Raising of the Regiment 1685
The regiment was raised during the emergency of the Monmouth Rebellion in 1685. Theophilus Hastings, 7th Earl of Huntingdon was issued a warrant on 20 June 1685. As was customary, it was called Huntingdon's Regiment of Foot and based for recruiting in Buckinghamshire. The regiment was not ready in time for the battle of Sedgemoor on 6 July 1685 but was sent to Scotland in 1689 after the Protestant William of Orange acceded to the throne of England. The Earl of Huntingdon was considered disloyal to King William III so was replaced by his kinsman Ferdinando Hastings in December 1688.
Battle of Killiecrankie, 27 July 1689
The early Jacobite Rebellion, in support of Catholic King James II, known as the Dundee Rising was led by John Graham of Claverhouse aka Bonnie Dundee. The rebels were mostly Highland Scots gathered by clan chief Cameron of Lochiel. The government troops were commanded by General Hugh Mackay of Scourie. He had with him a force of 4,500 comprised of 6 battalions, named as Balfour's and Ramsey's Dutch infantry, Hasting's (13th Regiment), Leven's (25th Foot) and Kenmure's Foot. The last two Lowland regiments were described as newly raised and incomplete. There were also two Troops of Horse.
As the army entered the steep-sided Pass of Killiecrankie, which lies between Blair Atholl and Pitlochry, Hasting's Regiment brought up the rear with the baggage. Mackay drew up his army near the Blair Atholl end of the pass with Hasting's Regiment in the centre. The Highlanders were on a ridge high above the redcoats, and the two armies faced each other for several hours until sunset. The Highlanders then fired what muskets they had, drew their broadswords and hurtled down the hillside towards the soldiers.The infantry discharged their muskets into the rebels but then had no defence as their bayonets at that time were the plug type that prevented further use of the musket as a firearm. There was little time to fix bayonets and most of the soldiers turned and fled. Hasting's and Leven's Regiments mainly stood firm and 'maintained their ground till night'. However, Lord Leven, colonel of the future 25th King's Own Scottish Borderers, galloped off the field of battle and did not stop until he was 6 miles away. The Highlander's swords caused havoc and many men were badly mutilated by the savage blows. General Mackay found himself alone at one point and managed to push his way clear on his horse. It was now dark and the only men he could find were those of Leven's and Hasting's. His army was reduced to 500, the rest were killed or dispersed. The men were urged to remain calm and leave the field of battle in a soldierly way so that the Highlanders would not sense their fear and attack again. The Jacobites had won a decisive victory but the rebellion was halted at Dunkeld on 21 August.
The Irish War 1689 - 1691
The exiled King James II had brought French troops to Ireland so that a Catholic army could be raised to fight William and Mary, the Protestant claimants of the English throne. At first the Protestants were mostly Dutch and French Huguenots under the command of the Duke of Schomberg, but English regiments were ordered over in Sep 1689. These included Colonel Ferdinando Hastings' Regiment of Foot. They were sent towards Charlemont which was under siege, and quartered at Clownish and Monaghan as the armies dispersed for the winter. The soldiers suffered greatly in November and December through lack of food and proper shelter so that many died of sickness and cold. But King William, on hearing of the problem, took immediate measures to send food and clothing over from England. King James, however, was not so concerned and his army was reduced in numbers through sickness and desertion.
The Battle of the Boyne 1 July 1690
William entered Ireland via Belfast, Loughbrickland and Dundalk where his army concentrated on 27 June and moved south to Drogheda in three columns. On 30 June the two armies faced each other across the River Boyne, west of Drogheda. Hastings' Regiment was part of Trelawny's brigade which, with other units on the right wing, was ordered to move west towards the bridge of Slane. But on hearing that the bridge was damaged they were sent to Rossmare ford closer to the battlefield. They crossed the river with some opposition from Irish cavalry, and positioned themselves to outflank the enemy and prevent their retreat to Duleek. The centre of William's army forced a crossing at Oldbridge while his cavalry, on the left wing moved against the Irish right flank.They were involved in a pitched battle but gradually the Irish were driven back and retreated to Duleek. Hastings' Regiment were not heavily engaged and had been slowed down by the boggy nature of the ground. James retreated to Waterford and was soon sailing back to France. Drogheda surrendered and the garrison were allowed to march to Athlone.
Hastings' Regiment were first sent to Dublin as part of Trelawney's brigade, but because of a naval defeat off Beachy Head, it was decided to send three regiments back to England. Hastings' Foot arrived at Chester at the end of July, and proceeded to the south coast, reaching Portsmouth on 15 Aug. Marlborough, who was in command of the troops in England, suggested an expedition to attack Cork and Kinsale. This was approved, the regiments were given their orders, including Hastings', and a fleet organised. The army of 6,000 men was embarked on 30 Aug 1690 in secrecy, and arrived at Cork harbour on 20 Sep. Marlborough had to share the command with the Prince of Wurtemberg who had brought another 5,000 men from Tipperary.
The Siege of Cork, Sep 1690
On 25 Sep siege guns were positioned in Cat Fort which had been abandoned, and it was intended to make a breach in the eastern wall of the city. More heavy guns were brought up river and placed on the right bank so that by 28 Sep a breach was opened. Wurtemburg's Danish troops were sent around the north arm across the Eastern Marsh while 1,5000 English troops, which consisted of the Buffs and grenadiers from Hastings' and other regiments, had to ford the south channel to an island called Rape Marsh. This was guarded by outposts who directed fire on the attackers as they waded through the water up to their armpits. However, they succeeded in reaching the other bank and reformed at the top of the counterscarps. As they were preparing to make a final assault the garrison beat a parley and a white flag was raised. Hales' Regiment (14th Foot) were detailed to occupy Cork and the rest of the army retired to their camp outside the city.
The Siege of Kinsale, Oct 1690
Marlborough, on 29 Sep, sent 400 mounted troops off to Kinsale,18 miles from Cork.Their orders were to demand the surrender of the town, but this was refused. Brigadier Villiers, in command of the cavalry then charged into the town without much trouble, but was held up by the garrison defending the Old Fort, commanded by O'Sullivan More. Villiers had to wait until reinforcements arrived. Marlborough came up with three regiments of Foot, including Hastings' and some guns. Not only the Old Fort, but the stronger New Fort on the north side of the harbour had to be captured. It was soon realised that only a regular siege could dislodge the defenders.The siege train from Cork was hampered by bad roads so the attack on the Old Fort took place straight away without the big guns, on 3 Oct. Half the garrison were killed and the other 200 surrendered. The army then dug in to besiege the New Fort. Between the 11th and 14th the artillery arrived, and after a mine was sprung on the 14th the batteries opened fire on the walls. On the 15th, at 1pm the garrison surrendered and were allowed to march to Limerick. The English casualties were 250 but following the end of the sieges the number of sick increased so that Hastings' Regiment had 216 men reported sick leaving 462 fit for duty. They were quartered in Cork for the winter.
Drumaugh, Spring 1691
The regiment remained in Cork in the Spring of 1691 as the rest of the army took the field under General de Ginkell. They patrolled the countryside around Cork to suppress bands of troublemakers. On one occasion Colonel Ferdinando Hastings was commanding a force of 200 on his men and 500 Militia when they were informed that a party of the Royal Dragoons was surrounded at Drumaugh. On arriving near Ballycleugh they were fired upon but managed to kill or disperse their opponents. The next day they reached Drumaugh and liberated the trapped Dragoons.
Lismore, 12 Sep 1691
Shortly after the battle at Drumaugh a detachment of the regiment under Colonel Hastings seized Drummaneer. General de Ginkell, with the main part of the army captured Ballymore on 7 June, and on 30 June Athlone fell to the allied army. On 11 July the Irish were decisively beaten at Aghrim, then de Ginkell went on to besiege Limerick. Whilst that was in progress the regiment carried out raids on the enemy wherever they could be found. One such raid happened on 12 Sep 1690 when Captain Orefear led a patrol out of Cork and arrived in the vicinity of Lismore. There he encountered a large group of armed Irishmen which were instantly attacked. Twenty of the enemy were killed and the rest dispersed. The siege of Limerick ended with the defenders capitulating on 3 Oct. And so the war in Ireland ended.
Colonel Hastings' Disgrace 1695
Colonel Ferdinando Hastings from the family of the Earl of Huntingdon succeeded his kinsman, Theophilus Hastings, the 7th Earl, to the colonelcy of the regiment, in December 1688. However he was described by the historian Fortesque as, 'One of the most unscrupulous scoundrels, even in those days of universal robbery, that ever robbed a Regiment.' His misdemeanour came to light in January 1695 when the people of Royston petitioned the House of Commons for the failure of the authorities to pay their soldiers so that they were unable to settle their bills for food and lodgings there.
There were several ways that the Colonel of a regiment could profit at the expense of the soldiers, and the government. The soldiers' clothing was paid from 'off-reckonings' which were deducted from their income of 8d a day (8 old pence). This fund could be increased by claiming for more soldiers than were actually in the regiment. Also illegal deductions were made from the remaining 6d a day so that soldiers actually received very little, and sometimes nothing at all for weeks on end. The following month, on 23 Feb, the regimental chaplain petitioned the House of Commons for non-receipt of pay. The regimental agent, Tracy Pauncefoot, could not supply an answer to this complaint and, having been taken into custody by the Sergeant-at-Arms following the Royston petition, he was now put in the Tower of London.
A few days later Colonel Hastings and four other officers were questioned by the House. Pauncefoot also attended and was found to have misappropriated 500 guineas. The findings of the House stated, 'In particular Colonel Hastings hath compelled some officers of his regiment to take their clothes from him at extravagant rates, by confining and threatening those who would not comply therewith..' On 4th March 1695 Ferdinando Hastings was deprived of his commission. But eight years later he sent a petition to Queen Anne to take into account his long service and sickness. He was granted 'Brigadiers pay from the contingencies if there be room for it.'
War of the Spanish Succession 1701-15
Nimequen, June 1702
From 1698 to 1701 the regiment were in Ireland but in June 1701 they were ordered to Holland. The strength of the regiment was 40 officers, 61 sergeants, 24 drummers and 708 men. There were 12 companies, one of which was grenadiers. During the siege of Keyserwerth there was an incident at Nimequen where The Duke of Athlone's army was covering the allied force under Dutch General Overkirk. A detachment of 100 men of the regiment was sent out into a wood during the night to find out if the enemy was threatening the rear of their position. They were attacked by the French and suffered heavy casualties. The captain in command was killed, and most of the 100 men.
Siege of Venloo, Sep 1702
The Earl of Marlborough took command of the army in July and the regiment was brigaded with the 8th 17th and 18th Regiments of Foot. There was little cooperation from the Dutch commanders and Marlborough set about reducing the fortresses on the Meuse. Venloo was the first, and the siege began on 29 Aug 1702. Venloo was situated on the east bank but the bridge across the Meuse was protected by Fort St Michael on the west bank. Venloo was besieged by troops under Prince Nasau-Saarbruck while Fort St Michael was attacked by English regiments under Lord Cutts. The assault was carried out by the grenadier companies of the 8th 13th and 17th Regiments along with 500 Fusiliers and the 18th Royal Irish Regiment. They were successful in dislodging the French outer defenders and chasing them into their inner fortifications. The gate was barred so the enemy had to climb their own walls. The attackers had to stay close behind or they would have been shot down. Having successfully scaled the ramparts the French put up little resistance and surrendered. A contemporary narrative by an officer of the 18th suggested that Lord Cutts's orders were 'unaccountable' and that 'had not several unexpected accidents occurred in the affair, hardly a man of us would have escaped being killed, drowned or taken.' English casualties were almost 300 killed and wounded although there are no figures for the 13th.
Violent Storm at Sea, Nov 1703
In May 1703 a treaty was signed by England and Portugal which placed Archduke Charles of Austria on the throne of Spain. He was on board a ship that also carried three companies of the 13th Regiment from Holland to Lisbon in November 1703. A violent storm caused the transport to be shipwrecked near Helvoetsluys and 40 men were drowned. Also lost were an entire new set of weapons, tents, equipment and money for the 3 companies. Archduke Charles survived and was taken to Portsmouth along with the rest of the army.
Portugal, Mar - Dec 1704
By 16 Mar 1704 the regiment had arrived at Lisbon. They were part of a 7,000 strong English force under the Duke of Schomberg, which together with Dutch and Portuguese troops made an army of more than 30,000. They were up against the French under the Duke of Berwick, while the allied army was commanded by the 85-year-old Count de las Galveas. It was a disastrous spring campaign in which the Portuguese were divided and Schomberg quarrelled with the Dutch commander Fagel. It ended with the 9th Regiment being captured along with two Portuguese battalions. The 13th did not take part in the fighting and proceeded to Vimiera. In the autumn there was activity on the River Agueda but no battle occurred. Meanwhile the fortress at Gibraltar had been captured by a combined English and Dutch fleet under Sir George Rooke. Since August the Rock had been besieged by a Franco-Spanish force of 12,000 while the allied garrison was reduced to 1,000 effectives. The commander at Gibraltar, Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt sent a plea for help to the Earl of Galway, now commanding in Portugal. As a result, reinforcements were sent immediately, in the form of the 1st and 2nd Foot Guards, the 13th and 35th Regiments, and a Dutch and a Portuguese regiment, 2,500 men in all.
Cape Spartel, 17 Dec 1704
The 13th embarked at Lisbon on 8 Dec, and on 10 Dec the convoy of 20 transports escorted by four frigates set sail. On 17 Dec, at Cape Spartel, the convoy sighted a fleet of 22 warships flying English and Dutch colours but as the fleet formed a crescent shape as if to encircle the convoy, they suddenly replaced the flags with French Colours. At this point all ships were becalmed and the transports put out boats to tow them away from the danger. As this was going on, a breeze from the south-west help most of the convoy to escape but one transport was captured by the enemy, containing 3 companies of the 13th and one company of the 35th Regiment.
Gibraltar, Dec 1704 - May 1705
The remaining transports were split up; three returned to Lisbon and 16 managed to reach Gibraltar with 1,970 men to reinforce the besieged garrison. Having had 3 companies captured and 40 men lost in the shipwreck the 13th were reduced to around 450 men. Nevertheless they distinguished themselves soon after their arrival, forming part of a force that sortied from the fortress on the night of 22 Dec. They attacked Spanish outposts and a group of enemy cavalry, destroying defences and retiring with little loss.
By the beginning of February 1705 there was a large breach, opened by the enemy guns, in the Round Tower up on the Rock. On the 6th and 7th Feb a storming party of 600 French and Walloon Grenadiers supported by 1,000 Spanish troops climbed the cliff in secret, waiting until dawn to assault the extreme right of the wall. As they were driving back the sentries, the main body of the enemy stormed the breach. Captain Borr and 240 men made a gallant resistance against 1,300 attackers, but the French Grenadiers were able to occupy the Kings Lines to the defenders' rear. They attempted to gain possession of the main gate but were delayed by a party of 17 brave men of the 4th Foot (Seymour's Marines) led by Captain Fisher. The enemy overpowered this party and captured Fisher and the survivors of the fight.
At that moment a strong group of English soldiers, mostly of the 13th, numbering about 500, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Moncal, charged onto the scene and showed such determination that the invaders were driven back along the lines and out of the Round Tower. They were joined by Guards Officer Lt-Col Rivett and 20 grenadiers. Fisher and his Marines were released from their captors and the enemy assault was foiled. They had entered the allied defences and fought for an hour, losing 70 men killed, 200 wounded and 25 captured. the garrison's casualties were 27 killed and 120 wounded. Lt-Col Moncal was unhurt but the next day he fell victim to a shell that landed on the new battery, shattering his leg and killing a Spanish officer. Moncal remained as nominal CO of the 13th until 1711 when he received an annual wound pension of 100 pounds.
Ten days later reinforcements arrived from Lisbon, 700 men, and on 21 Mar 1705 another 3 regiments. There is no explanation in the regimental history as to how the transports were able to approach the Moles and disembark the men in safety. On 2 Mar the rain began to fall, almost incessantly for 30 days. The besiegers, in their trenches were in despair, and when a sortie was made against them on 8 Mar they lost 65 men. The enemy were also reduced from desertion, sickness and casualties from further sorties. On 1 April Admiral Sir J Leake arrived with his fleet to relieve the garrison. They captured 3 French ships and drove two ashore. The end of the eight-month siege was in sight, and on 29 April the enemy started to burn their defences. On 30 April they marched off back to Spain. On 4 May the garrison was paraded and inspected by Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt who had commanded throughout the siege. All the guns and small-arms were fired in a feu de joie, and celebrations and fireworks followed.
Siege of Barcelona, 13 Sep - 14 Oct 1705
The Earl of Peterborough was sent off from England to support Archduke Charles, King of Spain in his conquest of that country. He arrived at Gibraltar in Aug 1705 with some recently raised troops to relieve the garrison there. Amongst those units he took off the Rock was the 13th Foot. They sailed north to Altea Bay, and the sight of their fleet prompted the Valencians and Catalans to declare their support for King Charles III, and throw off their allegiance to King Philip. This encouraged the Earl to give serious consideration to besieging Barcelona. But there was hesitation and much discussion between the British, Dutch and Spanish armies before the decision was made to attack the city. On 13 Sep the army marched from their camp at St Martin to assault the fort of Montjuich about a kilometre southwest of Barcelona.
The assault on the eastern side of the fort was led by Peterborough and Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt who had commanded at the defence of Gibraltar. The storming parties reached only so far up the slopes before they entrenched themselves in a bastion and waited for reinforcements. The governor of Barcelona also sent 200 dragoons to give aid to the defenders of Montjuich, so a detachment of 400 men was sent, commanded by Prince George, to another fort, St Bertran, situated between the two places, to intercept the dragoons. This was unsuccessful and several men were killed including Prince George. This party was now under the command of Lord Charlemont who was unable to handle his confused and panicking men. Peterborough galloped up 'in the horriblest rage that ever man was seen in', snatched Charlemont's half pike from his hand and led the troops back to the fort.
Meanwhile the enemy dragoons reached Montjuich and the defenders taunted the besiegers, pretending to surrender. When Colonel Allen approached with 300 men they found themselves surrounded. 200 were captured and taken back to Barcelona. But as this was happening, Fort St Bertran was attacked by Spanish Miquelets, irregulars on the side of the allies. They captured the fort so cutting off Montjuich from the city. The next day mortars were brought up to bombard the defences and on 17 Sep a shell fell on the arsenal of Montjuich, killing Caracioli the commander of the garrison and several others. Soon afterwards the fort surrendered and the garrison of 15 officers and 290 men were captured. The assault had cost the allies 600 men.
The attack on Barcelona itself had proceeded with a bombardment starting on 15 Sep. Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel landed a force of 2,500 English and Dutch seamen and marines. More guns were landed and by 28 Sep there were 58 guns and mortars in action. On 3 Oct the walls were breached well enough for an assault but on the next day Governor Velasco surrendered his city. It was decided that he and his soldiers should march out on 14 Oct but the civilian population broke out in open revolt against Velasco, and he and his men had to be protected by the allied army. The news of the fall of Barcelona reached Britain and caused widespread celebrations but the soldiers who were billeted in the city spent a cold and miserable winter there so that sickness caused one third of the army to be hospitalised.
San Mateo, Dec 1705 - Jan 1706
Flying columns were sent out in December to take control of outlying Catalan towns. In Tortosa there was a large garrison of British troops including the 13th, 35th, Mountjoy's Foot, and the Royal Dragoons. Another column was sent from there to take control of San Mateo, 30 miles away. This column was made up of the Royals and 1,000 Spanish irregulars, commanded by Lt-Col John Jones of the 13th. Once installed there they came under siege from their Spanish enemy led by Conde de las Torres. Jones conducted the defence against a force of 6,000 men, improvising with wool sacks on the parapets, and melting dishes, pots and organ pipes from the church to make musket balls. The Earl of Peterborough set out from Tortosa with a relieving force which included the 13th Regiment, and by means of fake letters, which were intercepted, tricked the enemy into abandoning the siege. Colonel Jones was proclaimed the hero of San Mateo and immortalised in poetry and monuments. The enemy had lost 400 men in the siege while the garrison's casualties were 10 killed and 20 wounded. Peterborough entered the town on 10 Jan 1706. He set up his HQ at Castillon de la Plana where he ordered his cavalry to set about collecting extra horses. Very soon they had rounded up 600 animals in preparation for the advance on Valencia.
Pearce's Dragoons 1706 -1713
Near the end of January 1706 the regiment was summoned from Vinaros and met with The Earl of Peterborough at Oropesa. The 500 men were paraded on a small plain which had some small hills to one side. The Earl addressed the officers and men who were not turned out as smartly as they would have wished. Their coats were ragged and their shoes worn out, and they must have wondered what was coming. The Earl said, rather cryptically, "I wish that I had horses and accoutrements for you to try if you could keep up your good reputation as Dragoons." It must have puzzled the men that they were being praised for being dragoons when they had no access to horses. They were then led around to the other side of the hills where they were presented with the spectacle of 500 horses arranged in eight Troops, saddled and bridled. There were horses selected for the officers caparisoned according to rank. They mounted up and were marched to new quarters with stables. There is nothing in the regimental history to indicate whether the men needed riding lessons. Thus, within an hour Barrymore's Foot became Pearce's Dragoons, named after Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Pearce who had been in command of the regiment since 1704. Pearce's Dragoons operated as a mounted unit throughout the rest of the war, and were disbanded when the Peace of Utrecht was signed in 1713.
The Reconstituted Regiment of Foot 1706
The Earl of Barrymore was not present when his regiment's role was changed, but he reacted badly to this hijacking of his regiment and complained to Queen Anne that the 13th had been ruined. He was sent back to England with a few of the officers to recruit a reconstituted 13th Regiment of Foot. The orders to do so were received on 8 May 1706, and 900 pounds provided for recruitment. By 7 Oct there were 13 companies recruited. Five were quartered in Worcester and one company each in Pershore, Evesham, Tewksbury, Upton, Alcester, Droitwich, Bewdley and Bromsgrove. In December they were quartered around Yorkshire. So now, in effect there were two battalions of the 13th, one mounted as dragoons and the other operating as infantry.
The Battle of Almanza, 25 April 1707
The allied army was commanded by the Earl of Galway after Peterborough was recalled to Britain in the autumn of 1706. They were reinforced but not enough to compete with the French/Spanish army of 25,000. Galway had 4,800 British, 8,000 Portuguese and 4,000 others made up of Dutch, Germans and French Huguenots. The Earl of Galway was himself a French Huguenot, being the son of the Marquis de Ruvigny. Ironically the French army was commanded by an Englishman, the Duke of Berwick, son of King James II. Galway laid siege to Vilena but on hearing that Berwick's army barred his way to Madrid, decided he had to advance against him. The two armies met at Almanza on 25 April, the allies after a long march, and the French being rested and fit. The battle began at 3pm. Pearce's Dragoons (273 strong) were in Killigrew's cavalry brigade with the 2nd Dragoon Guards and the 8th Dragoons. Carpenter's cavalry brigade were driven back by Spanish cavalry but covered by infantry fire. Killigrew attacked the enemy cavalry and drove them back, causing many Spanish casualties. There was also initial success in the centre where the infantry drove the enemy back onto their second line.
The Portuguese cavalry under Das Minas remained stationary, however, so putting the British infantry in danger from French cavalry and relieving the pressure on the enemy infantry. Berwick ordered another French cavalry regiment to attack the Portuguese horsemen and they turned and fled. Some squadrons under Das Minas held their ground, but the Portuguese of both Horse and Foot, in the second line began to retreat. On the left of the allied line the battle was going better but Galway was wounded, then Killigrew was wounded then killed. The commanders of the British cavalry all fared badly, including Pearce's Dragoons. Colonel Pearce was wounded, and Lieutenant-Colonel De Loches killed. The French made a strong attack with massed battalions and forced the allies on the left to give way. The centre put up a brave fight with a group of 2,000 being rallied by General Shrimpton. They fought a rearguard action for 8 miles pursued by cavalry, and set up a defensive position at night. The next morning, having no food or ammunition, they had to surrender to an overwhelming number of enemy troops placed on all sides. The allied left wing managed to get away in good order and reached Ontiniente, 22 miles away. The battle was a disastrous defeat for the allies; they lost 4,000 killed and wounded, and had 3,000 taken prisoner. Only 1,500 stragglers found their way to join Galway some days later. But Berwick did not have much joy; he lost 6,000 killed and wounded. This gives an idea of the severity of the fighting. Pearce's Dragoons lost four officers killed, and two officers wounded and taken prisoner. The numbers of other ranks killed is not mentioned in the history of the 13th.
The Campaign in Catalonia 1707
Galway spent six days at Alcira and then took his mounted troops to Tortosa on the River Ebro where they took up an entrenched position on the opposite bank for a siege. Berwick arrived to attack these emplacements on the 23 May but by the 25th was repulsed. Another attempt was made by the French on 29 May and after a brave resistance Galway's men capitulated and retired to Valencia. Pearce's Dragoons were part of the allied cavalry now commanded by General Carpenter and holding the line of the Ebro from Tortosa to Mequinenza. This gave Galway time to organise fresh troops to defend Catalonia. At the beginning of July the French managed to cross the Cinca and the allies fell back to Lerida, but hostilities ceased for three months due to the heat. In October Galway had an army of 14,600, of which 3,100 were English. They were concentrated at Tarraga but there was still a garrison of 2,400 at Lerida. That place came under attack and was forced to surrender on 10 Nov. The armies went into winter quarters after this and it was recorded that Pearce's Dragoons had a strength of 192 men. This gives an idea of the loss sustained at Almanza where they started out with 273. The 13th Regiment during 1707 were still separated into dragoons and infantry. Barrymore's Regiment (infantry) remained in England during 1707 despite efforts to embark them for Portugal in April and again in July. It was not until 27 Mar 1708 that they arrived in Lisbon. Pearce's Dragoons were sent back to England in May 1708 for recruitment.
Battle on the Caya, 7 May 1709
Barrymore's Regiment of Foot was not involved in any decisive action in 1708 but in the following spring the 15,000 strong army of British and Portuguese troops was concentrated at Campo Mayor. They were commanded by the Marquis de Fronteira and included 2,800 British infantry under the Earl of Galway. They were up against an enemy of a similar number of Spanish under the Marquis de Bay. On 7 May the two armies positioned themselves on the River Caya, about 3 miles from Aronches. Fronteira sent all his cavalry, a brigade of infantry under Montandre, and 5 guns, to attack the Spanish cavalry. But the Portuguese cavalry was repulsed, and the Infantry, after a strong resistance, were driven along the bank to Aronches.
When Galway saw that things were going badly on the other side of the river, he sent over one of his British brigades which included the 13th. The regiment was in the forefront and attacked the Spanish with great determination, supported by the other two regiments. They swept aside the enemy infantry and recaptured the 5 guns that had been taken. Unfortunately they pressed on too far and became surrounded by superior numbers of the enemy. The Portuguese cavalry were ordered to go to their aid but galloped away to the rear of the line instead. The action of the British brigade had allowed Montandre's men to get clear, but they were forced to surrender. Both sides lost 500 killed and wounded, and the allies had also lost 80 officers and 900 men as prisoners of the Spanish. The Earl of Barrymore was one of the prisoners, along with 23 of his officers and around 250 men. However, due to the Duke of Marlborough's victories in north Europe there were large numbers of French prisoners of war which were exchanged for prisoners held by the Spanish and French. So Barrymore and his men were released in 1710. These officers and men, combined with recruits brought over from England which numbered 24 officers and 380 men, made up a strong regiment. But they were held up on the border by the Portuguese government and unable to join in General Stanhope's success at Almenara and Saragossa. At the end of 1711 all the British troops in the Peninsula were sent to garrison Gibraltar.
Gibraltar 1711 - 1728
When the Peace of Utrecht was signed in 1713 the War of the Spanish Succession was officially ended. Gibraltar was ceded to Britain and garrisoned by regular troops. Three regiments were posted there; the 5th, 13th and 25th Foot. They were increased in strength by the addition of men from regiments disbanded after the Peace was signed. The 13th regiment was made up of 12 companies each having 3 officers, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 2 drummers and 32 men. One of the 12 companies was the Grenadier Company which had 35 men. The regiment had been posted to the Rock in 1711 and were to remain there until 1728. This seems to be a long posting, and as if that was not bad enough the conditions there were appalling. The officers of the three serving regiments all put their names to a petition which was sent to Whitehall. Much of the blame was put on the Lieutenant-Governor, but the lack of comfort was quite shocking. The men were not allowed to make fires, so had to eat uncooked food. When on guard duty there as no cover from the rain, and no heating when it was cold. The official response was that these complaints were 'mutinous' and that the officers should be punished.
Siege of Gibraltar 1727
There was little chance that the Spanish would accept a British presence on the southern tip of their country. But it was not until January 1727 that their military machine started to rumble towards Gibraltar. Guns and men began to assemble at Algeciras, across the bay from the Rock. But on 14 Jan a fleet of six ships arrived from England with 3 companies of the 26th, 8 companies of the 29th and 6 companies of the 39th. The Spanish numbered 20,000 under Count de las Torras. Hostilities began on 22 Feb with an exchange of artillery fire, and that night the first parallel (trench) was opened from the Devil's Tower to the inundation. At daybreak they began a heavy firing on the rock. The ships under Admiral Sir Charles Wager fired along the enemy trenches, and rocks and grenades were hurled down on to 2,000 infantrymen who had advanced to the base of the cliff. The Spanish retreated with heavy loss.
From Feb to 10 March the enemy revealed more and more batteries, getting closer to the Rock, but they were soon facing the effects of heavy rain, in April, which filled their trenches and destroyed their works. At the same time, British reinforcements were coming in, so that by late April the garrison had increased to 5,500. The 13th now had their Colonel Lord Mark Kerr and numbered 434. In early May the Spanish had 92 large brass guns and 72 mortars in four batteries firing 700 shots per hour. This lasted for 14 days and caused considerable damage to the garrison's artillery. By 20 May, however, the enemy guns were reduced through damage and over-use to 19 guns. Their ammunition was nearly exhausted and the defenders took advantage of the situation by repairing the breaches and mounting 13 new guns and 100 mortars. By the end of May the British had the upper hand, and on 3 June they opened a heavy bombardment on the Spanish trenches and batteries. Within a few days the enemy guns were silenced and their trenches destroyed. On 23rd June news came from Madrid that a peace had been signed and that hostilities should cease. The garrison's losses were 5 officers killed or wounded, 69 rank and file killed, 207 wounded and 49 died of wounds or sickness. Seventeen men deserted. The regiment lost 7 men killed, 26 wounded and 3 men died of wounds. The Spanish losses were very heavy in comparison.
Service in Britain 1728 - 1741
The regiment returned from Gibraltar in 1728, landing at Portsmouth on 1 May. They were then stationed at Worcester but in June 1730 they were sent to Windsor Forest to mend roads. Whilst at Windsor they were reviewed, with the 12th Foot, in front of King George II and the royal family. The notice in the London Gazette 18 July 1730 said, 'they performed the Manual Exercise, Evolutions and Firings with so much exactness, that His Majesty was pleased to express his entire satisfaction thereat, as also with the good appearance they made.' In 1731 they were based in Bristol with detachments at Aberystwith and Portsmouth, But in May that year they were ordered to march to Berwick. They stayed on the Scottish border, and Edinburgh, until 1739, and marched south again in 1740, returning to Windsor. However, hostilities were building up on mainland Europe and they were camped at Lexden Heath, Essex in July 1741, to prepare themselves with other regiments for the coming war in north Europe.
War of the Austrian Succession 1740-48
Battle of Dettingen, 27 June 1743
The army sailed to Ostend in May 1742 but little happened until March the following year when war with France was officially declared. The Earl of Stair took his men eastwards to join up with the armies of Hanover and Austria, and in May the so-called Pragmatic Army assembled on the east bank of the Main near the junction of the Rhine. On 19 June, King George II arrived to take over command. The French, on the west bank, occupied the bridges on that side, at Aschaffenburg and at Seligenstadt lower down the river. Because of the dangerous situation the King attempted to move the army from Ascaffenburg north towards Hanau on 26 June. At the village of Klein Ostheim the men had to move in single file which slowed the army down, causing the cavalry to halt for more than an hour. The French artillery on the other bank caused confusion in the allied army because they were able to fire at them as if in a shooting gallery. A force of French battalions numbering 28,000 under Count Grammont crossed the Main at Seligenstadt to confront the allies at Dettingen, but he became impatient and advanced too far, beyond a ravine. The Allies formed up to face them with British infantry in the first line, nearest the river. The 13th were on the right of the British line, with Austrians to their right, and British cavalry on the right wing. The second line had more regiments of British infantry with cavalry on their right.
The French deployed in three lines with cavalry on each flank. To counter the cavalry threat the 3rd Dragoons were moved up to cover the left of the front line. They bore the brunt of the French artillery on the other bank as the allies advanced under the King's leadership. The infantry opened fire but this had he effect of frightening the King's grey horse and carrying him at the gallop to the rear. The Earl of Stair took advantage of His Majesty's temporary absence and ordered the infantry to fire volleys by platoons at close range. This caused the French Foot Guards to fall back but the enemy cavalry moved against the British left where the 3rd Dragoons were. The dragoons made a famous charge, and the infantry stood firm. This staunchness won the fight and the French Horse withdrew, but more enemy cavalry joined in so that the infantry was in danger of being overwhelmed. The King ordered the British cavalry on the right wing to transfer to the left. This helped the left wing but encouraged the mounted French Black Musketeers to gallop over to the weakened allied right wing but they were cut down by allied infantry on both sides. This had a demoralising effect on the French who began to retreat. They were harassed by allied cavalry and tried to swim across the Main. There were still 25,000 fresh enemy troops on the other bank but they did not attempt to cross the river, and a pursuit of the defeated French did not seem advisable. The French suffered 5,000 killed, wounded or captured while the allies suffered half that number. The British losses were 265 killed, 561 wounded or captured. The regiment with the most casualties was the 3rd Dragoons with 42 killed and 106 wounded. The 13th lost 21 men killed, with 2 officers and 30 men wounded. Although the Pragmatic Army had won the day, they were still in a dangerous position and forced to retreat to Hanau. They had to leave many wounded behind but these were fairly treated by the French who upheld a pre-arranged agreement between the opposing armies. The award of a battle honour to the 26 British regiments involved was not forthcoming straightaway but on 20 Sep 1882 the award was made retrospectively.
Battle of Fontenoy, 11 May 1745
The armies spent another year in 1744 without any large scale battle, but in 1745 the allies, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, marched south from Brussels to relieve Tournai from the besieging army of Marshal Saxe. They arrived within sight of the French on 9 May, at Fontenoy, where Saxe had built large fortifications, or redoubts. On 11 May the battle began with an attack made by the allies. The 13th were in Brigadier-General Ingoldsby's brigade which consisted of the 12th 13th 42nd Foot and a Hanoverian battalion. The British, 18 battalions in all, were directed towards the French left, between Fontenoy and the Forest of Barry. Ingoldsby's orders were to attack the Redoubt d'Eu, but this formidable embankment caused him to hesitate. As one writer put it; 'the brigadier smelt too long at the physic to have any inclination to swallow it'. Some accounts say that he repeatedly refused to send his brigade into the attack. Meanwhile the Austrians and Dutch had faced a 'murderous fire' and fell back to take cover, and could not be induced to advance again. Ingoldsby was wounded so the Duke of Cumberland took personal command of his brigade, as well as the rest of the British contingent.
The whole line advanced across open ground, as if on parade, with drums beating and Colours flying. They came under artillery fire from all sides which made gaps in the line and left dead and wounded in their wake. When they reached a point 30 yards from the French line, they levelled their muskets and fired. The first discharge felled 19 French officers and 600 of their men. They carried on and penetrated deep into the enemy camp, but they now came under attack from cavalry. This gave the French infantry time to recover themselves and retaliate. Cumberland later blamed the Dutch for their lack of support, which may be true but the advance had stretched the allies to the limit and the order to retire was given. They retreated in good order, covered by the Guards and Hanoverians.
The British and Hanoverian regiments suffered 6,000 casualties out of 15,000. The 13th lost one officer, 2 sergeants and 35 other ranks killed. Three officers, 2 sergeants and 39 men were wounded, and 10 missing. The British/Hanoverian advance was one of those incidents that gave them a reputation for foolhardiness and bravery that influenced French military strategy for the rest of the century. Marshal Saxe was extremely impressed by what he saw and admitted that his own men could not have done it.
Second Jacobite Rebellion 1745-46
Marching Around the North of England, 29 Oct 1745 - 17 Jan 1746
Prince Charles Edward Stuart aka Bonnie Prince Charlie, timed his arrival in Scotland to coincide with the absence of King George's army which was fighting in the European war. He landed on 25 July and reached Edinburgh on 17 Sep. In Flanders, some battalions were recalled to Britain to march against Prince Charles's Jacobite army. The units included the 13th and 34th Foot as well as cavalry, militia and 20 guns. They were under the command of the 73 year-old Field-Marshal George Wade who expected an invasion of England by the Highlanders to come down the east coast. So the army under his command assembled at Newcastle on 29 Oct. When the Jacobites did cross the border, they proceeded to besiege Carlisle. This could have been relieved by Wade if he had acted quickly enough but he left it too late and his force suffered an abortive march across the moors in the snow. They received the news that Prince Charles and his army had taken Carlisle on 13 Nov so they retraced their steps. The Jacobite army continued as far as Derby on 5 Dec and Wade's men marched south through Yorkshire and reached Ferrybridge in the vicinity of Wakefield. On hearing that the Highlanders were returning to Scotland to join up with French forces, they marched back to Newcastle which they reached on 20 Dec.
The 13th, along with the rest of the infantry were in a bad state after their fruitless long marches but had to face another march, north to Edinburgh. This time they were under General Hawley, a strict disciplinarian. The force contained 12 battalions of Foot and 3 regiments of dragoons, totalling 6,000. The Jacobites had reached Glasgow but now headed for Stirling where they intended to besiege the castle. Hawley's task was to relieve Stirling Castle, so he marched his men to Falkirk and pitched camp. The Highlanders were at Bannockburn, probably hoping to have a re-match on the old battlefield, but Hawley remained where he was. So Prince Charles marched southeast to Falkirk to confront the King's army.
Battle of Falkirk Muir, 17 Jan 1746
Falkirk Muir is one of those battles that some regiments would prefer to forget. The same infantry that displayed such heroism at Fontenoy were found wanting at Falkirk. General Hawley was two miles away from the camp and refused to believe the first message that arrived to warn him of the approach of the enemy. But the second message caused him to gallop hatless to prepare his men. The rebels were on the higher ground and the redcoats formed ranks lower down with the 13th (Pulteney's) in the front line. Hawley ordered the 13th (Ligonier's) and 14th (Hamilton's) Dragoons to attack but they were repulsed by an effective volley from the Scotsmen. They fled from the field, soon followed by the 9th Dragoons. The Highlanders then launched their attack on the redcoat infantry. At the same time a storm began which blew icy rain into the faces of the soldiers. This dampened their powder so that there were many miss-fires, and those that did fire could not be aimed properly. Only two regiments, the 4th and 48th Foot stood firm in the face of the charge, but the others turned and fled. The army was now in retreat, covered by the 1st, 14th, Buffs and the 9th Dragoons. The 13th was unfortunately in the scramble to escape the heavy broadswords and Lochabar axes of the Highlanders. The regiments lost 280 killed, wounded and missing, the 13th losing 14. The Jacobites suffered 100 casualties. Hawley took his defeated army to Linlithgow, and then on to Edinburgh.
Culloden, 16 April 1746
The Duke of Cumberland arrived to command the army in Edinburgh and took stern measures to restore discipline. After reinforcements arrived they set off on 31 Jan towards Stirling but the siege had been raised and the Jacobites were heading for Inverness. The 13th were part of the Duke's pursuit of the rebel army. A halt had to be made at Perth because of the weather, and the army used the 3 days to adapt their training to deal with the Highlanders' method of warfare. In Aberdeen they were again halted by storms, but while there they heard that Prince Charles had occupied Inverness and captured Fort Augustus. On 8 April the advance continued so that by the 14th they made contact with their enemy at Nairn. Prince Charles was at Culloden House, 9 miles away. His army numbered 5,000, miserable and starving Highlanders, but they were ordered to prepare for battle on the 15th. Cumberland refused to engage at this point so Prince Charles decided to attack at night. At the same time, Cumberland moved his men forward in three columns, at around 4am. After 8 miles they were aware of rebel advance parties to their front.
The King's 10,000 troops formed up in 3 lines of battle. The 13th, to start with, were in the reserve line, numbering 374 all ranks. The Duke made a speech to stiffen the men's resolve as the two armies faced each other 500 yards apart. There was a change made to the front line when the 13th were brought forward to take a position on the right of the Royal Scots, with cavalry on the flank. The battle started with an artillery exchange but the Highlanders' guns were soon silenced. The English artillery fired grapeshot which spurred the Scotsmen to make an attack on the left of Cumberland's line, against the 4th and 37th Foot. After some confusion these regiments fought back with the bayonet. Meanwhile, Hawley's cavalry had broken through a walled enclosure on the right of the rebel line and brought guns to bear on their second line. Cumberland had positioned himself on the right of his army and described what he saw; "They (the rebels) then came rushing on in their wild manner, and upon the right, where I had placed myself, imagining the greatest push would be there, they came down three several times within a hundred yards of our men, firing their pistols and brandishing their swords, but the Royals and Pulteney's (13th) hardly took their firelocks from their shoulders, so that after those faint attempts, they made off, and the little squadrons on our right were sent to pursue them."
The cavalry on the left of the line also went into the attack. This caused the Highlanders to give up the fight and make a run for it. The rebel casualties were very high; 1,000 on the battlefield, and 500 taken prisoner. The pursuit went on for many miles, and those caught were killed. They lost all their artillery. The casualties on the King's side were 300 killed, wounded or missing. Most of these were in the 4th and 37th Foot. The 13th had an easy battle, losing no casualties. This was the end of Jacobite aspirations, and the 25 year-old Prince Charles, after suffering privation during his flight across the moors managed to escape over to Skye with the help of Flora Macdonald, and from there to France. He died in Rome in 1788. His followers had not betrayed him despite a price of 30,000 pounds on his head, but they were hunted down ruthlessly and treated severely by Cumberland's troops.
War of the Austrian Succession
Rocoux, 11 Oct 1746
The regiment spent some time in Perth after Culloden, and recruited men, mostly from a newly formed regiment from Gloucester called Gower's. They embarked once more for Flanders at the beginning of August and marched to join a force of 80,000 which faced a French army of 120,000 under Marshal Saxe. On the morning of 11 Oct 1746 they arrived at a battlefield near Liege where a 'desperate engagement' was taking place for possession of the villages of Varou and Rocoux. The 13th and 26th Regiments took up a position near Rocoux to cover the retreat of the allied army. On the following day the river Meuse was crossed near Maastricht. They operated in Limburg province for the rest of the year and wintered near the Dutch border.
Lauffeld, 2 July 1747
The village of Lauffeld was a few miles south west of Maastricht. The 13th, brigaded with the 25th and 37th, and some Hanoverians occupied the village on the left of the line. The 1 July was spent in artillery exchange and skirmishes. On the 2nd the French advanced in a great column of 60 battalions against Lauffeld and Vlytingen. The Duke of Cumberland galloped up to give some encouragement to the men who were facing this multitude. The leading French brigade attacked under a barrage from their artillery, but this was repulsed with heavy enemy losses. A second wave of attack was also pushed back, followed by two more. Marshal Saxe was determined not to be thwarted, and because he had a large reserve of men to draw on he was able to wear the British/Hanoverians down. They were finally driven from the village but, reinforced by four more battalions they regained their lost ground. The fight continued for four hours until Cumberland ordered them to retire because of a danger of them being outflanked. They managed to cross the Meuse and reach Heer to the east, in good order. The 13th's losses were heavy; 30 men killed, 86 wounded and 57 missing. They returned to England in November.
1751 - 1769
From 1751 to Oct 1753 the regiment were in Scotland, then after moving south they were posted to Sussex for anti-smuggling duty. In April 1754 they went to Portsmouth to embark for Gibraltar where they formed part of the garrison until 1762. On their return home they were reviewed in Hyde Park with the 12th Regiment. This took part on 5 June 1767 and was performed in front of King George III and the royal family. At that time the Duke of Gloucester was Colonel of the regiment. They were quartered at Chatham in May 1768, and from there to Dover, then Ireland.
Minorca, 1769 - 1775
On 10 Mar 1769 they sailed from Cork to Minorca, arriving on 31 March. They were quartered at St Phillips, Mahon. There were problems regarding pay for the soldiers whilst there, affecting the 3rd 11th 13th 25th and 67th regiments. They were offered payment in Spanish currency but this was unacceptable because of the adverse effect on the rate of exchange with the pound. The officers were having to raise the money themselves to pay the men. On 22 Mar 1771 there was a General Inspection by the Governor, Lieut-General John Mostyn. In 1773 the companies were distributed for accommodation as follows: 6 companies at Cuidella, 3 companies at Alioure, and one company at Fort Fornelles. The regiment were ordered home in Sep 1775, being relieved by a battalion of Hanoverians. They arrived in Feb 1776 and proceeded to Wells.
Light Infantry Company 1777
The 13th were stationed in Plymouth from May 1776 and inspected by Major-General Parker on 5 June 1777. His report included the Light Company of the 13th, the first time that it had been mentioned. In 1770 there was an order that all infantry regiments were to have one Light Company but because the 13th had been in Minorca they did not have the opportunity to carry out the order. The history of the 13th tells us that the badge of the bugle horn was adopted for the Light Company in 1791, 'probably borrowed from the Hessian Jagers'.
French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars
The West Indies
On the outbreak of the French Revolution the 13th were ordered to the West Indies where British and French interests lay very close to each other. They had been in Ireland since 1783 and embarked at Monkstown near Cork on 15 July 1790. The history makes the astonishing statement that the ships remained in harbour until October, arriving in Barbados in November. In Jan 1791 they moved to Jamaica.
The island of Haiti was known as St Domingo at that time, dotted with French settlements. The black slave population were in revolt, and a danger to both British and French so that, at first the French and British often fought on the same side. In Sep 1793 the regiment, under the command of Lt-Col John Whitelocke, sailed from Jamaica to Jeremie, 20 miles south of Port au Prince. The French garrison at Jeremie received them well. On 3 Oct there was an attempt to attack Cape Tiburon to the south, but this failed with the loss of 20 men. A second attempt was made on 2 Feb 1794. As they approached the shore there was a reception committee of 650 blacks, 200 mulattoes as well as some whites. The ships fired a broadside and boats containing the flank companies of the 13th 20th and 49th Regiments rowed ashore and attacked with the bayonets fixed. After a hand-to-hand fight they captured a house which was well placed to cover the landing of the rest of the men. A patrol of the 13th and 20th the next morning captured several forts and secured large amounts of enemy artillery and ammunition. The operations at Tiburon resulted in two men of the 13th killed, two officers and two men wounded. One of the wounded officers was Captain the Hon Charles Colville who later became a famous general in the Peninsula War.
The Defence of Fort Tiburon 1794
The main fort at Tiburon was garrisoned by 50 men of the 13th and some local levies, under the command of Lieutenant Robert Baskerville. Whilst there they were repeatedly attacked, but the garrison beat them back. However they were worn down by the constant fighting and several of them were wounded, including Lt Baskerville. They decided to leave the fort and try to reach safety. But Baskerville was too badly hurt and decided to kill himself rather than fall into enemy hands. The fort was later regained and defended. The officer in command this time was Captain Handyman of the 13th, although it is not known how many men of the regiment were in the garrison. There was a determined attack made on 16 April 1794 by 2,000 mulattoes and blacks under Rigaud. At 6am, after 3 hours fighting the magazine exploded causing damage to their guns and wounding many. But 2 hours more fighting brought the battle to a close and the enemy withdrew having lost 17 dead. The garrison suffered 28 killed and 109 wounded.
There was another attempt on Tiburon on 7 June. The post was commanded by Capt Bradshaw of the 13th and aided by a Naval frigate in the harbour. At midnight there was a loud discharge of firearms which went on for several hours. The soldiers remained hidden under cover, waiting for the enemy to storm the fort, which they did at 6am. They were allowed to approach within a short distance and then the defenders opened up a tremendous fire of muskets and artillery which killed and scattered the attackers. They then made a sortie and pursued the rebels.
Storming of L'Acul, 18 Feb 1794
The flank companies of the 13th 20th and 49th were taken to the fortified post of L'Acul on the north coast of St Domingo, on 18 Feb 1794. They were commanded by the CO of the 13th, Lt-Col Whitelocke. The force was divided so that some travelled by land and others by sea. The ships were unable to land so the land section attacked alone, after a steep hill-climb. Their progress was hindered by felled trees and volleys of grape and musket fire. They captured the fort, but while inside there was an explosion when the magazine was ignited. Thirteen men were killed, but only one private from the 13th. One sergeant and a private were wounded. Major Spencer was mentioned in despatches for distinguished conduct.
Port au Prince and Bizzeton, June 1794
An attack on Port au Prince was undertaken by Brigadier-General Whyte with a force of 1,600. There was also an attack on Fort Bizzeton by a section of this force under Major Spencer. The attack on Port au Prince took four days, starting on 31 May. There was little loss in the way of casualties but once in the town there was an outbreak of fever. Over a two month period Whyte's force lost 40 officers and 600 men through sickness. Fort Bizzeton was garrisoned and commanded by Capt James Grant of the 13th. On 5 Dec 1794 they were attacked by an enemy group of 2,000 who approached in stealth, but the men were on the alert and the attack was repulsed. Grant was in command of men from other units. His lieutenants were Hamilton of the 22nd and Cluner of the Royals (?). They were all three wounded but carried on fighting. They were highly commended in the General Williamson's dispatch.
At the end of 1794 the regiment was down to 182 men, and by August 1795 there were only 60 men fit for duty. They could make little contribution to the guerrilla warfare that was continuing in that period, apart from a defence of St Marc by Major Bradshaw. In Aug 1795 most men were drafted to other regiments while the officers and NCOs were sent back to England. On 31 Mar 1796 the transport arrived at Spithead with the Colours and 38 officers and NCOs under Capt Lowry. They marched to Bath and then on to Taunton before going to Ireland the following year.
The Irish Rebellion, 1798
Having arrived in Ireland in the spring of 1797, the HQ of the regiment was at Wexford. The regiment was commanded by Lieut-Colonel Charles Colville at this time. Their strength was still below par so there was little involvement in the Irish Rebellion that broke out in 1798. However, it was recorded that Lieutenant Baines of the 13th was killed at the battle of Vinegar Hill on 21 June. In that month the regiment was at Waterford, and in November they marched to Cashel. On 30 July 1799 they were inspected by the Lord Lieutenant, Marquis Cornwallis and given a good report.
Ferrol, August 1800
When Spain entered the war on the side of France in May 1800 it was decided to attack their ports. The 13th Regiment were chosen along with 15 other battalions to take part in an expedition under Lieut-General Sir James Pulteney. On 25 August they arrived before Ferrol, across the bay from La Corunna, and spent a whole day disembarking. There was fighting, and casualties were sustained, but the 13th suffered no fatalities. The General realised that there was no chance of defeating the Spanish, well protected by strong fortifications. The process of re-embarking began and the force set sail for Vigo, then Gibraltar. They linked up with Sir Ralph Abercromby's troops from Minorca and an attempt was made to attack Cadiz but that was abandoned when it was learned that there was plague in the city. Eventually they were ordered to Egypt to fight Bonaparte's French Army of the East.
Aboukir Bay, 8 Mar 1801
The fleet proceeded via Malta where they spent 3 weeks ensuring the health of the troops. The assembled army numbered 16,000 of which the 13th contributed 47 officers, 40 sergeants, 22 drummers and 716 rank and file. On 20 Dec they sailed to Marmorice Bay on the coast of Turkey. The whole of January and part of Feb was spent in training for the invasion of Egypt, and on 22 Feb they set sail once more, arriving at Aboukir Bay on 1 March. However unfavourable weather prevented them from landing the soldiers for a whole week. This gave the French time to prepare for the landings so that on 8 Mar when 150 boats laden with men rowed for the beach they were assailed with a storm of bullets from muskets and artillery. The 13th were brigaded with the 8th 18th and 90th under their former CO Major-General John Cradock and were not in the front line of boats so that they were able to land with no casualties. The landing succeeded, ending in the retreat of the French, but the British/Indian force as a whole suffered 31 officers and 621 men killed, wounded or missing.
Mandora, 13 Mar 1801
The army waited 3 days for the unloading of stores and guns, then advanced towards Alexandria, 10 miles distant, along the narrow strip of land between the sea and the salt lake Madieh. After 4 miles they encountered the enemy once more, at Mandora or the Roman Camp. On 13 Mar the leading regiments, the 90th (Scottish Rifles) and the 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) advanced too far and were attacked by French cavalry. The 90th resisted the charge successfully, giving Cradock time to deploy his brigade in support. The French Infantry came into the battle and the British centre and left columns were heavily engaged. The French pulled back to a high point called Nicopolis and were able to inflict heavy casualties with their artillery, so Abercromby decided to call off the action before nightfall and occupy the Roman Camp captured earlier in the day. The British lost 1,300 killed or wounded against the French 500. The 90th and 92nd suffered the heaviest casualties, and the 13th were the next most badly depleted. Killed: Captain Anthony Chester, one sergeant and 15 men. Wounded: Captains J B Brown and A Copland, Lieutenants T Dolphin, T Serle, R B Handcock and J Peck, Ensigns R Huron, A Andrews and G O'Malley, 3 sergeants and 97 men.
Alexandria, 21 Mar 1801
By 21 March the French had been reinforced and they attacked the entrenched positions of Abercromby's army. They made a feint attack on the left of the British line where Cradock's brigade were, but the real attack was against the right of the line so that the 13th were not engaged and had only one man wounded. The fighting was very fierce and mostly involved the 42nd Highlanders. Both sides lost about 1,500 killed and wounded but it was a victory for the British, although their commander, Sir Ralph Abercromby was mortally wounded. The 13th Regiment was now reduced in numbers to: 32 officers, 39 sergeants, 13 drummers and 404 men fit for duty. They had 157 sick men with them, 75 more in the ships at Aboukir and 34 left behind at Malta or Marmorice. The battle honour EGYPT with the Sphinx was conferred on them on 6 July 1802 along with 33 other regiments.
Epidemic at Gibraltar 1804
From Egypt the regiment sailed to Malta in Jan 1802 and stayed there for a year. Then on to Gibraltar where they were stationed until November 1805. During that period the regiment fell victim to a fever which caused the death of 4 officers and 122 other ranks. The men's hair was reported to be falling out due to the sickness, so the Quarter-Master provided a mixture of rum and oil for them to rub into their scalps. On 6 Mar 1805 there was a raid made by a party of Spaniards who captured Lieutenant Hancock and a private soldier. However the commander of the Spanish forces ordered their release.
Private Cloghessey, Nov 1805
The 13th sailed back to England in November 1805 on 4 transports. One of these ships, the Tiber, had the misfortune to catch fire in the lower hold when a candle set some spirits alight. The fire was spreading dangerously close to the magazine where barrels of gunpowder could have blown up the ship. Private Patrick Cloghessey grabbed a blanket, soaked it in water and plunged into the hold with the blanket around him to smother the flames. Others followed his example and the fire was put out. Private Cloghessey, from County Mayo was recommended for promotion but this was rejected on the grounds of his illiteracy and bad character. He was awarded 20 guineas instead. The previous June a report cited a Private T Cloghessey as being court-martialled for assault with intent to ravish. He was sentenced to 700 lashes. It is not clear if T Cloghessey was the same man as Patrick Cloghessey.
The Return to England, Dec 1805
The voyage of the Tiber had more adventures in store. On the 11 Dec the fleet was dispersed by a storm off Brest and the Tiber was captured by the French. However, the ship and those aboard managed to escape. Apart from the crew there were 3 companies of the 13th on the Tiber, consisting of 148 soldiers and officers including 8 women and 6 children. They reached Portsmouth on 24 Dec, and with the rest of the regiment proceeded to Winchester. A report made on 30 July 1806 says that the regiment consisted of: 80 English, 6 Scots, 2 foreign, and 485 Irishmen. They were aged between 25 and 35 and ranged in height from 5ft 9in to 5ft 4in. They had mostly served 7 years, but 22 men had served 20 years.
Martinique, Feb 1809
On 8 Feb 1808 the regiment left Spithead for the West Indies. They were commanded by Colonel the Hon Charles Colville, numbering 920 all ranks, and landed at Bermuda on 26 Mar. Due to an oversight there was no money to pay the men and the paymaster, Mr Cooper, sailed off to Nova Scotia to obtain cash. On 22 Nov they left Bermuda to rendevous with other units for an expedition against Martinique which was in the possession of the French. The Force, under the command of Lieut-General George Beckwith was 10,000 strong while the enemy had a garrison of around 5,000. The fleet arrived off Martinique on 30 Jan 1809 and split into two divisions to attack the island on both sides. Colville was now in command of a brigade, part of Sir George Prevost's division, landing at Robert's Bay on the east side. The 13th, commanded by Lieut-Col Keane, were with Colville and landed unopposed. They marched by night though seven miles of difficult country in heavy rain until they encountered the enemy at Morne Bruneau. They captured this position and went on to the heights of Sourier where they again defeated the French defenders. The brigades on the west side were equally successful, and together they made an assault on Fort Desaix. The bombardment started on 19 Feb and went on until 26 Feb when the Governor, General Villaret surrendered. The number of French prisoners amounted to 155 officers and 2,000 men, who were detained until an exchange could be effected for a similar number of allied prisoners captured in other theatres of the war. The British force had 550 men killed, wounded and missing, out of which the 13th lost 2 men killed and 4 wounded. The battle honour MARTINIQUE was awarded on 19 Nov 1816 but amended 93 years later to MARTINIQUE 1809.
Guadaloupe, Feb 1810
The 13th were part of the force that garrisoned Martinique until the invasion of Guadaloupe in January 1810. Many of the men fell sick in this period so that the number that took part in the attack was 450 all ranks. This was described as a detachment, under the command of Captain John Staunton. They sailed from Martinique on 21 Jan 1810 to rendevous with the force, again commanded by Lt-Gen Beckwith. The regiment was in the 4th Brigade commanded by Brigadier-General Skinner, in Heslop's Division. They sailed from Dominica on 26 Jan, landing at St Mary's in Capesterre two days later. The 3,000 French defenders put up a fight that lasted a week, but surrendered the island on 5 Feb 1810. The casualties to the British were 52 killed and 250 wounded. The 13th lost one man killed and 5 wounded. After the capture of the island they returned to Martinique, where they were stationed at Fort Royal.
Guadaloupe, Feb 1810
Fort Royal 1810-13
During the time spent on Martinique the regiment was kept in good order by the CO Lt-Col Keane, up until 1811, and by Lt-Col Francis Weller after that. An inspection on 19 May 1810 reported the strength of the regiment: 2 field officers, 7 captains, 15 lieutenants, 3 ensigns, 3 staff, 19 drummers and 611 rank and file. There is no mention of the number of sergeants. Another inspection in May 1812 by Major-General Charles Wale is much fuller and praises the officers with the exception of Lieutenant Gunning who is reported as unfit for service. 'He has a weak intellect and drinks.... suggests he retire upon half-pay as he occupies the constant attention of others to keep him out of mischief.' Quartermaster Murray came in for criticism for fraudulent management. His Weights and Measures were discovered to have been deficient. The General also inspected the hospital and found it to be clean, spacious and well aired, and that care was taken to keep the patients comfortable. When he asked if there were any complaints Private Michael Melville spoke up and said that he was owed 21 pounds 6 shillings and 9 pence for the period he was sick and absent. But on enquiry it was found that he had been a deserter for that time and unable to show that he was sick while absent. Wale's counting of the men lists 53 sergeants, 48 corporals, 20 drummers and 600 privates. Irishmen still predominated but the number of English had increased since 1806 to 22 sergeants, 17 corporals and 210 privates (plus 3 Scotsmen and one foreigner).
War Against the United States 1812-15
Lake Champlain, 29 July 1813
As an off-shoot of the Napoleonic War, hostilities broke out between Britain and the United States in 1812. On 2 May 1813 the regiment sailed north from Martinique to Halifax and marched to Quebec. From there they went by boat to Montreal. When Upper Canada was invaded by a large force of Americans, the British Commander decided to create a diversion by attacking their settlements on Lake Champlain. A force under the command of Lt-Colonel John Murray consisting of 900 men from the 13th 100th and 103rd Regiments was sent. Second in command of this group was Lieut-Col Williams, CO of the 13th. On 29th July they attacked Plattsburg but the garrison of 1,200 American militia ran away without a fight. The British set about destroying the arsenal, blockhouse and stores, taking away whatever they could carry. They then destroyed the large barracks at Saranac and went on to deal with Swanton, Burlington and Champlain in the same way. Murray wrote a glowing report on the conduct of his troops and said of the 13th's CO; 'I experienced very great benefit from the military knowledge and zeal of Lt-Colonel Williams.'
Philipstown, Jan 1814
While the regiment was manning advance posts on the River Richelieu in Jan 1814, there was an emergency when the Americans, under General Wilkinson concentrated a large force for the invasion of Lower Canada. The 13th were part of a brigade that proceeded to dislodge the enemy at Philipstown. But as they approached, the Americans fled across the frozen Lake Champlain. Wilkinson made another attempt at the end of March 1814 and entered Odell Town , but they were held off at Burton Ville by Canadian troops.
La Colle Mill, 30 Mar 1814
Wilkinson then turned his attention on La Colle Mill where a company of the 13th under Captain Blake formed part of the garrison. Also in the outpost was a detachment of the Frontier Light Infantry, 70 Marines and 4 gunners, all under the command of Major Handcock of the 13th. The Americans drove in the British picquets and positioned their guns in the woods so that they could fire on Handcock's men.
A party of the enemy was sent to cross the river further up to cut off any British retreat. Meanwhile the grenadier and light companies of the 13th arrived, having come from Isle Aux Noix. Handcock ordered them to cross the river to attack the American artillery, but they were outnumbered so that despite a brave charge they were driven back. Captain Henry Ellard was severely wounded in this action. Later, Canadian reinforcements arrived from Burton Ville and Captain Blake was able to mount a more successful attack on the guns with four companies. The gunners were driven off but he had to retire his men, being unable to hold the position. British gunboats came up the River Richelieu and fired on the Americans. This was the last straw for Wilkinson who decided to call off the attack, after 4 hours of fighting. He had lost 144 killed, wounded and missing. The 13th suffered the highest casualties of the British/Canadian force: 13 rank and file killed, and 50 men wounded, including Captain Ellard, Ensign Whiteford and 2 sergeants. Wilkinson was later court-martialled and said of this battle; 'The conduct of the enemy that day was distinguished by desperate bravery. As an instance one company made a charge on our artillery, and at the same instant, received its fire and that of two brigades of infantry.' The 13th continued to serve on the Richelieu River that summer and garrisoned various forts until June 1815 when they were sent back to England, arriving on 24 July 1815.
Channel Islands, Aug 1815 - June 1819
After their return to the UK the 13th under the command of Lieut-Col William Williams, was ordered at first to embark for Ireland but that was changed so that In August they sailed to Jersey. Whilst there they were inspected by the Lieutenant-Governor, Maj-Gen Hugh Gordon on 29 May 1817. In his report he criticised Captain Moncrief, a French officer, for speaking bad English. He was placed on half-pay. Other matters of interest were the large number of men suffering from opthalmia, and that vaccine inoculation had been introduced. He also praised the regimental school, which was efficiently run by a sergeant schoolmaster. In August 1817 the regiment was moved to Guernsey and Alderney. The officers and men received commendation from the Lieutenant-Governor of Jersey and the Bailiff of Guernsey, and great sorrow was expressed at their departure in May and June 1819.
Conversion to Light Infantry, 25 Dec 1822
Service for the next few years was spent in Scotland and Ireland, but they moved south to Chatham in late Sept 1822 where they were ordered to prepare themselves for embarkation to India. On Christmas Day 1822 they were informed that they were now 'constituted as a corps of Light Infantry'. This followed on from a letter from the Deputy Adjutant-General at Horse Guards dated 15 Nov 1822 that referred to the wishes of the Colonel of the 13th, General Morrison, being complied with, and that as from 25 Dec the regiment may be clothed, armed and equipped as light infantry. It is assumed that the previous CO, Lt-Col Williams had pushed for the change. He was a former 60th Rifles officer who had exchanged into the 13th in 1812. He had gained a reputation as an excellent commander of light troops in the Peninsula, and when in command of the 13th in North America the training had focused on light infantry tactics. He relinquished command of the regiment on 8 Nov 1819 in favour of Lieutenant-Colonel Handcock, but his influence was still felt and it must have been a source of satisfaction to him to see the 13th now titled The 13th (1st Somersetshire Light Infantry) Regiment. They had already acquired the territorial connection to Somersetshire in 1782, and their famous title of Prince Albert's was to be added 20 years later in 1842.
Embarkation for India, Jan 1823
The 13th were by this time commanded by Lt-Col McCreagh and the officers were of high quality, two of which were to achieve great fame in their service on the sub-continent. The regiment sailed on the 1st and 3rd Jan 1823 on the 'General Kyd' and the 'Kent'. On the voyage were Major Robert Sale and Henry Havelock. Havelock took advantage of his time on board to learn Hindustani, and to turn more seriously to the Christian religion, as a result of many discussions with the deeply religious Lieutenant James Gardner. This proved to be a turning point for Havelock who spent much of his spare time in India, leading his men in Bible study. There was strong opposition from his brother officers, but Havelock had the support of Robert Sale who was tolerant of the Baptist and his 'Saints'. The 13th landed at Calcutta in May and June, receiving a large draft of extra men; 620 volunteers who had chosen to remain in India rather than return to England with their regiments.
First Burma War 1824-26
From Calcutta to Rangoon
Relations between British India and the Burmese had been strained for many years, with ongoing hostilities in the Manipur and Chittagong regions. In 1824 the British prepared to send a force, commanded by Brigadier-General Sir Archibald Campbell, by sea to Burma where King Bajydaw of Ava had subjugated surrounding tribes and was threatening territory under the jurisdiction of the East India Company. It was decided to attack Rangoon which involved a voyage to the Irrawaddy Delta. There were two contingents in the force, one from Bengal and one from Madras. The Bengal contingent was commanded by Colonel McCreagh of the 13th, and comprised the 13th Light Infantry, the 38th (1st Staffordshires), a detachment of the 40th Bengal Native Infantry and about 20 guns of the Artillery. No land transport was provided as the men were expected to find provisions as they progressed through the country. Major Robert Sale was now in command of the regiment and Lieutenant Henry Havelock was on the staff. The Bengal force set sail from Calcutta on 5 April 1824 and joined up with the Madras contingent at Port Cornwallis on the Andaman Islands, on 2 May. A detachment was sent to the island of Cheduba off the Arakan coast. This included 3 companies of the 13th and the detachment of the 40th BNI, all commanded by Colonel McCreagh.
Rangoon, May 1824
The main part of Sir Archibald Campbell's force anchored 15 miles from Rangoon on 10 May. On the 11th they proceeded to the city and fired on the Burmese artillery to neutralise their guns, and then landed detachments of the 13th, 38th and 41st regiments to cover the main landing of the troops. There was little opposition and Robert Sale was able to save 6 Europeans from being tortured and executed by the Burmese. Less creditable was the drunkenness and looting carried out by the soldiers. Half the town was burnt in the first night on shore. The army spent a fortnight in Rangoon and prepared the place for defence. The 13th and 38th were posted around the Great Pagoda which was two and half miles north of the town. In a temple close to the Pagoda was a Buddhist temple where the 13th's Colours were laid on the arms of a great statue of the seated Buddha. He was referred to as their new ensign.
Cheduba, May 1824
McCreagh's detachment made headway up a creek to the main town of the island of Cheduba. Half a mile up the creek the Burmese opened fire from entrenchments on the bank. These were stormed by men of the 13th which caused the enemy to flee. The soldiers then advanced into the town and along the main street. Near the end was a high-walled stockade, 200 yards square, from which the Burmese opened fire with cannons and 6-pounders. McCreagh kept his men out of range and brought up his own artillery from the ship. After two days of constructing gun emplacements and hauling howitzers and two 9-pounders, they were ready, on 17 May, first to make a feint attack on one side of the stockade and then to blast away at the main gate. The storming party was led by Major G Thornhill and his company. A brief struggle brought about an end to the siege and they were soon in possession of the stronghold. The ruler of the island was found hiding in the jungle two days later; he had lost 300 killed and wounded. The British/Indian force lost 3 men killed, all of whom were from the 13th, and 41 wounded, of which 20 were from the 13th. Major Thornhill and Ensign Kershaw were amongst those injured. Thornhill and Lieut Malim particularly distinguished themselves and were mentioned in McCreagh's dispatch. The 40th Bengal NI were left to garrison the island while recently promoted Brigadier-General McCreagh took the men of the 13th on to Rangoon where they arrived on 11 June.
Reconnaissance, 28 May 1824
Campbell was worried that the mounting numbers of sick would increase while they were in Rangoon. The weather was wet, and morale was in danger of a severe decline if some action could not be taken. His lack of transport made the movement of his large force impossible so he organised a reconnaissance which was made up of 2 companies of the 13th under Major Dennie, 2 companies of the 38th, 400 Indian troops, a light gun and a howitzer. They set out on 28 May and had advanced 7 miles through the jungle when it became clear that the artillery was slowing them down and exhausting those who had to haul the guns. The Indian troops were sent back with the guns while the 13th and 38th carried on for another mile. They came out onto an open valley of paddy fields, the other side of which were two villages. The enemy, around 5,000 strong, were defending these villages and opened fire from concealed positions protected by stockades. Leaving one company of the 13th to fire on the stockades, Campbell ordered Dennie's company and two companies of the 38th to make a flanking attack which they carried out with great determination. After ten minutes of fighting the The two stockades were captured leaving 300 enemy dead. The regiment's casualties were one officer killed and a bugler and 9 men wounded. The officer was Lieutenant Alexander Howard whose death was described by Henry Havelock: 'Lieutenant Howard, who was a volunteer for the day, and had been cheering on the men with very distinguished gallantry, unluckily rushed upon an angle where the Burmese, pent like rats in a corner, were struggling desperately to escape from the British bayonet. As he pushed on, sabre in hand, three balls struck him in the side, and at the same time a Burmese speared him in the back. Dennie tells me he found him expiring, his sabre yet clenched in his hand, fallen and lying over a dead Burman, in whose skull was a frightful gash.'
Kemmendyne, 10 June 1824
The column returned to Rangoon and an attack was made against a stronghold at Kemmendyne, 2 miles up the river, on 3 June. This first attack was unsuccessful and did not involve the 13th LI. Another attempt was made on 10 June with a larger force, of 3,000 men and a dozen guns. The Navy also provided flank support on the river. The main thrust of the attack was at the front of the fort, using artillery and two infantry regiments, the 41st and 102nd. Simultaneously an attack on the rear of the fort was to be made by two companies of the 13th under Robert Sale, and 2 companies of the 38th. In his report, Campbell asserts that Sale was the first man to appear at the top of the enemy defences. The action this time was successful and the enemy dead amounted to 150 while the British had 32 casualties. The 13th lost one man killed and 11 wounded.
Kumaroot, 8 July 1824
A reconnaissance on 1 July 1824 commanded by Major Dennie reported that the Burmese were in fortified positions on the plains of Kumaroot, 5 miles from the Great Pagoda. The four companies of the 13th under Dennie's command had a small skirmish with the enemy which resulted in two men wounded. On 8 July a larger scale operation was mounted, advancing by land and by river. The 13th 38th 89th and 102nd regiments each provided 250 men, along with a detachment from the 7th Madras NI and artillery. This was led by Generals MacBean and McCreagh. A naval escort commanded by the novelist Captain Frederick Marryat carried General Campbell and 300 Indian troops. At Kamaroot the Burmese, defending seven stockades, observed the silent approach of the men of the 13th Light Infantry who led the column. Major Sale was leading from the front and ordered forward the scaling ladders. The 13th led by Sale and the 38th led by Major Frith worked together to reach the top of the wooden palisades and fight back the defenders. One of Fighting Bob Sale's famous single combats occurred in this battle. He parried a blow aimed at one of his soldiers from a Burmese chief and had his sword broken in the process. Grabbing the chief's own golden weapon he struck back and killed him. The stockade was soon in their possession. This was only one of several stockades that were captured that day, the retreating enemy fled towards the river where they were intercepted by the naval escort. Sir Archibald Campbell wrote in his dispatch that, 'nothing could have been more brilliant and successful'. The enemy lost 800 men killed while the 13th lost a sergeant killed, Captain Johnson severely wounded and 7 others wounded. The spoils of war were 39 pieces of artillery, 300 muskets, 7 golden umbrellas (chattahs) used by chiefs, and much silver. The commander-in-chief of the Burmese army was killed in the battle.
Shwe Dagon Fort, 1-7 Dec 1824
The Burmese withdrew deeper into their country and there was a quiet period during which it rained heavily and many men were sick. General Campbell relied on Major Bob Sale to lead the operations against the enemy but they were unable to make contact with the Burmese in September and October. In November the sickness decreased and reports were received that the military leader Maha Bandula had amassed an army of 50,000 infantry, 700 cavalry and 300 guns. On 1st Dec the left wing of his entrenchments at Shwe Dagon Fort were successfully attacked by the 13th LI and the 18th Madras NI. They were once more led by Major Sale, while Major Dennie commanded the 13th. The following day there was an attack mounted by Sale against the enemy centre with 1,100 men, while another column of 600 men led by Major Walker of the 3rd Palamcottah Light Infantry was to concentrate on the left of the enemy line that had moved to within a few hundred yards of Rangoon. Both actions proved successful and many trophies were brought back, although Major Walker was killed. The battle lasted until 7 Dec when the centre and right of the enemy line were defeated. The number of killed in the 13th was one officer, Captain Henry O'Shea, one sergeant and 3 men. The wounded amounted to 3 officers, one sergeant and 20 men. Although the Burmese were defeated in this battle, Bandula managed to infiltrate some of his men into Rangoon to set fire to the buildings. About a quarter of the city was burned down as a result.
Kokine, 15 Dec 1824
The battle that took place on 15 Dec at Kokine was again directed against two sides of the Burmese defence. One column under Brigadier-General Willoughby Cotton was to move around the left and attack the rear. This column consisted of 200 men of the 13th and 300 of the 18th and 24th Madras NI, also a detachment of the Madras Governor's Bodyguard and a field gun. A frontal attack was also to be made by the 38th and 89th Regiments. The 13th had a difficult struggle, and their commander, Robert Sale received a severe head wound. Major Dennie assumed command and was also wounded, in the hand. He, however, was able to continue until the end of the battle. The action resulted in another victory for the British/Indian force, and the Burmese retreated leaving a great quantity of stores, arms and ammunition. The force sustained 132 killed and wounded, out of which the 13th suffered 62. Three subalterns were killed as well as 2 sergeants and 7 men. Of the wounded four officers, including Major Sale were severely wounded, four slightly wounded, two sergeants and 40 men also with varying degrees of wound. The result of the victory was that the district around Rangoon was rendered safe enough for the inhabitants to return to their homes and the town market was able to resume trading.
Bassein, Feb- April 1825
In Feb 1825 a detachment was sent by sea to occupy Bassein on the west side of the Irrawaddy Delta. Robert Sale had recovered from his head wound enough to enable him to lead this expedition. The regiments in this force were the 13th 38th and 12th Madras NI. They arrived at Pagoda Point, Great Negrais on 24 Feb, attempting to negotiate with the Burmese but they were fired on, and on 26 Feb went ashore to storm and capture the fort under covering fire from two naval ships. The men re-embarked and the ships sailed upstream, reaching Nurputtah on 1 March, and Bassein two days later, where they anchored. The town had been burned and abandoned by the Burmese but local people were induced to return to whatever buildings remained so that normal life could continue. An expedition was sent up to Lamina, 120 miles up-river on 13 Mar but there was little opposition and they returned to Rangoon, arriving on 2 May 1825.
Prome, Sept 1825
In August 1825 the regiment moved to Prome situated at the apex of the Irrawaddy delta. Whilst there an outpost of the 13th came under attack and Sir Archibald Campbell called out another unit to go to their aid. But these men were drunk and incapable so Campbell said, "Then call out Havelock's saints, they are always sober and can be depended on, and Havelock himself is always ready." The saints was how the soldiers in the Bible class were called. They turned out in good order and were able to put the enemy to flight.
Simbike, 1 Dec 1825
In November there was a setback when Indian troops were defeated near Prome, and the Burmese established a position at Simbike eleven miles northeast of the town. Sir Archibald set off from Prome with a force made up of the British regiments, the 13th being brigaded with the 38th under the command of Robert Sale, who, since June, was a lieutenant-colonel. The army advanced in two columns on each bank of the river towards Simbike. Willoughby Cotton's column, not involving the 13th and 38th, drove the enemy from their defences, and the force advanced until they reached Napadee where the Burmese were established on a fortified ridge. The artillery bombarded the enemy while the 87th attacked outposts at the bottom of the ridge. When the bombardment ceased the 13th and 38th ascended the hill to assault the stockades at the top. This was a successful action and resulted in the retreat of the Burmese to other hills. The two regiments pursued the fleeing enemy for 3 miles. The advance towards the capital continued and peace negotiations took place but were a tactic used by the Burmese to gain time for reorganisation.
Melloone, 19 Jan 1826
In January 1826 the British/Indians were halted before Melloone, awaiting the announcement of a peace settlement, but it was not to be, so hostilities resumed on 19 Jan. The battle began with a bombardment while troops embarked on boats for landing on the opposite bank. Sale again led the 13th and 38th, against the southeast corner of the fortifications. Cotton's brigade was to cross the river above Melloone and attack the north wall. Sale was wounded in his boat so command fell on Major Frith of the 38th. Having landed with difficulty because of the current and strong breeze they made a brave assault on the walls. Frith was wounded also, and command then passed to Major Thornhill of the 13th. The attack was a success and Cotton sent a brigade to cut off the retreat of the enemy. The 13th lost one man killed and 3 wounded as as well as Lt-Col Sale. The whole force lost 9 killed and 44 wounded.
Pagahm Mew, 9 Feb 1826
The strength of Campbell's army was depleted to the extent that he now had only 1,300 all ranks. The 13th was reduced to 216. However, the advance towards the capital, Ummerapoora, between Mandalay and Ava, continued up-river and they came to Pagahm Mew, about 80 miles from Melloone. The Burmese were this time in the open fields rather than protected by a stockade. The 13th advanced in extended order and put the enemy to flight once more. They pursued them so far that General Campbell recalled them with bugle calls. But the pursuit did not deter the Burmese from having another go. Campbell reached a small hill which was defended from a determined attack. The action resulted in the death of one man of the 13th and 7 wounded. This was the last battle of the First Burma War. The British/Indian force proceeded to Yandaboo, four days march from Ava, where the news of the ratified treaty was sent to Sir Archibald Campbell. The King of Ava also agreed to pay the expenses of the war and give up a large part of his territory. Representatives, including Henry Havelock, were sent to Ava to receive the treaty.
Awards for the Campaign
Lieutenant-Colonel Sale and Majors Dennie and Thornhill were awarded the CB for their efforts in the war. The 13th Light Infantry was awarded the battle honour AVA on 6 Dec 1826. A Burma medal was awarded to the Indian troops by the East India Company but the British soldiers had to wait until 1851 to receive the Army of India Medal (1799-1826) with a clasp for AVA. There was, however, a donation of an extra 6 month's pay to soldiers who had served more than 12 months in the campaign.
The regiment returned to Calcutta in the middle of April 1826. They were first stationed at Berhampore until November, and then on 15 Nov they marched to Dinapore which they reached on 3 Jan 1827. They stayed there 4 years, until Dec 1831 during which time the regiment lost 448 soldiers, women and children through sickness or other non-combat related death. The CO at this time was Lieut-Col Robert Sale, his second-in-command being Major Dennie. Inspection reports mention the high number of courts martial and instances of solitary confinement. The report also mentions the award system; a gold medal for 20 years' service, a silver medal for 7 and 14 years service and a good-conduct stripe worn on the right forearm for 3 years, 2 stripes for 5 years. In December 1831 they marched to a new station at Agra, where in January they were inspected and reported to be 'one of the finest corps I have seen in India.' Henry Havelock had a chapel built there for his Baptist congregation of teetotallers. William Dennie was in command of the regiment as from 1833 and was criticised for allowing drunks to be punished by NCOs without the knowledge of company commanders. The high number of courts martial was once more mentioned and blamed on Dennie's deviation from the system established by Robert Sale. It seems that Colonel Sale was still with the regiment, and that he and Dennie were not on good terms.
Henry Havelock's Influence
In 1835 Henry Havelock was appointed adjutant of the 13th and was able to exert more influence with Colonel Sale. He was the minister of the Baptist chapel, but another chapel had to be built to accommodate followers of the Church of England. There was a temperance society, which in 1837 had 274 members. Colonel Sale and Captain Chadwick were it's principal members. A coffee room was also built to provide an alternative to the canteen. At that period the regiment had a hard core of heavy drinkers who repeatedly offended. Inspection reports again mention the high number of courts martial for the same set of men for habitual drunkenness. The regiment was moved from Agra in Dec 1835 and reached Kurnaul in Jan 1836.
First Afghan War 1839-42
The Army of the Indus
The war in Afghanistan occurred as a result of the Persian siege of Herat. The Russians were encouraging this action and the British in India needed a ruler in Afghanistan who would oppose Russian intervention in the region. However, the Afghan ruler, Dost Muhammed Khan, was no friend of the British. Shah Shoojah, the dethroned monarch was living in exile in the Punjab, under the protection of the Sikh ruler, Ranjit Singh. An army was assembled to restore him to his throne in Kabul and the 13th Light Infantry was ordered on 8 Nov 1838 to march from Kurnaul to Ferozepore where the Bengal troops were being assembled. When news was received that the siege of Herat had been raised, the army was ordered to be reduced. The Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Henry Fane, decided to cast lots to chose which regiments should go into Afghanistan. According to Havelock's history, the 13th were chosen to go despite being weakened by disease, while a strong regiment like the Buffs was 'doomed to inactivity'. The Bengal contingent was commanded by Sir Willoughby Cotton who was well known to the regiment from the war in Burma. The 1st Brigade, commanded by Colonel Sale consisted of the 13th LI, the 16th and 48th Bengal NI. The regiment was under the temporary command of Major Edward Tronson while Lt-Col Dennie took command of the 2nd Brigade. The number of troops in the contingent was 9,500. The column would have been extremely long, having 40,000 camp followers and 30,000 camels. Added to this was Shah Shoojah's army of 5,000 Indian irregulars. They were to march down the left bank of the Sutlej to meet up with the Bombay contingent at Sukkur. This contingent was commanded by General Sir John Keane, a former CO of the 13th. He now commanded the whole army which would then cross the Indus, proceed to Quetta by the Bolan Pass and then on to Kandahar and Kabul, a distance of 1,500 miles. The territory through which they passed was almost unknown to Europeans so there was considerable risk that there would not be enough food.
Crossing the Indus, 24 Jan-18 Feb 1839
The army did not set off together; they were divided into columns and set off with an interval between each. Shah Shoojah's levies began their march on 2 Dec 1838 followed on 10th Dec by the Sappers and Miners. The Cavalry Brigade set off on the following day, then the 1st Infantry Brigade the next day and so forth. On 29 Dec HQ reached Bahawulpur and stayed until 1 Jan 1839 for the column to close up. Within two weeks they had crossed the border of Scinde, and reached the Indus on 24 Jan. At Rohri the river Indus was half a mile wide with a rocky island in the middle. Sir Henry Fane decided on building a bridge of boats but there had to be lengthy negotiations with Meer Roostem, the ruler of Khypore to establish that the island could be used as a half-way point. On 28 Jan the bridge-building began. Meanwhile Sir John Keane and the Bombay contingent was held up at Jerrak, south of Hyderabad. The Amirs of Scinde were impeding his advance and he needed help from Willoughby Cotton's Cavalry Brigade and 1st and 2nd Infantry Brigades to break the deadlock. But after 60 miles of marching word came through that the Amirs had given in. The troops were actually disappointed that their services were no longer required as they had anticipated helping themselves to rich plunder in Hyderabad. They returned to Rohri and commenced the crossing of the Indus. On the other side was the town of Sukkur which received the Bengal contingent once the crossing was complete, on 18 Feb.
The Bolan Pass
The next stage was the 170 mile crossing of the desert of Usted to Dadeer, the eastern entrance of the Bolan Pass. Shah Shoojah's regiments were now forming the rear of the column, and the 1st Brigade (Sale's) was up front. After 16 marches the brigade reached Dadeer on 14 Mar, but they lost a huge mount of camels, and the porters were placed on half rations. The Bolan Pass, a narrow rocky defile, is 60 miles long with steep sides topped with snow. Water was plentiful as a stream ran the whole length, but it had to be crossed and re-crossed many times. Tribesmen watched from the heights, waiting for the opportunity to pick off stragglers and raid the baggage wagons. On the first day the Indian porters of the 13th deserted and had to be pursued. More camels died of starvation during the six days that it took to traverse the Pass. They emerged on the other side on 22 March, and by the 26th the column was at Quetta. Here there were no local supplies and the army had only 10 days rations for the troops and 2 days grain for the horses. Kandahar was 150 miles ahead and their nearest supplies were 200 miles behind them, thus the troops were placed on half rations and the porters on quarter rations. To add to their troubles, they were raided by tribesmen who stole 40 camels. The cavalry were unable to catch them.
Kandahar, 26 Apr - 27 Jun 1839
The Bombay contingent under General Keane reached Quetta on 6 April, so consolidating the army. The march to Kandahar began the next day, taking them through the Khojak Pass which took 7 days as the guns had to be man-handled in many places. On 23 April they reached the River Dooree, a welcome relief as water had been scarce, causing the death of more camels and horses. Since the start of the journey 20,000 camels had perished. Kandahar was entered unopposed on 26 April after a 1,000 mile march that had taken 137 days. The rulers of Western Afghanistan who resided in the city, either left or offered themselves up. The army camped on the grassy plain outside the city and had access to plentiful supplies. The Bombay contingent again caught up with them on 4 May. On 12 May a detachment under Brigadier-General Sale, containing 2 companies of the 13th, set out to capture the fort of Girishk, 70 miles to the east but there was no opposition. Sickness again laid many men low so that the 13th now had 451 men fit for service. The advance to Kabul did not begin until 27 June. Leaving a garrison at Kandahar they set off in the direction of Ghazni, a fortress regarded as impregnable, but which had to be captured.
Ghazni, 21 - 23 July 1839
The fortress of Ghazni, or Ghuznee, was occupied by 3,000 Afghans commanded by Prince Mahomed Hyder Khan, son of Dost Mahomed Khan. The walls were 60 feet high with a wet ditch, making it impossible to storm with ladders. The gates were bricked up apart from the Kabul Gate. When the skirmishers entered the gardens outside the walls the defenders opened fire. The camel batteries were brought into action and an artillery duel continued for an hour. Sale's brigade moved around in a wide circle out of range, to the northern side where the Kabul Gate was situated. This movement and other troop dispositions carried on through the night. On the morning of the 22 July the men had to wait for the baggage wagons to receive rations. A company of the 13th was sent on reconnaissance near the fortress and lost one man killed and 2 wounded. As a result of this recce Sir John Keane appointed Lieut-Col Dennie to command the storming party. This was to consist of the light companies of the 2nd Queen's Royals, the 17th Regiment and a flank company of the 13th. The main column was made up of the 2nd Queen's Royals, the EIC European Regiment and the remainder of the 13th, skirmishing on the flanks. The attack was planned for the early hours of 23 July, with the skirmishers covering the Engineers as they placed explosives at the gate. The southern face of the fortress was fired on to distract the defenders and at 3.30am the artillery and skirmishers covered the engineers as they carried 900lbs of powder in 12 large bags. The explosion at daybreak was muffled by a strong wind and the noise of artillery.
Immediately a party of the 13th under Lieutenant Peter Jennings and an Engineer officer went forward to check if the explosives had done their work. The storming party under Lt-Col Dennie rushed forward when it was established that a breach had been made. Brigadier Sale followed on with the main body of men but was stalled by a mistaken report that the explosives had not been effective enough. However, when he did move his men forward he was in time to confront Afghans attempting to come out of the gate after Dennie's men had fought their way through. Sale's bugler, Wilson, played a prominent part in anticipating the commands and sounding 'Advance double' on his own initiative when the mistake was realised. In the fight with these Afghans, Sale had another duel with an enemy swordsman, but this time he was cut down and would have been killed but for he help he received from Captain Kershaw of the regiment. Once inside Ghazni they were able to deal with the defenders, and the order was given to attack the citadel. Despite his wound, Bob Sale led the 13th and 17th against this final obstacle, and within minutes they had captured the whole fortress. The first regimental Colour to be seen flying from the top tower was that of the 13th LI placed by Ensign Frere.
One party of the 13th under Captain Wilkinson was ordered to prevent the escape of Afghans over the walls. They saw many sliding down ropes from the top of the walls but were held back by firing from a redoubt. They went towards the redoubt and forced the outer door, and then a second door which led to a narrow stairway. This led to a room where Prince Mahomed Hyder Khan was hiding. He and others were captured and taken to Brigadier Sale. The whole siege was a stunning success apart rom the deaths of 17 men and 165 wounded. The 13th lost one killed and 20 wounded. The enemy losses were 500 killed and 1,600 captured. The large quantities of stores provided food for the army, and 1,000 horses and 300 camels helped to make up for previous losses. Two Afghan standards were captured by the regiment which, together with another flag captured at Jellalabad, were presented to Queen Victoria. She gave them to the Royal Hospital at Chelsea but they found their way back to the regiment in 1890.
Kabul 1939 - 40
At the end of July, after leaving a garrison at Ghazni, Sir John Keane took the army to Kabul. They were expecting a confrontation with Dost Mahomed at Ughandee which they reached on 5 Aug, but the Afghan army had deserted their leader, abandoning 23 guns. On 7 Aug Shah Shoojah entered Kabul after an exile of 30 years, and the army pitched camp outside the city. There was a Durbar on 17 Sep and race meeting which lasted 5 days, but in October the bulk of the army returned to India leaving a garrison in the Bala Hissar of Kabul. The units chosen to remain were the 13th Light Infantry, the 35th Bengal NI and the 6th Light Field Battery (3 guns), all under the command of the recently promoted Brigadier-General Dennie. There were still garrisons at Kandahar, Ghazni and Jellalabad, and command of the army was split between Robert Sale in Western Afghanistan, and Major-General Sir William Nott, Eastern Afghanistan. The winter of 1839-40 was unusually harsh and the men suffered from severe cold in the high altitude. During 1840 the British felt secure enough to bring out families to Kabul, but Dost Mahomed was mustering his tribesmen for a continuation of the war.
Tootumdurra, 29 Sep 1840
The first action to be fought since Ghazni in July 1839, was at Bameean on 17 Sep. This was a British-held post threatened by 6,000 Afghans. Brigadier-General Dennie commanded force made up of the 35th Bengal NI and some artillery. They engaged with the enemy and defeated them. The second action, on 23 Sep involved 400 men of the 13th LI, 2 companies of the 27th Bengal NI, 2 companies of the 37th Bengal NI, 2 squadrons of the 2nd Bengal Light Cavalry, the 2nd Regiment of Shah Shoojah's Horse and 3 guns.When they reached Charekar they learned that Ali Khan, a local chief was spoiling for a fight at Tootumdurra. This village commanded the entrance to the Ghoreband Pass and had small forts on either side. The force was split in three to attack the forts and the village. All the actions were successful although resulting in the death of one private of the 13th and the wounding of another.
Julgar, 3 Oct 1840
A more disastrous battle took place a week later, on 3 Oct. The 13th were in camp at Charekar in October when reports came in of tribesmen occupying forts at Julgar, 16 miles away. The cavalry was sent on ahead that night to surround the forts until the infantry and artillery could get there. The 13th reached Julgar at 10am, with some artillery following on but the mortars could not get in place until 4pm. Lieut-Col Tronson, in command, decided to bombard the forts and launch an assault rather than wait for the heavy ordnance. Five companies of the 13th and detachments of the 27th and 37th Bengal NI commanded by Brevet Major Kershaw stormed the walls of the forts, but the ladders were too short and although they fought with great determination, they were repulsed. Sergeant-Major Airey and 14 men were killed. One officer, 3 sergeants, 2 corporals and 12 men were wounded. Two acts of great heroism occurred that day; Lieutenant King carried the badly wounded Sergeant Hurst to safety, and Private Tom Robinson brought a wounded sepoy out of danger.
Purwan, 2 Nov 1840
One more engagement with the Afghan enemy occurred before the end of the year. On 2 Nov Major-General Sale learned that Dost Mahomed was at Purwan, northeast of Charekar. Four companies of the 13th were in the advance guard under Colonel Salter along with some cavalry and artillery. The main body of Sale's force was some distance behind. On coming in contact with the enemy the 2nd Light Cavalry turned and fled when they were charged by the Afghan horsemen. The 13th and two Indian regiments continued to advance and the Afghans retired in a leisurely manner. This was a victory for Dost Mahomed but strangely he decided to give himself up the next day. He appeared at Kabul with a single retainer and allowed himself to be detained. He was taken to India on 12 Nov.
The Calm Before the Storm, Jan - Oct 1841
The administration of Afghanistan was now in the hands of political officers, headed by the Envoy, Sir William Macnaghton, who although a civilian, had authority over all military matters. Sir Willoughby Cotton was relieved of his command and replaced by General Elphinstone, a man in poor state of health, crippled by gout. It was also suggested that it was safe enough to send the 13th Light Infantry home to India, along with 3 battalions of Indian troops, although the 44th East Essex Regiment were brought in, reaching Jellalabad in January 1841. While the future of the 13th was being considered, a draft of 90 recruits was on its way from England. Ensign Chetwynd-Stapylton was part of this draft, recording in his diary that they left Gravesend on 8 Nov 1839, sailed round the Cape of Good Hope and arrived at Calcutta on 21 July 1840. They went by boat up the Ganges to Cawnpore, marched from there to Meerut, Ferozepore, Peshawar, Jellalabad, and arrived at Kabul on 21 April 1841, a journey of more than 17 months. The 13th was still at Kabul on 10 June 1841, the date that the 44th arrived.
Khoord Kabul Pass, 12 Oct 1841
Hostile forces had been gathering in the mountainous countryside around Kabul. The first serious fighting took place at Bootkhak 10 miles east of the city, at the entrance to the Khoord Kabul Pass on 10 Oct 1841. The 35th Bengal Native Infantry were attacked at night with heavy loss. Robert Sale took a larger force out from Kabul on 11 Oct. With him were the 13th with a strength of 800, four companies of sappers and miners, 2 guns and some cavalry. They met up with the 35th BNI and at daybreak on 12 Oct advanced into the Khoord Kabul Pass. The sides are very steep at the entrance to the pass and the advance guard proceeded with great caution. They found their way obstructed by a barricade and it was at that point that the concealed tribesmen on the heights made their presence known. The force was subjected to firing from above and many were hit including Robert Sale who was shot in the ankle. William Dennie took over command and ordered men to climb the precipitous cliffs and take the fight to the enemy. The men of the 13th, many of them young and inexperienced, achieved this task and cleared the high points of enemy snipers. The casualties for the whole force amounted to 50, of which the 13th lost 3 men killed and 24 wounded. Lieutenant G Mein's head wound was serious enough for him to be taken back to the doomed city of Kabul.
The Road to Gandamuk
The force backtracked to Bootkhak and spent a week there in bivouac until 20 Oct when they were reinforced by the 37th BNI and a regiment of Shah Shoojah's cavalry. Whilst there they were constantly harassed by night attacks. Sale prohibited night firing as the muzzle flash gave away their positions. On the 20th they set off to Khoord Kabul with the intention of continuing to Tezeen where the enemy were reported to be. On the way there the tactic of clearing the heights was used although the fighting resulted in the death of one officer, Lieutenant King, and three privates, and the wounding of an officer and 9 men. At Tezeen there was no sign of opposition but they were able to stock up with forage and supplies. They made preparations to attack a nearby fort but the Ghilzai chief entered into negotiations. The political officer attached to Sale's force promised to restore the old scale of subsidy. One of the reasons for the unrest in the area was the decision by Macnaghton to reduce the subsidies paid to the local tribes.
Jagdalak Pass, 29 Oct 1841
On 26th Oct Sale was required to reduce his force through lack of wagons. The 37th BNI, 3 companies of Sappers and Miners and half the Mountain Train were sent back to Kabar Jabar. The rest of his column proceeded towards Gandamuk with the rearguard being kept busy fighting off constant attacks, and detachments retaining control of the high points. On 29 Oct they encountered the enemy in force in the Jagdalak Pass. The tribesmen on the peaks overlooking the pass were driven off by parties of men from the 13th and 35th BNI. Sergeant Thomas Hoban with six men mounted the highest point and captured it, then went on to sieze another defensive position from a group of tribesmen three times the size of his party. Because of the success of these actions on the high points the main body was able to progress well but the rearguard was left behind and came under attack. Two companies of the 13th and 2 of the 35th BNI, 2 guns and a company of Sappers and Miners formed the rearguard, and they were still in camp when the attack came. This threw them into confusion and they were only saved by the heroism of some officers and Captain George Broadfoot's sappers. The main body of Sale's force sent back reinforcements so that the attackers were finally driven off. In this action the casualties were heavy. One officer of the 35th BNI was killed as well as 4 men of the 13th. More than 100 were wounded, 45 of them from the 13th.
Gandamuk, 30 Oct - 11 Nov 1841
There was a British cantonment at Gandamuk garrisoned by Shah Shoojah's troops, one regiment of infantry, one of cavalry and a unit of 200 irregulars, all commanded by British officers. Sale's column reached there on 30 Oct and remained until 11 Nov. There was an expedition sent out on 4 Nov to capture the fort of Mammoo Khel. This was successful and the detachment returned to Gandamuk the next day. But news arrived of the serious uprising in Kabul, and the death of Sir Alexander Burnes. There was also an order from Macnaghten for Sale's column to return to Kabul. However, this order had a proviso that Sale's sick, wounded and baggage should be secure. With 300 wounded men and being low on ammunition, Sale, in consultation with his officers, sent back a message saying that regretfully he could not comply with the order, and suggested that the army in Kabul should retire on Jellalabad. It must be remembered that Sale's wife and daughter were still in Kabul and that his decision not to return there was made with a heavy heart. The column marched out of Gandamuk on 11 Nov, having left camp equipment and baggage behind because the camel and mule drivers had deserted them. The enemy saw them leave and decided to attack the cantonment, but Shah Shoojah's men also deserted and offered their services to the Afghan leaders. The infantry regiment of Khyberis remained loyal for the most part and they and the British officers were able to catch up with Sale's force and go with them to Jellalabad which was reached the next day.
The Siege of Jellalabad, 12 Nov 1841 - 7 Apr 1842
The town of Jellalabad, meaning the abode of splendour, was in the form of an irregular square surrounded by a wall 2,300 yards long with 33 bastions. The fortifications were in a dilapidated condition, and outside were several walled gardens, mosques and ruined forts which would give excellent cover to the enemy. There were also ruined ancient walls against which sand had built up to form low heights, and to the southwest, about a quarter of a mile away was a rocky hillock known as Piper's Hill, where the tribesmen danced to the sound of bagpipes. The garrison had only two days' supplies, but there were local villagers who could sell them food, as long as thy could get through. When the column reached the town they found Afghans there who had to be ejected. Major-General Robert Sale commanded the garrison which consisted of:
700 13th Light Infantry
750 35th Bengal Native Infantry
40 Shah Shoojah's Khyberis Infantry
130 5th Bengal Cavalry
90 Shah Shoojah's Irregular cavalry
Two 8inch mortars
Three 5.5 inch mortars
Artillery ammunition was plentiful and the men had 120 rounds each although their muskets had been declared unservicable.
First Sortie, 14 Nov 1841
The enemy began to close in almost immediately, gathering around Piper's Hill. A sortie commanded by Lieut-Col Monteith of the 35th BNI was organised. It comprised 300 of the 13th, 300 of the 35th, 100 sappers and 2 guns. They headed straight for Piper's and stormed the hill. 200 of the enemy were killed and the determined attack shook the tribesmen's confidence to such an extent that they kept a respectful distance for about two weeks. The Khyberis troops of Shah Shoojah had been patrolling outside the town wall and came under attack but were saved by the intervention of the 5th Cavalry. As a result of this setback suffered by the tribesmen the villagers were given access to the fort so that supplies were purchased.
The Engineer Captain George Broadfoot was a very energetic and capable officer who put every man in the garrison to work preparing the fort for further attack. The crumbling walls had to be built up by a further 6 or 7 feet, while the forts outside had to be demolished and anything that could give the enemy cover had to be removed. The ramparts were widened and hardest work of all was the digging of a ditch around the wall, 12 feet wide and 10 foot deep. Officers as well as the men were put to work, and the soldiers of the 13th were noted for setting a good example to the others. Broadfoot, a man hard to impress, and no friend of Sale's, praised the men under his command. On 27 Nov the tribesmen began to close in again and work outside the wall had to be stopped. All this time, according to Private Edward Teer who later in life wrote a history of the siege, the troops were expecting a relief column to arrive from Kabul.
Second Sortie, 1 Dec 1841
Afghan skirmishers were hampering the activity in the fort so a second sortie sallied forth on 1 Dec. William Dennie commanded this time, with 300 of the 13th and 300 of the 35th, as well as sappers, gunners and cavalry. The enemy, commanded by Aziz Khan were taken by surprise when the force came out of the main gate and headed straight for the centre of their line. They were driven from Piper's Hill and the cavalry made repeated charges to disperse the tribesmen. Sergeant Hoban distinguished himself by twice defeating opponents in single combat. The British/Indian force suffered no casualties while the Afghans lost 150 men. This action was more successful than the first sortie and kept the enemy away from the area for 6 weeks. This allowed the resumption of trading with the villagers for supplies.
Messages from Kabul
Somehow, Major-General Sale received word, on 17 Dec, that arrangements were being made for the British to evacuate Kabul and be allowed to leave unmolested. But worse news followed on the 2nd Jan when they heard that Sir William Macnaghten had been assassinated on 23 Dec. On 9 Jan a message came through from Kabul, dated 29 Dec, signed by Elphinstone and by Major Pottinger who had taken over from the deceased Macnaghten. It said that Kabul was being evacuated by the British and asked that the garrison of Jellalabad return to India. But Sale decided that his brigade was going to stay where they were. This was welcome news to his officers and men.
The Retreat from Kabul, Jan 1842
The exodus of the British and Indian troops along with families and camp followers from Kabul began on 6 Jan. They had been assured of their safety but the attacks began almost immediately. The two infantry regiments in the column were the 44th Regiment and the 37th Bengal Native Infantry. One officer had a premonition of the impending disaster. On 7 July 1841, six months before the catastrophe, there was an inspection of the 44th by Brigadier-General Sale in the Kabul cantonment. Major Hamlet Wade of the 13th LI, who was brigade major at Jellalabad attended this parade and recorded in his diary: 'The colours of the regiment are very ragged, and when they passed in review I was suddenly startled by what I took to be a large funeral procession. What put such a thing into my head I know not, as it was thinking of very different subjects. I cannot help recording this, it has made such an impression.' The officers and men of the 13th, in Jellalabad, waited anxiously for the column and were hopeful that they would soon be reinforced. However, their hopes were dashed on 13 Jan when Private Edward Teer, on sentry duty, spotted a lone European approaching the gate. He raised the alarm and officers helped the man in. He was Dr Brydon, in a very bad state, starved, frost-bitten and injured, and his horse was on the point of death. When he was able to tell his story it became clear that he was the only survivor who had not been killed or captured out of the whole column of 4,500 soldiers and 12,500 camp followers. However, not all the soldiers had been killed or captured; Dr Brydon was the medical officer attached to Shah Shoojah's 6th Light Infantry, but he became redundant when the vast majority of this regiment deserted to the enemy.
Jellalabad, Jan - Feb 1842
For the next week the garrison kept a vigilant look out for any more survivors. A large lantern was suspended over the Kabul Gate at night, and the Colours of the 13th were flown by day. Bugle calls were sounded at frequent intervals, and the cavalry were sent along the road to Gandamuk. They found the mutilated bodies of four men who had been with Brydon up to 4 miles from Jellalabad. As a precaution all friendly Afghans were ejected, including the loyal Jazailchis commanded by Captain Ferris. Brigadier Sale was at least able to learn that his wife and daughter were prisoners and had not been killed, although his son-in-law Captain Sturt had been killed and given a decent burial. There were between 80 and 100 people captured including Lieutenant Mein of the 13th who had been injured on 12 Oct 1841 and sent back to Kabul. In a speech made by Sir Robert Peel in the House of Commons, Lieut Mein was mentioned 'with honour' as having stood by the mortally wounded Capt Sturt.
The situation in which Sale found himself was looking bleak. The army was nominally employed by Shah Shoojah but his administration had shown itself to be powerless to prevent the massacre of the British in Kabul. Even so, in late January, Sale sent a rather naive letter to the ruler in an attempt to negotiate a safe withdrawal of the garrison to India. The sending of this letter was opposed by officers like Broadfoot and Havelock and by 8 Feb Sale had come around to their way of thinking, that there should be no negotiations, only fighting. The government of India offered no encouragement, saying that it was their intention to withdraw the British presence from Afghanistan and that they were unable to relieve Jellalabad. However, a glimmer of hope showed itself on 13 Feb when intelligence was received that General Pollock had arrived at Peshawar and had been granted full military and political powers in Afghanistan. Sale sent him a message informing him that the strength of his garrison was 2,263 all ranks fit for duty, and 195 unfit. Of these, the 13th had 719 fit and 30 unfit. Also that they had supplies for 70 days, although animal feed for only 25 days. In mid February the leader of the Afghans, Akbar Khan had gathered 2,000 tribesmen at a town 10 miles from Jellalabad. The enemy numbers increased daily and there were groups patrolling over the whole countryside around.
The Earthquake, 19 Feb 1842
In the midst of their perilous situation, cut off from any hope of imminent reinforcement, and surrounded by a hostile army, there occurred a frightening natural disaster. It is colourfully described by Private Edward Teer of the 13th, an eye-witness to the whole siege:
'But there is only one outstanding thing that I am going to tell about, and that was a happening so terrible and nerve-destroying that I have never hesitated to say that I would rather fight in a hundred battles than live through that catastrophe again.
On February 18th there was one of those mysteries of Nature which in those days few men could understand. The air was so full of electricity that the sentries could not hold their muskets, and had to stand beside them, for to touch metal of any sort was to have the body thrilled with countless needle-pricks.
This was awesome enough in the daytime, when man's courage is at its highest, but it was unendurable at night. There was the sense of an overwhelming danger, and with it the helplessness of perfect ignorance. Not even the officers could explain the mystery, and we could only wait fearfully for a solution. In the darkness, the electric force played around the tips of the bayonets, making balls of ghostly flame.
These dreadful signs disappeared with the night, and, soldier-like, we forgot our fears and went about our work.
But just before noon next day there was a strange, unearthly noise like thunder. Instantly we thought that the enemy had outgeneralled us, and had sprung a mine to encompass our destruction; then we knew that no work of man had startled us.
Believe me, the very earth heaved like a stormy sea, and the great mountains near us literally danced.
In that time of peril we thought the hills would fall upon and bury us. As it was, we were hurled to the ground, and when, in speechless fear, we staggered to our feet again, we reeled like drunken men. We clutched each other and never spoke a word, but there was not a blanched face on which was not written the word 'Lost!'
The earthquake, for such it was, lasted about 18 seconds, and destroyed in a flash of time our heavy labours of four months. Our work of defence - how puny against such a mighty power! - were shattered; some of the native troops were buried in the hospital, which collapsed, and some were injured. The earthquake was guilty of some strange freaks, too, for it hurled one of our officers and a man who was bargaining with him for a pipe through some piled arms, but by extraordinary luck the two escaped being cut to pieces by the bayonets.'
Teer's account gives the impression that there was only one almighty eruption but another version says that the shocks continued without intermission, that a dense cloud of smoke arose from other towns and villages. During the next 6 weeks over 100 further shocks were registered. Major Broadfoot, normally a level-headed leader of men said, "Now is the time for Akbar Khan." but he failed to see that the quake affected the enemy as much as the garrison of Jellalabad. Akbar Khan's men were anxious to return to their villages to find their families.
3rd Sortie, 11 Mar 1842
The Afghan enemy were as unnerved by these events as the garrison so a short truce ensued. The men set to and worked hard to repair the damaged defences, so that by the end of February the fortress was tolerably secure. But on 26 Feb the enemy encamped themselves 2 miles from the Kabul side, and a few days later another large group set themselves up on the other side, so blockading them from any relief column from Peshawar. Reports were received that the enemy had prepared a mine at the northwest corner, so a sortie was sent out on 11 March. With Dennie in command, a force of 600 infantry, 200 sappers and some cavalry sallied out to examine the area. No mines were found but enemy defences were destroyed and 100 Afghans killed with little reciprocal loss.
4th Sortie, 24 Mar 1842
On 24 Mar another foray was led by Major Broadfoot, the Engineer officer. The 13th, under Capt Fenwick and Sappers and Miners under Lieut Orr attacked the enemy who had occupied a position on the northwest wall. Three men were killed, one from the 13th and two sappers, and Broadfoot was wounded.
5th Sortie, 1 Apr 1842
Everett's History does not record the commander of the 5th sortie on 1 April but this one was ordered so that sheep and cattle could be captured. 200 men of the 13th, 200 of the 35th BNI, and the cavalry, were successful in capturing 500 animals. It seems that the regiments were operating independently to secure their own food because the Hindu soldiers of the 35th declined to take their share of the animals and offered them to the 13th as they said that meat was less necessary to them than to the Europeans. The Political Officer, Macgregor wrote in his diary on 1st April, 'Our troops of all arms are in the highest pluck, and they seem never so happy as when fighting with the enemy.'
The Final Sortie, 7 April 1842
The officers and men of the garrison had little in the way of reliable information about the outside world so rumours were seized upon hungrily. One rumour was that General Pollock's army had been forced to return to India, and the other was that a revolution had broken out in Kabul, and Akbar Khan was hurrying back there. When Sir Robert held a council of war on 5 April it was agreed that, as ammunition was running low and the enemy were distracted by events in Kabul, it was a good time to take action.
Strong detachments were left in charge of the four gates, and the walls were manned by camp followers, but the bulk of the garrison would make up the sortie. They were organised in three columns; the left column to be the 35th BNI less one company commanded by Monteith, the centre column under Colonel Dennie to be 500 men of the 13th less one company. The right column contained one company each of the 35th and 13th, together with the Sappers and Miners, commanded by Havelock. The cavalry under Capt Oldfield was to be held in readiness to act where needed. On the evening of the 6th April Sale gave instructions to Dennie to pass 300 yards to the left of an old fort occupied by tribesmen. Sir Robert was anxious to avoid a hold up at that point so that the columns could concentrate on Akbar's camp 3 miles away. The enemy were reckoned to be 6,000 strong.
At daybreak on 7 April the columns formed up and advanced, covered by skirmishers. Unfortunately Dennie's centre column went off course and came close to the enemy outpost at the old fort. A battle ensued there and Sale galloped over to see what could be done. When the 13th gained access through the outer wall they found the inner wall too high and pitted with loopholes. Ladders were needed, and the men pushed their muskets into the loopholes to fire at the occupants. During this action Colonel Dennie was mortally wounded. A bullet entered his side through his sword-belt and he bent forward in the saddle. Two orderlies were detailed to lead his horse back towards the town but he died before they reached home. Sale called off the attack on the old fort as he was worried about Havelock's column getting too far ahead. In fact they came under attack from enemy cavalry and had to form square to fight them off.
The three columns eventually managed to advance together against the Afghan line. The enemy infantry opened fire and their cavalry and artillery threatened to force back the columns of infantry. But before long the Afghans showed signs of giving way, and every part of their line was penetrated as far as their camp. By mid-morning they were in full retreat so that the garrison were able to recapture guns lost by the British in their retreat from Kabul. They also captured cavalry standards and destroyed the camp. Of the many dead bodies lying on the field there were several in fine robes indicating their status as chiefs. Akbar's personal standard was captured by Armourer-Sergeant Henry Ulyett of the 13th who earned himself a distinguished conduct medal and a 20 pounds annuity. The old fort which had to be left undefeated was attacked by Lieut George Wade who had remained behind in Jellalabad. When he saw that the Afghans were in retreat he sallied out with his men and captured and burnt the fort.
The news of Akbar's defeat was greeted with rejoicing in India, and eventually in Britain, helping to dispell the gloom following the terrible reports of the massacre of the Kabul column in January. Pollock's army was given a huge morale boost by the news and was able to make headway through the Khyber Pass. They reached Jellalabad on 16 April, marching in as the band of the 13th played 'Oh, but ye've been lang o'coming.'
The Illustrious Garrison
Major-General Pollock inspected the fortifications of Jellalabad and the men who made up the garrison. He found that after 5 months siege the garrison was 'in excellent health and spirits, and in an admirable state of discipline, with a good supply of ammunition, ready and anxious to take the field, and most willing to advance on Kabul.' The garrison had lost 14 men killed and 66 wounded in the battle of 7 April. Of these losses, the 13th had 9 killed and 31 wounded. The government in India was unclear about how to react to the massacre of the men, women and children who came out of Kabul in January 1842. It wasn't until Lord Ellenborough replaced Lord Auckland as Governor-General at the end of Feb 1842 that the go-ahead was given for Pollock and 10,000 men to go into Afghanistan to rescue the British prisoners and ensure the safe evacuation of Jellalabad and Kandahar where there were still British/Indian garrisons. Ellenborough issued a notification from Benares on 21 April 1842 in which he praised the men of Jellalabad:
'That illustrious garrison, which by its constancy in enduring privations, and by its valour in action, has already obtained for itself the sympathy and respect of every soldier, has now, sallying forth from its walls, under the command of its gallant leader, Major-General Sir Robert Sale, thoroughly beaten in open field an enemy of more than three times its number, taken the standards of its boasted cavalry, destroyed their camp, and recaptured four guns, which, under circumstances which can never occur again, had during last winter fallen into their hands.'
The term Illustrious Garrison has ever since been applied to the 13th Light Infantry even though there were other units involved. But the 13th, being a British regiment was the only long-time survivor from that period. The 35th Bengal Native Infantry did not survive the Indian Mutiny; they were disarmed and disbanded for disaffection at Phillour on 25 June 1857. Similarly, the other units were made up of Indian troops, including Broadfoot's Sappers and Miners who were originally part of Shah Shoojah's army. The 5th Bengal Light Cavalry who had one squadron at Jellalabad under Captain Oldfield, were disarmed at Peshawar on 22 May 1857 and disbanded in 1858.
The 13th or Prince Albert's Regiment of Light Infantry
To clarify the rank of Sir Robert Sale; although he was referred to as Major-General Sale in Afghanistan, this was a local rank. His rank in the army was still Colonel and it was as Colonel Sir Robert Sale that he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) on 16 June 1842. The Queen also announced, in the London Gazette of 26 Aug 1842, that she approved of the regiment assuming the title of the 13th or Prince Albert's Regiment of Light Infantry, and its facings being changed from yellow to blue. In the same announcement the regiment was also to bear on its Colours and appointments a Mural Crown superscribed JELLALABAD.
The Army of Retribution
Major-General Pollock was anxious to proceed to Kabul and inflict retribution on the Afghans. He concentrated his army of 15,000 at Jellalabad, a cavalry brigade and 4 infantry brigades. The 1st Brigade was called the Garrison Brigade as it was made up of the 13th LI, the 35th BNI and the sappers and gunners of Jellalabad. Little happened until August, during which time sickness began to take its toll. On 6th Aug the brigade was ordered to march to Fatehabad on the Kabul road for a change of air. But the men were so debilitated that progress was slow. Four men of the 13th died of heat apoplexy on the first day of the march.
The Hills Over Jagdalak, 8 Sep 1842
The general advance to Kabul began on 20 Aug. At the same time General Nott at Kandahar marched his garrison towards Kabul. At Jagdalak the Afghans were discovered on the summits facing the left of the road. A three-pronged attack was organised, with the 13th in the centre, the 9th Regiment on one flank and Broadfoot's Sappers on the other. They had to descend into a ravine and ascend the other side while artillery bombarded the enemy position. Sale, as brigade commander should have observed from a safe distance but he led the 13th as if he was still their CO. Two positions were attacked and quickly captured under difficult circumstances. The casualties overall were 64 killed or wounded, and Sale was again wounded. The regiment lost one man killed, two sergeants and 12 men wounded.
Huft Kotal, 13 Sep 1842
The army halted for a day at Tezin where there was an action on 12 Sep in which the 13th came to the aid of Broadfoot's sappers who were having trouble defending a commanding position. The resumption of the march to Khoord Kabul took them through Huft Kotal (meaning eight hills). Akbar Khan's army was found to be occupying the pass there. The battle commenced on the morning of the 13th Sep with a cavalry charge against the Afghan cavalry. The cavalry brigade was made up of the 3rd Light Dragoons, two Bengal Light Cavalry regiments and 2 irregular units. Then the infantry attacked, led by three British regiments, the 9th 13th and 31st. They had to scramble up steep slopes and drive the enemy over a series of ridges. The final assault was on the summit of the Huft Kotal. Lieutenant Sinclair's company distinguished themselves, as did Sergeant Hoban, not for the first time. Hoban's company were detailed to provide reinforcement to the Gurkha sappers who were driven from their position. Hoban ran at the hill under fire inspiring his men to follow. The losses to the British regiments were 32 killed and 132 wounded. The 13th had the fewest casualties, one killed and 5 wounded. There was little fighting after this and Kabul was entered unopposed on 15 Sep. They were joined by General Nott's force from Kandahar a few days later.
Lady Sale's Captivity
Lady Florentia Sale was in Kabul during October and November 1841, while her husband led his brigade towards Jellalabad. Sir Robert Sale was unaware of how dangerous the situation was in Kabul at the end of 1841. The garrison under his command in Jellalabad clung onto the hope that they would be relieved by the British/Indian force in Kabul. As it was, the British in Kabul thought themselves lucky to be allowed to leave and take their chances in the bitter cold of the Khoord Kabul Pass. The true horror of their situation became apparent almost immediately they left the city. With Lady Sale was her daughter Alexandrina Sturt, her son-in-law Captain John Sturt and their baby. Captain Sturt was attacked and stabbed as they watched. He did not die immediately; Lady Sale looked after him until the end and then insisted on him having a Christian burial, the only victim of the massacre to be so interred. The Afghans took captives from the retreating column, although to what purpose is unclear. It seems that Akbar Khan, who was holding the captives in Lughman Fort, not far away, intended to torture Lady Sale in full view of the fortress of Jellalabad to force Sale to surrender. But Sir Robert said privately that he would order his men to shoot his wife dead to spare her the pain, and that he would never surrender.
Sir Robert and Lady Sale Reunited, 20 Sep 1842
Akbar Khan had sent the prisoners to Bameean in late August, intending for them to carry on into Turkestan.
They were guarded by Saleh Mahomed Khan who was willing to release the prisoners for a price. He even offered weapons to the few British soldiers among them but they were demoralised, and rejected the offer. Lady Sale, however, took hold of a musket and appointed herself leader of the group. Others followed her example and most were armed by the time they set off. Meanwhile, in Kabul, General Pollock sent his military secretary, Sir Richmond Shakespear with 600 cavalry, to Bameean to secure the release of the captives. He also asked General Nott, who was nearer to Bameean, to supply a brigade in support. Nott declined to obey the order, believing it to be too dangerous an undertaking. So Polloock turned to Sale who of course jumped at the chance to rescue his wife and daughter. Sale's brigade, including the 13th LI, set off on 18 Sep, but Sheakespear had already met up with the captives the day before at the Kaloo Pass. Sir Robert was anxious to see his family so he left the infantry at Kote Ashruffee and pushed on with the 3rd Light Dragoons. He finally met up with Florentia and Alexandrina on 20 Sep somewhere between Kote Ashruffee and Tarkhana, and the whole party returned to Kabul. Amongst the prisoners was an officer of the 13th, Captain Mein, who had been wounded in Oct 1841 and sent back to Kabul for treatment.
Return to India, Oct 1842
The British/Indian troops in Kabul were ordered to destroy those parts of the city where atrocities had occurred a year earlier. The great covered bazaar was burnt down, also the houses of the chiefs involved, and the mosque in which Macnaghton's head had been displayed. On 12 Oct the army set out on its return to India. On 22 Oct the 13th reached Jellalabad for the last time, and halted for a few days. It was decided that the fortress had to be destroyed, so the walls and bastions that had been so laboriously built up, and repaired after the earthquake, were now to be levelled to the ground. Most of the hard work, however, was done with explosives, especially the bastion overlooking the burial ground where William Dennie and many others were interred. The Engineer officer set the explosives to bring the tower down onto the cemetery so that the graves could not be desecrated by tribesmen. The march to Peshawar was resumed on 26 Oct and the troops had to go through the Khyber Pass, which was not without danger. Major-General McCaskill's Division bore the brunt of the fighting at this stage with the 31st East Surreys suffering the worst of the casualties. One more fort had to be destroyed, at Musjid, and the frontier was crossed so that the 13th were in Peshawar on the River Indus by 4 Nov 1842. They continued their journey through the Punjab and crossed the Sutlej on 14 Dec. On the Punjab side of the river the Illustrious Garrison were met by the ADCs to the Govenor-General who presented the men with the newly minted medals for the defence of Jellalabad. It was thought appropriate that the men should display them as they marched into Ferozepore.
Celebrations in Ferozepore
The garrison marched across the bridge of boats into Ferozepore on 17 Dec 1842. They passed through a triumphal arch and were greeted by Lord Ellenborough. The road to their camp was 6 miles long and for the first 3 miles there were bedecked elephants on each side. The remaining 3 miles were lined with troops who presented arms to salute the heroes of Jellalabad. Orders were issued that every military station that the garrison passed through on their march through India should have troops turned out in review order with arms presented. The Governor-General organised a lavish banquet for the officers of the garrison and there were further celebrations, with the 35th BNI inviting the officers and men of the 13th to dine with them (the invitation signed by Subadar-Major Manick Singh) and a reciprocal invitation offered to the 35th by the 13th at which the 35th were presented with a silver plate that commemorated their joint defence of Jellalabad. The 13th and the 35th Bengal Native Infantry remained at Ferozepore until 16 Jan 1843.
Kasaulie, Feb-Mar 1843
From Ferozepore they marched to Ludhiana, then on to Mubarakpur where they were joined by four officers and 150 recruits. They stayed there from 5 Feb to 9 Mar 1843 and were then moved to Kasaulie in the Simla Hills. Here they were put to work on building barracks and roads. On 14 April they received an additional draft of 4 officers and 94 men. Major-General Sale was still referred to as the commander in inspection reports but a new lieutenant-colonel was appointed, Tristram Charnley Squire, although he had been on leave in England and did not reach the regiment until 13 Jan 1844. By this time, the old Colonel of the regiment, General Morrison had died, on 3 Dec 1843, after 30 years in the post, so Robert Sale was appointed Colonel and returned to England with his wife for more celebrations and an audience with the Queen.
The Regiment Returns to England, 1845
The 13th left the Simla Hills on 24 Oct 1843 and were marched back the way they had come, to Ludhiana. Here they were issued with new percussion muskets to replace the flintlocks. They carried on to Ferozepore and after 10 days embarked on boats to go down the Sutlej to Sukkur. In June 1844 they were employed in the suppression of a mutiny. The History of the regiment states that the 64th Bengal Native Infantry had been brought down from Shikarpur to Sukkur to be disarmed, and that 30 to 40 ringleaders were arrested. Other sources, however, say that the 64th were disarmed in the Great Mutiny of 1857. In September 1844 the regiment marched to Karachi but suffered badly from Malaria en route. At Karachi they received Orders to embark for England. As usual with regiments leaving India, the men had the option to stay behind and join other units. Surprisingly 446 opted to stay. The rest sailed, on 4 Dec, first to Bombay, and then, on 20 March 1845 they were embarked on two ships, arriving at Gravesend on 28 July and 8 Aug 1845.
The Heights of Truckee, 8 Mar 1845
Out of the 446 men of the 13th who opted to stay in India, 192 volunteered to join the 39th (Dorset) Regiment stationed at Dinapore. The 39th had also established a reputation as heroes after the battle of Maharajpore in 1843, and they were to remain in India until 1847. The 13th were in Karachi in late 1844, waiting to return to England. At around that time Sir Charles Napier, Governor of Scinde, was also in Karachi, and when he saw the 192 men preparing for their march to Dinapore, he formed them into a camel-mounted unit to be part of the escort on his journey to Baluchistan to reinforce Captain Beatson at Shore. Beatson was engaged in a policing operation to catch Baluchi robbers at Truckee. The action at Truckee on 8 March 1845 is somewhat vague and has been turned into a story-book legend through the painting of Daniel Cunliffe and the poem 'The Red Thread of Honour' by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle. The account of the action is described in Sir William Napier's book, 'The Administration of Scinde';
'In the course of the operations on the 8th of March 1845, the troops having entered a short way into the defile, a sergeant and 16 men of the 13th volunteers got on the wrong side of what appeared to be a small chasm and went against a height crowned by the enemy, where the chasm suddenly deepened so as to be impassable. The Company from which the sergeant had separated was on the other side, and his officer seeing how strong the hillmen were on the rock, made signs to retire, which the sergeant mistook for a signal to attack, and with inexpressible intrepidity scaled the precipitous height. The robbers waited concealed behind a breastwork until eleven of the 13th came up, and then, being seventy in number, closed on them. All the eleven had medals, some had three, and in that dire moment proved that their courage at Jellalabad had not been exaggerated by fame. A desperate encounter took place. Six of the 13th were killed, and the others, being wounded, were pushed over the edge of the steep slope of the hill, but this did not happen till seventeen of the enemy and their commander had been killed.
There is a custom with the hillmen, that when a great champion dies in battle, his comrades, after stripping his body, tie a red or green thread round his right or left wrist according to the greatness of his exploit - red being the most honourable. Here those brave warriors stripped the British dead, and cast the bodies over; but with this testimony on their own chivalric sense of honour and the greatness of the fallen soldiers' courage - each body had a red thread on both wrists! Thus fell Sale's veterans, and he as if ashamed of having yielded them precedence on the road to death, soon after took his glorious place beside them in the grave. Honoured be his and their names!'
This account implies that the action of the 16 men was as a result of errors, firstly in that Sergeant John Power led the men in the wrong direction, and secondly that he misunderstood the signal to retire. Perhaps this passage was based on the report of Capt Beatson. This was corrected by Sir Charles Napier in a letter he wrote on 25 March 1845;
'It is with regret I have to say that, misled by the report of Captain Beatson, I stated that the six soldiers, who in the 8th instant, fell on the heights of Truckee, were killed in consequence of their own imprudence. This was incorrect and unjust. They acted in obedience to their orders, and died in the fullness of glory, worthy of the brightest names in our military annals.'
The letter enclosed a list of the soldiers' names, stating whether they were killed or wounded, how many Baluchis they killed, and how many medals they had. The reports make much of the medals. They all had the Jellalabad medal, some had the Cabul medal and others had the Ghazni medal as well. The account from William Napier's book does not make it clear if the wounded men were stripped and decorated with the red thread before being tipped, still alive, over the edge of the cliff. If this was the case, that is hardly the action of 'brave warriors' with a 'chivalric sense of honour'.
The poem 'The Red Thread of Honour' by Sir Francis Doyle also portrays the Baluchi robbers as 'noble savages':
Eleven men of England
A breast-work charge in vain:
Eleven men of England
Lie stripped and gashed and slain
Slain; but of foes that guarded
Their rock built fortress well,
Some twenty had been mastered,
When the last soldier fell.
Still, when a chief dies bravely,
We bind with green one wrist
Green for the brave, for heroes
One crimson thread we twist.
Say ye, oh gallant Hillmen,
For these, whose life has fled.
Which is the fitting colour,
The green one or the red?
Our brethren, laid in honoured graves, may wear
'Their green reward', each nobel savage said;
To these, whom hawk and hungry wolves hall tear,
Who dares deny the red?
Then all those gallant robbers
Shouted a stern "Amen!"
They raised the slaughter'd sergeant,
They raised his mangled ten.
And when we found their bodies
Left bleaching in the wind,
Around BOTH wrists in glory
That crimson thread was twined.
The sergeant in question, John Powers, actually survived the battle. He was said to have reached the summit of the hill but was only slightly wounded. A letter from Horse Guards dated 12 June 1845 asks if the sergeant is qualified to hold a commission. Sir Charles Napier's list names the sergeant, 2 corporals and 13 privates. Also Ruinzan Aheer of the Camel Corps who did not quite reach the summit. Eleven men reached the summit, of whom six were killed and two were severely wounded.
The Death of Sir Robert Sale, 21 Dec 1845
Although the 13th Prince Albert's Light Infantry had embarked for England in March 1845, their Colonel, Sir Robert Sale remained in India to serve as QMG on the staff of Sir Hugh Gough, C-in-C in the First Sikh War. Also on Gough's staff were Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Havelock and Major Broadfoot. At the first battle of the war, Mudkee, on 18 Dec 1845, Sir Robert had his thigh shattered by grapeshot. He died 3 days later on 21 Dec. Major Broadfoot died on the same day, killed at the battle of Ferozeshah. They were buried in the cantonment cemetery at Ferozepore on 26 Dec, in the presence of Sir Henry Hardinge, the Governor General, and Sir Hugh Gough. Robert Sale was 64 years old, had served in the army for 50 years spending 40 of those years in the Indian sub-continent. He had only been in England for 3 years of his life. He had been seriously wounded 5 times. The CO of the 13th, Lieut-Col Squire, applied to Horse Guards for permission for the regiment to wear the Jellalabad medal suspended from a ribbon of crimson with black edges in memory of their Colonel. But this was refused on the grounds that there was no precedence for a permanent emblem of mourning being worn by soldiers.
Service in Ireland, Jan 1847 - April 1850
On their return to Britain the 13th were first stationed at Walmer in Kent, and then in April 1846 moved to Portsmouth where they received new colours from Prince Albert. At the end of 1846 Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Stuart took command and in January 1847 embarked the regiment for Ireland. There they were inspected by the Duke of Cambridge who wrote an unfavourable report which ended with: 'A regimental library exists in this corps, I have desired that it may be gradually done away with.' Even at this early stage in the Duke's career he was opposed to military reform. Thankfully his 'desire' was ignored. Another inspection by Major-General Bainbrigge in April 1847 raised a comment about the word 'gentlemanly' in connection with the Sergeant's Mess, but the general acquiesced, 'I have not required the word to be altered as Lieut-Col Stuart said he feared it would hurt the feelings of the non-commissioned officers to alter it.' Lt-Col Stuart had made many changes to the Regimental Orders which at the time raised eyebrows but by the end of the 19th century were firmly established in the army. The library and school flourished, with the help of his wife the Hon Georgiana, and the gentlemanly sergeant's mess was an inspiration to other units. General Bainbrigge inspected the regiment for the last time in Oct 1849, before they moved to Scotland in April 1850:
'Although I should be very sorry to lose this Regiment from my Headquarters, yet I feel it a duty to say that a change of quarters would be desirable. The men seem to have got too intimate with the women both at Belfast and Carrickfergus. Women have been known to carry off soldiers from Carrickfergus in a car; taking them to Belfast and keeping them there for several days.'
Gibraltar, June 1851 - June 1855
The 13th received orders for foreign service in March 1851 and travelled by train to Winchester. The depot companies went to Gosport and the rest, 24 officers and 578 NCOs and men, embarked on 24 May for Gibraltar. There they were quartered in the Casemate barracks. When the Crimean War broke out 137 men of the 13th were drafted into the 30th 44th and 55th Regiments and sent off to the Black Sea. Soon after this the regiment was increased to 12 companies so that the strength was 67 sergeants, 25 drummers and 1,200 rank and file. Inspection reports mention the Regimental savings bank, which in 1846 had no depositors, but in 1851 held 256 pounds, and by 1854 had 1,256 pounds. On 22 Dec 1854 Colonel Charles Stuart retired on half pay and the 13th prepared for the arrival of their new CO, Lord Mark Kerr. He was on the point of travelling out to the Crimea at his own expense but was appointed to command the 13th in Gibraltar. He arrived on 18 Jan 1855 and very soon realised that the adjutant and the Quartermaster had to be replaced. The depot companies that had been at Clonmel in Ireland sailed to join the regiment, arriving on 15 Feb 1855. Meanwhile Lord Mark was working hard to persuade the authorities to send the regiment to the war. Finally, on 24 May they received orders to proceed to the front, however, there were no transports available until 5 June. They used the time to practice with the new Minie Rifle although there were only 100 available.
The Crimean War
The regiment sailed from Gibraltar on 7 June. The strength was increased to 16 companies but only 8 companies (1,000 men) went to the Crimea, while 4 went back to Ireland as a depot and 4 were posted in Malta as a reserve. They disembarked at Balaclava on 30 June after a voyage of more that 3 weeks. They were quartered at Kadikoi and attached to the 4th Division. The euphoria of going to war must have been quickly dispelled, not only by the long voyage, but by their employment in working parties at the base in Balaklava. They suffered from sickness so that the average number of men in hospital in the summer months was 143, while 62 men died of cholera. The whole war was a big disappointment to the regiment and to Lord Mark who had worked so hard to get there. On 16 Aug they were put in the 1st Division and marched to Tchernaya where they witnessed the battle between the Russians and the Sardinian and French army, but remained inactive. On 21 Aug they were called out again but the Russians withdrew before the battle began.
Sevastopol, 6 - 9 Sep 1855
One part of the 13th went into the trenches before Sevastopol for the first time on the night of 6 Sep. Many of them were unfamiliar with the Enfield rifles they had. On 7 Sep they moved up to the advanced trenches and came under fire. Eleven men were wounded. On 8 Sep, after a terrific allied bombardment, there was the grand attack on the Redan and Malakoff. The 1st Division were in reserve so their lack of involvement was not to the men's satisfaction. The French captured the Malakoff, but after desperate fighting by the Guards the Redan remained in Russian hands. The next day, the 9th Sep, it was found that not only the Redan, but the city of Sevastopol had been evacuated and deserted by the enemy. There was little activity over the winter of 1855/6, and in January the work began on destroying the docks, forts and defences of Sevastopol. By 24th Feb 1856 the war was all but over so a grand parade took place in which Lord Mark Kerr had yet another acrimonious argument with staff. He insisted on his men marching past with rifles at the trail but before they had gone too far, a staff officer galloped up and ordered him to have his men carry rifles at the shoulder with fixed bayonets. Lord Mark was beside himself with anger and shouted the order, "Fix fiddlesticks!" But the men knew their CO by now and laughed as they fixed their bayonets.
South Africa, Sep 1856 - Sep 1857
The regiment left the Crimea on 24 May 1856, embarking at Balaklava on the Khersoese and returning to Gibraltar which was reached by 7 June. Then in July they were shipped to South Africa to deal with 'Kaffir' troubles but nothing materialised. They spent the time in training, road building and garden cultivation. When the Indian Mutiny broke out in May 1857 the news did not reach them until August. Lord Mark Kerr busied himself with persuading the South African Commander-in-Chief to send the 13th to India. His efforts were rewarded when orders came on 20 Aug for the regiment to embark at Port Elizabeth. On 22 Aug, leaving 237 men at Grahamstown, the HQ and 500 men set off on the 100 mile gruelling trek over hilly country in heavy rain. On reaching the coast they found that the steamship Madras could only hold 400 men. So 100 were left to join the rest of the regiment when they arrived. The ship sailed via Mauritius and Ceylon, reaching Calcutta on 1 Oct 1857.
The Indian Mutiny 1857 - 1859
Allahabad and Cawnpore
The regiment had a slow start to the campaign in India due in part to Lord Mark's bad relationship with the Commander-in-Chief Sir Colin Campbell. It was the C-in-C's intention to appoint Lord Mark to command a column to disarm the 32nd Bengal Native Infantry, but after a hot-tempered conversation about boot soles for the 13th, Campbell gave the job to Colonel Barker RA. His column contained only one wing of the regiment when they set off for Raniganj but that destination was altered when most of the 32nd BNI surrendered themselves there. Two companies of the regiment under Captain H M Jones were detached with cavalry to pursue a small number of mutineers of the 32nd, leaving Lord Mark with 3 companies to escort the artillery. The column continued to Benares and then Allahabad which they reached on 30 Nov. Here they learned of the death of Sir Henry Havelock at Lucknow, and were frustrated that they would not be part of the relief of that besieged city. Sir Colin's army had actually relieved Lucknow on 18 Nov and evacuated it. Barker's column moved out of Allahabad on 7 Dec and advanced as far as Fatehpur. There was some punitive action at Koth and the march was resumed after 4 days, meeting up with Campbell's force at Cawnpore. They remained there until the New Year and were then ordered back to Allahabad to escort 23 captured guns and 200 wounded men. They arrived on 14 Jan and were rejoined by Captain Jones's detached companies.
The Left Wing of the Regiment
The remaining companies of the 13th that had been left in South Africa, arrived in Calcutta on the 18th and 19th January 1858. They reached Benares on 18 Feb and a column under Major Cox of the 13th was sent to Azimghur. This consisted of the left wing of the 13th, 2 guns manned by men of the 13th who had been trained as gunners, and 100 men of the Madras Rifles. They set out on 24 Feb but did not meet with any opposition. Using Azimghur as a base they made a tour of the district, then, having been relieved by a wing of the 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment, marching further north to Gorakhpur to reinforce the Sarun Field Force under Brigadier Rowcroft. The 37th at Azimghur were commanded by Colonel Egerton Milman, who decided to march out to confront a huge rebel force under Koer Singh. This ended in disaster with the loss of the 37th baggage and a retreat to back to Azimghur. From 25 March they were confined and surrounded by a huge force of mutineers.
The Battle of Azimghur, 6 April 1858
On 27 March in Allahabad, Lord Mark was asked by Lord Canning's Military Secretary, "How soon can your regiment start for Azimghur?" "In a couple of hours." was his reply. They began the journey by boat down-river to Benares, and having reached there, Lord Mark heard that another, larger, force was on its way from Lucknow under Sir E Lugard. Campbell's orders were that the enemy should not be engaged until he had linked up with Lugard. Lord Mark's column consisted of:
2nd Dragoon Guards (2 officers, 55 men)
Royal Artillery, two 6-pounder guns, two 5.5in mortars (1 officer, 17 men)
13th Light Infantry (19 officers, 372 men)
4th Madras Rifles (around 90 men)
They also had a large convoy of supplies and ammunition for the garrison at Azimghur. By 8am on 5 April the column had reached Sursana, 10 miles from their destination. Whilst there an urgent message was received from Colonel Dames who was now in command at Azimghur, calling on them to advance at once as their situation was desperate. The enemy had been reinforced by 2,000 sepoys and 2 guns. Lord Mark was in a dilemma, not wanting to incur the wrath of Sir Colin Campbell, so he compromised and waited until 4am the next morning. He needed time anyway, to bring up the convoy which was lagging behind.
He went forward with a Troop of the Bays to reconnoitre and at 6am observed the enemy in a tope (Buddhist monument) and buildings near the road, and in ditches beside the road. The column halted, the convoy closed up, and at 8am one company of the 13th under Captain Boyd advanced rapidly in skirmishing order to turn the left of the enemy position. This was successful but a heavy fire was opened from the tope and the buildings, and then, more seriously, they were fired on from enemy in the rear of the column. Three companies were deployed to counter this attack. The artillery opened fire on the enemy engaged with Boyd's company but did not seem to have any effect.
At this point Lord Mark heard that the convoy had retreated some distance and the drivers had run off. Lt Stewart of the 13th rode off with 25 men of the Bays to deal with that situation while another crisis occurred. The enemy had got between the main part of the column and the rearguard, and sepoy reserves were now placed behind the 13th skirmishers. The rearguard were ordered to fend for themselves while the column forged ahead to Azimghur. The artillery continued to bombard the buildings and eventually they caught fire so that the enemy evacuated. This caused a general retreat of the mutineers at 10am and the cavalry pursued while the infantry advanced.
The rearguard was still fighting, and were threatened by an enemy position on a high embankment. A very courageous charge was made by a company of the 13th led by Captain Wilson Jones. They successfully assaulted the position with great vigour although Capt Jones was killed. This effectively ended the battle and the enemy were in full retreat. The convoy drivers were inspired to return to their work and the column advanced the 2 miles to Azimghur. Unfortunately the elephants carrying their tents had scattered and some of the carts had caught fire, including the wagon carrying the regimental records. They reached the entrenchments at Azimghur which could only be reached by crossing the bridge over the River Taptee. Once inside the column was accommodated in some half ruined houses. The regiment lost one officer, Captain Wilson Jones, and 7 men killed. One officer, Lieutenant Edward Hall was dangerously wounded, also one sergeant and 32 men were severely wounded.
This battle was notable for the fact that they had defeated a force of vastly superior numbers in a relatively short time. Also that two Victoria Crosses were won by the regiment. Sergeant William Napier, for defending and finally rescuing Private Ben Milnes when severely wounded on baggage guard. Napier remained with Milnes even though surrounded by sepoys. He bandaged him under fire and carried him to safety. Private Patrick Carlin rescued a wounded naik of the Madras Rifles. Carlin was carrying the wounded man on his shoulder and fought off a sepoy with the naik's sword and killed him.
Operations Around Azimghur, 8 April - 11 May 1858
The British/Indian forces at Azimghur occupied defensive positions outside the town which was still strongly held by the rebel army. On 8 April a message was received from a convoy approaching Azimghur, commanded by Colonel Cumberlege, saying that he needed assistance. Lord Mark set off with a mixed force that included 150 men of the 13th. They met up with the convoy 10 miles away on the Ghazipur road. Cumberlege had detachments of the 10th 37th and 97th Regiments a well as some Madras Rifles and Madras Cavalry. No opposition was encountered except when they reached Azimghur and were fired on by rebels who had come out of the town. Skirmishers of the 13th managed to silence them and one man was seriously wounded. In accordance with Sir Colin's orders no attack could be made against the enemy until the arrival of Lugard's column, but on 14 April, Koer Singh's army, seeing the build up of British troops, evacuated Azimghur. There followed several operations to pursue the enemy, variously led by Colonel Cumberlege and Lord Mark during which Lord Mark's column of the 13th LI, the Madras Cavalry and 2 guns force-marched to Sinia Ghat on the Ganges from 2am on 27 April until 10am on the 28th, a distance of 31 miles, mostly in heavy rain at night. They used boats to cross the Ganges, and re-cross it again on the 29th, with their guns and horses, and were ordered to make another forced march to Gorakhpur. They met up with Sir Edward Lugard's column on 1 May and reached Mau where they were joined by the 13th's baggage, band and Colours that had remained at Azimghur. They all continued on across the River Gogra at the Deera Ghat and marched into Gorakhpur on 11 May.
The Sarun Field Force
The left wing of the regiment under Major John William Cox, meanwhile, had met with Brigadier Rowcroft's Sarun Field Force at Almorah, 70 miles west of Gorakhpur, on 17 March. A month later, on 17 April there was an engagement at Belwah fought in intense heat, where the mutineers were heavily defeated by men of the 13th and the Bengal Yeomanry. The Yeomanry suffered most of the casualties and the 13th had two men wounded. On 25 April another action was fought in the same place, against a force of 4,000 rebels who had 4 guns. They attacked the British camp but were repulsed 'with trifling loss'.
Nugger, 29 April 1858
The Sarun Field Force marched to Captaingunge on 27 April and two days later received a report of enemy presence at the town of Nugger, 6 miles away. A column was detached and sent to deal with them, commanded by Major Cox. His column consisted of:
13th LI Left Wing (5 officers,151 men)
Pearl's Naval Brigade (5 officers, 91 men. two 12-pounders and a 24-pounder rocket)
Bengal Yeomanry Cavalry (9 officers, 58 men)
Goracknath Regiment of Gurkhas (11 officers, 281 men)
Sikhs of the Bengal Police Battalion (1 officer, 46 men)
The enemy were around 1,000, occupying the town and ruined fort of Nugger which was on the edge of a dense bamboo jungle about 2 miles in length. There were also thick groves of trees nearby concealing the enemy. The main body of the column advanced by a slight detour, keeping the jungle a half mile to their right. The 13th and Sikhs skirmished to cover the flanks as the column came opposite the town and fort. They wheeled into line and positioned the artillery on a slight rise, 500 yards from the town. The cavalry was sent around the grove of trees to intercept any retreat. The enemy, who were made up of sepoys and other rebels opened fire and were replied by artillery and rocket fire. As the sepoy firing slackened Major Cox ordered the skirmishers to clear the groves and wheel in towards the town. As this was in progress the Naval Brigade and Gurkhas made a frontal attack on the town and fort. The enemy were driven out and pursued some distance through swamp and jungle, leaving around 50 dead behind. The cavalry were, however, hampered in their pursuit by unfavourable country. The rebels left behind a large quantity of supplies and ammunition. Major Cox's report particularly mentioned the help he was given by Mr Wingfield, the Civil Commissioner who provided valuable and accurate information, and acted as messenger to convey orders to the cavalry. The casualties of the 13th were one sergeant and one private wounded.
Bhansee, 9 June 1858
Brigadier Rowcroft must have been impressed by the performance of the 13th as he ordered two more companies from Lord Mark's wing of the regiment at Gorackhpur, much to Kerr's annoyance. They were to join the Field Force at Bustee. Major Cox led another detachment which included 200 men of the 13th, towards Bhansee. They occupied that place and marched on until they came in contact with the enemy on 9 June. A fight ensued in which the rebels were defeated and lost around 40 men killed. Cox's column lost one killed and four wounded, two of which were from the 13th.
Hurryah, 18 June 1858
On 18 June a column was formed to attack the enemy at Hurryah, 18 miles from Bustee. The 13th provided 150 men under the command of Captain Van Straubenzee, and the column was commanded by Colonel Byng of the 6th Madras Light Cavalry. The action was successful and an outpost established at Hurryah manned by men of the 13th and some Indian troops, under the command of Captain Kerr. On 29 Aug this outpost came under attack, and a relief column had to be sent out from Bustee. This was commanded by the redoubtable Major John Cox and consisted of:
13th Light Infantry (5 officers, 175 men)
Naval Brigade (3 officers, 20 men. two 12-pounder Howitzers)
27th Madras Native Infantry (3 officers, 41 men)
Sikh Levy (1 officer, 47 men)
6th Madras Light Cavary (3 officers, 46 men)
Bombay Yeomanry Cavalry (5 officers, 45 men)
When the enemy saw Cox's force approach on 1 Sep they withdrew, and the column halted at Debreheah where they set up camp. There was a pursuit which went on for 8 miles but the cavalry horses were tired from their march. After a few hours the rebels returned, but they were greatly increased in number, around 1,000 plus 3 guns. They were drawn up in an extended line that stretched for two miles. Cox was concerned that he could be outflanked. To make matters worse another group of sepoys positioned themselves behind some large embankments on the right. These men fired on the column's advanced picquets. At 10am Major Cox took about 100 of his force of 400 and charged at the sepoys on the embankments. This had an unnerving effect on the whole enemy force and they began to retreat. There was the usual pursuit which went on for a considerable distance. In his report, Major Cox commented that the enemy were nearly all sepoys, well trained and disciplined, and armed with Minie ammunition and some had greased cartridges, the items that were thought to have sparked the mutiny in the first place. He praised his troops who fought well and cheerfully even though they had been under arms for 12 hours and wet from the rain.
The Regiment Reunited, 12 Oct 1858
Since the regiment had arrived in India in two separate wings, one in Oct 1857 and the other in Jan 1858, they had operated independently. On 9 Oct 1858, however, Lord Mark was ordered by Brigadier Rowcroft to march with 100 of his men from the Headquarters wing at Gorakhpur, as well as the band, towards Bustee but stop at Kullulabad. Lord Mark had no respect for the Brigadier and decide to carry on the Bustee which was reached on 12 Oct. So the left wing of the regiment were joined by 100 of their comrades plus band, who they had not seen since South Africa
Judgespore, 25 Oct 1858
The details of the action at Judgespore are contained in Lord Mark's dispatch of 27 Oct 1858. He takes the opportunity to disparage the information provided by Brigadier Rowcroft. Instead of one 'pucka' house, he found a fort 200 by 150 yards, with bastions, loopholes and a deep ditch. Kerr's force contained 256 men of the 13th, 160 cavalry, 75 Indian infantry and 56 seamen of the Naval Brigade with two 12-pounders and a rocket, making 556 men in all. The intelligence he was given suggested that the enemy, under Ram Bux, was 500 strong with 2 guns, but he found that the figure was much higher. They marched towards their objective and came near to it as day broke on 25 Oct. There was no visible entrance to the fort so cavalry were placed strategically to intercept fugitives, and their guns bombarded the fort on all sides. It appeared that the bulk of Ram Bux's force were hidden in topes to the north of the fort but were too well concealed for an attack to be effective. They were on the point of abandoning the whole thing when they were subjected to a heavy volley of musket and artillery fire; another enemy column had arrived commanded by Mohammed Hussein. Kerr sent out 100 skirmishers of the 13th, a howitzer and some cavalry to cover the flank, as well as protecting the elephants and camels carrying their equipment. He also sent Captain Condy to establish if there was a ford over the river Almorah, to reach the road to Hurryah. When Condy returned with a favourable report the retreat of Kerr's force began. It was fraught with difficulty, as the enemy cavalry harassed them continually, their artillery fire seemed to come at them from all directions, and the infantry were low in ammunition. During the 13 hours they had been fighting the men were thirsty and suffering from the intense heat. The retreat itself lasted 3 or 4 hours before the enemy gave up molesting them, and they were able to arrive at Hurryah at 4pm. The operation had been inconclusive but the casualty list showed only 18 men wounded, the majority having slight injuries. A few days later the rebels abandoned the position at Judgespore and on the same day 2 companies of the 13th under Captain Melville Brown fought with the enemy at Bhaupore.
Toolsepore, 23 Dec 1858
There were some actions fought at Domereagunge in late November 1858 and Brigade HQ was set up in that location, to which the 13th marched from Hurryah on 6 Dec. The 13th had a strength of 700 in 9 companies, but Lord Mark altered the organisation so that they were three battalions commanded by Major Tyler, Capt H M Jones and Capt R Peel. On 20 Dec, as soon as the heavy guns arrived, the brigade marched to Toolsepore. Three days later they found themselves facing a large rebel force under Bala Rao and Mohammed Hussein. Line of battle was formed with cavalry on the flanks and artillery and infantry in between. The objective of the 13th was a village on the left centre but it extended beyond its flanks. Two companies were used to cover the advance, one in skirmishing order, the other in support on the right flank in echelon of sections to that flank. The leading company under Lieutenant Gilbert was within 50 paces of the enemy position, and having been reinforced by half the supporting company, fixed bayonets and charged the enemy artillery. They shot and bayoneted 30 or 40 gunners and captured a 6-pounder brass gun with limber. Most of the men in the village retreated. By the time the whole regiment came up the village had been abandoned, but they became ware of a large force of cavalry and infantry to the right of the area; the troops of the Rani of Toolsepore, about 4,000 in number, and a gun. Lord Mark deployed his men to engage with this force but was ordered by the Brigadier to disengage from any action. Knowing how irritated he was by the bumbling Brigadier Rowcroft,we can only imagine how Lord Mark felt about that. On Christmas Day, General Sir Hope Grant arrived and ordered a pursuit of the enemy but by then it was too late.
Nepal, Jan - Mar 1859
The regiment was attached to Hope Grant's force and marched north to the Nepal jungles but the enemy dispersed. In Jan 1859 they were left on the border under Rowcroft but in Feb they marched back to Gorakhpur. Later in February a wing of the regiment made an unsuccessful foray into Nepal in pursuit of rebels, and a few weeks later were in action on 25 March. Two patrols, one under Captain Peel and the other under Lieut Gilbert climbed the steep hills to reinforce two Indian units, the 3rd Sikhs and 27th Punjabis. This encouraged the majority of the enemy to retreat, leaving behind horses, elephants and weapons. Some braver sepoys stayed to fight but were killed in the battle. The wing of the 13th remained in the Terai for a while but returned to Bustee in May. There was another return to the borderlands in November when 4 companies marched to Segowlie to intercept rebels. They stayed for 2 months and returned to Gorakhpur in early 1860.
The End of the Mutiny
The action in Nepal was the last for the 13th in the Indian Mutiny campaign. The HQ of the regiment remained in Gorakhpur, with detachments at Azimghur and Jaunpur. The families of the men had remained in South Africa throughout the Indian campaign, but were brought to Gorakhpur in April 1859. The authorities felt secure enough to celebrate the end of the Mutiny on 28 July 1859. The 13th had begun in Jan 1858 with 765 men and ended the year with 916. Drafts from England amounted to 323, so that the wastage due to deaths and invaliding came to 172. There were battle honours for certain areas of the Mutiny, awarded to many regiments, but the 13th were not to have anything to show for their efforts. The regiment did not return home to England immediately but stayed on until January 1864.
2nd Battalion Raised, 27 Feb 1858
The 2nd Battalion of the 13th was raised in 1858 in Winchester. Major and Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Horne was promoted from the 12th Regiment to be the commanding officer. His commission was dated 8 Jan 1858 and the battalion's formation dates from 27 Feb 1858. At first they had 8 companies but on 19 April the establishment was raised to 12. The recruits were mostly from farming communities which meant that they were physically tough. On 19 Nov they left Winchester to join the Camp at Aldershot, in the 1st Brigade. They received their Colours from Prince Albert on 21 Feb 1859. The senior major of the battalion was Brevet Lieut-Col Thomas Faunce who was brought in from the St Helena Regiment, but he retired on full pay in Feb 1859, and his place taken by Brevet Major John William Cox of the 1st Battalion, who had distinguished himself so often during the Indian Mutiny.
South Africa, 1859 - 1863
On 23 Feb 1859 the 2nd Battalion went by rail to Portsmouth and embarked for the Cape of Good Hope, arriving on 7 April. Their depot companies joined the regimental depot at Fermoy. The battalion spent 1859 at Grahamstown but then relocated to King William's Town in 1860. They provided a guard of honour when Prince Alfred paid a visit to South Africa in August 1860. When the Maori Rebellion broke out in New Zealand later that year the battalion was ordered to be ready to go there but their services were not required.
Sickness on Mauritius, 1863 - 1867
In March 1863 the 2nd Battalion embarked for an ill-fated posting on Mauritius with a strength of 25 officers, 44 sergeants, 20 buglers and 730 other ranks. Many of the men were suffering from ophthalmia, contracted in South Africa. The change of posting did nothing to stop the epidemic so it was decided to send home 102 men. Recruitment at the Fermoy depot was stepped up to bring the battalion back to strength. On 3 Jan 1865 the CO, Colonel Horne died after a few days illness, and was buried at Mahebourg. The battalion had been on outpost duty since June 1864 but in July 1866 returned to Line Barracks, Port Louis. Early in 1867 , after a long drought and excessive heat, fever took hold and the men suffered badly. The hospital was overflowing so 200 men were sent to the quarantine station at Cannonier Point. Many were also sick in the barracks so on 1 April it was decided to move the battalion to Flacq Island. The men and their families were encamped there but the situation was no better. When the weather was bad the supply of rations from Port Louis was interrupted so that they were hungry as well as sick. When the fever began to decrease there were many cases of dysentery 'of a most malignant type' They were on that island for almost 2 months, and in that time 15 men died, as well as one woman and 14 children. Finally, on 7 June they embarked for England aboard the HMS Himalaya.
1st Battalion Returns From India, Jan 1864
On 13 Jan 1864 the HQ and right wing of the 1st Battalion embarked for England; the left wing embarked on 15 Jan. The strength of the battalion was reduced by 206, the number of men who chose to remain in India. The two ships carrying the troops arrived at Gravesend on the 22nd and 30th April 1864. They proceeded to Dover where for the first 2 months they were quartered in the Citadel. This was the worst barracks in Dover, and Lord Mark Kerr was determined to have them moved to the Western Heights which were ear-marked for the 37th Regiment on their arrival on 5 Aug. At a parade on 1 Aug Lord Mark openly argued with General Dalzell and Brigadier Ellice on the parade ground and galloped up to the Western Heights to obtain from the staff officer in charge written proof that the 13th were entitled to be quartered there while the 37th, being new arrivals should go to the Citadel. He galloped back and presented the Generals with his proof and they reluctantly agreed to let the battalion move to the Heights on 3 Aug. There was some bad feeling between the 13th and the 37th but it was quickly dispelled because, after all, it was the 37th who were relieved by the 13th at Azimghur in 1858.
The Sergeant's Sash, 1865
The 1st Battalion moved from Dover to Aldershot on 21 Feb 1865. Here, there was another argument involving the quarrelsome Lord Mark, this time with the GOC Sir John Pennefather. The General noticed that the sergeants of the 13th wore their crimson sashes on the left shoulder whereas in all other regiments sergeants wore them on the right shoulder. He ordered the practice to cease forthwith. If Lord Mark had been there he would not have let this happen, but he was on leave and did not return until 1 March. He lobbied the Duke of Cambridge and informed him that the custom for sergeants tying their sashes on the same side as the officers dated back to Culloden, by order of the Duke of Cumberland. At that time sashes were hung on the right shoulder, but by 1770 were worn around the waist and tied on the right. Since 1855 the sashes were once more worn on the shoulder with the new tunic so it became more obvious that the 13th were not following the accepted custom, that the sash was on the left, not the right shoulder. A letter to Lieutenant-General Sir John Pennefather KCB was sent from General Scarlett at Horse Guards:
'Sir, - Referring to Lord Mark's letter dated 28th. I am directed by the Field-Marshal Commander-in-Chief to request that you will be pleased to intimate to His Lordship [Lord Mark Kerr] that His Royal Highness, having taken into consideration the length of time the custom of wearing the sash on the right side by the sergeants of the 13th Light Infantry has existed, is pleased to approve of the practice being continued in that regiment.'
1st Battalion 1866 - 1874
From May 1866 to May 1867 the 1st Battalion were split into detachments in the Cork area of Ireland, but on 15 June they embarked on the Troopship Simoon for Gibraltar. They stayed there until 1872 and then sailed to Malta. They were in the Floriana Barracks and later moved to the Cottonera district. During this period the battalion was commanded by Colonel W Forbes MacBean who had a long-lasting impact on the regiment. He maintained a high order of efficiency and had renewed the original system whereby company commanders had more responsibility for their men. The adjutant, QM and RSM were relegated to the regimental staff. In 1872 he appointed a very promising young officer, Lieutenant Hallam Parr as adjutant, an officer who later became one of the most influential light Infantry commanders. Hallam Parr was such a keen follower of MacBean's methods that when Lt-Col Montgomery took over command and made changes to the system, Parr resigned his post a adjutant, a very unusual step for a young officer to take.
2nd Battalion in Ireland, 1871 - 1876
The 2nd Battalion returned from Mauritius and disembarked at Portland on 25 July 1867. They spent a year there, moved to Gosport, and went on to Aldershot in 1869. On 17 Sep 1871 the battalion, along with 2 depot companies of the 1st Battalion sailed to Ireland.They were posted at Kilkenny, and the following year moved to Dublin. Meanwhile, in England, in 1873 the regimental depot was constituted at Taunton, styled the 36th Brigade Depot, and incorporating the 1st and 2nd Somerset Militia. Back in Dublin, on the night of 7 June 1873, two companies were on duty as aid to the civil power. There was a great fire in Thomas Street and the companies had to clear the streets of a stone-throwing mob. The officer in command and several men were badly injured. There were also Orange riots at Belfast on 12 July, and detachments that were posted at Drogheda, Newry and Armagh were brought in. Their posting in Ireland ended on 7 Aug 1876 when they embarked for England, and a year later were on their way to Malta.
South Africa and the Zulu War
The 1st Battalion had left Valetta in Malta, on 3 Dec 1874 and reached Cape Town on 5 Jan 1875. Their ship, the Himalaya broke down so they had to continue on to Durban by half battalions on HMS Simoon. They arrived there and eventually disembarked on 25 Jan and 5 Feb. They were stationed separately at Pietermaritzburg and King William's Town for the rest of 1875. In 1876 Sir Theophilus Shepstone was sent to Pretoria to negotiate with the Boers and annex the Transvaal. To escort him on this endeavour he had the 1/13th, two guns of the 11th Battery RA, a detachment of 7th Coy RE and a Troop of the Natal Mounted Police. This column was under the command of Colonel Pearson of the Buffs. The 13th marched towards the Transvaal border on 17 April 1877 and were ordered to carry on without delay to Pretoria. They were prepared for trouble from the Boers but were well received and made welcome. They reached Erasmus Farm on 2 May and prepared for the entry into Pretoria, 7 miles away, on 4 May. There was a formal ceremony on 25 May for the raising of the Union Flag to signal the annexation of the Transvaal.
Utrecht, Dec 1877
In December there were fears of trouble with the Zulus when Cetewayo began to issue threats. Three companies of the 13th under Major Gilbert, along with 2 guns and some Mounted Infantry were sent from Pretoria to Utrecht where there was a garrison of 3 companies of the 80th Regiment. The march was over a distance of 220 miles which they covered in 15 days. On their arrival they were set to work building up the defences of the fort, but the trouble with the Zulus seemed to have been settled. They were in Utrecht from 27 Dec to 12 March 1878, on which date they marched back to Pretoria.
The Sekukini Revolt, 1878
Sekukini was a tribal leader whose people lived in the northeast Transvaal. He was stirred up by Cetewayo to attack farms owned by Boers and British livestock breeders. On 13 Aug 1878 seven companies of 1/13th were chosen to join a column of all arms led by Colonel Hugh Rowlands VC. The campaign against Sekukini involved half the battalion operating in the mobile column while the other half garrisoned forts such as Oliphant, Mamelube, Faugh-a-Ballagh, Burghers and Weeber. Fort Burghers was the nearest to the enemy stronghold in the Lulu Mountains, and was garrisoned by 3 companies of the 13th, whilst the other forts had only 50 men of the battalion. There had already been a skirmish between one company and some tribesmen in the Steelport Valley a month before.
The advance to the Lulu Mountains began on 3 Oct 1878 but progress was slow because of the difficult country and the lack of water. They bivouacked at the base of very steep hills on 4 Oct and at 8pm a great number of the enemy were seen pouring down the hillside. They had time to form up with the cavalry on the flanks, and bring their 2 Krupp guns into action. The attack was easily repulsed but they lost many slaughter-oxen which stampeded. There was some more action the next day against enemy positions but Rowlands decided to bring the column back to Fort Burghers on the 7th. The garrisoned forts had seen some action, when Forts Mamelube and Faugh-a-Ballagh were attacked, and a raid on a convoy to Fort Weeber caused two men of the 13th to be wounded.
Rowlands decided to take a different approach, and sent 3 companies of the 13th to the Speckboom Valley to construct another fort, called Jellalabad. The 80th Regiment arrived to relieve the garrisons of some of the forts so that four companies of the 13th, commanded by their CO Lieut-Col Gilbert, were available for the mobile column which this time headed for the Steelport Valley. The column with a strength of 1,200, set off on 24 Oct 1878 and encountered the enemy positioned on some steep hills beyond a stream in the Umsoct Valley. However, on climbing the hills the tribesmen retired and were later found to be at Tolyana Stadt.
Tolyana Stadt, 27 Oct 1878
The column advanced at 4.30am on 27 Oct and found that Sekukuni's men had occupied houses at Tolyana Stadt. These were shelled by Rowlands' artillery at a range of 1,200 yards causing the enemy to evacuate the buildings and take up positions on two gigantic masses of rock to the rear. A difficult flanking move was made by Pieter Raaf's Transvaal Rangers, a company of the 13th commanded by Captain Otway, and some friendly Swazis. Another move covering the left flank was made by the Frontier Light Horse and some Mounted Infantry to check the threat from the enemy. The frontal attack on the rocks was made by the 3 companies of the 13th under Lt-Col Gilbert, and the Rustenberg contingent of Boers, covered by artillery fire. As the infantry forced their way to the top they found that an even higher hill overlooked the heights. Two companies were ordered to assault the enemy position on this hill but found that the Swazis and Otway's company were attacking from the other side. It was not long before Sekukini and his men were in full retreat. The sight of 600 tribesmen running away was greeted with cheers, and the artillery took advantage of such an easy target. The column lost 11 men wounded, 7 of whom were of the 1/13th. Colour Sergeant Pegg died of his wounds the next day. The Sekukini 'trouble' was now dealt with, but almost immediately the Zulu War was looming and the different detachments of the battalion had to be assembled and marched to Utrecht to join Evelyn Wood's column.
Zulu War: Organisation, Jan 1879
When the 13th arrived at Utrecht on 22 Dec 1878 they were welcomed by the 90th Light Infantry (Evelyn Wood's regiment) just out from Britain. The contrast between their appearance was marked. The 90th were well turned out in new uniforms while the 1st Battalion 13th were in tattered and patched uniforms, worn out boots and helmets 'of the old Indian pattern, covered with old shirts to keep the cotton wool on the bamboo frame'. Wood's column was number 4 in an army organised into 5 columns, all under the command of Lord Chelmsford. The column consisted of:
1/13th Light Infantry
90th Light Infantry
Frontier Light Horse under Lieut-Col Redvers Buller, (4 Troops)
Baker's Horse (2 Troops)
Boer Burghers (one Troop)
2 Battalions of Wood's Irregulars (friendly Zulus commanded by Major Knox Leet)
The White Umfolosi
An advanced depot had been established at Baltee Spruit, 20 miles south of Utrecht where one company each of the 13th and 90th were sent with a convoy. The main column set off on 3 Jan 1879 and encamped at Bemba's Kop three days later. On 10 Jan the column marched south down the left bank of Blood River towards Rorke's Drift but after meeting with Chelmsford 12 miles from the Drift they turned round and returned to Bemba's Kop. Then on 18 Jan the column marched east and the Irregulars had a skirmish on the White Umfolosi River. The Zulu chief Tinta had his kraal on the river and surrendered his people to the column on 20 Jan. They were all sent back to Utrecht. A fort was constructed on the river as a store depot, garrisoned again by one company each of the 13th and 90th, and 2 guns.
Zungi Mountain, 24 Jan 1879
Wood split his column into 3 smaller columns to advance northwest to Zungi Mountain. The 13th were in the 3rd of these columns, setting off and arriving later than the other two. The first two columns ascended to the top of Zungi unopposed and could see 4,000 Zulus on the slopes of Hlobane Mountain to the east. This was the 22nd Jan, the day of the massacre at Isandhlwana, and gunfire could be heard coming from the south where the ill-fated camp was. But news of the disaster did not reach them until the 24th. On that day there was a battle going on in Zungi Nek where the 90th LI and the Frontier Light Horse, attacked a strongly held Zulu Kraal. This was captured but the retreating Zulus were not pursued since Colonel Wood had received news of Isandhlwana and Rorke's Drift. He decided to march his column back to the fort on the White Umfolosi. This was evacuated a few days later and on 31 Jan they reached Kambula Hill where they built up the defences.
Major Knox Leet VC, 28 Mar 1879
The debacle on Hlobane Mountain on 28 Mar 1879 did not involve the 13th LI but Major Knox Leet commanded the 2nd Battalion Wood's Irregulars which was sent with other units to create a diversion to draw Zulus away from Eshowe which Chelmsford was anxious to relieve. Hlobane was a flat topped mountain occupied by abaQulusli Zulus. The plan was to raid their cattle herds but while this was going on a huge impi of Zulus could be seen approaching the mountain. The easy way down was blocked off by the approaching impi so they had to retreat down Devil's Pass which was almost impossible for horses, and difficult for men. The abaQulusi pursued the retreating soldiers, and Knox Leet's Zulu irregulars deserted so, although crippled by a twisted knee he managed to ride a pack horse down the pass and save the life of an officer. He and four others won the VC for their heroism that day, including Redvers Buller.
Kambula, 29 Mar 1879
The 13th meanwhile, had been strengthening the defences of the redoubt, 'Fort Kambula', and preparing the laager and cattle kraal for defence.The largest area was the laager which had a hospital, and was defended by the majority of the force. The regiments that fought this 4 hour battle were the 13th and 90th LI and mounted irregulars such as the Frontier Light Horse. It proved to be a turning point in the war because it showed that massed Zulu discipline and warrior courage were no match for British firepower.
On the morning of the 29th two companies of the 13th were sent out to cut firewood about 5 miles away. Intelligence reports prepared Evelyn Wood for an attack at 1pm so he recalled the wood-gatherers and ordered the men to eat before taking up positions. The report was that an impi of 10 Zulu regiments was coming from the direction of Zungi Mountain. The redoubt was on the highest point, defended by one company each of the 13th and 90th all commanded by Major Knox Leet. A cattle kraal was to the rear of the redoubt, manned by one company of the 13th under Captain Cox. The remaining 5 companies of the 13th and 6 companies of the 90th were in the main laager which was a square of wagons with earth and mealie bags banked up against the wheels. Inside this laager were the hospital, the stores and the mounted troops. There were 2 guns in the redoubt and 4 guns in the open between the redoubt and main laager.
The Zulus approached and appeared to take a wide detour to the north of Kambula so that it was feared that they would bypass the fortified position and head for Utrecht. But it soon became clear that the northward movement was turning towards the main laager and that this was the right horn of the enemy attack, while the left horn prepared to move along the ravine south of their position. Wood ordered Buller to take his 100 mounted troops out of the laager and 'sting' the right horn into making a premature attack. This succeeded, although there were some mishaps. The men dismounted to fire on the Zulus and some had difficulty in mounting their frightened horses. Heroic acts saved Major Russell and Trooper Petersen, so that Lt Browne of the 24th MI won the VC.
The 'stung' right horn attacked, and within 300 yards came under fire from both the laager and the redoubt so that the Zulus had to abandon the assault and retire to a rocky outcrop half a mile away. The centre and left then moved in, although according to Zulu tactics the encircling attacks were supposed to be simultaneous. Captain Cox's company were now in serious trouble as they were the first to come under pressure. After some hand-to-hand fighting they were withdrawn to the main laager, having abandoned the cattle kraal to the enemy. One regiment of Zulus took cover in the long grass of a former rubbish dump to the left rear of the main laager and were able to fire on the soldiers with Martini Henry rifles taken at Isandhlwana.
The Zulus in the ravine to the south were preparing to attack so Wood ordered another sortie, 2 companies of the 90th under Major Hackett lined the edge and fired down on the hidden enemy. But the Zulus in the rubbish dump were able to pour enfilade fire from their right and they soon had to retire after some serious injuries were sustained. The right horn, having recovered from their first rebuff, came out of their rocky outcrop and made another attempt, this time on the redoubt. But the heavy fire from the infantry and canister fire from the artillery cut them down and they retreated once more. Buller organised careful rifle fire to dislodge the enemy in the rubbish dump, and now an attempt was made to dislodge the Zulus who occupied the cattle kraal. Two companies of the 13th and one of the 90th were detailed for this task and more hand-to-hand fighting ensued, but they succeeded in driving the Zulus out.
A sortie by another company of the 90th took up position where Hackett's men had been and repelled an attack from the ravine. It was now clear that the Zulus were becoming discouraged, and when they started to retreat Wood sent out the mounted troops to harry them. The Frontier Light Horse were eager to avenge the losses they had suffered at Hlobane and pursued the tired warriors, killing all they could with their carbines, and then using captured assegais to spear them. Those that attempted to hide were hunted down and killed. It is thought that the Zulus lost 2,000 killed that day. The British lost 18 men killed and 65 wounded. The 13th had 6 men killed and 24 wounded. Two of the wounded died soon after.
Wood's Flying Column
The days following the victory at Kambula were spent burying the dead; the bodies of Zulus in the immediate vicinity numbered 785. Evelyn Wood's column remained at Kambula until 5 May 1879 during which time the defences were moved 600 yards to the west, although the redoubt stayed in place. They were now constituted as a Flying Column and were on the move soon after Lord Chelmsford's inspection on 3 May. They marched south to Sengonyama Hill and then Wolfe's Hill. They constantly practiced drills for taking up defensive positions. On 25 May they reached Mumhla Hill and were later joined by 5 companies of the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) and Owen's Battery of 4 Gatling guns. The British/Colonial forces at Chelmsford's disposal in June 1879 had been augmented by new arrivals from England. Instead of the 5 Columns as before, the army was now in two divisions with Wood's Flying Column remaining independent. On 18 June the 2nd Division and the Flying Column marched towards Ulundi. This was a slow and laborious trek through difficult country in which fortified posts had to be established along the way. The expectation was that Cetshwayo would negotiate a peaceful settlement but nothing was left to chance. On 3 July Buller's mounted troops made a reconnaissance in force across the White Umvolosi and came upon 5,000 Zulus, prepared for battle. On the same day Chelmsford received a message from Sir Garnet Wolseley who was on his way to take over as C-in-C. Wolseley expressed his opposition to the splitting of the army into two divisions and told Chelmsford to joined the 2nd Division to the 1st as soon as possible.
Battle of Ulundi, 5 July 1879
There was no question of Lord Chelmsford being deflected from the obvious choice before him. The negotiations came to nothing due to bad communications between Chelmsford and the Zulu King. There had to be one last pitched battle to finish off the war with Cetshwayo's Zulus. At 5am on 5 July 1879 the mounted troops under Buller's command crossed the Umvolosi River followed by the rest of the army. In an area of open country the infantry formed into a large rectangle 150 yards wide and 350 yards long. They kept this formation as they advanced northeast, and halted on advantageous ground on the Mahlabatini Plain, one and a half miles west of the King's Kraal of Ulundi. The 1/13th formed the right flank of the square with eight companies; their strength was 24 officers and 587 other ranks. Once in position the infantry were in four ranks, the front two kneeling, the rear two standing. The 13th was the only regiment with a band and they played as the men prepared themselves. The Colours were also on display, the last occasion that the 13th went into battle with Colours flying. As the Zulus appeared the artillery fired from a range of 2,300 yards. The main attack came against the front and right side of the square, but the firepower of the rifles and gatling guns meant that the Zulus never got nearer than 30 yards of the infantry bayonets. The battle only lasted 35 minutes, and it was clear that the Zulus were not as determined as they were at Kambula. When Chelmsford saw that the enemy attack was weakening he sent the 17th Lancers who were inside the square, to pursue and kill the fleeing Zulus. The massed impi had started with around 20,000 warriors, and lost 1,000 on the battlefield alone. The enemy casualties must have been much higher after the lancers had done their work. The British loss was 10 killed and 87 wounded. The 13th had two privates killed in action and 17 wounded. Of the wounded, however, one officer, Lieutenant Pardoe, died on 14 July. A bugler and 3 privates also died of wounds.
Return from South Africa, Aug 1879
Following the destruction of King Cetshwayo's Kraal at Ulundi the 2nd Division set off back to Natal the way they had come. The units of the Flying Column were ordered to join the 1st Division near the coast, and marched to Kwa Magwasa via Ibanango. Lord Chelmsford resigned his command, handed over to General Sir Garnet Wolseley, and returned home. Brigadier-General Evelyn Wood also left for England a tired and sick man. Wolseley remained to oversee the capture of Cetshwayo and complete the destruction of the Zulus. On the 15th the Flying Column reached St Pauls and were issued with pipe-clay for the first time since the start of the campaign. This was to smarten their equipment for an inspection by Wolseley on 16 July. By 6 Aug 1879 the 1/13th had reached Fort Tenedos on the Tugela, having marched via Nyezane, Eshowe and Gingindhlovu. On 7 Aug they reached the railhead Commissariat Depot named Saccharine before proceeding by rail to Durban which they reached on 15 Aug. The battalion was immediately embarked aboard HMS Euphrates and set sail for Simon's Bay near Cape Town. They said goodbye to their constant companions, 11th Battery, 7th Brigade RA, and embarked once more on HMS Euphrates, on 23 Aug, and set sail for England. They arrived at Devonport on 17 Sep 1879 and were quartered in Raglan Barracks.
Somersetshire Light Infantry, 1881
The reorganisation of the army in 1881 paired up all the infantry regiments above the number 25 into two battalions. The 13th was not paired with another regiment, and was already a two battalion regiment. However they did have to lose the number 13 and change their title to Prince Albert's (Somersetshire Light Infantry). This conformed with the territorial system whereby all the infantry regiments were known by their county titles. It also incorporated the 1st and 2nd Somerset Militia Battalions, which became the 3rd and 4th Battalions of the Regiment.
Ireland, Oct 1881 - Oct 1885
The 1st Battalion remained in Devonport from Sep 1879 to Oct 1881 and went to Curragh with a strength of 19 officers, 3 staff, 28 sergeants, 30 corporals, 12 buglers, and 331 privates. During the winter of 1881/2 they were split into detachments at Naa, Ballina, Ballinrobe and Athenry to deal with any disturbances that occurred. In August they were in Dublin where new drafts increased their numbers by 88. In 1883 they moved to Northern Ireland, mostly to Enniskillen but with detachments at Belturbet, Ballyshannon and Londonderry. In 1884 the 1st Battalion sent out a draft of 260 all ranks to Burma to join the 2nd Battalion. Their last year in Ireland was spent at Birr, and on 12 Oct 1886 they sailed to England to be quartered at Colchester.
Camel Corps in Egypt, 1884-5
The expedition to relieve General Gordon in Khartoum included Mounted Infantry made up of detachments from various regiments. One of the companies in the MI was commanded by Captain Henry Walsh who had been adjutant of the 1st Battalion 1880-84. D Company of the MI included a section of 27 men of the 1st Battalion along with an officer, Lieut T D'Oyly Snow and Colour-Sergeant Hathaway. They assembled at Aldershot and embarked at Portsmouth on 27 Aug 1884 for Egypt. They were mounted on camels and sent across the desert from Korti to Metemmeh. They fought at Abu Klea on 17 Jan 1885 and at Metemmah on 19 Jan where D'Oyly Snow and Private Nicholson ere severely wounded. Capt Walsh and Private Palmer were also badly wounded at some stage of the campaign. The detachment returned to the Battalion at Birr in Aug 1885.
2nd Battalion in India, 1877 - 1883
While the 1st Battalion were campaigning in Transvaal and Zululand, the 2nd Battalion were in India. They had been in Malta from August 1877 until 21 Feb 1878 when they sailed to Bombay. In 1879 the battalion moved from Bellary and Bangalore to Kamptee, but in Sep 1881 there was cholera in the barracks and they had to move out to a tented camp until 20 Oct when their health improved. Cholera broke out again in 1883, and again they went under canvas. However, they left Kamptee in December and proceeded to Madras where they embarked for Burma.
Third Burma War 1885 - 87
King Theebaw Dethroned
The 2nd Battalion, commanded by Lieut-Col Knox Leet VC, reached Rangoon on 22 Dec 1883 having dropped off one company at Port Blair on the Andaman Islands. The British/Indian forces in Lower Burma at that time amounted to over 2,000 British and 3,300 Indian troops. There were strained relations between Britain and King Theebaw which in the autumn of 1885 prompted the government to appoint Major-General Prendergast to conduct a campaign to dethrone Theebaw and occupy Mandalay. The army proceeded up the Irrawaddy in November and accomplished the task easily and quickly. The Burmese were at first prepared to tolerate the invaders but when they realised that they weren't going away they started to attack the soldiers under the leadership of self-styled princes. The enemy, called dacoits, and used guerrilla tactics to further their aims.
The Two Half-Battalions
Prendergast's column proceeded from Mandalay to Bhamo on the northern border. Meanwhile four companies of the battalion under Major Evans travelled by rail from Rangoon to Tonghoo on the Sittang River. There they joined a column and marched north having some success in their encounters with the dacoits. On 3 Dec they arrived at Ningyan and captured 15 brass guns. Casualties from fighting were not significant but 10 men died of cholera on this march. On 18 Feb 1886 sthree companies of the battalion were detached to occupy Yamethin, 100 miles north of Tonghoo. Major-General Sir George White took over command in Upper Burma on 31 Mar1886, and the division was organised in 3 brigades, with the left half-battalion in the 3rd Brigade, and the right half in the 1st Brigade HQ at Mandalay.
Operations in April 1886
The 3rd Brigade based at Yamethin, was commanded by Colonel Dicken who organised a force to deal with the Minzaing Prince and his 3,000 followers, reported to be at Hlaingdet. On 3 April they set out and reached the place on the afternoon of 4 April only to find out that they were at Kyah Tun a mile to the north. Dicken had a force of 230 riflemen including 73 Somerset LI, as well as 30 mounted troops. The enemy were finally located at Za-un and attacked and defeated. Twelve dacoits were killed and many wounded. Some of the villages in the area were destroyed before they returned to Yamethin on 11 April. Whilst this action in progress, on 5 April, another mixed company of 20 Somersets and 30 Palamcotta Light Infantry were led by Lieutenant Vallentin on raids against Libok and Shwemyo, 16 miles northeast of Pyinmana. On 16 April Major Bradshaw led a larger force of 60 Somersets, 106 Palamcottas and 13 MI to Thayetlin Bawhlaing to the south of Yamethin. They drove the dacoits out of Kyauk Sahitkon and burnt it. In another confrontation with rebels at Pyatoway on 23 April, Private Walter White displayed great courage and was awarded the DCM.
Mandalay, May 1886
The HQ and 4 companies of the Somersets were still at Rangoon but in May 1886 they moved to Mandalay. The HQ and half a company stayed there while the rest were sent out to occupy detached posts in the area. On 20 May a new post was established at Yewun near Kyaukse 40 miles south of Mandalay. The garrison consisted of 50 Somersets, 50 Sappers, 50 Wallajahbad LI, twelve 2nd Madras Lancers, and one gun of the RA.
Kume, 23 June 1886
An officer of the Somersets, Captain Wilbraham, was mortally wounded at Kume on 23 June in a battle that took place at a walled enclosure surrounding a pagoda. The action began at Taligon where a force of 120 riflemen, commanded by Captain Grant of the 25th Bombay LI, that had set off from Yewun and crossed the Paylaung River, was attacked by a party of dacoits. They were driven off by Captain Wilbraham and his men, and retreated to Kume where they defended the pagoda for an hour before the place was stormed and the dacoits bayoneted. One corporal was killed and 7 men wounded. Captain Wilbraham was badly wounded and died a month later on 21 July. The force returned to Yewun the next day.
Quingyi, 26 June 1886
Another officer of the battalion was killed in a battle at Quingyi on 24 June. Lieutenant H T Shubrick led a detachment of 30 men and 2 guns from Pyinmana to Theagon. After destroying several villages near Theagon, on 26 June, they entered Quingyi and halted for breakfast. At that point they found themselves under attack from all sides.There was some confused fighting during which Lt Shubrick was shot in the neck and killed, while two others were wounded.The artillery officer, Lieut Coxhead took command of the party but the most senior man amongst the Somersets was now Sergeant E A Bath. He was mentioned in despatches for his bravery on this occasion and awarded the medal for Distinguished Conduct.
Autumn Campaign 1886
The Monsoon halted operations for a while in August, giving the army time to assess the effect of the war. The 24,000 strong army had suffered about 100 casualties in action, but disease was taking a greater toll. One thousand men had died in the period from Nov 1885 to Nov 1886, and 2,000 invalided. The Somersets suffered as much as other units, and Major Bradshaw died of an illness on 31 July. The autumn campaign began with a hunt for a chief named Hla U in the area between the Rivers Mu and Chindwin northwest of Mandalay. Four columns were engaged but the Somersets were only included in no.1 Column starting from Myinmu. One officer was killed in the operations, Lieut Eckersley, on 13 Nov. Hla U was kept on the move and by the end of December his followers had dispersed. Another chief causing trouble was Nga Hinat with 700 followers in the area of Yadan. He was pursued in December by a detachment of the 3rd Brigade, based at Pyinmana, which contained 25 men of the Somersets.
Hmawaing, Dec 1886 and March 1887
The stronghold at Hmawaing was regarded as the toughest nut to crack, and to deal with this three brigades were engaged. The column from the 1st Brigade concentrated at Kume on 11 Dec with 50 Somersets. A small party of the battalion under Lieut Elgar made their way to Kinle on the Natteck Pass 25 miles southeast of Kume. The 3rd Brigade sent a column into the upper valley of the Paulaung River to cut off the enemy's route to the south. The 4th Brigade positioned themselves west of the Sittang River. As the 1st and 4th Brigades advanced towards Hmawaing, the 1st Brigade had trouble all the way so that they had two men killed and 8 wounded. The progress of 4th Brigade was much easier and the two columns converged on their target to scatter the dacoit defenders of Hmawaing. The village was burned and they went on to Kanswe and then Yozun before returning to their bases. But the enemy returned and rebuilt the defences so that a further operation had to be mounted in March 1887. The Somersets were split between 3 columns, accompanied by Indian regiments and the West Surreys. The battle ended with the place being stormed with bayonets fixed. Lieutenant Cox and another man were wounded in this attack.
Cooper's Four Companies
Four companies of the battalion (the left wing), that had been detached on 16 Nov 1885, re-joined the main force at Mandalay and were attached to the 1st Brigade on 28 Dec 1886. They were commanded by Captain Cooper and had been operating for the most part in thick jungle, against enemy groups with a great deal of success. Several of the men had been part of Lieutenant Payne's Mounted Infantry. In a statement dated 14 Dec 1886 issued by Brigadier-General Lockhart of 3rd Brigade at Yemethin under whose command they had been operating, they were highly praised: 'Probably no detachment in the entire force has been more frequently engaged, and on every occasion the splendid reputation of the 13th has been maintained.' Unfortunately, the commander of the detachment, Captain Cooper, had to stay in Yamethin due to illness, and died on 27 Dec 1886.
2nd Battalion Leaves Burma, April 1887
The troubles in Burma had reduced to a level where it was considered safe to send 2/Somerset Light Infantry back to India. On 31 Mar 1887 the dispersed detachments of the battalion were assembled at Mandalay. They were praised by Sir George White for tolerating the difficulties of jungle warfare, the constant marching and the ravages of disease. He pointed out that the regiment had served in the First as well as the Third Burma War and should have as their motto 'First in Burma' just as the Dorset Regiment has 'First in India'. On 4 April they embarked to proceed down river to Rangoon. A detachment was left behind, however, of Mounted Infantry commanded by Lieutenant Cox. The rest of the battalion sailed to Madras and then proceeded to Belgaum. The losses to the battalion for the whole campaign: Killed or died of wounds, 3 officers and 14 men. Wounded, 3 officers, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals and 28 men. Died from disease, 2 officers, 11 sergeants, 2 corporals, 2 buglers and 133 men.
1st Battalion Home Service 1886 - 1891
After their posting to Ireland the 1st Battalion went to the Military District of Colchester which came under the command of Major-General Sir Evelyn Wood. He lived in a house called Scarletts which must have been extremely large because on 29 Mar 1887, the anniversary of Kambula, he invited all those who had served under him in the Zulu War to dine with him at his residence. Five officers and 80 NCOs of the Somersets attended. On 26 July 1889 the battalion moved to Aldershot and were quartered in the North Camp. On 12 May 1890 a detachment was sent to Windsor Park for the official unveiling of the statue of Prince Albert. Later that year, on 8 Nov 1890 the CO, Lt-Col Kinloch retired and was succeeded by Hallam Parr. The History of the 13th by Henry Everett has this paragraph about the battalion's march to London in 1891: 'Commencing on the 7th July 1891, the battalion marched from Aldershot via Chobham and Hounslow to Kingston Vale in order to take part in lining the streets of London on the occasion of the visit of H.I.M. the German Emperor, and afterwards to take part in a grand review at Wimbledon before the same august visitor. The battalion returned to Aldershot by march route on the 15th of the same month.' The battalion embarked for Gibraltar in November 1891.
Gibraltar, Nov 1890 - Dec 1893
On 10 Nov 1890 the 1st Battalion embarked at Portsmouth on the Troopship Orontes, bound for Gibraltar. There were 24 officers and 695 other ranks, commanded by Major Thurlow. The CO, Colonel Hallam Parr, travelled separately. They arrived on 18 Nov and were quartered in the Town Range barracks and North Front. On 13 Aug 1892 Lieutenant and Quartermaster F W Tremlett died from dysentery after serving in the battalion for 20 years. He had risen from the ranks and was best remembered as the typical RSM, very smart, strict and with a distinctive word of command. The battalion moved to the South Barracks on 28 Jan 1893. On 19 Dec 1893 the battalion, reduced to 641 other ranks, embarked on the Euphrates to take them to India. The ship had come from England with a draft of 108 rank and file to add to their strength.
North-West Frontier 1897
When the 1st Battalion arrived in India in the middle of January 1894 they went under canvas at Umballa. While there they received a draft of men form the 2nd Battalion, one officer and 327 men. From 26 Mar to 28 Oct they were stationed in the Simla Hills to avoid the hot weather. On 7 Nov 1894 they began their march from Umballa to Lahore, a distance of 190 miles. They arrived on the 24th Nov in time for Viceroy Lord Elgin's Durbar. The march to Lahore was led by Major Arthur Borton since Colonel Hallam Parr's term of office ended on 8 Nov 1894. In 1895, after another summer in the Simla Hills, the battalion marched to new quarters at Meean Meer, a notorious 'fever trap'. The march took almost a month. When troubled flared up on the North-West Frontier in 1897 the battalion were ordered to Peshawar at the end of July.
Fort Shabkadr, 9 Aug 1897
Reports were received that the village of Shunkargarh under the walls of Fort Shabkadr was being threatened by Mohmand tribesmen led by Adda Mullah. A column was sent out from Peshawar which included 2 companies of the Somerset Light Infantry, 4 guns of 51 Field Battery RA, 2 squadrons of the 13th Bengal Lancers, and the 20th Punjab Infantry. The column set off on 7 Aug, commanded by Lt-Col J B Woon of the 20th Punjabs. On reaching the Fort, they found the village burnt, but were able to get into Fort Shabkadr, garrisoned by Border Police . The next day, on 9 Aug, Col Woon led his force out of the fort to do battle with the tribesmen. He planned a frontal attack, with the Somersets on the left, the 20th in the centre and the guns and most of the cavalry on the right. The enemy concentrated their attack on the Somersets causing Woon to retire 400 yards. His artillery had not been able to start firing because of difficulties with the ground they were on. One company of the 20th was sent to help the battalion, but at this stage the GOC of Peshawar, Brigadier-General Elles arrived and took over command. He ordered the 13th Bengal Lancers around to the right and to charge along the line of the enemy. This they did with brilliant success and the tribesmen retreated to the hills. The British/Indian force lost 9 men killed. Four officers and 61 men were wounded. The Somersets lost four men killed and 2 officers and 9 men wounded. The enemy had a strength of 5,000 and lost 200 killed. The force remained at Shabkadr and were later reinforced by the rest of the battalion and many more so that the fort contained 2,500 men. But the tribesmen had left the area and on 18 Aug four companies of the Somersets returned to Peshawar.
The Mohmand Field Force 1897
The Mohmands began to concentrate their forces once more, towards the end of August so that in early September the battalion returned to Shabkadr. It was decided to send in a field force commanded by Major-General E R Elles in which the Somersets formed part of the 1st Brigade with the 20th Punjabs and 2/1st Gurkhas. This force was to cooperate with Sir Bindon Blood's Malakand Field Force coming from the Swat Valley. Elles' Force marched through the Kharappa Pass in mid September, suffering from heat and thirst but meeting no enemy. At Ghalanai the battalion was weakened by sickness and 178 men had to be left there. Reports were received that the Mohmands were at the Bedmanai Pass and the various elements of the two Field Forces moved into position. The 1st Brigade marched to Lakarai, then on to Khazina accompanied by Elles and Divisional HQ.
Bedmanai Pass, 23 Sep 1897
Although the Bedmanai Pass was reported to be strongly held, it proved to be a relatively easy thing to clear the hostile tribesmen away from the heights. The 20th Punjabis and the Gurkhas scrambled over the spurs of hills, with the Somersets in reserve. The cavalry had been responsible for preventing enemy reinforcements coming from the Mitai Pass to the north. The battalion occupied Bedmanai village while the divisional transport went through the pass. Villages in the area were destroyed by the sappers, and the Field Force moved on to the Shindawa Valley where Adda Mullah was reported to have his base. But the battalion was in a poor state of health, caused by the two years they had spent at Meean Meer. They were sent back to Peshawar, their place in the brigade being filled by the Oxford Light Infantry. On the return journey to Peshawar they escorted a large convoy of sick and wounded men. By 2 Oct they were at their destination with a strength of 20 officers and 558 men. The campaign on the North-West Frontier continued with the Tirah Expedition but the 1st Somersets, 'saturated with malaria and unfit for service' took no part in that.
2nd Battalion, India and the Channel Islands, 1887 - 1897
After the Burma campaign of 1885-7 the 2nd Battalion spent 7 years in India, first at Belgaum, and then after a route march of more than two months, at Fort St George, Madras. In January 1894 they travelled to Bombay to embark for home, having spent more than 16 years on foreign service. They arrived at Plymouth on 15 Feb 1894 and were quartered at Fort Tregantle until 29 May when they moved to Devonport. On 12 Nov the HQ and 4 companies sailed to Guernsey followed four weeks later by another four companies that went to Alderney. They remained on the Channel Islands for 18 months. On leaving there they received letters of praise from the High Constables of Guernsey and the Judge of Alderney, for 'admirable conduct' and expressing esteem and congratulations that not a single soldier of the battalion had appeared in their courts. The battalion, under the command of Lieut-Col Waddy returned to England on 22 May 1897.
Boer War 1899 - 1902
Mobilisation, Sep - Nov 1899
The 2nd Battalion at Aldershot anticipated the mobilisation order of 7 Oct 1899 by going to Portland in mid September. They called up their reservists thus increasing their strength by 500. So now they had 28 officers, one warrant officer, 43 sergeants, 47 corporals, 14 buglers and 770 privates. They proceeded from Portland on 4 Nov in 2 special trains to Southampton, and embarked on the SS Briton for Cape Town. They arrived there on 20 Nov but were redirected to Durban which they reached on 24 Nov. They were sent to Nottingham Road to be equipped with transport, and then on to Frere where the British forces were being assembled for the relief of Ladysmith.
Estcourt, 8 Dec 1899 - 9 Jan 1900
The battalion proceeded to the front via Mooi River and Willow Grange, arriving at Estcourt on 8 Dec. The CO Colonel Gallwey was appointed commandant of Estcourt while they were there. He made himself unpopular by closing all the pubs, expelling all 'undesirables' and establishing a censorship. The battalion were not involved in any fighting during Black Week (10 -17 Dec) although they were only 20 miles from Colenso which took place on 15 Dec. Orders were received on 2 Jan 1900 for the Battalion to form part of the 10th Brigade under Major-General Talbot-Coke. The 2nd Btn Dorsets and 2nd Btn Middlesex were also in this brigade. On 6 Jan the first Somersets casualty of the war fell, at Caesar's Camp, Ladysmith. Lieutenant C E M Walker was attached to the 1st Devons and was killed in the fighting.
Spion Kop, 23 Jan 1900
Redvers Buller ordered the advance towards Ladysmith on 10 Jan 1900 and chose Spion Kop as a hill that had to be captured. Sir Charles Warren was in charge of the main operations and the 2nd Somersets were ordered to Spearman's Hill overlooking Potgieter's Drift. Lesser targets were chosen prior to Spion Kop and these were partially successful but the Boer right flank had not been turned. On 22 Jan, Warren decided to attack Spion Kop and gave the job to Woodgate's 11th Brigade and Thorneycroft's Mounted Infantry. On 23 Jan the battalion moved to the lower slopes of Three Tree Hill to escort the artillery. Woodgate and Thorneycroft advanced up the hill at night and thought they had gained the summit, but thick mist prevented them seeing their mistake. There was still more of the hill to climb, and they were in an exposed position so that after a disastrous firefight they had no option but to retreat. Meanwhile Captain Braithwaite was ordered to take 200 men of the Somersets up the hill with picks and shovels to help the beleaguered brigades dig themselves in. But on the way up Braithwaite met Thorneycroft and Winston Churchill coming down. They read the order given to Braithwaite, that the troops on the hill were to hold on and allow the Somersets to dig their trenches. But Thorneycroft felt that the situation was hopeless and carried on down the hill. Braithwaite considered carrying on with his orders but decided to follow the other men descending the hill.
Vaal Krantz, 5 Feb 1900
The battle at Vaal Krantz did not involve the battalion very much. The 10th Brigade were to remain in the vicinity of Potgieter's Drift while the 11th Brigade caused a diversion in the direction of Brakfontein, and the 4th Brigade assaulted Vaal Krantz. Despite a heavy artillery bombardment and the deployment of large numbers of troops, the relief force had to retreat back over the Tugela. The Somersets and Dorsets were positioned on Maconochie Kopjes to cover the retirement of the 11th Brigade.
Grobelaar's Kloof, 21 Feb 1900
The battalion had not had a chance to show their mettle up to this point but the badly organised battle at Grobelaar's Kloof put their bravery to a very severe test. After the successful actions at Cingolo, Monte Cristo and Hlangwane on the 17th 18th and 19th Feb, Buller felt confident enough to send his division across the Tugela just west of Hlangwane. Talbot-Coke's 10th Brigade were given the task of crossing first and the Somersets chosen to have the honour of leading the brigade. They crossed at 1.30pm and formed a line with F B H and A companies in front, and C D E and G companies behind. They crossed some low hills and came under fire from the right front but Talbot-Coke sent D and G Companies as well as 4 companies of the Dorsets to deal with it. Meanwhile the front line had come to a halt. They were spread out on a one mile front facing Grobelaar's Kloof. The ground in front of them was devoid of cover except for anthills. The Boers occupying the lower slopes of the Kloof poured a well-directed fire on the exposed riflemen. The men were pinned down but managing to return fire by volleys and by independent fire, always under control.There was no chance of retreat so they had to wait for darkness to pull back. This began at 7.15pm and they started to withdraw from the left, covered by the rear rank of companies. This withdrawal took all night so that A Company, being last did not pull back until after daylight. The courage and discipline shown by the battalion was praised in glowing terms by Talbot-Coke and Sir Charles Warren. While the rest of the brigade recorded 20 wounded, the battalion casualties, according to Sir Henry Everett's History, were:
4 officers killed
5 NCO's and men died of wounds
2 officers wounded
72 NCOs and men wounded
The Battalion Left Wing
The Battalion was split into two wings, known as the Headquarters Wing and the Left Wing. The Left Wing under the command of the battalion second-in-command, Major Raymond Williams consisted of A D G and H Companies. On 31 May 1990 they were ordered to march to Devondale Siding to join the column of Major-General Hart. At the end of June the column was at Heidelberg with G company posted on Somerset Hill 2 miles west of the town. The fort they built was called Whatman Fort after Captain A B Whatman who commanded the company. On 30 Sep the Left Wing were stationed at Krugersdorp, forming part of the garrison for 4 weeks until ordered to join General Barton's column. They were on convoy escort duty until the end of November and similar duties in different areas like Ventersdorp and Potchefstroom. There was a return to Krugersdorp on 10 April 1901, and a month later they took the train to Springs near Johannesburg to join up with the HQ Wing.
The Headquarters Wing
The HQ Wing under Colonel Gallwey was part of the force hunting for Christian De Wet in December 1900. On 18 Dec they marched to Sannah's Post to relieve the Gloucesters. They worked on strengthening the defences, and another mounted infantry detachment was formed consisting of 30 men and commanded by Lieut Prowse. On 30th and 31st Dec there were skirmishes between the MI and the Boers resulting in one Boer being captured and 3 wounded. Lt Prowse commanded a larger mounted force on 14 Feb when, with his 30 men and Driscoll's Scouts, Bushmen, and the Northumberland Fusiliers MI, he led a raid on Tabaksberg. On 6 April they were relieved by the 6/Warwicks and took a train from Bloemfontein to Springs to meet up with the Left Wing. The Battalion was still not complete because B Company and half of C Company were occupying posts on the railway near Vryburg, and E Company did not return from Schweizer Reneke until 30 Nov. The B and C Company men under Capt Hardman were ordered, from 2 Dec 1900, to be part of a column at Kimberley, with various arduous duties throughout Dec and up until 20 May 1901. Meanwhile the rest of the battalion moved out of Springs on 4 May with the 2nd Cavalry Brigade and accosted a Boer convoy at the confluence of the Vaal and Waterval rivers. Several thousand head of cattle were captured, and 15 prisoners. On 12 May they raided a Boer Laager, capturing more wagons and prisoners.
Mooifontein, 25 May 1901
A number of columns were organised to converge on the high veldt between Bethel and Ermelo. One column commanded by Colonel Knox contained the HQ and 6 companies of the battalion. They marched from Greylingstadt on 15 May and reached Bethel on 20 May. Bethel was destroyed and they joined up with two other columns. Colonel Plummer then arranged a drive south with large convoys. In Colonel Gallwey's column there were prisoners, sick and wounded, Boer families, 140 wagons and 15,000 sheep. To escort all this he had 5 companies of the Somersets, 4 companies of the Munster Fusiliers, 120 mounted men and 2 guns of the RHA. They moved out on 22 May and two days later the rearguard was persistently attacked, but they reached camp at Goodehoop relatively unscathed. On 25 May, however, they moved off again but were immediately attacked as they headed towards Mooifontein. The rear and right flank of the column were attacked. C Company came under direct attack and H Company had trouble because the Boers set fire to the grass to provide a smoke screen. The two companies were holding positions on a ridge but to their rear was a spruit which gave good cover for the approach of a fresh party of Boers. If the enemy had got themselves into position they would have cut off the retreat of the two Companies. The action of the QM, Lieut Moran, however, saved them when he somehow distracted the enemy with the wagons. The convoy managed to move off and after 6 hours of fighting they reached Mooifontein where Plumer's column provided reinforcements. Gallwey's column suffered 30 casualties in killed and wounded. The Somersets lost one man killed ad 5 wounded. Several officers were mentioned in despatches. Also Sergeant Miles for bravery and leadership. Lance-Corporals Hawes and Wilson were promoted to corporal for saving a man from being burnt, and bringing him back under heavy fire. Lance-Corporal Short was promoted to sergeant, L-Cpl Willis and Private Vickery were promoted to corporals for bravery.
Convoy Duty, May-June 1901
On 26 May the battalion camped at Standerton until the 30th when they rejoined Knox's column for a sweep towards Piet Retief. After that place was destroyed D G and H companies were sent to Wakkerstroom escorting 168 empty wagons. They were attacked at Mooipart Nek on 8 June but were able to reach Wakkerstroom the next day to fill the wagons with supplies for the columns. On 11 June Gallwey, with the other three companies and other troops headed towards Utrecht with empty wagons, sick etc. They were opposed at Elandsberg Nek and unable to proceed until reinforced by Colonel Rimington. On 16 June D G and H companies escorted a supply convoy to Roodekraal and took the empty wagons to Utrecht where the six companies were once more together. They were ordered to got to Springs on 25 June and were reunited with Hardman's B and E Companies. However, C and F Companies were still with General Knox's column which passed Kambula Hill and ended up at Middleburg where the column was broken up. C and F Companies took the train to Heidelberg which they reached on 20 July.
Blockhouse Duty, July 1901
On 23 July E Company under Capt Elger took over duty at Nigel Mine from 3/KRRC, and on 8 Aug the battalion was put on blockhouse duty, with responsibility for the railway near Heidelberg. A C E and half of F Company occupied the blockhouses previously held by the Rifle Brigade while the other half of F Coy relieved E Company at Nigel Mines. On 24 Oct the battalion took over a line of blockhouses from the Durham LI, on the railway from Heidelberg to Zuikerbosch, which with 3 previously occupied blockhouses covered a distance of 40 miles. This stretch was increased to 80 miles in December when it extended eastwards to Greylingstadt and Waterval Bridge. The unpleasant task of manning these blockhouses continued until the end of the war in June 1902. On 16 Feb a party of 150 Boers attempted to cross the line of posts held by D and E Companies at Steinkraal. They charged the wire defences with a herd of cattle and about 50 men got across. One man in E Coy was badly wounded in the skirmish.
Although Lieutenant A P Barry is recognised as the father of the Somerset Mounted Infantry he handed over responsibility to Lieutenant Yatman around Feb 1901 when his section linked up with other men of the 2nd Battalion in a convoy from Kuruman to Kimberley. Meanwhile at the end of Dec 1900 another Mounted section from the HQ Wing had been formed at Sannah's Post. In Jan 1901 this section, of 30 men, commander by Lieutenant C H Little, proceeded to Pretoria and shortly afterwards joined the 13th Mounted Infantry which was commanded by Major StG Pratt of the DLI. The 13th and 14th Mounted Infantry formed a corps under Lieut-Colonel Jenner of the Rifle Brigade. They took part in Brigadier Alderson's first great drive starting from a line stretching north-south through Springs towards the Swaziland and Zululand borders. This drive started on 28 Jan 1901 and ended on 13 April, at Vryheid. From there they went to Standerton where they were joined by Yatman's MI section. Further operations took them into Zululand to foil Botha's attempt to invade Natal. In May 1901 Lieutenants Barry and Bally with 50 men were sent from Heidelberg to Standerton to form part of no.4 Coy 26th MI commanded by Major Wiggan of the 13th Hussars. They were in Colonel Colville's column based at Standerton, then later at Wakkerstroom. In March 1902 all the elements of the Battalion Mounted Infantry were combined to form one company. Capt Barry was in command with Lieuts Little and Bally as his subalterns. At the end of the Boer War they, with the rest of the 26th MI remained in South Africa on the Zululand border to keep a watch on the Zulus who had begun to cause trouble. In the autumn of 1902 the 26th Battalion MI was broken up and the Somersets transferred to the 3rd Btn MI at Pretoria. They were later put in the 8th Battalion at Potchefstroom but went home to England with the rest of the 2nd Battalion Somerset LI.
Casualties in the 2nd Battalion
Between 1899 and 1902 the battalion lost 8 officers killed or died of wounds. Four of those died at Grobelaar's Kloof in Feb 1901. On 6 Sep 1901 2nd Lieut Williams, son of Lieut-Col Williams (who took over from Col Gallwey in 1902), was accidentally shot at the Nigel Mine and buried at Heidelberg. On 25 Sep 1901 Lieutenant Ronald Miers, who was attached to the South African Constabulary, holding a post near the Oceana Mine, at Riversdrei, was killed by Boers who tricked his patrol with a white flag of truce. But after the peace was signed, two Boers were discovered to have been the men responsible for Miers' death. They were Solomon Van Aas and a man called Slabert. They were tried by Field General Court Martial and found guilty. Van Aas was shot by a firing squad of the Battalion, and Slabert given 5 years penal servitude. Another officer, Captain and Brevet Major J M Vallentin who had distinguished himself in Burma 1885-7, was killed whilst on detachment, commanding the 5th Victorian Bushmen at Oliphant's Nek on 4 Jan 1902.
The overall casualty figures for the war were:
Officers killed or died of wounds................8
Officers died of disease...........................1
Officers missing or captured.....................0
Other Ranks killed or died of wounds.........21
Other Ranks died of disease.....................84
Other Ranks wounded.............................78
Other Ranks Missing or captured................0
2nd Battalion Sail Home, 9 April 1903
The battalion was at Potchefstroom when they were ordered home. On 2 April they travelled to Cape Town where they embarked on the SS Staffordshire. It sailed on 9 April 1903 and proceeded via St Helena and Las Palmas, arriving at Southampton on 30 April. They disembarked the next day and went by train to Bordon Camp near Aldershot.
|The Illustrious Garrison
Prince Albert's March
|Colonels in Chief
|1685 - 1968
|1685 - 1968
|1685 - 1968
|1685 - 1968
|1685 - 1968
|1685 - 1968
|1685 - 1968
|Musicians and Buglers
|1685 - 1968
Up to 1914
War of the Spanish Succession 1701-15|
War of the Austrian Succession 1740-48
French Revolutionary Wars 1793-1802
Napoleonic Wars 1803-15
First Burma War 1824-26
First Afghan War 1839-42
Crimean War 1854-55
Zulu and Basuto War 1877-79
SOUTH AFRICA 1878-79
Third Burma War 1885-87
South African War 1899-1902
RELIEF OF LADYSMITH
SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1902
Great War 1914-1918
MARNE 1914 1918
YPRES 1915 1917 1918
SOMME 1916 1918
ALBERT 1916 1918
ARRAS 1916 1918
CAMBRAI 1917 1918
RETREAT FROM MONS
ANCRE 1916 1918
SCARPE 1917 1918
CANAL DU NORD
FRANCE AND FLANDERS 1914-1918
NW FRONTIER INDIA 1914
Third Afghan War 1919
Second World War 1939-1945
HILL 112 (1944)
MONT PINCON (1944)
NORTH-WEST EUROPE 1944-45
CASSINO II (1944)
COSINA CANAL CROSSING (1944)
NORTH ARAKAN (1944)
NGAKYEDAUK PASS (1944)
ADVANCE TO FLORENCE
CAPTURE OF FLORI
1685 The Earl of Huntingdon's Regiment of Foot
1751 13th Regiment of Foot
1782 13th (or the 1st Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
1822 13th (1st Somersetshire Light Infantry)
1842 13th (1st Somersetshire) (Prince Albert's Regiment of Light Infantry)
1881 Prince Albert's (Somersetshire Light Infantry)
1912 Prince Albert's (Somerset Light Infantry)
1920 The Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's)
1953 The Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry
1968 The Light Infantry
|The Museum of Somerset
tel. 01823 255088
Museum of Somerset
The History of the Somerset Light Infantry 1685-1914
by Sir Henry Everett (Methuen 1924)
Sale's Brigade In Afghanistan With An Account Of The Seisure And Defence Of Jellalabad
by G. Gleig
A Brief History of the 13th Regiment (PALI) in South Africa during the Transvaal and Zulu Difficulties 1877-8-9
by Edward D McToy (Devonport 1880)
The History of the Somerset Light Infantry 1919-1945
by G Molesworth (Regiment 1951)
The Somerset Light Infantry
by H Popham (Hamish Hamilton 1968)
Journal Of The Disasters In Afghanistan 1841-42
by Lady Florentia Sale
A Journal of the First Afghan War
by Lady Florentia Sale
The Siege of Jellalabad 1841-1842
by Edward Teer (1904)
The History of the Somerset Light Infantry 1946-1960
by by K Whitehead (Regiment 1961)
The History of the Somerset Light Infantry 1914-1918
by E Wyrall (Methuen 1927)