Battle of Copenhagen 1801: 49th Foot

  I’ve previously written a blog (click link to view it) on the medals issued by Denmark for the defense of Copenhagen at Nelson’s famous battle on April 2nd 1801. In this blog, I will focus on the British Naval General Service Medal 1793-1840 (NGS), which was issued retrospectively in 1848-50’ish to surviving officers and men who had their claims approved. Specifically, in this second blog on the subject, I will focus on the NGS medal issued to 49th Regiment of the British Army.

Background

In early 1801, when William Pitt’s government in London decided on a preemptive strike against the Armed Neutrality Coalition of Russia, Denmark, Sweden, and Prussia, the Admiralty did not know precisely what contingencies to prepare for. The Royal Marines, who were always present and serving with distinction in even the smallest commissioned vessel, were stretched too thin to muster a landing force of a magnitude which might have been needed. It was decided that the 49th Foot (the Berkshire Regiment post-1881) (780 men), and two companies of the Rifle Corp (114 men) would accompany the expedition[1-2]. In the end, some soldiers saw action, but many did not. They were all distributed across the expeditionary fleet, and in particular those ships in Adm. Sir Hyde Parker’s Division never saw any action. Of the 894 men, 16 were KIA, and 44 WIA, a ~7% casualty ratio. Numismatically these NGS medals to the Army for Copenhagen 1801 are rare and much sought after by collectors. Several of the recipients of the NGS also received the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814 (MGS) and such pairs command a high price at auction. Unsurprisingly, there is a list of Army recipients of the NGS Copenhagen 1801, in all the various editions of British Battles & Medals (BBM) [3], however it does not contain several new discoveries and lacks provenance history. I thought it useful to produce a more up to date list which also includes provenance information when available. It will naturally be updated here from time to time.

A few year ago, I was studying Colin Message’s NGS roll, trying to understand how many officers serving in HMS Monarch had claimed a NGS medal for Copenhagen 1801. To my surprise, there were several Lieutenants on the roll, who were not to be found in the Navy List of 1800-1801. An impossible paradox – if they were indeed Royal Navy or Royal Marines. Two officers, stood out:

  • GLEGG, JOHN B., COPENHAGEN 1801, LIEUTENANT MONARCH
  • GAY, WILLIAM, COPENHAGEN 1801, LIEUTENANT MONARCH

I was able to identify GLEGG as a Lieut in the 49th Foot (John Baskerville Glegg, seniority 1 Feb 1798) from the Feb 1800 Army List. Lieut. Gay, is still a mystery. I hope that a search of the supernumeraries list for victuals only (SLVO) in HMS Monarch‘s muster list would reveal who Lieut. Gay is. It is possible he belonged to the Rifle Corps (later 95th Foot), but I have not been able to find him in the Army Lists I have access to. I started a thread on the British Medal Forum (BMF) a few years ago on this subject, and many people were able to help and provide additional information for the roll shown below, which I greatly appreciate.

Recent Additions

Lieuts. Clegg and Guy are not on the list in BBM, and at least Glegg has now been verified. He may well have been known to collectors of the 49th Foot as having been at Copenhagen in 1801, but the fact he claimed the NGS medal certainly escaped the editors of several editions of BBM. Surprising really, since he is also known to have received the Small Army Gold Medal for Fort Detroit.

Another notable recent addition was the NGS/MGS pair to Capt. Patrick Campbell which appeared at a British country sale, Tennant’s Auctions, in September 2015. This attractive pair, evidently came direct from family descendants. Patrick Campbell is shown on the NGS roll as an AB (Able Seaman), and as such it would have been impossible to know he was actually an officer in the 49th Foot. The original surviving applications papers (ADM/171/2) in the British National Archives do not give a clue. He served as a Lieut. (seniority 22 Nov 1798 [4]) aboard HMS Polyphemus, but for some reason he was recorded as an AB. He had participated in the expedition to Holland in 1799 and went on to become a Captain in the 48th Foot (seniority 10 Mar 1808), with which he served in the Peninsular War earning the MGS medal with clasps Talavera, Busaco and Albuhera. He became a prisoner of war at Albuhera. Challis[5] verifies his later service record. The pair hammered for a healthy £17,000.

tennantsmedals

Fig.1: NGS and MGS pair to Capt. Patrick Campbell, 49th and 48th Foot. Image courtesy of Tennant’s Auctions.

The NGS medal to Gen. Sir Hugh Arbuthnott, KCB surfaced a few years ago on eBay. Despite poor photos, it found a buyer and the medal eventually ended up with Jager Medals. Like Campbell, he had participated in the expedition to Holland in 1799, and served as Lieutenant on board HMS Ganges at the battle of Copenhagen. Sir Hugh was awarded the Small Army Gold Medal for Busaco, and the MGS medal for Corunna and Fuentes D’Onor. He was nominated a Companion of the Bath (CB) in 1815, and eventually was made KCB in 1862. Jager Medals has kindly provided me with very clear images of the naming of Sir Hugh’s NGS medal. Unfortunately, the whereabouts of Sir Hugh’s MGS medal is unknown.

both-1

Fig 2: The NGS medal issued to Capt. Hugh Arbuthnott, 49th Foot. Image courtesy of Jager Medals.

naming-all

Fig. 3: Naming details on the NGS medal to Capt. Hugh Arbuthnott, 49th Foot. Image courtesy of Jager Medals.

It is interesting to note how these medals are named, some have detailed information on rank and regiment, others just the name of the recipient – even for known confirmed officers. When known, I’ve added the naming details in the table below. One notable example, is the NGS medal, to Charles Plenderleath, CB – who as a Capt. in the 49th, served in HMS Ardent at the battle of Copenhagen. Plenderleath’s NGS medal was sold DNW in Dec 2004 with a CB badge. The naming on the medal, just states his name – with no rank or regiment indicated. He commanded the 49th Foot during the war of 1812, including at Stoney Creek and Chrystler’s Farm, in both of which actions he was wounded. He was awarded the Small Army Gold Medal for Chrystler’s Farm.

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Fig. 4: The CB and NGS pair to Charles Plenderleath, 49th Foot. NGS medal show only his name. Image courtesy of DNW.

 

Roll of 49th Foot NGS medals for Copenhagen 1801

SurnameFirstRank • ShipProvenanceNotes
ARBUTHNOTT #HUGHCAPT. 49th Foot • GangesGLEN. May 1932, eBay Mar 2015, Jager Medals 2016Named: H. ARBUTHNOTT CAPt. 49th FOOT. Received Small Army Gold medal for Busaco, MGS with claps Corunna and Fuentes D’Onor.
ARMSTRONG #JOHNENSIGN 49th Foot • ArdentSOTHEBY Apr 1910, GLEN. Jul 1946, MGS Ebay Oct 2013Also recieved a 5 clasp MGS (MGS Named: J. ARMSTRONG, SUBTn 88th FOOT.)
BLEAMIRE #WILLIAM B.CAPT. 49th Foot • PolyphemusDNW Jun 2000Named: WM. B. BLEAMIRE, CAPt. 49th FOOT.
BOOTHWILLIAMPTE. 49th Foot • DefianceGLEN. Mar 1904, One on eBay Aug 15 2015Named: WILLIAM BOOTH
BROCK #GEORGEVOL. 49th Foot • Ganges
BROWN #ROBERTASST SURGEON 49th Foot • Glatton
CAMPBELLPATRICKAB • PolyphemusTennants Sep 2015, with three clasp MGS (48th Foot • Talavera, Busaco, Albuhera).NGS Named: PATk CAMPBELL, MGS named: PATk CAMPBELL, CAPt 48th FOOT. Served as Lieut. 49th Foot aboard Polyphemus (Army List 1802 confirms)
CORNERFORDRICHARDPTE. 49th Foot • Russell
CROSKEYJOSEPHCPL 49th Foot • Defiance
DENNIS #JAMESLIEUT. 49th Foot • Monarch
DONNELLYWILLIAMPTE. 49th Foot • Defiance
DOOLEYLAURENCEPTE. 49th Foot • Edgar
GLEGG #JOHN B.LIEUTENANT • MonarchArmy List Feb 1800 confirms 49th Foot, also received Small Army Gold medal for Fort Detroit.
HAWKESCHARLESDRUMMER 49th Foot • Ramillies
JAMESONANDREWPTE. 49th Foot • Edgar
KNOKESCHARLESDRUMMER 49th Foot • Ramillies
LISTONEDWARDPTE. 49th Foot • Ganges
LONGJOHNPTE. 49th Foot • Saturn
ORMOND #HARRY S.VOL. 49th Foot • Glatton OR DefenceSPINK Mar 1995 Defence Confirmed on Muster. Named: H.S. ORMOND
PLENDERLEATH #CHARLESCAPT. 49th Foot • Ardent OR RamilliesGLEN. Feb 1953, DNW Dec 2004 (with CB badge), also received Small Army Gold medal for Chrystler's Farm (in Canadian War Museum)Named: CHAS. PLENDERLEATH
PLUNKETTPETERPTE. 49th Foot • Defiance
SHEAFFE #ROGER H.LT. COL. 49th FootA renamed medal to this man was sold at GLEN. Jul 1995 (From post on BMF)Named: LT COL. ROGER HALE SHEAFFE, 49th FOOT.
SLAYNESDENNISSPTE. 49th Foot • Edgar BORNE AS "SLYNES"
WALSHANTHONYPTE. 49th Foot • Bellona "DUPLICATE PREPARED"
YOUNGROBERTPTE. 49th Foot • BellonaGLEN. Dec 1940 ALSO HAD MGS Chrystler's FarmMuseum of the Wilts., Berks & Glous. Regt., The Wardrobe, Salisbury.
 

One can speculate that there are additional Copenhagen 1801 NGS medals to the Army, so far “undiscovered”, like Glegg and Campbell mentioned above – and perhaps Gay. In a future blog, I will deal with unusual NGS medals issued to the Royal Navy for Copenhagen 1801.

References

  1. Ole Feldbæk, Slaget på Reden. Politikens Forlag 1985 (In Danish, but has been translated to English, Amazon link).
  2. Dudley Pope, The Great Gamble, Nelson at Copenhagen, Chatham Publishing 1972.
  3. John Hayward, Diana Birch, and Richard Bishop, British Battles and Medals, 7th Edition, Spink 2007.
  4. Army List 1802 confirms. Thanks to BGen. Harry Bendorf for this information.
  5. Lionel S. Challis, Peninsula Roll Call, 1949.

-PeterL

2 Comments
  1. My ancestor was Hercules Ellis was a Lt in the 49th at Copenhagen. He received £7/17/7 pay and £17/0/7 prize money! I do not know if a medal of his exists. He was stationed at Ft St Joseph 1802-5 and drowned on the way back to Ireland in 1809 leaving a son who was looked after by Brock. I guess Hercules died before medals were distributed. Herc’s brother Dixie was also a Lt in the 49th (not at Copenhagen) and turned back the US cavalry at battle of Crysler’s Farm in Nov 1813. He died in 1847 shortly before medals for that campaign were issued!

    I have a miniature of Dixie or Herc See http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/Warof1812/2013/Issue20/EllisMiniature.pdf

  2. Thank you for your comment. And yes – you are correct, no medals would have been issued to your relative, since he died in 1809. The NGS and MGS medals were only issued to surviving members of the expedition in 1848 (on application). Still very interesting to see the miniature, a lovely piece.

    -PeterL

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