As fate would have it Private
John Waddington (7/1/1787-9/1/1855) (Warrington) survived with
out injury. It was at this battle Lieutenant Edward Charles Close was wounded and
prayed that if spared he would build a church in thanks . This he did at Morpeth
N.S.W. Australia. Both men eventually lived in the town
of Morpeth, where both passed away and are buried.
This was to be the worst battle the 48th
engaged in. Their casualties were the highest of any other Regiment.
As Massena retired Wellington pursued. The final action of
Massena's retreat was at Sabugalon, 3rd of
April, when Sir William Erskin exposed Beckwith's brigade to an
attack by three French divisions. Beckwith held on with the help of the third
division. Badajoz had surrendered to the French previously on the 9th of March
to Soult and this forced Wellington to split his army . 20,000 troops were at
Badajoz observing Soult, and if possible attempting to recapture
Badajoz, whilst the balance of Wellington's forces 37,504, were determined to
meet Massena. On the 3rd of March 1811, Massena ( with 48,000 troops) made an
unsucessfull attack against the British forces .
He tried again on the 3rd of
May but this also failed. Massena marched away on the 10th of May, the French
Garrison at Almeida was evacuated, without British opposition. Wellington was
not pleased with this result. As Soult advanced to Badajoz, Beresford took a
position across the French path at Albuera.With British troops of 10,449,
Portuguese 10,201, and General Joachim Blakes (1759-1827) Spanish force of
14,634, Beresford took up the center, the British 2nd division and Portuguese
to the left and the Spanish to the heights and to the right. ( the 4th
Division were in reserve with two German legions in the village of Albuera.)
Soult's forces of 24,000 troops arrived on the 15th of May, Soult
made two assaults on the 16th, one against the village and one to the heights. Blake was to divide his forces
and send half to protect the flank but he only sent four battalions under the
command of General Zayus supported by only 700 British cavalry. Zayus held off
the French attack. Colborne's brigade ( 1/3rd, 2/31st, 2/48th
2/66th, ) of Division 2 moved in support. Firing volleys at 60 paces into the
flank of the massive French column, they drove the French forces back and
pursued with the bayonet. Colbourn wanted a square formed due to a very heavy
storm that had descended on the field .
The Square would have given cover for
the British troops but this was not carried out by his divisional commander,
William Stewart. Out of a hailstorm the French cavalry, French 2nd Hussars and
the Polish 2nd Vistula Lancers charged the exposed infantry and massacred them
with out pity. The 31st managed to form a square and allowed themselves some
protection against the charge. The 31st lost 643 troops from 755. The 2/48th
was effectively killed in action losing 343 troops from 552, wounded or 193
Waddington being one ) and nine Officers captured most of
which escaped soon after to rejoin the 1/ 48th regiment . This included its
commander ,Major William Brooke ,the rest of the battalions were annihilated.
The 2/48th ceased to exist.
A charge by two British squadrons was also cut to pieces. The
second brigade, under General Houghton
advanced in an attempt to avail a rescue, but he was met by 9,800
French troops. Houghton donned a Red coat to be part of his troops and was
killed in the action. Three more battalion commanders fell . Beresford did not
wish to commit his reserves to the massacre .
Commander of the 4th division, Lowrey Cole acted on his own, and
without orders rushed his men forward
into a tempest of artillery fire. This consisted of the Fusilier
Brigades of 1/7th, 2/7th, 1/23, and some Portuguese Forces. The only order
given was to "Close Up, Close In , Fire Away". The French were being driven
back and with in half an hour 1,045, out of 2,015 French troops were killed.
Houghton's brigade 29th, 1/48th
and 1/57th began a full frontal assault against the French 5th corps.
of British infantry of 1,900 ,two deep ,faced 8,000 French 12 deep .As the
battle continued, British and French troops were involved in a massacre of
each others forces. The charge of General Coles 4th Division and the Fusilier
Brigade turned the tide for the French, Soult began to withdraw . All of the
48th's commanders were either killed or wounded . This left a Captain in
command of the 48th, ironicaly a Frenchmen (Cimitiere) The 1/48th was all but
annihilated with the loss of 280 out of 497,
It has been recorded as the most heroic day in British warfare and
a victory for the ordinary soldier, most of whom lay dead, in places three
Of the others, the 2/7th had only 85 men out of 568 left.
regiment's lost a total of 623 men out of 949 with 276
wounded or captured . This left only 50 men
standing and able to fight. They fought till the French withdrew
having lost about 8,000 troops. Houghton's and Colborn's brigades were
amalgamated but only managed two very weak divisions. Wellington observed "
one more French attack we shall be finished".
The information is intended for Historical Value
only, far more information can be gained from the above Publication