Small Army Gold Medal for Corunna, With gold ribbon buckle and original case of issue and original ribbon.
Lieut. Col. Edwd. Hull, 2nd Bn. 43d Ft.)
Edward Hull was gazetted as a Lieutenant in the 43rd Foot on 31 December 1791. He served in the expedition to the West Indies in 1794-95, under Sir Charles Grey, for the reduction of Martinique, Guadaloupe, and St Lucia. He was part of the Garrison at Guadaloupe which, much reduced by sickness, was assailed by a French expedition of 2000 troops early in June 1794, who successfully stormed and carried the Fort of Fleur d’Epée. The 43rd were obliged to retreat.’
‘On the 26th of September the enemy, with a large body of troops, landed on the southern part of Guadaloupe. One portion marched on Petit Bourg, where Lieutenant-Colonel Drummond, with some convalescents and a party of Royalists met them; but perceiving their great superiority of numbers, found it necessary to retreat and take post at the battery of Point Bacchus.
The French moved on Point Bacchus, where Lieutenant-Colonel Drummond and his detachment, being surrounded, were compelled to surrender. As some of the prisoners, enfeebled by exhaustion and illness, fainted on the march, they were instantly bayoneted.
During the year of 1794, the 43rd lost thirteen officers to the fever or other incidental disorders, while at the end of that year, there were surviving at Point à Pitre, and prisoners. Lieutenant-Colonel Drummond and ten officers of the 43rd, including Lieutenant Edward Hull. ‘Very early in the year (1795) these officers, with others of the 35th Regiment, resolved to attempt escape from the hulk in which they were imprisoned. Seizing the felicitous moment when a boat was alongside, they overpowered the guard, leaped in, and rowed off.’
Luckily there was no vessel to pursue, and once beyond the reach of the guns they were safe. Before long the British prisoners were exchange, on cartel. The officers, non-commissioned officers, and a few privates of the 43rd forming the skeleton of their once numerous battalion, returned to England and joined the section which had remained at home to recruit.
Hull was promoted to Captain on 1 September 1795. In March 1797, the 43rd, under the command of Colonel Drummond, again sailed for the West Indies, disembarking at Fort George in Martinique on 23 April and remained until February 1800, Removing then to Fort George, headquarters of the West Indies, the entire strength of the regiment had dwindled below 300. On 25 April 1800, the regiment, Captain Cameron in command with Hull as second Captain, embarked from Port Royal on board H.M.S. Prince of Wales, landing at Portsmouth late in June.
He was promoted to Major on 10 August 1804, he next took part in Lord Cathcart’s expedition to Copenhagen in August 1807, where, the city of Copenhagen having surrendered, on 20 October the 43rd re-embarked under command of Major Edward Hull, Colonel Stewart having been removed to the staff as Brigadier-General. Hull proceeded in command of the 2nd battalion of the 43rd to Portugal in August 1808, where he fought in the battle of Vimiero on 21 August, being mentioned in despatches and receiving promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel on 8 September 1808. Hull likewise commanded the 43rd throughout the retreat from Sahagun to Corunna, the 43rd earning everlasting fame for their rear-guard work throughout the bitterly cold retreat; and again at the battle of Corunna on 16 January 1809, where the 43rd were heavily engaged on the extreme right, for which he received the Gold Medal.
Hull went back to Portugal in July 1810 to serve with Craufurd’s Light Division, in command of the 1st Battalion of the 43rd, and greatly distinguished at the bridge at Côa on 24 July 1810, with Lieutenant-Colonel Hull being killed in action at the head of his regiment.
Combat of the Côa
The Combat of the Côa was a skirmish that took place in the valley of the Côa River and it was the first significant battle for the new army of 65,000 men controlled by Marshal André Masséna, as the French prepared for their third invasion of Portugal. As the British-Portuguese forces were outnumbered here, on 22 July, General Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington sent Brigadier-General Robert Craufurd a letter, saying that he (Wellington) was “not desirous of engaging in an affair beyond the Côa.” On 24 July, Craufurd’s Light Division, with 4,200 infantry, 800 cavalry, and six guns, was surprised by the sight of 20,000 troops under Marshal Michel Ney. Rather than retreat and cross the river as ordered by Wellington, Craufurd chose to engage the French, narrowly avoiding disaster.
The French objective was to force the Light Division back across the Côa in order to besiege Almeida. They succeeded after hard fighting, but then launched a costly assault across the Côa, suffering heavy casualties. Craufurd committed a serious tactical error by choosing to fight with an unfordable river at his back while badly outnumbered. As such, in the early hours of 24 July, after a night of torrential rain, Ney sent forth Ferey and Loison’s divisions to engage the allies.
A company of the 95th Rifles came under fire from French artillery as they moved in to attack. French voltigeurs of the 32nd then came up and took the fight to the bayonet, and the heavily outnumbered British broke and fled. The guns of Almeida opened fire on the 95th Rifles, mistaking them for French because of their dark uniforms. They then fell under attack by the French 3rd Hussars, supported by two companies of dragoons. British troops of the 43rd came to assist them. Though fierce fighting broke out, the French advance was halted. Despite orders from Wellington to fall back across the river Côa, Craufurd decided to hold his ground as more French arrived and began to deploy in formation.
The 15th Chasseurs a Cheval then charged to the south to outflank the British 52nd Light Infantry, while Ferey’s French brigade attacked the British positioned near a windmill positioned at the British right, advancing through rough-terrain while Almeida’s guns were firing upon them. The French infantry charged the British with fixed bayonet and, under mounting pressure, the allies began to fall back, isolating themselves from the 43rd Light Infantry under attack by the 15th Chasseurs. The 3rd Hussars came into the fight and Craufurd’s men took heavy casualties. All this time, while Ney’s assaults were being slowed by awful terrain, Almeida was slowly being isolated from the allied force.
This cavalry veered off the front towards the windmill flank and the columns came on with much waving of swords and flags, drums beating and the usual cries of Vive le Emperor! Whilst this attack was being met with crashing volleys of musketry the cavalry to the left of that wing of 1/95th skirmishers got between the windmill and this flank and charged in on the nearest of these men. O’Hare’s company of 1/95th was destroyed all but 10 men ridden down and captured, this was only a beginning, the rest of this wing of skirmishers leaping over walls and clubbing together behind 1/43rd exposed this flank to the victorious troopers of 3rd French Hussars who proceeded to sweep along behind their line throwing all into disorder.
It would be during this first onslaught that Lieutenant Colonel Edward Hull of 1/43rd would be killed, brought down to die almost instantly at the head of his men.
Craufurd, realising that the French were threatening his only route of escape, which was the bridge crossing the river Côa, ordered a withdrawal across the river, with the British 52nd and 43rd Light Infantry as well as the 95th Rifles protecting their retreat. For the British, matters only became worse. A supply wagon turned over and caused a traffic jam in the retreat across the bridge. The French were gradually driving back the British divisions protecting the withdrawal.
Craufurd then ordered these troops to fall back and take position the heights overlooking the bridge and hold that position until the retreat had been made. The French took the heights, but in a move that took the Ney’s forces completely by surprise the allies made an assault and held their opponents at bay long enough for the main body of the British-Portuguese to make it across to the other side of the river Côa.
With the French driving the Light Division back, Ney then attempted attacking across the Côa. In the first attempt, grenadiers of the 66th surged towards the bridge under a hail of musketry and cannon fire, failing to get more than halfway across the bridge. The second more strongly-pressed offensive was made by the Elite Chasseurs de la Siège light infantry. Oman writes that they had “flung themselves at the bridge, and pushed on till it was absolutely blocked by the bodies of the killed and the wounded, and till they themselves had been almost literally exterminated, for out of a battalion of little more than 300 men 90 were killed and 147 wounded in less than ten minutes.” The final attack was once more led by the 66th which was beaten off with little difficulty. The 43rd suffered some 130 killed, wounded and missing during the action.
The battle ended with the French having, despite the setback at the bridge, driven the Light Division from the field. Having been beaten back and only narrowly escaped a total rout, Craufurd’s forces withdrew at midnight, leaving Masséna free rein to lay siege to Almeida.
Lord Wellington wrote of this action near Almeida that it was one of the most brilliant of the exploits of the Light Division during the war: “I am informed, that throughout this trying day the commanding officers of the 43rd, 52nd, and 95th, Lieut.-Colonels Beckwith, Barclay, and Hull, and all the officers and soldiers of those excellent regiments, distinguished themselves.”
(Obituary, The Gentleman’s Magazine, August 1810, refers).
‘At the head of his regiment in the late hard-fought engagement at Almeida, Lieut.-col. Hull. This most deservedly lamented officer was the only son of Trevor Hull, esq., of Southampton. In him his Majesty has lost a most deserving and meritorious officer; his country a sincere and fervent friend; whose loss cannot be more deeply lamented in his profession, to which he did the greatest honour, than it is from his private worth by his numerous friends and relatives.’
Has previously appeared with chipped and replaced lunettes. Now with two perfect lunettes. Case closes though lining somewhat distressed. The original ribbon also accompanies though this frayed
A very fine Army Gold