Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (10 & 11 May 2017)

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Date of Auction: 10th & 11th May 2017

Sold for £18,000

Estimate: £12,000 - £15,000

Sold by Order of the Family
The important Indian Mutiny C.B. group of six awarded to Captain James W. Vaughan, Royal Navy, Senior Lieutenant of Shannon’s Naval Brigade who succeeded to its command following the wounding and death of Captain Sir William Peel, V.C., K.C.B.

The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, C.B. (Military) Companion’s breast badge, 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1858, maker’s mark ‘WN’ for William Neale, complete with gold swivel-ring suspension bar and gold ribbon buckle; Baltic 1854-55 (Lieut. I. W. Vaughan. R.N.) contemporary engraved naming; Crimea 1854-56, 1 clasp, Sebastopol (Lieut. I. W. Vaughan. R.N.) contemporary engraved naming, clasp loose on ribbon as issued; Indian Mutiny 1857-59, 2 clasps, Relief of Lucknow, Lucknow (Comr. Jas. W. Vaughan. Shannon.); Order of the Medjidie, 5th Class breast badge, silver, gold and enamel; Turkish Crimea 1855, Sardinian issue, unnamed, pierced with small rings for suspension, the last five all fitted with silver ribbon buckles, contained in a glazed mahogany case with ornate gilded plaster internal frame, toned, good very fine or better (6) £12000-15000


Sold with a framed portrait in oils of Captain Vaughan wearing his earlier awards, image 33x25cm., signed and dated ‘I:O. 1860’; and a silver goblet, hallmarked London 1855, overall height 183cm., inscribed ‘Presented to the Ward Room Officers of H.M.S. Shannon by Lieutts. Wratislaw, Hale, Gardiner, R.N. and Lieut. Studdert, R.M.A. As a token of their sincere Gratitude for the Kindness shewn to them when Super.ies [Supernumeraries] on their passage to China in 1857.’

The story of Shannon’s Naval Brigade during the Indian Mutiny is well told in The Devil’s Wind by Major-General G. L. Verney, and Naval Brigades in the Indian Mutiny, edited by Commander W. B. Rowbotham, R.N., for the Navy Records Society, besides the several personal accounts published by those who took a part in these events. The following extracts serve to emphasise Vaughan’s services:

When writing his despatch after the action on the 6th, Sir Colin Campbell did not forget to include a meed of praise for the Naval Brigade. ‘I must draw attention to the manner in which the heavy 24-pr. guns were impelled and managed by Captain Peel and his gallant sailors. Through the extraordinary energy and good will with which the latter have worked, their guns have been constantly in advance throughout our late operations, from the relief of Lucknow till now, as if they were light filed pieces, and the service rendered by them in clearing our front has been incalculable. On this occasion there was the sight beheld of 24-pr. guns advancing with the first line of skirmishers... Captain Peel has brought to my favourable notice Lieutenant Vaughan, R.N., and I should much wish that this recommendation may be known to the Admiralty.’

Lord Canning also fully appreciated the services rendered by the Shannon’s Brigade. ‘On this, as on every occasion in which danger was to be faced and difficulty overcome, Captain Peel, R.N., commanding the Naval Brigade, was foremost in intrepidity and resource. Lieutenant Vaughan and the other officers and men of H.M.S. Shannon are worthy of their brave commander; and it is a pleasure to the Governor-General in Council to declare his warm admiration of their conduct.’

‘On January 1st, 1858, a column under Brigadier Hope was sent forward to prevent the further destruction by the rebels of the iron suspension bridge over the Kallee Nuddee, near Futtehghur, and with it went two 24-prs. and one 8-inch howitzer (double crews) under the command of Lieutenant Vaughan. The rebels retired on the approach of the British troops, and the R.E. working parties, assisted by the seamen, immediately set to work to repair the bridge. By 7.30 a.m. next day the essential repairs had been practically completed and the bridge was in a fit state to be traversed. The sailors had just begun to wash their clothes when Sir Colin Campbell rode up to examine the position; he had not been long on the spot before the enemy reappeared in force and occupied the village of Khudagunge opposite, opening fire with guns and musketry. The seamen left their clothes, never to see them again, and immediately manned their guns and returned the fire, together with the R.A. field battery; the pickets of the 53rd were reinforced, but the orders were that they were merely to hold the enemy in check and were on no account to assume the offensive. The main body of the troops, then about four miles in rear, was hurried forward in support, arriving on the scene at about 11 a.m.

The Naval guns had crossed the bridge and were firing from a yellow bungalow near it on the village, at a range of about 300 yards; but later they took ground to the left to hold in check a body of cavalry. At about 2.30 p.m., the enemy opened fire on the bridge from a gun placed under cover of the toll-house, which caused several casualties. Lieutenant Vaughan thereupon personally laid his gun on this target; his first shot struck the roof of the house, his second hit the angle of the wall about half way down, and the third dismounted the gun and destroyed the carriage. Captain Peel, who was standing by, said, “Thank you, Mr. Vaughan; perhaps you will now be so good as to blow up the tumbril.” The fourth shot passed near it, and the fifth blew it up, killing several of the rebels. “Thank you,” said Captain Peel, in his blandest and most courteous tones, “I will now go and report to Sir Colin.” Seven guns and eight tumbrils were captured, excluding those destroyed by the good shooting of Lieutenant Vaughan.’

On January 30th, 1858, Vaughan was promoted to Commander.

At 3 a.m. on 9th March, Commander Vaughan took the Shannon’s six 8-inch guns, two 24-prs. and four rocket hackeries down in front of the Dilkusha to attack the Martinière. Sir William Peel also accompanied them, with his two A.D.C.s, Lascelles and Watson, in close attendance. A general bombardment was maintained until about 2 p.m.; and Sir James Outram, who by this time was on the other side of the Goomtee, having pushed back the enemy and got into position for enfilading his first line of works, Brigadier-General Sir Edward Lugard’s division then stormed the Martinière with trifling loss, the rebels retiring precipitately with their guns. The Naval Brigade had but one casualty, though this was most serious. Sir William Peel, who was somewhat recklessly exposing himself to the enemy’s fire, was hit in the thigh by a musket ball while observing the fire of his guns; he was carried to the Dilkusha, where the ball was extracted by the Surgeon of the 93rd Highlanders. The ball had to be cut out from the opposite side of the leg to that on which it had entered, though no vital part was injured. Commander Vaughan then took over the command of the Naval Brigade.’

Commander Vaughan was mentioned in despatches in the following terms: ‘Succeeded to the command of the Naval Brigade on Captain Peel being wounded. Rendered most important service throughout, especially in breaching the works on the 11th and subsequent days, and bringing the guns to the front after the assault.’

After the capture of Lucknow arrangements were made for the Shannon’s Brigade to return to their ship. In consequence of a requisition from the Government of India, on March 29th the Shannon’s six guns and the two 8-inch howitzers were sent into park in the Small Imambara, being then handed over to the Army; and, as Verney remarks, ‘Here they will remain, may I say it with pardonable pride, a memorial of what sailors can do on land. The word SHANNON is cut deeply into each carriage, and must last as long as the wood does.’

On 5th May, 1858, Commander Vaughan reported to Rear-Admiral Sir Michael Seymour. ‘Sir, I have the painful duty to inform you that I this morning received a letter from H.E. the Governor-General, announcing the death of Captain Sir William Peel, K.C.B., at Cawnpore. Having partially recovered from his wound, he was on his way to Calcutta, when he was attacked by small-pox on the 20th ultimo, of which he died on the 27th.’

Commander Vaughan was appointed Companion of the Bath on 29 June 1858. He was promoted to the rank of Captain on 8 February 1859, but never went to sea again, and retired on 1 April 1870. Captain Vaughan was just 44 years old when he died at his residence, Stradbrook Hall, Blackrock, Dublin, after a protracted illness on 29 April 1873. A magnificent monument to his memory bears the following inscription:

To the Memory of
Captain James Vaughan R.N. C.B.,
Who departed this life on the 29th April, 1873 Aged 44 years
He entered the Royal Navy in the year 1841 on board H.M.S. Scout
and was present at the operations on the River Plate.
As Lieutenant he served in the Baltic and Black seas during the years 1854-5
and in the latter on board H.M.S. Britannia took part in the attack on the
Batteries of Sebastopol.
In 1857 he joined H.M.S. Shannon Captain Sir William Peel V.C. K.C.B. as senior
lieutenant and proceeded to India. During the Mutiny he served as second in
command of the naval brigade under that officer and on his death from small pox
assumed the sole command. He advanced to the Relief of Lucknow and there
distinguished himself by his coolness and daring in taking his guns within a few yards
of the walls and breaching them for the storming party.
For his services with the brigade he was promoted to the rank of commander, was
awarded the Companionship of the Bath, and on his arrival in England was further
advanced to the rank of captain.
As well as being a thorough sailor, he was an accomplished and gallant officer,
an affectionate and devoted husband, a warm and sincere friend, and died beloved
and regretted by all who knew him.
This monument is erected by his widow
Margaret Vaughan