Bolton soldier helped defeat Napoleon
Updated 8:42am Tuesday 11th March 2014 in News
BOLTON soldier Richard Whewell was in his mid 20s when he fought, and helped to beat, Napoleon Bonaparte’s French army at the Battle of Nive in France in 1813.
But Mr Whewell then had to wait another 35 years, and until he was over 60 before he finally received the Military General Service 1793-1814 medal which commemorated his exploits in France.
The silver medal was not introduced until 1847 and was not issued until 1848, the year Richard Whewell celebrated his milestone 60th birthday.
Now Mr Whewell’s medal is up for sale and it is expected to fetch between £600 and £700 at Bonhams in Knightsbridge, London, tomorrow.
According to auctioneers Bon-hams, Mr Whewell was born in Bolton in 1788.
He was 23 when he joined the army on August 3, 1811, and served in France with the 84th (York and Lancaster) Regiment of Foot.
When he enlisted, he was described as “five feet five-and-a- half inches tall, 23 years old, swarthy, grey eyes, brown hair, born: Bolton”.
Twenty nine clasps, each one denoting a different battle, were issued for the Military General Service medal.
The maximum number of clasps any one soldier could receive was 15 and only two men, James Talbot and Daniel Loochstadt, received those.
There is one clasp attached to the distinctive crimson and dark blue ribbon of Richard Whewell’s medal and that is for the Battle of Nive.
Mr Whewell was lucky to have survived the bloody Battle of Nive, in Bayonne, southern France, which took place between December 9 and December 13, 1813.
A total of 650 men from the allied forces, Britain, Portugal and Spain, were killed and nearly 4,000 wounded. A total of 504 were taken prisoner.
It is thought that the French lost 6,000 in the battle.
In the weeks following the battle, many of Mr Whewell’s colleagues died of dysentery.
Mr Whewell left the army in the final weeks of 1815, just a few months after the Duke of Wellington’s army defeated Napoleon Bonaparte’s army at the decisive Battle of Waterloo, in what is now Belgium, on June 18, 1815.
Mr Whewell then returned to the North West and, in 1851, he and his wife Ann were living at Platt Street, Hyde, with their 22-year-old son John, farm labourer.
1801: Population of Bolton was 17,416.
1805: Lord Nelson killed at the Battle of Trafalgar.
1812: Charles Dickens born.
1813: Bolton’s Richard Whewell at the Battle of Nive in France and Jane Austen published Pride and Prejudice.
1815: The Duke of Wellington defeats Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo.
1819: The streets of Bolton are lit by gas.
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