Major Augustus Heisse landed in England in July 1803 as Cornet having left Lauenburg immediately after the Elbe convention and was put in requisition by Colonel Decken to assist in the formation of his new Corps. Officers were based at Plymouth and Harwich and recruits were sent to Lymington.
He served during the expedition to Hanover in 1805, in the Baltic (Denmark) 1807-1808. In Portugal 1808-1809.
He served as Assistant Adjutant-General to the second division and had distinguished himself throughout the whole of these operations and was severely wounded in the attack.
On the 30th December 1808, Sir John Moore's army reached Astorga; the brigade then inder my command, consisting of the first and second light battalions of the King's German Lagion, was quartered in the adjacent villages. On the 31st December, I received a letter from Sir John Moore, written the same day, in Astorga, appointing me to the command of the two flank brigades with which I was directed to make a separate movement upon Orense and Vigo. The first brigade consisted of the first battalions of the 43rd, 52nd, 95th regiments, under colonel Robert Craufurd, and the second brigade of the two light battalions of the King's German Legion, the command of which now devolved upon Lt Col Colin Halkett.
"On receiving this letter, I went to Astorga, and waited upon Sir John Moore to receive further instructions. The general, after confiding to me the outlines of his own plan and intentions with regard to the main body of the army, which he at that time designed should embark at Vigo, informed me that the object of the separate movement which was to be entrusted to me, was, first to secure the bridge over the Minho at Orense, which place, the enemy being actually nearer to it than the British army were, might be occupied by the French; and, secondly, after securing this point, to proceed to and occupy Vigo, where were assembled the whole fleet under Sir Samuel Hood, on which the safety of the army depended. In his letter to me Sir John Moore made use of the following identical words "I cannot give you any particular instructions, but intrust this arduous service to you, fully relying on your known zeal and judgement."
Conformable to Sir John Moore's instructions and intentions, I endeavoured, by every possible exertion, to attain the objects which he had in view. On the 4th January, I sent forward from Pueblo de Tribez a detachment of three hundred men, consisting of volunteers from both brigades, under the command of Major Stuart of the 95th, which detachment, after forced marches through a difficult and mountainous country, during inclement weather, occupied Orense on the 6th January, and I reached that place myself, with the main body of the corps, on the following day.
Forced marches, under such peculiar circumstances, necessarily involve the necessity of leaving behind the sick and stragglers, which, during the latter part of the march, amounted to a considerable number. An officer from each battalion was left behind, on the 3d, to take charge of these men and bring them up, and on reaching Orense, the main object having been secured, I determined to stop ther on the 8th, and give the troops a day's rest.
On the morning of the 8th, I again sent forward Major Stuart's detachment, with orders to proceed by forced marches to Vigo, and occupy the forts there. The main body followed under my immediate command on the 9th, and proceeding by easy marches, allowing each brigade another halt-day. I reached Vigo on the 12th January. The first flank brigade was embarked on the same day, and the second brigade on the day following.
The procuring provisions during this march was attended with much difficulty. The country was poor and thinly inhabited, and the troops arriving late and setting off early, there was seldom time sufficient for baking; however, by sending forward the commissary of General Craufurd's brigade, attended by proper assistants, I succeeded in getting a tolerable supply of meat and wine.
It was at Orense that I received a letter from Colonel Murray, the Quartermaster General, informing me, by command of Sir John Moore, of the General's alteration in his plan and intention to embark at Corunna. I was at the same time directed to transmit immediately Sir John Moore's orders to Sir Samuel Hood for the requisite number of vessels to go round to Corunna. Agreeable to these directions I despached my aide-de-camp, Captain Augustus Heise, by express to the admiral, and his timely arrival at Vigo enabled the fleet to clear the harbour and to reach Corunna in time to secure the embarkation of the rest of the army.
This was a critical moment; for the harbour of Vigo, beset with high isolated rocks is most difficult of egress, and but few winds admit of a fleet getting out. On this occassion the ships had scarcely cleared the harbour when the wind changed, and, blowing strong into the bay, rendered it impossible for any vessels to get out. The bay being commanded by a battery of heavy guns, I took the measures to render these unserviceable to the enemy, should they reach Vigo before the troops could sail; the forts in the meantime were occupied by a detachment of the German brigade under Lt Colonel Halkett.
On the 17th January, Major Martin of the first light battalion King's german Legion, who had been left behind at Orense in charge of the sick and stragglers, arrived at Vigo with about 600 men, which number, according to a fair calculation, may be considered about 2/3rds of the whole that were left behind; of the remaining sick and stragglers several came up afterwards, and a good many rejoined their rgeiments in Portugal. The men of the legion battalions who ultimately never rejoined, were nearly to a man vagabonds of varios nations, who had been enlisted in Danish Zealand in 1807, after the taking of Copenhagen. To the best of my belief no Hanoverian was among the number.
While we were wind bound in Vigo, I was most opportunely joined by Brigadier General Peacock, who was on his way from Lisbon to Sir John Moore with part of the military chest. This supply enabled me to issue a month's subsistence to the troops, and to furnish Major Martin with money for the conveyance and subsistence of the sick and stragglers, the want of funds for whom had caused Major Martin to suffer much ill-will and annoyance from the Spanish authorities and inhabitants.
On the 20th January the fleet sailed, but contrary winds obliged it to put back, and it did not finally clear the harbour until the 23rd. On the 25th we arrived off cape Finisterre, where captain Hayes of the Alfred, seventy-four, who commanded the fleet, at first intended to await the further orders of Sir Samuel Hood. Captain Hayes was, however induced, by my taking the responsibility on myself, and giving him an order in writing to that effect, to sail direct for England, where the fleet arrived at the end of January 1809".
During the Portuguese offensive he was working as Aide-de-Camp to General Carl v.Alten and reported news during the retreat from the Astorga to Vigo.
In January 1811, he served as head of company in the 2nd Light Battalion. In the beginning of the Portuguese offensive he served as an adjutant to General Don, and during the Battle of the Pyrenees he was an adjutant for General Pringle. The latter praised Heise's achievements regarding this operation in a report.
In a listing of the officers of the 2nd Light Battalion dated 25.10.1813, he is recorded as missing (2nd Infantry Division). On the 9.12.1813, he was severely wounded at the Sambo near the river Nive.
His position at Waterloo is unclear as he did not belong to the "Pachtofes La Haye Sainte" nor the Hannoverschen Army.
A fine group worthy of further research.
The superb Peninsula C.B., K.H. and Small Army Gold Medal group of four to Major Augustus Heisse, King's German Legion,