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A tribute to Serjeant Peter Facey by Peter Stevens

Date added: 12 Jun 2015

257

Peter Stevens

Waterloo 200
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Submitted by: Peter Stevens Date added : 12/06/2015

Peter Facey was christened 13’th May 1781 in Landkey, Devon. He joined his regiment in 1803 at Plymouth and served with them for 17 years, achieving the rank of Sergeant. His comprehensive diary relates his travels through the Napoleonic Wars in Germany, Portugal, and Spain. He served at the siege of Copenhagen and Corunna, Walcheren, Barossa, Almarez, Vittonia, the Nive, Toulouse, and Waterloo, and later served in the Ionian Islands.

Gareth Glover is an ex Royal Navy officer who has studied the Napoleonic wars for over 40 years and has published over 40 volumes of memoirs/journals of soldiers who fought during the period. In his forward to the published version of Peter’s diary, Gareth writes :-

“The only previously published memoirs from the 28th Foot during the Napoleonic wars , that I am aware of, are those of Captin Robert Blakeney and William Thornton Keep who served with the regiment from 1811-14. However, Peter Facey’s account, although dealing with much of the same material, is able to add the much rarer view of a ranker and his account also continues with the regiment throughout the remainder of the war including Waterloo. After reading the diary one wonders how a sergeant came to have the education and vocabulary necessary to write such an interesting account of his adventures and how he gained access to such detailed knowledge of casualties and of stores captured unless he was attached to the regimental staff in some capacity. His is a fascinating account, full of details and adds much to our knowledge of this regiment during the wars.”

Peter’s original diary is shown in the photograph above, together with his sword. An excerpt from the diary, covering the Battle of Waterloo, is also shown. A transcription of this entry follows :-

“.……….. On the morning of the 17th, the enemy not making any advance, we were ordered to retreat about 3 leagues where we halted on the Plains of Waterloo, the enemy at the same time advancing on the 17th and took up a position.

Accordingly, on the 18th of June, about 11 o’clock in the morning the enemy commenced an attack with our out-line piquets. Immediately the Army at large stood to their arms and a general action commenced which lasted until about 7 o’clock in the evening, but about 5 o’clock in the afternoon the enemy cavalry, consisting of men dressed in steel jackets and helmets, charged the 28th Regiment, which immediately formed a square and totally repulsed the enemy with great loss. At this time the action became most obstinate, but about ½ past 6 in the evening the Prussian Army arrived, commanded by Prince Blucher. As soon as the enemy saw the approach of the Prussian Army they immediately commenced a retreat, closely pursued by the Prussian Calvary and Infantry. On the 19th, in the morning, the whole of the allied army received orders to march and follow the enemy. Accordingly, we proceeded through a pleasant country passing through Belle Alliance, Mons, Malplaquet, being at the entrance of France, and continued our march crossing the Plains of Calais until we arrived at a place called St. Denis, about 2 leagues from the City of Paris, the capital of France, where we arrived on the 5th of July and remained until the 29th of October………………”

Peter's journal finishes at the entry for the 7th July 1819 when his regiment landed in Corfu. According to Gareth Glover when he returned to England, Peter farmed at Gagham, Chittlehampton; there are no buildings remaining today, but evidence of a structure was noted in 1960. The area is now completely ploughed out. He eventually married a Rebecca Arthur on 6th November 1823 in Filleigh, Devon. Rebecca had been born about 1799 in Swimbridge, Devon. They had no children. Peter died 20th June 1844 in Chittlehampton, Devon. The cause of his death was recorded as “A rupture of a vessel in the heart”; he was buried in the churchyard of St.Hieritha Chittlehampton. Rebecca, who was Schoolmistress at Chittlehampton in 1851, was buried on 21st June 1857 in Chittlehampton.

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