The Collection of Medals Formed by Bill and Angela Strong (18 May 2011)
Date of Auction: 18th May 2011
Sold for £3,200
Estimate: £1,800 - £2,200
FootnoteServed in Lieutenant-Colonel A. Dickson’s “G” Troop at Waterloo, commanded by Captain Cavalié Mercer, one of only three sergeants in the Troop.
Mercer’s “G” Troop became immortalised for its services at Waterloo through the publication of his “Journal of the Waterloo Campaign” which is considered one of the classic accounts of this famous battle. The troop came in for the hottest part of the battle on Waterloo Day, and suffered considerably in loss of men and horses. Sir George Wood, R.A., paid the battery a visit on that afternoon and was surprised to find so many cannon balls whizzing round his ears. “Damn it, Mercer,” he exclaimed, “you seem to be having a hot time of it here.” Hot it was for all parties concerned, but the gallant way in which the gunners worked their guns kept the French cavalry from reaching the infantry squares behind Mercer’s battery. Mercer’s own description of the state of his troop at the end of the battle amply summarises the hot action they saw in the centre of the line fending off the French cavalry:
‘Our situation was indeed terrible: of 200 fine horses with which we had entered the battle, upwards of 140 lay dead, dying, or severely wounded. Of the men, scarcely two-thirds of those necessary for four guns remained, and these so completely exhausted as to be incapable of further exertion. Lieutenant Breton had three horses killed under him; Lieutenant Hincks was wounded in the breast by a spent ball; Lieutenant Leathes on the hip by a splinter; and although untouched myself, my horse had no less than eight wounds, one of which – a graze on the fetlock joint – lamed him for ever. Our guns and carriages were, as before mentioned, altogether in a confused heap, intermingled with dead and wounded horses, which it had not been possible to disengage from them. My poor men, such at least as were untouched, fairly worn out, their clothes, faces, etc., blackened by the smoke and spattered over with mud and blood, had seated themselves on the trails of the carriages, or had thrown themselves on the wet and polluted soil, too fatigued to think of anything but gaining a little rest.’