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Auction: 24001 - Orders, Decorations and Medals
Lot: 14

(x) Waterloo 1815 (J. Dawshill, Coldstr. Guards. 2nd Batt.), polished, nearly very fine

John Dawshill (listed as 'Dawshell' on the latest published transcription of the Medal Roll) served with the 2nd Battalion, Coldstream Guards, in Lieutenant-Colonel Hon. H.R. Pakenham's Company during the Waterloo Campaign.

The Battalion formed part of Major-General Sir John Byng's 2nd Guards Brigade, and was ordered to recapture Bossu Wood from Jérôme's Division at the Battle of Quatre Bras on 16 June. French voltigeurs (skirmishers), wearing dark blue and green, picked off the scarlet British guardsmen as they struggled through the undergrowth and scrub. When eventually the Guards emerged from the wood and reformed into line, they were forced back by Piré's 6th Lancers and 1st Chasseurs. A costly stalemate, Quatre Bras at least bought Wellington time to extract his forces and re-deploy on the ridge of Mont St. Jean, just nine miles south of Brussels, Napoleon's objective.

At the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815, the whole of 2nd Battalion was committed to the defence of Hougoumont, a vast farmhouse complex guarding Wellington's right flank. Initially, only Lieutenant-Colonel MacDonnell's Light Company was at Hougoumont, the other Companies being positioned on the ridge. At 2.30 p.m., following the repulse of D'Erlon's Corps, the other companies marched down to reinforce MacDonnell, defending Hougoumont vigorously over the next six hours.

Hougoumont was pivotal to Wellington's strategy. Whereas he never committed more than 5% of his infantry to its defence, around 23% of Napoleon's infantry made futile attempts to capture it. Had these infantrymen been available to Marshal Ney at La Haye Sainte at 6 p.m., Ney could easily have smashed through Wellington's beleaguered centre, changing the course of the battle.

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