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Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

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Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Iain » September 4th, 2015, 9:45 am

Hi All !

Firstly...
Some of you may already know I’m writing a book about Matthew Clay at Hougoumont..., but what you do not know is that the book is simply a ‘mode d’emploi’ for any producer who may find my screen play interesting enough to turn the pages.
Being surrounded by so many experts here, it would be totally absurd to produce a manuscript that didn’t reflect Clay’s movements with precision, leading up to and including the battle..., especially following 200 years of research from Siborne to John Franklin.
As such, any advice would be extremely appreciated !

In the meantime, this is a post with a tactical question concerning the defensive formations and strategies at company level..., in particular, the two Light Companies in the western lane before the attack on the wood.
This research deals with the tactics in the lane before 11h30 and I’m exploring how both Light Companies (CG & SG) were positioned, why they were positioned and how they defended themselves from small-shot coming from the wood and the western cornfield.

To assist with any eventual answer, I created a drawing because in my opinion, the majority of historical maps tell you what’s in the vicinity..., but their maps do not ‘speak’!
Concerning the farm building, my drawing is extremely accurate..., angles are near-perfect and the dimensions are correct to at least a yard.
I then placed the drawing onto a satellite image to relate it to the Sunken Lane and the Chemin du Goumont. I then added a badly positioned pond; but following more research, I’ll probably remodel it and extend it up to the top-left question mark.
I then added the hedgerow similar to the professional maps..., but I’ve placed the bushes inside the satellite markings in order to keep the details visible.
All gardens need an access and as the western byre door was probably used for this purpose, I created two openings.
Google Earth was then used to provide the triangular pasture for the haystack/s.

Lol ! Low and behold..., a ‘speaking’ map ! This now tells us that Clay, at the ‘top’ NW corner of the lane (near Dashwood on his charger) couldn’t have received that much shot from the wood because of the bend in the lane and the downhill drop towards the pond. Also, half the shots fired slightly right would also have ricocheted along the byre wall and would have fallen harmlessly among the vegetables. (or perhaps even onto the French if they were at the extreme NW corner of the garden)

From what I’ve learned so far..., at about 10h00, both light companies of the 2SG and 1CG leave the Sunken Lane and move over to the farm. According to Clay, the SG, having moved along the outside hedgerow that gives onto the cornfield.
Clay’s quote: “We remained in a kneeling position under this cover for some considerable time.” As a consequence, the company had time to create loopholes in the bushes, as they had done earlier on that morning, in the sunken lane.
In the meantime, French skirmishers are crossing the cornfields towards the wood while others approach the garden’s hedgerow.

After the French push the Germans from the wood they install themselves in a secure firing position facing the south gate. And more importantly, (for my research) their left flank has a clear line of fire along the western wall. (as Clay indicated)
Clay then quotes: “Annoyed by a most galling fire from our opponents guns TO THE LEFT of our position so near to us, indeed that the spreading of their small shots rarely escaped contact with our knapsacks and accoutrements, even the heels of our shoes were struck by them.” (still facing west)

According to Clay, Dashwood is on his charger at the NW corner. Note; Clay is at the back of the company with Robert Gann and both are among the last to leave the lane during the attack.

Question:
Isn’t it only logical that the CO’s would have positioned a platoon at the SW corner, to stop any enemy advance up the lane ???
It seems so stupid not to return fire !

In John’s book, he has an image of the lane in which he indicates A + B + C + D.
A. Coldstream Light Company (Gooch..., they are indicated as being where they should be by the north wall)
B. 3rd Guards Light Company (Standen..., at the top near the NW corner)
C. Coldstream Light Company (Wyndham..., half way down the lane)
D. 3rd Guards Light Company (Dashwood..., at the bottom)

All criticism and advice would be appreciated !
Kind Regards..., Iain.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Iain » September 4th, 2015, 9:56 am

An enlarged view :
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Josh&Historyland » September 4th, 2015, 11:43 am

I applaud your detail Iain.

John usually has better answers than I but for my money, the Guards in the Western lane/garden, what have you, were deployed by half companies. This was outlined by John in a previous post, two half companies of both regimental light coys were deployed at the South of the lane, parallel to the SW corner creating a field of fire between the woods and their front line. The other half's were in reserve at the NW corner. This allowed each company to cover itself and was a prescribed manner of deployment for light infantry. When the French made their first appearance the Guards charged them, however they were inevitably driven back and pressed hard by Cubieres who sent a flanking force to lever them out of their position. When this came into action t stalled the attempted advance of the reserves, and I imaging Macdonnell must have tried to refuse his flank, however given the nature of the force inflaming him it may only have been nuisance value. If he did, I doubt they would have had their backs to the wall, but rwther lined the hedge or tree line that bordered the lane/garden. Engaged in front and flank and disorganised after their repusle from the woods Macdonnell ordered the retreat northwards.

Josh.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Iain » September 4th, 2015, 12:13 pm

Thank you Josh...

Yes..., my term “sub-division” was in fact taken from Clay ! He said, quote; “the front of the company was led by Dashwood, Evelyn and Erlington... I being in the rear sub-division.”
I suppose this is the same as a ‘half-company.’
A Guards company today is 3 platoons but I suppose in those days they were more numerous.
I’ll have to wait for John’s new book to get the details.

Also, I must have missed John’s point about the Allied firepower. I thought he only mentioned the order of combat...., as in A+B+C+D.
Lol... Perhaps I babble on too much and as a consequence I’m difficult to follow; but I did mention that they must have had their backs to the wall (separated by the lane) and kneeling on the hedgerow embankment. As Clay mentions.

Josh..., did you receive the RHQ docs I sent you ? About 21 !

Have a nice afternoon..., Iain.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Josh&Historyland » September 4th, 2015, 3:14 pm

No, I don't think I got those Iain.

Josh.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby John Franklin » September 4th, 2015, 7:56 pm

Hello Iain,

Yours is a lengthy post and there are many points which I could answer. However, I feel it would be unfair to my publisher to respond in any great detail here, due to the close proximity to the release of the 'Struggle for Hougoumont' book. I will therefore limit myself to the following (short) comments:

1. I think you are placing far too much emphasis on Matthew Clay's account (especially if you are using the version published in 1854, or the subsequent reprints, rather than the original handwritten manuscript, which was not edited).

2. The map in the Osprey book shows the deployment of the troops at Hougoumont shortly after 9 a.m. Osprey neglected to incorporate that particular caption with the map. The troops in the lane were certainly in different positions during the engagement, and most importantly, were reinforced by two companies (which has never been mentioned before).

3. When Clay refers to 'our commander being mounted...' he means Macdonell. Charles Dashwood, despite being a field officer, was dismounted (he stated this in his letter which is a feature of the book).

4. The testimonies given by the men of the Lt Companies to Capt Delme Seymour Davies - which I have - provide a wonderful idea of the confusion in this area. Serjeant Joseph Aston's account being far superior to Clay's, he having a more senior role and being aware of the orders issued.

You can hopefully enjoy all this when the book is at last in your hands.

Kindest regards

John


P.S. There were sixteen members of the Coldstream Lt Company who were locked out of the farm when the gates were closed, and they had to make their way to the rear with eighteen men of the 3rd Guards Lt Company. The story of these men is far more interesting, with respect, than Matthew Clay's account.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Iain » September 5th, 2015, 3:42 am

Lol ! Thanks John ! ;) Totally understand !

The more I delve into this affair, the happier I am in thinking that unlike you and the others, my research is limited to Clay.
Lol..., surprised your wife puts up with it ! Lol !
Mine doesn’t !

Every time Martine sets foot at Waterloo, she becomes physically ill ! She nearly died last year during one of my visits !
She’s not superstitious or believes in ghosts but she does have a photographic memory and a brain that certainly doesn’t work like mine !
Then my daughter builds a house at Plancenoit ! Phew !

Looking forward to the release of your book !

Kind Regards..., Iain.

@Josh I’ll PM you !


PS Concerning the Courts Martial..., yes, I totally understand and my book's title will probably revolve around the affair.
Thanks John.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Iain » January 23rd, 2016, 7:13 am

Hi All...

Here's an image I've been working on to give me a rough idea about the size of the pond. Amusing..., lol.
Concerning the Chemin du Goumont... This original ‘Neanderthal’ track would have been well trodden long before the construction of the farm and would certainly have skirted the perimeter of the pond.

I'll do a follow-up concerning the garden hedgerow. This is important as I believe that there was no hedge along the lane.

..., Iain.
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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby MarkW » January 26th, 2016, 5:26 pm

wow, i never envisaged the pond as being that expassive.....your research seems really good too.. question though, who else mentions the pond beside Clay?

cheers

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Re: Hougoumont’s western kitchen garden :

Postby Iain » January 28th, 2016, 10:47 am

Hi Mark...

In fact, Clay never mentions the pond although, as a bit of a ‘lamp swinger’ he should have done so.
The image of the 3 ponds in Clays narrative was added by the Editor Glover. (John could contradict me there as he has a copy of the original)

There are dozens of maps and texts referring to the pond. One such report was in the Bristol Mirror Saturday 16 September 1815: (See annexed)

In the meantime, I was in contact with John yesterday and I’m inclined to believe him when he say’s that it was not as big as I have indicated. But quote, “it certainly was bigger than what can be seen in the average map.”

When you take into consideration that when the valley was drained (in the 1960’s I believe) ploughing and top-soil movement must have slid towards the centre..., which would have had the effect of reducing its width, but also the illusion of its depth when you stand in the middle of the field. Meaning that it would have been quite deep !
As for the length of the pond, the evacutation pipe on the left running under the road obviously provides a clue.

Bye..., Iain.

PS Pure imagination of course: There was obviously fish in that pond..., as such, I'd bet my bottom farthing that there was a small fishing boat present during the battle. ;)
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