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"John Westcott’s Journal of the Campaign in Portugal,,," Topic


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132 hits since 21 Jun 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Tango0121 Jun 2018 3:28 p.m. PST

…, Late Bandmaster 1/26th (Cameronian) Regiment

"This handwritten journal has lain in the British Library for well over a century, largely ignored, which is a great shame. We actually know very little about John Westcott as his service papers do not seem to have survived, but it would appear that his father may well have been born in Plymouth, serving in the 33rd Foot and the 3rd Foot as a Sergeant and eventually joining the 26th Foot (the Cameronians) before retiring on a Kilmainham pension in 1792. It would seem that although he was treated as a member of the regiment, that in fact he was a supernumerary as he does not appear in any of the monthly returns of the battalion. But for all our lack of knowledge of the man, the same cannot be said of his writings. The 1st Battalion 26th (Cameronians) had served the early years of the Revolutionary wars in Canada, only returning home in September 1800. They were soon off to warmer climes, serving in Egypt in 1801 and returning to Britain in 1802. The regiment was then stationed in numerous garrison towns throughout Scotland and then Ireland, where in 1804 a second battalion was raised. In late 1805 the 1st battalion was sent to Germany, but tragedy struck when two of their transports were wrecked in gales and 488 men 52 women and children were lost. The remnants returned to England in early 1806 and then marched to Ireland to receive over four hundred drafts from the 2nd battalion. In October 1808, the 1st battalion was sent to Spain but arrived only in time to take part in the terrible retreat to Corunna. In 1809 the battalion received two hundred men from the 2nd battalion and a large number of recruits from the Lanarkshire Militia, only to be sent off immediately to Walcheren where Westcott appears to have joined them, as he mentions this campaign a few times.

At the beginning of 1810, we find the battalion at Horsham with only ninety men fit to do duty, the rest being in hospital with a form of malaria contracted on the pestilential island of Walcheren. This fever was to follow them to Spain a year later and would ravage them again. They were then stationed at Grouville Barracks in Jersey from 14 June 1810 until June 1811…"
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