Monday, April 16, 2018

5th Dragoon Guards: Regimental battle history

Major Burton and the officers commanding the 5th Dragoon Guards at Balaclava by Fenton

When the 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales) Dragoon Guards (DG) received orders to deploy on 17th March 1854 they were short of a full establishment even for two squadrons. Stationed in Ireland together with the 7th DG, the latter provided 15 volunteers for service under direction in April 1854. The 5th DG left Queenstown on the 27th May with a strength of 19 officers, 295 other ranks, and 295 horses on board the 3438 ton P&O screw-steamer Himilaya. This was the largest single transport used to-date and took only 16 days from Queenstown to the Bosphorus. It presumably returned to the UK to convey the Scots Grey after that.
The Hon. James Scarlett had been the Colonel of the 5th DG but vacated command when appointed General of Brigade for the heavy cavalry. At the same time Major T. le Marchant was posted to command the Cavalry Depot at Maidstone having come across from the 7th Dragoons and was subsequently appointed commanding officer of the 5th. Marchant’s health declined in August; however, and he withdrew from command. He was apparently wholly unpopular in any event and his departure does not appear to have been counted a loss to the regiment. Command fell to Captain Adolphus William Desart Burton (27 years of age at Balaclava). 
Brevet Major Adolphus Burton
Lord Lucan considered Burton to be 'a very gentlemanly-like young officer, but too young'. Given the famously aged command group for the British army of the Crimea campaign this is perhaps unsurprising. Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Hodge of the 4th DG (aged 45) was placed in command of the 5th as well, so that the two regiments came to be referred to as the '9th' (5th + 4th = 9th just in case you missed the gag). Hodge also had close royal connections and was from a well connected military family. This state of affairs does not appear to have lasted long and Burton certainly led the 5th DG in the famous charge at Balaklava.
 
The 5th DG arrived in Varna on 12th June and settled into camp at Devna. Cholera broke out on about the 20th of July and of the brigade the 5th seems to have suffered the heaviest losses of horses and men with 3 officers and 34 men having died by the 28th August.

Like several other regiments fault was found by senior command (Lucan in particular) with the conduct and discipline within the ranks of the 5th at Varna. As Hodge had already applied for two courts martial on campaign this fact may have convinced Lucan that such a brand of authoritarianism was needed for the 5th. The 5th only had seven officers fit for duty at one point due to illness but good order can be presumed to have restored after shipping out for Sevastopol. Like the majority of the heavy brigade the 5th was only shipped out of the pestilential Varna on the return trip of the transports – which must have been a further strain on their morale.
 
A much-reduced regiment departed for the Crimea on the 24th of September, re-uniting with the army and landing on the 1st of October after surviving the terrible storm out of Varna. They immediately proceeded to their camp on the plain of Balaklava as part of the Heavy Brigade. They had it seems left a number of invalids behind in Varna as of the returns for 1st December 1854 declared 45 personnel still at Varna.
 
Camp of the 5th DG looking toward Kadokoi
Cholera had taken its toll on the 5th DG before the battle. Total regimental losses during the day’s events were three killed and 11 wounded. Being mindful of such light battle casualties, of the 314 officers and men who were sent out with the regiment, only 188 were present to receive the clasp for Balaklava; disease accounting for the majority of the reduction.
 
The 5th DG formed the second line of Scarlet’s heavy brigade for their famous charge on the day of Balaclava. They had been some distance to the right of the column when Scarlet responded to the presence of enemy cavalry to his left and ordered the halt and turn left into line – making the right positioned 5th DG now the rear support to the left of the Scots Greys.
 
Major Burton commanded the regiment and the squadrons were commanded by Captains William Richard Newport Campbell and Captain William Inglis. The regiment had been formed in line with first squadron to the left of the second. Their advance through the encampment caused entanglements with Newport’s (Campbell's?) mount being overthrown by a picket rope and Cornet Neville was unhorsed. The Cossacks to their front had commenced an envelopment of the first three squadrons engaged, presenting to some degree a partial flank and rear to the charging 5th who constituted the second wave. Kingslake reported some Cossacks had managed to open fire with their carbines on the regiment and Troop Sergeant-Major Stewart reportedly had his first mound killed my rife fire. Nevertheless the 5th charged home and their press secured the left flank of the heavy brigade to be later supported by an enveloping 4th DG attack in-turn to their left.
 
An interesting feature of the 5th DG is that members of the regiments were well covered by Roger Fenton’s photography.
 
BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
 
Adolfus William Desart Burton (b.1827 - d.1882) was ensign from 8th August 1845 in 42nd Regiment of Foot, purchased his Cornetcy 30th March 1847 into the 5th DG. He attained his lieutenancy on 10th April 1849 and his captaincy on 24th December 1852. He survived the war and went on to become Lieutenant-Colonel of the 7th Dragoon Guards on 1st June 1862.
 
Squadron commander Captain William Inglis
William Inglis had purchased his captaincy into the 5th DG in February 1854. He survived Balaclava and was breveted Major in April 1854.
 
Captain William Richard Newport Campbell was a career soldier, having commenced as ensign with the 92nd foot, promoted Lieutenant with the 47th foot (possibly a brevet rank). He had his promotion to Lieutenant gazette on 15 July 1841 with the 9th Light Dragoons. He survived Balaclava but died at Scutari on 23rd December 1854 falling, “victim to the hardships and privations of the Crimean campaign” (disease) according to the inscription on his gravestone. 
Lieutenant Halford
Charles Augustus Drake Halford (b.1831 – d.1907) purchased his cornetcy with the 5th DG on 30th March 1849 and went on to purchase his Lieutenancy 5th April 1850 and held that rank at Balaclava. It is worth noting that his photographs by Fenton are often labeled Captain – a rank he obtained sometime after the battle.
 
Lieutenant Godman with Private Kilman and his horse 'Earl'.
Richard Temple Godman, having previously purchased his cornetcy, attained his lieutenancy on 3rd March 1854. He survived the battle and the campaign, attaining his captaincy on 21st July 1855; he attained his majority some years later on 22nd June 1870 and finally attained full colonel in 1876. He retired in 1882 with the honorary title of Major General. He is known for his photographs by Fenton and for his published ‘Letters from the Crimea’.
 
Sergeant-Major Stewart taken 1856
Troop Sergeant-Major William Fife Stewart, a Scotsman, enlisted with the 5th in 1837 at 23 years of age. He made corporal by September 1847 (aged 33) and Sergeant in June 1852 (aged 42) and made Troop Sergeant-Major in September 1854 just prior to the battle. Throughout the day it was reported he had three horses killed underneath him – the first was rifle-shot, the second died from a shell burst and the third lost a leg to cannon fire but Stewart fought on. His exploits brought him to the notice of Queen Victoria who commissioned his photo in 1856. He died of sickness in 1859.

SELECT REFERENCES
A History of the British Cavalry 1816-1919: Volume 2: 1851-1871By Lord Anglesey
The Invasion of the Crimea, It’s Origin, an Account of it’s Progress down to the death of Lord Raglan by Alexander Kinglake Vol IV, 1868. 
The London Gazette. 
Edinburgh Gazette.

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