THE WALCHEREN EXPEDITION
July 20th 1809 - We received orders to march to Portsmouth to join the expedition forming there. We encamped for a few days near Gosport, and on the 27th embarked and sailed for the Island of Walcheren.
July 30th 1809 - Landed without opposition. We marched this night forward to attack the fortified town of Tervere. Our route was along the Dyke; not more than four men could march abreast. Colonel Pack led us gallantly along, until we got under the walls to the drawbridge, when a most dreadful fire of cannon and musquetry opened on us, and divided the Regiment. One half under Colonel Pack passed the town, and the other retreated on the bank. Assistant Surgeon Quin, close by me, had his brains blown out by a musquet ball from the enemy. We had 27 men killed and 51 wounded.
July 31st 1809 - We invested the town of Tervere, and Sir Home Popham with gunboats bombarded it from the sea.
August 1st 1809 - Tervere surrendered, the garrison (about 400 men) marched out and laid down their arms in front of our Regiment.
Marched to Middleburg (the capital of the Island), and from thence to attack Fort Ramekins, which was stormed and taken by detachments of the 36th and 71st, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Pack. Here Captain Pasley of the Engineers was dreadfully wounded.
August 5th 1809 - We then marched to the siege of Flushing. The men were employed in throwing up batteries in front of the town, the enemy making frequent sallies.
August 7th 1809 - The French made a desperate attack on the right of the besieging army, but were repulsed with great loss, upwards of 400 men.
August 8th 1809 - Our Regiment commenced erecting a battery on the Dyke, and were very much annoyed by the enemy’s guns.
August 10th and 11th 1809 - Still erecting outworks.
August 12th 1809
- A division of our men-o’-war passed the town under a tremendous fire from the
batteries, which was returned in good style from the ships; one, a seventy-four gun ship, ran aground, and was exposed to the whole sea batteries from the town and the opposite Battery of Cadsand for a considerable time, but was got off without much damage. This day Colonel Congreve
) threw a number of rockets into the town.
August 13th 1809 - This day our works nearly finished, and played on the town.
August 14th 1809 - The whole of the batteries opened against the town, and a division of gun boats and bomb vessels from the river. An incessant fire kept up the whole of the day, which was briskly returned by the town. This day another division of men-o’-war passed the town, commanded by Sir Richard Strachan. A gunboat stationed close in shore, in rear of our Regiment, was struck by a 32-pound shot, which sunk her and killed one man. Several parts of the town on fire. A cessation of firing took place from 8 till 10 o’clock. This night a detachment of our Regiment, and of the 36th and King’s German Legion, (39) under the command of Colonel Pack, stormed a battery close to the walls of the town, and spiked the guns, taking about 40 prisoners. Our loss was:-
Killed: Wounded. Missing.
36th, .. .. 3 3 3
71st, .. .. 2 10 3
King’s G. Legion, 12 24 4
Total, .. .. 17 37 10
Officers killed and wounded. - Lieutenant Macdonald, 71st, killed; 1 field officer, 36th, wounded; 1 subaltern, K.G.L., killed.
This night the French cut the Dyke and let the sea in upon us. Marks were put up next morning in different parts, with sentinels over them, to report hourly the increase of the water, which destroyed all the crops in our vicinity. We observed the Stad house Municipal Buildings = (Stadthuis) and two churches on fire from our rockets.
August 15th 1809
- The garrison of Flushing surrendered, to the amount of 3500
) under the command of Generals Monet and Osten; two companies of the 71st, and two of the Royals, were sent to take possession of the gates.
August 16th 1809 - I went into Flushing, round the Dyke and through the dockyard, where two ships of war were on the stocks: the ‘Royale Hollande’ (90 guns) and the ‘La Fidéle’ (frigate). The former was taken to pieces and the latter finished. The materials and frigate were sent to England. This day the transports were sent round to Fort Ramekins to embark the prisoners.
August 17th 1809 - 200 more of our Regiment ordered into Flushing, the prisoners becoming very disorderly.
August 18th 1809
- The whole of the army under arms at 5 o’clock a.m. At 10 the French garrison marched out of the west gate, preceded by two field pieces, with lighted matches, and the Artillery, commanded by General Osten, next the Infantry, with the Commander-in-Chief, General Monet, with colours flying, and at about a mile from town laid down their arms. We observed many Irishmen in their ranks,
) who scoffed at us as they marched past. At eleven o’clock the English colours were hoisted on the ramparts, and a Royal salute fired. General Graham’s Brigade took possession of the town, which was terribly destroyed.
August 22nd 1809 - We marched to Middleburg, the Capital of Zealand, a most beautiful and extensive city. Here the Earl of Chatham had his headquarters during the siege.
August 31st 1809 - Marched to Tervere; the fever of the country had by this time attacked many of our men. Colonel Pack was appointed Commandant, and Lieutenant Clements, Town Major of this garrison. About this time Lord Chatham returned to England, and the command devolved upon Sir Eyre Coote. The men were now sending to hospital by scores. On the 8th our sick in Regimental Hospital were 437. Lieutenant-Colonel Pack and most of the officers were attacked and brought to death’s door. Captain Sutherland died of it. Such demands were for surgeons and Peruvian Bark, i.e., Quinine, that England was nearly drained of it. Deaths were so frequent that a general order was issued to dig large pits and bury the men by night, in order that the sick and convalescent should not witness the removal of the dead.
I myself about this time found symptoms of the malady in my frame. I immediately took a large glass of Hollands Gin and walked round the ramparts, but still it was gaining round. I repeated the gin dose, which for the present kept it off, but I imbibed the disease and suffered dreadfully afterwards in Spain and Portugal.
In the latter end of November, orders were given to destroy the guns of Flushing and Tervere, and send on board the brass ones.
November 29th 1809 - All the brass guns were safe on board, and the iron ones destroyed and the carriages burned. The iron work was put on board ship, and the magazine built by our troops at Tervere blown up, and the ramparts levelled.
November 30th 1809 - The baggage of the army ordered on board at Flushing, with every weak man. Every hand employed in destroying the Grand Basin, capable of holding many ships of the largest kind. It was undermined, and the flood gates and enclosing timbers taken away, and the whole of this superb basin blown up.
December 9th 1809 - The whole of the army embarked, with the exception of rear guards left in the different garrisons. The enemy were at this time erecting works on North Beveland, in which our gunboats greatly annoyed them.
December 15th, 1809 - A dreadful gale of wind from the south-east, which drove five transports on shore to the east of Flushing, and all were abandoned.
December 16th 1809 - All the artificers, civil and military, sent on board, after completely destroying all the works. This night that beautiful building, the Naval Arsenal, set on fire, and all houses in the dockyard consumed.
December 17th 1809 - A signal made to weigh anchor. Some of the transports worked out of the harbour, but were obliged to put back, the wind being contrary.
December 18th 1809 - The wind still contrary.
December 22nd 1809 - The transports that were driven on shore on the 15th set on fire.
December 23rd 1809 - The whole of the fleet got underway. I was on board the ‘George’ transport. The batteries of Cadsand kept up an incessant fire as we passed, some of the shots falling short and others passing through the rigging. I, with a few others, got on the windlass to watch the direction of the shot, not dreaming that one would touch us when an unlucky thirty-four pounder struck the windlass, which carried off both legs of Sergeant Steele, and wounded three sailors and nine soldiers in the forecastle. Another of the same size immediately after lodged in the deck, and penetrated nearly through to a berth where a dozen women had taken shelter. We had the curiosity to weigh it, when it exceeded thirty pounds. Having only an assistant surgeon on board, as soon as we got out of range of shot, we lay too for the headquarter ship of the 68th, and got Surgeon Cole and another surgeon, who amputated both legs of poor Steele; but he only survived till next day.
December 24th 1809 - Came in sight of Ostend at 3 o’clock. A favourable breeze sprung up and we got into Deal Downs on Christmas Eve.
December 25th 1809 - Marched into Brabourne Lees and took up our old quarters.