Date added: 12 Feb 2015
(Photograph of Plume worn by John Prendergast Walsh at the Battle of Waterloo)
John Prendergast Walsh was the second son of the Rev. John Ravell Walsh and Euphemia Prendergast. He is the great-great grandfather of Michael Ravell Walsh and three-greats grandfather of Philip Edgar Tekee Prendergast Walsh.
He was born in Co Wicklow on 31 May, 1798 just before the Irish Rebellion of that year. Family tradition says he was hidden by his nurse ‘in the gooseberry bushes’ while the rebels burnt down his father’s rectory at Blessington.
He was awarded a B.A. by Trinity College Dublin at the young age of sixteen, having entered it on September 3rd 1810, at the age of 12.
He was then, aged 17, appointed a Second Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion of the 95th Regiment, on 5th May 1814, in time to see service at the battle of Waterloo.
The Experimental Corps of Riflemen had been raised in 1800 with recruits drawn from officers and other ranks from several British regiments. It became the 95th Regiment of Foot in 1803.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 95th, plus two companies from the 3rd Battalion, a total of 1,322 Officers and Men, fought at Waterloo. The companies of the 2nd and 3rd battalions 95th Rifles were brigaded together and fought mostly in ‘close order’ on the right flank near Hougoumont. At midday, Prince Jerome ordered an assault on Hougoumont, and the French infantry columns of his division moved forward to begin the daylong struggle around the farm buildings.
The 95th were in the orchard. They had to ‘form square’ to repulse several charges made by French cavalry: “The 95th received a charge of horse, and destroyed every one, making use of the horses to carry away their wounded”.
Toward the end of the battle when Napoleon was sending every man he could toward Hougoumont, the 95th, outnumbered five to one, gave ground; and at one point were even mistaken by the Brunswickers (British allies) for French, and attacked by their own side. Fortunately the mistake was realised and together with the Brunswickers they drove the French back. In the late afternoon action the 95th, together with the 71st and 52nd Line Regiments, swung forward to enfilade the right of the French Imperial Guards’ advance. Lt. Gen. Sir H. Clinton said of these engagements that "The manner in which the several regiments, 52nd, 71st and 95th discharged their duty was witnessed and admired by the whole army"
.By the end of the battle the 95th had suffered casualties of 35 officers and 482 men (a third of their number). Among the wounded was John Prendergast, who lost his right leg and received other wounds. He was ‘reported and rewarded for valour’. He acquired a wooden leg, and was known thereafter as ‘Timberleg’ Walsh. Despite the loss of his leg, he was to remain in the Army until 1833. After twenty years' service however John Prendergast retired and was ordained, as apparently he held strong evangelical opinions and wished to ‘combat Puseyism’.
He held a number of clerical livings in both Ireland and England, and was Patron of Kittisford in Somerset.
He married Isabella Christiana Frances Langton (born 9 December 1800, died at Ealing, 10 July, 1886) and had four sons and two daughters who survived to adulthood. All four sons became Officers in the British Army, and both daughters married Officers.
Towards the end of his life John Prendergast lived largely in France, and he died there on 15th December 1867.
Submitted by Michael Walsh