The 13th at Waterloo
The regiment on this date was in decidedly scattered quarters, as will be seen from the following. One troop was at Cork, the headquarters, one each at Mallow, Bandon, Tallow, and Gort, three at Limerick, in addition to which there were various detachments spread about from the several out-stations. Five days later, by order, the regiment was augmented to ten troops, the whole to consist of 895 men and 775 horses. The same day the troops from Bandon, Tallow, and Mallow marched into Cork, and were completed for service by Captain Lennox’s troop.
On the 28th of April the troops from Limerick marched in, and on the following day were completed for service by Captain Holmes’s troop, who marched in from Gort. At 4 A.M. on April 28th Captain Bowers’s troop and a detachment of Captain Gubbins’s marched to Cove and embarked.
On May 1st the same took place with the remainder of Captain Gubbins’s troop and a portion of Captain Gregorie’s. Three days later Major Lawrence’s, Captain Doherty’s, Major Macallester’s troops, and the remainder of Captain Gregorie’s, marched and embarked. The entire embarkation was effected without any accident. The first two detachments sailed at once for Ramsgate, where they were reshipped and sent to Ostend.
Colonel Doherty tells us that the arrangements for the horses on board the ships at Cork were by no means good. The vessels were very small, the horses were very much crowded, and there were but few mangers, while the animals were generally tied up to the sides of the ships.
The regiment now on board consisted of the following numbers, forming six troops. Each troop had I troop sergeant-major, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, I trumpeter, 2 farriers and 59 privates with 66 horses.
The following lists show the officers who sailed with the regiment, those who subsequently joined at Ostend, and those who remained in England:—
Sailed.—Colonel P. Doherty, Captain (Major) B. Lawrence, Captain (Major) Macallester, Captain C. Gregorie, Captain M. Bowers, Lieutenant G. Doherty, Lieutenant J. Drought, Lieutenant C. Bowers, Lieutenant Maclean, Lieutenant R. Nesbitt, Lieutenant J. Geale, Lieutenant H. Acton, Lieutenant J. E. Irving, Lieutenant J. Wallace, Cornet J. Wakefield, Surgeon T. G. Logan, Assistant Surgeon A. Armstrong, Veterinary-Surgeon J. Constant, Quartermaster W. Minchin, and Paymaster A. Strange.
Officers who joined at Ostend.—Major (Lieut.-Colonel) Boyse, Captain J. Doherty, Captain R. Goulburn, Captain J. Gubbins, Lieutenant J. J. Moss, Lieutenant W. Turner, Lieutenant J. Pymm, Lieutenant J. Mill, and Lieutenant George Pack.
Officers who remained in England.—Major G. Lawrence, Captain S. Holmes, Captain J. Considine, Captain H. M’Neil, Lieutenant W. D’Arcy, Lieutenant J. Major, Cornet J. Trood, Cornet J. Mainland, and Adjutant J. Lawrence.
Later, Lieutenant R. Adams, Cornet J. Atherton, and Cornet J. Ryan, joined from England with a draft of men and remounts. Adjutant Lawrence was sent out afterwards to join the regiment. Twenty-eight women and nine children sailed with the regiment.
On May 9, 1815 the vessels weighed anchor and put to sea, but owing to contrary winds and continued bad weather a part of the fleet of transports put back and arrived at Cove on the evening of May 11. On the 13th the vessels again sailed, this time with better success, as they reached Ostend on May 22.
The headquarters ship, the Wellington, which held on its voyage in the first instance, arrived at its destination on May 17,—the troops and horses it carried being immediately disembarked and marched up the country. On the 22nd the entire regiment, with the exception of the men and horses with Major B. Lawrence who were in the Prince of Wales transport, having arrived were similarly landed and despatched up country. Major B. Lawrence was delayed and did not join the regiment until May 31, on which day Captain Goulburn from England also joined.
Meanwhile the regiment had marched through Bruges, Ecklau, and Ghent to Drongen, in and around which place it went into cantonments. On May 26th the 13th marched again through Ghent, and in the evening went into cantonments in the villages of Nieuroc, Kerchen, Haelters, and Erembodeghem. Two days later it changed its quarters to Castre, Herffelinghe, Pepinge, Bogaerden, and Hauteroix.
Next day the 13th marched to Scendelbeck, where the whole of the British cavalry and artillery were assembled under the command of the Earl of Uxbridge. Exclusive of the artillery there were 6000 sabres present. Here the force was inspected by Lord Wellington, who was accompanied on the occasion by the Prince of Orange and his brother, the Duc de Berri, the Duke of Brunswick – Oels, Field Marshal Blucher, the Prussian Ambassador, and many other distinguished persons. The army was drawn up in three lines, and having been inspected marched past in parade order, after which the various regiments returned to their several cantonments.
Things remained quiet until June 10. On this date another inspection and review took place, for which purpose the regiment assembled and marched to a plain near the village of Scendelbeck. Here there were also assembled the 11th 12th,Roth, 16th and 23rd Light Dragoons.
Lord Uxbridge most minutely inspected this fine array of men, and then ordered the performance of a large number of movements. These were done in such a manner as to cause him to express his complete satisfaction, and by his direction a perfect appreciation both of the appearance and the performance of the regiment was communicated in the strongest terms both to officers and men.
Late that evening the regiment returned to cantonments.
Again all was quiet—a quiet which lasted till June 16.
Between 3 and 4 A.M. on the morning of that day orders were received to march to Enghien. The 13th started, but on the road an order arrived to change the route through Briane le Comte to Nivelles.
On arrival at Nivelles the regiment was at once sent towards Quatre Bras.
About one hour before midnight a halt was ordered, and after a twelve-league march the 13th went into bivouac in a wheat-field.
Colonel Doherty, on the morning of the 16th was so ill with fever and ague that he was utterly unable to leave his bed when the order to march arrived. About noon, however, he managed to mount his horse, and with Assistant – Surgeon Armstrong in attendance made an endeavour to follow the regiment in the hopes of being able to join. He succeeded in reaching Briane le Comte that evening, but in such a state of exhaustion that he was totally unable to proceed. During the night the fever increased, and Assistant – Surgeon Armstrong, taking into consideration that the state of the country was so disturbed and his patient so ill, came to the conclusion that for Colonel Doherty to remain there was not only not calculated to restore him to health, but extremely dangerous. He therefore urged most anxiously that Colonel Doherty should be removed to Brussels. This course was pursued, and by the morning of June 18th he with his patient arrived in that city.
In consequence the command of the regiment devolved on Lieut.-Colonel Boyse.
At daybreak on June 17th the 13th was ready to mount, but not until 8 A.M. did it receive orders to march. The regiment was then directed to join the brigade under Major-General Grant, a brigade consisting of the 7th and 15th Hussars, and posted immediately behind the wood where a severe affair had taken place the previous evening.
It was now ascertained that the British and their Allies were retiring, and that the brigade was employed in covering the retreat.
The infantry, &c., now began to move to the rear. The cavalry brigade continued on the ground until nearly three o’clock, when the enemy were observed debouching from a large wood in heavy columns of cavalry. On these columns the artillery played as long as practicable, and the brigade then began its retreat.
The rear-guard on the road to Brussels was commanded by Major-General Dornberg, and consisted of the 7th Hussars, the 23rd Light Dragoons, and the Life Guards. Major-General Grant retired by another road parallel to the Chaussee; and passed through Lillers, towards Brian le Lend.
When the cavalry arrived on a line with Genappe, the enemy were seen passing through that town. As soon as the French cleared it, Lord Uxbridge attacked them with the 7th Hussars, having the 23rd Light Dragoons in support and the Life Guards in reserve. The fight was for some time obstinately contested, but such a large force of cuirassiers and lancers was brought up by the French and hurled at the 7th Hussars and 23rd Dragoons (who had been joined in the attack), that these regiments were compelled to give way, and they retired behind their reserves.
The Life Guards then moved forward, and charged the enemy in the most gallant manner—broke him, and pursued him for some distance, when they halted, formed, and retired.
The enemy having rallied, again formed and advanced. The Life Guards then delivered a second charge, and for the second time broke and routed the enemy. After this they again retired in admirable order, during which they were exposed to a violent and severe artillery fire. When the 13th and 15th arrived at the Chaussee leading from Brussels to Nivelles with General Grant, a troop from each regiment was detached to cover the march of some baggage which was on that road. Between these two troops and the enemy some skirmishing took place, but the French did not press their attack here, and there was but little molestation during the retreat.
June 18, 1815.
At daylight on the morning of Sunday, June 18,, the brigade consisting of the 7th Hussars, 13th Light Dragoons, and 15th Hussars, under the command of Major-General Grant, moved to the right centre of the position occupied by the army, and took up its post on the left of the road leading to Nivelles, in rear of the brigade of Guards commanded by Major- General Byng. A portion of the Guards brigade occupied the house and gardens of Hougomont, and in the rear of this and the orchard, where others of the Guards were, the cavalry brigade took post.
Between 10 and 11 A.M. the furious attacks on Hougomont began, and most sanguinary conflicts took place. But despite the attacks of the enemy again and again renewed, the Guards held their ground and the French were repulsed. Meanwhile the cavalry brigade was exposed to a most heavy artillery fire, which, coupled with musketry, lasted until between 3 and 4 P.M. During this time many casualties took place, men and horses being killed and wounded.
About noon Lieut. – Colonel Boyse had his horse killed under him by a cannon-shot, and in the fall was so severely bruised as to be compelled to leave the field.
The command of the regiment therefore devolved on Major B. Lawrence.
Lieutenant Packe and Lieutenant Irving were about the same time wounded, the former by a splinter of a shell which struck him in the hip, and the latter by a spent ball which hit him in the jaw. Both of these officers were removed to the rear.
The brigade had not, however, been stationary during these long hours. It had been moved more than once, but hitherto no opportunity had arrived for more active operations. However, the enemy now pushed forward two strong columns of cavalry supported by infantry, in an endeavour to force the British position. The cavalry brigade received orders to charge. It charged, and the charge succeeded. The enemy broke and were pursued until the approach of a fresh body of the enemy’s cavalry on the left flank was detected.
The brigade then retired and formed in the rear of the infantry. Shortly after the regiment was brought on to the attack by Lord Uxbridge and Lord Hill, and charged a square of the enemy’s infantry, which it completely broke, routed, and dispersed. There were several other attacks, till at length the enemy were completely driven from the position. But the losses of the regiment had been most severe. The continual artillery fire of round-shot, shell, and grape, besides musketry, had sadly thinned the ranks. Captain Gubbins was killed by a cannon-shot, Lieutenant Geale and Lieutenant Pymm had both been mortally wounded by musketry fire, while Captain Gregorie and Lieutenant Mill, though with sabre wounds in their hands, yet were able to continue with the regiment in the field.
The afternoon passed, and towards evening the enemy in their last endeavours renewed their attacks, and renewed them with redoubled fury. Forward were sent their massive columns of cavalry and infantry—columns which were received with the utmost determination by the British, and, as all know, repulsed. Lord Hill again ordered up the brigade and also that commanded by General Dornberg, which was formed up on the left. Cheering them on, the two brigades were launched against a heavy column of infantry. At it they rode, delivering their charge amid a most severe and galling fire. But the cavalry brigades were not to be denied. The charge was perfectly successful. The enemy faltered, gave way, and was routed. It was the beginning of the end. In this desperate attack the casualties were also numerous. Lieutenant Doherty received a severe wound: a grape -shot contusion in his groin, which only missed killing him owing to his watch. The watch, a doubled-cased one, was flattened. He was also severely wounded in the head by a musket – shot. Lieutenant Bowers was similarly shot in the head. For nearly three months these two officers lay sick at Brussels, and even when they did join the regiment were not completely cured for some time after. Captain Doherty received a wound in his hand, another a musket-shot in the arm and a contusion in his side by a blow from a sabre. Despite this he did not quit the field. The losses in horses too were heavy. Major Lawrence lost three killed and wounded, and hardly an officer escaped having one at least.
The final period of the battle is too well known to need repetition in anything but the most brief manner. The Prussians arrived, taking the French perpendicularly on the right flank. Against it and the Germans the French could only oppose scattered regiments of the Imperial Guard and the 6th Corps under Lobau. Although these troops fought splendidly, all other organised resistance turned to confusion—confusion which is so often, nay almost always, the precursor of a total rout. The Emperor was finally forced to take refuge in one of the squares of the Guard, and was carried by them safely off the field. The total rout ensued. The British pursuit began, and there is no more than a catalogue of disaster to relate.
Throwing away their arms, their accoutrements, abandoning their guns, caissons, baggage, ammunition, and stores, the vanquished French made the best of their way from the field. After a pursuit of some three miles the brigade was halted and went into bivouac. To the Prussians was committed the duty of keeping the conquered on the run. It was well for the Frenchman who could keep on—he met with scant mercy if overtaken.
Here a letter from Lieutenant William Turner, 13th Light Dragoons, which gives a most graphic account of the Battle of Waterloo and the march to Paris, may well be inserted. It confirms in its main narrative the story of the battle as told in the regimental records and in Colonel Doherty’s papers, but it also adds other details which are full of interest.
The letter, which is a long one, runs as follows:—
In the official list of wounded occurs the name of Captain William Moray, 13th Light Dragoons, extra A.D.C. to Major-General Grant, severely. His name is not, however, included in the Regimental List of Casualties.
In the Roll of Depot Troops, however, we find that Captain M. M’Neil remained in England in command of a troop when the regiment sailed on May 8th for Ostend. He exchanged into the 17th Light Dragoons on 28th June 1815 (Army List).
William Moray was a lieutenant in the 17th Light Dragoons, 19th October 1804; Captain, 11th February 1808; exchanged into 13th Light Dragoons, 28th June 1815 Major, 13th Light Dragoons, 21st June 1817; exchanged into the 19th Light Dragoons later, and retired on Irish half-pay as a Major in 1822.
In the Regimental Record of " Succession of Captains " the name of Captain Moray is numbered 53, and the date of his Regimental Commission is marked " unknown." In the list of " Succession of Majors " his name does not occur.
Probably Captain Moray never either joined at the depot or did duty with the regiment before the campaign, but by influence went out to the campaign as A.D.C. to General Grant. Hence he -is not mentioned by Colonel Doherty.
The following are the names of the officers who were present and fought with the regiment at the battle of Waterloo:—
Major (Lieut.- Colonel) Boyse, Captain (Major) B. Lawrence, Captain Doherty, Captain (Major) Macallester, Captains Bowers, Gregorie, Gubbins, and Goulburn; Lieutenants Moss, Doherty, Drought, Bowers, Maclean, Nisbett, Turner, Pymm, Mill, J. Geale, Packe, Acton, Irving, and Wallace. Cornet Wakefield was with the baggage.
Of the staff there was with the regiment in the field Surgeon Logan, Veterinary-Surgeon Constant, and Regimental Quartermaster Minchin.
Six officers were slightly and two severely wounded.
Three sergeant-majors and six sergeants, two corporals and two trumpeters were wounded, and fifty-two privates.
Eight privates were missing, and of these only one—William Rapier—joined; the remaining seven, being presumably killed, were struck off the strength of the regiment.
Twelve privates were killed on the field of battle; two reported only wounded were afterwards found to have been killed. Three of those reported wounded subsequently died of their wounds.
The following table shows the loss sustained by the regiment at Waterloo:—
Horses killed, 15; wounded, 46; missing,
52; total, 113.
After the death of Captain James Gubbins and the disablement of the other officers of the troop, the command devolved upon Troop Sergeant-Major Edward Wells. His gallant conduct on the occasion was particularly remarked, and in the following year he received a commission.
The date of his enlistment in the 13th does not appear. He was a sergeant in Captain Stisted’s (Gubbins’s) troop in 1810. Between that date and 1815 he must have been promoted to Troop Sergeant-Major.
Edward Wells was gazetted Ensign in the 2nd West India Regiment, June 26, 1816; Lieutenant in the 54th Regiment, December 25, 1823; Captain in the 54th Regiment, July I, 1836; and he retired from the service in 1841.
For its gallant service at the battle of Waterloo the 13th Light Dragoons received the following honours:—
By royal authority the word "WATERLOO" was in future to be borne on the guidons and appointments.
Every officer and soldier present received a silver medal, and the privilege of reckoning two years’ service for that day was also conferred on the troops.
Colonel Patrick Doherty and Lieutenant-Colonel Shapland Boyse were both made Companions of the Bath.
On June 19, the day following the victory at Waterloo, the regiment continued in pursuit, or rather in pressing on in the wake of the defeated and retreating French army—an army that had during the night suffered much at the hands of the pursuing Prussians. That evening, after a march of eight leagues, the 13th went into bivouac near Nivelles. Next morning the march was resumed, and that night the site of the bivouac was near Binch. On June 21st the regiment marched five leagues to a bivouac near Gommeyries. The next night the bivouac was near Montaige—a shorter march of only three leagues. The distance covered on the 23rd to a bivouac near Beaumont was four leagues, and then the regiment halted for a day. Resuming the march on the 25th, the 13th arrived near Beaurevon, a distance of six leagues, and again went into bivouac. The same distance was covered on the 26th, when the regiment bivouacked near Betham Court. Six leagues next day brought the 13th to a bivouac near Armancourt. After a march of seven leagues on the 28th the neighbourhood of Latouce was reached, on the 29th to near Equippe, and on the 30th to near Boisseau, distances of six and nine leagues respectively, and the 13th went into bivouac each night. After a halt on July 1st the regiment marched two leagues till it had arrived near Villa Puite, where going into bivouac a halt was ordered which lasted until July 7. On that day the 13th marched nine leagues, and arrived at Genevillier, where it went into quarters and remained until July 30.
During its stay at Genevillier detachments from the regiment were employed daily in and around Paris, where numerous posts had to be taken up and a share of the duties of the Army of Occupation to be performed. Reviews and inspections of the British troops and their Allies were also held by the allied sovereigns then in the city.
On July 30th the regiment marched daily until August 4, the halting-places being Lazarches, six leagues; Clermont, six leagues; Breteuil, six leagues; Amiens, four leagues; Flexieurt, five leagues; and Abbeville, five leagues.
Here the regiment was distributed in the town and the neighbourhood. Captain Doherty’s troop was stationed at Abbeville, the troops of Lieut.-Colonel Lawrence and Captain Gregorie at Gemashe; those of Major Macallester and Captain Bowers at Halincourt, and the troop of Captain Goulburn at Mayeuville. But these quarters were very wide of each other, and the arrangement was found to be most inconvenient.
On August 9, Colonel Doherty arrived at Abbeville from Brussels and resumed the command of the regiment. The 13th was then brigaded with the 1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion, and the brigade placed under the command of Colonel Baron Sir F. Arentschildts of the latter.
Next day the troop commanded by Major Macallester marched to Huppy, and that of Captain Goulburn to Peuffle.
The inconveniences attaching to the division of the regiment now led to representations being made on the matter to the civil authorities of Abbeville. In consequence some large houses were fitted up for the regiment as barracks in the town, and a riding – school was converted into a stable, which with the stables already occupied was sufficient to accommodate all, and the 13th was soon brought together again. The troops of Lieut.-Colonel Lawrence and Captain Gregorie marched in on August 25, those of Major Macallester and Captain Bowers on September 2, and that of Captain Goulburn on September 8. The officers now for the first time had an opportunity of forming a mess. Here the 13th remained brigaded with the 1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion until December 3, when it marched to Trevent en route for St Poll On the same day the German Hussars started for Hanover.
Prior to the march the half-yearly inspection was held by Colonel Arentschildts.
The march on the 3rd was a distance of nine leagues, over an extremely bad road.
On December 3rd the regiment arrived at St Pol, marching five leagues, and the troops were distributed in St Pol and the neighboring villages of Marquet, Hernicourt, Croix, Braile, and Hentecloque.
On December 6th thirteen horses were received from the 23rd Light Dragoons, and one from the Waggon-Train, a receipt for which was passed. Thirty-one horses cast from the 13th Light Dragoons by order of Lord Combermere were delivered to the 23rd Light Dragoons.
Two days later forty-seven horses from the Royals, twenty-nine from the Greys, and thirty-three from the Inniskillings, were received by the regiment.
On January 9, 1816, Lieutenant Adams, Cornets Ryan and Atherton, with a detachment consisting of one sergeant and seventy-six rank and file, joined the regiment at St Pol from the depot in England.
Major-General Grant having gone home, the command of the brigade, now consisting of the 11th, 13th 15th and a troop of horse artillery, devolved on Colonel Doherty, in consequence of which Lieut.-Colonel Boyse took the command of the regiment.
On January 12th the regiment and the horse artillery marched to Lilliers, a distance of six leagues, and continuing the next day arrived at Hazebrouck, seven leagues beyond. Here the 13th was cantoned as follows. The troops of Major Macallester and Captain Goulburn at Bailleul, that of Captain Doherty at Steenworde, that of Captain Bowers at Morbeck, that of Captain Gregorie at Castre and St Silvestre, that of Lieut.-Colonel Lawrence at Berguin and in the neighbourhood. Hazebrouck was occupied by the staff and headquarters. The horse artillery moved to Cassel and went into quarters.
On January 18th the troop of Lieut.-Colonel Lawrence marched to Steinbeck. Having got a monastery fitted up by arrangement with the civil authorities as barracks at Hazebrouck, the troop of Captain Doherty, with the addition of the young and awkward men and horses of the other five troops, marched in and were quartered there. On February 2nd Captain Goulburn’s troop marched to Borr and proceeded on the 4th to Merville. The troop of Major Macallester was also moved on the 2nd, marching to Oxillare.
Thus the regiment rested until March 20,, when General Grant joined, having returned from England and resumed the command of the brigade. Colonel Doherty in consequence reverted to his regimental command.
The time for the regiment to return to England was now approaching.
On April 17th two sergeants, two corporals, one farrier, and eighteen privates mounted were delivered over to Major During for the service of the Staff Cavalry Corps. There were already three men from the regiment employed on that duty.
Orders for England having arrived, the regiment on May 6th was inspected by Lord Combermere, and certain horses were by him selected for transfer to other regiments.
Fifty-six horses went to the 11th Light Dragoons, one hundred and twenty-four to the 12th Light Dragoons, and eighty-one to the 15th Hussars,—making a total, when the twenty-six already transferred to the Staff Cavalry Corps are included, of two hundred and eighty-seven horses.
On the 7th May the 13th marched from Hazebrouck, on its return to England, putting up that night at the villages near St Omer. It appears that the French did not admit any troops into their garrison towns. The baggage was, however, passed through, and sent by boats from St Omer to Calais.
Next evening the regiment put up in the villages between St Omer and Calais.
It had been intended to embark on the next day, but the weather was so tempestuous that no embarkation could possibly take place. However, on May 10, 1816, the regiment proceeded on board at Calais. The horses were placed in Dover Packets accompanied by the men to whom they belonged; the dismounted men being conveyed in transports. And here, cooped up on board ship, the regiment had to remain until May 13, as the weather rendered it quite impossible to proceed to sea with any probability of making a passage.
On the 13th however, at 3 P.M., the vessels weighed anchor and put to sea. The first vessel reached Dover in four hours, the last at II P.M. that night. On the next morning the regiment disembarked at Dover, after an absence of a little more than a year.
During that period it had been through a most arduous though brief campaign. It had marched 234 leagues (French) or 702 miles. It had lost in killed, died, and discharged in consequence of wounds, three officers, sixty – five men, and two hundred and four horses. To other corps it had transferred twenty-six men and two hundred and eighty-seven horses. From France only sixty-two horses were brought back to England.