Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

Notes on Wellington’s Peninsular Regiments: 94th Regiment of Foot  

By Ray Foster

Facings: Green
Lace: Gold


Note: There is some evidence to suggest that this battalion had a connection with the 88th Regiment of Foot and could be designated 2/88th however, the history of that Regiment has already shown such a 2/88th did exist in its own right and has been recorded as such. Another suggestion credits this un-named unit with Scottish/Irish connections, yet again open to doubt, certainly in 1810 when its story opens it has no official territorial identity.

10-15th February 1810 Landed Cadiz                                                                                            
No figures available

This single battalion regiment had lain at Lisbon for some short time previous to this landfall being then sent down to Cadiz as a part of a five battalion brigade under Major General William Stewart after Wellington had abandoned the Spanish cause and set his base strategy firmly in Portugal. They return to Lisbon at his request during late September/early October the same year after the defensive battle at the Busaco ridge coming into the regular force standing in the Lines of Torres Vedras appearing in 2nd Brigade 3rd Division under Brigadier Colonel Charles Colville and of course Divisional Major General Thomas Picton they will have as companions 2/5th, 2/83rd, and the elusive 2/88th, not a particularly impressive line-up one might observe. Figures by brigade suggest strength of:

1st November 1810 (in the Lines of Torres Vedras)                                                                                       
PUA 541

Being a part of 3rd Division it will not be too long before 94th see action once Marshal Andre Massena's troops have begun their retirement out of Portugal in the spring of 1811, there will be sporadic combats as Marshal Michel Ney's men mount their occasional rearguard defences along the way. Between 12th March and 3rd April 94th will record 28 casualties, one would expect that these would come principally from its Light coy and indeed we see that two officers wounded during that period were Light company Captain James Bogle and Lieutenant John Bogue on 12th March at Redinha. So it is that we see them along with 3rd Division and Wellington's army assembled for a defensive battle close to the Portuguese frontier by:

1st May 1811 (behind the village of Fuentes d Onoro)                                                                                 
PUA 536

There are to be two separate days of fighting around this small hamlet on 3rd and 5th May as Massena attempts to have his men relieve the garrison left behind at Almeida a strong border fort behind Fuentes', on the first day Colville's Brigade have little to keep them occupied with maybe only its Light companies in action at all, 94th record only three men wounded and going on to the 5th May another five men wounded, an un-named officer being one of them so:

5th May 1811 (after the battles at Fuentes d Onoro)                                                                                    
PAB 528

When the new French commander Marshal Auguste Marmont combines with elements of Marshal Nicholas Soult's Army of the South and others under General Joseph Souham from the north Wellington is compelled to retire to a good defensive position in the Caya valley, unfortunately this watershed during summer is a perfect breeding ground for mosquitos dotted as it is with shallow pools of stagnant water ideal for the propagation of those fevers so well known to any men who had been unlucky enough to take part in the abortive Walcheren campaign of 1809.Whilst we are aware that 94th had not been involved at that sad campaign they nevertheless start to lose men to the diseases of these malarial swamps so that when the French have departed their various ways and there is a relief movement up into the hillsides about Fuente Guinaldo we see:

15th September 1811 (at Fuente Guinaldo)                                                                                                    
PUA 424

As a single battalion regiment 94th will always struggle to maintain its strength having no depot battalion from which to draw trained men, fortunately by now though there seems to be a will to sustain that attribute so dear to the army, regularity! Only a few days after this head-count they are caught up in that embarrassing forward observation position in front of Cuidad Rodrigo when Marmont has a wide cavalry sweep of the whole front and this in great numerical strength about El Bodon. By a stroke of luck 94th, with 2/83rd are out towards Campillo and whilst their companions are roughly handled they themselves are able to escape harm only lightly touched recording on 25th September only one man missing perhaps captured. Having retired onto safer ground the 3rd Division will be able to settle back as autumn arrives and winter takes hold of the countryside, they however will camp well forward in readiness for the great campaigns of 1812 whilst being given the opportunity for a trickle of fever convalescents to return to the ranks. The year is hardly begun when the CIC decides for a rapid movement on Cuidad Rodrigo on the Agueda river line, 3rd Division with others is to provide sappers for the trench work and guard duties which are the preparatory requirements of a formal siege and storm. Being exposed to the attentions of enemy snipers and occasional shellfire would reduce numbers in 94th by an estimated 20 men Lieutenant Bogue being amongst the wounded on the night of 12th January.

A week later the Brigade now led by Lieutenant Colonel James Campbell of 94th are found to be in the shelter of the ruined convent of Santa Cruz well to the right of the main breach as part of the assault force set to test the viability of that entry point.  By now the composition of this corps has changed somewhat, 2/88th had been amalgamated with its 1st battalion and so disappears while 77th, a single battalion regiment had joined as early as the El Bodon affair in 1811. It falls to 94th to take an approach to the left of 2/5th when the signal is given, a quick glance at the resultant casualties this night shows that the battalion Captains were there leading their respective companies from the front and of course paying the price of gallantry. Their route takes them alongside the fortress bastioned walls to enter the breach at its right side and, as chance would have it and the ease of approach they find themselves at the head of affairs.

Naturally they receive the first full blasts of fire as they come up to the rim of the rubble mass, there is a long drop before them and only the extreme sides are left able to be mastered. Before this can be done however they, along with 2/5th who are not far behind, have to endure the undivided attention of the defenders whose arrangements have waited for this moment. Of the 15 men of 94th killed in the assault it would be here and now that this occurred, Captains Charles Anderson and James Williamson are amongst these whilst of the 54 men brought down wounded we see Captains Alexander Cairncross, Alexander Kyle and Thomas Laing, Lieutenants William Cannon and Arthur Taylor with Ensign Thomas Scott. Others of 3rd Division following up are to effect the breakout at either side of the rim to overcome the desperate defenders so that all who are still able, pour into the town creating havoc in the manner of battle shocked men released from the frightful prospect of violent sudden death and the sight of so many torn and shattered remnants of their comrades thrown in blackened heaps amongst the rubble. In counting the butchers bill we see that of all of those engaged Campbell's Brigade suffered by far the greatest number of men lost even though 2/83rd, left behind to provide covering fire, were hardly hit, 94th with that allowance of losses during the trench work to be added would very likely stand down the next day at:

20th January 1812 (after the siege, storm and plunder of Cuidad Rodrigo)                                              
PAB 361

The year 1812 is to prove to be one of action all the way, after only eight winter weeks 3rd Division have gathered themselves up, marched south across the Tagus and appeared before another frontier fortress Badajoz on the Guadiana river, the intent, to put it under siege and take it by storm. This place is a much harder nut to crack; besides it having far stronger and higher walls than its northern neighbour, being much bigger in circumference and having a stretch of this inundated with a dammed-up stream it had a formidable commander in Governor/General Armand Phillipon. His garrison had gone to work with a will making the place as invulnerable as ingenuity could devise it remains to be seen how Wellington's men would fare, they are about the environs by mid March and soon have it invested. Campbell's Brigade will have had little time to have improved its numbers, all parts here being either single batt's or 2nd battalion units so, drafts would be few and far between, there would however be some of those previous summer's malaria cases sufficiently recovered to fill spaces here and there, we can conjecture then that 94th at the start of this siege might stand at:

17th March 1812 (before the walls of Badajoz)                                                                                              
PUA 398

Heavy rain delayed progress for several days but by 26th March 94th was so much involved in the trench work as to have its Captain Kyle and Ensign William Donald wounded along with perhaps a dozen or so of their men, we are not told how this came about but it appears that the besieged had some alert and accurate marksmen on the walls at all times, Lieutenant David Munro is seriously wounded on 1st April yet again we can expect that a handful of his men are also hit, so it goes on until the night of 6th April when the engineers have declared the breaches practicable. An observation by a lowly ranker of 1/45th in 3rd Division has revealed that the walls about the castle are only thinly held and that by no more than 250 Hessians, Picton on the prompting of his junior officers sought and received permission to attempt here an escalade to overcome these defenders and capture the castle which dominated a significant part of the defences.  So, at around 9.45pm on the night of 6th April while most of 3rd Division is set to wade across the Rivillas stream with scaling ladders to begin their work 94th and the rest of Campbell's men are held back as reserve.

They will only come on when the first rush and frantic clambering up the ladders has been repulsed, they must have brought more of these with them because it seems that sheer weight of numbers wins the day here, little by little more men are able to reach the parapets. Those men of the first battalions to make the attempt are credited with the initial success, individuals certainly identified for their moments of glory, the men of 94th cannot have been too far behind, Ensign John Lang is cut down here and Lieutenant Bogue wounded, 12 of their men are killed hereabouts and a further 51 are wounded so, the fight had been serious indeed. The story of the fall of Badajoz and its subsequent sack is well told elsewhere, for 94th it only remains to calculate losses throughout the whole endeavour, so:

7th April 1812 (after the storm and sack of Badajoz)                                                                                     
PAB 312

Settling down to re-assess his Divisional and brigade strengths after this rather pyrrhic victory the CIC in examining 2nd Brigade 3rd Division decides to send 77th down to Lisbon for some rest and recuperation, their numbers are not so low as those of 94th but perhaps the internal structure needs a dose of 'regularising", off they go.  In the absence of Picton, wounded at the escalade Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Wallace of 88th has picked up the Division, he holds that command for a while and, in Campbell's Brigade we see in June the arrival of 1/5th, not a battle hardened unit at all but well found and maybe ready to learn the trade. Summer arrives and Wellington goes on the offensive, Marmont, through a series of marching manœuvres and the occasional picking up of stray Brigades from here and there also seeks to become of an offensive frame of mind so that the two antagonists are to have their armies marching and counter-marching about the comparatively flat plains to the east of Salamanca with darts and dashes across the rivers thereabouts. Salamanca itself is liberated from the French occupation after a prolonged struggle but, it is not until late July that the inevitable full-on set-piece battle is brought on. It is to be played out near the Tormes River some way from Salamanca itself in rolling country dominated by two low hills known locally as the Arapiles. In the run-up to this fight Picton is absent from his Division still recovering from a wound sustained at the Badajoz castle walls in April, Wallace of 88th had the command for a while but as we move into this major confrontation it is Major General Edward Packenham who leads the 3rd Division, Campbell still has his brigade in hand composed of 1/5th, 2/5th [not amalgamated as yet] 94th and 2/83rd. There have been some returns to the ranks and maybe a handful of new recruits joined 94th since April as records show them able to put in line”

22nd July 1812 (in the plains before the Arapiles)                                                                                         
PUA 347

The Division on 22nd July has been already involved in some smart marching skirting the fringes of Salamanca to come from well behind the main body of the army into an extreme right flank position out with cavalry supports, in the main, Portuguese under Major General Benjamin D' Urban. The day is well advanced, it is typically hot and dry with dust clouds everywhere generated by the movements of thousands of foot and horse troops when the CIC is suddenly seen approaching the Division at pace. He talks with Packenham pointing ahead and just as speedily turns and heads off, in very short order Campbell's Brigade is put in march at the back of the infantry array heading for the end of a low hill through broken cover but across a wide valley floor. At a distance of about 1000yds from the crest of this hill the enemy appears, they have the higher ground but are somewhat unprepared to expect an enemy themselves and, especially one so large in number and determined of pace. When the range is reduced to a killing distance the serious business is absorbed by those men ahead of Campbell's men and it is only when a counter-attack supported by light cavalry comes at them obliquely that they are brought to action. The new battalion of 1/5th is shaken by this so that Packenham himself has to restore their confidence while amongst 94th several casualties are taken before this threat is thrown back and driven off. Campbell, riding at the fore has been brought down wounded as has Lieutenant John Griffiths while Lieutenant Gordon Innes and three of his men are killed, the rest of the fighting comes down to advancing through blinding dust, picking up prisoners and the regular taking of ground until dusk bring the rout of the enemy to a close. With just 21 of the rank-and-file injured it is to be expected that 94th will stand down as night falls at:

22nd July 1812 (after the battle at the Arapiles)                                                                                             
PAB 319

When the main part of the army under the victorious Wellington marches down inland to Madrid 94th will be considered "regular" enough to remain with the brigade even though its numbers are critically low, they have been down that far before and perhaps qualify as those often remarked tough veterans that the CIC held back when the Horse Guards repeatedly asked for them to be sent home to recruit. Whatever, 94th would spend some pleasant months in rest and repose out on perimeter duty protecting Madrid from enemy incursions, this happy state only takes them up to the beginning of autumn when King Joseph Bonaparte with Marshal Soult, now up from Andalusia enters the scene.

They have concentrated on Valencia and march for Madrid in rather steady fashion to test the resolve of these Britishers to hold the Capital against them, meanwhile Wellington has been having what historians of the day would describe as "ill success", in fact he has had none at all, Burgos castle has resisted all attempts at capture and the French have assembled sufficient numbers from the north to put him onto the full defensive. For 94th this means leaving Madrid and marching all the way back to Salamanca along with the rest of Hill's Corps, they have no contacts with the enemy of note so that as the 'Corps meets up with the rest from the Burgos retreat they all stand, in pouring autumnal rain confronting a reluctant enemy just long enough for both sides to decide against a repeat battle. Packenham gives way as commander of 3rd Division to Major General Charles Colville and it appears that Campbell will have had his position of Brigadier held open for him to have recovered from his Arapiles wound he being shown as keeping that command. The ensuing retreat behind the Portuguese border at and about Cuidad Rodrigo is a sad and sorry affair, all discipline goes to the dogs and the troops are left to fend for themselves to a large degree, figures of even brigade strengths are poorly recorded if at all, adjutants it seems were also too busy looking out for themselves! We can only conjecture from these incomplete records that 94th would return and stand after this pathetic logistical nightmare at or about:

29th November 1812 (behind the Agueda by Cuidad Rodrigo)                                                                   
PUA 267

This period of course now comes under the influence of other activities taking place in Russia, Napoleon's star will fall and the whole of European military strategy will turn on this series of events. For the veterans of the Portuguese theatre this will show itself to great advantage as the winter sets in and then spring appears, with a feeling of victory around the corner new recruits, equipment and stores refill magazines and the army generally is set up for a vigorous campaign for 1813. On the other side of the ledger news of the failing fortunes of the 'Empire only drift first as rumour but gradually as established fact, there is feeling that a return to French soil is inevitable and amongst the Marshals and Generals there is a collecting together of years of loot gathering to be transported out of danger. As several units of Horse and Foot are withdrawn for service at home King Joseph sees his days of monarchy slipping away, none of this however will show up until the spring, late in developing, starts to allow the mass movement of men and horses to proceed.

During the early spring of 1813 we see figures from Supplementary Dispatches to show that 94th will be returning men to the colours as might be the case for such a small unit so:

26th April 1813 [in the Portuguese winter cantonments]                                                                             
PUA 361

It will be almost summer indeed before the opposing forces stir into action, by late May then we see that Wellington has his army on the move, its objective to sweep the French totally out of Spain and Portugal. In Campbell's Brigade 1/5th has absorbed 2/5th, 2/83rd has kept its place small though it may be, 2/87th has joined from a composite brigade brought up from Cadiz during the latter part of the retreat into Portugal last year and 94th soldiers on, Picton has returned to take the Division so that the deposed Colville is given Campbell's Brigade, that worthy but junior leader remaining to lead his battalion. Once more figures at this stage are only to be procured through brigade strengths but it cannot be far from deducing that 94th at this outset would number close to:

25th May 1813 (setting out on the march to Vittoria)                                                                                  
PUA 396

The journey out of Portugal for the final time and the great left flank march ever northward to repeatedly turn the right flank of the enemy was passed in high spirits and, it cannot be denied by a prospect of catching the enemy with his arms full of loot, we shall see! It will take the army less than a month to shepherd King Joseph's to a point where they are no longer able to retire comfortably without abandoning their ill-gotten gains all made more difficult because of the huge mass of camp-followers and their baggage, the decision to turn and fight finds them in the Vittoria plain ostensibly protected by the partially un-fordable River Zadorra, which it seems has the occasional ford and quite enough bridges to make this obstacle a weak one indeed. Picton's men are set to come into the rather cramped valley of the Zadorra not through its narrow path up the Grande Chaussee but by way of hill-paths well to the left and quite disjointed from the direct route from the south. His orders expect him to follow 7th Division under Lieutenant General George Ramsey Earl Dalhousie a comparative newcomer to fighting in the Peninsula, it is well documented how Picton, himself late enough, arrived at his start position at the right bank of the Zadorra with the battle before him well developed, no sign of 7th Division and he and his men thirsting to join the fray. The "Fighting Third" are thrown across the river and immediately upon approaching the village of Margarita Colville's men run into serious opposition, the village buildings offering many sheltered firing positions it comes down to a fiercely contested house-to-house fire-fight with the brigade almost fought to a standstill, Campbell yet again to the fore is brought down seriously wounded as are Captain Alexander Cairncross, Lieutenants Archibald McArthur, William Cannon, Ensigns James  Jackson, James  Nairn and Joseph Stainton with 56 of the men and Volunteer Enright with five men killed, the rest of the brigade suffering heavily suggesting that 94th came on a little late but, the place was overcome, the advance continued leading to a total rout of the enemy and a remarkably huge amount of loot for the victors to wallow in, not to mention the many abandoned fair ladies that are to be found in these situations suddenly left to their own devices ! When the CIC is able to re-establish some order within the partying victors he manages to punish his fighting villains by sending them off on a wild goose chase in search of General Bertrand Clausel's missing corps which were not present at Vittoria but had a chance of being caught unaware of the disaster to ex King Joseph, no such luck, disaster news travels fast and so did Clausel heading for the safety of well trodden paths through the Pyrenean foothills that force was able to escape untouched while for 3rd Division this meant a good deal of marching and counter-marching to come to an end before the large fortress city of Pamplona. Settling down here the 3rd Division by chance or maybe by some undisclosed design were given the opportunity to stay out of all of the fighting which took place when Soult returned to a full command of all French forces in the area. The offensive he mounted through the mountain passes having come to nought at the two battles at Sorauren passed with 3rd Division merely asked to stand out on the extreme right of Wellington's forces as a protective screen in front of the besieged Pamplona, no fighting at all then. When Soult's battered army had settled again in friendly terrain the Marshal was encouraged by his master to hold a line roughly covered by the Nivelle River, by now it is late in the year San Sebastian has fallen and with it one of 94th's volunteers Lieutenant William Watson wounded there. Yet another initiative by Soult had failed but through all of this 3rd Division is strangely quiet, Colville has moved up to hold the Division as Picton goes off sick, the Brigade then goes to Keane who holds it to the end, Campbell perhaps has had enough of wars and leading from the front, he is not heard of again. It is of some comfort to be able to quote sure figures as the brigade stands to arms on the Nivelle early in November, we shall see 94th with a number of supernumeries included at:

10th November 1813 (at the Nivelle)                                                                                                               
PUA 428

This is their highest total for many a year a reflection of the level of support being maintained by those back at Horse Guards who saw full victory in their sights at last, but how is 94th faring this day on yet another battlefield ? Colonel John Keane of 5/60th is given the Brigade and a position firmly in the middle of affairs with several earthworks to overcome before arriving at a very long abatis firmly in their path by the Harrane stream, in all of the confused fighting through rough uneven scrub country 94th are able to find the end of this obstruction and, breaking into open ground run on to the bridge at Amotz a valuable prize storming its works thus weakening the rest of the enemy line hereabouts.

Their comrades battling forward thus combined and made the first serious breakthrough in the battle [often attributed to Light Division by its own self-serving scribes], with more yet to be achieved Keane gets his men together and pushes on finishing up the day well forward at and about the hamlet of St'Pee on the northern/right bank of the Nivelle.

The price to pay was met by Major Richard Lloyd and ten of his men killed with Lieutenants John Thornton and James Tweedie amongst the 62 men wounded, in the thick undergrowth abounding in the area two men further are missing, most likely dead or to die unfound, so:

10th November 1813 (after the running battle at the Nivelle)                                                                    
PAB 353

These are more familiar numbers for this tiny but tough battalion of veterans, they will carry on for many a day yet.

It is probably by chance that 3rd Division miss all the excitement at the battles to be fought by the river Nive in December, it is their lot however to be sent on marches and counter-marches through flooded terrain in seas of mud back and forth behind the fighting lines all to no effect. By the end of the year Picton will return and Colville is promoted elsewhere leaving Keane with the brigade in hand, there will be a short period of "rest" in waterlogged billets and tents while the winter rains rage on. In mid-February the weather becomes frosty and a pale sun encourages the CIC to get on with the task in hand, this sees 3rd Division moving in an easterly direction along with a large part of the army while Soult's men are forced to accept the defensive eventually having to abandon Bayonne with its large garrison to its own devices. Keanes Brigade reinforced during the brief stand-down to good figures will soon have some action to report, they are at the Gave d'Oloron near Sauveterre, it is 24th February and Picton in some haste sends them across the river through the bitterly cold waters, it will be the job for Light infantry but with only a general idea of the composition and losses incurred by each company we are led to use the time honoured formula of Oman's and be guided by officer hits and % of the whole, the enemy has laid a trap for these unfortunate men springing up from behind a solid wall to pepper them as they climbed a path uphill, of 94th only Ensign Richard Topp is hit but killed and, through the number-crunching perhaps 12 of his men, it is not time yet to collate losses. Three days later there is a serious battle to be accounted for, the army has run up to a major provincial centre, the town of Orthez where Soult has positioned his ever dwindling army in as good a defensive stance as could be expected it is 27th February and battle is joined beyond the Gave de Pau well to the left of the town, while Keane's Brigade are set to attack along a low ridge their target is a part of the line strongly chosen for its higher ground and particularly for its concave shape concentrating fire at the attackers, it is the Lafaurie Knoll and Keane has only Manley Power's Portuguese for support. Whilst others certainly suffered here 94th would only lose men from its much weakened Light company Lieutenant Archibald Robertson their leader is hit as are just one man killed and twelve injured another one is captured in an early counter-attack on the Knoll and that completes their day. This all sounds rather mild but around and about them there has been a titanic struggle until the defensive line had been breached some way off to the right causing the whole to wave backwards and after a short fight on a second line of defence the French gave best to the attackers and fled the field.

The two separate days of engagement then came to affect only the Light coy which would record some 28 casualties when combined, it has to be said that in a battalion of only a maximum of 40 men per company that particular one would be in need of major repair if not a total overhaul!

27th February 1814 (after the battle at Orthez)                                                                                             
PAB 429

Clearly 94th had benefited greatly from its short rest at the beginning of 1814, the battalion will only march and endure the foul weather on mud soaked roads as they follow Soult's troops ever eastward towards Toulouse, before reaching this last chapter of the war Keane and his Brigade are held up by a rearguard of the enemy who stand briefly at Vic Biggore close to the Adour it is 19th March. We have no way of getting at the mechanics of this combat other than to examine casualties, unfortunately these 250 mainly light infantrymen are spread across so many units that it would be unsafe to make any judgment as to losses amongst 94th, suffice it to say that the battalion assistant surgeon on his 25th birthday having ministered to the men throughout their time in the Peninsula gets himself in harms way and is wounded there.

The 1814 campaign has about done its dash it has established a pattern during the long dreary marches across the Pyrenean foothills and mountain streams, one of continual attrition with little or no chance to make up numbers.

With this in mind we only have to deal with the battle which was fought at Toulouse on 14th April 1814, Picton is in his most cantankerous mood putting Brisbane's Brigade to a task not called for and wasteful of good men, by luck Keane's Brigade is put in a position where it is only possible to occupy the endeavours of the Light companies of both sides. In view of much which has passed earlier the men of 94th of sharpshooting capability would be few and far between, no matter, they are placed in as much cover as they can find spending the day in quiet sniping. This exercise can not have taxed them too much, while others elsewhere were giving of their last breaths by the hundred a mere five men of 94th were wounded and one unfortunate soul killed, thus ended their work in this long-drawn out war. With PUAs only presented at Divisional level it is a monumental task to arrive at a finite figure for this little unit it is possible that only half of this battalion was present on the day, I have great difficulty in making their numbers more than 214 PUA so, with such a low count I cannot really show a final total PAB.

They will not be present for the Waterloo campaign.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: July 2011


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