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"John Byne Skerrett – the ‘Coward’ who died like a Hero and" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse11 Jan 2021 8:25 p.m. PST

…. yet became a Scapegoat

"Veterans of TCE Peninsular War tours with Col. Nick Lipscombe to the East Coast of Spain and the Pyrenees may well be familiar with the name of Major General John Byne Skerrett, an officer who eventually left Wellington's army under a cloud after a series of poor battlefield judgements. To those who have encountered him before in a Peninsular context, therefore, the final months of his life, and his death during the failed storm of Bergen-op-Zoom on the night of 8-9 March 1814 may seem at odds with what might be expected of the man. In fact, Skerrett's end simply serves to emphasise the contradictions inherent in the man.

Harry Smith, who was Skerrett's brigade major in the Pyrenees, called the general a ‘gallant Grenadier', and it would be hard for anyone to have ever questioned Skerrett's physical courage. However, coming from a rifleman, Smith's characterisation has something of a ring of brave-but-stupid about it, and, even when he composed his memoirs years later Smith could still not forgive his former commander for the incident that had effectively ended Skerrett's career in the Peninsula. Posted to the Light Division after Vitoria, Skerrett quickly demonstrated that he lacked the swiftness of judgement needed for such a command, and his insistence on standing out in the open under fire, which might have been inspiring to most troops, was simply ridiculed by his ‘light bobs' who had been trained to make the best use of any cover. During the fighting at Vera on 31 August 1813, Smith and the battalion commanders were unable to prevent Skerrett from leaving an inadequate picquet to cover a vital bridge rather than moving his whole brigade to block it. The result was that the retreating French, who would otherwise have been cut off, crushed the picquet – killing its popular commander, Captain Cadoux of the 95th – and fought their way to safety. Having patently lost the confidence of his brigade, Skerrett reported himself sick and left the Peninsula…"

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Amicalement
Armand

arthur181512 Jan 2021 2:32 a.m. PST

An interesting article and alternative view of Skerrett. Thanks for posting this, Armand!

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2021 10:00 a.m. PST

Yes, a good article however, the author does not state his sources and the maps are exactly those of Andrew Bamford's two books "A Bold and Ambitious Enterprise" and "Triumph and Disasters: Eyewitness Accounts of the Netherlands Campaign 1813-1814".

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse12 Jan 2021 10:58 a.m. PST

Happy you enjoyed it my friends! (smile)


Amicalement
Armand

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