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BADAJOZ - APRIL 6th 1812

On March 16th 1812 a British Force some 15,000 strong with a battering train of 52 guns reached Badajoz, a strongly fortified Spanish town near the frontier with Portugal.

In 1811 Badajoz had been delivered up to Marshal Soult and although the British had made two attempts to retake it, they had failed on each occasion after heavy losses owing to the battering train being insufficient. There was nothing very remarkable about its quaint crooked streets and its massive cathedral, beyond the natural strength of its position rising some 300 feet above the marshy plain, with bastions and their connecting curtains to protect it from attack.

General of Brigade Philippon commanded in Badajoz with a force of 4,742 men and although short of powder and shell, still presented a formidable task to a besieging army. He had taken every means possible to strengthen his post: mines were laid, the arch of a bridge built up to form a dam, ditches cut and filled with water, fortifications constructed, ramparts repaired and that he should have no useless mouths to feed, the inhabitants were ordered to lay up 3 months' provisions or leave the town. Badajoz was also protected on one side by a river, 500 yards wide in places and having several outworks, notably one called the Picurina on a hill to the South East.

Such was Badajoz when Picton's 3rd Division (which included the 45th of Foot (1st Nottinghamshire Regiment)), Lowry Cole's 4th Division and the Light Division invested it. The rest of the army covered the siege and the 5th Division was on its way from Beira

On the night of 17th March; 2,000 men moved silently forward to guard the working parties who began to break ground 160 yards from the Picurina. The sentinels on the ramparts heard nothing in the howling wind and at daylight, so well had the volunteers from the 3rd Division laboured, 3,000 yards of communication and a parallel 600 yards long were revealed.

The next night, it was prolonged to the right and left and two batteries traced out. Wet and stormy weather harassed the workmen and flooded the trenches, but in spite of this the parallel was extended across the Seville Road, towards the river by the 21st March and three counter-batteries were commenced between Picurina and the river in order to open on San Roque, which covered the bridge and dam across the Rivillas as well as the Castle and the ground on the left of it.




The basic cause of the Crimean War was the designs of Russia on Constantinople. The Czar of Russia, by diplomatic means, had managed to establish a claim to a protectorate over the Christians in Europe of the Sultan of Turkey - (something like 3/5 of the population of European Turkey). In 1853 the Czar put forward claims which would have meant the virtual disappearance of Turkey as an independent state. So Great Britain and France agreed to support Turkey and declared war on Russia on 28th March 1853. (Sardinia later joined the Western alliance in 1855).

In March 1854, the 95th (Derbyshire) Regiment (in 1881 this became the 2nd Battalion the Sherwood Foresters) received orders to be prepared to leave England as part of the Expeditionary Force to Turkey. This force was composed of five Infantry Divisions, each containing two Brigades. The strength of each Division being about "5,000 bayonets". Also a cavalry Division of one heavy and one light Brigade. Finally three troops of Horse Artillery and eight Field Batteries. The Regiment finally collected itself at Portsmouth on April 4th eight companies strong. The 95th had been brought up to strength by volunteers from the 6th, 36th, 48th and 82nd Regiments of Foot and were, according to their officers 'a magnificent body of men'. The Regiment sailed on the "S.S. Medway" for Turkey on the 6th April. The "Medway" put in for coal at Gibraltar on the 14th and Malta on the 19th April. On the 23rd she arrived at Gallipoli for orders and the troops finally landed at Scutari on the 24th April (where they were re-equipped with Minie rifles). It was the first Regiment of it's Brigade to land, the other two Regiments, the 30th of Foot (The Cambridgeshire Regiment) and the 55th of Foot (The Westmoreland Regiment) were not finally on the ground until 21st May.