Sun/Mon 27/28 August 2006
The final NA event of the year and the 95th Rifles Living History Society represented 3 regiments;
ie the usual two:
1/95th Rifles and 2/44th East Essex, plus
62eme Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne, by kind permission of the British and French brigade commanders in order to balance the numbers in the opposing armies. Yes, the 62eme fielded 7 soldats, Eagle bearer and 2 camp followers. [Shame that the Eagle itself was still at the repairers but at least he carried the pennant with pride!]
The regular French re-enactors were very gracious in thanking us for our support and it was great to see action as Napoleon’s troops and work with instead of against the French brigade. This is especially encouraging for the Society’s goal for next season to field the 62eme at some of our own events as well as those at the request of the NA.
What of the week-end?
Well, it was a fine one for the Society; 3 new recruits for the 1/95th Rifles and 1 for the 44th East Essex. All of them fitted in well not only in the military activities but also in the camp social life. For the 1/95th we have our first Scottish rifleman, Andrew Deans, who flew down from Edinburgh to join us. We also have father and son, Steve and Tom Horton. Young Tom has fine knowledge of the regiment and the period that will be well-utilised next season in talking to the public. Welcome, chaps!
C/M Badger put the new recruits through their basic training whilst C/M Scwiffy refreshed those representing the 62eme in French commands. Thanks to Richard of the 9th East Norfolk, and latterly of the 30eme, for his assistance in this matter.
The weekend also saw the dedication and blessing of the bench presented to Waltham Abbey Powder Mills in remembrance of Mike Acton of the 44th East Essex who sadly passed away last December. It was a dignified and moving ceremony, a fitting tribute to Mike who enjoyed events at Waltham especially.
On the first day the French combined well to resist the British brigade’s surprise attack. Cannon blasted away from both armies whilst voltigeurs harried both the redcoat troops and the 1/95th riflemen. I must say that most of the French commands that we had learned for manoeuvring were soon disposed off in favour of good old Anglais! The battle was conducted at a furious pace with the French gradually gaining the upper hand and forcing a hard-fought surrender.
C/M Dave of the 44th East Essex suffered the ignominy of gaining a thick lip from a lady Chasseur!
Not bad! Our first major NA battle representing the 62eme and we are a part of a well-conducted French victory, Vive l’Empreur!
On the second day, another first for our Society in that 2 of our lady camp followers were permitted to support our French troops on the battlefield, supplying succour and frisking the dead! Well, done Lisa and Bryony!
The battle again followed the same scenario as the previous day but the British split into 2 lines of heavy troops with the 42nd Black Watch on the right flank facing the 62eme and the 44th and 9th on the left facing the main French heavies. The 1/95th attacked through the centre supporting each flank at appropriate times.
I was fortunate, in my role as a voltigeur of the 62eme, to get a shot at the British commander, Brigadier Wagg Ellis-Jones, and bring him down early in the encounter. Unfortunately, the wound was not mortal! I did perceive many Black Watch eyes glare hatefully at me. I was a marked man for my audacity!
Caporal Le Scwiff organised his troops well but the British were extremely bullish and resisted our probing attacks and slowly but surely pushed the French brigade back on both flanks whilst denying us any room in the centre.
The rout was inevitable and when the 44th captured our Eagle all was lost. On capture, I managed to grab Capt Ed of the 44th’s pistol from his belt only to have him run me through with his sword for such a deed! Caporal le Scwiff faced a firing squad only to evade this fate when he escaped in the confusion of why a redcoat was facing the squad too!
Yes, 2 entertaining days to end the NA season both for us re-enactors and the public too.
The 1/95th Rifles will march again. At Fort Landguard on Sunday 10 September.
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