Not One in Ten Thousand Know Your Name: the Officers of the British 1st Battalion of Detachments in 1809
By Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan
According to Lionel S. Challis’s Peninsula Roll Call, there
were over 9600 officers who served with the British Army in the
Why did we choose the 1st Battalion of Detachments for our research, a unit that was in existence for less than a year, when there were far more notable units, such as the 95th Rifles and the 1st Foot Guards who saw more action and accomplished much more? Our choice grew initially from an effort to discover the names of those officers who served in the 1st Battalion of Detachments. As the list grew, so did our curiosity about who these officers were. Was there anything special about these men that make them worth remembering?
In many ways the officers in this paper were the embodiment of the
British officer corps. Several were from the landed gentry and
one was commissioned from the ranks. One would be killed leading
his troops at Talavera – the last battle where the 1st Battalion
of Detachments fought. Three others would die in combat over
the next five years and three would die of sickness or exhaustion brought
on by the rigors of campaigning. Almost all would be wounded
at least once and one would lose a leg at
The best known would go on to become a general and lead the Light Division in the Crimean War. Yet many of these officers were famous among their peers. Their names and deeds were brought up wherever officers met to tell war stories. One was known as the strongest man in his regiment, while another was called on publicly twenty-five years after the battle, to tell how he led his single company in a bayonet charge and engaged in hand-to-hand combat against a French infantry regiment! Several had memorials left to them by their regiment and their families. While two would disappear in disgrace – one being cashiered and the other being forced to resign his commission in lieu of being court-martialled.
When the war ended most went on half pay (one for 41 years!) At
least three immigrated to
The following officers served in the 1st Battalion of Detachments. Click on their names for more information about them.
For further information on the 1st Battalion of Detachments see: The British Battalions of Detachment in 1809
We used many different sources for this study, most from the internet. To see them click on: Bibliography
 Cadell, page 74
[ Biographies ]
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