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19 April 2023

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№ 338


19 April 2023

Hammer Price:

The unique Waterloo Medal awarded to Lieutenant Thomas Baynes, 39th Foot, who was ‘shot through the neck’ at the battle of Vittoria, and later as Aide-de-Camp to Major-General Sir John Lambert served in the Peninsula and during the 1812 War in America, serving at the disastrous battle at New Orleans and at Fort Bowyer where Lambert took command of the Army. Serving alongside Lambert at Waterloo, Baynes had two horses killed and two wounded under him during the battle

Waterloo 1815 (Lieutenant Thomas Baynes, 39th Foot.) fitted with contemporary replacement silver clip and swivel-bar suspension, overall light contact marks and edge bruising, nearly very fine or better and rare £7,000-£9,000

Glendining’s, November 1907; Payne Collection 1911; Needes Collection 1939; Dix Noonan Webb, March 2013.

A unique Waterloo Medal to the only officer of the 39th Foot and one of the few Officers to serve at both New Orleans and Waterloo.

Thomas Baynes was appointed Ensign in the 1st Battalion, 39th Foot on 27 October 1808, and Lieutenant on 20 July 1809. He served in Sicily 1810-11 and Portugal from October 1811, serving during Lord Hill’s operations in Spanish and Portugal 1811-12. He took part in the advance to Madrid and the terrible Burgos retreat, where his battalion formed part of the rearguard. At the battle of Vittoria on 21 June 1813, the 39th were very heavily engaged, being tasked with the taking of and afterwards defending, against repeated French attacks, the village of village Subijana de Alave. Casualties in the regiment were very heavy indeed, totalling 243, amongst the highest of any Regiment in the Army. Baynes was severely wounded here, being shot through the neck. Recovering from his wound, he joined Sir John Lambert (a relative) commanding a brigade in the 6th division at the pass of Maya, and served with him as his Aide-de-camp in the operations in the Pyrenees, in September and October 1813, passage of the Nivelle, passage of the Nive, and the battle of St. Pierre, battles of Orthes and Toulouse.

Baynes again accompanied Sir John Lambert, commanding 1st Infantry Brigade (7th, 43rd and 5th West India Regiment) as his Aide-de-camp during the whole of the Brigade’s operations in North America; 1814-15, taking part in the Battle of New Orleans. During the battle of New Orleans Lambert took command of the Army after General Pakenham was killed. As Aide-de-camp, Baynes would have been in the thick of things, carrying messages, liaising with Commanding Officers &c., a most dangerous job as he would have found during the Peninsula and later at Waterloo. The 1st Brigade was initially in reserve, which was thought to be an odd decision at the time. This mainly because the 7th and 43rd were two ‘elite’ regiments brought straight from the Peninsula. However, General Pakenham had sound reason for holding them in reserve stating, ‘Those fellows would storm anything, but, indeed, so will the others, and when we are in New Orleans, I can depend upon Lambert’s Reserve.’

As it happened, 1st Brigade was indeed brought into action and eventually it was this Brigade that covered the retreat of the Army. Another Officer on General Lambert’s Staff at New Orleans and beyond was Major (later Sir) Harry Smith. Smith wrote much about the Campaign (and Waterloo where he was also on Lambert’s Staff) in his autobiography. As General Lambert’s Aide-de-camp, by reading this book and by following Lambert’s movements, Lieutenant Baynes’s can also be followed:
‘If Sir Edward Pakenham is killed, Sir John Lambert commands, and will judge of what is to be done. I saw the attack had irretrievably failed. The troops were beat back, and going at a tolerable pace too; so much so, I thought the enemy had made a sortie in pursuit, as so overpowering a superiority of numbers would have induced the French to do. “May I order your Brigade, sir, to form line to cover a most irregular retreat, to apply no other term to it, until you see what has actually occurred to the attacking columns?” He assented, and sent me and other Staff Officers in different directions to ascertain our condition. It was (summed up in few words) that every attack had failed; the Commander-in-Chief and General Gibbs and Colonel Renny killed; General Keane, most severely wounded; and the columns literally destroyed. The column for the right bank were seen to be still in their boats, and not the slightest impression had been made on the enemy.

Never since Buenos Ayres had I witnessed a reverse, and the sight to our eyes, which had looked on victory so often, was appalling indeed. Lambert desired me, and every Staff Officer he could get hold of, to go and reform the troops, no very easy matter in some cases. However, far to the rear, they (or, rather, what were left) were formed up, Sir John meanwhile wondering whether, under all the circumstances, he ought to attack. He very judiciously saw that was impossible, and he withdrew the troops from under a most murderous fire of round shot. Soon after this we heard the attack on the right bank, which succeeded easily enough. The extent of our loss was ascertained: one-third.’

So as it happened, 1st Brigade was indeed brought into action and eventually it was this Brigade that covered the retreat of the Army. The battle itself had been a bloodbath but hardships suffered by the British Army during the retreat from New Orleans are often overlooked, though they are amply testified to by the likes of Gleig. Encumbered with large numbers of wounded and in terrible weather conditions, the Army was forced to retreat through the hostile, swampy country they had advanced. They were then ferried in ships’ boats the day’s journey to the fleet itself. A week or so later, the British were on the offensive again, striking out towards Mobile and Alabama, with the Army under Lambert eventually taking Fort Bowyer.

After the peace treaty arrived from Ghent, Lambert and Baynes returned to England but immediately on arriving, the Army was being mobilised for another campaign against Napoleon. Lambert was placed in command of the 10th Infantry Brigade consisting of regiments that had just arrived back from the American war (1/4th, 1/27th and 1/40th). These would be the only regiments to take part in the both campaigns.

Still serving as Lambert’s Aide-de-camp, Baynes served at the battle of Waterloo, where he was again in the thick of the action, proof of this is clear as he had two horses killed and two wounded under him. And it is believed he and Lambert spent part of the battle in the square of the 27th Foot. He subsequently took a part in the capture of Paris.

Baynes was promoted to Captain in the Royal African Colonial Corps in January 1824, reverted back to the 39th Foot as Captain in June 1826, and transferred to the 88th Foot in November 1827, being placed on half-pay on 20 November 1828. He died at Brussels on 27 May 1847.