The Maclaine Family Medals

Date of Auction: 17th September 2020

Sold for £55,000

Estimate: £30,000 - £40,000

Sold by Order of the Family
The historically important Seringapatam, early Indian campaign, and Peninsula War group of Medals and Decorations awarded to General Sir Archibald Maclaine, K.C.B., the ‘Hero of Matagorda’, whose active service commenced with the old 94th (Scotch Brigade) in India and the battles of Malavelly and Seringapatam, where he was so severely wounded that he was upwards of a year in hospital, the Polygar War of 1801 (wounded), and the Maharatta Wars of 1802-04, including the siege of Asseerghur (wounded), battle of Argaum, and siege and storming of Gawilghur, being ordered home in 1804 in consequence of the severe wounds received in the different actions from 1799 to 1804; as Captain in the 94th in the Peninsula from 1810 he took part in the siege of Cadiz, and the defence of Fort Matagorda from 22nd February to 22nd April, 1810, during which long period with a very small force under his command, most gallantly kept at bay 8,000 of the enemy under Marshal Soult, and did not evacuate until ordered to do so by Sir Thomas Graham, his men being nearly all killed or wounded; promoted to a Majority in the 87th for his conduct at Matagorda, he afterwards fought at Barrosa in 1811, where he was dangerously wounded and his horse killed under him, and at the capture of Seville

(a) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, K.C.B. (Military) Knight Commander’s neck badge, 22 carat gold and enamels, hallmarked London 1814, maker’s mark ‘IN’ for John Northam, an officially refurbished and re-issued badge (Maclaine was promoted to K.C.B. in 1852), the hallmarks consequently a little indistinct, complete with wide neck cravat with gold fastening fitments, some minor enamel damage

(b) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, K.C.B. (Military) Knight Commander’s breast star, silver with appliqué centre in gold and enamels, the reverse centre plate inscribed ‘Hunt & Roskell late Storr Mortimer & Hunt 156 New Bond St. London.’ fitted with gold pin for wearing, one gold crown device lacking from obverse centre and some light chipping to enamels on wreath

(c) The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, K.C.B. (Military) Knight Commander’s embroidered sequin breast star, maker’s printed label to the reverse, ‘D’Almaine & Co. Embroiderers to Her Majesty, 38, Gerrard Street, Soho, London. Furnish the Army with Colours, Standards & other Flags. Heraldic & other ornaments in embroidery, metal, silver & gold.’, the paper backing and label now detached but in excellent original condition

(d) Honourable East India Company Medal for Seringapatam 1799, pewter, 48mm., Soho Mint, gilded and contained in a silver rimmed glazed frame, the edge inscribed ‘Colonel Archd. Maclaine’, fitted with rings and swivel-bar suspension and gold ribbon buckle, this repurposed from his original C.B. insignia, cracks to obverse lunette (Officers in the British Service were not granted permission to wear this medal until 1851)

(e) Army of India 1799-1826, 3 clasps, Asseerghur, Argaum, Gawilghur (Lieut. A. Maclaine, 94th Foot) short hyphen reverse, officially impressed naming

(f) Military General Service 1793-1814, 1 clasp, Barrosa (Sir A. Maclaine, C.B. Majr. 87th Ft.)

(g) Spain, Kingdom, Order of Charles III, a particularly fine and large early 19th century Knight’s badge, silver-gilt, gold and enamels, 80mm x 56mm excluding suspension, the arms set throughout with paste stones of varying size, the points of the cross set with a single red stone and the wreath similarly embellished with small red stones, with wide gold swivel-ring bar suspension, this repurposed from his original C.B. insignia, and a silver-gilt ribbon buckle

(h) Spain, Kingdom, Order of Charles III, a fine early 19th century Knight’s badge, gold and enamels, 52mm x 35mm including hinged wreath, small loop suspension, enamel chips to all arms but a rare piece

(i) Spain, Kingdom, Order of Charles III, a fine quality mid-19th century Grand Cross sash badge, gold and enamels, 60mm x 45mm, lacking suspension loop

(j) Spain, Kingdom, Order of Charles III, Grand Cross breast star, silver, gold and enamels, 80mm x 75mm, fitted with silver pin for wearing, enamel on central circlet damaged with significant loss to motto ‘VIRT [UTI ET ME] RITO’

(k) A fine gold-framed portrait miniature of Archibald Maclaine in uniform wearing decorations including C.B. and Seringapatam, the reverse with a border of plaited hair surrounding a deep blue enamelled sunburst ground, 75mm x 63mm, with loop suspension

All contained in an old fitted display case with hinged glazed lid and silver label inscribed ‘The Medals and Decorations of Genl. Sir Archibald Maclaine, K.C.B. who died March 1861.’, approximately 40cm x 29cm overall, with lock but no key, condition generally very fine, the M.G.S. and Army of India medals good very fine (11) £30,000-£40,000


Only 38 Army of India medals were issued to European recipients with these three clasps, of which 33 went to the 94th Foot, including just four officers (one of whom also received a clasp for Ava). A total of only 48 clasps were issued for Asseerghur to European recipients of British or Indian forces.

Only five officers of the 87th received the clasp for Barrosa, but this unique as a single clasp to Maclaine who was the only surviving officer to have been wounded at the action.

Archibald Maclaine was born on 13 January 1777, 2nd son of Gillean Maclaine of Scallasdale, and a twin with his brother Murdoch, later a Captain in the 20th Foot and the only British officer to be killed at the battle of Maida, 6 July 1806. His youngest brother John became a Major in the 73rd Foot and was killed in action at the battle of Waterloo; whilst his fourth brother, Hector, served with the 57th Foot in the Peninsula, won a Gold Medal at the battle of Nivelle and became a Colonel.

Archibald Maclaine was appointed Ensign in the 94th Foot on 16 April 1794; Lieutenant, 29 April 1795; Captain, 22 December 1804; Major, 87th Foot, 4 October 1810; Lieutenant-Colonel, 7th West India Regiment, 25 January 1813; Half-pay, 25 April 1816; Brevet Colonel, 22 July 1830; Knighted, 19 October 1831; Major-General, 23 November 1841; Hon. Colonel 52nd Foot, 8 February 1847; Lieutenant-General, 11 November 1851; appointed C.B. on 4 June 1815, and advanced to K.C.B. on 6 April 1852; General, 5 June 1855.

Sir Archibald Maclaine served in the ‘Mysore campaign of 1799 against Tippoo Sultan, including the battle of Malavelly, siege and storming of Seringapatam, where he received three wounds, from the effects of which he was confined in hospital for upwards of a year. Capture of the Danish settlement of Tranquebar, and the Polygar war in 1801, including the battle of Ardingy, the affair at Serungapore, and was wounded for the fourth time when leading another detachment of the Scotch Brigade at the storming of the hill-fort of Panjalumcorchy on 23 May 1801. Mahratta war of 1802, 3, and 4 against Scindia, Holkar, and the Brea Rajah, including the storm of Julnaghur, siege and storming of Gawilghur, siege of Asseerghur (wounded), and battle of Argaum. Ordered home in 1804 in consequence of severe wounds received in the different actions from 1799 to 1804.

Peninsular campaigns of 1810, 11, 12, including the siege of Cadiz, the defence of Matagorda (an outwork of Cadiz, and a ruined redoubt when taken possession of from the enemy) from 22nd February to 22nd April, 1810, during which long period Sir Archibald, then a captain in the old 94th regiment, with a very small force under his command, most gallantly kept at bay 8,000 of the enemy under Marshal Soult, who conducted the siege, and did not evacuate until ordered to do so by Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Graham, his men being nearly all killed or wounded. Served also at the battle of Barrosa (dangerously wounded and his horse killed); and capture of Seville.’ (Hart’s Army List refers)

The Defence of Fort Matagorda

The 94th landed at Lisbon on 31 January 1810, but they embarked again on 6 February for Cadiz, in company with the 79th and 2/87th, as a brigade under Major-General William Stewart. The force was being hastily despatched by Wellington in response to an urgent appeal for help from the Spanish Government.

Marshals Soult and Victor had swept down on Andalusia and after scattering the Spanish armies that attempted to bar their way had invested Cadiz on the land side. Victor, who had charge of the siege operations, was already in position to open an attack against which the Spanish garrison inadequate in numbers and ill equipped, disorganised and demoral­ised, with their senior officers quarrelling among themselves, appeared helpless. A French advance into the Isla de Leon at the outset would undoubtedly have taken Cadiz by a coup de main. Against that the arrival of Stewart 's force, 3,500 bayonets, safeguarded Cadiz.

The brigade on landing was pushed forward to the outpost line, along the edge of the salt marshes fringing the channel of the Rio de Santi Petri. There the Light Company of the 94th, together with the light companies of the other two battalions of Stewart's command, were skirmishing with the French advanced posts within a few hours of setting foot on shore. On that came an event that won fame for the 94th throughout Wellington's army - the Defence of Fort Matagorda.

Matagorda was a small stone fort, rectangular in trace and 45 yards long by 40 yards wide, mounting originally seven guns. It stood on the east side of Cadiz Bay, on wooden piles sunk into a mud flat at the extremity of the Trocadero peninsula, on a spit dividing the outer from the inner harbour. Opposite was a corresponding fortified work, Puntales Castle, distant 1,200 yards across the water, on the long Isla de Leon peninsula on which the city of Cadiz stands. The fort had been evacuated by its Spanish garrison in a fit of panic on Marshal Victor's approach, a few days before the British brigade arrived. The ramparts and parapet had been blown up, leaving Matagorda practically in ruins. General Stewart on his arrival considered the holding of Matagorda fort to be of vital importance, as it countered two other forts on the Trocadero peninsula, similarly aban­doned by the Cadiz Spanish garrison, which the French had occupied and on which they were mounting guns. He directed it to be taken possession of and placed in a state of defence as best could be managed. Six guns and two mortars were to be mounted on it and a Spanish 74-gun ship with some gun-boats were told off to take station in support near by.

The officer selected to have charge of the enterprise was Captain Archi­bald Maclaine of the 94th, whose war services in India have been previously mentioned. Two officers of the 94th, Ensigns Cannon and Scott with sixty-seven N.C.O.'s and men of the battalion were detailed for the service, together with a party of twenty-five artillerymen under Lieutenant Brereton, R.A., twenty-five marines under Lieutenant K. S. Parker, R.M., and twenty-five bluejackets under Midshipman Dobson of H.M.S. Invincible one of the ships of the British squadron at Cadiz.

Taking possession of the ruined fort on 22 February, Captain Maclaine spent the next few weeks overseeing the arduous work of getting the fort into a condition suited for defence. In what remained of the fort upon their arrival, there was nor shelter for more than half of the men. The French were meanwhile keeping out of sight, busily engaged in constructing batteries behind the houses of the Trocadero village, some 800-900 yards distant, and preparing platforms on the two abandoned Spanish forts in readiness for the arrival of the siege-train guns and mortars, then on the way from Seville.

On March 25th Lieut.-General Sir Thomas Graham arrived at Cadiz to take over the command from Major-General Stewart. He was followed a week later by reinforcements from England, three companies of artillery, a composite battalion of Guards, the 2/44th Foot and five companies from the 2nd and 3rd Battalions of the 95th Foot, bringing up the garrison of Cadiz to 8,000 British, including two battalions arrived from Gibraltar on February 17th. One of these last was the 2nd Battalion of the 88th Con­naught Rangers, some of whom helped later at Matagorda. There were also some 17,000 Spanish troops now in Cadiz, but in bad order: they were more of a hindrance to the defence than a help.

General Graham went over in a man-of-war's boat to inspect Mata­gorda on March 26th, the day after he arrived. He found the men of the garrison at work forming a counter-guard to cover the walls of the fort, I5 feet high. By scuttling old Spanish gun-boats in the mud it was proposed to set up also a flanking battery. General Graham considered the defence of the place hopeless. “It is a miserable place,” he reported in a despatch to England, “and must fall whenever seriously attacked, there being no shelter for shells. I am in great doubt whether it should be continued.” He allowed, however, the work to proceed.

A Scottish officer serving with the Spanish Army at Cadiz, Viscount Macduff (afterwards 4th Earl of Fife, K.T., G.C.B.), was a constant visitor to the 94th garrison at Matagorda, “bringing with him hampers of food, hams and fresh meat, wine and beer.”

Graham visited Matagorda again on April 9th and also went on board the Spanish 74-gun ship and some gun-boats moored near to assist with flanking fire. It did not make him more hopeful.

Twelve days later the attack suddenly began on Captain Maclaine and his little garrison - opening at 3 a.m. on April 21st.
“They commenced their operations,” says Sergeant Donaldson in his book
The Eventful Life of a Soldier (he was a private at the time and one of the garrison of the fort), “by blowing up the houses which had hitherto masked the batteries. I was out on picquet at the time and suspected that they designed to attack us. Our suspicions were soon verified, for in a short time after they gave a salute of grapeshot which ploughed the earth on every side of us: but this was only a prelude. A volley of red-hot shot at the Spanish man-of-war succeeded, which set her on fire and obliged her to slip her cable and drop down the bay. A volley or two more of the same kind scattered the gun-boats and we were then left to bear the brunt of the battle alone. Now it began in earnest. Five or six batteries, mounting in all about twenty guns and eight or ten mortars, opened their tremendous mouths, vomiting forth death and destruction.”

Not a shot came in reply from the fort from 3 a.m. for over two hours until it was clear daylight and the gunners could see their targets. All were lying down near their guns.

“They plied us so fast with shell,” continues Donaldson, “that I saw six or eight in the air over us at once.” Then “the French soon acquired a fatal precision with their shot, sending them in through our embrasures, killing and wounding men at every volley.” Of Captain Maclaine, Donaldson says: “The commandant was moving from place to place giving orders and exposing himself to every danger. No one could doubt that he was brave. The carnage now became dreadful but our men's spirits and enthusiasm seemed to rise with the danger. The artillery officer stood on the platform and when he reported any of our shot taking effect, a cheer followed and ‘At it again, my heroes,’ was the exclamation from every mouth. When any of our comrades fell it excited no visible feeling but revenge. ‘Now for a retaliating shot,’ was the word; every nerve was strained to lay the gun with precision and if it took effect it was considered that full justice was done to their memory.

"”The action was kept up the whole of that day, during which we lost the best and bravest of our men. Our guns had been well directed at first but, towards evening, the most of the artillery who had commanded them were either killed or wounded and the direction of them was then taken by men who knew little about it. The consequence was that much am­munition was used to little purpose”.

Throughout the day, from morning to night, the house roofs of Cadiz were crowded with people with telescopes, anxiously watching the progress of the fight, as were the tops and mastheads of the men of war and shipping in the outer harbour. At nightfall the enemy suspended firing and the fort in turn ceased to reply. All now turned-to to try and repair the destroyed parapet and ram­parts as they best might. Reinforcements to make good casualties were brought over after dark from the British troops in Cadiz, among them men from the 2nd Battalion of the 88th, as well as some from the 87th. General Graham also sent a message to Captain Maclaine thanking him for the day's stand and offering to relieve the 94th.The offer was declined with thanks - they would fight it out to the end.

“The whole of the night of the 21st and morning of the 22nd,” says Captain Maclaine in his report to General Graham, “I employed in endeavouring to repair the parapet of the south-east face, composed of sandbags, which, from the very heavy fire of twenty-one pieces of cannon (most of them 32-pounders) the enemy had totally demolished, so that the men at the guns were completely exposed. We continued to replace the sandbags and fill up the breach so as to put ourselves in a tolerable state of defence: and at daybreak in the morning (April 22nd) the enemy opened with a salvo from all his batteries. We returned the fire with the same spirit and success as yesterday, but the fort soon became a complete ruin and nowhere afforded any shelter for the reliefs.” Four of the seven guns were now disabled and put out of action, and the bomb-proof casemate in which the magazine was lodged was blown in, entirely exposing the powder barrels.

General Stewart came over from General Graham during the early morning to report on the state of the garrison. On his return the evacuation of the fort was ordered and a naval officer, Captain Stacpole, was sent with boats from the British squadron to bring off the garrison. The defenders’ casualties at the end of the thirty hours’ bombardment numbered eighty-three out of the 147 who had originally formed Captain Maclaine’s command. The 94th had had four killed and twenty-eight wounded and the 2/88th party two killed. The gunners R.A. had ten casualties, the Marines twenty, the Navy nineteen.

Donaldson, who was one of the last to leave the fort according to his own account, says that the French, when they saw the evacuation taking place, attempted to gain possession and were beaten off. He had gone down, he relates, into a half-destroyed bomb-proof to look for his coat and “on coming up to the ramparts found that all the men had left the fort with the exception of three or four and the commandant, who was watching the motions of a strong party of French, evidently coming down to take the place. Our ammunition was expended, but he ordered all the loose powder, grape, and ball cartridge to be collected, and having stuffed three guns (all we had left fit for service) to the muzzle with them, we watched the enemy until within about 200 yards of the battery, when the guns were fired into the very middle of their column and laid the half of them prostrate on the earth; the rest wheeled to the right about and left us to embark at leisure.”

From the Invincible the 94th Matagorda detachment were landed late in the day at Cadiz and marched for the night to a casemate bomb-proof under the city ramparts. “Half naked and blackened with the smoke of gunpowder,” remarks Donaldson, “we looked more like chimney sweeps than soldiers.” They proceeded to the battalion camp in the lines at Isla next morning. “Our comrades turned out to receive us, and our hearts thrilled with exultation at the encomiums passed on our bravery. The poor fellows flew with alacrity to procure wine to treat us... Next day we were called out. The regiment formed square and the remains of our party were marched into it. We were then addressed by our commanding officer in terms of the highest eulogy and held out to the regiment as a pattern.”

Captain Maclaine's report, in addition to bringing before General Graham for distinguished conduct the names of Ensigns Cannon and Scott of the grenadier company of the 94th, and officers of other corps serving under his orders, specially recommended “Hospital-mate Bennet, attached to the 94th, who was the surgeon attending the garrison.” General Graham, in forwarding it to the Secretary at War in England, specially mentioned Captain Maclaine himself and the two Ensigns of the 94th together with Lieutenants Brereton and Wright R.A., Major Lefebre R.E. (the last man killed on the ramparts of Matagorda at the moment of final withdrawal), and Midshipman Dobson. He added this: “The defence of Matagorda has been witnessed by everybody with admiration and I should not have been justified in allowing it to be continued so long but from the expectation of the possibility of some diversion being made in its favour, which however was found to be impracticable.” This last was a reference to the backwardness of the Spanish Governor of Cadiz in regard to permitting British gun­ boats to enter the Trocadero Channel so as to take the French batteries in rear.

General Graham further issued a special Order of the Day dated “Isla April 23rd 1810.” In addition to offering his “best thanks” to every one of the Matagorda garrison “for the steadiness and bravery by which so severe and unequal a contest was so long maintained,” and naming the officers mentioned in his official despatch just referred to, he said this of Captain Maclaine: “The troops having witnessed the gallant defence of the little redoubt of Matagorda against the powerful efforts of the enemy, it is unnecessary to hold up the conduct of Captain Maclaine of the 94th Regiment as a noble example of fortitude and patience.”

On the battalion leaving Cadiz, the Marquess Wellesley, brother of the Duke of Wellington, then British Diplomatic Agent at Cadiz, wrote to Wellington specially mentioning Maclaine and adding: “You know that Maclaine who behaved so gallantly at Matagorda is in the 94th.” Maclaine was ever afterwards known among his acquaintances and among old Army officers as “the Hero of Matagorda.”

In a despatch to Lord Liverpool, General Graham wrote this of Captain Maclaine in connection with the defence of Matagorda: “It would be an injustice to the Service not to recommend him in the warmest manner to your Lordship's notice.” The result was the promotion “without purchase” of Captain Maclaine to the 87th Royal Irish Fusiliers on 4 October 1810. Although, by all accounts, Major Maclaine was much admired and liked by the officers in the 2/87th, there can be no doubt that there would have been a great deal of resentment that the promotion had not been from within the regiment. With his new regiment he took part in the battle of Barrosa in 1811, where he was severely wounded for the sixth time in his career and had his horse shot under him.

In the London Gazette of 12 October 1816, it was announced that ‘His Royal Highness the Prince Regent had been pleased, in the name and on behalf of His Majesty, to grant unto Archibald Maclaine, Esq., Lieutenant-Colonel in the Army, and Companion of the Most Honourable Military Order of the Bath, His Majesty’s royal licence and permission that he may accept and wear the supernumerary cross of the royal and distinguished Spanish Order of Charles the Third, which his Catholic Majesty Ferdinand the Seventh, King of Spain, has been pleased to confer upon that Officer, in testimony of the high sense which that Sovereign entertains of the highly distinguished intrepidity displayed by him in the arduous defence of Fort Matagorda, in 1810, - in the memorable Battle of Barrosa, in 1811, - and of the capture of Seville, in 1812.’

Maclaine was one of a small handful of officers to be appointed as Supernumerary Knights of the Order of Charles the Third for services during the Peninsula war. The Knights of the Order being limited to 200, ‘who enjoy a Pension of 375 gulden each,’ the Supernumerary Knights, such as Maclaine, did not receive pensions and formed a Class by themselves. It is understood that General Maclaine was raised to a Grand Cross in the Order in his later life, but the authority for this promotion has not yet been found.

Major Maclaine was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in 1813. He became a Major-General in 1841, and was appointed Colonel of the 52nd Foot (now the 2nd Bn. Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry) in 1847, was promoted Lieutenant-General in 1851, and General in 1855. His death took place in London on 9 March 1861, in his 89th year. There is a low monument to his memory, suitably inscribed, in Highgate Cemetery, London.