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Edward Brackenbury, the 61st Regiment. The few letters second of my father's brothers, of his which I
possess are and the writer of the letter written either to his father or from Salamanca, inherited the mother, and are mostly on subSkendleby property from his jects of no interest outside the uncle Edward. I remember family circle. I find him, howhim well, a fine, tall, soldier- ever, writing from Guernsey in like figure. He married twice. August 1808, and endeavouring He sold out in 1847, and lived to persuade his father to purthenceforward on his property. chase for him a lieutenancy in On his death in 1864 he left the 12th Regiment, which was two sons, the eldest of whom for sale.
But the money for was in the Royal Horse Ar- the step was not forthcoming, tillery, and served in the and he writes in September to Zulu campaign, but retired his mother, explaining the diffifrom the army and sold Sken- culties he labours under, with dleby.
only his pay to live on; and The services of
“But never mind, I am Edward are thus described in happy and contented.” Hart's · Annual Army List' for
Then there occurs a gap in 1859:
the correspondence. My father
must have been sent from the “Lieut.-Col. Sir Edward Bracken- 2nd battalion to join the 1st bury served with the 61st Regiment in battalion, which embarked at Sicily, in Calabria, at Scylla Castle, Gibraltar for Portugal on 9th and at Gibraltar in 1807-8. Peninsula from 1809 to the end of that June 1809. He was present war in 1814, including the battles of at the battle of Talavera on Talavera and Busaco, Lines at Torres 28th July of that year, and was Vedras, pursuit of the French from Portugal, battle of Fuentes d'Onor, severely wounded, being shot storming and capture of Badajoz –
between the shoulders. The horse shot in advancing to the attack; battalion had 13 officers and 236 battle of Salamanca-took a piece of soldiers killed or wounded in artillery from the enemy guarded by the battle. four soldiers close to their retiring
The army then column, without any near or imme
retreated. In the official Hisdiate support; retreat from Burgos, torical Record of the Regiment, actions at Villa Muriel and Osma it is stated that “on the ad(horse shot), battle of Vittoria, siege,
vance of the enemy, the Spantwo assaults, and capture of San Sebastian, passage of the Bidassoa,
iards abandoned Talavera, and battles of the Nivelle and the Nive, the wounded officers and soldiers actions in front of Bayonne near the of the 61st fell into the hands mayor's house, on the 10th, 11th, of the French”; but I think and 12th Dec. (slightly wounded and horse shot), blockade of Bayonne and my father must have accomrepulse of the sortie. Has received panied our retreating army, for the war medal with nine clasps ; is I never heard of his having a Knight of St Fernando of Spain; been a prisoner in French hands, a Knight of the Tower and Sword, and it is scarcely possible, had and a Commander of St Bento d'Avis of Portugal."
he been so, that it should never
have been mentioned in my My father, too, entered the presence.
On the 5th July
1810 I find him writing from Post for England as should you see
the Milford, on his way to join the
receive this you 2nd battalion at Fermoy, and
will be naturally in a state of uneasi
The Almighty has been pleased in July 1811 he writes from once more in the midst of the most Newry. The next letter shows Imminent danger to spare the life of that he had again gone out both your sons. My dear brother to join the 1st battalion in
William is wounded, but under my Spain. It is dated Castello
care; and with good surgical attend
ance is doing well: You will see by Bianco, 2nd June 1812, and is the papers he is severely wounded, to his father.
but let me assure you my dear parents
that there is no danger. I must now “My last letter,” he says,
dated in duty describe to you his wounds, at Albuera camp, was addressed to which he received when having my mother.
Since that time our grasped the Colours of the 61st movements have not been either con
Regt. within 25 yards of the French siderable or necessary, although some
Column. He received the first ball times very fagging. We are now on the move to join Lord Wellington, it through the Left foot, which passed is supposed, in active movements in through the bone, but as it has neither the north of Spain. We expect to
touched the ankle Joint, nor the advance into the interior. The French Joints of his toes, his foot is safe, nor force, it is said, is not very efficient.
will he (I hope) be lame in consequence I am sorry I cannot give you a good the second ball he Received in the
of it, although the cure may be tedious: account of my health; a continual pain in my side (from the Talavera left side of his Face which broke the wound) and a cough are by no means
Jawbone; it is now setting; the favourable indications. I am tired wound is suppurating, He converses enough of this country. Had I known freely and takes nourishment without that hard marching, bad living, and much pain. His noble and manly no fighting would be my fate, I never spirit surpasses anything I ever witwould have left Ireland. We heard nessed, and he is patient to a degree the other day that Perceval is shot. beyond what I can describe, which is I wish individual interest or
a great cause of his being quite free venge may prove the murderer’s from fever, he thinks nothing of his intention,"
sufferings. I dress his wounds for
him, and shall be able to remain with His wish for fighting was
him some days longer.
“So Glorious and Compleat a Vicsoon enough to be gratified, as tory has never been achieved by the following letter, to which British Arms we had a general the above is but the preface, action in which the French were
defeated, and worsted in every part, will show. Let me once more
our army is following them up and say that the letter is by my whole Regts
. of the Enemy throwing uncle Edward, then command- down their Arms and endeavouring ing one of Beresford's Portu- vainly to escape : what their loss is guese regiments, that the post- morning stated it at fifteen thousand,
I know not but a proclamation this script in it is by my father Lord Wellington says 3,500 will cover William, and the note as to our loss ; we think the French canthe loss of officers by
not stand this side Madrid this is
my uncle John :
my idea also ; but take care what
we write never appears in Public. “SALAMANCA, 24 July 1812. The 61st left *21 officers killed and
wounded out of 26 who entered the “MY DEAREST PARENTS,—I have but a moment to write a' few lines action, the remaining Five with 75 which I hope may be in time for the
men only gained the Hill they were
destined to take and destroy the Record of the 61st Foot, enemy. I fought with my Portu
32:guese Regt. who behaved well and bayonetted a Column of the French, “ Casualties at the battle of Salayou will scarcely believe how I could have Escaped, when I assure you I
27 420 was cutting away in a Solid Column Strength in the field
Killed and wounded 24 342 with my Common regulation Sword : but Providence protected me as it
3 78 did at Badajos, when I mounted the Ladder at the Head of my, Regt. Six reliefs of officers and sergeants Bill will write a postscript, believe were shot under the colours.” me my dearest Parents your ever
The colours were actually “EdwD. BRACKENBURY."
carried to the top of the hill *“N.B. - The ‘Gazette' announces by Privates William Crawford 24.
J. M. B."
and Nicholas Coulson. Craw" MY DEAR PARENTS, by the de- ford was instantly promoted to scription my brother has given you sergeant; the same rank was of my Wounds, you will perceive offered to Coulson, but he I am severely hit, but God has been answered that he graciously pleased to spare us both and I am thankfull I have a Volume rewarded already by the cheers to write you of Ned's unparallelled and thanks of his comrades and courage, but I must wait until I get the approbation of his officers. a little more Strength. I will thank Those colours
in you to write on receipt of this to my Gloucester Cathedral. Brother John--to my sister Jemima, and to my Uncle William. I remain Now, my dear Blackwood, I my dearest Parents yours by every ask you to try and imagine tie of Affection.
what would be said if a regi“ WILLIAM BRACKENBURY, L. 61st Regt."
ment were to suffer such losses
in these days, when it is the It is not my intention to fashion to think that dwell
upon the battle of Sala- omelettes can be made withmanca. Those who wish to out breaking eggs, when the refresh their memories of it generals who conducted the have only to turn to Napier's campaign in Tirah Peninsular War.' No other hounded at pen will ever write a descrip- two battalions lost few tion more graphic than his. officers and men, a mere fracHe speaks of the sixth division, tion of the losses in this one to which the 61st belonged, as battalion at Salamanca? Why, having “restored the fight” at the losses in this one battalion the crisis of the battle, and says, were heavier than those in the “The 61st and 11th Regiments whole two British brigades at won their way desperately, and Omdurman. What a howl through such a fire as British would now be raised if one soldiers
only sustain.” regiment were to lose fiveWhat that
may be sixths of its officers and men gathered from the following in one action! extract from the Historical general's reputation survive
what would be called such a his comrades of the Peninsular disaster? But in those days, war at Newry, and writes thence in spite of such a “Gazette," more cheerfully. He has met Wellington was not hounded with the congratulations of at and accused of ignorance many of his old companions, and folly.
What is it that and is well pleased at the has come
the nation ? change. He assures his father How are
to make he has no intention, as war if such a spirit prevails? oured, of volunteering for Amer
Mark, too, how my uncle ica, and had never had an idea says, - Take
what of it. Volunteering,” he write never appears in public.” writes, “is a bad system where How different from the spirit a man has not certain prospects in which the private letters of of bettering his situation. Beofficers, criticising their generals sides, I find myself inadequate anonymously, are now published to common regimental duty far and wide. Is it all part of at home in consequence of my that want of respect for au wound.” thority, that “one-man-is-as It was at this time that he good - as - another doctrine, first met my mother, a Miss which has grown up
Atkinson of Millvale, a girl of natural consequence
of the sixteen. But it was not till growth of democracy? How several years later, 1823, that, different, too, the tone of these my father having then retired letters to the tone in which sons from the army, they married. address their parents now, when The following is the record “Dear governor” and “Yours of my father's services, taken ever” have taken the place of from Hart's 'Army List' for “My dear parents” and “Your 1844, the year of his death :ever dutiful son” or “Yours by
“Lieut. Brackenbury served in the every tie of affection”!
Peninsula with the 61st, and was My uncle's hopes were not wounded between the shoulders at fulfilled. The wound in the the battle of Talavera ; at the battle foot made my father incurably
of Salamanca he was shot through the
left foot and left cheek.” lame. There is a sad letter from him to his father, written Three
survived my in February 1813. "I have father. The eldest, Richard, suffered so much,” he writes, entered the 61st Regiment, was " these last three years ” (since on Wyndham's staff at Cawnthe first wound received at pore, and died, unmarried, of Talavera) “that I have learnt cholera at Poona, just before to consider illness as a matter the regiment came home in of course.
1859. The second, Charles, In the following year, 1814, entered the Royal Artillery, the 1st battalion returned from served in the Chestnut troop Spain, and the 2nd battalion was of Horse Artillery in the disbanded on 24th October. In Crimean war, and was a MajorNovember my father was with General and Director of the
Artillery College when he died Crimean war, the suppression in 1890.
of the Indian Mutiny, the AshMy brother Charles gave two anti war, the Zulu campaign, sons to the army. Both, after the Egyptian campaign of 1882, serving in line regiments, en the Nile expedition of 1884-85, tered the Indian Staff Corps. and various campaigns on the The elder, Charles, died of Indian frontier. Two have been typhoid fever, contracted in killed in action, two have died the Bolan Pass in 1885. The of disease incidental to active younger, Lionel, was killed at service, one was invalided from Manipur in 1891.
wounds. And the pity of it is Such, my dear Blackwood, is that in the next generation there the record for which you have is no representative of the family asked me.
I have wandered in either service. Nor, thanks away
from the Salamanca to early marriages, large familetter; but perhaps this brief lies, and service almost exclurecord of a family that has done sively in professions which, its share of service for the State however honourable, are not may not be without interest. lucrative, is there an acre of In the three generations sprung land left to us. Let us hope from my grandfather, who was that those families to whom the himself a soldier, we have given lands have passed may give as twelve officers to the army, in- many loyal servants to the cluding two generals ; three to Crown as did that which has the navy, including an admiral; lost them. In that case there and four to the consular service. will be less to regret in this We have, among us, taken part decay of an old family.—Believe in the following campaigns: me, my dear Blackwood, yours the Peninsular war (nine general most sincerely, actions), the Sikh war, the HENRY BRACKENBURY.