Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 67th Regiment of Foot (South Hampshires)

By Ray Foster

Facings: Yellow                                                                
Lace: Silver

2/67th

Author’s note: Strictly speaking this battalion has no place to be reckoned as part of Wellington’s Army however; they did fight alongside a few who did qualify as such and at least operated briefly under Lieutenant General Thomas Graham who very soon would abandon Spanish interests down south. They first show up as being at Cadiz in December of 1810, we have no figures at their time of arrival but, since they do come into action within three months, it is best to take up their story at that point. With the departure of Marshal Nicholas Soult from his 'Vice royal' seat at Seville to march on the relief of Badajoz the Cadiz garrison was now greatly superior in number to that of the besiegers, under Marshal Claud Victor. Graham joined with the Spanish Captain General La Pena to take a good sized force out of the beleaguered southern seaport, 2/67th among them, and eventually, after much prevarication on the part of his Spanish allies [and the weather] landed at Tarifa ready to retrace back by land to attempt an assault on the enemy's field force in order that the siege might be broken.

We can expect them to come ashore there at:

End of February 1811 (on the march from Tarifa)                                                                                                     
PUA 527

With La Pena in charge of the 'combined operation' it was not too long before Victor became aware of this initiative sending out a corps, which he expected would be able to fend off this threat. Lieutenant Colonel William Prevost and the men of 2/67th in marching at night up through the bare low hills and wading through a wide but shallow lake or lagoon in total confusion would have difficulty in maintaining any confidence as to the military prowess of their Spanish leader.                                            Especially when La Pena led his own men into a cul-de-sac to be contained there while the majority of the enemy force was free to swing around the tail of the Allied column, under cover of a broad wooded area and come in on the rear and flank of Graham's men all strung out and in no particular formation.

The ensuing conflict came together in a fragmentary fashion with 2/67th being split into two almost equal parts, its first half going on with Colonel William Wheatley and its rearmost with Brigadier General William Dilkes of 3rd Guards, there was no time to form a plan other than to meet the enemy full on however they could. That part with Dilkes was first into action but only getting directly involved after a small 'forlorn hope' with Brevet Lieutenant Colonel John Brown of 28th  had blunted the enemy's ardour, this on the commanding high ground known as the Cerro del Puerco.  Coming on in almost open order up the slope they met the French column coming down, well to the left of 2/67th was a full battalion of Guards who steadied themselves and delivered a shattering volley straight into the head of this column, being somewhat to the right the South Hampshire’s would only be able to put in an angling fire the combined effect however bringing this charge to a stop as bodies toppled to the ground.  A second attack by two reserve battalions of Grenadiers Reunis failed when it broke onto the half battalion of 2/67th under Major Edward Acheson and a part of another Guards battalion still to the left which completed Dilkes' array. On the right of Dilkes line two coy's of 95th riflemen had struggled up and swung into an arc about this column, the concentrated firepower was too much and the attack melted away.

Wheatley by this time had got forward enough men to stem the first rush of the enemy away to the left of all the foregoing coming through the fringes of the woods which had hidden Victor's left hook, in this fight the first five coy's of 2/67th came forward to the rear and left flank of Duncan's artillery battery. The combat was well advanced, stabilised and was showing signs of another enemy repulse when 2/67th got into action, a small detachment of 2/47th had been with Duncan from the outset so that when their time came the half battalion of South Hampshire's was only called upon to pour their volleys yet again into an enemy flank which was already on the point of cracking. Whilst many others this day had fought against desperate odds it was hardly the case for Prevost's men, that officer along with Captain Samuel Patrickson, Lieutenant William Ronald and Ensign Robert Sutherland had managed to get wounded as had another 31 of the men and 10 more killed so that at the end of it all:

5th March 1811 (after the battle of Barrosa)                                                                                         
PAB 482

Graham, having received no assistance at all from La Pena's men during this futile raid decided to carry on marching along the beach paths to the San Petri stream crossed the little bridge there onto the Isla de Leon back to Cadiz where he relinquished his command and subsequently left the Cadiz Junta to their own devices. 2/67th remained about Cadiz, presumably under Cooke, until early 1812 when they were transported to Cartagena, this it seems about March/April, however a deadly tropical yellow fever broke out in that Province and 2/67th marched overland to Alicante to join Maitland in August. There is some confusion as to their exact movements during this period as we see in Wellington’s Dispatches that 2/67th is recorded back at Cartagena on 9th September 1812, as garrison! It is only in 1813, at the end of May, that they are certainly on the move towards a little action against the enemy. This surfaces as they are shown to be transported from Cartagena to Alicante, before 31st May, and are landed by the Col de Balaguer on 2nd June, it is here that they will invest the tiny fort San Felipe where five days later an unlucky [for the defenders] mortar bomb shot explodes the ammunition magazine forcing the garrison, some 50-60 men to surrender. Prevost is congratulated by the CIC Lieutenant General John Murray. This is virtually the end for this battalion, Murray also, who has had a disastrous campaign against Suchet so that finally 2/67th will evacuate its prize fort going off back to Alicante by 23rd June 1813. Last figures are shown on:

25th August 1813 (at Alicante)                                                                                                                                      
PUA 441

This battalion was not at Waterloo

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: August 2010

 

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