Waterloo Soldier by: Oasis Academy Mayfield
Date added: 31 May 2015
Private Edward Smart Private Edward (Edwd/Edw) Smart was born in the Parish of Fareham, Hampshire in 1779. According to his military record dated 25th March 1819 he enlisted in the 13th Regiment of Light Dragoons at Coventry, Warwickshire on 12th July 1800, at 18 years-old. He enlisted for life and served 20 years and 273 days. His statement of service shows that he served from 25th June 1800 to 24th March 1819, completing 18 years and 273 days, with an additional 2 years accrued for the Waterloo campaign. However, “having been afflicted with incontinence of urine” for what his military record states was a considerable time, he was discharged from the army as of 24th March 1819. His military record provides us with a physical description of Private Smart, to prevent any improper use of his discharge papers. He was at the time of his discharge, 37 years-old and was 5 feet 9½ inches tall, with brown hair and grey eyes and fresh complexion. It also revealed that he was a stonemason by trade, as does his Chelsea Pensioners entry. According to his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Boyse, Private Smart’s general conduct as a soldier was “good” at both home and abroad, and as such he was admitted to the Chelsea Pensioners Hospital (a retirement and nursing home for former members of the British Army) on 25th June 1819. He was clearly one of many, since in 1703 there were only 51, but by 1815 there were 36,757. Many of these were probably veterans of the campaign against Napoleon. Life would have been hard for Private Smart, his army pension was small – 9 pence a day, and there were few jobs for men like former Private Smart with his incontinent issues. Since he is listed in the UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Registers of Soldiers who served in Canada, 1743-1882, it would also appear that Private Smart saw action with the 13th Regiment of Light Dragoons at the Battle of Vittoria in 1811 (the last major battle against Napoleon’s forces in Spain). The Light Dragoons were therefore, amongst the forces who decisively defeated the French army and opened the way for the British forces to invade France. As a result Private Smart would have been an experienced soldier at the time of the Battle of Waterloo. Indeed, the 13th Regiment of Light Dragoons appears to have included “a fine array of men” who were inspected by their commander, the Earl of Uxbridge, in the days before the Battle of Waterloo and caused him to “express his complete satisfaction” at their performance (from C R B Barrett, History of the XIII Hussars, 1911). The role of the 13th Regiment of Light Dragoons during the battle began at daylight on the morning of Sunday, 18th June, when along with the 7th and 15th Hussars, under the command of Major-General Grant, they moved to the right centre of the position of the British army, to guard the road to Nivelles. They were exposed to heavy artillery and musket fire, causing many casualties of both men and horses. At about noon, Lieutenant-Colonel Boyse had his horse killed under him by a cannon shot and fell, and had to leave the field. However the Light Dragoons and their fellow regiments continued to charge the enemy, showing the utmost determination to repulse the enemy. But the losses within the regiment were severe, although Private Smart appears to have escaped unscathed. He was lucky because at least twelve privates of the Light Dragoons were killed on the field of battle; and others died subsequently of their wounds. The uniform that Private Smart wore was a dark blue jacket with short tails and a bell-topped shako. Moreover, after the Battle of Waterloo, the UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949, Private Smart would have been able to wear his Waterloo Medal. Awarded to him and every man present at the battle, for his brave service during the Battle of Waterloo, Private Smart received a silver medal, and the privilege of two years’ service was also added to his service for that day in Belgium, as is shown on his statement of military service.