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The History of the 95th (Rifles)—During the South American Expedition 1806, The Baltic Expedition 1807, The Peninsular War, The War of 1812 and the Waterloo Campaign,1815

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The History of the 95th (Rifles)—During the South American Expedition 1806, The Baltic Expedition 1807, The Peninsular War, The War of 1812 and the Waterloo Campaign,1815
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Author(s): William H. Cope
Date Published: 2010/07
Page Count: 280
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-129-4
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-130-0

The first 15 years of the famous green sharp-shooters

There has been much revived interest in recent years in the activities of Wellington’s elite green clad riflemen—the famous 95th.In William Cope it found a worthy historian who chronicled over 75 years of the regiment’s history in his substantial book ‘The History of the Rifle Brigade’. The Leonaur editors are aware that those interested in military history—both casual readers and academics—tend to focus on periods of time often defined by wars. It is certain that the earliest period of the regiment’s history from its inception through the turbulent years of the wars principally against Napoleonic France and its allies holds particular interest for many. Indeed, it was during these momentous times that the 95th was both formed and was particularly active. As a consequence this aspect of the regiment’s history constitutes half of the subject matter of Cope’s more expansive work. The Leonaur Editors believe the best and most economical way of giving readers access to Cope’s work is to divide it into two volumes. The second volume concerns the period immediately after the age of Napoleon up to the mid-Victorian era. This first volume has much to interest the Napoleonic student since it chronicles the 95th through all their campaigns of that time. We join the Rifles in South America, at Copenhagen, in Spain and Portugal, in the Americas and on the bloody slopes of the fields of Waterloo as the Emperor was finally brought to account. An excellent and essential history in every way with maps of principal engagements, this book is available in soft cover and hard cover with dust jacket for collectors.

While waiting behind the convent for the order to advance, Harry Smith came up to the regiment, and said, ‘Some of you must come and take charge of some ladders;’ George Simmons at once stepped out and offered to go; and, having picked out the number of men required, followed Smith to the Engineer camp and obtained them.<br>
When he returned, Craufurd fiercely attacked him; ‘Why did you bring these short ladders here?’<br>
‘Because I was ordered by the Engineers to do so. General.’<br>
‘Go back, Sir, and get others; I am astonished at such stupidity.’<br>
Simmons returned and procured others; and on his way back finding a Portuguese captain wishing to be useful with his company, he handed over the ladders to him with strict injunctions as to how to place them, and rejoined his battalion.<br>
It is pleasanter to record Craufurd’s last address to his division, almost his last words, as they stood waiting to attack; words never forgotten by some who heard them.<br>
‘Soldiers,’ he said, in a voice which seemed to be peculiarly impressive, ‘the eyes of your country are upon you. Be steady; be cool; be firm in the assault. The town must be yours this night. Once masters of the wall, let your first duty be to clear the ramparts, and in doing so keep well together.’<br>
At last the signal was given, and the leading Riflemen issued from behind the Convent of San Francisco and turned to the left to ascend the glacis. The night was clear enough to enable the defenders to perceive them; and no sooner had the head of the column appeared, than a furious fire of shot, shell and musketry lit up the ramparts in a sheet of flame, while fire-balls enabled the enemy to direct their aim on the advancing columns.<br>
Cameron’s Riflemen extended along the glacis, and opened their fire. The stormers rushed up to the ditch, and without waiting for the hay-bags or ladders carried by the Portuguese, who were nowhere, leaped into the ditch, a descent of ten or twelve feet, and made for the breach.<br>
Kincaid, by mistake, turned to a ravelin which he fancied to be a bastion, and finding one angle of it a good deal battered, thought it was the breach, and mounted it; but soon perceiving his error, was about to return, when a shout from the other side of the ditch announced that the breach had been found. He dropped from the ravelin, and on coming to the breach found the head of the storming party just ascending it.<br>
But not the stormers only: the rest of the regiment were pouring into the ditch. George Simmons finding ladders reared against the fausse-braye (for the Portuguese by this time had found their way to the ditch) mounted it with many others, fancying it to be the breach; but discovering his mistake, slid down the other side and mounted the breach. Ashe was ascending the ladders, Uniacke of the 1st Battalion accosted him. ‘This is the way.’<br>
‘Impossible,’ replied Simmons, ‘here are the ladders.’<br>
Uniacke left him, turned to the left, and just as he reached the rampart an expense magazine exploded, and blew him and many others up.<br>
Then was there furious fighting at this breach; but it as soon won. The men, true to Craufurd’s orders, cleared the ramparts, and within an hour the place was in our hands. Then began that furious tumult, and that loosening of all the bands of discipline which mark the sack of a place captured by assault. The town was set on fire, but by the exertions of Barnard, Cameron and others it was extinguished. Barnard and Cameron with some of their officers seized broken gun-barrels, of which many French ones were found, and by force and even blows compelled the men to refrain from brutality and madness. By one o’clock in the morning Barnard had got the regiment together and formed them on the ramparts, where, kindling fires, they lay down and slept soundly after this din of arms.<br>
And many slept to wake no more. Captain Uniacke, as I have said, was blown up on reaching the rampart; his arm was torn from the socket, and he was fearfully scorched. He was carried to Gallegos, where he died a few hours after, surrounded by the men of his company, by whom he was beloved.<br>
‘Though young in years,’ says Costello, who served in his company, ‘he was gallant, daring, and just to all whom he commanded. His affability and personal courage had rendered him the idol of the men of his company.’<br>
Fairfoot, who was pay-sergeant of his company, was resolved that he should be buried in consecrated ground; but he found an obstacle in the prejudices of the clergy, who considered him a heretic. However, Fairfoot (with pardonable equivocation) assured the priests that his captain was an Irishman, which to the Spanish priests implied that he was a Catholic. Their scruples gave way; ‘and I chose,’ said Fairfoot afterwards, ‘the finest tree in the churchyard of Gallegos.’
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