Archive for December, 2010

Dec 24 2010

Christmas in Wellington’s Army

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christmas wreath

Although a soldier of Wellington’s army would no doubt be amazed by our modern Christmas, which only began to develop in the mid-nineteenth century, it was still a special time.  For men hundreds of miles from home, Christmas could provoke some unexpected feelings. Continue Reading »

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Dec 17 2010

15th December 1810

2nd Battalion:  Alcoentre, near the lines of Torres Vedras, Portugal

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A view from the Grand Redoubt on the Lines of Tores Vedras

The battalion remains in front of the Lines, waiting for the French, at Santarem to make a move.  The weather continues wet and cold, with sickness as an inevitable result.  There are eight officers (including the surgeon, Mr Hennen) and 140 men sick in Lisbon, and a further twenty-nine men sick in quarters.  The officers, however, are settling into a fairly leisurely life-style; a favourite occupation is wild-fowling, which adds variety to their meals.  The men, meanwhile, grumble about the inactivity because they came to Portugal expecting to fight.

There has been one death since the beginning of the month, John Buck on the 10th.

General Leith, in command of the fifth division, has gone to Lisbon for recovery of health and his absence is much regretted.  The second brigade, including the 2/30th, is now under the command of General Dunlop who has not so far endeared himself to the officers. He insists on endless drill and seemingly needless other military formalities. Already the officers are less than pleased with General Dunlop, and if he continues in this vein then the men will very likely become similarly disullusioned.

1st Battalion: Trichinopoly

Tytler title page

Tytler’s book on the correct procedure for courts martial, which will doubtless

be consulted in the course of Ensign Herring’s forthcoming trial.


The battalion’s health continues good, with just one death (Chester Wells on the 1st December) and minimal sickness rates.

Sergeant Ward has been reduced to the ranks.  Sergeant Humphries is now sergeant major at the depot at Poonamallee, which gives him responsibility for all detachments of men arriving in India.

Arrangements are being made for the court martial of Ensign John Herring on a charge of drunkenness.

Depot: Wakefield

recruit and an old soldier

The recruit and a couple of old soldiers

Nine recruits have joined at headquarters, and another thirteen are on their way from the recruiting companies.

Brevet Major Spawforth has reported that all the men’s accounts have been made up by the officers commanding companies.  He has also confirmed that the Articles of War are read regularly as per regulation.  Neglect of this requirement would enable a man to escape a charge, since he could plead ignorance as his defence.

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Dec 01 2010

Some Unexpected Advice to the Military

Published by under Articles

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Frontispiece from the 1806 edition of Captain Grose’s book. Continue Reading »

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Dec 01 2010

1st December 1810

2nd Battalion: Lines of Torres Vedras

On the 16th November the battalion, along with the rest of the fifth division, were drawn forward from the Lines in response to the French withdrawal to Santarem.  In Sobral they found a number of half-buried bodies of French soldiers.  They then marched to Oitero (17th) and Alenquer (18th), an unpleasant experience because the roads were littered with dead men and animals, indicative of the haste of the French withdrawal.  On the 20th November they expected to attack the French near Santarem, but the recent excessively wet weather made an advance on the town impossible because of widespread flooding.  By the 23rd the Anglo-Portuguese allies had drawn back to Aveiro de Baixo, and the next day they were in Alcoentre, where they remain.

Lieutenant Colonel Minet left the battalion on the 29th, having been summoned to Lisbon to serve as president of a court martial.  Major Alexander Hamilton is in temporary command.

Lt. Col. Alexander Hamilton, 30th Foot

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Hamilton, 30th Regiment

Sickness continues to be a problem.  Five officers, ten sergeants, four drummers and 151 rank and file are sick in quarters out of a battalion strength of 740 NCOs and rank and file.  There have also been three deaths: Timothy Cox on the 17th, Jonathan Norris on the 18th and James Cunningham on the 20th.  News has also arrived that Sergeant William Hassell has died in Cadiz, where he was serving as a hospital orderly.

On the 25th Corporal Hugh Renwick was promoted to sergeant, and Private Sergeant Holmes, to corporal.

There were two desertions on the 24th, James McLampy, who only joined the battalion at the end of September, and Patrick Kennedy.  Corporal Dennis Moran and Drummer Thomas Elliott, along with twelve men, have joined from Cadiz, however.

1st Battalion: Trichinopoly

fort at trichinopoly

Old fort at Trichinopoly

The battalion continues healthy at this cooler time of year.  There have been no deaths since the 9th November and sickness rates are very low.

Lieutenant Hutchinson and Ensign Herring (who only joined the battalion a couple of months ago) have been placed under an arrest on the orders of Lieutenant Colonel Vaumorel.  Meanwhile, the four officers found guilty of duelling (Lieutenants Harpur, Carden, Jones and French) are still waiting to hear if their sentence of cashiering will be confirmed in London.

Depot: Wakefield

Cruickshank Militia volunteers - Copy

A contemporary print showing a cynical view of Militia training.

Twenty-four volunteers from the Tipperary Militia have volunteered to serve with the 30th, all but one for unlimited service.  Since the regulations specify that men volunteering from the Militia  cannot be sent to postings outside Europe, they will be welcomed as trained reinforcements for the second battalion.

One man has deserted from headquarters.

The depot have received news that Captain Chambers has been granted six months leave of absence.  This is something of a surprise, since he is serving with the second battalion in Portugal, and once again highlights the difficulties of communication between Horseguards and the battalions.

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