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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

South America 1807 - British soldier

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South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby DavidB » June 7th, 2011, 12:38 pm

I'm asking this on behalf of a work colleague. I suspect the answer is going to be that there's no easy answer, but I shall ask anyway! :)
Family lore says apparently that one of her ancestors was in South America 1807 with the British Army, and she asked me how she'd go about proving the story. :?:
- obviously there's no MGS clasp so that's out (even assuming he survived long enough for it)
- she's looked at WO97 pension papers, but no joy there
- muster rolls might show when he served at least, assuming she knew a regiment for him.

Seems a bit of a tall order to me. :roll:
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby Connaught » August 26th, 2011, 4:47 pm

Invasion of the Rio de la Plata in Argentina took place in in that time frame, actually what is referred to as the second invasion, and the second battle of Buenos Aires. The action was roughly 1806 to 1807 and ended with the surrender of the British Force.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_invasions_of_the_R%C3%ADo_de_la_Plata

The 40th Regt. of Foot along with the 6oth RIfles and the then 95th Foot (later Rifles), 11th Foot, 38th Foot, 54th Foot, 47th Foot, 71st Foot, 87th Foot, 17th, 20th and 21st Light Dragoons all took part in the battle at Montevideo Uruguay in 1807 as part of the invasion.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Montevideo_(1807)

I'll have to look into the second battle of Buenos Aires as the only Regt. I'm sure of being present is the 88th.
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby Connaught » August 26th, 2011, 9:48 pm

Here is a good brief break down of the conflict:

http://everything2.com/title/The+British+invasions+of+Buenos+Aires
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby ben hughes » October 9th, 2011, 1:49 pm

I am currently researching the British Invasions of the River Plate and have spent sometime in the national archives. What's your ancestor's name? I might have some information for you...
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby mike » January 11th, 2012, 3:11 pm

Hi Ben. I read your comments with big attention. In my case, my ancestor was the Captain George Elder. He took part of 1807 invasion, and after that took part of Portuguese army in the war against Napoleon on Spain. He was later Major General and received the Order of Bath. He finally died at Madras at 1836, as governor of Madras.

Captain Elder took part of Montevideo battle at 1807, with the 95th riflemen regiment, with 2 captains, James Macdonald and Dickenson, who died at the breach of the city. He had recruited 100 soldiers on the Isle of Skye where. He was born at ReidCastle, Ross and Cromarty, but lived with his family at Sleat.

I found abundant records about his prominence at Battle of Badajoz.

I have a lot of information about him, but if you have any other records about his military records, I appreciate you could send me. Thanks
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby LesW » January 12th, 2012, 12:22 am

Hi mike. Les from Montevideo here.
I read your message for Ben and as I'm also interested in the 'Invasiones Inglesas' as they are called here, I'd be interested in knowing if you have any more information on Capt. Elder's participation in the capture of this city on 2-3 February 1807, I'd really like to have access to it.
I was just reading an online source which says that he was the leader of the 95th men who went up the cathedral tower. This action was very important as Gen. Auchmuty had called on the town authorities to surrender, as the British had effective control of the town, which they were willing to do, but the commanding officer of the fortress ('ciudadela') refused. Apparently the riflemen managed to kill the C.O.from the cathedral tower, leading to the fort's surrender. I don't remember seeing Capt. Elder's name in any of the accounts I have of the 'Montevideo Campaign' but will look at them again to see if I can find anything.
He was apparently seriously wounded on the advance to Buenos Aires, which was possibly lucky for him as I assume that he didn't take part in the actual attack on that city in which Crauford's Light Division, of which the 95th was part, had many men killed before having to surrender.
One correction to your account. He was later made Lieutenant-Governor of St.Johns, Newfoundland (now part of Canada) but was Commander-in-Chief of the British forces (not Governor) in Madras when he died. Do you have any idea of what caused his death?
I'd never heard of him before but, like many of those who participated in the disastrous campaign in the River Plate (including his fellow member of the 95th, Harry Smith) he certainly went on to have a very distinguished military career.
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby mike » January 12th, 2012, 11:58 pm

Hi LesW. Nice to read your comments. Eventualy, I could write to you on Spanish because of I am from Argentina. Destiny made that a descendant of John Elder, George Elder´s brother, went to Argentina at 1911, to work on a rail company. I prefer to continue writing on English, for respect to other readers.

In fact, the life of Sir George Elder is not so much known like the other prominent soldiers that fought at Montevideo and later Spain against Napoleon forces. But there is abundant information about his role as Lt. Col. of the 3rd regiment of Cacadores.

In reference to your comments, probably you have read the Resume of his life on United Service Magazine of 1837.

Attached a link

http://books.google.com.ar/books?id=8vg ... or&f=false

I was studing the events related with Montevideo Battle at 1807, and in fact, there were at first 3 companies of the 2d battalion 95th regiment of riflemen. It is mentioned in the book "The history of the Rifle Brigade (The Prince consort´s Own) formerly the 95th": Elder´s Macdonald´s and Dickenson´s. G. Elder recruited those men at Isle of Skye, where my family lived, probably escaping of Banffshire after taking part of the battle of Culloden at 1745, on the side of the Prince. (The book "The brave men of Skye" mentions details of G. Elder and his family)

The history of the Rifle Brigade

http://www.archive.org/stream/historyof ... e_djvu.txt

The 95th by Dave Gower

http://www.95th-rifles.co.uk/southamerica.htm

Following the events, I think that companies of Dickenson and Elder were at the breach and Captain James Macdonald´s company was with the 87th regiment at the North Gate or San Pedro Gate. Dickenson took the control of the breach, but died there. In U.Service magazine is mentioned that G.Elder took the control of the Cathedral´s tower taking later advantege of the Baker rifles to force the surrender of the Citadel.

You are right about he didn´t took part of the last assault to Buenos Aires. He probably was on board of Alexander Hospital ship, under care of Dr. Robb.

Sir George Elder died at 1836 at Madras after a horse accident. Nevertheless, there is some doubts about this accident mentioned in another Napolenic wars´s forum.
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby LesW » January 13th, 2012, 11:43 am

Hi mike, LesW here. Thanks for the reply and the links.

Yes,the house rules require that we communicate in English here, but perhaps we can also establish communication in Spanish by other means. I've been in touch with ben, who is in our part of the world at present. If he hasn't already been in contact with you privately, I'm sure he will be very interested in any material you have.

Perhaps you know Montevideo and have located the places where Capt. Elder was in action at. Of course, the city has changed a lot since 1807 and there is virtually no physical sign left of the 'Invasiones' here. If you do require any assistance with locations I can certainly help you as far as my knowledge and opinion (the latter very important in this case) goes.

Best LesW
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby ben hughes » January 14th, 2012, 12:48 pm

Hi Mike,

Thanks for the links. I hadn't seen that article from the USM before and there are several nice details. I have now got a contract settled with Pen & Sword (a military history publisher based in the UK), so the project is definitely going ahead, but the book probably won't be released until sometime mid 2013.

I'm afraid I have little information to offer you on your relative at the moment. You know considerably more about him than I do. I may well be able to fill in some of the background information for you later, however. I am currently writing chapter 10 about the British occupation of Maldonado (October 1806 - Jan 1807). When I get to the assault on MV, I will go through the sources in more detail and may find something of interest to you. At the moment one thing I can give you is the casualty / desertion figures of the 2nd Batt 95th Reg whilst in South America:

Casualties: 1 man killed on 16 January 1807; 2 killed 20 January 1807; 1 killed 3rd February 1807; 1 killed 3rd July 1807; 13 killed 5th July; 3 missing 5th July; 3 die later in July (of wounds?). Desertions: 1 deserted 26 April 1807;1 deserted 9 July 1807; 1 deserted 24 July 1807 (WO 12/9578)

Compared to some of the other regiments involved, the desertion figures are very low. I suspect this is a reflection of their elite status and esprit de corps.

Hope this is of some interest. I will post more info as I find it.

Best wishes,

Ben.
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Re: South America 1807 - British soldier

Postby mike » January 14th, 2012, 4:54 pm

Hi Ben, thanks for your words.

It is interesting you mention the subject of desertions at River Plate invasion. It was a big concern where almost 800 soldiers deserted. I think that the behavior of 95th regiment about this matter, and soldier under Captain Elder command specifically, was closely related with his training. Particularly, He was an Stuart with all the implications related with that. I could find a comment about him, from a prominent general, that explain my point.

Sir George Napier (brothers Napier were close friends of George Elder), in his book "Passages in the Early Military Life of General Sir George T. Napier, K.C.B." page 215

"George Elder was always ready for any service; no man distinguished himself more"

There is anecdote about his temper that was mentioned in the book "Tales of the War, Naval and military chronicle", page 387,
"
"AN EXCELLENT STORY
My business is with a youth who the day before joined the division history of his next day's adventure beguiled me of many a hearty laugh and although I despair of being able communicate it to my readers with anything like the humour with which I received it from an amiable and friend yet I cannot resist giving it as it rests on my remembrance.Mr Rogers as already stated had the day before arrived from England as officer of one of the civil departments attached to the light division and as be expected on finding himself all once up with the outposts of the tray be was full of curiosity and Equipped in a huge cocked hat and hermaphrodite sort of scarlet half military and half civil he was dancing with his budget of inquiries when threw him in the way of the gallant lamented Jock Mac Culloch at the time a lieutenant in the Rifles and who was in the act of marching off a company relieve one of the picquets for the night. Mac Culloch full of humour the curiosity of the fresh arrival said Come Rogers my boy come wilth me you shall share my beef steak - you shall share my boat cloak -and it shall go hard with me but you shall see a Frenchman too before part in the morning The invitation was not to be resisted away went Rogers on the spur the moment. The night turned out a regular Tam o Shanter´s night or if the reader pleases a Wellington night for it is a singular fact that almost every one of his battles was preceded by such a night the thunder rolled the lightning flashed and all the fire engines in the world seemed playing upon the lightning and the devoted heads of those exposed to it. It was a sort of night well calculated to be a damper to a bolder spirit than the one whose story I am relating but he nevertheless sheltered himself us he best could under the veteran's cloak and put as good a face upon it as circumstances would permit. As usual an hour before day light Mac Culloch resigning the boat cloak to his dosing companion stood to his arms to be ready for whatever changes daylight might have in store for him: nor had he to wait long for day had just began to dawn when the sharp crack from the rille of one of the advanced sentries announced the approach of the enemy and he had just time to counsel his terrified bedfellow to make the best of his way back to the division while he himself awaited the battle Nor had he much time for preparation for as Napier says Ney seeing Crawfurd's false dispositions came down upon them with the stoop of an eagle. Four thousand horsemen and a powerful artillery swept the plain and Loison's division coming up at a charging pace made towards the centre and left of the position Mac Culloch almost instantly received several sabre wounds and will twenty five of his men was taken prisoner. Rogers it may be believed lost no time in following the salutary counsel he had received with as clever a pair heels as he could muster.The enemy's artillery had by this time opened and as the devil would have it the cannon balls were travelling the same road and tearing up the ground on each side of him as regularly as if it had been ploughing match. Poor Rogers was thus placed in a situation which fully justified him in thinking as most young soldiers do that every ball was aimed at himself. He was half distracted; it was certain death to stop where he was neither flank offered him the smallest shelter and he had not wind enough left in his bellows to clear the tenth part of space between him and safety but where life is at stake the imagination is fertile and it immediately occurred to him that by dowsing the cocked hat he would make himnelf a conspicuous object clapping it accordingly under his arm he continued his frightful career with the feelings of a maniac and the politeness of a courier for to every missile that passed he bowed as low as his racing attitude would permit in ignorance that the danger had passed along with it performing to all appearance a continued rotary sort of evolution, as if die sails of a windmill had parted from the building and continued their course across the plain to the utter astonishment of all who saw him

At length when exhausted not have carried him twenty he found himself among of the 3rd Cacadores a few yards of a rocky ridge, rising out of the ground the rear of which offered him the long-hoped for opportunity of recovering his wind and he sheltered himself accordingly.
This happened to be the first occasion in which the Cacadores had been under fire. They had the highest respect for the bravery of their British officers and had willingly followed where their colonel had led; but having followed him into the field they did not see why they should not follow another out of it and when they saw a red coat take past behind a rock they all immediately rushed to take advantage of the same cover Poor Rogers had not therefore drawn his first breath when he found himself surrounded by these Portuguese warriors; nor had he drawn a second before their colonel Sir George Elder rode furiously at him with his drawn sword exclaiming "Who are you; you scoundrel in the uniform of a British officer; setting an example of cowardice to my men? get out of that instantly or I ll cut you down!"
Rogers case was desperate he had no breath left to explain that he had no pretensions to the honour of being an officer, for he would have been cut down in the act of attempting it: he was therefore once more forced to start for another beat with the round shot and like a hunted devil got across the bridge; he knew not how ; but he was helm up for England the same day and the army never saw him more "

http://books.google.com.ar/books?id=Zb8 ... er&f=false

En reference to the desertions , I think this paper about Irish soldiers could be of interest to you. "The invasion to Buenos Aires 1806-1807" The Irish dimension. It has a lot of interesting details about this matter.

http://www.liv.ac.uk/rilas/Publications/paper20.pdf
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