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So many battles

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So many battles

Postby janette1169 » November 11th, 2016, 8:05 pm

Hi.I have finally been able to get my 4x great uncle's military record transcribed. the following isan extract from it, listing all the battles he was in.

"Was present at the taking of Walcheren, present at the battles Arrayas-de-Molinos, Almaraz, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Bayonne, Toulouse and Waterloo, rec'd a medal from his Comg. Officer for his gallant conduct before the enemy on the heights of Roncesvalles, -wounded at Vittoria through right thigh".

i'm a little confused about some dates regarding the battles. Heights of Roncesvalles was 25th July 1813 right? And the Battle of Vitoria was 21 June 1813?
If he was wounded at Roncesvalles, surely he would have been discharged and sent home, not sent to another battle a month later?

Please forgive me for being uneducated on this period in history but,half of these battles i have never heard of so more research is to be done, but its fun and very rewarding.

Janette
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Re: So many battles

Postby Andrew » November 11th, 2016, 10:20 pm

Janette,

the best account of the Peninsular War is the work of Sir Charles Oman in seven volumes. Up to August 1813 is covered in volume VI. They are widely available (try abebooks.co.uk for second hand, or Amazon). You will get all you need from this superb history.

Good luck with your research,

Andrew
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Re: So many battles

Postby Josh&Historyland » November 11th, 2016, 11:21 pm

Janette.

If it will help you, I too recommend Oman:

Walcheren Expedition of 1809 a rather embarrassing escapade.

Peninsular War.
Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos: 28th October 1811.
Battle of Almarez: 18/19 May 1812.
Battle of Vitoria 21 June 1813.
Battles of Maya and Roncesvalles 25 July 1813, given as the start of the battles of the Pyrenees which end in August 1813.
Battle of Toulouse 10 April 1814
Battle/Sortie of Bayonne 14 April 1814.

Maya and Roncesvalles was a very effective French offensive, which Wellington put a stop to at Sobraon. The earlier battles before Vitoria were under the command of General Hill. Toulouse was the last open fight of the war, and both this action the Sortie of Bayonne occurred sadly after the war officially ended.

Your ancestor's suitability for further service after being wounded would depend entirely on the severity of the wound in question. I'm fairly sure however that he'd be unlikely to end up back in Britain with an un-amputated leg wound, usually wounded were sent back to hospitals along the line of communication. Madrid and Lisbon usually being the limits unless he were an officer, or totally unfit for further service.

Minor injury might see him back in the ranks at Roncesvalles, especially because no one really saw that battle coming.

Josh.
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Re: So many battles

Postby Digby » November 12th, 2016, 3:13 am

I have Oman and Napier, but they are very big detailed volumes.

Surely someone could mention a more basic book for beginners that covers the whole peninsular war.

Also Janette, can you tell us what battalion(s) your great great great great uncle was in ?
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Re: So many battles

Postby janette1169 » November 12th, 2016, 9:40 am

Andrew, thank you for your reply and your advice on what to read. Seven volumes ? Looks like i have a lot of reading to do :-)
Janette

Andrew wrote:Janette,

the best account of the Peninsular War is the work of Sir Charles Oman in seven volumes. Up to August 1813 is covered in volume VI. They are widely available (try abebooks.co.uk for second hand, or Amazon). You will get all you need from this superb history.

Good luck with your research,

Andrew
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Re: So many battles

Postby janette1169 » November 12th, 2016, 9:53 am

Josh, many thanks for the information and recommended read. I have a lot of reading and research to do on these wars, not that it will shed any light on tracing my ancestry back any further, but will be a very interesting to discover more about these wars and their era.

Janette

Josh&Historyland wrote:Janette.

If it will help you, I too recommend Oman:

Walcheren Expedition of 1809 a rather embarrassing escapade.

Peninsular War.
Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos: 28th October 1811.
Battle of Almarez: 18/19 May 1812.
Battle of Vitoria 21 June 1813.
Battles of Maya and Roncesvalles 25 July 1813, given as the start of the battles of the Pyrenees which end in August 1813.
Battle of Toulouse 10 April 1814
Battle/Sortie of Bayonne 14 April 1814.

Maya and Roncesvalles was a very effective French offensive, which Wellington put a stop to at Sobraon. The earlier battles before Vitoria were under the command of General Hill. Toulouse was the last open fight of the war, and both this action the Sortie of Bayonne occurred sadly after the war officially ended.

Your ancestor's suitability for further service after being wounded would depend entirely on the severity of the wound in question. I'm fairly sure however that he'd be unlikely to end up back in Britain with an un-amputated leg wound, usually wounded were sent back to hospitals along the line of communication. Madrid and Lisbon usually being the limits unless he were an officer, or totally unfit for further service.

Minor injury might see him back in the ranks at Roncesvalles, especially because no one really saw that battle coming.

Josh.
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Re: So many battles

Postby janette1169 » November 12th, 2016, 10:00 am

Digby, Thanks for your reply. A basic book maybe a starting point for me until, i get to know more about the battles, however all the books and advice given will be most useful to any learning about these wars.
My 4x great uncle was in the 71st foot of Light Infantry. In a previous post for new members, i wrote about being confused why he was enlisted in a Scottish regiment, when in fact he was Irish. However that was explained to me, the regiment may have been posted/ staying/ based in the area when my ancestor enlisted.

Janette

Digby wrote:I have Oman and Napier, but they are very big detailed volumes.

Surely someone could mention a more basic book for beginners that covers the whole peninsular war.

Also Janette, can you tell us what battalion(s) your great great great great uncle was in ?
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Re: So many battles

Postby OXFORDMON » November 12th, 2016, 11:45 am

A belated welcome to the forum Janette!

Catching up with posts as my time on the forum is a little limited at present :)

A couple of snippets for you:

You mention a medal awarded by the commanding officer of the 71st. Well in 'Regimental and Volunteer Medals 1745-1895' by Balmer, he mentions an extant medal awarded to 'a detachment of the 71st under the command of Sgt John Ross who distinguished themselves in the Pyrenees' Could this be the medal?

Picture below.

I was at Roncesvalles a few weeks ago, again some pictures you may be like to see.

Did you tell us the name of either of your ancestors? I have looked but may have missed it if you did so apologies!

I will see if anything can be found re your other ancestor of the 43rd, they did not serve at Talavera as a regiment but were represented in the 'Battalions of detachments' made up of those who were left in Portugal sick, wounded or lost during the earlier campaigns and the retreat to Corunna.

Andy
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"Thus the war terminated, and with it all remembrance of the veteran's services" Gen W F P Napier.
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Re: So many battles

Postby janette1169 » November 12th, 2016, 1:04 pm

Andy, Thank you so much for the welcome, information and photos. My 4x great grandfather James Johnston, was in the 2nd battalion 43rd regiment of the light infantry. He was wounded at Talavera and had an arm amputated.
The ancestor i referred to in my previous post was his brother William Johnston he was in the 71st foot of light infantry. the brothers enlisted within months of each other.
James only managed to complete just over 2 years of service due to his injury and William completed just over 21 years. I do think James may have stayed with his regiment if not for his injury.
I know this may sound a little strange but i am fascinated with how James lost his arm, and the surgery after, as there was no anesthetic in those i can imagine it being rather painful. And where on earth did they do these amputations?
I have so many queries, questions and thoughts on my ancestors time during these wars and battles, i dont know where to start?
Any tips on where? Should i start with Talavera for James and Roncesvalles for William and his possible medal?
I want to look at everything but don't want to miss anything that may be crucial in my ancestry search.

Regards

Janette
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Re: So many battles

Postby OXFORDMON » November 12th, 2016, 3:28 pm

Janette

Thanks for the names, I have found both your ancestors discharge certificates online.

Amputation was indeed a very painful business, surgeons would hope that the casualty would faint, otherwise he would be held by assistants while the operation took place. The casualties would not be given alcohol or a musket ball to bite on, that's for Sharpe fiction! Of course infection afterwards would have been the greatest killer. A musket ball injury (which your man received) that smashed the bone/elbow would have resulted in amputation, there was no other treatment available or considered. Search on YouTube for 'Losing sight of the Glory' for a 16 minute documentary on Napoleonic surgery.

You need to look at the muster and pay lists at Kew to find more information of his earlier movements, as I said he was most likely wounded previously to be present at Talavera with the detachments.

I'm a little confused over William, as the 71st didn't fight at Roncesvalles but Maya and later Sorauren, so someone made a mistake on his discharge certificate, you need to find out for what action Sgt Ross's detachment was awarded the medal,I've had no luck finding anything, maybe the regimental museum could help? Again Kew is the next step to trace his movements earlier.

Andy
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