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Sergeant Archibald Johnston

Waterloo 200

of 2nd (or R.N.B.) REGIMENT of DRAGOONS (Scots Greys)

Captain J. Poole's Troop

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Submitted by: Dorothy Foster

Date added: 9 Feb 2015

My Great Great Great Grandfather Archibald Johnston was born in 1782 and joined the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys) in 1800 and served for over 24 years and was a Sergeant at Waterloo but later rose to Troop Sergeant Major.

The remarkable thing about him is that he kept a journal complete with poems and drawings on his experiences at Waterloo which is held at the National Museum of Scotland and is published in Gareth Glover’s book “The Waterloo Archives” Vol 1. His writings proved himself an accomplished journalist.

To quote Gareth Glover from his book “This journal is a rare and complete record of the movements and actions of the Scots Greys throughout their time in France and Belgium, including copies of orders, memoranda and even a full transcript of a court martial (thankfully he was proven not guilty- My words), an invaluable source for historians”.

Glover also states in note 87 of his book that Sergeant Archibald Johnstone was wrongly transcribed as "Richd" (Richard) instead of "Archd" in the Medal Roll.

My family therefore have the privilege of knowing our ancestors actions at Waterloo throughout the campaign. According to his journal he served under Major General Sir W. Ponsonby and describes the sailing from Northfleet to Ostend and then a detailed account of the march to Nivelles which was punctuated by his court martial in full transcript (Not Guilty).

He writes about the Highland Brigade opening their lines to let the Scots Greys through to face the French and the Brigade cheering "Scotland Forever!" and instead of forming behind the cavalry they mingled with them and in many instances grasping their stirrups and running with the cavalry as they began the famous Charge of the Heavy Brigade.

He then describes the Earl of Uxbridge being injured and losing a leg caused by the last cannon of the day and at that same time Sergeant Archibald’s Grey being shot from under him by a splinter from a shell through the horse’s heart and trapping his leg and was only able to extricate himself with the assistance of his comrades. It was during this charge that Ensign Charles Ewart captured the French Eagle. The celebrated Ewart is buried in Edinburgh Castle.

In his journal he describes the carnage he views when he returns to the battlefield with the remnants of the regiment to bury the fallen. The regiment had been almost decimated with over 200 dead or wounded.

Further to this he also includes, word for word, the orders received from various commanding officers and also taking time to include a full list of all his comrades in the regiment who were killed or wounded and prefixed it with a short poem.

“Beneath is a list of heroes brave
As ever graced a martial story
Who nobly fought at Waterloo
And earned a bed of glory"

His Journal continues until 7th December 1815 in Abbeville, France. Archibald had married Mary Oliver from Canterbury whilst stationed at the Barracks there. His daughter Maria also married my GG Grandfather David Stroak who was a sergeant in the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders and had returned from seven and a half years in the Caribbean. The couple married in Dumfries after Archibald who was discharged with pension on the 25th May 1824 as Troop Sergeant Major then became Innkeeper of the Ewe and Lamb in Dumfries. He is recorded in an article from the Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser of 25th June 1845 which reported a celebration in the Ewe and Lamb Inn for the 30th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo at which Archibald Johnston complete with sword, was a celebrity.

One requires to read Gareth Glover's book and particularly this personal journal to obtain the full understanding of this soldier’s prospective at Waterloo.

I have attached Archibald's discharge papers and an image of Lady Elizabeth Butler' painting of the famous charge.

Submitted by Dorothy Foster

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