Sir James Macdonnell


Macdonnell achieved fame as the Coldstreamer who commanded the Light Companies of the Coldstream Guards and Scots Guards in Hougoumont at the Battle of Waterloo. Wellington had great confidence in him because when General Muffling, Blucher's liaison officer, remarked that Hougoumont was a difficult place to defend, the Duke replied 'Ah, but you do not know Macdonnell'. He was in the thick of the struggle to close the gates on the French as they rushed the gate that had been opened to let in the remaining Foot Guards. Private Matthew Clay of the Scots Guards, in his account of the battle remembers seeing Macdonnell carrying a large piece of wood, or tree to help barricade the gates of the chateau. The fight lasted 8 hours and saw most of the buildings destroyed. After the battle, Wellington was riding past the blackened ruins of Huogoumont, again with General Muffling, 'You see,' he said 'Macdonnell held Huogoumont.' This engraving shows James Macdonnell c1835 having received many awards for his bravery.


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by Stephen Luscombe