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). 


  1. You should write a book!

  2. Fantastic display and very interesting write up - as always!

  3. Thanks chaps - David, I did write a book - about 15 years ago and both Pen & Sword and Greenhil turned it down! I have plenty of (quietly furious) theories as to why... Anyway, never mind, much of the text on this blog is cut and paste straight from the original manuscript.

    1. If you are still interested in publishing it drop me a line at Happy to talk about it.

  4. One of my favourite British regiments at Waterloo because of their unusual stovepipes! Superp job!

  5. Most impressive. You've certainly got some good illustrations for a book. This is one of my favourite Waterloo units as well, due to the shakos.

  6. Well done - an amazing sight. My favourite regiment too as it's my local regiment (lived most of my life in Cheltenham and Gloucester) so disappointed that you say 89% were from Ireland and non -Glos counties! :-(

  7. An absolutely fascinating read supported by lovely pictures. The effort you have taken on all aspects is astounding and stunning. Keep going and looking forward to seeing more units soon. All the best. Kevin (associated with chris gregg on the 28mm 1:3 waterloo wargames refights of la haye sainte and hougoumont)

  8. Thanks everyone - Chris, I've met my match! Amazing blog and project - so much wonderful eye candy, I will definitely be following you and Kevin keenly.

    r.e. regiments - very few Napoleonic regiments had much of a connection with their county name - The Royal Scots were mostly Ulstermen, the 14th Bucks came mostly from Beds and Berks, the majority of the 23rd Welsh fusiliers were English! I think the 40th (Somerset) Foot seem to have a lot of men from, Taunton in particular, but that's a rarity.

  9. Hello

    I found your blog while trying to research part of my family history. I notice you have a database of all 28,000 men and wondered if you might be able to help me.
    My great-great-great grandfather was a Robert Ding, who was born approximately 1816 (I haven’t found out who his parents were yet). His birthplace is given as "in Harwich On Plains of Waterloo British Subject, Switzerland”. I’ve never been able to find out what this meant but wondered if it might have been an army encampment at Waterloo.
    I would be very grateful if you could shed any light at all on this mystery for me.
    Thank you for taking the time to read this.

  10. Hi Christopher, I'm afraid I'm as baffled as you are as to what "in Harwich...etc." might mean but there was a Robert Ding at Waterloo - in the Grenadier Company of the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Foot. He was born at Fendreighton, Cambs, and enlisted in 1808. He was wounded at Waterloo and was discharged in 1816 aged 27. He lived until at least 1848 because he claimed his Peninsula War medal (it was issued 35 years late). He received clasps to this medal for the battles of Badajoz and Salamanca.
    There was also a Samuel Ding in the same Company - presumably a relative - born 1791, also enlisted in 1808.
    I hope this helps. Email me at m j aa ron at that common hot email address if you have any other questions I can help with.

  11. Just semi-educated guessing, but to me that reads as "(born) in Harwich (fought) On Plains of Waterloo (and is a) British Subject (living in) Switzerland”

  12. Hi
    What an interesting read. I also found your blog when researching family history. My Great Great Grandfather Henry Hemsley was a Lieutenant in the 28th foot 1st battalion at Waterloo, he was wounded but survived. His Captin was J.H Barnett. He served in the 40th foot in the peninsula war from 1813 as an Ensign, he left service in 1822. I cannot find anything else about him and would be interested to learn more. I wondered if you had any additional information.

    1. Hi Jane
      Thanks for your comment - how fantastic to have an ancestor at Waterloo!
      Ensign Hemsley was in the 40th Foot at Waterloo, born 1790 son of Thomas and Ann at Merton, Leics. The 1851 census lists him living in Ealing with his wife Mary. He died in Ealing in 1855.

  13. I am interested in the 28th Regiment of Foot as one of my ancesters Lieutenant Joseph Taylor Clark died in Brussels following his injury from shrapnel wounds at Waterloo, He is mentioned in the diary of Charles Cadell. I would love to know where he was in the lineup or anything further.

  14. William Pendleton1 June 2019 at 20:22

    Excellent work.

  15. I was just wondering what your prime source is for your database as I'm researching Robert Nixon for my thesis, or at least attempting to, but can't seem to find a lot of information on him.