Orders, Decorations and Medals (4 December 2001)

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Date of Auction: 4th December 2001

Sold for £2,300

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,600

Military General Service 1793-1814, 4 clasps, Talavera, Busaco, Albuhera, Salamanca (C. Spedding, Capt. 4th Dgns.) extremely fine £1400-1600


Carlisle Spedding was appointed Cornet on 12 June 1799, aged 16; Lieutenant, 7 August 1800; Captain, 17 July 1806; Major, 12 August 1819; Lieutenant-Colonel, 10 January 1837. He served in the Peninsula with the 4th Light Dragoons and was present at the battles of Talavera, Busaco, Albuhera and Salamanca; actions of Campo Mayor, Los Santos, and Usagre, besides other affairs. He is listed as missing at Albuhera on 16 May 1811 (Times 4 June 1811) and is confirmed as having been taken prisoner (Burke’s Landed Gentry).

The regimental history of the 4th Dragoons describes the battle of Albuhera: “[A] more awful scene was never witnessed; it was a perfect carnage on both sides, bayonet against bayonet for near half an hour... In that terrible half hour of battle the three British regiments had lost eight hundred men, three hundred and fifty of them killed... The confusion was increased by the unnatural darkness of a violent storm which soon fell over the battlefield. In this darkness, and amid the thick smoke of battle, the valiant brigade thought at first that the Polish cavalry were Germans coming to their succour. When they realised that it was the enemy and tried to form up again to fight them off, the Poles were upon them.”

“It was at that moment that Colonel Leighton was ordered forward with the right wing of the 4th Dragoons. The two squadrons trotted forward into the turmoil of the battle in perfect order, and at the sound of the trumpet charged the Polish horsemen... The two squadrons of the 4th Dragoons thundered down on these lancers, sword in hand, and after a furious battle drove them from the field of battle...”

Of the 2 officers wounded and the 2 officers listed as missing after the charge at Albuhera, only Spedding received the M.G.S. medal. Lieutenant-Colonel Spedding died in Northumberland in 1872 at the age of 90. Sold with further research.