Research Subjects: Biographies

Not One in Ten Thousand Know Your Name: the Officers of the British 1st Battalion of Detachments in 1809 -- Lieutenant Roger Pomeroy Gilbert 28th Foot

By Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan


Roger Pomeroy Gilbert was born in 1790, one of thirteen children born to the Reverend Edmund Gilbert, who was the Vicar of Constantine in Cornwall, and Anne Garnett of Bristol.  He was the 5th son.  A distant relative was Sir Humphrey Gilbert, the distinguished explorer and founder of the colony of Newfoundland.  His family was a military family.  Of  Roger’s five brothers, one (Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert, Bart.) became a lieutenant general in the Honourable East India Company’s Army, two were naval officers, and one was a Royal Engineer.[1]

Roger Gilbert was commissioned as an ensign without purchase in the 28th Foot in 1806 with a date of rank of 25 December.[2] He was promoted to lieutenant without purchase in 1809, with a date of rank of 27 April 1809.[3]

Lieutenant Gilbert deployed to the Peninsula with the 1st Battalion 28th Foot and would serve with them until January 1809.  He was left in Lisbon when the battalion moved into Spain and thus did not participate in the Corunna Campaign.  In February 1809, he was attached to the 1st Battalion of Detachments and fought with them in the Douro Campaign, where he distinguished himself at the crossing of the Douro on 12 May 1809,[4] and the Talavera Campaign.  He joined the 2nd Battalion 28th Foot in September 1809 and was at the battle of Bussaco.  He returned to England in August 1811 with the remnants of the 2nd Battalion.  By November 1811, he was the adjutant of the 2nd Battalion and would remain so until he left for the Peninsula and joined the 1st Battalion in August 1813,[5] where he was a replacement for the heavy casualties the light company officers took at Maya in July 1813.[6]  He would be with the 1st Battalion through April 14 and fought at Garris, Orthez, Aires, and Toulouse.

Lieutenant Gilbert was one of those unlucky officers who were wounded multiple times.  His first wound was at Grijon in 1809.  He was severely wounded at Talavera on 29 July 1809 and Aires on 18 March 1814.[7]  At Waterloo on 18 June 1815, when the 28th Foot moved forward to help secure over 1,000 prisoners who were captured during the charge of the Union Brigade, he was severely wounded crossing a hedge escorting them back to Allied lines.[8] Lieutenant Gilbert was evacuated to Brussels and despite his own severe wounds, helped to attend his brother officer, Joseph Clarke, who died in his arms.[9]

Lieutenant Gilbert was promoted to captain in 1817, when he purchased his captaincy with a date of rank of 18 December 1817.[10]  Eight years later, he would become a major of infantry half-pay unattached by purchase, with a date of rank of 19 September 1826.[11] Shortly afterwards, Roger Gilbert retired to Corfu.[12]  On 10 May 1839, he exchanged his half-pay major unattached with John Crawford Young of the 79th Foot.  The following day, he sold his commission to Captain the Honourable Laudedale Maule  and retired.[13]  He received the General Service Medal (Silver Medal) with clasps for Talavera, Bussaco, Orthez, and Toulouse[14] and the Waterloo Medal.  Roger Gilbert never married and had no children.  He died on 30 May 1864 at the age of 74 at Treguier, Brtitany.[15]


[1] Burke: 1965; p. 304

[2] London Gazette: 27 December 1806; Army List: April 1809

[3] London Gazette: 25 April 1809; Army List: June 1809

[4] Ibid

[5] Army List: November 1811 and May 1812

[6] Keep; p. 168

[7] Hall; p. 231

[8] Siborne; p. 350

[9] Cadell; pp. 235 - 236

[10] London Gazette: 3 January 1818

[11] Gentleman’s Magazine: July – December 1826

[12] Hall; p. 231

[13] London Gazette: 10 May 1839

[14] Mullen; p. 240

[15] Burke (1965); p. 304

Placed on the Napoleon Series: September 2009; updated October 2012

Not One in Ten Thousand Know Your Name: the Officers of the British 1st Battalion of Detachments in 1809 ]

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