Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 84th Regiment of Foot (York’s and Lanc’s)

By Ray Foster                                                                                                                                                            

Facings: Yellow
Lace: Silver                                                                                                                                        

2/84th

17th-18th August 1813 Landed at Passages Northern Spain                                                                                                           
PUA 750

This battalion will begin its Peninsular experience very late in the proceedings, along with 76th Regiment they hang about at this Biscay seaport while the CIC and the navy juggle various transport vessels, seemingly in short supply as more and more oddments of new ex-militia recruits and ex-garrison battalions from around the theatre are expected to arrive to join the army.

It is only on 25th August that Wellington reports to Earl Bathurst that these two battalions along with 85th Regiment have finally joined, they come under Major General Matthew Aylmer carrying the stigma of 'irregularity' all being mentioned now and again as being incapable of marching more than 5 miles without falling into disorder. Not an auspicious start to their military contributions, and, not improved until, on 17th October 2/84th will, at least on paper, get themselves transferred to a fighting Division the 5th, bidding farewell to Aylmer's 'chocolate soldiers' who at this time are being prepared, if that is the word, for a blockade of the little seaport of Santona and, faint hope, a full-on siege of that place. Before leaving all that behind 2/84th, are mentioned in Oman's Appendices as still with Aylmer on 10th November on the Nivelle and will certainly be present at that river crossing engaged with that brigade on the far left so will be sent in with 85th Regiment to take the village of Urrogne at the run, this place is well protected with barricades and loopholed but not well manned.   It is taken for small loss and that is the full sum of effort that day for Aylmer's men, having no breakdown of the Brigade losses and those being minimal in the event [22 killed and wounded], we can move on to more serious things. When they are made an integral part of Major General Fredrick Robinson's Brigade of 5th Division and are positioned on the left of Lieutenant General John Hope's Corps about Bidart on 9th December we should not expect their numbers to have altered to any degree, however they are about to!

9th December 1813 (starting the combats about Anglet to Barrouillet) 
PUA 740

The Light coy's of the brigade have been pushed up hard against the French defensive perimeter as far forward as Anglet where the village is won and at least for the time being is left to these Light infantrymen to occupy. Ensign Humphrey Jervis has been mortally wounded here, the Captain Donald Urquhart and Lieutenant Richard Warren seriously wounded and perhaps as many as 3 men killed and 20 wounded.  The next day, seeing that this place is only lightly held the enemy who are only a little to the rear are in great strength throws these skirmishers back pursuing them at pace so that in 2/84th several are captured. As Robinson scrambles his battalions forward a confused fight ensues, the country hereabouts is covered in humps and hollows with scrub and small copses where clumps of men from both sides fight their own fight the whole mass ending up by the Barrouillet outbuildings, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Lloyd has been killed as have 16 of his men, Captain James  Jenkin, Lieutenant Joseph Holmes and another 54 men are wounded and three un-named officers with 18 men are captured before the day is over, by night then we can say:

10th December (still in touch with the enemy at Barrouillet)
PAB 620

On the 11th there is more of the same with confusion everywhere but no ground given up, both sides are by now exhausted leaving 5th Division, to count the cost, there are no individual battalion records available for this last fight, we do know that Captain William Johnson was killed here and Lieutenant Richard Cruise wounded, possibly Lieutenant Francis Daly also and perhaps as many as four men killed and 48 wounded for 2/84th to stand down at:

11th December 1813 (after the last combat around the Barrouillet)
PAB 565

The whole of 5th Division which has in the main fought steadily ever since coming up to San Sebastian at the end of June is by now extremely fragile for numbers and must be spelled out of the line if it is to recover at all. The weather plays a hand turning to bitter winter rains wrecking the roads and forcing the army into quarters at least until a few hard frosts have firmed up the mud! During this period there is to be found in Supplementary Dispatches a record of numbers by battalion submitted by the DAG office showing a mysterious reduction by more than 270 men:

16th January 1814 (about the Biscay coast in quarters) 
PUA 294 

For Hope's Corps there is to be a straightforward blockading of the great bastioned city and depot of Bayonne, a task which employs them all for the rest of the hostilities, we see 2/84th no more, their work perhaps being only to hold their part of the southern perimeter until all is over, over that is when Governor Thouvenout has vented his spite on his besiegers in that 'after-the-war' sortie from his stronghold, York’s & Lanc's are not involved so can perhaps hold to just slightly improved figures, all marching off to the docks and the transport ships when the rest of the army returns from Toulouse.

Note:

It may be of interest to see that when Lieutenant Colonel Lloyd was buried this was done placing him upright in his grave; it was a well known practice at the time to do this when those responsible hoped that the person would thereby get no rest even in death.  Obviously this leader of men had not endeared himself to his charges.

This Regiment was not present at Waterloo.

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: December 2010

 

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