Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (19 - 21 June 2013)

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Date of Auction: 19th - 21st June 2013

Sold for £6,500

Estimate: £7,000 - £9,000

The Third Mahratta War medal to Major-General L. W. Watson, 24th Madras Native Infantry, mentioned in despatches for conspicuous services at Seetabuldee, latterly commanding the troops in Penang, Singapore and Malacca

Army of India 1799-1826, 1 clasp, Seetabuldee & Nagpore (Lieut. L. W. Watson, 24th N.I.) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming, a few minor nicks, otherwise toned, extremely fine and very rare
£7000-9000

Footnote

Ex Palmer 1919, Murray 1926, Biddulph 1951, and Ritchie 2004.

Only 19 clasps for Seetabuldee & Nagpore were issued to European recipients. Another medal is known named to this recipient but with the long hyphen reverse, issued from India.


Lewis Wentworth Watson, the son of Thomas Watson, M.D., was born in the Parish of Burwash, Sussex, on 30 November 1790. He was nominated a Cadet on the Madras Establishment by Sir Hugh Inglis, Bart., and granted a commission in the 24th Madras Native Infantry on 3 July 1807. At sunset on 26 November 1817 he was present as a Lieutenant in the 1/24th Madras N.I. on the slopes of the Seetabuldee hills, the crowns of which stood some 400 yards apart. At 5:00 a.m. on the 27th, after nearly eleven hours continuous fighting, Lieutenant-Colonel Hopetoun Scott withdrew the infantry from the slopes of the smaller hill ‘in consequence of their great loss and fatigue’, and the defence continued from a hastily prepared breastwork of grain bags on the summit. At 8:00 a.m. the position was overrun by an overwhelming force of the Bhonsla’s Arab infantry. The survivors retreated to the main position on top of the larger hill, and it seemed as if the whole force was doomed, but at that point the 6th Light Cavalry, under Captain Charles FitzGerald, entered the contest, and drove off the massing Mahratta cavalry closing in from the west. The success of the cavalry inspired the infantry and Colonel Scott ordered a counter-attack on the smaller hill. After a word of encouragement from the British Resident, Mr Richard Jenkins, Captain William Lloyd led a headlong bayonet charge of the 1/20th and 1/24th, and the Resident’s Escort. Watson, whose battalion suffered 149 casualties in the battle, was afterwards noticed in Scott’s report dated ‘Camp, Nagpore, 30 November 1817’ as one of the officers conspicuous in the counter-attack (
London Gazette 7 August 1819).

Watson shared in the Nagpore Prize and in early 1818 was appointed Adjutant of the 1/1st Madras N.I. In September of that year he took part in the reduction of the fortresses of Chandah, where he was wounded, and Mundelah, and was duly ‘extolled’ in General Orders by the Governor-General (London Gazette 7 August 1819). He advanced to the rank of Captain in 1824 and transferred to the 17th Madras N.I., which, in 1836-7, he commanded on field service during hostilities in the Ganjam District. In January 1841, Watson transferred as Lieutenant-Colonel to the 43rd Madras N.I. and in 1845 was appointed to the command of the troops serving in Penang, Singapore and Malacca.

Promoted to Major-General in November 1854, Watson was appointed as Colonel of the 13th Madras N.I. in the same year, and as Colonel of the 17th Madras N.I. in 1859. Major-General Watson, who was twice married, died without issue on 5 May 1859.