Not One in Ten Thousand Know Your Name: the Officers of the British 1st Battalion of Detachments in 1809 -- Surgeon George Peach 52nd Foot
By Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan
George Peach was born in Leicester in either 1778 or 1779. He became a hospital mate on 11 March 1800 in the 35th Foot. Less than a month later he was appointed as an assistant surgeon on 4 April 1800 in the 35th Foot.  He went on half-pay from the 35th Foot, most likely upon the reduction of the 2nd Battalion 35th Foot in 1803. George Peach came off half-pay and was assigned to the Royal Horse Guards in April 1803. He transferred to the 52nd foot on 15 August 1805. He served in the Peninsula with the 2nd Battalion 52nd Foot from August 1808 to January 1809. Surgeon Peach was attached to the 1st Battalion of Detachments from February to April 1809. On 15 June 1809, George Peach was promoted to surgeon in the 9th Light Dragoons. He returned to Great Britain in time to join the regiment and participate in the Walcheren Campaign of 1809. The regiment would come back to Great Britain and would be stationed in Exeter, Devonshire. He went to the Peninsula with the regiment in July 1811 and served there until April 1813. He was with the regiment at Arroyo dos Molinos and Alba de Tormes. The regiment was stationed in Ireland from 1814 to March 1815. Surgeon Peach stayed with them until February 1815, when he exchanged to a half-pay staff surgeon position. Surgeon Peach would stay on half-pay for 41 years!
Lieutenant William Swabey left an entry in his diary of the treatment he received from Surgeon Peach for an unspecified fever, possibly typhus in August 1812:
Ater retiring George Peach moved to Millbrook House near Childe Okeford in Dorset, where his wife Elizabeth was from. The estate consisted of about 170 acres. He had four daughters: Hannah Sophia (born in 1821), Charlotte (born in 1822), Elizabeth (born in 1823), and Mary Alice (born in 1824). His son was born on 1 August 1825. In 1851, George Peach employed a butler, a coachman, a cook, a servant, a lady’s maid, and dairymaid.
In addition to managing his estate, George Peach was also a justice of the peace. He was quite successful as the country squire. George Peach died on 21 July 1856 at the age 78. When he died he left an estate that was valued at £8,000.
George Peach received the General Service Medal (Silver Medal) for Vimeiro.
Surgeon Peach was noted for his treatment of ophthalmia among the troops, when he was assigned to the 2nd Battalion 52nd Foot. In a letter to Doctor James McGrigor, Deputy Inspector-General of Hospitals in 1806, he detailed what he believed to be the cause of the disease and how he cured it. His battalion was particularly hard hit, with 733 cases (and recurring cases) among 691 enlisted soldiers. Ophthalmia is an inflammation of the eye and in the most severe cases can cause blindness. It was a major problem during the Peninsula War, effecting even senior officers. General Thomas Graham was forced to go back to England on sick leave due to a severe case of ophthalmia. To see the complete letter from Surgeon Peach, click on: Letter from George Peach to James Mcgrigor.
 Hart: 1840
 Hart: 1840; London Gazette: 6 April 1800
 London Gazette: 19 April 1803
 Hart: 1840; London Gazette: 20 August 1804
 London Gazette: 20 June 1809
 Hart: 1853; London Gazette: 25 February 1815
 Hart: 1857
 Swabey; pp. 120 - 121
 Ackroyd; p. 242
 Annual Register: 1825, p. 194
 Gentleman’s Magazine and Historical Review: July 1856, p. 391
 Ackroyd; p. 256
 Mullen; p. 359
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