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Lieutenant Robert Hughes

Waterloo 200


Captain D. Sinclair's Company

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Submitted by: Philip Beddows

Date added: 25 Jun 2015

Lieutenant Robert Hughes of the 30th Regiment served in the Peninsular War (Ensign in 3rd Portuguese Regiment and Lieutenant in 9th Portuguese), for which he received the Peninsular medal and five clasps. He was afterwards severely wounded at Waterloo, by which time he was serving in the 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot. He later commanded the 1st West India Regiment, reaching the rank of Colonel, and died in 1855. Family history relates that his brother John Hughes was also at Waterloo, but with the army of Napoleon. There are two interesting, and perhaps remarkable incidents that Robert was involved in during the battle, one involving his brother. This page has been created to share these stories

The first occurred when the 30th joined with the 73rd to form an infantry square, both regiments having suffered heavy casualties in earlier engagements including Quatre Bras. The story is well described within a letter written by Lieutenant Francis Tincombe of the 30th, to his brother describing in some detail, the cavalry assault on the 30th's part of the square. A famous painting of this square hangs at Apsley House - it shows the Highlanders of the 73rd to the fore; the backs of the 30th in English infantry uniform can be seen to the rear of the square as presented in the painting.

Here is an extract from Lt Tincombe's letter:

“At this juncture Lieutenant Robert Hughes performed one of those gestures which remind us that even in the midst of war men may still retain humanitarian instincts. When the adjutant of the 6th Cuirassiers had his horse shot and fell in front of the side of the square formed by the 30th. Lieutenant Hughes saved him from the bayonets raised to kill him, and taking him by the hand drew him into the square and for further safety made the young Frenchman take his arm. They stood thus until the Imperial Guard formed up for the attack on the heights near La Belle Alliance nearly two hours later, where the adjutant implored Hughes to send him to the rear that he might not be killed by his friends. Hughes pointed out that his life would not be worth a minute's purchase if he left the square, but in a moment of confusion, they were separated and in all likelihood, the young Frenchman was killed in attempting to escape.” 

It would be wonderful to discover the name of this French officer, and to know if he survived and had descendants.

The other story that Robert returned with from Waterloo, and which is still told within the family today is as follows:

John Hughes, brother of Lt. Robert Hughes of 30th (Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot, went to France as a young Doctor and ended up serving in the French army during the Napoleonic wars. Like Robert, John was also at the Battle of Waterloo, but in the army of Napoleon, on the side of his adopted country. Remarkably, the two brothers met on the field of battle, but as brothers and not in conflict; they shook hands and embraced each other.

Robert's family came from Ireland. Three other men of his generation in the family were officers in the British Army and saw much service. 

Robert served in the Peninsular from 1809 to 1814. he was at the first siege of Badajoz and fought at the battles of Busaco, Fuentes D'Onor, Vittoria (where he was wounded), Salamanca - all of which he received clasps for - and the Pyrennes. He was commissioned as an Ensign on 11th April 1811, Lieutenant on 29th October 1812. He received clasps 

As detailed above, he fought in the Waterloo campaign 16th and 17th and was wounded on the 18th at the battle of Waterloo itself.

After recovering from injuries at Waterloo, Robert continued his army career. He was appointed as Captain on 13th February 1827. He became a Lieutenant Colonel 14th April 1848, in command of the 1st West India Regiment, and was promoted to full Colonel 6th October 1854. 

He died in 1855.

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