Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (17 & 18 July 2019)

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Date of Auction: 17th & 18th July 2019

Sold for £7,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

A scarce Peninsula and Waterloo pair awarded to Brevet-Major Charles Hames, 32nd Foot, the senior Captain of the Regiment at Waterloo

Military General Service 1793-1814, 8 clasps, Roleia, Vimiera, Corunna, Salamanca, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes (C. Hames, Capt. 32nd Foot.); Waterloo 1815 (Capt. Cha. Hames, 32nd Regiment Foot.) fitted with original steel clip and ring suspension, both medals fitted with silver ribbon buckles, good very fine (2) £6,000-£8,000


Provenance: J. B. Hayward 1977.

Only four officers received the M.G.S. with eight clasps, all four also receiving the Waterloo medal. A few men received nine clasps but this is the maximum Peninsula entitlement for an officer, of whom Hames is the most senior.

Charles Hames joined the 32nd Foot as a Lieutenant, by Purchase, on 3 April 1798, from Ensign, 49th Foot. He was promoted to Captain on 25 May 1803, and made Brevet Major on 1 January 1812. He served in the Peninsula from August 1808 to January 1809, and from July 1811 to April 1814, and was present at the battles of Roleia, Vimiera and Corunna, the expedition to Walcheren, the siege and battle of Salamanca, the battles of the Pyrenees, crossing of the Bidassoa, and the battles of Nivelle, Nive and Orthes. He was the senior Captain and Brevet Major of the Regiment at Waterloo. Major Hames quitted the service before 1822 and died at Brighton on 23 February 1860.

On 18 September 1815, both Brevet-Major Hames and Brevet-Major Henry Ross-Lewin, 32nd Regiment, faced a general court martial at Neuilly on the following charges: Firstly, for misbehaving himself before the enemy on the day of the 18th June at Waterloo in Flanders and, secondly, for sending a challenge to Brevet-Major Toole of the same Regiment to fight a duel on or about the 12th day of August 1815 at the Camp at Villiers near Paris. Both officers were acquitted after a full trial, the detailed proceedings of which can be found at The National Archives (WO 71/242, copies sold with the lot but hard to decipher in parts). Ross-Lewin wrote his autobiography which was published many years after his death titled With the 32nd in the Peninsula.

The Court Martial papers make for interesting reading. What follows is a brief overview of the case:

The very first mention of the scurrilous charges proffered by Brevet Major Toole against these two officers was made on 12th August 1815, very nearly two months after the battle. Considering the serious nature of the charges, primarily that of cowardice, why were they brought to notice after such a lapse of time when, clearly, Lieutenant-Colonel Calvert himself was unaware of the accusation? It seems, therefore, unsurprising that Major Hames challenged Major Toole to a duel.

The supposed incident took place late in the afternoon on the 18th June, when the 32nd were lying down behind some hedges and a lane, prior to crossing these obstacles to partake in the final charge of the regiment in the battle. Several of the witnesses offered by Major Toole in the prosecution of his case appear to have been greatly embellishing a fleeting glance they had of Major Hames in that short moment in time when they accuse him of lying down and hiding from the enemy - a time when most of the regiment were indeed lying down. When the regiment was ordered to advance over the lane and hedges, Major Toole accuses Major Hames of not following the regiment.

Hames was a Field Officer at Waterloo and not a Company Officer and it would not have been his place to be at the head of the regiment but, that aside, Hames was able to prove quite clearly to the court, with his own witnesses, that the hedge at the point where he and many men were attempting to cross would only admit of one man at a time, being such a small gap, and this small delay in crossing over to get into action was being blown out of all proportion by his accusers. All this, indeed, in the full presence of Lieutenant-Colonel Calvert, of the 32nd, who gave stout support to Major Hames.

Hames’ defence of his conduct on the 18th June ran to 13 pages and convincingly cleared him of the charge of cowardice, such that both he and Major Ross-Lewin were unanimously acquitted of all charges by the Court Martial.