Taken from the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 28, 1950, p.137
“Field Pieces for the Infantry, 1803 – 8th June 1803
To General Sir David Dundas,
The Commander-in-Chief directs me to inform you that it is generally his intention that each regiment of the Line shall have two small field pieces attached to it.” (W.O. 3/36)
Defended a ford for several hours against a brigade of French Infantry at the Battle of Villamuriel, 25th October 1812, during the retreat from Burgos. Lost almost half his battalion, was captured briefly but escaped.
Continuing my interest in the Duke of York’s campaign in 1793-5 in Flanders and the Netherlands, I visited the Pubic Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. Included in their archives is Arthur Brooke’s diary of his war experiences between 1794 and 1814. His diary is more famous for his account of his participation in the 1812-14 war with the USA, but also includes his experiences in the Mediterranean theatre during the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately his diary for 1794 & 1795 deals more with the dreadful retreat than the fighting, but is still of great interest;
“On the 31st of October 1793 got my first commission in the 44th Regiment as Ensign, & joined it in Dublin Barracks, where I was quartered till the 25th April 1794, when I embarked at the Pigeon House for England. Landed at Liverpool and marched from thence to Dartford & Gravesend, marched through London. The year 1794 embarked at Gravesend for Ostend to join the Duke of York’s army. Went from Ostend to Antwerp. Antwerp a beautiful town, the church an elegant structure. I there saw a fine picture of Christ ascending to Heavan. Marched from Antwerp to Breda from thence to Bois-le-Duc & from there to Nuimegon[sic] on the banks of the Waal, where we took up our position till late November, when the British army retired[?] across the Rhine , I never saw a more dreadful retreat. Men women & children were froze to death & the greater part of the Army lost; this dreadful weather lasted till March, when we arrived at Hamburgh and in April embarked for England, when I arrived on the 25th of May 1795 at Sunderland, in the north of England.”
(Source: PRONI D3004D/1, p. 1)
Although he doesn’t mention it in his diary Brooke was promoted to Lieutenant on the 26th November 1793 (Source: Army List 1795, p.142). Lt Brooke left the UK with Lord Moira’s force which was sent to reinforce the Duke of York’s army. Thus, Sir Arthur Brooke would have fought at Boxtel with the 44th Foot in Wellington’s First Battle.
Lt Brooke with the 44th Regiment at Boxtel - in reserve at right rear.
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast
Following on from my article regarding the use of howitzer shells in long guns in the 1793-5 campaigns in Flanders, here is the full text from the experiments during the siege of Gibraltar;
“(Sept. 25) An experiment was recomd. by Capt. (now Major) Mercier, 39 regt., viz.: to fire out of guns 51/2″ shells with short fuses, which was tried on 25 Sept. and found to answer extremely well. These small shells, according to Mercier’s method, were despatched with such precision, and the fuses calculated to such exactness that the shell often burst over the enemy and wounded them before they could get under cover. This mode of annoyance was desirable on many accounts: less powder, and the enemy more seriously molested. The former was an advantage of no small consequence since it enabled the Governor to reserve, at this period, what might probably be expended to greater benefit on some future occasion; it will also account for the extraordinary no. of shells which were discharged from the Garrison. The enemy attempted this practice, but never could bring it to perfection.”
(Source: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, vol.29, 1902-3, p.93)
The Great Siege
Stewart and Shells for long guns in Flanders
Long gun at Gibraltar - (c) Scott Wylie
James and I had a great day demonstrating “Wellington’s First Battle” at Salute this year. Again we used Blackpowder(TM) to run the game of Boxtel in 1794. The Gallery shows the game as it unfolded on the day. James played the French, he quickly advanced Daendels’ brigade to crowd the British Guards. The subsequent firefight developed with both sides becoming close to broken. Eventually it was the Guards brigade that was broken. The retreat of the British thus mimicked the real events at least with respect to outcome.
Thanks to everyone who stopped by for a chat.
My thanks to several attendees whose photos I have added to this gallery to complete the story. Their blogs contain many other excellent photos of the games at Salute;
Ten Figures a Week
Asienieboje Wargaming Blog
On Saturday 15th June 2013, we took our Wellington’s First Battle demonstration game to the Phalanx Show run by the Spartans – the St. Helens Wargaming Society.
Although a long drive it was a great day out. The venue is large and was well laid out with good supporting materials. We were fortunate enough to win both the “Best Demonstration Game” and the “Best in Show” prizes – so the drive home seemed a lot shorter!
The game resulted in a French victory for James, after Colonel Vyse became a bit too ambitious and got his fragile cavalry brigade broken. The combat was however close as the British Guards brigade were successfully holding off the superior numbers of Daendels brigade;
The British left on the final move
The result of the somewhat disastrous British Cavalry charge
The trophies on proud display
On a snowy 24th March 2013, I attended the new Cannon show at Retford. The show is hosted by the Retford Wargames Group and is named after a Crimean War cannon that is a key feature in the town.
The game generated a high level of interest from attendees both young and old.
Here are some of my photographs of the venue and game, which was played using Black Powder;
Nice light and airy venue – the other upstairs hall was splendid
The table set up with plenty of room for supporting materials
As the British emerge from Schyndel they can see the French vedettes in the early morning mist
Daendels brigade is struggling to get forward as it can’t use “brigade moves” in the first two turns
The British Light Dragoons advance boldly to drive off the French Hussars …..
… only to be broken in the ensuing cavalry combat and resulting sweeping advance. Meanwhile Daendels finally gets his brigade moving forward – his battalion guns looking for the convenient bridge.
The French Hussars are driven off by the advancing British Guards
Wesley’s brigade looks on from their position in reserve near Schyndel
The French infantry arrive to drive back the British Guards, breaking the First Foot Guards
Some links featuring other photographs of the game;
Retford Wargames Group
The Retford Wargames Group’s website is; Retford Wargames Group
Before I decided to make custom designed terrain boards for my Boxtel game, I needed to find a way to represent the many drainage ditches that covered the battlefield around Schyndel. There was several feet of ditches to be made and therefore they needed to be relatively inexpensive. The ditches also needed to be fairly narrow to fit in with the ground scale represented. Finally the ditches needed to be flexible, as those I was modelling were not straight. This post illustrates the solution that I came up with I came up with;
Obviously ditches should be below the surface of the table, consequently for my purposes an illusion has to be created. I decided that the best way to do this was to assume that the ditches were lined with bushes. This assumption enabled me to design the ditches based on the Javis Flexible Hedging product;
Placing the hedge on its side, I then used a soldering iron to melt the centre of the piece – as shown in this before and after shot;
In order to give the pieces some weight, so that theywould stay in place – I then glued the ends to two pence pieces and covered them with flock and gravel.
The whole was then painted appropriately. These photos show the finished product in play – not as good as my custom built terrain boards but a lot better than chalk marks on the cloth!
Some Dutch ditches today;
Finally a contemporary cartoon of the Duke of York battling to escape one of these pesky ditches in May 1794, when his army was all but surrounded;
My first article in a series on the British Artillery with the Duke of York in the Austrian Netherlands and United Provinces in 1794, has just been published in Issue 4 of the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal. This article focuses on the correspondence of Colonel John Stewart, Royal Artillery.
Stewart was the artillery commander of Lord Moira’s force which joined the Duke of York’s army in the Austrian Netherlands in June 1794. Stewart stayed with the Duke of York after Moira’s return to the UK. Stewart is an interesting individual who was promoted from the ranks, having joined the Royal Artillery, as a Mattross, in 1747.
While doing the research for Wellington’s First Battle in the National Archives, I discovered a letter from Stewart detailing a request for ammunition for the army’s artillery (National Archives, Kew, WO 1/170 p.869). This document gives the numbers of guns with the army in October 1794 and the required ammunition. Curiously, the list of guns excludes two “curricle 3 pounder” cannon that Stewart brought with him and that were still with the army in January 1795. The ammunition requirement has created some discussion, as it includes 4⅖ inch shells for firing from the 12 pounder long guns, to the extent of 14% of the total ammunition (which implies that it was used as often as half the frequency of caseshot). This use of shells in long guns, thereby anticipates the first use of Shrapnel’s Spherical Caseshot by approximately 10 years, but it fits in nicely with Stephen Summerfield’s timeline for the firing of shells from long guns which stretches back to 1744;
My complete article can be found at;
Smoothbore Ordnance Journal Issue 4