Thomas Hazlehurst (1783 - after 1852)
2nd Battalion, 83rd Regiment of Foot
Badajoz, Spain, 1812
Sergeant Hazlehurst, Grenadier Company, 2nd Battalion, 83rd Regiment of Foot, Badajoz, 1812
Hazlehurst is wearing the so-called Stove Pipe shako, introduced around 1800. Although by 1812 the head gear had been replaced by the ‘Belgic’ Shako, units still fighting in the Iberian Penninsula continued wearing the earlier model. The records show that Hazlehurst used his spontoon, which weapon denoted his rank, to fight off the enemy to save Captain Powys. So armed he could only have been either a centre company or grenadier company sergeant, as the light company sergeants were armed with muskets. The absence of evidence to say to which company Hazlehurst belonged, and in order to more clearly depict his rank, I decided to show him as a grenadier company sergeant, as they had stripes on both arms whilst the centre companies only had them on their right. Being in the grenadier company also meant he had wings on his shoulders instead of the simple tufts of the centre companies.
As a grenadier company he had a white tuft in his shako (Centre companies had white over red and light companies green). The lace on his coat was peculiar to each regiment. For the 83rd this was white, square ended in pairs with a red outer and green inner stripe. Sergeants typically in this period wore their stripes in regimental lace on a backing of the regimental facing colour – in this case yellow, as I have shown him here.
Thomas Hazlehurst (1783-after 1852)
Born on the 7th December 1783 in Bury, Lancashire
Died after 1852
Thomas Hazlehurst was born at Bury, Lancashire, 7 December 1783, the son of George Hazlehurst, and was baptised at St Mary’s, Bury, on the 28th December 1783.
He enlisted in the army in 1807, and served 7 years 1 month and was discharged with the rank of Private 28 October 1814. He had been wounded in the right leg at Badajoz. His General Service Medal had clasps for Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d’Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, and Toulouse. He was examined at Manchester for pension purposes 31st August 1852, listed as a cotton spinner, 5 foot 7¾ inches, with brown hair going grey. He was awarded a pension of 6 pence per day. His medal is in the Royal Ulster Rifles Museum.
During the Peninsular War, there was the long march southwards over the mountains to Badajoz. This took eighteen days and on St Patrick’s Day the siege operations began under appalling conditions of heavy rain. This turned the earthworks into slime and slush and necessitated the extensive use of sand-bags for the construction of breastworks and parapets. After five days of digging chores the siege batteries were installed. When the walls were sufficiently ented the 2nd/83rd’s first offensive task was to find two officers and fifty men as their contribution to a volunteer ad hoc force drawn from all units of the Division. Its task was the capture of an outwork called the Picurina Fort as a preliminary to the assault on the main position. Captain Powys of the 2nd/83rd was the first up on the wall of the Fort but was hit by a musket ball and fell on the parapet. He would then have been bayoneted to death but for the heroic action of Sergeant Thomas Hazlehurst, who laid about him with his halberd.
After the capture of Picurina there followed a further fortnight of siege operations creeping towards the Fortress itself. At last the main assault was ordered and the 3rd Division, with the 2nd/83rd, was assigned the special task of storming by escalade the Castle of Badajoz itself.
Standard British Army Stove Pipe Shako plate
Jean-Baptiste Hastray (1785-1828)
Born on the 24th May 1785 in Merny, Carlsbourg
Died on the 23rd August 1828 in Bouillon, aged 43
Jean Baptiste Hastray is my 1st cousin, 6 x removed. He was born in Merny, Carlsbourg (near Bouillon), on May 24 1785. His father was also called Jean-Baptiste and his mother Marie Elizabeth Gerard. Bouillon, hitherto an independent Duchy was annexed by Revolutionary France in 1795 and incorporated into the Department of the Ardennes.
In 1805, at the age of 20, he was conscripted into the French army of Napoleon Bonaparte and served throughout the remainder of the 1st Empire, up to and including the 100 Days and the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.
We know the following about him from the army record. He was 1m 64 tall – about 5’ 4” – with grey eyes and brown hair. He was described as having a low forehead and a small mouth and nose with a round chin.
He was incorporated firstly into the 55th Régiment de Ligne on the 5th November 1805, and served with the Regiment in the Grande Armée through 1806, 1807 and 1808. He would have been with the Regiment when it fought at the battles of Austerlitz, Jena and Eylau, battle honours of the regiment. In 1809 the Regiment was sent to Spain and Jean Baptiste served there until the end of the Penninsula campaign in 1814.
Shako plate of the 55th Line Regiment
Between the defeat of France by the Allied Powers and the abdication of Napoleon in 1814 and his subsequent return in 1815 from Elba, we have no record of Jean Baptiste, but can assume he remained in the army as upon Napoleon’s return he joins him from the 55th Line Regiment and is incorporated into the Garde Impériale, into the 2nd Régiment de Chasseurs à Pied de la Garde, with a new numéro de matricule, or army number, of 2477, on 9th May 1815.
He fought with the Old Guard at the Battle of Waterloo and was eventually discharged on 29 September 1815, leaving the Regiment to return to the Ardennes Region of his birth.
Soon after his return he married on 22nd August 1818 a Thérèse Picard, in Bouillon, (in the present day province of Luxembourg in modern day Belgium, and the home town of my mother).
The next time we have news of him is the record of his death on 23 August 1828, in Bouillon, at his brother-in-law’s house, though he is recorded at the time as being domiciled just over the border in Sedan, in France.