PENINSULAR WAR Autograph journal kept by Captain Henry Oglander, CB, recording his service during the Peninsular campaign, Spain and elsewhere, 1813-1814

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Lot 64
Autograph journal kept by Captain Henry Oglander, CB, recording his service during the Peninsular campaign, Spain and elsewhere, 1813-1814

Sold for £ 4,750 (US$ 5,733) inc. premium
Other Properties
Autograph journal kept by Captain Henry Oglander, CB, recording his service during the Peninsular campaign, beginning on 1 January 1813 and continuing through the British army's advance into France and his return to England until 31 December 1814, a very detailed, extended account kept throughout in a minute hand, recording not only the great set-piece military engagements in which he participated, but also day-to-day life on campaign, nearly 250 pages, in a vellum notebook, paper watermarked 'Mott' with a fleur-de-lys within crowned shield, marbled endpapers, clasps lacking, minor wear through use, but overall in fine fresh condition, 8vo, Spain and elsewhere, 1813-1814


  • A FINE AND DETAILED CAMPAIGN DIARY BY ONE OF WELLINGTON'S OFFICERS KEPT DURING THE PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN OF 1813-14. Captain, later Major-General, Henry Oglander, CB (1788-1840), was at the time of this diary serving with the 47th (Lancashire) Regiment of Foot, having been gazetted Captain on 2 April 1812. He was to be gazetted Brevet-Major on 14 October and Major on 27 October 1814. He had earlier lost his left arm at Badajoz. During this period he saw action during the Vitoria campaign (22 May to 21 June 1813), the sieges, storming and surrender of San Sebastian (the first siege from 20 June 1813 until the assault of 25 July, the second from 8 August until the storming of 31 August, and the surrender on 5/8 September 1813, during which he was wounded in five places on his arm, thigh and body, losing the first finger of his right hand, and for which he was awarded the Gold Medal); Bidassoa on 7 October 1813; Nivelle on 10 November 1813; Nive on 10 December 1813; and the sortie from Bayonne on 14 April 1814.

    He is cited by Peter Borroughs as being among those officers in the army who took 'a benevolent interest in the material and spiritual welfare of the ordinary soldier' ('An Unfortunate Army? 1815-1868', p. 170, in The Oxford History of the British Army, edited by David G. Chandler, 1994). He went on to serve in the 40th (2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot and the 26th Cameronian Regiment in Gibraltar, Ireland and Ireland, dying at sea when en route to join the regiment in India. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1838. The papers of the Oglander family, of Nunwell, Isle of Wight, at the Isle of Wight Record Office, include others of Henry's papers, principally relating to his career in India.

    This journal forms an unusually full narrative of the final two years of the Peninsular campaign. Although he was in the habit of transcribing Wellington's dispatches verbatim, Oglander's personal voice is often to be heard, as a few heavily abridged extracts from his day-to-day account of the siege of San Sebastian show: "25th [August 1813] Very fine day. This morning at day break the signal by the explosion of the mine was given, and the attack was made. The troops rushed onwards most gallantly, and with much difficulty through a severe fire they reached the breach. This however was so lofty and so steep, that it was far from easy to ascend... The top of the breach was indeed reached, and some men entered the town, who were all either taken or killed. It is said that the descent into the town is extremely high and is made into a ditch, whence without the assistance of ladders it would be impossible to get out... 26th Fine night, about 10 AM a slight mizzle came on... A little after midnight the enemy commenced a most furious fire of all sorts on our trenches, which they continued without intermission till about 5 AM... I was on duty, I do not believe so many as 10 casualties occurred... During the night the working parties were occupied partly on commencing a sap, within about 50 yards of the hornwork... At day break this work was discontinued and about midday all the tools in the trenches were collected and carried up to the depot... About 5 PM a flag of truce was displayed... Cap.t Stewart of the Royal came forward, and was met by a French Officer... During the continuation of the truce, I had a very good view of the breach and its approach. The principal breach was to my eyes the most practicable I ever saw, being wide and of easy ascent... I cannot but think, had they been well supported, the breach would have been carried. It is wispered [sic] that the men of the Royal even by the confession of their officers, would not, excepting the Grenadiers and the 1st Com.y follow them to the attack... To this ill conduct on the part of the Royal... must be added what to me seem to be very important faults in the arrangement. No fascines, gabions or wool sacks were taken either before or in the rear of the column for passing such obstacles as a ditch, which it was natural to expect: the leaders were in rear and never brought up...... 28th Very fine day. I was not relieved from working party till midday, making the time, during which the men were employed no less than 18 hours, much too long a period for men to work with effect. I divided mine into two parties, and relieved every hour. The French got some guns to bear upon us, and threw shot into the battery, but fortunately without doing us any injury. A heavy cannonade has been heard, and it is supposed there has been fighting in the passes...".
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