Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)

Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £720

Estimate: £600 - £800

Military General Service 1793-1814, 3 clasps, St. Sebastian, Nivelle, Nive (E. Edwards, Royal Sappers & Miners) carriage and clasps reconstituted, edge bruising and contact marks, otherwise nearly very fine£600-800

Footnote

Ex Day Collection 1910, Palmer Collection 1919 and Baldwin’s 1959 as single clasp St Sebastian. The rolls confirm all three clasps.

Edward Edwards was born in Carnew, County Wicklow, in 1785 and trained as a mason. He enlisted in the Corps at Dublin on 26 August 1812, aged 27, and joined the 2nd Company of the 2nd Battalion. His company arrived in the Peninsula on 20 August 1813 and was immediately employed in the assault on St Sebastian which had been under siege since 11 July. After the capitulation of the town Edwards' company, under Captain T. Pitts RE, moved on into France and was present in the action at Vera, and afterwards threw up a line of breastworks in the gorge of one of the passes through the mountains. Edwards was present at the battle of Nivelle on 10 November, and on the following day the company constructed a trestle bridge across the Nivelle river, below Sarre, 5 miles south-east of St Jean de Luz. He was also present at the battle of Nive, and in the actions at Bayonne from 9-13 December. In operations at Ustaritz on the River Nive, 5 miles south-east of Bayonne, the company constructed a bridge of eleven bays, under Sub-Lieutenant William Stratton. In early 1814, Edwards and his company were sent back to Socoa, adjacent to St Jean de Luz, to assist in the construction of a ‘chasse-marée’ bridge across the River Adour, in preparation for the Siege of Bayonne. The ‘chasse-marées’ were decked coastal vessels which were anchored head and stern, about 30 feet apart, across the Adour river. They were then joined by steel hawsers on which the superstructure and planks were lashed. The bridge was finally ready for the passage of troops on 26 February 1814. The sapper company then moved on to take part in the siege of Bayonne which ended in April. They left Bayonne on the 22 June 1814, sailing from Pauillac, arriving in Portsmouth in mid-July.

In 1815, the company was hurried off to Ostend where it was attached to the 1st Division. After the victory at Waterloo, the company advanced into France on the road to Paris. Cambrai capitulated without a shot, but at Peronne the commandant refused to surrender. According to the Corps History by Connolly:

“The second company, second battalion, attached to the first division, was present at the capture of Peronne on the 26th June under Sub-Lieutenant W. Stratton and two captains of engineers. The company had the honour of leading the brigade of guards to the assault, and behaved remarkably well. Preceding the column, they threw a number of fascines and faggots, hastily prepared by them, into the ditch of the hornwork, and thus enabled the troops to pass its swampy bottom into the body of the place. A party of the company advanced under a heavy fire to force the main entrance. No ladders were carried with it nor any sledge-hammers or instruments by which to force it open. Daring men were with the batch, and their first impulse, forlorn as they were, urged them to mount the gate. Lieutenant Stratton and Lance-corporal Edward Councill soon gained the top, and tearing themselves over the spikes which crowned it, jumped into the place, tore down the fastenings, and pulling the gate open, admitted the troops. In leading the stormers into the work, Captain Thomson RE and Lieutenant Stratton were severely wounded, as also two men of the company. Corporal Councill was dangerously wounded in the breast.”

After the capture of Paris, Edwards was transferred to the 8th Company 2nd Battalion on 1 January 1816 and stationed with the Army of Occupation in France. He was stationed in Paris in January 1816, and then in Cantaing, from February 1816. He received War Prize money for the Peninsula, and for Waterloo and the Capture of Paris. In April the company moved to Valenciennes, where Edwards was stationed until November 1818, returning with the company to Woolwich in December 1818. He continued to serve with the 8th Company in Woolwich until November 1821, when he was transferred to the 10th Company, also at Woolwich. In March 1822 he was transferred to the 12th Company, and embarked for Bermuda in H.M.S.
Salisbury, arriving there on May 10th. He served in Bermuda and the West Indies area for seven years, returning to Woolwich in June 1829. In February 1831 the company moved to Chatham. Later, after several months in hospital with chronic rheumatism and knee disability, Edwards was discharged at Woolwich with 24 years servce on 30 June 1833, and pensioned to reside in Carnew, County Wicklow. Sold with full research.