The Jack Webb Collection of Medals and Militaria

To be Sold on: 20th August 2020

Estimate: £14,000 - £18,000

The Field Officer’s Gold Medal awarded to Captain Joseph Marke, 57th Foot, who succeeded to the command of the regiment at the battle of Nivelle and commanded it at the battle of the Nive

Field Officer’s Small Gold Medal, for Nivelle, 1 clasp, Nive (Captn. Josh. Marke, 1st Bn. 57th Foot) complete with gold ribbon buckle and contained in a contemporary fitted case, extremely fine £14,000-£18,000

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The Field Officer’s Gold Medal awarded to Captain Joseph Marke, 57th Foot, who succeeded to the command of the regiment at the battle of Nivelle and commanded it at the battle of the Nive

Field Officer’s Small Gold Medal, for Nivelle, 1 clasp, Nive (Captn. Josh. Marke, 1st Bn. 57th Foot) complete with gold ribbon buckle and contained in a contemporary fitted case, extremely fine £14,000-£18,000
Sold with two original letters from Horse Guards, the first dated 19th August 1814, transmitting the ‘Medal, commemorative of the Battle of The Nivelle’; the second dated 1 July 1815, transmitting ‘a Gold Clasp, which, by order of His Royal Highnefs, has been prepared for the occasion, and which it is His Royal Highnefs’s Command that you shall bear upon the Ribbon to which the Medal now in your pofsefsion is suspended.’ Both signed ‘Frederick, Commander in Chief’ [Frederick, Duke of York], and both pasted down on card.

Joseph Marke was appointed Lieutenant in the 15th Foot on 1 August 1800, and transferred in the same rank to the 57th Foot on 9 July 1803; Captain, 57th Foot, 12 February 1807; Brevet Major, 57th Foot, 26 December 1813; Captain, half-pay, 30th Foot, 13 September 1817. He served in the Peninsula from May 1810 to April 1814, and was present at the battles of Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Aire and Toulouse.

‘Soult, when driven out of Spain, entrenched himself across the border on the Nivelle. But it was not till November that Wellington began his invasion of France. On the 7th Hill moved down from Roncesvalles, and on the morning of the 10th after a long night march attacked the French left under d’Erlon. Byng’s brigade, with Ashworth’s Portuguese, was engaged in the assault of the redoubts above Espelette. For the 57th it was the hardest fighting of all their recent battles. Major Ackland was killed at the head of the light companies, and one other officer - Lieutenant Knox - and 5 men were also amongst the slain. Colonel Macdonald, 2 captains, 2 lieutenants and 50 men wounded [Captain Marke now in command]. The victory in other quarters was no less complete and Soult fell back to another entrenched camp before Bayonne.

‘On December 8 the British army advanced once more. Byng’s brigade crossed the Nive near Cambo, wading over by a deep ford with their arms linked together, and in the evening halted at the village of Vieux Moguerre. The left wing of the army was still on the other side of the river and had a sharp encounter with the French on the 10th, but it was not till December 13 that Hill’s force was seriously engaged. Byng’s brigade was then on the extreme right, the 57th being one of the three regiments [with the 31st and 66th] posted in the valley between Moguerre and St Pierre, where their front was covered by a large mill-pond. The Nive was swollen with rain, and Hill’s force of less than 14,000 men had to withstand unsupported more than double their number. The fight was fiercest round St Pierre, and the position seemed almost desperate when Colonel Cameron of the 92nd led his regiment down the road with colours flying and music playing. “At this sight the British skirmishers on the flanks, suddenly changing from retreat to attack, rushed forward and drove those of the enemy back on each side” [Napier]. Lieutenant Aubin of the 57th (see Lot 282), who was in command of the light company of his regiment, was thanked by Cameron on the field for his share in this exploit.

‘Cameron’s courage at a critical moment had saved the situation and chimed in with success in other quarters. Hill now withdrew the 57th to strengthen his centre. But the danger was over, and when Wellington arrived with reinforcements he was able to take the offensive, Byng’s brigade was then ordered to capture a ridge above the mill-pond. Seizing the colour of the 31st from the hands of the disconcerted subaltern, Byng galloped up the hill at the head of the 31st, 66th and 57th, and taking the enemy in flank drove a vastly superior force from its position and planted the colour on the summit for Wellington and Hill to see. The French kept playing on the ridge with an immensity of grape, shell and round-shot, but our men held their own and drove the enemy still further back with heavy loss. As trophies of victory the 57th won two pieces of artillery.

‘The English losses at Nive - or St Pierre - were 1500, those of the French at least twice as great. In the 57th 3 officers - Lieutenant Sankey, and Ensigns Johnson and Pode - were killed, and Lieutenant Myers mortally wounded. Three other officers were wounded, whilst of the men 7 were killed and 13 wounded.

‘In the battle of the Nive the 57th was commanded by Captain and Brevet-Major Marke.’ (The Story of the Middlesex Regiment, by C. L. Kingsford, refers).

In June 1814, Brevet-Major Marke embarked at Bordeaux with his regiment for Canada, where they spent ten months without taking part in any fighting. He was placed on the half-pay of the 30th Foot in September 1817, and died in 1831.