Army Gold Medal for Nivelle, Major, 1st Battalion, 82nd Regiment with two fine portrait miniature

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Product code: A6143

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Item condition: E.F.

Our price: £20,500.00

Medal Description

Army  Gold Medal for Nivelle

Major John Walmsley, 1st. Bn. 82nd. Foot,

With lunettes and original top gold riband buckle, in fitted leather case, together with two fine colour miniature portraits of the recipient in uniform on ivory, one bearing a shoulder belt plate of the 82nd. These housed in leather cases, one reversed with a black etching of the recipient´s sweetheart, Elizabeth Hyde.

Major John Benjamin Walmsley, born Rochester, Kent, March 1766; married Elizabeth Hyde, November 1796; Commissioned Ensign, 1799; Joined the 82nd Foot, May 1805;  Major, August 1813.

Served in the Peninsula from 1812, present at Burgos, Vittoria, Pyrenees, San Marcial, Nivelle, Orthes and North America 1814 (War of 1812). The regiment arrived in Upper Canada on August 7th, 1814 from the south of France. They fought at the assault on Fort Erie and in other encounters on the Niagara Frontier. The 82nd left Canada in June 1815.

At the Battle of the Pyrenees, the 82nd Regiment was deployed in the Baztan Valley near the Maya Pass when the French attacked at dawn on 25 July. Some 20,000 French troops attacked the pass. Weight of numbers slowly drove back the British to the ridge at Atchiola. A strong detachment of the 82nd Regiment was at the highest point of the ridge supporting the 71st Regiment (Highland Light Infantry). They fought until their ammunition was spent. The 82nd’s soldiers were reported as then rolling boulders down onto the French The two weak British brigades at the Maya Pass (6,000 men ) fought three French divisions ( 20,000 ) for nearly ten hours. The French had captured the pass but failed to break through and did not renew their attack the next day. They lost about 2,000 men, the British 1,500. The detachment of the 82nd 79 killed or wounded. The Duke of Wellington’s despatch on the battle commended their conduct.

On the same day, the French launched 40,000 men at the Pass of Roncesvalles which was defended by two brigades, one British- Portuguese and one Spanish who resisted stubbornly but, again, the French took the pass. In the night, the allies retreated towards Pamplona – against Wellington’s orders. They took up a strong position on a ridge at the village of Sorauren and halted the French after four hours’ fighting on 28 July. Wellington counter-attacked on 30 July and drove the French back across the passes. From 25 July to 2 August, the 82nd Regiment suffered some 173 casualties.

The 82nd were engaged in the battle  to cross the River Nivelle in November (73 killed or wounded). Command had devolved onto Major Walmesley presumably with lieut-Colonel Grant of the 82nd falling severely wounded at Vittoria.

The 82nd were present as part of the Army of Occupation in France prior to been sent to Ireland in 1816. Disaster befell the 82nd. Eight officers, 272 men and 34 women and children of the 82nd Regiment, crammed into the brig Boadicea which was wrecked in astorm on the  Curlane rocks which separate Garretstown and Garrylucas beaches. Three officers, eight sergeants, nine corporals, 140 privates, 13 women and 16 children perished – a total of 190 men, women and children.

Little more is knownof Walmesley. In July 1816 one Lionel Becher is stated to have sold to John Benjamin Walmsley of the 82nd and Robert Becher, his lands and  Hare island (south of Cork) in the sum of £2,000

Major Walmesley died Omagh, Ireland, January 1819. 

Lovely grouping

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