An Important Collection of Waterloo Medals

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Date of Auction: 8th December 1994

Sold for £2,500

Estimate: £2,500 - £3,500

WATERLOO 1815 (Reg. Serj. Major T. Blood, 16th or Queen's Light Drag.) fitted with steel clip and ring suspender, small metal flaw to obverse field, otherwise very fine and an important medal

Footnote

Thomas Blood was born in 1775 and enlisted in the 16th Light Dragoons in March 1793. The following year he served in the Duke of York's disastrous Flanders campaign seeing action at Cateau Plains, Tournay and Lisle, and being 'wounded in the left leg near the Rhine'. He was promoted Corporal and Roughrider in 1798, and Sergeant and Roughrider in 1799.

In the Peninsula, he was present at the Battle of Talavera in 1809 and the same year, according to his Statement of Service, was responsible for taking 'a great number of prisoners' near Oporto. In 1810, while the main Army was entrenched in the Lines of Torres Vedras, the 16th Light Dragoons were employed with the Light Cavalry Brigade 'keeping a close watch on the enemy, cutting off stragglers and capturing foraging parties'. Blood's Statement of Service records, '1810 near Scaldos in Portugal with the assistance of 7 men took 15 of the enemy's best mounted dragoons', and that he received 'a sash given by the Commander of the Garrison of Overda for taking 8 prisoners without assistance'. On 17 November 1810, during the advance of the Light Cavalry Brigade on the French Headquarters at Santarem, the regimental history of the Sixteenth states that 'Sergeant Blood, who was a long way out to the front with a small patrol, being surrounded by a troop of Dragoons, boldly charged into them and broke through with the loss of one man. The further advance of the Brigade was then stopped by Lord Wellington in person, as he had learned that a strong force of the enemy was in position at Cortaxo'.

On 23 February 1811, Blood was involved in an engagement with a French foraging party which had crossed the bridge of Salles de Porta. Lt-Col. William Tomkinson's 'Diary of a Cavalry Officer in the Peninsula' records’, ‘We sent an advanced guard over the bridge, and going too far, the enemy shot Connolly's horse of I troop, and made him prisoner. Three French chasseurs, who had remained behind, were cut off, and surrendered at the bridge. Sergeant Blood of B troop, and Liddle of I troop, were sent on patrol on the first report coming in, towards the sea road, and charged the enemy's rear as they were making back for the bridge. They took nine men and horses and one mule.' Blood's Statement of Service records, '1811 entering the plains of Pambal was one of the party which took the French rear guard.' Sergeant Blood was also present that year at Fuentes D'Onoro.

At the Battle of Salamanca on 22 July 1812, the 16th Light Dragoons were posted with Anson's Brigade (11th, 12th and 16th L.D.) on the right of the 6th and 7th Divisions and afterwards flanked and supported the Heavy Brigade in the charge that finally rolled up the French left and secured the allied victory. Having shattered Marmont's left wing, the squadron's continued the charge, and hurled themselves in a confused mass on a fresh column, and disregarding a heavy fire which emptied a hundred saddles, bore down this also, rode over a third column that came up in support, and captured five guns. The French left was thus entirely broken and driven off the field with a loss of 2,000 prisoners'.

On the following day Wellington pursued, and the Cavalry Division followed up the French retreat to Valladolid. Blood was next singled out to carry a despatch to 'General Castanos of the Spanish Army' on the Douro. His Statement of Service continues 'on arrival found he [the General] had left. 7 days with the French following. In delivering the despatch he had to return thro' the French Army'. Again according to his Statement of Service, it was for carrying out this dangerous mission that he was awarded '100 Dollars and the offer of a Commission'. However the regimental history maintains that Blood was [also? awarded '100 Dollars and a Commission by Lord Wellington for displaying a high degree of coolness and courage when Anson's Brigade was attacked by a vastly superior force at Tudela on the Douro in the last week of August. On 23 October, during Wellington's retreat from Burgos to Portugal, the French overtook the allied rear guard at Baniel on the Pisuerga river. Anson's Brigade formed a line to check the French advance, but the enemy drove a number of Spanish irregulars into their ranks causing great confusion. In the ensuing melee several men of the 16th were unhorsed and made prisoners, but at length the regiment reformed and passed over the bridge at Venta de Pozo. Sir Stapleton Cotton commanding the rear guard now formed a new line which was outflanked by the French causing Wellington to come up and drive off the enemy with a brigade of infantry and some guns. The 16th Light Dragoons lost forty-nine officers and men killed and wounded and had ten men taken prisoner in this affair. Three Sergeant-Majors of the regiment, of whom Blood was one, 'greatly distinguished themselves and, indeed, nothing but the remarkable discipline and hard fighting of the men generally saved the brigade from a disastrous defeat.' Furthermore Blood's Statement of Service notes 'Retreat from Burgos. Rescued Commis. officer from ranks of the French. Refer for further information to Lord F. Somerset'. I

n 1813, Blood was present at the Battle of Vittoria on 21 June, and according to Tomkinson, in whose troop he was serving, he managed to secure, with six men, 'a car load of Dollars, and kept them till night, when the infantry came and plundered his wagon. He brought 6,000 to the regiment.' Later that year, Blood was promoted Regimental Sergeant-Major and took part in the Battle of the Nive. On the field of Waterloo he was present with the 16th Light Dragoons in Sir John Vandeleur's 4th Cavalry Brigade, posted on the Allied left. In 1822, Blood was advanced to Cornet and Riding Master, in the 16th Lancers, on the recommendation Lord Combermere, who, as Colonel Stapleton Cotton had previously promoted him Corporal and Sergeant for his 'Good conduct and bravery'.

The only blip in Blood's long and generally ascendant career seems to have occurred somewhere between 1799 and 1809, when he was 'Reduced for a short time and promoted again by Colonel Cotton now Lord Combermere'. Blood accompanied the regiment to India in the same year as he received his commission, and in 1826 was present at the capture of Bhurtpore and promoted Lieutenant 'without purchase'. In 1833, he transferred to the 1st Royals and on 28th March 1834 went on Half Pay. The remaining years of Blood's life were 'years of pain', being 'worn out by the enervating effects of the Eastern climate'. He died in his native parish of Cheadle in 1840. In the graveyard of St. Giles', Cheadle, there stands a remarkable monument to Lieutenant Blood, inscribed with 95 lines recounting his services, 'his undaunted bravery, his enthusiastic gallantry, his skilful and daring exploits'. Among other testimonials thereon is one, now illegible, from the Duke of York which is recorded as stating 'HRH thinks it right to state that Mr Blood is one of the most meritorious old officers in the king's service'.