Wednesday 4 March 2015

28th (North Gloucestershire) Foot complete

Here at last are the 28th Foot - part of Kempt's brigade at Waterloo and somewhat bandaged and bruised after Quatre Bras two days earlier. I've been working on these since mid-January, still a few bits to tidy up - I need flags, for example, and a whole load of drummers are still unpainted, but for now The Slashers are going away in the shed to make way for the next regiment.
As you can see, the firing line was too long for any table I could find so they have had to be photographed in double line. Light company skirmishing out front.

At Waterloo the regiment was moved up to the hedge to meet D’Erlon’s attack and spied through the smoke a French column in the process of deploying into line. Struggling through the tangle of the hedge the 28th poured a volley into the French before charging into the smoke in pursuit. 

As they advanced another column came into view, which through the gloom, several officers identified mistakenly as Belgian. These offiers began calling out “Don’t fire! They are Belgians!” but the mistake was soon realised when the “Belgians” suddenly turned on their heels and made good their escape. The regiment then returned to their original position where they remained for the rest of the battle.

The 28th was yet another veteran battalion, its ranks filled with old soldiers from the Peninsula campaigns. Many of the men carried the scars of wounds from Peninsula battles particularly from Albuhera in 1811 where the Regiment had been famously cut up after being caught out of square by French lancers. 

 The regiment was commanded by Colonel Charles Philip Belson but, on Kempt being wounded at Waterloo, Belson took over the Brigade and Lt-Colonel Robert Nixon assumed command of the 28th.  Nixon was then wounded around 6.30pm and was replaced by Captain Kelly  until he too was wounded.  Captain Caddell then took over and commanded to the close of the battle.

A large number of the men had started their army careers serving a year or so in the militia between 1803-06 before being transferred into the 28th. The average period of service already served by men of this regiment in 1815 was therefore a seasoned 10 years.  The average age was over 30 with several men being in their forties and fifties.  Private Thomas Kendall in Number 9 Company was 58.

 Men of Number 6 Company - with a nominal strength of 66 (pre-Quatre Bras) it suffered 24 casualties over the 3 days (36%). Among the twelve wounded was Private Richard Penny. From Culmstock in Devon he had enlisted in 1804, served in the Coruna campaign, and returned to the Peninsula where he saw action at Barrosa, Vitoria, the Pyrenees and Nive. He was discharged in 1823 aged 37 and lived to collect his MGS.

Pity poor Private James Murphy. Aged 22 at Waterloo he was shot through the thigh. By 22nd July it was deemed necessary to operate on his leg and the operation was carried out by Staff Surgeon Cole. By the following day, however, his condition had worsened and the leg was amputated. He died 2½ hours after the amputation. 

Here Private John Connors of Number 5 company is hit in the shoulder. From Doonaderry, Down, he had enlisted in 1812 aged 23. He survived his Waterloo wound but was discharged. Next to him stands young Ensign James Simkins who found himself commanding the company after both senior officers were wounded - Captain Thomas English was later awarded £191-12-6 for his Waterloo wound while Lieutenant George Ingram bled to death following the amputation of his leg having been been hit by a cannonball.

The predominant accents heard in the ranks were Irish (47%) and West Country  (42 % of the battalion hailing from the counties of Devon, Somerset and Cornwall).