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An Account of His Majesty’s De Meuron Regiment Chapter 10: Disbandment, Two Artists and The Tate  

An Account of His Majesty’s De Meuron Regiment Chapter 10: Disbandment, Two Artists and The Tate  

An Account of His Majesty’s De Meuron Regiment 1795-1816

Chapter 10: Disbandment, Two Artists and The Tate

Perth Military Settlement 1816 Memorial (courtesy Ontario Archaeological and Historic Sites Board)


The Regiment had always lived with the possibility that the contract with the British Crown would not be renewed and the end of the American war doubtless caused many in the regiment to consider their futures and what opportunities existed in a new Canada. The Napoleonic Wars were over and mercenary units were both costly and expendable.

HM’s Government issued a notice on 11th March 1816, that it had resolved upon the disbandment of the ‘Fencible Corps in North America’ and several other ‘Foreign Corps’ including the De Meuron Regiment. Nor did British regular army units escape reduction as the 2nd battalions of fifteen infantry regiments had also been disbanded since 1814.[1]

During 1814, the De Meuron Regiment had received an offer from a local militia commander, Lieutenant-Colonel P. de Boucherville, of future engagement in the Canadian Militia and in 1816, the Montreal Gazette published the following letter from the Lieutenant Colonel to the Regiment:

We thank you Lieutenant-Colonel de Meuron-Bayard, for your assistance and bestow our good wishes on the non-commissioned officers of your regiment, for their careful instruction, zeal and activity. You all deserve recognition and I have pleasure in testifying that recognition of your command. Long live the Regiment de Meuron…

In addition to employment in the Canadian Militia there was a further opportunity published in General Orders 11th May 1816, for De Meuron Regiment personnel of whatever rank to remain in Canada as settlers or farmers:

The officers, non-commissioned officers and soldiers that desire can settle in Canada, at the Colony of Rideau by Saint-Thomas. With grants and allocations of land: 1200 acres for the Lieutenant-Colonel, 1000 for a Major, 600 for a Captain, 200 for a Sergeant and 100 for a soldier, with a gratuity of two months wages. Tools such as an axe, saw, hoe, spade and lime were also to be provided together with blankets. [2]

Offers such as these prompted further reflection by officers and men in the regiment.

A major disagreement between two commercial companies had blown up into armed hostilities, known as the Pemmican War. At some point, De Meuron officers and soldiers appear to have agreed to serve in Lord Selkirk’s forces before formal disbandment took place. Four officers, Captain Frederic Matthey, Captain Odet d’Orsonnens, Lieutenant Frederic Graffenried and Lieutenant Gaspard A. Fauche together with 85 NCO’s and other ranks were granted permission to leave the regiment and be ‘free of service’ about twenty days prior to the final disbandment. The men were granted two month’s pay and with the officers made their way to Lachine, now a borough in Montreal where they met up with Lieutenant Charles Cesar de Meuron, who had left the regiment on 4th May. Unfortunately, the men having received the two months’ pay, found time to visit local inns and consequently become less amenable to orders.

Graffenried, had expected this kind of difficulty, noting before departure that soldiers accustomed to stern discipline would not be easy to motivate once they considered they were free from military discipline. The party, including a number of Canadians, did manage to leave by boat the next day, travelling on the river St. Lawrence to Kingston, 170 miles distant, where they met Captain P. O. Orsonnens. He had left the regiment on 27th May, with a number of men, possibly six of the De Meuron Regiment and then met up with a number of troops from HM’s Watteville Regiment who were similarly awaiting disbandment.

The service in the Pemmican War of these former De Meuron officers and soldiers does not form part of the regiment’s service to the Crown, and it will suffice to record that the war was an armed conflict between two rival mercantile companies around an area known as Lord Selkirk’s Red River colony, in present day Manitoba and in which men from former British mercenary units participated. The campaign lasted some twenty months finally ceasing in 1821, when the two mercantile companies merged. Gaspard Fauche wrote a memoir of the Red River expedition which he and other ex-De Meuron officers presented in London justifying why men of the former British regiments had participated.

On 24 June 1816, a large number of men, 343 of all ranks chose the option to remain in Canada together with 79 women and 30 children. A number of NCO’s are thought to have joined the Canadian Militia, nine officers including the four committed in the Pemmican War episode, Frederic J. F. Matthey, Odet d’Orsonnens. Frederic Graffenried, G. Alphonse Fauche, as well as Francois Bourgeois, Joseph Wittmer, William Robins, Thomas Leonard and Stanislas Schultz, had all opted to remain in Canada with grants of land and go onto half pay pensions.

Sir John Sherbrooke, who had fought alongside the De Meuron Regiment and directed the right column for the assault on Seringapatam, on the 26th of July 1816, issued the order of the day:

On the departure of the Regiments de Meuron and de Watteville both of which His Excellency had the benefit of commanding, in another part of the world, Sir John Sherbrooke offers Lieutenant-colonel de Meuron-Bayard and Lieutenant-colonel de May, as well as all officers and soldiers of these two corps, congratulations for their excellent conduct in Canada, consistent with their reputation of past services, justly acquired. His Excellency does not hesitate to declare that the service of His Majesty obtained many advantages, during the last war, due to their bravery and their discipline.
Signed: J. Harvey, Lieutenant-Colonel

A significant proportion having already left, by 26 July 1816, the regimental numbers stood at 27 officers, 37 sergeants, 22 corporals, 7 drummers and 232 men, who boarded the ship Eliza, arrived back at Spithead on 9th September and moved on 15th to Harwich, Essex.

Of the men who were killed in action or otherwise died during the Anglo-American War, the life and death of only two is recorded in any detail. Their cause of death is not given, and it was not until much later that the British permanently commemorated those who fought or died in battle on memorials.

The number of De Meuron soldiers killed in action during the Anglo-American War is unclear. Death from any cause tended to be simply entered as ‘Mort’ (dead) and the date without further detail.[4] The following are two researched names providing wider details of their lives.

Jacques Louis Vaucher was born in Neuchatel Switzerland in c.1780-4 and enlisted as a Private 1262 in the De Meuron Regiment on 20th August 1805 at the Foreign Depot, Lymington. The regiment did not arrive in England until July 1806. This does not mean Vaucher did not enlist in the regiment at the Foreign Depot in 1805 only that he could not have joined it yet. On the 25th November he joined the 10th Company and marched to join the main regiment on 18 December. He is recorded as paid £1:10 shillings, at a shilling a day, imperial, for the period 25th November-25th December 1806 and recorded as appointed Quartermaster at Sandown Barracks. On 2nd March 1807, he was appointed Paymaster Sergeant. In 1811 he was still Paymaster Sergeant and paid £6:00 for the period December-March 1811. After his arrival in Canada in May 1813, he was married on 3rd August in Quebec to Maria Theresa Perron. He died at St Jean, Canada, 43 miles from Plattsburg, on 25 December 1814. His cause of death is unknown.

Frederick Weber, born c.1770 probably in Hanover, Germany had was appointed Surgeon in the De Meuron Regiment on 22 October 1807. He served at Messina, Sicily from March to June 1809, and embarked for Canada listed on HMS Melpolmone on 24th September 1813. He died at La Prairie, Quebec, Canada on 11th November 1813. [5]

The last three pages of the ‘Table of Events of the Companies of the Swiss Regiment De Meuron’ in 1815-1816 records 20 acts of desertions. The last of those to desert from the regiment was Fusilier Valentin Klaus, 23 years, a Swiss national who deserted on 19th July 1816, a few days before the regiment embarked for Europe.

Henry, Lord Palmerston, Secretary of State for War, signed the final document for disbandment on 24th September 1816, which was formally handed to the commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel F. H. Meuron-Bayard and in the presence of, Majors E. May, N. Fuchs, Captains R. May, C. de Rham, P. Lardy, Lieutenants F. Hardy, C. de Goumens, J. D. Dombre, A. de Loriel, Charles C. de Meuron, W. Griesback and apparently Thomas Leonard. The regiment was at the Foreign Depot, Harwich from where the men departed to their respective homes, mostly in Europe, retaining their uniforms, the benefit of free travel, each given 28 shillings Imperial and any invalids transferred to the Royal Hospital Chelsea.

The War Office received 49 volumes of regimental papers, including 26 volumes of garrison orders, five volumes of general orders, three volumes of court martial records, two volumes of reports and two volumes of officer transfers, the receipt of these was acknowledged by letter from Lord Palmerston dated 17th October 1816. Guy de Meuron states that during his research prior to 1982, none of these volumes were to be found at either the War Office or Public Record Office.[6] The reason he was given for the absence of the volumes was that they undoubtedly had been destroyed or lost years before, during relocation from the old War Office building. Nonetheless the documents held on the De Meuron Regiment at the National Archives and British Library remain substantial.

The regimental flags, banners and the banner standards passed to Lieutenant Colonel F. H. de Meuron-Bayard, and on his death in 1859 passed to a relative.[7]

The De Meuron Regiment had ceased to exist. In the thirty-five years of its existence, twenty-one years were spent serving the British Crown, 2,014 men had passed through the ranks, with an average age of thirty-one years. The records show a diverse total of twenty-one nationalities, mainly represented by 665 Swiss, 500 Germans, 300 Dutch and 200 from Alsace, during the De Meuron Regiment’s service with the British.[8]

Of the 207 officers, 18 were from the de Meuron family, though one cadet family member was returned home as not possessing the qualities required of an officer, and a John Frederic de Meuron, aged 15 years, was recorded in the King’s German Legion in 1812.[9]

The National Archives has the names recorded of many officers and soldiers who served with the De Meuron Regiment, their transfers to both King’s regiments and other foreign service corps until disbandment in 1816. There are also records of private soldiers and Non-commissioned officers of the De Meuron Regiment, who were granted discharge as either in or out pensioners of the Royal Chelsea Hospital.[10]

Soldiers of the De Meuron Regiment who opted to stay in Canada and settled around Drummondville, are commemorated by a memorial plaque erected to both the De Meuron, and De Watteville Regiment, in the Perth Community Park, Quebec.

The Military General Service Medal, authorized on 1st June, 1847 and issued in 1,848 to officers and men of the British Army who fought during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 1793-1814, including the Anglo-American War of 1812, with three medal clasps Fort Detroit, Chateauguay and Chrystlers or Crystlers Farm.[11] As the medal was only issued with clasps and for specific actions and was not issued for Plattsburg 1814,[12] the De Meuron Regiment were ineligible.

In 1817 there were 38 officers retired on half pay, by 1830 this had reduced to twenty-two, eleven by 1840 and dwindled to seven by 1850. The last surviving officer of the regiment in receipt of half pay, was George Alexandre Dardel, who joined the regiment in 1796, retired on account of ‘incurable deafness’ in 1808 and whose last payment was made in 1863.[13]

Somewhat surprisingly in the Tate Britain Gallery London, there is a reference to a De Meuron Regiment officer, linked to one of Britain’s most famous artists. A pencil sketch by Joseph Mallord William Turner dated between 1830-45, ‘Ruins at Richborough’ Sandwich, Kent;

….at the outer edge Turner has carefully but somewhat awkwardly written initials and a surname apparently unfamiliar to him, in that he has written it twice, his first attempt having apparently struck him as unclear; the definitive form seems to be ‘G A Fauche’. From scattered references to what appears to be the same person, this may be Gaspard Adolphe Fauche, a Lieutenant serving in the de Meuron Regiment, originally a Swiss unit within the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars, when it was disbanded in Canada in 1816, when he was placed on the ‘Foreign Half-Pay’ list. Fauche had originally opted to remain in Canada but was married in London in 1825. By 1841 he was British Consul at Ostend, Belgium, and retired after twenty-one years government service.[14]

Disappointingly, the connection is tenuous and there is no further clarification or detail about this reference or why Turner wrote the name G. A. Fauche, on his sketch. There were three officers with the name Fauche who served in the regiment between 1799 and 1816 but only Gaspard Gustave Adolphe Fauche 1797-1857 had the initials G. A. He had entered the regiment as an Ensign in 1811, promoted Lieutenant 1812, and after disbandment in 1816, was in receipt of  half pay and later appointed as a Consul of the British government’s diplomatic service.[15]

There was however, an acknowledged artist who served in the regiment, Paul Frederic Casselli, a Swiss officer born at Basle 1775, commissioned an Ensign and Lieutenant in 1803 into the De Meuron Regiment.[16] He resigned his commission in 1804, remaining in India after the regiment returned to Europe in 1806. Casselli was a successful miniature painter, residing in Pondicherry where he died on May 23, 1817 and is buried in the English Cemetery, his headstone bearing the name Paul Frederick de Casselli. In 1805 he had married Petronille, the 16 years old daughter of the late Lieutenant Colonel Henri David de Meuron-Motiers, who long survived her husband Paul, living on a small pension from the East India Company and British government, eventually dying in 1879 aged 90 years.

The three paintings shown are known to be by Paul Frederick Casselli. The first is a miniature watercolour signed by Casselli, of Major G. Wetherall in the uniform of the 1st Regiment of Foot, born George Augustus Wetherall in Penton Mewsey, Hampshire in 1788 and died at Sandhurst in 1868. Educated at the Royal Military College, he entered the army in 1803. From 1822 to 1825 he was military secretary to the commander-in-chief of Madras, and in 1826 appointed Deputy Judge-Advocate-General in India and Governor of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst from 1866 until his death in 1868.[17]

Miniature Portrait of a British Officer, Major George Wetherall by P. F. Casselli (courtesy of Christies Auctioneers)


Casselli’s name is often printed with slight differences such as Frederic or Caselli or de Caselli and he is occasionally referred to as a captain. The second image is a watercolour portrait of an unknown officer in British uniform, standing hatless, holding what appears to be an 1803 pattern infantry officer’s sword, in a mountainous landscape with buildings in the distant background.

Portrait of a British Officer c. 1809 by P. F. de Caselli (Anne Brown Digital Collection)


The third image is a miniature also of an unknown officer possibly of the Honourable East India Company, also painted by Casselli.

Portrait of an unknown officer possibly of the HEIC Army, by P. F. Caselli (Anne Brown Digital Collection)


Nineteen British officers entered the regiment and the records display the vagaries of the purchase system, where considerable sums were paid for a commission but six of these officers never joined the regiment, instead retaining the purchase as an asset;

William Lewis Herries, previously of the 9th Light Dragoons is shown as a Captain June 1812 but did not join. He served in various capacities and regiments during the Napoleonic Wars.

William Wybrow, entered as Surgeon Major, 9/2/1804, left 21/10/1807.

Morris William Bailey entered as a ‘supernumary’ Captain promoted to Major 17/01/1809, but obliged to quit the regiment in 1810 as his appointment was in contradiction to the documents of Capitulation, allowing only Swiss officers to command. He was the only senior officer to which the clause was applied. Transferred to 30th Foot.

William J. Campbell Lieutenant in 6th Foot, entered as Captain 1/7/1813, did not join. 2/9/1813 Captain 82nd Foot.

Lawrence Castle, Paymaster 1807, served until disbandment.[18]

William Castle entered as Ensign 25/1/1816, did not join.

Henry Davies, entered as Lieutenant Colonel 11/12/1812, but died at Sicily, Dec.1813, before joining the regiment.

Thomas Fane entered as a Major 8/12/1814, did not join. Major 61st Foot 1819.

George, Viscount Forbes entered as Captain 6/10/1814, did not join. Major General 1825.

Major James Horton formerly of 61st regiment is recorded as leaving the De Meuron Regiment due to ill health on 30th September 1819, three years after it had been disbanded nor is he recorded in the List of Officers 1781-1816.

Thomas Leonard appointed Ensign 88th Foot, Lieutenant 1/11/1811 served until disbandment 1816. Half pay until 1817.

John MacNabb entered as an Ensign 28/9/1815, did not join. 2/11/1819 Ensign 92nd Foot.

Duncan C. Napier, Ensign, Royal Newfoundland Fencibles, February 1814, appointed to De Meuron Regiment as Ensign 3/5/1815, Lieutenant 11/5/1815 ‘served only in garrison’. Name also given as Charles Duncan and Duncan Campbell Napier.

William Robins appointed Ensign 23/5/1811, Lieutenant 19/05/1812 resigned 1814, died at Drummondville 1847.

James Shortland, Surgeon Major, 1st Regiment of Foot 1809, then De Meuron Regiment 1814-1816.

Thomas Trigge, entered as a Lieutenant De Meuron Regiment 1815, also served in West Essex Militia, 78th Foot, and 104th Foot

George Townsend Walker, Major General from 50th Foot 23/10/1814 and Colonel in Chief of Regiment until disbandment.

William Wauchope, entered regiment as Major 1813, present at Quebec, Sold his commission to Thomas Fane 1814

Charles Waring Asst Surgeon, 1813, resigned commission 1814.

George Wyndham, previously Major 12th Regiment of Foot, Lieut. Col. in 20th Light Dragoons, entered as Lieutenant Colonel 14/3/1812 and commanded the regiment from 12/12/1812 until disbandment.

Recorded in the National Archives are fifty-seven soldier pensioners of other ranks who had served in HM’s De Meuron Regiment and the Foreign Company of Invalids. The oldest, Charles Sarva, born in Embrun, France joined the De Meuron Regiment in 1781 and was discharged after 30 years and 3 months service in 1812 aged about 85 years.[20]

Many of the De Meuron regiment’s officers and rank and file remained and settled in Canada after disbandment. On 12th January 1830, a Giovanni Dogani who described himself as a ‘late soldier in His Majesty’s Regiment called De Meuron’ was petitioning John Stewart, a Commissioner appointed to ‘administer the Estates of the late Jesuits’ for a plot of land in La Vacherie, (Quebec) Canada.[21]

A lingering memory of the Swiss mercenaries remained in India too after the regiment’s disbandment. At the end of the Anglo-Nepal War 1814-1816, having defeated the Gurkhali Army of the Kingdom of Nepal, the British insisted on the appointment of a British Resident Agent to the Royal Court. An early civil administrator was Brian Houghton Hodgson, sent to Nepal in 1821 as Assistant to the Resident Agent, until he was appointed to the post in 1829. The question of the large Gurkha army, which the British still regarded as a threat to stability in the region, was considered by Hodgson, who came up with a unique solution. His proposal was for the East India Company to introduce into service something akin to the ‘Swiss Battalions of honourable mercenaries (authors emphasis) but comprising of Gurkha soldiers recruited into the Bengal army. He admired the Gurkha soldier whom he described as ‘loyal, brave and like the Swiss, a true soldier’.[22] Hodgson submitted his paper, ‘Memorandum Relating to the Gurkha Army[23] to government in 1825, and although the seeds were sown for the Gurkhas to become part of the British army, nothing came to fruition for many years.[24]

European officers names on Memorial to King and Company Regiments engaged before Seringapatam (Public Domain)


This account of the De Meuron Regiment is drawing to a close, and from its beginning, the transfer of allegiance, a few triumphs, and some setbacks have been recorded, yet the regiment, ‘must be reckoned among the best of the foreign corps’.[25] In modern times mercenaries are viewed with hostility and their roles as illegal,[26] conveniently ignoring the proliferation of Private Military Companies, (PMCs) over many continents, who have replaced mercenaries and in the opinion of many operate for equally questionable motives.[27] If we choose today to reject mercenaries and their history or widespread significance from the past, we are also in danger of failing to pay due attention to their current day surrogates.[28] Which draws us back to the quotation at the beginning of this work, and the current deployment of PMC’s in a war in Europe, where perhaps time will tell if Machiavelli was right in his assertion.

From foundation to disbandment the soldiers of the De Meuron Regiment belonged to a mercenary regiment, deployed to serve foreign powers and sold by it’s owner for his personal benefit. But theirs is an unusual story from the past; when after initial French involvement a Swiss regiment in the service of the Dutch, over 200 years ago, transferred to serve in the British Army, in ways quite unique. The title of this work belies the intention because it is also attempts to be an account of the people, the officers and soldiers of the regiment, comprised of individuals for the most part from beyond the United Kingdom far from their homelands, who fought for the British, surmounted and endured the many difficulties, injuries, hardships and death connected with military service before their regiment’s disbandment. For a final comment we return to India and the garrison cemetery at Seringapatam, where an anonymous visitor once wrote, ….‘and this is where the fierce soldiers of the De Meuron Regiment stand forever on guard in front of their distant and lonely graves’.[29]


Entrance to Garrison Cemetery Seringapatam (Photo by Author 2018)


[1] R. Macarthur, British Army Establishments during the Napoleonic Wars, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research Vol. 87, No. 350 (Summer 2009), p. 155

[2] M. Vallee, Le Regiment Suisse de Meuron, au Bas-Canada (Société d’Histoire de Drummondville, 2005) unpaginated.

[3] G. de Meuron, Le Regiment Meuron p.216; Neuchatel BPVN. Mss.2108 doc. A 129

[4] TNA WO 25/677-II

[5] De Meuron Regiment Genealogical Research. Vaucher & Weber. Accessed 08/01/2021

[6] G. de Meuron, Le Regiment Meuron, p.258 & 349

[7] The 49 volumes of De Meuron regimental papers although thought to have been lost, significant amounts of documentation are held in the National Archives. The De Meuron regimental papers etc feature: WO/25 the Returns of Officer Services, WO/121 Royal Hospital Records, Chelsea 1760-1854 Soldiers Service and Discharge Records, WO 1/361 War Office correspondence, WO 12/11960 Muster books & Pay Lists, officer’s wills, regimental muster rolls and WO 25/677 (I & II) general table of details on OR recruitment promotion and discharge etc.

[8] A. Linder The Swiss Regiment Meuron at the Cape and Afterwards 1781-1816. (Cape Town: Castle Military Museum, 2000); Atkinson, SAHR, FOREIGN REGIMENTS IN THE BRITISH ARMY, 1793-1802: PART VI, Vol. 22, No. 91 (Autumn, 1944), pp.265-276

[9] N.L. Beamish, History of the King’s German Legion, (Sussex: Naval & Military Press, 1997) 2 Vols. A reprint of the original edition 1832-37. John Frederic de Meuron (listed as von Meuron) entered service as a Lieutenant, April 1812. Awarded Waterloo Medal. Vol. II p. 568. The order notifying disbandment from the British Service was dated Ist February 1816 predating the transfer of the Legion to Hanover. pp.392-3; TNA WO 25/755/117

[10] The National Archive WO 97;

[11] Medal Yearbook 2013. pp.127

[12] Forces War Records MGSM 1793-1814;

TNA WO/100/10 Miscellaneous Foreign Corps; Duckers, British Military Medals, (Barnsley: Pen & Sword, 1988) pp.25-28

[13] National Archives WO/25/755/192 Dardel was commissioned as an Ensign in the De Meuron Regt. in 1796, promoted Lieutenant 1798, and Captain 1804. He was placed on half pay by a medical board 17/03/1808.

[14] Tate Britain

[15] TNA Foreign Office Correspondence FO/18/21 – FO 10/811825 – 1840 Europe & Russia. Deputy Consul & Consul at Antwerp; G de Meuron, Le Regiment Meuron. p.307

[16] G. de Meuron, Le Regiment Meuron, p.303

[17] Dictionary of Canadian Biography, University of Toronto,

[18] WO 25/752, 96

[19] TNA WO 25/672/194: G. de Meuron, Le Regiment Meuron, pp.299-332, he had probably purchased or exchanged a half pay commission.

[20] TNA WO 121/118/143 Royal Hospital, Chelsea discharge documents of Pensioners.

[21], accessed 26/3/23

[22] T. Gould, Imperial Warriors, Britain and the Gurkhas, (London: Granta Books 1999) p.71

[23] British Library, Africa and Asia Collection, F109/47 10 February 1825

[24] T. Gould, Imperial Warriors, Britain and the Gurkhas, pp.100-117; J. Pemble, The Invasion of Nepal (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971. p.28

[25] R. Yaple, SAHR Vol 50 no. 201 Spring 1972, pp.15-16

[26] M. L. Lanning, Mercenaries, (New York; Ballantine Books, 2005) pp. 60-61. The largest known monument to mercenaries, The Lion of Lucerne was erected 1821, as a memorial tribute to the Swiss Guard, massacred at the Tuileries, Paris, during the French revolution in 1792.

[27] P. W. Singer Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry (Cornell University Press, 2003); European states and the USA have approx. 25 PMC’s.

[28] House of Commons, Foreign Affairs Committee, Private Military Companies, ninth report of session 2001-2002. 56pp: The Sunday Times, 19 February 2023, Putin’s Death Squads, the Rise of the Wagner Group.

[29] A. Laett, Der Anteil der Schweizer an der Eroberung Indiens, (Germany; 1934) ‘The Part of the Swiss in the Conquest of India.’ Quoted by G. de Meuron, Le Regiment Meuron, p.287