Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 82nd Regiment of Foot (The Prince of Wales Volunteers)
By Ray Foster
5th August 1808 landed at Mondego Bay from Andalusia
Joining units already landed and under Lieutenant General Arthur Wellesley they are brigaded with 29th under Lieutenant Colonel Miles Nightingall to move off south to an early action at Roliça less that a fortnight after coming ashore. The French General Henry DeLaborde has set up a weak defensive line to hold back the advance until Junot down in Lisbon has drawn together a field force to combat this threat, with no intent rather than to delay this 'invasion' the French are given an opportunity to incur heavy loss to some of the battalions which, in their haste to prove themselves are over-eager, and pay the price.
Nightingall has his tiny brigade full in the centre of the field and it is 29th led by their Colonel, George Lake that dashes in with no real thought to suffer almost 200 casualties storming frontally while Wellesley is meanwhile attempting to outflank the greatly outnumbered DeLaborde. With measured restraint 1/82nd only engage as is required by the overall plan suffering no more than 25 casualties, Lieutenant Richard Read however picking up a wound which would trouble him for almost three years to eventually succumb in Cadiz during 1812, the enemy retired off the field contented with a day's work well done.
Just a few days later General Androche Junot has decided for the offensive, he must destroy this threat before too many more British troops invade his domain and it will be at Vimiero that he finds his quarry standing to receive his fast marching columns. Nightingall still holds 29th and 1/82nd and on this occasion is not to be seen in action until the first half of the battle is over, he has moved well away from Vimiero to come up behind a small hamlet, Ventosa lying in wait to oppose a column led by General Solignac, the defensive line will totally overlap this tightly bunched target. The volleys striking this mass more deeply as it obligingly reduces its range are more than flesh and blood can stand, the shattered survivors turning to run off leaving a good many wounded and a part artillery battery of three guns to be captured. With 1/82nd having been well to the fore they have a short hesitation here to secure both guns and prisoners, long enough however to be caught off guard by another force of infantry, led by General Antoine Brennier, they are driven off in disorder, falling back onto 29th who are coming up in support, a short fire-fight settles matters in favour of Nightingall's men and the enemy are sent back towards the safety of their own cavalry. In all 1/82nd will have lost 61 men of whom 8 were killed one of these being Lieutenant Robert Donkin the remaining 53 wounded, when the dust has settled then this battalion will stand down at:
21st August 1808 (after the battle of Vimiero)
There was little else to do now except await the decisions of a 'committee' of Generals who one after the other took command of the army in the Lisbon theatre, after much indecision it was finally decided that Lieutenant General John Moore would take a strong fighting force into Spain to assist the Spanish Captain Generals already resisting the French invasions in the central regions. It would seem that 1/82nd had been held back briefly when Moore got his men on the road going by Salamanca, we are told that this battalion marched late and alone in the wake of the army occasionally coming across other isolated units some going back to Lisbon and others forward to relieve garrisons in the border towns, eventually then they reach Benevente as late as 26th December and can be counted off at:
26th December 1808 (at Benevente)
A few days later they are brigaded with 1/38th and 1/79th under Major General Henry Fane word reaches Moore that Napoleon in person with a huge army is close at hand, off they go in mid-winter weather to retreat onto Corunna, this march is not too kind to anyone involved but, when Fane's men are sent down a false route from Lugo to Campostella and then back again to Lugo it appears to have done them great harm. Not engaged in the fighting at Corunna on 16th January they will be able to load themselves aboard the transports and get off to England with all of their sick and injured to arrive:
22nd January 1809 (at ports in England)
Having had a respite in England this battalion is sent on the campaign to Walcheren landing there on 29th July 1809 with as many as 1000 PUA those returning are not counted off.
1/2/82nd (during 1810 down in the South of Spain)
At some time early in 1810 the battalion was sent down to Gibraltar, there is reason to believe that all or parts of 2/82nd would already be there in garrison, it is not until much later in this year that we shall see them in action, if that is the word to use in this next unfortunate episode. The Governor at Gibraltar, yet another General Campbell, decides to give assistance to the local Spanish forces about the southern coast by sending Lord Blayney on an amphibious exercise to trick the enemy into weakening his garrison at Malaga. This consists of a part of 1/89th, 4 companies of foreign chasseurs, the Spanish Imperial Toledo and the whole of 1/82nd to be landed on a beach at Fuengirola some twenty miles from Malaga, the plot is far too involved for the likes of Lord Blayney's Gilbertian thought processes, who not only decides on a full siege of this rather inconsequential place but fails to send out patrols to watch for the approach of the very enemy he is expected to lure from Malaga! Not only was this abysmally led force surprised by this very enemy but, the half blind Blayney, thinking that they were Spanish allies rode straight up to them and was gleefully captured, for his men of course it was a much more serious matter. Fighting a rearguard action fell to the half 1/89th who lost 50% of their number in that way the rest being captured, while a few companies of 1/82nd fell back onto their boats in a desultory way without, it seems suffering any loss. The rest were already on shipboard and had been quick enough to see that flight was the only option. All of this then from 13-15th October 1810 and, naturally enough no figures to be found, the only matter of interest being that at least we do know that 1/82nd is fast on its feet when self-preservation becomes a prime factor. At the beginning of the next year there are sufficient enemy troops scattered about the coastal areas of Andalusia for any warlike British General to fancy his chances of causing them grief, Governor Campbell at Gibraltar was just one of these and, to some extent the same could be said of Lieutenant General Thomas Graham at Cadiz who had his own personal score to settle with the French; acting in concert with the Spanish in Andalusia however was a different thing altogether as the latter General was to discover to his cost and very soon.
Having the use of a large fleet of army transport vessels it was natural that in the way of things British another seaborne landing should be made to put Marshal Claud Victor on the defensive as his Corps sat about at the siege of Cadiz, the sleazy Spaniard General La Pena was to be in charge of the initiative with Graham taking a good number of his own men out of Cadiz and Campbell supplying a small force of flank companies from his garrison. Amongst this last the contribution from 82nd is not clear, we can expect that because they are deemed to be 2/82nd that is where the larger number may be found, however, there are too many men to be simply a Light and Grenadier company, it is much more likely that volunteers made up the shortfall there being space enough for 60 of these who could well be from either 1/ or 2/ battalions. In order to be able to work through the following, particularly detailed, battle account the writer has given what could well be the numbers of men that 1/2/82nd committed to this combat, the total, whilst quite small can be expected to equal a third of that PUA 536 quoted for Major John F Brown's heroic 'battalion', so:
5th March 1811 (at the battle of Barossa)
2/82nd Grenadier company
2/82nd Light company
1/2/82nd Volunteer company
The extraordinary tactics engaged in by General La Pena which eventually brought on the conflict belong to almost their own book, suffice it to say that Major Brown [of 28th] who had these men under his hand had brought them ashore many miles from the eventual battle scene to tramp, mainly at night along unknown pathways, even through shallow lakes of water, sometimes not so shallow, but at most times well to the rear of a disorderly straggling Spanish contingent all the while coming closer towards their starting point, Cadiz itself. The first that Brown would be made aware of impending action would be after those of their allies up ahead had already been engaged well beyond their reach miles to the front. Graham has been warned to watch out for enemy presence on his inland flank as he is bringing most of his men along a beach road into a space bounded by the sea on one side and a large wood on the other. A convenient hill had been passed going towards this wood which, if securely occupied would give ample view of any such enemy incursion and to this effect La Pena had already sent up a few units of his own forces, Graham with no small disrespect for the military prowess of his nominal leader saw fit to order Brown to take his Battalion of Flankers onto this high-point to be sure of its security. Only too soon Graham's fears are answered when La Pena’s men come streaming off this hill back down to the beach road leaving Brown and his little band in a somewhat invidious position, two large columns of enemy infantry are approaching from the back of the hill with artillery support and flanked by cavalry.
With the prospect of being overwhelmed and destroyed/captured the order is given to retire off the hill while Brown himself makes haste to inform his master of the rapidly worsening nature of affairs on the Cerro Del Puerco, 1/2/82nd companies would it seems keep good order and by the time they had reached the comparative safety of the level ground there was Major Brown, back already from his reporting to Graham and perhaps looking a trifle grim. His new task was to return from whence he had just retired and engage this hilltop enemy long enough for supports to be mustered. Graham himself must have been close behind because, as soon as the Commander saw his valiant Major bringing on his composite companies in extended order he requested that they close up and attack in a more formal line. A suicidal formation if ever there was one! So, off into military history they go, the Major singing his favourite 'Hearts of Oak' ditty, first to cross a shallow depression then a steady rise studded with only an occasional low bush or shrub and humps and hollows between them and a frontal array of as much as six companies of infantry plus a full battery of field artillery coming down at ever shortening range. Before they had closed sufficiently to get off a first volley themselves they had no less than 150 of all ranks shot down, closing to the centre to present the same sort of target now standing at 386 down goes another fifty more, with one man in three already cut down there seems to be no point to this massacre but, undeterred the survivors go to whatever cover they can find to begin their own replies in the manner of all good flankers. This brief but murderous display of cool self sacrifice appears to have been justified as the men before them on the Cerro instead of advancing to contact merely stand their ground exchanging shots long enough for Graham's speedily concocted reinforcements to break out from the woods at the bottom and immediately take up the fight. The new force is far from sure of any success coming on uphill against an already successful enemy but at least they will have the advantage of being able to avoid the worst of the artillery fire by taking up a route partially in dead ground.
Rather than taking up a defensive stance against this advance the French Commander on the Cerro, Marshal Victor seeing the indecision of his own brigadiers himself orders his men to charge down the hill and sweep them away. As the two contesting parties come close the British infantry get off a telling volley, which brings down the whole of the front ranks of these columns, and, as they say the rest is history, meanwhile what of Brown and his survivors? They, seeing the success of their comrades join in the resulting advances assisting the enemy to depart the field. Strangely Brown himself has suffered no injury whatsoever in 1/2/82nd Lieutenant John Mackay is seriously injured and Captain James Stewart, only slightly, whilst three of 29th's officers are hit and presumably [Oman's text in Vol 6 is very much at odds with Oman's Appendices] another six officers in 1/28th go down too. Of the rank and file it can only be judged that in 1/2/82nd they would take their share of the 25 killed and the round 200 wounded so, maybe 17 killed and 70 wounded:
5th March 1811 (after the battle of Barossa)
2/82nd Grenadier company
2/82nd Light company
1/2/82nd Volunteer company
Whilst it would be churlish to deny the glory earned that day for all of Brown's men there are some less than heroic things to be considered on behalf of their leaders, perhaps it may be best to only understand that when leaders generally make glaring errors of judgement on the field of battle it then falls to the recipients of those errors to save their reputations, ---- or not, as otherwise the case might be.
It is safe to assume that when Graham retired back into the defensive works at Cadiz just a day or two later these men of 82nd Regiment, being still nominally under the hand of Governor Campbell in Gibraltar would make their way towards that other stronghold at the mouth of the Mediterranean taking such of their walking wounded as were able to make the journey. It fits well with our next view of these warriors to expect that instead of going the full distance they in fact stopped off at that local fortified town of Tarifa and it is there that we pick up the next light contact they have with the enemy. The year is well spent and a wintering over should have been their only concern, they are held by their redoubtable Major Henry King along with a small British portion of the garrison when Victor sends down a force to put the place under siege. These men of 82nd Regiment are occupying the San Francisco Convent as the enemy siege works are so far completed as to encourage them to mount an assault, it is the last day of the year 1811 cold rain has been pouring down for some time and although others become involved in some serious fighting the men of the Prince of Wales Volunteers are pretty well left to their own devices with certainly no losses recorded that day. The weather has turned really foul, the enemy depart back towards the Cadiz siege works and Major King is able to take his charges back to Gibraltar to rejoin the Regiment remaining thereabouts until a battalion of 82nd Regiment is reported to be leaving that base to sail to Lisbon 'during June 1812'. The intention here has been that they would be sent in time to join the army in the Salamanca campaign, for reasons not mentioned this did not occur and it is as late as 3rd August of 1812 that we first see mention of this battalion. By a tiresome misprint in Oman V5 P501 that historian [who repeatedly chastises others for their misprints] shows the battalion both as 1/ and 2/ but, we at least are thus made aware of their movements.
It would be harsh to bracket our men of 82nd along with those others recently joined who are mentioned here by Wellington as being in poor condition, however, using hindsight it has to be said that they were certainly not up to the expected standard of the CIC's regular fighting men! The situation then was that when Wellington split his forces, some to stay with Major General Henry Clinton and 6th Division and others to take Madrid from a scattered enemy their lot was to stay behind trudging off northward to the banks of the Douro about Cuellar. There is to be no action in all of this so that as August is spent 'watching' General Bertrand Clausel and September begins 1/82nd is sent down to the Madrid theatre while the CIC takes another partial army up to the abortive Burgos campaign. Arriving at the Capital they are attached to 4th Division being officially gazetted to join on 17th October 1812 only to be thrown into the retreat of the whole army when King Joseph Bonaparte and Marshal Nicholas Soult combine and advance upon Madrid. It would be better to throw a blanket of silence on the doings of 1/82nd in this miserable march back to Portugal but truth must out. The Prince of Wales Volunteers are disgraced by their antics during the retreat being singled out as an example of the worst conduct of any corps, the CIC had harsh words for everyone and the Colonel of 82nd [un-named, was this Lieutenant Colonel William Grant?] was put under arrest for gross negligence and the rest lambasted for irregularity in the field. Not good!
The end result is that almost a half of their number [yet again not quoted] are lost, either wandered off, deserted or taken by the enemy as prisoners or simply collapsed literally 'dead drunk', Oh dear. There is sufficient evidence to suggest that as this retreat came to a close about Cuidad Rodrigo in late November this disintegrating battalion was already being thought of as a part of 7th Division under Lieutenant General George Ramsey Earl Dalhousie who had been forewarned to 'watch them closely'.
The period of reorganisation begins, 1/82nd no less than others attempts to fill its ranks:
26th April 1813 (cantoned in Portugal)
Moving on to better times the army generally has been able to restore its numbers over the winter back behind the Portuguese frontier and, in the sure knowledge that the French had been dealt a death-blow in Russia the 'Authorities' in England had replenished not only the lost men with reinforcements but in the case of 1/82nd there would be a matter of pride to attend to, a new cadre of officers with orders to mend the Regimental standing would be amongst these recruits. It is well into the late spring/early summer when Wellington decides for his great push to drive the enemy out of Spain, 1/82nd have indeed joined 7th Division in its 2nd Brigade under Major General William Inglis as they march off north, it can be estimated that at this time they would stand at:
25th May 1813 (on the march out of Portugal)
During this march it seems that the veteran of Albuera Inglis is incapacitated because Lieutenant Colonel William Grant of 1/82nd gets the Brigade as they come up to the battle field of Vittoria. The story is well told elsewhere of Picton's anger at being superseded by Dalhousie in charge of the attack across the Zadorra river but, when 7th Division finally arrived it was Grant who led them in eager no doubt to prove a point in favour of his Regiment. They are so late into the action that as they come up against an already well beaten enemy at La Hermandad their comrades have them on the run having for some time earlier been pinned down by a destructive cannonade. The Lieutenant Colonel at the fore has been severely wounded Lieutenant Alexander Carroll is dead as are 5 of his men whilst Lieutenants Thomas Agnew, George Derenzy and Edward Davies and 22 more men are wounded thus ending hostilities for the day at:
21st June 1813 (after the battle at Vittoria)
When Wellington has his army in motion again after the all-night orgy of looting and debauchery it is to attempt to discover the whereabouts of Clausel's Corps which missed the battle while manœuvring around in the country to the north-east.
Dalhousie's 7th Division will come to rest like so many of the other unsuccessful pursuing Divisions at Pamplona their chief remaining there for a short period while they move on westwards into the Bastan foothills, there follows a great deal of march and counter-march, Dalhousie returns and it will be late July before we see them in contact with the enemy and, even then it will only fall to 1/82nd to come to blows.
25th July 1813 (at the Pass of Maya)
Well into the morning units of Inglis Brigade who were some way west of the Pass of Maya were alerted to cannon fire to their right, a signal that troops of 2nd Division were under attack, it was already 4.30pm however before 1/82nd would come up to the latest firing line set by Lieutenant General William Stewart's exhausted infantry in this area. The situation was out of hand with the enemy in overwhelming strength but the Prince of Wales Volunteers stood their ground long enough to deliver several volleys forcing the leading infantry to falter, inevitably it soon came down to a fighting retirement with parts of 1/82nd on their left being cut off from the fighting line as the ground dictated. Here it was that Stewart reported isolated companies of 1/82nd throwing stones down on their assailants as they ran out of cartridges. It was only when Brigadier Major General Edward Barnes of 7th Division entered the scene that the enemy cried off leaving the survivors to collect themselves up and make their way down the Pass to safer ground, this had been a desperate affair with little or no military science applied, merely blood and guts [a typical happening when Stewart was at hand], Lieutenant Colonel Grant, Captains Brook Firman and George Marshall and Ensign Samuel Lacy were all wounded as were no less than 67 of the men while eight more lay dead so:
25th July 1813 (after the combat on the Maya Pass)
When Dalhousie was able to reform his Division it was to be sent on a roundabout route-march over hill and dale through wooded country paths for the next few days only returning to the fray five days later when the CIC had already stood a general action at Sorauren village and had decided to now go on the offensive. 7th Division were given a reserve position at first light well to the left [west] of the village of Sorauren but would soon be called forward as events developed, by 8.30am Inglis's Brigade were to be found advancing to the brink of a steep slope where a small corps, just two battalions of the enemy infantry had been told off to keep open the road in the valley to their rear. The ground was steep and hardly conducive to a defence once the crest was lost so down they went driven onto their main body in a narrow valley floor where a bitter, close range musketry duel ensued. For General Vandermaesen's men this was one of those dreaded 'at all costs' affairs while close by the rest of Clausel's Corps was suffering a serious battering, the outcome was hardly in doubt it was only a matter of how much of this could be endured before it deteriorated into a retreat. As to 1/82nd it seems that their immediate combatants were able to do their duty in no uncertain way, Lieutenant Colonel Grant, recovered sufficiently from his wound of only five days earlier was to be closely involved as was his Major, William Fitzgerald, both fell, seriously wounded as did Lieutenants John Boyd, Mackay and George Wood [the latter an often quoted diarist] and Ensign Edward Mason, with Adjutant/Lieutenant Samuel Holdsworth slightly wounded, nine men were killed and 76 wounded. The day had ended with the whole of Soult's army routing off by any hill path or byway available and Inglis's Brigade almost the only formed corps remotely able to keep up with this hurried departure, no doubt they would not be in too much of a hurry themselves as this enemy was leaving behind many disabled comrades and much discarded equipment strewn broadcast in their wake, so:
30th July 1813 (after the second battle at Sorauren)
The next day Inglis's Brigade by their forward position were once more able to come up to the enemy, unfortunately the swashbuckling Stewart was present and in command throwing his worn-out parts of 2nd Division at a numerically strong defensive line, for 1/82nd however this fight fell to others to endure, the brigade came up in support, did its duty and recorded but three men wounded in the Prince of Wales Volunteers. Thus ended this short campaign in the lower Passes of the Pyrenees with 1/82nd coming to rest about Echalar in early August of 1813, standing down at:
3rd August 1813 (after the combats in the Pyrenees)
Almost a full month followed during which the much depleted ranks of this battalion would have the opportunity of being restored a little and if we are to look ahead towards the end of the year it does seem highly likely that 1/82nd during this brief period of respite would have probably received at least 110 men either by returned convalescents or a large draft from home, whatever, by the time that Soult mounts another assault on the line of the Bidassoa in support of the beleaguered garrison at San Sebastian it can be expected that they will stand at:
31st August (on the Heights of Salain)
Over at the sea coast the bastioned castle walls of San Sebastian were bearing a full-on assault while a series of attacks were put in progress by the enemy coming across the Bidassoa river from Behobie in the west to Vera some six or seven miles upstream.
For Inglis's Brigade of 7th Division this meant defending high ground to the south-east of the river across the bridge at Lesaca.
So, the day began with a sharp march up from this river crossing going uphill first to Lesaca village and then beyond, northwest towards the heights overlooking Enderlaza, down closer to the valley floor a Portuguese Brigade of 4th Division under Lieutenant Colonel James Miller had the front line covering a good ford hereabouts. When the morning mists cleared the enemy could be seen in large numbers already through this crossing and beginning to engage the Portuguese skirmish line steadily pushing them back as more and more of them were able to form up and advance. Covering about three miles from Lesaca village Inglis was able to get his men formed up into a defensive line on the hill as Miller's men fell back amongst them.
By now the morning was almost over as 51st with 68th had begun to come to blows fighting as the Portuguese reformed and then both taking up the struggle, with enemy numbers ever increasing the two allied brigades, still in good order were compelled to give ground but, always going back uphill onto another defendable position. By now 1/82nd must have been committed as the action here developed into a full-on general engagement with attack and counter-attack over several hours.
Meanwhile the battle was not going well for Soult's men elsewhere, allied reinforcements were clearly visible, some way off certainly but, Clausel who had this offensive in hand, began to have doubts as to its overall conclusion, there was still some way to go, all uphill and against stubborn opposition, which decided him to hold the ground gained and watch for developments in other parts of the field. All was decided for Clausel and the contestants generally when at 3.00pm down came a blinding rainstorm coinciding with an order from his chief, Soult, to draw back to the other side of the Bidassoa due to the failure of the 'Grand Plan'! Inglis's Brigade had suffered over 300 casualties of which 68 came from 1/82nd, Lieutenant Benjamin Welstead had been killed, Lieutenant Hugh Donnellan and three other un-named officers injured while four men died and 59 more were wounded leaving them at:
31st August (after the fight on the Heights of Salain)
For a little over two months 7th Division are out of the field so that as autumn turns to winter they will be able to address their continuing losses, it is perhaps as well to know that during the whole of this year this battalion will record no less than 200 men having died in the military hospitals. It is always dangerous to quote averages in these cases but this figure is well above the norm for the army generally, so, here again there is no definite knowledge as to how this battalion manages to recoup its deficiencies but for once we do know exactly how many men will come into line by the time of the crossing of the Nivelle in early November. These figures include a sprinkling of supernumeries such as paymasters, quartermasters, doctors and of course the usual drummer boys and sergeants, the last two being items which Wellington is always at pains to separate in his fortnightly returns, they not contributing to the musket fire-power of his fighting battalions, so:
10th November 1813 (at the crossing of the Nivelle)
On this day the 7th Division was to be in the hands of the Portuguese Major General Le Cor who ordinarily held its Portuguese Brigade [when Doyle didn't command here] the Division held a central position flanked on left and right by 4th and 3rd Divisions easy to see then that the CIC was well satisfied with the fighting quality of these men for this push against Soult's extensively prepared fieldworks. Le Cor is faced with an assault directly ahead at the Grenade Redoubt up on raised ground in front of a tributary of the Nivelle, the way forward is over and through rough uneven humps and hollows with many thorn bushes, it would fall to Inglis's Brigade to do the greater part of the work on behalf of the Division. As soon as daylight allowed in they went having had a slight assistance from a battery of guns throwing shells into the place from a flank position.
This redoubt was soon in trouble from others advancing between 'soft spots' at each flank so that when Inglis's men got up close the garrison here retired off back across the Harrane stream to another earthwork at Sare. Both 3rd and 4th Divisions were making good progress on the flanks but each strongpoint still had to be faced the defences at first being quite lethal but, having made a show of resistance then quickly weakening and yet again falling back to the time honoured 'prepared positions'.
A long abatis gave them some trouble for a while but the tempo of the attacks all along the line remained constant with regular breakthroughs followed by short periods of stubborn defence, another collapse then on again. Another redoubt the Louis XIV loomed up, this becoming a combined target for 4th and 7th Divisions after about three hours of intermittent fighting, Inglis's Brigade always at the head. Here they encountered enemy canister-fire from enfilading positions, which could only be answered as a battery under RHA Captain Hew Ross was brought into action. It appears that 7th Division would pull up somewhere west of Amotz the Nivelle still ahead of them as all their fighting had been within a great northward loop of that river, late in the day as the enemy departed they would come down to St Pee where they were able to use the bridge to cross the river and fend off a last weak counter-attack as a 'parting shot' to end proceedings. Nine men of 1/82nd had been killed a further 16 were missing presumed dead, an indication of the broken nature of the terrain over which they had fought, 58 men were recorded as wounded and, of the officers Captain Marshall, Lieutenants Kingston Cuthbert, William Mason, Charles Mortimer, and Ensigns John Sydserff and Richard Whitaker were all injured, so:
10th November (after the battle at the Nivelle)
A week later Le Cor is deemed to have done enough to enhance his reputation and gone off to take over Lieutenant General John Hamilton's Portuguese Division regularly operating with Hill, his place is taken by Major General George Walker who is able to get to know his charges in comparative calm, 7th Division being un-used for any of those field operations in December about the river Nive. When the army goes into winter quarters [enforced by the foul weather conditions] they will continue to be at rest no doubt attempting to get up their numbers, none of which will be of consequence until the New Year although by late January we do see that there is certainly no progress there;
26th January 1814 (in quarters about the Nive)
As many as two companies of returnees will somehow swell the ranks as February turns frosty and the army is at last able to move on solid ground. Inglis, who is surviving this war extremely well, will bring his brigade along as a part of that manœuvre designed by the CIC to force Soult to break his communication with Bayonne, that Marshal, whose army is steadily being nibbled away to bolster up Napoleon's flagging fortunes in northern France must fall back ever eastward across the French foothills of the Pyrenees, 51st Regiment has to stop off at Peyrohade, ostensibly to protect that busy road junction, but, in reality more likely because its numbers have dwindled down dangerously low. The rest are brought up to a position to the north of Orthez where the enemy have made a stand in strong defensive terrain it is the end of February and 1/82nd appear very likely to stand at:
27th February 1814 (at the battle of Orthez)
Walker has his men in reserve along a low ridge to the rear of 4th Division who have a difficult task ahead of them, the only practical approach to the enemy line of defence is along a narrow hill path which, after passing by a small village dips into a hollow then rises again towards the enemy who are well settled down at right-angles along a roadway. This last approach is bare of cover and also swept by converging artillery fire, Cole's men having progressed through the village of St Boes and its small church test the 'killing ground beyond and, when the casualties mount to no effect go to ground amongst the now battered village buildings. Things have not got on as well as Wellington had expected anywhere else so that he has to re-hash his plan, the outcome for Inglis's Brigade is that when another, more co-ordinated assault is put in across the whole front they must take the path through the wreckage of St Boes and up to the firing line ahead. As it turns out this is not too arduous after all, the enemy, now being battered for a second time begin to crack, Gardiner's Brigade of 7th Division and Vasconellos's Portuguese Brigade of 4th Division are up there and fighting hard so that at least for 1/82nd the job is done rather clinically. When the opposing forces give up the game and take to their heels the battalion will stand down at:
27th February 1814 (after the battle at Orthez)
Only two men have been killed and 34 wounded with the battalion commander Major Charles Conyers and Lieutenant John Drummond the only officers injured, this will be their last encounter with the enemy of any record as Walker is wounded, Dalhousie returns [rather fortuitously] and the Division is held back to make a march north, going by Peyrohade and picking up 51st Regiment, then on towards Bordeaux where the local authorities have indicated a desire to raise the monarchical banner.
Inglis's Brigade will only go as far as Langon about 35mls short of the great provincial city where Dalhousie is greeted as a liberator and eventually after some scrappy manœuvres to chase off the few troops still loyal to the Emperor Inglis's men will join their comrades in Bordeaux for a period of celebration before the peace takes hold and the whole army is shipped off to other parts and new adventures.
The 82nd Regiment is not to be found in the Waterloo campaign.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2010
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