Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria

To be Sold on: 17th March 2021

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

The Waterloo Medal awarded to Regimental Sergeant-Major Thomas Barlow, 1st Dragoon Guards, who engaged a French officer of the Cuirassiers in hand to hand combat and succeeded in bringing his opponent to the point of surrender; it later transpired that he was renowned as one of the finest swordsmen in the French Army, and Barlow was rewarded with a commission as Cornet & Adjutant in recognition of his bravery

Waterloo 1815 (Reg. Serj. Maj. T. Barlow, 1st Reg. Dragoon Guards.) fitted with original steel clip and bar suspension, contained in an old leather glazed display frame, about very fine and rare £6,000-£8,000

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The Waterloo Medal awarded to Regimental Sergeant-Major Thomas Barlow, 1st Dragoon Guards, who engaged a French officer of the Cuirassiers in hand to hand combat and succeeded in bringing his opponent to the point of surrender; it later transpired that he was renowned as one of the finest swordsmen in the French Army, and Barlow was rewarded with a commission as Cornet & Adjutant in recognition of his bravery

Waterloo 1815 (Reg. Serj. Maj. T. Barlow, 1st Reg. Dragoon Guards.) fitted with original steel clip and bar suspension, contained in an old leather glazed display frame, about very fine and rare £6,000-£8,000
Provenance: Glendining’s, January 1902; Sotheby, June 1906, to Needes Collection; An Important Collection of Waterloo Medals, Buckland Dix & Wood, December 1994.

Thomas Barlow was born circa 1785, and enlisted into the King’s Dragoon Guards on 18 April 1801, and spent the next fourteen years of his service in England and Ireland progressively working his way up through the non-commissioned ranks. A man of strong religious beliefs, Barlow was a Methodist Lay Preacher, and at the time of the King’s Dragoon Guards embarkation for the Low Countries in April 1815, a married man but with no children.

Barlow was present as Regimental Sergeant Major with the K.D.G. at Waterloo and took part in that first great charge of the Household Brigade (1st and 2nd Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards and K.D.G., 1220 sabres in all) against the 1st and 4th Cuirassiers of Dubois’s Brigade which resulted in putting the four infantry divisions of D’Erlon's Corps into full flight. As the R.S.M. Barlow apparently advanced in front of the Regiment into the open ground between the two sides in order to indicate the position the K.D.G. should follow. In so doing he came into hand to hand combat with a French officer of the Cuirassiers, who it later transpired was renowned as one of the finest swordsmen in the French Army.

Notwithstanding his disadvantage in being armed with the standard British Heavy Cavalry sword, which was six inches shorter than its French equivalent, Barlow succeeded in disabling his opponent bringing him to the point of surrender. As a token of his submission, the French officer yielded his sword which Barlow immediately presented to his Commanding Officer, who, in praising him for his bravery, expressed the wish that he had many more such Methodist parsons in his regiment.

During the course of the battle, the K.D.G. were involved in some eleven charges and by the time victory was secured the regiment had sustained casualties of eleven officers and 275 other ranks killed, wounded and missing. Barlow's obituary maintains that at the close of the day only fifteen King's Dragoon Guards remained mounted, of whom the senior officer was a Lieutenant and the senior N.C.O. was Thomas Barlow, the Regimental Sergeant Major.

In recognition of his general bravery and in particular his combat with the Cuirassier officer, Barlow was rewarded with a commission as Cornet and Adjutant on 10 August 1815. He continued in the K.D.G. until transferring to the 23rd Light Dragoons as a Captain, on half pay, on 16 April 1818. In 1819, he became adjutant of the Prince Regent’s 2nd Regiment of Cheshire Yeomanry, an appointment which he held until 1833, when he retired having received a commuted allowance for his commission. Described by a contemporary as ‘a bold soldierly looking man, who spoke in a very pompous style’, whose ‘remarks from first to last were generally of the cutting and slashing character’, Barlow became a local Methodist preacher and for some years lived at Pickmere, Cheshire, finally dying in about 1857, at the age of 72 at his home in East Collingwood

The above information is largely taken from an article on Captain Thomas Barlow published in the regimental journal of the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards, written by a descendant of Thomas Barlow in October 1987.