1 Jan 1783 - 18 Jun 1815
Date added: 17 Jun 2015
Major Robert Christopher Packe Major Robert Christopher Packe was born in 1783 into a privileged family from Prestwold, Leicestershire. He lived in Prestwold hall with an estate of 2,500 acres. Prestwold, a prosperous nearby village, allowed Robert to learn skills such as to ride and shoot. Packe then went to Eton where he received a great education. However, at the age of 15, he was already sure of his dreams of joining the army like many of his other relatives and fight for his country.After leaving school, Robert joined a cavalry regiment called ‘The Royal Horse Guards’ where he started out as a Cornet. Then he went on for training and service experience; he was promoted to the position of a lieutenant. He became a captain in 1804. Then in 1812 Packe fought in the Peninsular War where he led a detachment of Royal Horse Guards in Thomar, Portugal. Due to his actions he was promoted again from a Captain to Major Robert Christopher Packe on the 21st May 1813 by the Duke of Northumberland. In the summer of 1813 he was congratulated by Frederick, Duke of York, the Commander-in-Chief and the Prince Regent. In 1814 Robert was awarded the Vittoria medal for his bravery and courage during the battle of Vittoria, Spain. There was one occasion when he was writing back home about his life fighting the Peninsular War, he told his family that whilst the French General Clausel at Vittoria had suffered heavy losses with 1,500 - 2,000 killed and taken prisoner, the English had taken advantage of this by plundering and acquiring lots of doubloons, dollars, and French crowns. It was very difficult for his cavalry unit and by the time he arrived in Salamanca, Spain he only had one horse left as all the other horses had been killed or died.However, he was fortunate because he was able to meet up with his younger brother, Henry (Lt-Col Henry Packe of the 1st Guards) at Salvatierra on 25th June 1813.By August 1814, Major Robert Christopher Packe had returned back to England and was living in the barracks in Windsor. However the following year he was sent to Waterloo in Belgium. The British cavalry managed to kill 2000 French soldiers in addition to the 3000 captured and taken prisoner. Unfortunately Major Robert Christopher Packe and his men were charged by the French lancers and cuirassiers and he was killed by the French immediately. He was stabbed by a sword and suffered a deep cut to his head. He was buried on the battlefield.However, the officers of the regiment in which he served for over fifteen years erected a memorial in the north choir aisle of St George's Chapel, Windsor to show their regard for him. This monument is erected by the officers of this regiment in which he had served more than 15 years. It says "In testimony of their high veneration for His distinguished military merit. And of their sincere regret for the loss of a companion, So long endeared to their affections by his Amiable manners and private virtues".His parents erected a monument in the church at Prestwold. On it is a sculptured battle scene and an extraordinary poem describing his courage. After Packe died, his estate was passed onto his nephew, where it has stayed in the family tree for centuries.Four artefacts have been added - the breastplate, the saddle, the 'Scotland forever' painting and Wellington at Vittoria. These were chosen because they help to build up a better picture of Major Robert Christopher Packe's life in the army. The picture of Wellington at Vittoria is symbolic because Vittoria is where the major was awarded a medal for his bravery when leading his troops. The 'Scotland forever' painting gives a very visual interpretation of what battle would have been like for the major as he and his men charged on their horses towards the French. The major would have spent many hours sitting on a similar saddle, both on and off the battlefield. The breastplate was worn by cuirassiers, one of whom was to kill the major. As you can see it was very strong and defeating the cuirassiers was one of the major challenges for the English cavalry.