The Commanders in Spain
These are the men in command of Yorkshire’s Company during the march to Corunna.
But first, a word is in order about history and fiction. Some of these characters are not real; a couple I’ve even lifted straight from the Neil Gow’s excellent sourcebooks for Duty & Honour to save time. The actual soldiers and officers of the 5th/60th may be changed here, and as the game goes along other historical characters may be altered or characterized in ways that do violence to historicity and offend the sensibilities of scholars. I think it’ll be OK. This is just a game.
Sir Hew Dalrymple
An experiened officer of the Horse Guards—the top echelon of the British Army—and currently governor of Gibraltar. He hadn’t seen command in combat in many years when he was put in charge of the expedition to Spain with Sir Harry Burrard and Sir Arthur Wellesley as his lieutenants. After Wellesley’s victory at Vimeiro, Dalrymple ordered him to accept extraordinarily generous surrender terms from the French general, which allowed the French to surrender with their honor and arms intact, and to escape back to France under the protection of the Royal Navy. When word of it reached home, Wellesley, Burard and Dalrymple were called back to London to answer to an outraged Parliament.
Sir Harry Burrard
Another veteran Horse Guards officer with limited field experience, appointed second in command of the expedition. His son, Captain Burrard, is an aide-de-camp to Sir John Moore.
Sir Arthur Wellesley
Field commander of the army under Dalrymple and Burrard, a young general but lauded for his triumphs in India five years ago. He oversaw the triumph at Vimeiro, but when he was about to force Junot’s complete capitulation he was overruled by Dalrymple and Burrard. He has been called back with them to London to face an inquiry into the affair at Vimeiro.
Sir John Moore
An experienced commander and a proponent of light infantry tactics advanced by the Baron de Rottenburg. He organized training camps for light troops and trained up an entire Light Division in the run-up to the war, when Britain was expected to invade Scandinavia. Not a tactful leader, he quarrelled bitterly with the king of Sweden, which resulted in the British Army coming to Spain instead under other commanders.
Moore was given command of the Spanish expedition when Dalrymple, Burrard and Wellesley were recalled to London to answer for Junot’s escape at Vimeiro. He moved his infantry to Salamanca, then waited for days and weeks while his artillery moved by a circuitous route on stronger roads to meet up with the army, while the French gathered strength in the northwest. When the British Army finally moved out, the French were in Spain in overwhelming force and the Spanish armies were scattered, uncoordinated and ineffectual.
He ordered a retreat to Corunna on the sea (except for the Light Division, most of which went by a more southern route to the port of Vigo) and has struggled to keep the army together during the awful march.
He has organized the army as follows:
- Infantry division led by Baird (eight regiments in three brigades).
- Infantry division led by Hope (ten regiments in three brigades).
- Infantry division led by Fraser (seven regiments in two brigades).
- Reserve infantry division led by Edward Paget (five regiments in two brigades).
- Two light brigades led by Crauford and Alten (three regiments each).
- Cavalry division led Lord Henry Paget (five regiments).
Lieutenant-General Alexander Mackenzie Fraser
Commander of Third Division, to which Yorkshire’s company is attached. A 52-year-old Highlander said to have iron nerves and inflexible courage, who treats his men kindly. He was once described as “mild as a lamb and strong as a lion.” He led the brief, unsuccessful expedition to Alexandria in 1806.
Major-General William Carr Beresford
Commander of one of Third Division’s two brigades, with four regiments under him, including the one to which Yorkshire’s division is attached. A surprisingly ugly, powerfully built man, with weatherbeaten features and a discolored eye blinded by a hunting accident. The illegitimate son of an Irish lord, he has been in the army the last 23 of his 40 years.
Major-General the Baron Francis de Rottenburg
A Polish nobleman and former commander of Hompesch’s Mounted Rifles, who joined the British Army in order to fight Napoleon. The founder and until recently commander of the 5th/60th, thanks to an 1807 promotion he is now in command of the light infantry training camp in Kent, England. He has a Major-General’s post waiting for him in Canada when the present troubles allow him to take it.
Major William Gabriel Davy
Major William Davy was promoted to major in 1807 and given charge of 5th Battalion when de Rottenburg received his promotion. He is 29 years old.
Davy comes from Gloucestershire, born in 1779 to a major-general in the East India Company’s service; his father was in fact Persian Secretary to Warren Hastings, then the Governor-General of India. Davy entered the army in 1797 in the 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot. He became captain in the 60th (Royal American) Regiment of Foot in 1802.
To make his own mark on the battalion, the young major issued a series of detailed orders in Cork and while on the transports sailing for Portugal. Some pertain to tactics and formations, others to hygiene and behavior; one standing order insists that the native populations be protected and treated with courtesy and respect.
Davy is a strict disciplinarian. Nevertheless he shares de Rottenburg’s view that excessive discipline should not be inflicted for its own sake, but reserved for the most heinous offenses such as cowardice or desertion. Like most rifle battalions, the 5th/60th encourages respectful treatment of its soldiers. Davy encourages officers to recommend men for promotion when good works warrant it.