Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)

Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £150,000

Estimate: £30,000 - £40,000

The Third Class Order of St George awarded to Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, G.C.B., commander of the British 2nd Division at the battle of Waterloo in June 1815

Russia, Imperial Military Order of St George, 3rd class neck badge in gold and enamels, circa 1815, 38mm, the suspension ring with French ‘rooster head’ stamp mark for the period 1803-19, with original neck cravat with sewn button holes at either end, extremely fine and extremely rare £30000-40000


Formerly in the private Waterloo collection of John Hayward (dispersed 1979), the awards to Sir Henry Clinton were previously sold by B.D.W. in October 1993.

This award was announced in a despatch from Field-Marshal The Duke of Wellington, dated Head Quarters, Paris, the 21st of August, 1815, containing a list of officers upon whom His Imperial Majesty The Emperor of Russia had conferred Decorations of different classes of The Orders of St. George, Anne and Vladimir respectively, 'in testimony of His Imperial Majesty's approbation of their services and conduct, particularly in the late battles fought in the Netherlands.' Only two other British officers, in addition to Sir Henry Clinton, received the 3rd class order of St. George for Waterloo.

General Sir Henry Clinton was the second son of General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B., who commanded during the War of American Independence, and was born 9 March 1771. He was educated at Eton and entered the Army at the age of sixteen as an Ensign in the 11th Regiment in October 1787. From October 1788 to August 1789, he served in Holland as a volunteer in the Brunswick Corps raised by his father's old comrade, Lieutenant-General de Riedesel. On 25 March 1790, he joined his Regiment, the 1st (Grenadier) Guards, and the following April, was promoted Captain in the 15th Regiment. He transferred back to the Guards in November 1792, and was appointed on the outbreak of war with the French Republic, Aide-de-Camp to the Duke of York, on whose personal staff he served throughout the disastrous Flanders Campaigns of 1793 and 1794, being present at the action of St. Amand, the Battle of Famars, the Siege of Valcenciennes, the action at Lidreghem, the Battles of Wattignies and Naubeuge, and the action at Vaux. On 22 April 1794, he was promoted Major by Brevet, and on 10 May was severely wounded at Camphin. By August, he had sufficient recovered to rejoin the Army near Breda and, following the Siege of Nimeguen, he returned to England with the Duke, remaining his Aide-de-Camp until being promoted to the Lieutenant-Colonelcy of the 66th Regiment on 30 September 1795. He sailed to join his new Regiment in the West Indies, and took part in the landing at St. Lucia under Abercromby, and in the fall of Morne Fortunée, eventually catching up with the 66th at Port-au-Prince in St. Domingo. But, on 20 October 1796, he again exchanged to the 1st Guards. En route, however, his ship was intercepted by a French Cruiser and he was taken prisoner. He did not reach England until January 1797. His next appointment was as Aide-dc-Camp to Lord Cornwallis, the Commander-in-Chief in Ireland, where he served in the short campaign in Connaught, which was concluded with the surrender of the French force under General Humbert at Ballinamuck.

In 1799, Clinton was attached to Lord William Bentinck's Mission to the Austro-Russian Army under Marshal Suwarrow in Italy, and witnessed the Battle of Trebia, the Sieges of Alexandria and Seravelle, and the Battle of Novi; after which he accompanied Suwarrow on his march into Switzerland, being present during the subsequent campaign against Massena. Early the following year, he was employed on the Mission to Field-Marshal Lieutenant Kray's Austrian Army in Swabia and saw action at the Battles of Engen and Moeskirch, and during the retreat from the Upper Danube to Alt Otting in Bavaria. He came home at the end of the campaign, and in June 1801 was appointed Assistant-Adjutant General, Eastern District, and in January 1802, Adjutant-General in India. On 25 September 1803, he received the Brevet of Colonel; and in October joined Lord Lake's Army at Agra. In Lake's victory over the Mahratta's at Laswaree, Clinton was entrusted with the command of the right of the Army. He continued to serve in India until October 1804, when he resigned his appointment, and sailed from India in March 1805. In November of that year he was employed as Military Commissioner with the Russian Army under General Kutusoff during the Austerlitz Campaign, and returned to England at the conclusion of peace between Russia and France.

In 1806, he embarked for Sicily, in command of the Guards Flank Battalion, and acted as Commandant at Syracuse, until November 1807. At this point, Clinton met and became the intimate friend' of Sir John Moor. In January 1808, Clinton returned to England and on the 25th was promoted Brigadier-General. He accompanied Moor to Sweden, where he was made Adjutant-General, and afterwards to Portugal, being present at Vimiera in August 1808. Later the same year, Clinton continuing in this important capacity, took part in Moore's masterly advance on the French line of communication in Spain which halted Napoleon's westerly drive across the Peninsular and drew his main striking force into the inhospitable Galician Mountains. Following the subsequent retreat to Corunna and the successful embarkation of 24000 men behind a rear-guard screen, Clinton, upon his return home, was the first to defend Sir John Moore's proceedings, which had effectively prevented Napoleon's total domination of the Peninsular, in his pamphlet, 'A Few Remarks Explanatory of the Motives which Guided the Operations of the British Army during the late short Campaign in Spain.' In late January 1809, he was appointed Adjutant-General in Ireland, and in July 1810 advanced to the rank of Major-General. His request to be sent on active service in the Peninsular was granted in October 1811 and he was given command of the Sixth Division in Wellington's Army. Clinton's first notable feat of arms was the reduction of the forts of Salamanca in June 1812, during which one of his Brigadiers was killed. On 22 July, Clinton played a conspicuous part in the Battle of Salamanca, when his Division was brought up to dislodge General Ferey's Division from the Arapiles after the failure of Pack's Portuguese. It was growing dark and without waiting to reform, Clinton led the Sixth Division straight at them. 'The ground over which we had to pass,' wrote one regimental officer, 'was a remarkably clear slope, like the glacis of a fortress, most favourable for the defensive fire of the enemy...we had approached within two hundred yards before the musketry began; it was far the heaviest I have ever seen, and accompanied by the constant discharges of grape. An uninterrupted blaze was thus maintained, so that the crest of the hill seemed one long streak of flame.'

The leading British Brigades of Clinton's Division eventually drove the French from the crest, but in doing so suffered crippling casualties. In the six battalions more than one man in three fell, and in two the proportion was above one in two. Clinton finally finished his task by sending in his five Portuguese Battalions. On 10 February 1813, Clinton, in his place as M.P. for Boroughbridge, received the Thanks of Parliament, voiced by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

'This House is always prompt to acknowledge military merit, and we rejoice to see among us, those who have signalised themselves in war. When the great Captain who commands our armies in the Peninsular, after a series of skilful operations, obtained the opportunity for which he had long been anxious, and brought the enemy to action in front of Salamanca, he relates, that the foremost of their troops, on their first onset, drove the enemy from height to height, and bore down all before them; that, when the stress of battle in other points had checked the bravest of our battalions, and disabled some of their most distinguished leaders, the division of which Major-General Pringle then took command, nevertheless steadily maintained the contest and that when the reserve was brought up by Major-General Clinton, the issue of the day was rendered no longer doubtful, and the victory was by him completed. These plain recitals have marked out your exploits for public applause and admiration, and to these honours your country has also added the tribute of her public gratitude. I do therefore now, in the name and by command of the Commons of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, deliver to you severally their unanimous Thanks, for your distinguished exertions in the battle of Salamanca, upon the 22nd of July last, which terminated in a glorious and decisive victory over the enemy's army.'

After Salamanca, Clinton was left in command on the Douro, and next marched north with Wellington to take part in the half-hearted Siege of Burgos. In April 1813, Clinton was promoted local Lieutenant-General, and in July was created a Knight of the Bath for his services in the Battle of Vittoria on 21 June. Towards the end of the year, Clinton, to Wellington's great regret (Wellington Despatches, vi, 287), was forced to leave for home through ill health, but returned in time to command his Division at the Battles of Nivelle and Nive, the blockade of Bayonne, the Battle of Orthes, and the actions at Caceres and Tarbes. At the end of the war, Clinton was amply rewarded. He received the Peninsular Gold Cross and the Order of The Tower and Sword; he was made Colonel of the 1st Battalion, 60th Regiment, promoted Lieutenant-General on 14 June 1814, and appointed Inspector-General of Infantry.

Following Napoleon's escape from Elba, Clinton's services were especially requested by the Iron Duke. At the Battle of Waterloo, Clinton was given command of the fine 2nd British Division in Hill's II Corps, placed by Wellington en potence at the right of the line as a safeguard against the threat of a flank attack. In the event this did not develop and the 2nd Division, suffering as much as any in the centre of the line from the effects of the French Artillery, assumed the role of a tactical reserve. With the arrival of the Prussians at 4.30pm on the Allied left, Clinton's Division was free to advance into the British forward line and, here formed into squares, withstood the massed and relentless attacks of Marshall Ney's Cavalry. Just under a year later, the Speaker of the Commons, in delivering the Thanks of Parliament to Clinton, told the House: 'After serving through the long Campaigns of the Peninsular War, from Salamanca to Orthes and Toulouse, there remained nothing for a Soldier to desire, but to be present at the great Battle of Waterloo; and if in that terrible conflict, it were possible to select one spot more than another where our National Military Character was put to its fiercest trial, it must have been that where you were commanding, the Hougomont in your front, and directing or supporting the brave brigades of Byng, Maitland, and Adam. 'In estimating the service of that gallant Army, this Country has not contemplated alone the glory of a single day; they have looked to the toilsome march by which that Army completed its success, and entered the Enemy's Capital... 'You, Sir, are the last of those distinguished Officers to whom our Thanks have remained undelivered; and I do now, in the name and by the command of the Commons of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled, deliver to you their unanimous Thanks for your indefatigable zeal and exertions upon the 18th of June 1815, when the French Army, commanded by Buonaparte, received a signal and complete defeat.'

Shortly after the Battle itself, Clinton received the Order of Maria Theresa, the Russian Order of St. George, and the Dutch Military Order of the William. On 9 August 1815, he became Colonel of the 3rd Regiment, The Buffs, and in 1818, he retired to his country seat in Hampshire, where he died on 11 December 1829.

Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton’s name is engraved on a stone tablet inside the Kremlin in a Hall dedicated to all recipients of this high military order.