Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Please post all research regarding individual Victorian soldiers and sailors here, including requests for information!

Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Mark » 12 Jul 2009 13:49

Hi All

It appears that researching family ancestors and other individual soldiers and sailors of the Victorian period has become a popular part of the forum. Numerous requests have been made and many fellow members have been able to provide information and/or leads to help place more pieces of the jigsaw together. However, I often read such posts and wonder what the researcher has managed to find and how the story of the soldier or sailor has unfolded.

For those of you who have carried out such research how about posting a write-up of your findings on the forum?

- Who was your man?
- What did he do before joining the Army or Navy?
- What did he do during his service and did he take part in any of the Victorian campaigns?
- What happened to him after his military service ended?
- Any photographs or portraits?


Anyone fancy publishing some of their research?

If we can generate enough interest I may consider creating a dedicated section/sub-forum for such research findings (separate to research requests). What a great way to remember those who served during Queen Victoria's reign!

Mark
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Mark » 12 Jul 2009 14:28

As an example and to start this offI have included the below information on an ancestor of mine:

Captain Benjamin Simner, 76th Regiment of Foot

The following is a condensed history of Benjamin Simner who served as an Ensign in the German Legion and Military Train and later as a Lieutenant in the 53rd Foot and Captain in the 76th Foot.

Benjamin Simner was born on the 22nd December 1838 in Cripplegate in London. He was the son of Abel and Anne Simner and three brothers called William, Abel and Christopher. Little is know about his early years but his father, Abel, was a Clerk at the Poor Law Board and so would most likely have been brought up with a lower-middle class background - he was, therefore, neither poor nor rich.

On the 20th November 1855 Benjamin obtained a commission as an Ensign (without purchase) in the 5th Light Infantry of the German Legion – his lower-middle class background would probably have prevented him affording to buy a commission. The Legion had been raised by Britain during the Crimean War when the shortage of manpower within the British Army became chronic following the high number of casualties through disease. The then British government turned to European volunteers mainly from Germany and Switzerland to train and fight in the Crimea against the Russians. While many of the rank and file were composed of Europeans the officers, including the newly commissioned Ensign Simner, were drawn from British volunteers. Despite some advanced units being sent to Scutari the German Legion was to miss taking any part in the action in the Crimea with the War coming to its conclusion.

With the War over a problem then presented itself to the British government – what to do with the German Legion? Many of the German volunteers had to forfeit their citizenship when they left for England and would be treated as traitors back home and so could not return. Britain no longer had a war to fight and keeping them on British soil was not an option since they caused friction with the indigenous population. Thankfully for the volunteers Queen Victoria took pity on their plight and made her feelings known to the War Office that something should be done for them. The solution, it was thought, was to resettle them in South Africa and so in October 1856 Ensign Simner went with his men to the Cape.

The German soldiers were settled in Kaffraria which was an area that had become depopulated following a recent war with the Amaxosa tribe. Townships were established with German names including Berlin, Frankfort and Pottsdam etc. and the new settlers were granted large amounts of land to cultivate and farm. However there was one condition placed on the men in return for their new home – to keep up their military training and be liable for military service should they be required. As a consequence the men were divided into three regiments and had to assemble every seven years for training. By November 1856 some 2,351 officers and men of the Legion arrived in the Cape along with 378 women and 178 of their children.

Ensign Simner served in Kaffraria from October 1856 to September 1858. When the Indian Mutiny broke out a battalion from the German Legion opted to go to India in order to help suppress the Mutiny. This force, now known as the Jager Corps, landed in Calcutta in October 1858 – Ensign Simner was among them. History was to repeat itself with the Mutiny effectively coming to an end before the Jager Corps could take any serious part in the actions in India. However Ensign Simner did see some limited active service under General Rose in the Central India Campaign. For this he was to earn his Indian Mutiny Medal with Central India clasp. After the Mutiny most of the men of the Jager Corps decided not to return to South Africa but remained to settle in India to make a new life yet again. Initially the Corps was given the opportunity to join the Indian Army and was amalgamated with the 3rd Bombay European Regiment in January 1860. However many would later transfer and served in British regiments in India. Most of the officers were moved to other regiments either within the British or Indian Army.

Benjamin decided to transfer to the Military train on the 30th December 1859 where he would serve in the East Indies from January to October 1860. In February 1860 he joined the 6th Battalion at Woolwich and went with them to Dublin in June 1861. While in Ireland he married a Frances Mary Bolton at the Malahide Church of England and Ireland in Dublin on the 27th March 1863. He was to have two daughters and twin sons with Frances called Georgina Eliza (October 1863) and Frances Anne (September 1864) and William Adolphus and Bolton Dillon (April 1866).

He managed to join the 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment as a Lieutenant (without purchase) on the 20th December 1864. On the 10th November 1865 he again exchanged as a Lieutenant (without purchase) into the 76th (2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment). It was with this regiment that he was appointed Inspector of Musketry on the 28th January 1870 and promoted Captain on the 1st April 1875. In 1878 he resigned his commission by sale and his military career came to an end.

Following his retirement Benjamin he obtained employment in 1884 as an Assistant Secretary in the London Office of the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth. He died in London on the 21st June 1903 and is buried in Abney Park Cemetery, Stoke Newington. His younger brother, Abel, presented a stained glass window in his memory to the Welsh Girls School in Ashford.
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Mark » 29 Jul 2009 16:35

Anyone fancy having a go? Don't be shy! :lol:

Mark :)
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Berkshire Dragon » 11 Aug 2009 23:37

Lieutenant Colonel George Anthony Harrison (1823 - 1872) Madras Staff Corps

George Anthony Harrison was born on 4th August 1823 in Gibraltar. His father, Anthony Robinson Harrison, was at that time a Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery who had fought in the Peninsular War and was serving as part of the island garrison and who later went on to become a Major General and his mother was Mary Romero, a British Subject of Spanish origin.

Having been nominated for a position by the Rt. Hon Earl of Ripon at the recommendation of Thomas Cockburn Esq. of Roehampton, Harrison entered the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) military academy at Addiscombe, Croydon as an Officer Cadet in 1844. He successfully graduated and received his commission as Ensign on the 6th July 1845 which was confirmed in a Government Order of the 25th November 1845. The academy at Addiscombe was set up in 1809 to be the HEIC’s military seminary and was responsible for the schooling of officers during the mid 19th century who were to serve in India. It was finally closed in 1860 with the demise of the Company after the Indian Mutiny.

Harrison sailed from London on the 9th July 1845 as one of 20 passengers on the ship Tory under the command of Captain J Row and after stopping at the Lizard on the 20th July and Cape Town on the 15th October arrived in Madras on 7th December 1845 as noted in the Madras Almanac of 1846. On arrival, he received his orders which confirmed his appointment to serve as an officer in the 8th Regiment of Madras Native Infantry in a General Order from the Commander in Chief dated the 20th December 1845.

It seems that Harrison made a good impression from the start with his first Inspection Report noting on the 13th March 1846:

“Conduct and character good”

In a General Order from the Commander in Chief dated the 15th June 1846, he was transferred from the 8th to the 33rd Regiment of Madras Native Infantry. He was to officially serve with this regiment for the next thirteen years through to 1859, although with the vagaries of service in India around this time, very little time was actually spent as a serving member of the regiment.

His next Inspection Report came on the 18th November 1847 when it was noted on his record by Walter Fane, the inspecting officer from the 11th Madras Native Infantry that:

“Conduct and character good, is a very smart officer and promises well, understands his duties well and is particularly attentive to the duties of his Companies”.

Unlike their British Army counterparts, HEIC officers were actively encouraged to learn the local languages, especially as they were going to command predominantly native Indian troops and Harrison successfully completed the course in the Hindustani language which qualified him to receive the extra ‘moonshee’ allowance for interpreters and local language speakers (General Order Commander in Chief 30th June 1848).

Less than a month later, Harrison’s army record notes:

"Placed at the disposal of the Government of India and appointed to officiate in the cavalry branch of the Nizam’s [of Hyderabad] service"

This appointment was confirmed with an entry in the Calcutta Gazette on the 26th July 1848 and was quite a usual event as a great many HEIC officers were seconded to command native troops in the service of a variety in local Indian rulers.

In March 1849, he was appointed permanently to the cavalry branch of the Nizam of Hyderabad’s forces and was appointed to the 2nd Regiment, Nizam of Hyderabad’s Cavalry Contingent at Arungabad on the 27th March. This appointment was later confirmed in the Calcutta Gazette on the 12th May 1849 and in a General Order of the 27th June 1849. Harrison’s qualities as an officer were quickly recognized and in April of the same year he was appointed Acting Adjutant of the regiment and was posted to Nagode with his promotion to Lieutenant being confirmed on 16th May 1849 and later substantiated in a General Order on the 7th June 1850.

However, only nine days prior to his promotion, he had been involved in a major cavalry engagement which resulted him being mentioned in despatches, the first of several such mentions that occurred throughout his military career. On the 7th May 1849, Harrison along with a wing of the 2nd Regiment of Cavalry under the command of Captain Yates, took part in the cavalry action at Gowree (or Gourie).

“The rebellion in the Nizams dominions has been extinguished by the capture of the pretender, Appa Sahib, and the entire defeat of his Rohillas after a contents in which the Nizam’s troops and especially the European local officers greatly distinguished themselves. It appears that the headquarters of the Hingolee Division of the Nizam’s army under Brigadier Hampton commanding that division, on the 6th May came up with the pretender to the Nagpore Raj and his followers at a place called Gowree, 14 miles from Hingolee. They were a portion of the body of the rebels so roughly handled by the Ellichpore Division under the late Brigadier Onslow on the 30th April and were hurrying to occupy the fort at Mahore. The force had marched between 40 and 50 miles on the night previous to the engagement and the cavalry in the advance (120 sabres), with whom were with Brigadier Hampton and his staff, came unawares on the enemy. They refused to surrender whereupon this handful of cavalry charged upwards of 300 Rohillas who fought with desperation, the charge being described as a most brilliant one, the whole of the European officers joining. The contest was a most sanguinary hand-to-hand affair, the enemy at length fled, leaving 105 killed, 50 wounded and over 100 taken prisoner, amongst whom is the pretender who is wounded. The infantry having come up, did good service by scouring the jungle, but they were too exhausted to carry out the pursuit. In this gallant affair we regret to find that Brigadier Hampton and Major Lysaght are dangerously and Captain Yates seriously wounded. Captain Orr and Lieutenant Harrison likewise received slight wounds.”
(Extract from Allen’s Indian Mail - Friday 29th June 1849)

An extract from Brigadier Hamptons despatch to General Frazer, who was the Resident at the Nizam’s court, sent on the day of the action reads as follows and is rather more sparse with his description of the action, unlike the rather more florid and excitable tones expressed in the above paragraphs (note the slight discrepancy between the two sets of enemy casualty figures):

“The cavalry on this occasion, under their commanding officer Captain Yates (who has been seriously wounded) and Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant Harrison behaved most nobly;- Though they made a forced march of 50 miles and only amounted to 114 sabres in the field, they pursued (for 4 miles more) killing or capturing the Insurgents to the number of 120 of the former and 105 of the latter, 51 of whom are badly wounded;-words are inadequate to express the manner in which they distinguished themselves on this occasion.”

In reply, General Frazer sent the following:

“The Resident desires to convey the expression of his warmest and most cordial thanks to you for your conduct on this occasion, to Captain Yates and to Lieutenant and Acting Adjutant Harrison, 2nd Cavalry &c., &c., &c.: the party of Cavalry were more fortunate in being able to come up with the enemy; and they have admirably sustained the high character of the Nizam’s Cavalry”

Harrison was further mentioned in Division Orders by Brigadier Hampton for his part in the attack:

“But to the wing of the 2nd Cavalry, which numbered only 114 sabres on the ground, the Brigadier’s acknowledgements are most especially due for the gallantry and intrepidity displayed chiefly in hand to hand encounters; and he requests that Captain Yates will accept them for himself and convey them to Lieutenant and Adjutant Harrison, Risalder Mizra Boolfina, Ali Bey and every native officer and man involved.”

As if the conduct of Harrison hadn’t been highly praised enough already, the Chief Secretary of the Madras Government, Mr. G. F. Thomas, also added his approval on behalf of the Governor:

“It is gratifying to the Governor to notice the favourable mention of Lieutenant Harrison of the Madras Army, and the Right Honourable The Governor in Council directs that the forgoing despatch be communicated to the Commander-in-Chief, through the Military Department.”
[The despatch in question was a combination of the communications from Brigadier Beatson, General Frazer and the Chief Secretary as previously mentioned]

This elicited the following letter sent direct to Harrison:

“Sir,
By order of the Lieutenant General Sir George Berkeley, K.C.B., Commander in Chief, Madras Army, I have the honour to annex extracts from minutes of consultation, and am directed to convey the expression of His Excellency’s approbation of conduct, which has merited the praise of The Right Honourable The Governor in Council, and the British Resident in Hydrabad; and reflects credit on you and the Service to which you belong.”
“I have the honour, &c., &c.,

R.Alexander,
Colonel Adjutant General,
Madras Army.”


January 1851 found Harrison now in command of a squadron of the 5th Nizam of Hyderabad’s Cavalry (Ellichpur Horse) and acting as Adjutant with the local rank of Captain as part of the Field Force commanded by Brigadier Beatson that was despatched by the British Resident to besiege the fort at Dahroor. The expedition was a complete success as can be seen from the following description:

[Extract of General Orders by the Resident, on the part of the Nizam's Government, dated Hyderabad Residency, 17th Feb. 1851.]
“The Resident is pleased to direct that the subjoined copy of a despatch from Brigadier Beatson be published for the information of the Nizam's army, and he regrets that an accidental delay in its transmission to head-quarters should have prevented his promulgating, at an earlier period, a report so highly honourable to the force recently employed at Dharoor, and to the army in general of which it forms a part.
The Fort of Dharoor, which is one of the strongest in His Highness the Nizam's dominions, fell into the hands of a party of 141 men (127 of these being Afghans), who, having been previously confined as prisoners there “and whose accumulated crimes rendered it necessary that they should be made an example of”, had risen upon the Nizam's irregular troops which formed the garrison, and obtained possession of the place.
It was of importance to re-capture it without delay, and the Resident entrusted this duty to Brigadier Beatson, who has fully and conspicuously justified the selection.
A large force, as below, was directed to assemble for the purpose in view, because although the number of the besieged was small, the place was, by its natural position all but impregnable on three of its sides, while the fourth and remaining portion had been rendered as strong as native skill could make it.

Force actually at Dharoor.
Artillery
8 18-Pounders.
2 8-Inch Mortars.
1 8-Inch Howitzer.
3 6-Pounder Guns.
1 12-Pounder Howitzer.
Cavalry
2nd Nizam's Cavalry.
2 Squadrons 4th Nizam's Cavalry.
1 Squadron 5th Nizam’s Cavalry [Harrison]
Infantry
3 Companies 4th Infantry.
4 Companies 5th Infantry.
6th Regiment Nizam's Infantry.
(En route to Dharoor at the time of its surrender. 2 18-Pounder Guns from Bolarum, escorted by 2 companies of the 3rd Infantry. 1 18-Pounder Gun from Hingolee.)

Another and important reason for surrounding the place with so large a force, was to prevent the escape of the men who had seized it, their accumulated crimes rendering it necessary, in the Resident's opinion, that a severe example of them should be made.
Brigadier Beatson summoned them to surrender, but received only a refusal. He adopted, therefore, regular means for reducing the place; and a fire being opened on the fort on the 27th ultimo, a practicable breach was effected on the 4th instant, and the troops were prepared to move to the assault, when the party which had defended it surrendered, and laid down their arms.
It now only remains for the Resident to return his best thanks to the able and gallant officer who has so well obeyed his orders, and to notify his entire approbation of his conduct, as well as that of the officers and men who served under him at Dharoor.”


This resulted in the following mention in Brigadier Beatson’s despatch:

“Captain Harrison, as Adjutant of the Regiment, commanded a squadron of the 5th Nizam’s Cavalry as part of the Field Force at the Siege of Dharoor in the Decan in January and February 1851, and received the approbation of the Governor General for his services there”

By October 1853, Harrison was back in command of a squadron of the 2nd Regiment Hyderabad Cavalry and had relinquished his temporary local rank. On the 17th October, he  was sent to Mominabad in order to quell, if required, an expected mutiny of the 5th Nizams Regiment of Cavalry. Clearly Harrison was tasked with this mission on the basis that he must have known the troops personally having commanded them back in 1851 during the Dharoor incident and it was probably hoped that with his intimate knowledge of the men concerned he could find a way to prevent any major difficulties arising. It is obvious from the following extract from the Brigade Major, Cavalry Division that whatever Harrison did in Mominabad it was successful:

“I am desired by the Brigadier [Brigadier William Mayne] to say that he is extremely gratified by the activity and zeal that you have displayed in so quickly proceeding to, and returning from Mominabad; the performance of this good Service is highly creditable to you; and you will be so good as to express to the native officers and men of the Squadron 2nd Cavalry, how pleased the Brigadier is with the willing and soldier-like spirit evinced by them in making the extraordinary march they have now done”

Despite their previous fine and unblemished service record, the 5th Regiment Nizam’s Cavalry was disbanded not long afterwards in 1854. This was as part of the re-organisation of the Hyderabad Contingent that was being carried out at the time, however their demise in the re-organisation was probably exacerbated by the mistrust that they were now likely to be held in. The HEIC and the British in India had always feared rebellion or mutiny amongst the native troops and this was something they had to deal with on a much larger scale only four years later.

For the next year, Harrison and the 2nd Nizam’s Cavalry were involved in a campaign back and forth across the Nizam’s dominions in the pursuit of a variety of freebooters, thieves, bands of dacoits and ‘other undesirables’. There was also a re-organization in 1854 of the Nizam’s forces and the 2nd Regiment, Nizam’s Cavalry became the 2nd Cavalry, Hyderabad Contingent and were based in Aurungabad. In September 1854 Harrison is heavily involved in an action against the Rohillas at Sailoor which is described in the ‘History of the Hyderabad Contingent’ by Major Reginald George Burton.

“A Field Force comprising the 2nd Cavalry (300 sabres), four guns of the 2nd Company Artillery and 400 men of the 5th Infantry, marched from Aurungabad under the command of Brigadier Mayne for the reduction of the fort at Sailur. The attack commenced on the 21st September and the same night the garrison consisting of a strong body of Rohillas who had previously refused to surrender, endeavoured to make their escape by sallying out of the fort and attacking the investing pickets but they were soon pursued by the cavalry across the plains and most of them were cut up.”

Harrison again appears to have distinguished himself during the action:

“Captain Harrison was present as 2nd in command 2nd Cavalry Hyderabad Contingent, in action with the Rohillas at Sailoor under Brigadier Mayne, on the night of the 21st September, and had a charger wounded under him; he received the approbation of the Governor General for his Services on this occasion, where he was appointed Acting Brigade Major, Vice Captain Abbott wounded.”

However, early in November 1854 he returns to England on sick leave and had been given, before he left India, letters of good conduct from his commanding officer Brigadier Mayne:

“8th November 1854”

“My dear Harrison,
As you are about to proceed to England, the enclosed letters may prove of use to you. I give them to you with much pleasure, because you are a deserving and rising officer in whom I take much interest. I have on several occasions had it in my power to put on official record, my opinion of your services and qualifications, and if this private expression of the estimation in which I holds you, should likely to be any advantage to you, make whatever use you like of it; besides serving under my immediate command as a Regimental Officer for the past three years, you have acted as my Brigade Major, both in the Field and in Quarters; and I have no hesitation in assuring you that you have on all occasions given me entire satisfaction and that I consider you fit for any Staff employment. I wish you a happy return to England and with every good wish to you and yours.
I am my dear Harrison, yours very sincerely,”

“Wm. Mayne
Brigadier”


History does not relate whether these letters of good conduct were of any assistance to Harrison. However, on the 12th May 1855, Harrison received a commission as Captain into the Royal Cumberland Regiment of Militia which was subsequently noted in the London Gazette on the 5th June 1855. It is probable that this position was secured for him by his father, by now Lieutenant Colonel on the Retired List but who was by then living in Cumberland and must have known or had a degree of influence with the Lord Lieutenant of that county.

Harrison was back in India and reporting for duty on the 15th February 1856 at Bombay and returned to duty with the 2nd Cavalry, Hyderabad Contingent although this time on a temporary basis. However, in October 1856, he received a new posting to the 2nd Regiment of Cavalry, Gwalior Contingent as second in command and Brigade Major which brought him under the command of Colonel G C Stockley with Brigadier Ramsay having overall command of the Gwalior Contingent.

On the 23rd November 1856, having had the local rank of Captain conferred upon him several times in the past seven years, Harrison received his substantive promotion to Captain in the Madras Staff Corps, the notification of which finally appeared in the London Gazette on 24th February 1863.

Again, he seems to have done well in his new position and the Agent to the Governor-General in Central India - Sir Robert Hamilton - sent a letter to Colonel Stockley at Mahidpore on the 4th March 1857 from the Indore Residency which included the following paragraph:

“Captain Harrison’s services have been rendered in a manner which entitles him to particular thanks, and will be brought to the notice of Brigadier Ramsay, Commanding Gwalior Contingent”

Three days later, Colonel Stockley wrote the following note to Harrison:

“To Captain Harrison, Brigade Major, the Commanding officer’s best thanks are due for the zeal and abilities he has displayed in conducting the duties of his appointment: whether in the Field or in the Office, he has proved himself equally competent, and well up to his work; and the Commanding Officer will not fail to make known to the Governor Generals Agent, the high opinion he holds of him”

However, storm clouds were gathering in the country and on Saturday the 9th May many things changed forever as the Indian Mutiny began.

With the outbreak of hostilities, Harrison left his secondment in the Nizam’s army and returned to regular service with his regiment, the 33rd Madras Native Infantry which was at that time under the command of Colonel J Millar in the August of 1857. Colonel Millar was placed in command of the Nagpore Irregular Force which was made responsible for the patrolling of the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories in Central India and part of the Nagpore Force became the Kamptee Moveable Column. Harrison joined this field force on the 7th August and served with it through until the end of November 1858, initially holding the vital role of Commissariat Officer.

Harrison first saw action on the 1st September at Balacote. Colonel Millar in his despatch written on the 3rd September from the camp at Dumoh to the Adjutant-General of the Army, Fort St. George noted that he had taken:

“The 3rd Squadron of Madras Light Cavalry under Captain Tottenham; three guns of D Battery, Royal Artillery under Captain James; two companies 33rd Madras Native Infantry under Captain Applegate; two companies 52nd Bengal Native Infantry under Lieutenant Oakes; Rifle Company 1st Nagpore Irregulars Infantry under Lieutenant Pereira; 1st Squadron 3rd Bengal Irregular Cavalry under Lieutenant Sutherland, Captain Harrison A.S.O of the Detachment, Captain Ludlow Field Engineer.”

The despatch was as follows:
“Sir,
I have the honour to report, for the Information of Your Excellency the Commander in Chief, that, at the request of the Commissioner of the Saugor and Nerbudda Territories, a party of troops marched without tents or baggage against Balacote, fifteen miles distant, a large village with an old hill fort on a neighbouring hill, and the residence of a rajah of the Lodhee caste, named Surroop Singh, who had assisted with his followers in the attack upon Dumoh, and had been very active in plundering the neighbouring village.
The detachment marched from camp at 3.30am on the 1st instant .and arrived within a mile of the place at about 11am. The last four miles was up a steep and rugged ghat and through a dense jungle which extended to within a few hundred yards of the place.
At about a mile from the village, I observed a small open valley leading down towards the right, by which I ordered the cavalry to proceed and endeavour to surround the village, and cut off the retreat of the rebels. When the infantry approached to within about three-quarters of a mile from the town, the enemy opened a brisk fire upon them, but were speedily driven in by the 33rd and 52nd, who advanced in skirmishing order and vied with each other in pushing forward and would have entered the place, but I thought it prudent to halt them out of reach of fire until the guns which were close in the rear, could come up, and, from a height which commanded the town, fired a few rounds into it, when I allowed the infantry to go on, who entered the town, but found it completely evacuated, and most of the property removed.
I regret to say that, in the skirmish in the jungle, three men of the 33rd were wounded, one of whom has since died. I was unable to ascertain what loss was sustained by the enemy, on account of the thickness of the jungle; there was, however, one of the enemy killed in the evening by a party sent out to clear the immediate neighbourhood of the town previous to my picquets being posted.
I have much pleasure in expressing my satisfaction at the manner in which the whole of the troops employed behaved; the Artillery deserve great credit for the rapidity in which they brought up their guns over an almost impassable road.
The detachment, after having destroyed and set fire to the village, returned to camp the next day by a different road, destroying one of the enemy’s recently deserted villages en route.
I beg to enclose the doctor’s return of casualties.
I have, &c.,

J. MILLAR,
Brevet-Colonel,
Commanding Nagpore Moveable Column.”


Three weeks later, Harrison was again in action, once more under the command of Colonel Millar. This time it was as part of the Kamptee Moveable Column and in a much bigger engagement with the enemy on the 27th September 1857 in a pass near Kuttunghee. Colonel Millar’s despatch was written the next day in camp, close to the scene of the action and was again addressed to the Adjutant-General of the Army at Fort St. George:

“Sir,

I have the honour to report, for the information of his Excellency the Commander-in-chief, that thanks be to God, the Kamptee Moveable Column gained a complete and decisive victory over the mutineers of the 52nd Bengal Native Infantry numbering about 500 rank and file, and 1000 insurgent matchlock-men on the 27th September 1857.
The 52nd Regiment Bengal native Infantry, having mutinied at Jubbulpore, it was decided that the town and district of Dumoh should be abandoned by regular troops, and that the moveable column under my command [comprising a force of some 520 rank and file] having disarmed the detachment of the Bengal 52nd Native Infantry serving with the column, and taking with it the Dumoh treasure, amounting up to a lakh of rupees, and the arms and ammunition of the disarmed men, should retire to defend Jubbulpore.
The column left Dumoh on the 21st instant, and after having been delayed in crossing the Nowtah river for three days, reached Singrampoor on the evening of the 26th September, where intelligence was received that the mutineers 52nd Regiment, numbering about 500 rank and file, had taken up a position at Kanee on the west of the Heran river about 12 miles below Kuttunghee.
As there was a probability that the mutineers might seize and destroy the boats on the Heran, at Kuttunghee, on the road to Jubbulpore I despatched at 2 A.M on the 27th instant, a party under Lieutenant Watson (one company 33rd Madras Native Infantry, twelve Troopers 4th Madras Light Cavalry) to secure the boats mentioned above. This party was accompanied by Major Jenkins, Assistant Quartermaster-General. At 5 A.M on the 27th, just as the column was preparing to march, two troopers galloped into camp with the intelligence that the advanced party had been surprised by the 52nd Mutineers, that the two officers had been killed, and the party retreating on our camp. I forthwith gave the order to march, and pushed on through the jungle country with a party, and took possession of the village of Gobra about three miles in advance of Singrampoor, and which commands the mouth of the pass, and to the north of which the ground is open. I waited there for a short time for the guns and the main body to join here. Shortly after the guns came up, the 52nd Bengal Native Infantry were seen marching along the road in column: two guns were fired into them, on which they left the road and advanced against us in the jungle, on both sides, accompanied by the matchlock men. As the positions the guns first took up was too much exposed from fire from the jungle, and the enemy were endeavouring to steal around our flanks, I retired about 200 yards close to the village and took up a more favourable position where the ground was a little more open. I kept the guns on the road, occupied the village and the jungle right and left with my infantry, and posted the cavalry in rear of the left, where the ground was open. After a brisk fire, which lasted about half an hour, the enemy were driven back. The baggage having now closed up, I placed the treasure, guarded by the 33rd, in rear of the guns, threw out a strong body of skirmishers from the 33rd on the right, a little in front of the leading gun, and another line of skirmishers from the 28th and 33rd on the left, leaving one company of the 28th with the park and the rifle to protect the baggage and rear. In this order we advanced slowly through three or four miles of very jungly country, driving the enemy before us, and halting occasionally to give them a few rounds from our guns.
On reaching the open country near Kuttunghee, I pushed on the cavalry to feel for the enemy, who were discovered making off up the hills with their baggage in rear of the town, From the nature of the ground the cavalry could not follow them, and, before the infantry arrived, the greater number had effected their escape. The rifles and parties from the 28th and 33rd , however, succeeded in killing some, and taking a few prisoners on the hill, and also in the town, who were afterwards hanged.
On our approaching Kuttunghee, we were agreeably surprised by major Jenkins and Lieutenant Jenkins riding up to the column; they had succeeded in cutting their way through the ambuscade in the dark, and they had concealed themselves on the hills until the advance of the column enabled them to rejoin us. Lieutenant Watson, I regret, was wounded in the cheek by a musket ball , and knocked off his horse; his escape was most miraculous. Major Jenkins’s charger had two bullets through him, and is not likely to survive. [Jenkins was later to lose his life in a skirmish with some Bondailiah rebels near Kuttunghee on the 14th November 1857.]
At the entrance to the town, was found lying on a public road, the body of Captain MacGregor, of the 52nd Bengal Native Infantry, with his throat cut, a shot in his breast, and a bayonet wound in his body, whom the mutineer having been made prisoner on the occasion of their mutiny, had murdered at 3 A.M before they proceeded to attack us.
My movements during the above operations were much hampered by having to keep an eye on the 120 disarmed men of the 52nd Bengal Native Infantry, who accompanied the column, and by the treasure, large amount of baggage, and people returning with us from Dumoh.
The whole force behaved well, and proved incontestably that the Madras sepoy has no sympathy with the Bengal mutineers.
The cavalry were very forward in pursuit of the enemy, and followed them up the side of the hill, capturing some of their baggage.
The Rifle Company of the 1st Irregular Infantry, were very active in ascending the hill, and captured a colour havildar of the 52nd Bengal Native Infantry, who was one of the chief ringleaders of the mutiny. I enclose Lieutenant Pereira’s report on this subject, and I beg to inform you, that the commissioner has promoted the havildar therein mentioned to jemadar, and that I have promoted the two sepoys to havildar.
I feel much indebted to all the European officers; and the conduct of the European gunners was most exemplary.
I beg to add, that I received every assistance from Captain Ludlow, Field Engineer; and from Captain Harrison, officiating Sub-Assistant Commissary-General, who acted as my staff; and from Captain Pinkney, 34th Regiment Madras Native Infantry, Deputy Commissioner, who was constantly with me , and whose knowledge of the localities enabled him to be of great service.
I enclose a medical return of casualties.
I have , &c.,

J. MILLAR,
Lieutenant-Colonel,
Commanding Kamptee Moveable Column.”


There were seven casualties as a result of this action including two fatalities later listed in the report of H. Adam the Assistant-Surgeon.

Subsequent to the events at Kuttunghee, detachments of the Nagpore Field Force took part in the following skirmishes: Enotah, Ghosulpore, Moorwanah, and the Konnee Pass near Patun; all of which were recorded in various despatches printed in the London Gazette of the 17th September 1858. However, by this time Harrison had been appointed on the 30th October 1857 to be the Brigade-Major to the Kamptee Moveable Column and was based at Jubbulpore, a post that he would hold until January 1858. There is a letter written by him when in Jubbulpore to Colonel Millar at Patun that forms part of the published despatches of the Nagpore Field Force in the London Gazette on the 17th September 1858 (page 4178).

For his part in the Indian Mutiny, Harrison was awarded the Indian Mutiny Medal with Central India clasp.

After the Mutiny was over, Harrison remained with the 33rd Madras Native Infantry rather than returning to the Nizam’s service. The Bengal Army List of 1859 has Harrison serving as a Captain in the Jubbulpore Divisional Battalion as second in command under the watchful eye of Captain George G Moxon and he remained there in post through into 1860. He was recommended for promotion in that year by Brigadier Lawrence although there is no indication that this came to anything and in the same year he was transferred into the Military Police battalion.

The India Act 5 of 1861 established a uniform system of police administration throughout British India with an Inspector General at the head of the police in each province. The Superior Police Services, later known as the Indian (Imperial) Police, consisted of an Inspector General, Deputy Inspectors General, District Superintendents and Assistant District Superintendents. The Subordinate Police Service in each province consisted of Inspectors, Sub-Inspectors, Head Constables and Constables. The rank of Sergeant (equivalent to Head Constable) also existed but was mainly confined to Europeans or Eurasians who served in the City forces or in cantonments.

The Indian Police (Superior) Service in its earlier days included many European officers from the old HEIC and Indian Army. Harrison, with his newly acquired experience of policing gained in the Military Police Battalions was to become one of these officers. On the reorganisation of the police, he was transferred to Muttra, Hindustan in 1861 to command the police forces in that province. He became District Superintendent of Police 3rd Grade at Muttra on the 1st May 1864 and remained in the position until 1866.

Despite now being part of India’s new police force, Harrison was still an army officer in the Madras Staff Corps and on the 8th July 1865 received his promotion to Major. His promotion later appeared in the London Gazette on the 7th November 1865.

On the 18th May 1867, Harrison received a promotion within the police service when he became District Superintendent of Police 2nd Grade and was transferred to Boolundshuhur in the North West Province (south east of Delhi) and it was likely that he remained here and served until 1872.

Harrison received his final promotion in the Madras Staff Corps when he became Lieutenant Colonel on the 8th July 1871 with the confirmation being printed in the London Gazette on the 1st December 1871.

He returned to England in 1872 having been granted 20 months leave on Medical Certificate. He did not return to India and retired on the 3rd May 1872 having a total of over 27 years reckonable service with the Madras Staff Corps.

George Anthony Harrison was married twice. First to Ann Miller (b.1823, d. 1850) on the 21st December 1846 and had one child with her, Anne Mary (b.29th June 1848; married Alexander C Marshall in November 1870 - Bengal Marriages Volume 134, Folio 98). After being widowed, he went on to marry Julia Stracey Vaughan on the 16th April 1851. It was recorded in the Bombay Almanac of 1852 as follows:

“At Aurungabad by the Rev. D. Wood M.A., George A Harrison, Esq., Adjutant Nizam’s 5th Cavalry, son of Colonel Harrison, Royal Artillery to Julia, daughter of the late Venerable Archdeacon Vaughan”

It seems probable that Harrison was introduced to Julia through Benjamin Hutchinson Vaughan, a nephew of Julia’s father Edward and a brother officer of George’s father Anthony Robinson Harrison. There were a total of five children from this marriage who were George Mayne Tom Vaughan (b.9 July 1853); Agnes Louisa Anne (b.16 Oct 1855, d.23 Jan 1901); Julia Florence Augor (b.18 Jun 1857, d.15 Jun 1887); Edward Vaughan (b.28 Aug 1860, d.29 Oct 1911); Halford Claud Vaughan (b.3 Dec 1862, d. 1 April 1916)

George Anthony Harrison died aged 49 on the 18th September 1872 at Poulson Lodge, Stoke Bishop, Westbury on Trym, Bristol. The Death Certificate records that his son George Vaughan Harrison was present at his death and the cause of death is noted as “Chronic Diarrhoea 5 years, Exhaustion. Certified”. His last Will and Testament dated 14th September 1872 left his effects of under £450 to his wife Julia Stracey Harrison.

Madras Staff Corps/33rd Regiment Madras Native Infantry
Officer Cadet - 1844
Ensign  - 8 July 1845
Lieutenant – 16 May 1849
Captain - 23 Nov 1856
Major - 8 July 1865
Lieutenant Colonel - 8 July 1871


I am indebted to Tony Jarvis (who is a Great Grandson of G A Harrison) and who originally made contact with me through this forum and then kindly made available to me a copy of Harrison's service records and various other items. Without these, this story would not be nearly as complete as it is.

George Anthony Harrison is my GGG Grandfather.
Last edited by Berkshire Dragon on 22 Aug 2009 20:52, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Berkshire Dragon » 12 Aug 2009 00:31

Lieutenant Colonel George Anthony Harrison (1823 - 1872) Madras Staff Corps


Image Image


This is a picture of George Anthony Harrison taken in Bristol in 1872 just before he died - he was 49 years old. He is wearing his Indian Mutiny medal although only the ribbon can be seen with the medal just out of shot.

Unfortunately, the picture of the Indian Mutiny medal is not Harrison's and is shown just to give an idea of what he was awarded. I do not know what happened to his medal after he died and its current whereabouts in unknown. I would be very grateful that if anyone comes across this medal or knows of its existence or whereabouts, if they could kindly let me know.
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Mark » 12 Aug 2009 00:56

Excellent posts, Berkshire Dragon! Just what I was looking for :)

Keep them coming folks.

Mark
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Waggoner » 12 Aug 2009 01:16

Mark,

An interesting area for discussion and research. This part of your first story caught my attention - "Benjamin decided to transfer to the Military train on the 30th December 1859 where he would serve in the East Indies from January to October 1860." I was wondering if he joined while in India and, if so, how he did it? Which battalion was he with in January to October 1860? If it was the 1st battalion, did he qualify for the China medal?

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Berkshire Dragon » 12 Aug 2009 01:59

Mark,

Thanks for the kind words.

My research on G A Harrison is not quite complete as I still have to get hold of copies of his records with reference to his service in the Indian Police. These are contained in the British Library in the India offfice section and will probably come under the following:

L/F/10, Uncovenanted Servants 1818-1900, mainly Superior Services and Upper Subordinate Services.
V/13, Civil Lists 1840-1957, mainly Imperial Services until 1905, and Provincial Service after that.
L/AG/20/1/6-151, Civil Leave Pay Books 1860-1963, mainly Imperial and Provincial Services.

As you are aware, research in the British Library in nigh on impossible without a great deal of patience so definitely not for me! Methinks it may be down to a researcher (maybe Kevin A) or perhaps I shall have a chat with my new 'relation' Tony Jarvis and see what he can come up with. :lol:

However, your post on Benjamin Simner looked so lonely I thought I would go with what I have so far on GAH just so he has some company from another old Indian Mutiny hand.


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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Mark » 12 Aug 2009 15:09

Waggoner wrote:Mark,

An interesting area for discussion and research. This part of your first story caught my attention - "Benjamin decided to transfer to the Military train on the 30th December 1859 where he would serve in the East Indies from January to October 1860." I was wondering if he joined while in India and, if so, how he did it? Which battalion was he with in January to October 1860? If it was the 1st battalion, did he qualify for the China medal?

All the best,

Gary


Hi Gary

As far as I know he did indeed join the Military train while India. When he left South Africa and first arrived in India he was still with the German Legion taking part in the latter stages of putting down the Mutiny. I am guessing once the Mutiny was over he looked for something else to do - hence transferring to the Military Train. His service records only record the Indian Mutiny Medal with clasp so I don't think he qualified for any other medals.

Mark
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Mark » 12 Aug 2009 15:17

Berkshire Dragon wrote:As you are aware, research in the British Library in nigh on impossible without a great deal of patience so definitely not for me! Methinks it may be down to a researcher (maybe Kevin A) or perhaps I shall have a chat with my new 'relation' Tony Jarvis and see what he can come up with. :lol:


I think even Kevin dreads the thought of going to the India section of the British Library - its a complete nightmare. I would certainly advise anyone not sure to employ an experienced researcher to go there on their behalf - unless, of course, you have plenty of time on your hands! :lol:

Berkshire Dragon wrote:However, your post on Benjamin Simner looked so lonely I thought I would go with what I have so far on GAH just so he has some company from another old Indian Mutiny hand.


Yes poor old Ben was looking lonely there for a while. I have taken up your suggestion and moved this thread to the "Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors" section which seems a popular sub-forum of the VWF. Hopefully others will reply - I do love reading what people find out about 'their man'. :)

Mark
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Waggoner » 12 Aug 2009 17:53

Mark,

I am still intrigued by Simner's service in the MT. The 2nd Bn left India in late April 1859 and the 1st Bn left the UK in January 1860 for service in China. Based on this, it would appear the Simner should have returned to the UK, remustered to the 1st Bn MT and then gone east for the China War. If he didn't actually serve in China, he could have been on detached duties arranging for the purchase of transport animals and vehicles. I would really appreciate if you could clarify this. If he was on detached duties in the Far East during the China war, I am curious to know where.

All the best,

Gary
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Ron Morris » 20 Aug 2009 10:35

2692 Private Benjamin George Barnes of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders.

"They don't like it up 'em!" is a classic line from Lance Corporal Jones to Captain Mainwaring in the BBC comedy series, Dad’s Army. Corporal Jones, a veteran of the Sudan campaign, is referring to the quite understandable dislike of the Dervishes or “Fuzzy Wuzzies” for the British bayonet. However, Jones and his comrades are unlikely to have had much opportunity to wield their bayonets at the final Battle of Omdurman on the 2nd September, 1898.

This was a resounding success for the Anglo-Egyptian Army and a major disaster for the Dervishes. It was a considerable mismatch in terms of weapons with the majority of the Dervishes armed only with swords and spears. The Dervish Army was blown away by rifles and machine guns and by shell fire from artillery batteries and naval gunboats on the River Nile. Very few Dervishes came close to the British front line. Losses in the British Division were 172 killed and wounded of which 71 were incurred by the 21st Lancers in their famous charge and there were about 250 casualties amongst the Egyptians and Soudanese. The Dervish army lost over 10,000 killed and at least 15,000 wounded.

In the circumstances, 2692 Private Benjamin George Barnes of “C” Company, 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, whose medal group (shown below) is part of my collection, could probably be considered unlucky to have received a severe bullet wound in the left leg during the battle. However, he seems to have made a full recovery and his career makes interesting reading.

The following information is from his service record:

Benjamin George Barnes was born on the 28th March, 1873 in Tottenham, London. After working as a drummer and striker (whatever that is!), he enlisted in the Cameron Highlanders at Inverness on the 20th November, 1891 and joined the regiment in Malta in February, 1892. The Cameron Highlanders next served at Gibraltar from February, 1895 until they were sent to Egypt on the 4th October, 1897 to join the forces led by the Sirdar, General Kitchener, in the reconquest of the Sudan.

The Cameron Highlanders led the British Brigade in the Battle of The Atbara on the 8th April, 1898 and were in the thick of the fighting in the Battle of Omdurman on the 2nd September, 1898 when Private Barnes received his wound. The regiment suffered a total of 29 casualties in the battle.

The British forces returned to Cairo and, after a period of hospitalisation, Private Barnes made a good recovery and rejoined his regiment.

The Cameron Highlanders were still stationed in Cairo at the outbreak of the Boer War and were posted to South Africa in March, 1900 to join General Hamilton’s march to Johannesburg and Pretoria. After the fall of Pretoria, the Camerons were engaged in the successful Battle of Diamond Hill then took part in the capture of the Boer Army in the Wittebergen Mountains and the capture of Spitzkopf. In 1901, the Camerons marched into the Transvaal to take part in the building and manning of strategic blockhouses. Private Barnes emerged from this campaign unscathed.

The regiment returned to Fort George, Inverness on the 11th October, 1902 then served in Ireland from 1904 to 1907. Periods of service at Tidworth and Aldershot followed and the Camerons paraded at the funeral of King Edward VII in 1911.

Private Barnes was discharged on the 15th November 1912 after 21 years service. He seems to have had trouble keeping his Good Conduct Badges and so did not receive the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Most likely to his considerable surprise, Barnes was called up for service in the Royal Air Force on the 9th August 1918 at the ripe old age of 45. He served in France from September, 1918 to August, 1919, as a batman with the rank of Private 2. His service number was 283314. Barnes was discharged from the RAF on the 30th April, 1920.

Benjamin Barnes lived and worked in London for the rest of his life and died in Hackney on the 7th March, 1948.
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Findings?

Postby Jonathan » 20 Aug 2009 15:11

Ron,
Thank you for taking the time to post your findings. Your writing is excellent. I loved the opening line--I was sucked in from the first sentence! Your man had quite an active career, and a nice medal group as a result. Congratulations!

Jonathan
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Finding

Postby Hopeless Hero » 13 Jun 2010 13:28

BAIN, Donald Regimental Number 959

I quote from a document, possibly photocopied from a book or chapter thereof, entitled 42nd ( Royal Highland ) REGIMENT of FOOT

BAIN, Donald - Regimental Number 959

Born in the Parish of Wick, County of Caithness in 1818. Enlisted in the 42nd Royal Highlanders at Wick, 29th November, 1836 at the age of 18. Appointed Piper, 1st April 1854, one of the first five Pipers authorised in the Regiment. Reverted to Private, 1st April 1857. Foreign service included Corfu, Malta, Bermuda and Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Took part in the Eastern Campaign in the Crimea during 1854 - 56, including the Battle of the Alma and the seige of Sebastopol. Known locally as the 'Hero of Alma' having 'played the Colours up the Heights against the enemy'. Confined to hospital during the campaign from January to March, 1855. When Piper McIntosh found mice in the bag of his pipes, it was assumed that 'Piper Bain was probably to blame'.
Awarded the medal for Long Service and Good Conduct with a £5 gratuity. Discharged at Stirling Castle at his own request, 21st December 1859. His character was described as 'good', though four times deprived of Good Conduct pay.
Resided in Dundee where he became Pipe-Major of the 3rd ( Dundee Highland ) Volunteer Battalion The Black Watch since the creation of their band in 1868. He was a good 'all round player'.
Died at his home in Dundee, 12th January 1895. Buried with Military Honours in the Necropolis Cemetery. 'Of a cheery and obliging disposition, his presence will be long missed by the Dundee Highlanders'

Medal Entitlement

Crimea War Medal - clasps Alma, Balaklava and Sebastopol
Long Service Award ( issued 31st August 1860 ) Private on the Roll
Turkish Crimea Medal

As a young boy I was often told that Donald 'piped' Queen Victoria around the 'Wet Review' of 1881 and that the crowd 'mobbed' him afterwards and stole the ribbons from his pipes.

I am also intrigued about the quotes - where would these have come from, could they be the elusive 'mentioned in despatches' ???
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Re: Researching Individual Soldiers & Sailors - Your Finding

Postby Mark » 13 Jun 2010 14:02

Hopeless Hero

Thank you for adding your research findings to this thread. Out of interest do you still have Donald Bain's actual medals within your family?

Mark :)
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