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A tribute to Private Francis Clarkson by Kevin Clarkson

Date added: 18 Apr 2015

158

Kevin Clarkson

Waterloo 200
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Francis Clarkson was baptised 12 April, 1789 in the small village of Everton, North Nottinghamshire.

Francis was employed as a labourer, possibly on a local farm when the recruiting Officers came to Everton, he would already have been aware of the recruiting poster for the 69th Regiment of Foot, commanded by General Cuyler, who had announced vacancies for:

“A few dashing, high spirited young men, whose hearts beat high to tread the path of glory. Young men of this description know the opportunity offered to them, which may never occur again, of enlisting into one of the finest Regiments in Service ….”

Enticed by the rattle of the drum and the power of the spoken word Francis would have been given ‘the kings shilling’ as a mark of his commitment, and would then have been medically inspected before being attested by a magistrate. Francis enlisted 4th December, 1811, into the 2nd Battalion, 69th Regiment of Foot.

In December, 1813, the 2nd Battalion embarked for Holland, arriving on the 25th, with Francis serving in the campaigns of 1814–1815, in Holland and Flanders. He was present at the attack on Merxem, and the bombardment of Antwerp, Flanders, in February, 1814.

On the night of 8-9 March, Francis participated in the ill-fated assault on the French held fortress Bergen-op-Zoom, Holland. The assault failed with heavy casualties and Francis a prisoner of war. Released in June 1814, and admitted into hospital, it is unclear why Francis was hospitalised but his duration there would indicate a serious medical condition.

The regiment afterwards was stationed at Antwerp, where it remained until the spring of 1815. The Waterloo Campaign became the next scene of action.

                 THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN

The regiment marched from Soignies, Belgium, at about 2:00 a.m. on the 16th June, 1815, and entered the battle of Quatre Bras, about 3:00 p.m. having marched 25 miles. Positioned slightly north of La Bergerie, the regiment was in the act of changing formation when Kellerman’s 8th Cuirassiers, who had been concealed by a rye field cut through them, virtually destroying two unformed companies and capturing the King’s Colour.

The regiment rallied and on the 17th formed part of the rear guard which covered the retirement of the army to Waterloo.

At Waterloo, on the 18th the regiment was positioned in the right centre, a few hundred yards north of the outposts of Hougoumont and La Sainte, where they came under heavy artillery fire and were repeatedly charged by the enemy’s cavalry. For a considerable amount of time the regiment was opposed to the French Imperial Guards, whom they charged when the general advance of the line took place.

Francis was hospitalised for lengthy periods after Waterloo and was sent to Colchester, England. Later, Francis was listed as being “at Chelsea”.

Discharged 19th July, 1816, in consequence of “having received a gunshot wound to the left knee joint in action with the enemy at Quatre Bras on 16th June 1815”. Chelsea Pensioner register states “wounded left knee at Waterloo”. Francis, upon his discharge became a Chelsea Pensioner, “outpatient”.

Within six months of being discharged Francis married Elizabeth Fox on the 30th December,1816, at Carlton in Lindrick, Nottinghamshire. They had three sons. Francis went back to his previous profession as an Agricultural Labourer, until his decline in health would force him to cease work. Francis became blind and had to rely on Elizabeth and his Chelsea Pension in later years. Elizabeth unfortunately passed away in October, 1854. This resulted in Francis being admitted to the Union Workhouse, Worksop, Nottinghamshire, where he died on the 9th May, 1860.

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