Crossing of the Douro 12th May 1809

Also known as the Battle of the Douro or the Second Battle of Porto, was a battle in which General Arthur Wellesley’s Anglo-Portuguese Army defeated Marshal Nicolas Soult’s French troops and took back the city of Porto. After taking command of the British troops in Portugal on 22 April, Wellesley (later named 1st Duke of Wellington) immediately advanced on Porto and made a surprise crossing of the Douro River, approaching Porto where its defences were weak.

The 29th Regiment of Foot crossing the Douro during the 2nd Battle of Porto. From a print in the museum Collection

The 29th Regiment of Foot formed part of the 6th Brigade in Lt. General Edward Paget’s Division. The French having collected all the boats to their side of the river, failed to either guard them or destroy them.  This being observed signs were made to the inhabitants, who availing themselves of the confusion in the French army, instantly brought over several boats, into which the 29th jumped, and pushing across, succeeded in gaining the opposite shore.  Having landed and formed, the regiment moved up the main street and the grenadiers opened fire on the retreating enemy.

Soult’s late attempts to muster a defence were in vain. The French quickly abandoned the city in a disorderly retreat.

This battle ended the second French invasion of Portugal. Soult soon found his retreat route to the east blocked and was forced to destroy his guns and burn his baggage train.  Wellesley pursued the French army, but Soult’s army escaped annihilation by fleeing through the mountains.

The Battle of Corunna 16th January 1809

In Spain known as Battle of Elviña, took place on 16 January 1809, when a French corps under Marshal Nicolas Soult attacked a British army under Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore. The battle was a result of a French campaign, led by Napoleon, which had defeated the Spanish armies and caused the British army to withdraw to the coast following an unsuccessful attempt by Moore to attack Soult’s corps and divert the French army.

Doggedly pursued by the French, the British made a retreat across northern Spain while their rearguard fought off repeated French attacks. Both armies suffered extremely from the harsh winter conditions. Much of the British army, excluding the elite Light Brigade under Robert Craufurd, suffered from a loss of order and discipline during the retreat. Throughout the retreat the 36th Foot part of the 2nd Division under Lt. General Hope and part of the 3rd Brigade under Major General Catlin Crauford, formed part of the rearguard. When the British eventually reached the port of Corunna on the northern coast of Galicia in Spain, a few days ahead of the French, they found their transport ships had not arrived. The fleet arrived after a couple of days and the British were in the midst of embarking when the French forces launched an attack.

An aquatint of the Battle of Corunna . From the museum Collection .

In the resulting action, the British held off French attacks until nightfall, when both armies disengaged. British forces resumed their embarkation overnight; the last transports left in the morning under French cannon fire. But the port cities of Corunna and Ferrol, as well as northern Spain, were captured and occupied by the French. During the battle, Sir John Moore, the British commander, was mortally wounded, dying after learning that his men had successfully repelled the French attacks.

The Siege of Badajoz 1812

On March 16th 1812 a British Force some 15,000 strong with a battering train of 52 guns reached Badajoz, a strongly fortified Spanish town near the frontier with Portugal.

General of Brigade Philippon commanded in Badajoz with a force of 4,742 men and although short of powder and shell, still presented a formidable task to a besieging army. He had taken every means possible to strengthen his post: mines were laid, the arch of a bridge built up to form a dam, ditches cut and filled with water, fortifications constructed, ramparts repaired and that he should have no useless mouths to feed, the inhabitants were ordered to lay up 3 months’ provisions or leave the town. Badajoz was also protected on one side by a river, 500 yards wide in places and having several outworks, notably one called the Picurina on a hill to the South East.

Such was Badajoz when Picton’s 3rd Division (which included the 45th of Foot (1st Nottinghamshire Regiment)), Lowry Cole’s 4th Division and the Light Division invested it. The rest of the army covered the siege and the 5th Division was on its way from Beira

On the night of 17th March; 2,000 men moved silently forward to guard the working parties who began to break ground 160 yards from the Picurina. The sentinels on the ramparts heard nothing in the howling wind and at daylight, so well had the volunteers from the 3rd Division laboured, 3,000 yards of communication and a parallel 600 yards long were revealed.

The next night, it was prolonged to the right and left and two batteries traced out. Wet and stormy weather harassed the workmen and flooded the trenches, but in spite of this the parallel was extended across the Seville Road, towards the river by the 21st March and three counter-batteries were commenced between Picurina and the river in order to open on San Roque, which covered the bridge and dam across the Rivillas as well as the Castle and the ground on the left of it.

On the 23rd March the floods in the trenches suspended all work, but on the 24th the 5th Division invested the place on the right bank of the river and, the weather having cleared the batteries were armed with ten 24 pounders, eleven 18 pounders and seven 5 and a quarter inch howitzers, all of which opened fire on the following day. They were replied to vigorously, but in spite of this the San Roque was silenced and the Picurina garrison so galled by the fire of the marksmen that no one dared to look over the parapet. The outward appearance of the fort showed no signs of great strength and the order was given to assault.

The ‘Fighting Third’ were, as usual, to the fore and five hundred men of that Division were assembled for the attack on the evening of the 25th. At nine o’clock, the evening being fine, flanking columns, each composed of two hundred men moved out to the right and left, while one hundred men remained in reserve in the trenches. The two flanking columns advanced simultaneously against the palisades but were held in check until the reserves were sent forward, when, in spite of a fearful fire, the stormers scrambled over the palisades and up to the ramparts. Here a desperate hand-to-hand fight raged; nearly all the officers fell and half the garrison were killed or wounded before they surrendered with the remainder. Thus the first phase of the attack was completed and the Picurina won. Three battalions were at once advanced to secure the work and the second parallel was begun.

The breaching batteries opened on the 30th March and by 6th April three breaches had been made, all of which were considered practicable. The main breach was on the right flank of La Trinidad Bastion, another in the curtain of La Trinidad and the third in the left flank of the Santa Maria Bastion. The four divisions were employed in the assault. The Light Division to attack the main breach, the fifth division to make a false attack on Pardaleras and a real attack on San Vincente, the fourth division to attack the two smaller breaches in the bastions of La Trinidad and Santa Maria and the ‘Fighting Third’ was ordered to escalade the castle.

The night of the 6th April was cloudy but fine and the assault was ordered for ten o’clock, but just before the appointed hour, a carcase fired from the town disclosed the position of the third division and drew fire upon it. It was useless to wait – and the ‘Fighting Third’ rushed forward. The troops, headed by their ladder men, crossed the bridge over the Rivillas in single file under a terrible fire and advanced up the rugged and broken ground, which led to the foot of the Castle walls. In the advance, Kempt’s Brigade formed the right and Campbell’s the left, while the 45th led the whole column.

 The light-balls (carcases) of the enemy completely exposed the position of the 3rd Division and the loss as the men swarmed up to the walls was terrible. The ladders, which proved too short, were thrown down as soon as they were raised, while stones, logs of wood and all sort of missiles made terrible havoc among the men. At length, three ladders were fairly well placed and up the first of them climbed Lieutenant James Macpherson of the 45th. He arrived at the top before he discovered that the ladder was too short by some three feet, so pushing the head of it from the wall he called to upon his comrades to hoist him, ladder and all, upwards. Thrown up thus above the rampart he was shot by a French soldier before he had time to collect himself, two of his ribs were broken and he was unable to move either way. The next minute the ladder gave way and Macpherson fell insensible in the ditch.

Lieutenant James Macpherson of the 45th. From a print in the museum collection

Meanwhile, Ridge of the 5th managed to place a ladder where the wall was lower and an embrasure offered a chance of entry and a second ladder being placed by Cranch of the 88th the two swarmed up over the parapet followed by their men. The first man who sprang down from the ramparts into the Castle was Corporal Kelly of the 45th who killed a French Colonel as he did so. The Castle was won and the troops crowding in, in increasing numbers, speedily drove the French in desperate hand-to-hand fighting through the double gates into the town.

Macpherson, recovering and despite being wounded and bleeding, re-climbed one of the ladders into the Castle and made his way to the Keep where the French flag was flying. He seized the sentry and making his way to the flagstaff hauled down the flag and hoisted his own jacket in its place, which, bravely fluttering in the breeze at daylight testified to the gallant part the 45th had taken in the assault.

Meanwhile, the attack on the main breaches was going on with desperation, but with little success. For upwards of two hours a fearful fire of musketry and grape, together with hand grenades, bags filled with powder and every conceivable form of destructive missile had been poured over the heads of the attackers. Soon after midnight, when over 2,000 men had fallen Wellington ordered the remainder to retire and re-form for a second assault. To the South and West of the town the 5th division had been more successful having carried San Vincente by escalade and moved across the town towards the great breach.

As soon as he was sure of the Castle, Picton sent his aide-de-camp, Tyler to Wellington to report, who sent him back with orders to hold the Castle at all hazards. Feeling himself secure, Picton then sent parties to the left along the ramparts to fall on the rear of those defending the great breach and to communicate with the right attack on the bastion of La Trinidad. But the French, on retreating from the Castle had closed and strongly barricaded the gates communicating with the ramparts and to force these barriers was a work of considerable time and difficulty.

The capture of the Castle, however, coupled with the advance of the 5th Division through the streets soon convinced the French that it was useless to continue the struggle at the main breach; they gallantly rallied for some time and faced the troops taking them in the rear before breaking and fleeing by the bridge and covered way into Fort San Christoval. When the stormers mounted the great breach for the second time they accordingly found the ramparts abandoned; and the troops pouring into the unfortunate town from the three entries they had gained were quickly masters of the place. “Then followed a scene of riot and debauch unequalled in the annals of the British Army; the chains of discipline were thrown off and the whole force gave themselves up to pillage, intoxication and wanton destruction of life and property”.

Philippon, with the remnants of his brave companies, surrendered Fort San Christoval on the following morning and BADAJOZ was fully won, but at the fearful cost of 5,000 men of whom 3,500 fell in the assault.

Important Acquisition – A “Lovel” percussion musket

With the generous assistance of the The ACE/V&A Purchase Grant Fund and the Friends of the Mercian Regiment Museum we have recently acquired a group of three medals awarded to Major. Frederick Kneebone  of the 29th Foot. These comprise medals awarded for his service in India and consist of the Sutlej medal 1845-6 for Sobraon (ensign), the Punjab medal 1848-9 with clasps Chilianwala and Goojerat, ( Lieutenant) and finally the Indian Mutiny Medal 1857-9,  No clasp (Captain)

Groups of three consecutive Indian Campaign Medals issued to members of the 29th Foot are very scarce, and Frederick Kneebone’s is unique as he is the only 29th Foot officer so awarded: just thirty 29th Foot Other Ranks qualified for and received the group.

Frederick Kneebone’s father was Quartermaster Thomas Kneebone 29th Foot.  They both fought at the Battle of Sobraon (10 February 1846); the father’s portrait and Sutlej Medal for Sobraon are on display in the Museum. Thomas died 20 months later in Calcutta and qualified for no other medals. It is extremely rare, if not unknown, to have a father and son both being awarded the same medal for service of the same battlefield.  Therefore Frederick’s medal group is of especial interest to the Museum.

Major Kneebone’s medals

Frederick Kneebone had joined 29th Foot in India in time to take part in the Battle of Sobraon, and then was present for both Punjab Medal battle clasps (CHILIANWALA AND GOOJERAT) available to 29th Foot. Indian Mutiny Medals issued to the 29th Foot are always without clasp and are scarce; only 11 officers qualified and the only other extant officer medal known is in the Museum. Kneebone retired from the army as a Major in 1870 and lived in Bedfordshire; for many years he was Secretary of the Bedford General Infirmary.  In addition the Museum holds all four commissions of Frederick Kneebone plus a portrait photograph.

Centrepiece of the 36th Regiment.

Regimental Silver “…….. part of the tradition of service and martial pride which is the heritage of those to whom they belong. We are all brought up to regard them as symbols of great achievements of the glorious past…… These silver tokens are a constant reminder of the loyalty and deep sense of duty of our forebearers and an incentive to all of us to try and do better. They are part of the great tradition……..” Field Marshal Sir Gerald Templer. All of our former regular, militia and territorial regiments/battalions had wonderful displays of silver. Regimental silver is, family silver and records a part of the history of that particular regiment or battalion. Each piece has a story to tell, whether it be a simple goblet or cigarette box to the wonderful and lovely intricate workmanship of the silver centrepieces. The engraving of the silver also records past events, from a Rifle shooting Championship to the winning of the Army Football Cup, and the engraving of the goblets which were presented by individual officers to their mess, from Halifax Nova Scotia to Tienstin. Silver drums and bugles were presented by battalions, towns and individuals in memory of men who gave their lives serving their Sovereign, Country and Regiment. Many pieces of silver were commemorate an individual act of gallantry or an action in which elements of the regiment took part. The silver also records the uniqueness of individual regiments, which makes the British Army so different and better than other armies. Each regiment has its own traditions, dress variations, customs, cap-badges and Battle Honours, all jealously guarded. Our Regiment has been involved in many changes from its first muster in 1694 to the Cardwell and Haldane Reforms, through two World Wars, the loss of the Second Battalion and Territorial Units after the Second World War – the amalgamation of 1970 to the formation of the Mercian Regiment in 2007. Over the years the regiment has had to dispose of a considerable amount of its treasures but a large amount of our old regimental silver, regular and territorial, is now a part of the Worcestershire Museum’s collections and others form part of The Mercian Regiment holdings collection and many of the traditions handed down over the years are now part of their heritage and in use today. Amongst the largest and most spectacular of the Museum’s pieces is the magnificent Centrepiece of the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment. The centrepiece is cast in silver and represents a rocky crag with four of the most prized game trophies to be found in the Himalayas. The plinth supporting the centrepiece is of oak with silver snakes coiled around two of the four supports and the inscription around the top rim. This inscription reads: Presented to the Officers Mess by the following officers who were either members of the Regimental Hunt or promoted during The Tour of Service of the Regiment in India November 1863 to November 1875. We know however that the centre piece was not made until the Regiment had returned to England. It was commissioned from Hunt & Roskell, late Storr & Mortimer of London and bears the hallmarks for 1877.
The magnificent solid silver centre piece of the 36th (Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot. Made bt Hunt and Roskell in 1877 it adorned the dining table in the officers’ mess. It is now on display in the Museum.

The Battle of Grijo 11th May 1809


An aquatint of the Battle of Grijo in the Museum collection

The Battle of Grijó (10–11 May 1809) was a battle that ended in victory for the Anglo-Portuguese Army commanded by Sir Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington)over the French army commanded by Marshal Nicolas Soult, during the second French invasion of Portugal in the Peninsular War. The next day, Wellesley drove Soult from Porto in the Second Battle of Porto.

In the History of the Rifle Brigade, Willoughby Verner describes how the Battalion of Detachments, made from soldiers and officers of multiple regiments who had become stranded with the evacuation of Coruna, fought for the first time near the village of Grijó.

“The infantry of the advance guard consisted of the Rifle Company of the 1st Battalion of Detachments, the Companies of the 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry and the Light Company of the 29th Regiment of Foot, the whole under the command of Major Way of the 29th.”

General Sir Stapleton Cotton with the British Cavalry came in touch with the French at dawn on the 10th, but Major-General Michel Francheschi had some infantry with him and Stewart’s Brigade was delayed and did not come for some time; Francheschi thereupon fell back and joined General Mermet at Grijó.

When at daybreak of the 11th it was discovered that the enemy had retired , a pursuit was immediately commenced, and their advance guard, consisting of 4,000 infantry and some squadrons of cavalry, with its front covered by woods and broken ground, was discovered posted on the heights above Grijo.

Wellesley ordered Major-General Rowland Hill, to endeavour to outflank Mermet’s position on the east whilst he with Major-General Paget’s Division advanced. In the afternoon the Light Companies of the 1st Battalion of Detachments attacked Mermet but met with a stiff resistance and lost not a few.

Wellesley now ordered the King’s German Legion to turn the French left and the 16th Portuguese to turn their right and with the rest of Stewart’s Brigade renewed the attack on the wooded heights in the centre above the village of Grijó. Mermet thereupon withdrew…”

In the action fought on the 11th May 1809 , on the heights of Grijo and Calvahos, the casualties in the Regiment were:
Killed 2 Rank and File
Wounded 6 Rank and File

Sir Arthur Wellesley , in his despatch to Viscount Castlereagh wrote: I have also to request your Lordship’s attention to the riflemen, and flank companies of the 29th, 43rd and 52nd Regiments under the command of Major Way , 29th.”When a

The occupation of France 1815-18

Following the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in June 1815. The Allies were faced with the issue of securing France. The allies had not been at war with Louis XVIII and were, in fact, in alliance with him. The terms of a peace settlement therefore focused on securing France’s frontiers with her neighbours, without overstating territorial claims.

As well as the wider object of a peaceful settlement for Europe, each of the allied powers had their own particular interests: the Prussians wished to reshape French territory along its eastern boundary; and the British government became alarmed at the cost of subsidising the fortifications that would guarantee the security of the Low Countries — arguing that the whole of the projected sum (£4 million) should be defrayed by France.

The financial arrangements with France were settled in a meeting of 13 October — and a formal treaty (a second Treaty of Paris) was agreed on 20 November 1815. It committed the four powers — Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia — to the use of military force to ensure the peace of Europe: 60,000 men were to be in the field, beyond the army of occupation. France was to pay 270 million francs over three years from 1 December 1815. That army was to be in place for a minimum of three years and a maximum of five, with the possibility of reducing it in size after one year.

There was a separate military convention agreed at the same time under the terms of the treaty. This defined a zone of occupation which was limited to north-east France, bordering on the Low Countries and the German Confederation — if the allied troops had been dispersed across the whole of France, they would have been spread too thinly to have been of use. Louis XVIII was effectively agreeing to the occupation of his country, while he built up his own military force. While the army of occupation was security for the allies against French aggression, it was also intended that it give France herself, and especially the King, protection against a revolutionary uprising.

The allied powers had considered it desirable on 22 October that Wellington should command the army of occupation. The army was to be composed of 30,000 troops supplied by each of the Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia. On 20 November, formal treaties and conventions were agreed to give effect to the discussions of the allies, for an army of occupation of 150,000 men. The French were to provide quarters, heating, lighting, forage and provisions. In addition France was to pay 50 million francs per annum towards equipment, clothing and other necessaries.

Richelieu attempted within six months of the convention to have the army of occupation reduced in size. Although his moves were rejected, there were other pressures beyond those of the French government for the reduction. France could not resume her normal commercial activity while she was burdened with heavy reparation payments. She had found it hard to raise the funds to pay the allies and a financial crisis in November 1816 resulted in the suspension of payments. At the start of 1817, negotiations with the Hope-Baring bank provided a way for a substantial loan. The Times of 15 July 1817 saw advantages for Anglo-French trade if France had more finance available. The question of payment for French reparations was only concluded at the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1818, at which point they were reduced and France was enabled to pay them off with further loans from Anglo-Dutch bankers.

Richelieu had been successful in 1817 in reducing the size of the army of occupation: the allies agreed that it should be 20% smaller from 1 April that year. The next stage was to negotiate an early conclusion to the occupation itself. This was also business for Aix-la-Chapelle: it was concluded that two further years of occupation would exacerbate conditions in France, rather than providing security for the allies.

On 4 November 1818, the allies agreed that the provisions of the treaty of 20 November 1815 had been fulfilled, and that France might be restored to her full position in international relations — the declaration was made publicly on 15 November. In parallel, preparations had been in hand since early October for the withdrawal of the army of occupation and the troops marched out of France during mid-November.

Battle of Ramilles 1706

The battle Ramilles was one of the crucial battles which occurred during the war of the Spanish Succession (1701–14) between the Grand Alliance (Britain, Austria, Prussia, Dutch republic, Portugal and Savoy) and France and Spain.

When the Spanish King Charles II died he bequeathed his throne to Philip of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV, the king of France. The prospect of a union between the powerful states of France and Spain alarmed many European rulers resulting in many supporting the claim of Archduke Charles, the younger son of the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I.

In May 1702, John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough was sent to Holland as Captain-General of the combined English and Dutch forces. The start of his campaign was a great success having  captured several important fortresses in the Low Countries but Marlborough’s plans to face the French to a decisive battle were resisted by his Dutch allies whose government retained a veto on the use of their troops outside of the Low Countries.

Following his crushing defeat at the battle of Blenheim in August 1704, King Louis XIV of France was eager for decisive victory; Marshal Villeroi (commander of the French forces) was therefore pushed into leaving the safety of the lines of Brabant and crossed the River Dyle with 60,000 men. On 23 May 1706, the Duke of Marlborough attacked him at Ramillies with a force of 62,000 men.

Within the Duke of Marlborough’s forces was the Thomas Farrington Regiment of foot (later 29th Worcestershire Regiment). For their service in the battle the regiment received their first battle honours which were awarded in 1882 after its Amalgamation with the 36th Hereford Regiment.

The battle was fought at the village of Ramillies (modern day Belgium) The French reached the plain of Ramillies before the Allies but deployed unwisely along the entire length of a 4-mile ridge with the villages of Ramillies and Offus located in the centre.

 A strong Allied attack on the French left flank forced Villeroi to shift reinforcements from his centre. But Marlborough called off this attack due to the marshy ground preventing cavalry support. Farrington’s Rgeiment was posted on the right flank and following the success of the feint on the left flank “Marlboro at once ordered the infantry on the right, to retire a short distance, and the 2nd line marching rapidly to its former left, formed in rear of the centre and joined the attack on Ramilles… The enemy’s right, having, after a stubborn resistance, been turned and their troops driven out of Ramilles“.

The Allied casualties from the battle were estimated at 3,500 compared to the 13,000 French casualties as well as the capture of the whole French and Bavarian artillery which stood at 70 guns and mortars.

Within a fortnight of Ramilles, Marshal Villeroi had lost almost the whole of Flanders and Brabant to Marlborough and fallen back to the French frontier, but the Allied advance was halted when they reached better fortified and well-garrisoned towns further south.

The war over the Spanish succession continued for another 8 years ending with a series of treaties known as The Peace of Utrecht in which it was stipulated that no single person could be ruler of both France and Spain and Philip was confirmed as King of Spain.

The Boston Massacre: 5th March 1770

In the Spring of 1770, the 29th (Worcestershire) Regiment went to Boston, to reinforce the Garrison. Although America was still then a British colony, over the last few years the City had been a hot-bed of anti-British and anti-Government feelings, and in early March, disorder increased, with assaults upon soldiers becoming frequent.

On the 5th of March, severe disturbances broke out in the town, with attacks on merchants and barracks throughout the City. Between 7 and 8 p.m. in the evening, large mobs descended on the Custom House, a symbol of unpopular British taxes.

The Massacre

The Custom House, on King Street, was guarded by the 29th, although only one sentry, Private Hugh White, was on patrol outside. The mob closed in, pelting the sentry with snowballs, rocks and pieces of wood. The guard commander, Captain Thomas Preston, saw the attack and called out the rest of the guard – Lieutenant Bassett, a corporal and six men. They lined up to protect both the sentry and the Custom House, which contained a lot of money.

The mob kept closing in, though, now numbering about a hundred people. In another attempt to scare the crowd into leaving, Preston ordered his men to load their muskets and fix their bayonets. Still the mob closed in, shouting insults and threats and hurling missiles at the soldiers. A huge mulatto (half-Negro) man called Crispin Attucks lunged at Captain Preston, glancing off him to hit Private Montgomery, knocking his musket from his hands. Montgomery grabbed it back, but as Attucks got up, he grasped the other end and tried to pull it from his reach. Montgomery, acting through self-defence and confusion (he was dazed, and possibly mistook taunts of “Why don’t you fire?” from the crowd as an order from an officer) pulled his trigger, killing Attucks. The rest of the of the guard then fired too, killing two more people and wounding five, ropemaker Samuel Gray, mariner James Caldwell, died instantly. Samuel Maverick, an apprentice ivory turner, died a few hours later and Patrick Carr, an Irish immigrant, died two weeks later.   The shots temporarily dispersed the crowd.

They soon came back to gather up the killed and wounded, and only Preston’s quick thinking stopped his men, fearing another assault, from firing again. After the incident, dubbed the ‘Boston Massacre’ by anti-British propaganda, the 29th were forced to leave Boston, to prevent revenge attacks, although Captain Preston and his eight men (but not Lieutenant Bassett) were kept behind and arrested on charges of murder.

The Trial

The trial of Preston and his men was embroiled in politics. The obvious solution, acquittal on the grounds that they had fired in self-defence after great provocation, would outrage the people of Boston, but on the other hand, how could the British Government hang its own men for upholding the law by firing on a riotous and traitorous mob?

The solution came in the form of a lawyer called John Adams. A Bostonian, and an anti-British one at that, Adams was persuaded to put aside his own views and defend Preston, who was acquitted, and then his men. In their defence Adams argued eloquently and intelligently, cutting through the emotions and politics surrounding the trail, that they had acted justifiably in self-defence. Despite his own anti-British feelings, he argued that what the soldiers had done was right and within the law, and even natural in such circumstances. The jury acquitted all but Montgomery and Kilroy, who were found guilty of manslaughter, and branded on the thumb.

As they left, even the branded soldiers thanked Adams for his efforts in saving their lives and seeing justice done. One even voiced concern for Adam’s safety after such a pro-British act in such a hostile City, but Adams replied that he would be safe.

He was right. Only a few years later, John Adams would sign the Declaration of Independence, and eventually be 2nd President of the United States of America.

The guard picket:

Captain Thomas Preston, Lieutenant Bassett

John Carrol               Matthew Kilroy       Hugh Montgomery William Wenns

James Hartigan       William McCauley William Warren           Hugh White

Battle of Culloden April 16th 1746

The battle of Culloden was the final pitched battle to take place on British soil. It was fought between the Jacobite army of Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) and British Hanoverian government troops led by the Duke of Cumberland, son of King George II.

Charles was the grandson of James II who was exiled following the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 which replaced the Stuart dynasty with his daughter Mary II and his Dutch nephew and Mary’s husband, William III of Orange.

The Duke Of Cumberland.

Believing there was support for a Stuart restoration in both Scotland and England, Charles landed in Scotland on July 1745 raising an army of Scots Jacobite supporters. The Jacobite campaign to restore the Stewart dynasty began with reasonable success, with support from the Scottish Charles Edward’s highland army defeated government troops at Prestonpans in September 1745 and was able to occupy Edinburgh reaching as far south as Derby but failing to gain English support forced them to retreat to Scottish territory in December 1745. The following year despite being on the defensive Charles’s army gained an impressive victory of the government army at Battle of Falkirk won in January 1746.

After the defeat of General Hawley at Falkirk, William Augustus (Duke of Cumberland) was appointed as commander of the government forces in Scotland and based his army in Aberdeen, setting out in April 1746 to engage with Charles’s troops who were located at Inverness.

The two armies eventually met at Culloden with Charles Stuart’s army consisting of 5,000 men – largely formed of Scottish clansmen and 8000 government forces made up of 17 regiments including the 36th Regiment of Foot commanded by Colonel Flemming.

Painting of Grenadiers – 36th Regiment is on the far right.

The day prior to the battle the Duke of Cumberland’s celebrated his birthday at Nain  during which the Jacobite’s attempted a night attack on Cumberland’s camp, however this ended in complete failure with soldiers  falling far behind and losing themselves in the bog and with dawn close to breaking it was clear the Jacobite forces would not reach Nairn before daylight resulting in the exhausted Scottish clansmen returning  back, tired and exhausted, to their former positions on Drummossie Moor. Two hours after they had arrived, they heard news that the British army was on the march and only four miles away. The Highlanders dragged themselves to their feet and formed a line.

What followed was a gruesome and bloody one- hour battle with a swift and decisive victory by Cumberland and the government troops. Charles began the battle on the defensive expecting Cumberland to attack, instead the Cumberland’s forces remained stationary using cannons to bombard the Jacobite forces inflicting casualties on the highlanders and wreaking havoc on their morale.

Following the bombardment Charles ordered his troops to charge the enemy lines – a tactic which had proved very effective in their previous engagements.

artist impression of the Battle of Culloden.

Cumberland’s secretary, Everard Fawkener describes the charge in a letter in which he writes…

“The rebels then charged towards our right wing, waving their swords in the air and shouting: they hoped to tempt our right wing to leave the battle line and attack them. But His Royal Highness, the Duke of Cumberland, commanded these troops himself and they kept to their line. The rebels then made a mass attack on our left wing: they ran forward, sometimes stopping to fire their pistols and muskets and reload. They were met with fierce musket fire from the British and were almost cut to pieces by our cannon. The whole weight of the rebel attack fell on two battalions of the British left – the Scots Fusiliers and Munro’s. It seemed that the rebels would get round the left wing, but Colonel Wolfe moved up his battalion to stop this. Here the bayonets of the British caused great slaughter of the rebels.

The rebel charge failed, and their army fell back. On the left, the British cavalry rode through gaps which had been made in a stone wall and attacked the rebel right wing which was put to flight with its reserve. The cavalry on the British right also rode round the rebel wing and attacked the enemy from behind. At this, the rebel army fled. The British infantry advanced and gained ground where the rebels had stood. There our men gave three cheers”

By the end of the battle the Charles Stuart had lost between 1000- 1500 men out of his original 5000 strong force in comparison to Cumberland’s forces only suffering 50 dead and another 259 wounded. Charles himself was able to escape the battlefield and, after many adventures, reached France but campaign for a Stuart Monarchy would never happen again.

The 36th Regiment of Foot suffered only 6 wounded soldiers having seen very little action during the battle being placed in the second line as the 4th of 7 regiments in formation.

Officer’s of the 36th who took part at the Battle of Culloden

Below are the names of the officers who formed the 36th Regiment and took part at the battle of Culloden.












GORE HENRY- Captain/ Lieutenant


JACKSON GEORGE – Lieutenant colonel




NAPPER (NAPIER) ANDREW – Lieutenant/ Adjutant?




RICE JOHN – Ensign (Volunteer)

ROBINSON WILLIAM – Lieutenant/ Adjutant