The Battle of Lauffeldt 1747


Following its role in supressing the Jacobite rising, the 36th Regiment of Foot (at that time known as Flemming’s Regiment) was posted to the continent, as part of the army of Duke of Cumberland, who was now campaigning in the Europe.   Here, Flemming’s were involved in numerous minor actions but its most notable engagement was the Battle of Lauffeldt.

Lauffeld was one of the decisive battles of the War of the Austrian Succession. It took place on the 2nd July, 1747 at Larfelt, in Belgium (near Maastricht).  It was fought between the “Pragmatic Army”, consisting of 90,000 allied troops, from Great Britain, the Dutch Republic, Holy Roman Empire and Hanover, under Cumberland’s command, and the French Army of Louis XV.   The French army was 120,000 strong and led by Marshal Maurice de Saxe, probably the most able soldier of his generation.  The result was a significant defeat for the allies, resulting in Cumberland’s nickname changing from “the Butcher”, arising from his decisive victory at Culloden, to “the Blunderer”. 

The preamble

In February 1747, Cumberland decided to break his winter camp early in an attempt to seize the city of Antwerp. This plan was logistically flawed, the allied army spent two months in rough uncomfortable camps, enduring foul weather, around the town of Breda, whilst the French army never left their warm winter quarters.

Before Cumberland could make a second attempt to take Antwerp, Marshall Saxe ordered General Contrades to take Liefkenhock and a fortress known as “The Pearl”, just to the north of Antwerp, making the city too well defended to be attacked. Meanwhile Count Löwendahl seized Sas-van-Ghent which threatened Cumberland’s supply lines.

Hoping to draw de Saxe into a general engagement, Cumberland decided to move once again to threaten Antwerp. However, the French Marshal refused to take the bait and instead held his main army behind the River Dyle, close to the towns of Malines and Louvain, sending a strong detachment to bolster the garrison in Antwerp. Both commanders were well aware that the main prize was the city of Maastricht, the capture of which by the French would render the United Provinces untenable, and to this end de Saxe had already positioned a small army under Marshal Clermont on the Meuse River just to the south of Maastricht.   Cumberland now had no choice other than take the battle to De Saxe or allow the French to take Maastricht.

The Battle

The two armies met west of the River Meuse, south of Maastricht, on 1st July 1747.  Whilst de Saxe knew the whereabouts of the approaching Pragmatic Army, Cumberland was unaware that the French army had interposed itself and was forming up on the high ground between him and the River Meuse.

As Cumberland’s army arrived on the battlefield, the Austrians took position on the right flank occupying the Commanderie and the twin villages of Grosse and Kleine Spauwe.  The Dutch occupied the right centre and the ground between Gross Spauwe and Vlytingen and the British (including Flemming’s Regiment), Hanoverians and Hessian infantry occupied the key villages of Vlytingen and Lauffeldt on the left of the Allied lines.

On the eve of battle, Cumberland ordered the British and Hessian battalions to withdraw from their positions in the villages of Vlytingen and Lauffeldt. They were instructed to set fire to the houses and then form behind the villages and not attempt to defend them.  However later, accepting the advice of Sir John Ligonier who pointed out how fortified villages were very difficult places to storm; Cumberland then ordered the British and Hessian battalions back into Lauffeldt with the British Foot Guards remaining in line behind the villages. Unfortunately, these movements were observed by Marshal Saxe who immediately ordered his infantry to launch an attack, opening fire on the British, Hanoverian and Hessian battalions who were not fully back in position in Lauffeldt. Meanwhile the Duke of Cumberland, not expecting any immediate French move, had returned to the Commanderie to take breakfast with Marshal Batthyani.

The Battle of Lauffeldt 1747

The main course of the action of the battle was the French assaults on the villages of Vlytingen and Lauffeldt.  When one of the French column’s arrived at Vlytingen they found it abandoned and so were able to act as a flanking force to support the assault on Lauffeldt. Over the next four hours the French attacked the village gaining a foothold thrice but were repelled on each occasion.   Marshal Saxe committed an estimated 50 French infantry battalions against the 10 British, Hanoverian, and Hessian battalions.

During the course of the fighting over Vlytingen and Lauffeldt, 9 Austrian battalions were switched from the right flank and put into the second line, releasing more British and Hanoverian battalions to be hurried forward to join the garrison in Lauffeldt.  Eventually the French were pushed back, and the Duke of Cumberland ordered his infantry to advance. This order was also dispatched to the Austrian Commander, Marshal Batthyani, on the right of the allied line to attack the French on the flank but he refused to advance.

The battle now seemed to be going in favour of the Allies, however, the appearance of the French King Louis on the field, inspired the French troops who returned to the fray with renewed vigour. By midday Lauffeldt was finally taken, Cumberland ordered the infantry to disengage and march towards Maastricht.

Meanwhile, on the left flank, Sir John Ligonier launched a cavalry charge against the opposing French horse. This proved be a great success and led to the capture of the village of Wilre and five French cavalry standards taken.  Ligonier then received a message from the Duke of Cumberland saying that the French had taken Lauffeldt and that he was not to advance and that Cumberland was extricating his infantry and beginning the march to his left, in the direction of Maastricht.  Ligonier replied with a dispatch describing his successful cavalry action.  Cumberland responded with an order for Ligonier to repeat the charge. Obeying this, Ligonier, with only four British dragoon regiments, charged through the French cavalry only to encounter a large body of steady French infantry. Trapped between the French infantry and their cavalry, Ligonier and most of his force were taken prisoner, but these charges, had allowed the rest of the allied forces to retreat safely and reach Maastricht.

In total the allies lost around 4,000 men with another 2,000 taken prisoner. However, the victorious French suffered significantly more casualties, with over 10,000 men killed and many more wounded. Cumberland withdrew his army to Maastricht whilst Marshal Saxe and the French army retreated to Tongres, his plan to take Maastricht thwarted by the retreat of the allied army.

The loss of the 36th Regiment in this battle was Major Petrie, Lieutenant Brodie, two sergeants and 22 rank and file killed: with Lieutenant Colonel Jackson, Captains Morgan, Pechell, Dod and Gore, Lieutenant Ackland, Ensigns Vaughan, Duncan, Elrington, Strong and Porter, three sergeants, two drummers, and seventy-four rank and file wounded: and eighty-two men missing.

The Siege of Barcelona 14 September to 19 October 1705

This siege took place during the War of the Spanish Succession when a Grand Alliance army led by Lord Peterborough, supporting the Habsburg claimant to the Spanish throne, captured the city of Barcelona from its Spanish Bourbon defenders.

Catalonia was regarded as of strategic importance and a potential source of military support for the Allies of the Grand Alliance in their bid to place Archduke Charles of Austria on the Spanish throne in opposition to the rival French Bourbon candidate Philip V. Barcelona was recommended as a potential target by the region’s former Governor Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt. In 1704, he had attempted a landing outside the city but had been forced to withdraw.  Prince George continued to believe that the Catalans would welcome Allied intervention due to their opposition to the Bourbon King in Madrid and that the Bourbon authorities had recently further alienated the Catalans by the imposition of a series of extremely repressive measures against them.

In 1705, a new Allied expedition, of mainly Anglo-Dutch troops set sail from Lisbon.  The commanders had orders that permitted them discretion to choose between several different destinations, including Cadiz and Toulon, but it was decided to attempt to take Barcelona again.

The expedition was under the overall command of the Lord Peterborough, his second-in-command was General James Stanhope. They were accompanied by Prince George of Hesse-Darmstadt and the Austrian Archduke Charles. The fleet carrying them was commanded by Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell.  The fleet arrived off Barcelona on 16 August.

The city’s defences had recently been repaired and strengthened and measures taken to make sure there was no rising by the Catalans in support of the Allies.

On 23 August the Allied troops, including Charlemont’s Regiment of Foot (later the 36th Foot), were landed three miles east of Barcelona. They were given a warm welcome by local inhabitants and several thousand Catalan rebels gathered outside the city. The Allies proceeded to invest Barcelona to prevent any resupply of the garrison.  Entrenched batteries were prepared under the direction of Colonel John Richards, but Archduke Charles initially forbade a bombardment of the city for fear of offending his potential subjects.

Apart from the construction of siege works very little activity took place for several weeks. Lord Peterborough was concerned that he had too few soldiers relative to the  size of the garrison, and considered abandoning the siege. However, he was opposed by Admiral Shovell as well as a number of his subordinates who favoured an assault.  It was eventually decided that the allies first had to take possession of Montjuïc Castle.  This stronghold overlooks and dominates the city of Barcelona. Therefore, in September the Lord Peterborough agreed to launch an attack, and to deceive the garrison he pretended to abandon the siege and march away towards Tarragona.

The Siege of Barcelona, 1705. From a print in the Museum’s Collection

Late on the night of the 13th September, a force under the command of Prince George of Darmstadt approached the castle in three separate columns. One under the command of General James Stanhope, acted as a diversion to draw the attention and fire of the defenders, while the other two attacked the rear of the castle. They were initially repulsed, but attacked again and succeeded in taking the outer defences of the castle.

Fighting carried on for several days but on the 17th, the castle finally fell to the Grand Alliance. Peterborough established artillery batteries in the castle, which had a commanding position over the city of Barcelona from which they bombarded it until its surrender a month later on the 19th of October.

The Bourbon forces launched a concerted attempt to recapture it the following year during the Siege of Barcelona (1706), which failed. The city and Catalonia remained in Allied hands until reconquered by the Bourbons in 1714.

The Battle of Toulouse 10th April 1814


 With Soult moving east, Wellington sent Beresford and two divisions to seize Bordeaux, the third-largest city of France. To make up for this Wellington summoned 8000 Spanish infantry and the British heavy cavalry as reinforcements.   Meanwhile, the British-Portuguese-Spanish army pushed the French out of Aire-sur-l’Adour on 2 March in a skirmish. Soult pulled back to Plaisance and Maubourget, facing west. A ten-day lull followed, during which time Wellington’s reinforcements began to arrive.

On 12 March, Beresford captured Bordeaux without resistance. Leaving the 7th Division as a garrison, he rushed back to join Wellington with the 4th Division. Meanwhile, on 17–18 March, in a raid with 100 French cavalrymen, Captain Dauma circled the Allied army’s south flank and attacked Saint-Sever where he captured 100 men. At the same time, Wellington launched his offensive, hoping to ensnare Soult’s army. By rapidly marching east to Saint-Gaudens and north-east to Toulouse, the French avoided the British flanking columns. Reaching Toulouse, Soult placed his soldiers behind the city’s walls and fortifications.

On 4 April, Wellington’s engineers threw a pontoon bridge across the flooding Garonne north of the French city. After 19,000 Anglo-Allies crossed, the bridge gave way, trapping the men for three days. But Soult failed to take advantage of his opportunity to defeat Wellington’s army in detail. On 8 April, in a fine charge, the British 18th Hussars under Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Henry Murray seized the bridge at Croix d’Orade on the Hers. Meanwhile, on 7 April at midnight, the official couriers left Paris with news that Napoleon had abdicated and that the war was over.

Toulouse lies on the Garonne, which runs into the city from the south-west, then turns and exits to the north-west. Just east of the Garonne, the smaller Hers-Mort runs past the city from the south-east to the north-east, forming a narrow corridor. To attack the city from the north, Wellington’s main force would have to cross to the east bank of the Garonne, then drive south-east down the corridor between the two rivers.

West of the Garonne lies the fortified suburb of St-Cyprien. To the north, Soult’s outer defence line rested on the Languedoc Canal. Three bridges crossed the canal, at Pont Jumeaux to the north-west, Pont des Minimes to the north and Pont de Matablau to the north-east. Each crossing was commanded by a powerful redoubt. The Heights of Calvinet (Mont Rave) rose east of the city and west of the Hers River. The Heights were crowned with several redoubts. Soult held St-Cyprien with one division and the canal line with another division. Jean-Pierre Travot’s conscripts lined the city walls. Jean Darmagnac’s division stood between the Heights and the canal. The divisions of Jean Isidore Harispe and Eugene-Casimir Villatte defended the Heights with Eloi Taupin’s division in reserve. Soult’s cavalry screened to the east and south.

Wellington began his attack on Easter Sunday, 10 April. Hoping to divert some of Soult’s forces, the British general sent Hill with the 12,600 men of the 2nd Division and Portuguese Division to attack St-Cyprien. The rest of the Anglo-Allied army (36,000) operated east of the Garonne and north of the city. The 3rd Division faced the north-west canal line with the Light Division to the east. Wellington planned to make his major effort against the Heights of Calvinet. Beresford would take the 4th and 6th Divisions and the Hussar brigades down the west bank of the Hers. Once he reached a point east of the city, Beresford would veer west and attack the Heights with the Hussars protecting his south flank. At the same time, Freire would assault the northern end of the Heights with his two Spanish divisions. Two heavy dragoon brigades waited in reserve.

The Battle of Toulouse 10th April 1814. An Aquatint by W. Heath

To the west, Hill drove in the French outposts but the fighting was not serious. His forces suffered about 80 casualties. Exceeding his orders, Thomas Picton mounted a full-scale attack on the Pont Jumeaux with his 3rd Division and was repulsed with 400 casualties. Meanwhile, Beresford’s men encountered muddy fields and fell behind schedule. Unable to move his artillery, he ordered the cannons to take a position near the northern end of the Heights and open fire. Freire, thinking this was the signal for the combined attack, sent his men to assault the Heights. The Spanish infantry forged uphill and gained a momentary foothold in a road cut, but they were counter-attacked by a cloud of French skirmishers and soon sent fleeing. Covered by the Light Division, the Spanish foot soldiers rallied, then attacked and were defeated a second time.

At last, Beresford’s two Anglo-Portuguese divisions reached their starting positions, with the 6th Division, including the 36th Regiment of Foot in Major General Lambert’s 2nd Brigade, leading. A French division counter-attacked, but was easily driven uphill, and the Allied divisions began to advance up the slope. They fought their way to the top of the Heights despite bitter resistance, then paused to drag up some cannon. Swinging to the north, they began rolling up the French defences. Beresford’s men captured two redoubts, lost them to a counterattack and finally seized them again after bringing the 4th Division forward. The heights being lost, Soult withdrew his soldiers behind the city’s fortifications.

Soult held Toulouse during the day of 11 April but decided to pull out of the city upon detecting allied cavalry moving up the Toulouse-Carcassonne road. At 9 pm that evening, the French withdrew out of Toulouse by the Carcassonne road.


On the morning of 12 April a delegation of city officials handed over the city to the Allied army. That afternoon, Wellington got news via Bordeaux from Frederick Ponsonby of Napoleon’s abdication. A few hours later in the evening, this was confirmed when the official couriers arrived from Paris. Wellington sent them on at once to Soult.


The Allied army suffered 4,558 casualties, including 1,900 from Freire’s divisions and 1,500 from the 6th Division.  Brigade commanders Denis Pack, James Douglas, and Thomas Brisbane were wounded.  French casualties numbered 231 officers and 3,005 men killed.


On 13 April while on his march from Villefranche to Castelnaudary the Marshal was caught up by the officers from Paris. They were met with a rebuff – Soult declared himself not convinced of the authenticity of their credentials. He definitely refused to acknowledge the provisional regime till he should have, what he considered, solid evidence of its legality. On receiving Soult’s refusal to acknowledge the Provisional Government, Wellington sent him on 14 April a reply to the effect that no armistice would be granted until he made his submission; it was suspected that the Marshal wished to keep his army under his own hand for the purpose of Napoleonic intrigues. By 15 April Marshal Suchet at Perpignan had accepted the evidence, placed himself at the disposition of the new government and asked Wellington for an armistice.

The last major action of the war occurred on 14 April at the Battle of Bayonne, when the French commander Thouvenot led a sortie from the besieged city against the Allied lines.

On 17 April, Soult at last received a dispatch from Berthier which formally announced the Emperor’s abdication and consequent cessation of hostilities in all quarters. There was nothing more to be done and, the same day, his chief-of-staff went to Toulouse to sign an armistice, ending the fighting in the south. The city was briefly placed under Coalition control during the summer of 1814, with the withdrawal of allied troops in September.

The Battle of Orthez 27th February 1814


On the morning of February 23rd 1814 the left wing of the Allied army under Sir John Hope began its daring crossing of the Adour to the west of the town of Bayonne. The Guards, supported by riflemen of the 5/60th, crossed the river in small groups, ferried across the river on rafts. By the end of the day a bridgehead was established and even a French counter-attack failed to stop the operation. By the afternoon of February 26th a bridge of boats had been constructed across the river, which enabled Hope to get some 8,000 men across to the north bank. Bayonne was now completely surrounded and the blockade began.

The next day Wellington, with the main Allied field army, fought a major battle at Orthez, some thirty-five miles away to the east. On February 26th Beresford had crossed the Gave de Pau with the 4th and 7th Divisions near Peyrehorade, pushing Soult back towards Orthez. The 3rd Division forded the river at Berenx while Wellington himself brought up the 6th, which included the 36th Foot in its 2nd Brigade, and Light Division, plus a force of cavalry, across on a pontoon bridge, which had been thrown across the Gave, also at Berenx. Hill, meanwhile, with the 2nd Division and Le Cor’s Portuguese division, marched to the south of Orthez, passing to the east of the town but remaining on the south bank of the Gave.

On the morning of February 27th Wellington had with him on the northern bank of the Gave some 38,000 infantry and 3,300 cavalry as well as 54 guns. Soult’s army, of about 30,000 with six fewer guns, occupied a strong position along a ridge which ran north from Orthez for about a mile before running west for three miles from the bend in the main Bayonne-Orthez road, which ran along the ridge, to the small village of St Boes upon which Soult rested his right flank.  Soult’s troops occupied the whole length of this ridge from which three very prominent spurs extended south towards the Gave. The spur on the extreme western edge of the ridge does not actually connect with the ridge itself, being separated by a few hundred yards. The remains of an old Roman camp were situated on the forward edge of the spur and would feature prominently in the battle.

The battle commenced at 8.30am on the 27th February when a battalion of French infantry was driven from the church and churchyard of St Boes by the 1/7th, 1/20th and 1/23rd, who made up Ross’s brigade of the 4th Division. The brigade advanced further east along the ridge to clear the rest of the village but it came under fire from French artillery and could go no further. French troops under Taupin were then sent to recover the village and St Boes became the scene of severe house-to-house fighting as both sides struggled for its possession.

While the fight for St Boes waged Picton’s 3rd Division entered the fray, attacking Soult’s centre. His troops advanced up the two centre spurs but were held up by French artillery that swept the crests of the spurs, inflicting heavy casualties. The attack here was only intended to be a demonstration, however, and he pulled his troops back leaving just his strong skirmishing line of light troops and riflemen to probe the French line, something which they continued to do for the next two hours.

Meanwhile, the fighting in St Boes intensified until at about 11.30 Wellington gave orders for an assault along the whole length of his line, leaving part of the Light Division only in reserve at the Roman Camp from where Wellington watched the progress of the fight.

On the Allied left Brisbane’s brigade of the 3rd Division began to push its way up the eastern-most spur with the 6th Division following behind. At St Boes, the 4th Division was replaced by the 7th Division, while the 1/52nd advanced from the Roman camp to deliver an attack on the French brigade on the right flank of the advancing 7th Division.

The Battles of Orthez February 27th 1814. From an acquatint by W Heath in the museum collection.

These attacks were pressed home vigorously but French resistance was stiff and it was to take the advancing British columns about two hours of hard fighting to drive the French from the spurs. This was not accomplished without loss, particularly to the 1/88th, three companies of which suffered heavy losses when a squadron of French cavalry, the 21st Chasseurs, charged and overran them after catching them in line. The French cavalry suffered similarly when they received the return fire from Picton’s men, half of their number being killed or wounded.

The French troops along the ridge were being severely pushed by Wellington’s attacking columns but it was the advance by the 1/52nd, under Colborne, that decided the day. This battalion entered the fight in support of the Walker’s 7th Division just at the moment when this division, along with Anson’s brigade of the 4th Division, was finally driving the French from the body-choked village of St Boes. The 52nd advanced almost knee-deep in mud in places but when it reached the crest of the spur it took Taupin’s division in its left flank. Taupin’s men were driven back by Colborne’s determined charge and fell in with those retreating from St Boes. In so doing, they precipitated a degree of panic, which caused the collapse of the entire French right. It was now about 2.30pm and with Wellington’s triumphant troops pouring along the main road on top of the ridge the day was as good as won.

At first, Soult’s army began to fall back in an orderly manner with the divisions of Villatte and Harispe drawn up on his left flank to cover the withdrawal. However, Hill’s corps had crossed the Gave to the east of Orthes and fell upon Harispe’s division, driving it back upon Villatte. The controlled retreat soon became a panic-stricken flight, which spread along the whole of the French line, Soult’s men discarding huge quantities of equipment to facilitate their retreat to the north-east towards Toulouse.

The battle of Orthez cost Wellington 2,164 casualties while Soult’s losses were put at around 4,000 including 1,350 prisoners, a number which would have been far greater had not Wellington been slightly wounded towards the end of the battle which caused him to halt and incapacitated him during the next few days.

After Soult’s defeat by Wellington at the Battle of Orthez in late February 1814, the French Marshal retreated north behind the Adour River to Saint-Sever. Soult could defend Bordeaux to the north-west or Toulouse to the east, but not both. The French army would have difficulty obtaining food near Bordeaux and it would place the Garonne River in their rear. Therefore, Soult elected to base himself on Toulouse

The Battle of Vimeiro 21 August 1808

After the Battle of Roliça, General Sir Arthur Wellesley established a position near Vimeiro to cover a beachhead at Maceira Bay.  Most of ,his reinforcements had arrived by 20 August and Wellesley planned to advance to Lisbon. His force consisted of eight independent infantry brigades, 17 cannons, 240 light cavalry and about 2,000 Portuguese troops him giving a total of 20,000 men. This was the first action of the Peninsular war when both the 29th Foot, in the 3rd Brigade under Major General Nightingall, and the 36th Foot, in the 2nd Brigade under Major General Ferguson fought on the same field.

Opposing him was General Junot’s 14,000-man army was organised into two infantry divisions and a cavalry division under Pierre Margaron. Henri François Delaborde’s infantry division contained two brigades under Antoine François Brenier and Jean Guillaume Barthélemy Thomières, while Louis Henri Loison’s division included two brigades commanded by Jean-Baptiste Solignac and Hugues Charlot. In addition, François Étienne de Kellermann commanded a 2,100-man reserve made up of four combined grenadier battalions made up of the grenadier company from each of Junot’s infantry battalions. The French were supported by 23 cannons.

The battle started with an attempt at an outflanking manoeuvre by the French but Wellesley was able to redeploy his army in time to meet this threat.  Wellesley placed Anstruther’s and Fane’s brigades in front of Vimeiro, with Acland’s men in support. At first, his five remaining brigades held only the western ridge. Junot planned to send Thomières, Solignac and Charlot’s infantry brigades to capture Vimeiro, while Brenier’s 4,300-man brigade and some dragoons swung in a wide flanking manoeuvre to seize an empty ridge to the northeast of the village. Wellesley detected Brenier’s move and switched Nightingall (including the 29th Regiment), Ferguson (incuding the 36th Foot) and Bowes Brigades to the northeastern ridge. Once Junot realised that British troops occupied the ridge, he sent Solignac’s brigade to the right to assist Brenier’s attack. The French commander decided to launch his attack on the town immediately, instead of waiting for his flanking move to develop.

All the preliminary moves and countermoves caused a series of uncoordinated French attacks. First, Thomières’ 2,100-man brigade approached the British position. Supported by three cannons and screened by skirmishers, the brigade was formed into a column.

To counter the French skirmishers, Fane detached four companies of the 60th Regiment of Foot and the 95th Rifles. These outnumbered and outfought the French skirmishers, who fell back to the sides of the brigade column. Without their skirmishers in front of them, the French column blundered into the 945 men of the 50th Regiment. At 100 yards the British, formed into a two-deep line, opened fire. Several companies of the 50th began wheeling inward toward both flanks of the French column. Unable to properly deploy into firing line and unwilling to face the deadly enfilade fire, the French infantry fled to the rear, leaving their three cannons to be captured.

The Battle of Vimiero. An acquatint by William Heath. Print in the Museum Collection

Soon after, a similar fate overtook Charlot’s brigade. In a very narrow column, it struck one battalion of Anstruther’s brigade, which had been hidden behind a crest. Before they could deploy, the French were taken in flank by a second battalion. Unable to effectively reply to the devastating British volley fire, Charlot’s men fled. Seeing the battle going against him, Junot committed his grenadier reserve to the attack. The first two battalions attacked the same area as the previous units and were thrown back. Kellermann swung the final two grenadier battalions wide to the right and succeeded in breaking into Vimeiro. But, counterattacked by units from Anstruther’s and Acland’s, these Frenchmen also fell back. The 20th Light Dragoons pounced on Kellermann’s retreating grenadiers and routed them. Excited by their easy success, the British horsemen charged out of control. They were met by Margaron’s French cavalry division and were routed in their turn.

As Brenier’s men had become lost in the hills, Solignac attacked the northeast ridge. This brigade changed tactics deploying in an attack formation with three battalions abreast. Even so, each battalion formed a column one company wide and eight companies deep. If the French intended to form into line once the enemy position was detected, they waited too long. They marched into the kill zone of Nightingall and Ferguson’s brigades before they could deploy. Smashed by British volleys, Solignac’s men fled.

Brenier’s brigade, marching to the sound of battle, came on four battalions abreast. At first they enjoyed success when they surprised and defeated two British battalions. Victorious, the French column pressed, but soon ran into the 29th Regiment in line and were stopped. The 29th was joined by the other two units, who had quickly rallied. Together, the volley fire of the three British battalions soon routed Brenier’s men.

The 29th Regiment at the Battle of Vimeiro on 21st August 1808.
Picture by Richard Simkin (c) Mercian Regiment Museum.

At the Battle of Vimiero the 29th Regiment suffered the following casualties: Killed: 2 Rank and File. Wounded Brigadier-Major Andrew Creagh , 1 Serjeant, 10 Rank and File.

After the comprehensive French defeat, Junot offered complete capitulation. Nevertheless, Dalrymple gave the French far more generous terms than they could have hoped for. Under the terms of the Convention of Sintra, the defeated army was transported back to France by the British navy, complete with its guns and equipment and the loot it had taken from Portugal. The Convention of Sintra caused a massive outcry in Britain and, following an official enquiry, both Dalrymple and Burrard were blamed. Wellesley, who had opposed the agreement, was exonerated.

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.

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.

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





The Storming of Bangalore 21st March 1791

In spring 1791 Lord Cornwallis with a mixed force of British and native troops attempted to capture the fortress of Bangalore from Tippoo Sultan the ruler of Mysore, India.   Arriving before the town on 5 February, Cornwallis found he had insufficient troops to invest the fortress and town so he encamped on the north-eastern side.  Bangalore consisted of a fort proper and a pettah, or fortified town, adjoining to it. It possessed two gates, the Mysore (or southern) and the Delhi (or northern) gate. Tippoo had thrown eight thousand men into the fort, nine thousand into the town, and then had retired with the remainder of his force to a position some six miles to westward. Cornwallis decided that the town should first be carried, in the hope that its position and the supplies hoarded within it would facilitate the siege of the fortress.

Soldiers of 36th Foot at Bangalore

Accordingly at dawn of the 7th March, the 36th Foot and a battalion of Bengal Sepoys moved off to the attack of a gateway on the northern face of the town, four heavy guns following them in support. A flèche which covered the gate was speedily carried with the bayonet.  The storming party then pushed on across the ditch and through the belt of thorn to the inner gate. Here the advance was checked, for the gateway had been built up with masonry upon which field-guns could make no impression; and the party perforce remained halted for some time under a galling fire until the heavy guns could be brought forward. A small breech was made at length; and Lieutenant Ayre being hoisted up by the grenadiers, contrived to creep through it. General Medows, then turned to the grenadiers of the 36th with the words, “Well done. Now, whiskers ! Support the little gentleman.” A few more men managed to crawl after Ayre, and opened a sally-port for the entry of the rest. The garrison was then quickly beaten back under the guns of the fort, and within two hours two-thirds of the town were in possession of the British.

Meanwhile, Tippoo set his whole army in motion as if to turn Cornwallis’s left, at the same detaching six thousand men to reinforce the garrison, which had rallied under the cannon of the fort, and with them to re-take the town. Cornwallis, divining his intention, manoeuvred to foil the turning movement, but lost no time in strengthening his force within the walls. The attack of the Mysoreans upon the town was delivered with unusual spirit and resolution; but after a short exchange of volleys the 36th and 76th, with two Sepoy battalions, cut matters short by clearing the streets with the bayonet. Gathering impetus from success, they swept the enemy out of the town, with a loss of over two thousand killed and wounded. The casualties on the British side amounted to one hundred and thirty, of which no fewer than one hundred occurred among the Europeans. Among the fallen was Lieutenant-Colonel Moorhouse, who was killed while bringing up the heavy guns to the first attack on the gate.

The Orders issued by Lord Cornwallis on the day after the fall of the fortress are preserved in the records of the 36th Foot, and are as follows:

“LORD CORNWALLIS feels the most sensible gratification in congratulating, the officers and soldiers of the army on the honour able issue of the fatigues and dangers they have undergone during the late arduous siege. Their alacrity and firmness in the execution of their various duties, has, perhaps, never been exceeded, and he shall not only think it incumbent on him to represent their “meritorious conduct in the strongest colours, but he shall ever remember it with the sincerest esteem and admiration.”

“The conduct of all the regiments which happened, in their tour, to be on duty that evening, did credit in every respect to their spirit and discipline; but his Lordship desires to offer the tribute of his particular and warmest praise to the European grenadiers and light infantry of the army, and to the THIRTY-SIXTH, Seventy-second, and Seventy-sixth regiments, who led the attack and carried the fortress, and who, by their behaviour on that occasion, furnished a conspicuous proof, that discipline and valour in soldiers, when directed by zeal and capacity in officers, are irresistible.”

The fortress was to fall three weeks later on the 21st March.



Important Acquisition – Unique 36th Regiment Officer’s Belt-plate

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 an Officer shoulder belt plate of the 36th Herefordshire Regiment.  This belt plate succeeded the 1800 pattern and was prompted by the plethora of battle honours awarded for the Peninsular War, and the authorisation of the motto “FIRM”, both events occurring in 1816.  The introduction of this plate must therefore be after 1816 when the last four battle honours were granted yet before 1825 when “PYRENEES” and “NIVE” were granted.  This plate shows clear signs that the star has been moved upwards to accommodate the “FIRM” scroll.  Bennet, who originally acquired the badge of Captain Bayley, (Bennet R.W. 1994 “Badges of the Worcestershire Regiment”) mentions only one other example of this type of shoulder belt plate, whose current location is unknown.

Charles Andrew Bayley was first commissioned on the 25th November 1804, as an Ensign of the 41st Regiment of Foot.  On the 26th January 1806 he was a gazetted Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 31st Foot and it was in this capacity that he served in the Peninsular.  He was present at the siege of Badajoz and the Battle of Albuehera and at the action of Arroyo del Molinos for which he received a promotion.  He was gazetted Captain and joined the 36th Foot (the Herefordshire Regiment) on the 15th January 1812.  He joined the 2nd Battalion of the 36th in May and went recruiting in Borrisokane, Ireland.  He was back in Spain in March 1813, but was sick and on leave from October 1813 to May 1814.   He was then appointed Officer in charge of the 36th Depot in Cork. Following the disbandment of the 2nd battalion in 1815 he joined the first battalion in Portsmouth. In 1817 he was posted to Malta.  He became DAQMG Malta in August 1821 and then Military Secretary Corfu in February 1822.  He was appointed military secretary in Malta from May 1824 and then deputy Judge Advocate in Malta in April 1825.   In 1826, he went on half pay until 1841.  On the 23rd November 1841 he was appointed Lt. Colonel Mediterranean and from 1846 to 1850 he was Commander Forces Gozo, Malta.  He died in 1852.

Officer's shoulder belt plate of the 36th Regiment

Officer’s shoulder belt plate of the 36th Regiment