremaduran theatre 4th Division now need to be added to Beresford's Corps and will bring with them that single company of 5/60th so that when the twin battles of Fuentes d Onoro and Albuera are fought the battalion will be split, four companies in Estremadura and the rest at Fuentes'. Taking figures from Oman Vol IV App' IX 5/60th will have six companies showing;

1st May 1811 (at Fuentes d Onoro) 

[6 companies with 1st, 3rd & 6th Divisions]                                                                                                                                   
PUA 311

Battle is joined on 3rd May when we see Lieutenant Colonel Williams in the village commanding the combined Light companies of many brigades in the defence of that place, there is a great fight in and out of the narrow streets and the houses up and down the town all day.    The Colonel is severely wounded as are just nine of his riflemen, eight are captured and three killed whilst Lieutenant Maximilian Du Chatelet is slightly wounded too. There is a lull during the 4th May but then next day on come the enemy again, Acting Lieutenant Colonel William Woodgate has charge of his sharpshooters and picks up a slight wound on this second day of close street fighting thirteen of his men are likewise wounded and the "butcher's bill” for the two days is thirty-six. We are left to presume that any casualties amongst those companies in 1st Division who had a busy day on the 5th May are included in the usual manner [but no note to that effect] so:

5th May 1811 (after the battles at Fuentes d Onoro)

[6 companies]                                                                                                                                                                                
PAB 275

Going south to the battlefield at Albuera less than two weeks later Beresford has only the three companies of 2nd Division attachments but there is some chance that the single company of Kemmis' Brigade may also have been present however, no distinction is forthcoming so we must just press on.

16th May 1811 (at Albuera) 

[3 companies of 2nd Division]                                                                                                                                                           
PUA 146  

In the ensuing bloodbath this tiny corps will only lose 14% of its numbers, almost a day off at such a fierce field, two riflemen are killed, whilst Lieutenant Johann Von Ingersleben is only slightly wounded with a further eighteen of the rank and file, so:

16th May 1811 (after the battle at Albuera)                                                                                                                 
PAB 125

Once more we are to be treated to a mystery; on 16th May the combined totals for this fragmented corps amount to 400 PUA.                                     

Our next figures, which are presented for 15th September after the army has concentrated in the Caya valley during the Guadiana fever/ malaria season and then separated again, only show numbers for the most northern contingent up at Fuente Guinaldo.  Hill's Corps shows not a single reference to its possession of these crack shot elites, the problem comes about because the northern figures amount to PUA 406, far too many to have increased by 131 whilst standing about catching Guadiana fevers. The possibility becomes closer to a probability that these two separate armies have amalgamated their figures for 5/60th as they do on so many other occasions leaving us with the distinct likelihood that 406 is the combined total both north and south.  It is necessary to make progress, the year ends quietly but, not so 1812, on the very first day of the year Cuidad Rodrigo is invested with companies of 5/60th set to provide sharpshooters in this freezing weather up in the most forward trenches until the storm goes in. On this day 19th January 1812 we see that Captain Alexander Livingstone is seriously wounded as are three of his men, another is killed but we also have those earlier figures [from Steve Brown] for  the riflemen lost during the siege operations that add just another three wounded, the more serious work however is yet to come. By mid-March with bleak weather the order of the day Badajoz is the next fortress to be put under siege, 3rd and 4th Divisions are heavily involved here, the work is the same for 5/60th, down in the forward trenches sniping away at anything that bobs up and moves thus encouraging some retaliation.  On the night of the storm Colonel Williams is sufficiently recovered from his wounds of the previous year to be up there with his men for which he collects a slight wound as does his Major Brevet Colonel John Fitzgerald, not so Captain James Bunting and Lieutenant John Stern who are killed along with four of the men, Lieutenant Peter Broetz has been wounded in like manner as another twenty-six men so, they stand down thirty-five men light, still no real way at getting at company figures but a tentative estimate would see them at:

20th April 1812 (after the storm of Badajoz)

[4 companies with 3rd & 4th Divisions]                                                                                                                                           
PAB 210

During all of this we have no information as to Hill's contingent of 5/60th they will have their usual three companies but more than that we cannot fathom. They will not surface until the year is well spent and the whole military picture in the lower half of the Peninsula has been turned over and Cadiz abandoned by Soult's besieging armies. The cause of this turn around of events will be of course the momentous catastrophe, which befalls Marshal Marmont on the hills south of Salamanca in the high summer of 1812. There is much fancy manœuvring in the plains about that great city but for the companies attached to 1st, 3rd 4th & 6th Divisions it is business as usual, keeping as close up to the enemy as they will allow, sniping off those of their number who approach within killing range, retiring at speed when under threat and then when the day of the battle comes, to put in their best shot! As usual the figures heavily favour the 3rd Division HQ three companies who appear to carry an excess of 90 men, too difficult to rationalise so we must just carry on, the figures in Oman Vol V App' X tell us that the seven companies of 5/60th would bring to the field:

15th July 1812 (counter-marching about Salamanca)

[1st, 3rd, 4th&6th Divisions]                                                                                                                                                   
PUA 472

Only 1st Division will have a quiet day on the Arapiles and even they will use their Light companies in a long contested skirmish for possession of the village of Los Arapiles, the Appendix compiler lumps casualties into a heap at the door of 3rd Division so we must take what we can out of that. Lieutenant Colonel Williams once more puts himself in the way of fire to be wounded, Major Galiffe receives a serious wound and Ensign Lucke runs out of his namesake seriously injured, in the ranks six men are killed and twenty-four wounded, three more missing/taken prisoner. It is to be regularly noticed that when in the face of the enemy at general actions almost invariably some men go "missing", far more than in the regular line infantry battalions, whilst this might be explained by understanding their close proximity to the enemy lines it still remains to be no great stretch of the imagination to see a small number of unhappy men of the foreign component taking a chance to rid themselves of some grievance held against the "authorities" by slipping out into the enemy lines in the confusion of battle.

21st July 1812 (after the battle at the Arapiles)

[7 companies]                                                                                                                                                                               
PAB 436

If matters have been cloudy for the drawing out of detail for the companies of 5/60th up to this time we now go into a thick fog of war, details are no better than patchy after the victory at the Arapiles, during the marches of both Wellington and Hill going to and from Madrid, up to and back from Burgos and concentrating on the hills below Salamanca before all retreating back to Portugal in the late autumn rains. By the lists of Steve Brown we see that one officer [of the 57 listed by JA Hall] has been wounded while in the ranks 6 men have been killed and 22 more wounded, not one going ‘missing’. Such is the confusion and fragmentation [in the case of 5/60th] plus, I suspect, the reluctance to reveal the true state of affairs by the British historians of the period that nothing can be done until we closely examine residual Divisional and some Brigade totals, not very satisfactory for a tiny corps whose figures have always been hard to detail. Standing on defence behind and on the Agueda in late November of 1812 5/60th could not have mustered more than a very generous:

19th November 1812 (on the Agueda, Portugal)

[All 10 companies including HQ]                                                                                                                                                          PUA 477

The upcoming winter and spring is kind to Wellington's army, the people back in England have sensed a victorious end to the war and large amounts of materiel and generous drafts of men pour into Lisbon to be transported up to the army. For 5/60th this period allows men culled from that mysterious corps in Lisbon the York Light to replenish their ranks. In April 1813 we see exact figures for each company but still needing the officer additions so:

26th April 1813 (cantoned in Portugal)

1st Division

Howard’s Brigade [1 company]
PUA 44

Stopford’s Brigade [1 company]      
PUA 43

2nd Division

Stewart’s Brigade [1 company]  
PUA 65

Byng Brigade [1 company]          
PUA 56

Pringle’s Brigade [1 company]         
PUA 70

3rd Division

Brisbane’s Brigade [3 companies]                                                                                                                                          
PUA 194

4th Division

Anson’s Brigade [1 company]  
PUA 56

6th Division

Stirling’s Brigade [1 company]     
PUA 51

Total [with officers included @ 5%]                                                                                                                               
PUA 608

The only brake on proceedings comes from the slowness in 1813 of the Spanish spring and summer to produce green feed for the generous cavalry numbers, artillery and animals of the military train, once this appears they are on their way to manœuvre the French under King Joseph and Marshal Jourdan out of Spain for good. This new army, as large for numbers as Wellington has ever had under hand has however lost a company of 5/60th this having had to stay behind with its brigade of Guards of 1st Division when this corps is struck down with a rampant mix of fevers. No doubt the riflemen would do no better than the Guards at warding off these diseases, this brigade will not re-join for many a long day. Otherwise the spread of companies remains the same, one only now in 1st Division, three in 2nd Division, three & HQ in 3rd Division one in 4th and one in 6th Divisions. Using a little hindsight it may be that these nine companies complete with their HQ reserve would number;

25th May 1813 (marching north to Vittoria)

[9 companies in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 6th Divisions]                                                                                                                            
PUA 590

Hill's Corps have the right wing of the army and are the only ones to have regular contact with the enemy whilst Graham's Corps slips around the left flanks continuously, exploits by the companies of riflemen are not to be found and even when the army has concentrated for the battle across the Zadorra River in front of Vittoria we can only expect that their numbers will have been maintained intact as is the case in the rest of the army. When it comes to the action on 21st June the greater part of the fighting to affect 5/60th would fall to those six companies attached to 2nd & 3rd Divisions, 1st Division not even being engaged at all, 4th Division only in sustaining penetration casualties from artillery full ahead late in proceedings and 6th Division being completely out of it in the rear protecting the baggage. Casualties are given for the whole corps from which we can extract just two Lieutenants  Franchini and Joyce wounded along with 47 of the riflemen, a further two being killed, so:

21st June 1813 (after the battle at Vittoria)

[9 companies as above]                                                                                                                                                               
PAB 539

Proceeding up into the Bastan and the Pyrenean foothills the various companies of 5/60th naturally enough had very different experiences according to their parent Division’s part against the enemy. By the end of July there are a few significant contacts with a "new" French army now under Marshal Soult, Joseph & Jourdan having been disposed of.  It may be as well to follow 2nd Division for a little while they are up in the Maya Pass on defence, and, on this occasion only involving two brigades, Lieutenant General John Cameron’s and Lieutenant Colonel O’Callaghan’s of 39th, that last Brigadier to be superseded on 23rd July by an officer new to the Brigade Major General William Pringle. What follows has, in the telling, needing that each and every step in the chain of command should be explained in order that at some level of responsibility someone could have a finger pointed at him! The scene, the Gorospil Knoll on the right of the 'Pass, Hill has gone off to investigate a disturbance out on the flank, Stewart has taken it upon himself to follow him, Brigadier Pringle is now in charge. Captain Joseph Bradbey of 28th Regiment, an old soldier from as far back as Corunna has the four Light companies away forward on the 'Knoll in a good position for viewing the road ahead but in numbers too small to put up anything more than skirmishing fire should they be met by a serious force of the enemy. This of course is exactly what happens the supports are some miles in the rear so that it is comparatively straightforward for the enemy to engage the whole of Bradbey's skirmish line whilst sending a large formed force around the position cutting them off from retreat. The fight is taken to its logical conclusion, each man fighting according to his orders as officers are shot down, replaced and more shot down. Those left standing when the resistance proves fruitless may have had some chance to flee but it is more than likely that those not captured had gone already before the end came.

Of 5/60th one officer, un-named is captured and also twenty-five of the riflemen, eleven more are wounded but manage to make off, whilst Lieutenant John von Dalmann and another un-named officer are killed along with five of the men.

Obviously there would be some heated debate when the day was done! Interestingly Bradbey of 28th Regiment whilst collecting a wound was not recorded as one of the prisoners, although it seems that he was sufficiently injured to have died of his wounds by November that year. Meanwhile Cameron's brigade became involved with yet another heavily superior enemy force and was driven back through its camps and beyond, we are made aware that when Cameron himself was wounded here it fell to Lieutenant Colonel Fitzgerald of 5/60th to take over the brigade. Unfortunately any casualties incurred here by 5/60th would be lumped into those figures already given, however we do know that at least this brigadier had not risked his Light companies in the same way that Pringle had. We next find, in JA Hall that on 26th July Ensign Christopher Martin sustained a serious wound, this no doubt in the general fall-back onto the Sorauren position where two days later a general action ensued.

While all of the above had been in progress what of the rest of 5/60th's companies?

Those three of 3rd Division & HQ under Lieutenant General Thomas Picton had been strangely quiet, almost dormant while Cole and Hill were falling back towards Pamplona, certainly not in any action with an enemy. Byng's Brigade of 2nd Division had got itself involved with 4th Division movements but luckily to the rear, those riflemen attached to 6th Division were doing some confusing counter-marching across country and, lastly those in 1st Division were nowhere near, all being at the San Sebastian front. Little or no chance then of discovering a collective total of PUA's for 5/60th while these disjointed engagements continued in the Pyrenees Theatre. On 28th July there is a general action before and to the right [British side] of the village of Sorauren, we are made aware that in the fighting this day the company with Stirling's Brigade in 6th Division has come up to the village by a southern road to plug off the enemy drive from the north and prevents them from debouching out beyond the buildings thereabouts.

It can be supposed that the riflemen would have the usual sniping tasks here so that, whilst no officers are recorded lost on the 28th we do know that one man was killed and four wounded in front of Sorauren. Meanwhile up on the Hill of Oricain to the British right a battle royal is being fought by troops of 4th Division and towards the end by that single Brigade of 2nd Division belonging to Byng, this would bring into action two more companies of 5/60th attached, unfortunately no losses are recorded here, but it is inconceivable that in the numerous attacks and counter-attacks which took place there these men could be untouched by it all!

Having reached no real conclusion on the 28th July it is the turn of Wellington to go on the offensive, two days later, Soult is caught passing his Divisions across the front of the British lines and pays the price. No less than eight of the companies of 5/60th will be engaged on the 30th July and, as usual somewhat scattered around the fighting grounds. We are told that on 30th July the companies in 3rd Division & HQ were 4 in number however, it seems more than likely that if this was the case their collective strength would soon be needed to replace those losses over the previous week incurred by the others in 2nd, 4th and 6th Divisions, and, certainly, because of the isolated nature of Pringle and Fitzgerald Brigades at Buenza the actions and individual losses that day of 5/60th companies are difficult to rationalise when the only figures available are lumped into 3rd Division & HQ. Early on 30th July then Byng's Light companies are brought forward to engage the enemy in Sorauren village where Stirling's men are already in action keeping Maucune's men pinned thereabouts, it may be that this is where Adjutant/Lieutenant James Kent is wounded and the greater part of 5/60th's 31 casualties sustained that day, recording two men dead and twenty-eight injured besides Kent. Major General Thomas Brisbane's Brigade of 3rd Division is used out to the right to sweep up the French rear as it scattered in retreat broadcast into the hills with its companies of 5/60th no doubt well to the fore.

There is little more to be extracted from accounts of the fighting in this part of the field excepting perhaps to mention the harrying nature of the pursuit, continually picking up wounded and exhausted prisoners with loot always a factor in slowing down the pace. Meanwhile, over in the west Hill has a different situation to handle at Buenza, General Drouet D'Erlon has come upon him with a much superior force and orders to attack without delay, Hill has a strong skirmish line formed up along the fringes of a wooded hill, Fitzgerald of 5/60th has command of Pringle's Brigade while that officer has taken over the two brigades of 2nd Division for the time being. Fitzgerald is attacked by men of General Abbe's Division and after a hard fight forced off his position going back almost a mile before being able to hold in front of the village of Yguaras. All of this must have cost 5/60th some loss but nowhere are we able to gauge whether the 31 already mentioned takes this encounter into the reckoning or not.  Since leaving the battlefield of Vittoria then just 40 days ago the battalion has registered no less than 81 casualties amongst the eight companies (exclusive of that one in 1st Division still active in the San Sebastian theatre) and, on the next day the whole of the enemy force is rapidly retreating back by whatever means into the safety of the French frontier.

This gives Lieutenant General William Stewart, now returned to command 2nd Division a chance to show again his lack of military judgment by fiercely attacking Abbe's already retiring units at Venta de Urroz, being thrown back twice in all of this Fitzgerald is wounded and taken prisoner and, although there are general figures given for this action there is no chance to see where 5/60th would feature as a part. With so much movement and contact with the enemy over these last six weeks it can only be expected that 5/60th would, from the whole nine companies in the field show certainly no more than:

31st July 1813 (after the combat at Venta de Urroz)

(9 companies)                                                                                                                                                                                
PAB 457

Conveniently there is little to report going into August for 5/60th excepting that Colonel Peregrine Maitland's (ex Major General John Lambert) Brigade of Guards so long incapacitated by malarial fevers finally marched up to join 1st Division bringing along its attached company of riflemen to make up the total once more to ten throughout the army. It is also likely that during August the various companies which had seen the most action and consequent losses would receive drafts from the ever present pool of volunteers and ex-deserters/ prisoners ready to join this specialist band of sharpshooters. There is no help to be found in Oman's appendices on this and in fact some hindrance when the fighting begins again in earnest, the attachments to the various brigades of the army is totally ignored and, occasionally by the summaries of casualties we are certainly misled. 


It may be of some assistance here to mention that in "British and Portuguese Infantry Brigading" a production of the command positions as a part of "A Game of Soldiers" the full movements and changes of battalions and these companies for the whole period are presented as are the intricate changes to brigade chains of command. Close examination of the Appendix of CT Atkinson in Oman’s Wellington’s Army where the majority of this information comes from convinced the author that this ridiculously compressed material needed expanding if any sense was to be derived from such a deeply researched condensation.

To return to events on the Biscay end of the Spanish/French frontier country, San Sebastian is put to the sword on 31st August 1813 with perhaps a very few volunteers of 5/60th present but, without any hint as to that possibility, however, on the same day there is a defensive battle out on the left banks of the Bidassoa on the Heights of San Marcial which did involve units of 4th & 7th Divisions and, as chance would have it Major General William Anson's Brigade of 4th' would incur a number of casualties that day. This Brigade contained a company of 5/60th as a part of its 1813 composition [CT Atkinson] but, with no reference to a change anywhere this company had exchanged into 4th Division Major General Robert Ross's Brigade some time at the end of the year [CT Atkinson again, for 1814] all too obscure to consider that they may have been present where the action was on the "Heights", certainly no officers were hit that day. At last, on 7th October 1813 we see that when the Bidassoa was crossed a rifleman of 5/60th attached to 1st Division got himself wounded and two of his comrades who went missing most likely absconded to the other side. We have to go to the Nivelle crossing in November to receive clear figures as to the strength of the battalion, yet again grouped up into 3rd Division numbers and, this is that rather full complement which includes probably 5% of supernumerary's so:

10th November 1813 (at the passage of the Nivelle)

 (10 companies adjusted down 5%)                                                                                                                                          
PUA 576

It may be of some interest to see that there was an officer to ranker ratio of 1:20 at this time.  All of this becomes relevant when we see that this widely dispersed battle produced a casualty count for 5/60th of seven men killed, as many as 57 wounded, two gone missing and four officers hit and, of the whole of 3rd Division Brisbane's Brigade losses [where the total is lumped together] we are told that 5/60th accounted for the great majority!  Once again introspection must play its part, all of the officers shown as hit did come from 5/60th, they are Lieutenant Thomas Eccles killed and Captain James Stopford, Lieutenant John Passley and Ensign Henry Shewbridge wounded which of course shows that of the 67 other ranks lost in the brigade almost all would be from those scattered companies of sharpshooters out ahead of Colonel John Keanes Brigade [ex Colville] who had obviously used these specialists in a more violent manner and who had  made the first breakthrough, plying their trade on this occasion at the 'sharp end', so:

10th November (after the battle at the Nivelle)                                                                                                          
PAB 505

On the Nive less than a month later it is the turn of 2nd Division companies of 5/60th to encounter the enemy, first crossing that river obstacle and advancing along a sea of mud and waterlogged countryside, Lieutenant Hugh Dickson is wounded here as are 13 of his men whilst away towards the coast at and around Bassussary those men attached to 1st Division have an unrecorded clash with a heavy counter-attacking force but, unfortunately no casualty score either. Three days later these same two companies are involved in the confused fighting about Barrouillet, which accounts for 6 more casualties in the ranks.

On the last day of this four day sequence of events it is once more the turn of 2nd Division to feel the brunt of the enemy's attacks, it is of course the furious fight at St'Pierre d'Irrube.   When one considers the nature of this conflict it is perhaps surprising that 5/60th record such a moderate loss, Ensign William Rutledge is mortally wounded dying nine days later whilst 19 men are injured, one more being captured [or deserting] and an officer [not mentioned of course by JA Hall] goes missing too. Collecting all of these figures together we cannot expect 5/60th to show any more than:

13th December 1813 (after the battles of the Nive) [10 companies]                                                                                 
PAB 463

Over the early part of the winter of 1813-14 the army was partitioned East/West with Lieutenant General John Hope taking command of the western part, this included the large 1st Division with 2 companies of 5/60th and 5th Division whose attached Light companies were Jaegers from the Brunswick Oels Regiment, the principal task to maintain a tight investment of the massive Bayonne fortress city. The other 8 companies of 5/60th remained with the eastern part, which was to extend ever further to its right as Soult's men were pushed across the northern foothills of the French Pyrenees. These were, 3 companies and HQ in 3rd Division, 3 companies in 2nd Division, one in 4th Division [Ross' Brigade] and one in 6th Division [Pack' Brigade] (all of this from CT Atkinson). Just two months after the end of the Nive battles the eastern army, under Wellington, of course, began to 'disturb' the enemy by their insistent pressure to force a break between Soult and his long time supply bases on the Biscay coast. Somewhere between the Joyeuse and Bidouze rivers we see that Captain Frederick Blassiere on 14th February receives a mortal wound whilst skirmishing forward ahead of one of the Divisional advances. Both 2nd and 3rd Divisions, who between them had 6 companies of 5/60th in their ranks were in touch with the enemy's Light units hereabouts so that casualties this day could well have been split between them insofar as 5/60th were involved and, since officers were few and far between in this specialist corps we can expect that there would be a reduction within the ranks in proportion.                                                                                            

We are fortunate that during January of the New Year we had received individual company figures via Supplementary Dispatches, to these I add probable company officer’s numbers, so, all ranks:

16th January 1814 (distributed throughout the army Biscay/Nive valley)

1st Division

Howard Brigade                                                                                                                                                           
PUA 51

Stopford Brigade                                                                                                                                                       
PUA 53   

2nd Division

Barnes Brigade                                                                                                                                                            
PUA 52

Byng Brigade                                                                                                                                                             
PUA 47

Pringle Brigade                                                                                                                                                            
PUA 49

3rd Division

Brisbane Brigade [3 companies]                                                                                                                                  
PUA 207

4th Division

Anson Brigade                                                                                                                                                           
PUA 48

6th Division

Pack Brigade                                                                                                                                                            
PUA 39

Total PUA 546                                  

At this point, using this excellent base it becomes possible to attempt a rationale by which we can produce figures on an on-going basis, which might allow for convalescent returnees during these last few months when there is little or nothing other than logic to help us in this thinly distributed corps. We know that there had been six or so weeks of quiescence until this second week of February so that 5/60th could have been able to make replacements towards its average company combatant strength of 55 men PUA of all ranks. Using this somewhat empirical yardstick this would allow Wellington's wing of the army to contain 440 PUA for 5/60th in mid February and, after this un-named combat perhaps;

14th February 1814 (after the skirmish between the Joyeuse & Bidouze) [8 companies]                                                                                                                                                                                PAB 411

The next day at Garris the company attached to Pringle's Brigade of 2nd Division is amongst those that were counter-attacked whilst pushing uphill out of a ravine, Ensign Gottlieb Lerche has his left arm blown away and, no doubt others of his company would not escape some injuries, so:        

15th February (after the combat around Garris) [8 companies]                                                                                        
PAB 390

The French having pulled up at and about Orthez at the end of February deciding for a battle on 27th February 1814, that part of the army most closely engaged and containing a multi-company attachment, 3rd Division most likely contributed those recorded officers, Lieutenants Ignatius Franchini and John Currie to the wounded in the attacks put in about Foy's defensive line centred on the Escorial knoll. On the basis of a balance of returnees to sick and injured the 8 companies on this day might well have stood at:              

27th February 1814 (at the battle at Orthez)                                                                                                                      
PUA 400

Such is the role of skirmishing sharpshooters that some of these men of 5/60th could easily have come to grief almost anywhere on the two mile front, even down at the Orthez bridge crossing itself with 2nd Division.  The total rank and file losses on this occasion being recorded at, 4 men killed, 35 wounded and one gone missing, so:

27th February (after the battle at Orthez)                                                                                                                    
PAB 360

The next sharp contacts with the retiring enemy were to be at Aire on 2nd March and Tarbes on 19th March, it was at the latter encounter that Captain Robert Kelly and Lieutenant Cuthbert Forneret were wounded, so that here at least we know that these would be officers in 2nd Division’s companies which had come in on the far southern end of the line at Tarbes eventually crossing the Ardour River and fanning out against Taupin's defensive hill position on the following day, another estimated 38 men then K&W.

19th March 1814 (after the combat at Tarbes)                                                                                                           
PAB 322

On this eastern wing of the army there are no more recorded casualties to the 5/60th's companies until Toulouse is reached and the final battle is joined, on this day 10th April 1814 the battalion's 8 companies [the campaign at this juncture has been particularly hard on the marching men] may only show:

10th April 1814(at the battle of Toulouse)                                                                                                                             
PUA 310

They will lose a further three officers, Captain Edward Purdon and Ensigns Bruce and Henry Shewbridge all severely wounded and here perhaps we should take stock of the action, Oman's narrative tells us that those sharpshooters attached to 3rd Division put in, with others of Brisbane's Brigade a fierce attack at the Ponts Jumeaux and, it being by now a well established custom of his Appendix compiler, we have an impressive number of K&W shown in that brigade against what has to be, the collective companies of the whole battalion present that day. No matter, 11 of the men are killed and 48 wounded so that by the end of hostilities this major part of 5/60th could be down to;

10th April 1814 (after the battle for Toulouse)                                                                                                            
PAB 251

It only remains to consider those two company with 1st Division at Bayonne, their adventures are no easier to discover than all of the above, we do at least know that when the war had been over for four days in the east Governor Thouvenot brought a large part of his besieged garrison out of the walls at St Etienne in a violent sortie, we can expect that in the four months of relative quiet this part of 5/60th would more than likely have come up to good figures so that, in the early hours of 14th April those two companies attached to 1st Division [not as mistakenly shown by Oman's Appendix compiler as a part of 5th Division] might have stood at:

14th April (at the Bayonne sortie) [2 companies]                                                                                                             
PUA 102

It seems that these companies were close to the action in the early stage since we are informed that 5 of the men were captured, we know that Lieutenant John Hamilton was killed here and Captain John Harrison blinded and a further four men wounded, all of which brings to a close this most difficult exercise with an estimated;

14th April 1814 (after the sortie at St Etienne)                                                                                                             
PAB 91

Under its title Royal American Rifles this battalion was not to be found in the Waterloo campaign however it is more than possible that a number of these men came to the field by other means.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2010


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