Military General Service Medal, 3 bars, Corunna, Vittoria, St Sebastian, John Cartwright, 2nd 59th Foot, Wounded in the storming of St Sebastian where the 59th distinguished themselves.
Provenance, Ex Elson & Leyland Robinson Collection & later Arnold Jackson Collection in DNW on 12th December 2012 Hammer Price £1550.
This medal is illustrated in the book “Sudden Death – Sudden Glory” by David Ingham.
John Cartwright was born circa 1785 in Buxton, Derbyshire.
He was a Clothier by trade when he enlisted for service with the 59th Regiment of Foot at Manchester during October 1806, Claiming his
He served from 1806 until 3rd November 1814 when he was discharged due to him being “Wounded in the head by a shell burst at the storming of St Sebastian on 31st August 1813”.
At his first battle in Spain at Corrunna on 16th January 1809 the French engaged the 59th heavily but with several brilliant charges they drove back the column under Soult. During one of these charges Lieut General Sir John Moore was fatally wounded and died later on the field.
The 59th had entered the battle with 300 men, but lost 6 officers and 6 other ranks killed or wounded, with a further 12 men who died and 109 missing, leaving about 118 men still fit.
They returned home to England under heavy fire from French batteries. After that in August 1809 they took part in the ill-fated Walcheren Expedition and lost many more men to illness.
After 2 years of Garrison duty they returned to the Peninsular War arriving in Spain early 1813.
On the 21st June 1813 at the Battle of Vittoria, the 2nd 59th as part of General Robinson’s brigade were ordered to attack the village of Gamarra Mayor, which guarded the crossing of the river Zodorra. The village taken successfully, but they were unable to hold the bridge until the French were forced to withdraw.
The Brigade lost 500 men dead and wounded, 160 of which were from the 59th Regt.
The remains of the division were sent north for the assault on the Fortress of St Sebastian.
On 24th August 1813 the 2nd 59th took over the Island of Santa Clara, which was only 1,000 yards from the Fortress.
On the 30th August the Light Companies of the 4th, 47th and 59th Foot were the first to be sent into the breach of the curtain wall which had been made. The 3 Light Companies were almost entirely destroyed, upon being joined by the remainder of the 59th they held the walls for over 3 hours whilst the remainder of the Brigade managed to make their way into the town.
Robinson’s Brigde sustained more than 1350 casualties, 350 of those were borne by the 2nd 59th including John Cartwright who was wounded in the head by a shellburst.
With copy research, service papers & detailed write-up.