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"27th Foot at Waterloo" Topic

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13th Light Dragoons20 Sep 2009 8:07 p.m. PST

Gents please find below comments on the 27th Foot at Waterloo. This is from the Cavalry thread. Interesting comments from Shane on the 27th Foot at Waterloo.

The 27th did suffer very heavy casualties, but we know what they were, musket and roundshot wounds almost entirely.

Okie, could you tell me where you found this information on the break down of the proportion of injuries and death inflicted? I am interested. Also, remember, pistol, carbines etc come under the heading of small arms or musketry for casualty recording in my books.

Like I said, I do not think anyone can say honestly that the 27th lost all their casualties to artillery fire. They were positioned directly in the centre of the allied position and thus suffered from the brunt of the French attacks all day. This included artillery, light troops and cavalry attacks. They suffered these casualties from artillery and light troops earlier on and cavalry attacks later. I dare say that if any squares were broken then this one would have been top on the list. I am not declaring it was, merely that it was in a very vulnerable way by the time the cavalry attacked.

I have read that yes, they were exposed to artillery fire and musketry fire but they also were directly in the path of the French cavalry attacks, this means they would have been subjected to sabre slashes, lance thrusts, carbine and pistol fire and even the horses themselves, to say that the French cavalry had nothing to do with their dwindling numbers is ludicrous, they added to them.

People tend to think squares are somehow immune to cavalry attacks and that the men in the ranks are safe, this is false, veteran cavalry who encounter squares know that they have to try every method of breaking them they can because the squares are tough nuts to crack. The 27th were in square during the cavalry attacks and had to endure the full brunt of these attacks as did many other btlns and suffered for it.

And just to make myself clear, I am discussing this from the point of view of a normal debate, I have no hidden agenda or bias here. I never believed the British contention in their reports that no squares were broken, I have always felt that this was typical propaganda of the time to hide just how bad the day actually was.

p.s. I criticize the French just as much in the 1815 campaign, they made horrific mistakes and tried to hide things for national pride and this was not just from Napoleon's own mouth. Both sides attempted to cover up many things about that campaign.


13th Light Dragoons20 Sep 2009 8:23 p.m. PST

In Alessandro Barbero's 'The Battle' he talks about the 27th Foot on pages 239-240. He mentions artillery fire and small arms fire from Tirailleurs that controlled a Hillock close to La Haye Sainte. He states that the 27th is in the center of the line on the northeast corner of the crossroads.

There is no mentioning of Cavalry.

He states that the 27th were ordered there by Sir James Kempt, in square and not to abandon their position at any cost.

From Page 239 "in three or fours hours, without ever moving a step, the regiment lost more than two-thirds of its men, the highest casualty rate of any battalion that fought at Waterloo. According to KIncaid, by seven in the evening "the twenty-seventh regiment were lying literally dead, in square, a few yards behind us." At that point in the battle the regiment was commanded by a Lieutenant, and eight of his ten companys were commanded by sergeants".


fitterpete21 Sep 2009 3:22 a.m. PST


NoLongerAMember21 Sep 2009 4:39 a.m. PST

One of the things to remember about their position was that if the cavalry attacked them, it would put them into the musketry zones of the supporting squares, I would posit that the cavalry swept around them to threaten other units leaving them as artillery targets from behind.

27th Foot21 Sep 2009 4:41 a.m. PST

Ah, my favorite topic, at last.

I agree, gentlemn, that there is no record as to what caused the casualties in the 1/27th. But judging by their position, I'd think that the suffred little from the French cavalry. Below them and all across their front was the Planceoit road, sunken, overgrown, and full of grasshoppers. To their right was the sunken Charleroi road. The squares of the 4th and 40th were to the rear and left of the 27th; a cavalry squadron would have had a very tough time trying to get to the 27th.

But the cavalry did have the effect of keeping them in square, and the French guns could strike the Inniskillings'exposed position at the crossroads. Late in the day, after the fall of la Haye Sainte, disperesed French infantry shot the square to pieces from the knoll opposite the farm.

But the battalion did not break; a remarkable body of men.

Best regards…..Mark

Marcus Ulpius Trajanus21 Sep 2009 11:31 a.m. PST

The 27th suffered at the hands of Skirmishers as well as artillery.

In fact although suffering a large percentage of casualties, a surprising number died of their wounds later and were not killed outright. This might suggest either artillery was not the killer we think, or they had less of it than we imagine.

The most unfortunate soul was the one and only officer (whose name escapes me) that escaped the battle without a scratch and who on his return to Ireland caught typhus and died with in three weeks of his home coming!

The definitive book on the 27th was a publication called "The Green Square" which gives details of everyman present company by company and details of who was killed, wounded and those that died later.

Unfortunately, as far as I know this was only ever published privately and so never got the circulation it deserved. I read it some years ago but sadly don't own a copy.

11th ACR21 Sep 2009 11:44 a.m. PST

Here is "The Green Square" for $163.27 USD


Marcus Ulpius Trajanus21 Sep 2009 11:52 a.m. PST

Sounds like it!

As you can see from the price it remains a rare item! :o)

Can't recall how many pages but it was only the thickness of a single DVD movie box. So $163.27 USD is quite a price.

Actually, its quite an odd price, come to think on it!

Lord Hill21 Sep 2009 12:46 p.m. PST

Sorry – getting confused – posted this to the previous thread!

Lambert's brigade only entered the battle late in the day, around 3 o'clock at an earliest estimate. The extraordinary thing is how they took such massive casualties in such a SHORT time.
I have found not one single mention of the 27th fighting off cavalry in square. I have, however, found ample accounts of them getting absolutely peppered by French musket fire in their exposed position standing in column of companies once La Haye Sainte was lost (for example, see my quote above).
Furthermore, extensive research at the National Army Museum and PRO provides vast amounts of supplementry evidence. Virtually every wound is listed as "gunshot wound" (I have a list, for example, of the EXACT wound of ALL the officers… "Lt Thomas Craddock shot through the nose" etc) whereas looking at similar documents for the 69th (the regiment chopped up by French cavalry at Quatre Bras) the number of "sabre wound to head and hands".."sabre wound to both shoulders" etc tells a gruesomely striking story.
I have not come across a single sabre wound for any member of the 27th.
I hope this is of interest.

LORDGHEE21 Sep 2009 3:33 p.m. PST

One of the things I have learned in our refights and studying the Waterloo battle is that the skermishing was extensive. After La Haye Sainte was lost this allowed the French to close with the british in the center. In the center at the sand pit the French commited 6 6lber batteries in a space that allowed only one or two to be deployed, I figure that as the batteries fire out thier ammo or took casulities they where replaced. From that point you can see into the debth of the British postion.

Take a list of who repelleed the Guard attack and you see that 90% of the Cavarly and 60% of the infantry was Hors de Combat. Wellington stated that his artillery ran off when the French Cavarly attack started and only the RHA batteries remained.

Intresting how we precive a battle then the more we learn that changes

A Near run thing it was.

Lord Ghee

Lord Hill22 Sep 2009 3:08 a.m. PST

Intresting how we precive a battle then the more we learn that changes


1815Guy22 Sep 2009 4:54 a.m. PST

I was at the battlefield last weekend, and was only discussing the 27th when at their monument.

They arrived late on 18th, having been guarding King Louis in Gent. They were kept in reserve near ferme de Mt St Jean until the middle of the afternoon. They were therefore Wellington's last reserve in that sector.

The cross roads are mere feet away from their deployment area.

When LHS fell, at 6:30 ish, the French pushed up a pair of guns to the crossroads itself. They inflicted severe casualties on the square before the 95th, flung out of the sandpit, recovered their position and shot the crews to a man.

D'Erlon did have some skirmisher capability, but after Uxbridge's attack this was a very much weakened Corps, and French skirmishers were contained successfully in this sector – fire was drizzling, rather than devastating imho.

A true feat of outstanding fortitude and bravery, the 27th lost 450 casualties out of 700 original strength.

Wellington always spoke very highly of the 27th after Waterloo
"Ah, the Inneskillens, they saved the centre of my line at Waterloo"

Adkins is the guy to read on this, imho.


Lord Hill22 Sep 2009 6:27 a.m. PST

27th casualties:
315 75 killed in action, 28 died of wounds, 212 wounded
44% of their nominal strength.

As taken from the muster rolls at Kew (WO12 series), the regimental casualty returns (WO25 series), as well as a few supplementary sources (pension books, Chelsea hospital admittance books etc)

I've written this before but can't find it in the archives so here it is again:
"The fate of the 27th Foot is part of the legend of Waterloo most books on the battle describing how the Regiment was "wiped out" or "died in square". Although it is true that the 27th, in its exposed position, suffered more fatalities than any other unit (but not casualties), it is misleading to single out this regiment as being far worse off than many others, and the traditional descriptions of their total decimation are, when one looks at the casualty returns, a myth.
Even deducting 100 non-combatants from the nominal strength, the regiment would still have around 300 men unwounded by the end of the day. The diary of an officer from one of the absent companies states that they had been ordered to proceed as quick as possible as at Waterloo there were only "300 rank and file left" Over the two days' fighting three British infantry Regiments the 1st, 32nd, and 92nd suffered worse percentage losses. "

Camcleod22 Sep 2009 6:28 a.m. PST

Following is a link to "The historical record of the 27th Inniskilling regiment"


P.68ff has some info on the Regt. at Waterloo.

Also, some years ago 'Primrose' asked about the fact that as the 27th only had 7 cos. at Waterloo – did they have their colours? P.146 of the above book has mention of the two colours being at the battle.


LORDGHEE22 Sep 2009 8:01 p.m. PST

doing some random musings and math

700 men

75 dead
28 died
212 wounded

Artillery was twice as likey to kill than wound


out of the

103 who died

70 where killed by artillery
43 where killed by musket fire

212 wouned
say 30 by cannon fire and 70 by musket fie long range so

62 by cannon
150 by musket

132 by cannnon fire
193 by musket

they took 132 shots of cannon fire
2 guns point blank shot canister maybe 10 rds totaland did
40 mainly dead
so 100 long range rounds
But the 27th was lying down so X 2 rds used to get effect
so 1 battery fired out it ammo
of 600 rds or so over 3-4 hours

193 by musket
long range as the rilfes kempt them at bay unitl LHS fell
2/3 at very long range (300 yards) and 1/3 at long range (100yds)

so 1% hit rate and 3% hit rate
(the 27th was lying down)
150 men at close range means 5000 rds
and 43 due to long range so 4300 rds so 200 men firing off there ammo over 2 hours (one round every 2 minutes)
and you want to keep some ammo so 2 to 4 companies or a battalion did a number on the 27th

I read some where that the French felt they where winning the battle on the allied left after I corp faild coup de main. Now understand this a litte better.

the 27 reports that 2 guns got up to the cross roads but Mercer was near there and never reported artiller that close to him ( 200 yds ), it could be the pieces died to quick to make an impact on him.

Lord Ghee

Lord Ghee

Defiant22 Sep 2009 10:58 p.m. PST

Okay, now I am convinced, however, if they were said to have been in square I cannot relate this to facing infantry and skirmishers. Maybe they were in a somewhat exposed position and were directed to anchor part of the line against possible cavalry attacks?

LORDGHEE23 Sep 2009 3:46 a.m. PST

Most of the British line was fromed up into columns of waiting ( 2 coy wide by 5 deep) from which going into square was very quick. the 92 was caught during the I corp attack this way and was render (2 volleys and flee) hors de combat. (yes I know it charge with the greys ect but where was it the rest of the fight, it guarded prisoners)
Also a preferred formation was 2 coys deep and 5 wide again so that a square could be formed in 30 secounds.

If the 27th have gone thru the cavarly attk and artillry bombardment that took place between charges ( the French gunner saw how the cav parted going over the hill and sighted thier guns at that space. So you would have a collection of dead and and wounded in a square formation. then the 27 went back to it column or double line (reduce by 100) to face the skermishers.

what is remarkable is that at the end of the day that 300 men stood to ranks. may be the high death rate accounted for this, as usally for every casulites you lost a troop that help his mate (the dead got no help and some men got 6 to carry the blanket).

last rambling: If you had a phile of your fellows behind you and you are involed in a heavy skermish fight it would be better for surivial to stand and fight not help the wounded as your fire proteted them and kept them from being over run.

Lord Ghee

Lord Ghee

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