The 2/67th at Cadiz and Barossa, 1810-11

Six companies of the 2/67th under Lieutenant Colonel William Prevost arrived at Cadiz in December 1810 (four companies remained in England) to find the garrison besieged by a powerful French army. With an assault on the French from Cadiz impossible, it was decided to concentrate a force some 50 miles to the south east at Tarifa and from there advance north west to take the French in the rear. A Division of about 3,000 British troops under Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Graham, including the 2/67th, joined the 7,000-strong Spanish Army under General La Pena (in overall command) and the force arrived by sea at Tarifa on February 28 1811.

Spanish delays and the poor leadership of La Pena brought the British many problems, but following a difficult night march they arrived at a low ridge called Barrosa, about five miles from Cadiz, on March 5. Thickly wooded country to the west of Barrosa caused confusion and Graham’s Division became divided. Both parts were to encounter the French. Half the 2/67th (under Lt Col Prevost) in Wheatley’s Brigade met the French north west of the ridge. The remainder of the 2/67th, under second in command Major Edward Acheson, 67th formed part of the other Brigade which came against another French force on the ridge itself.

In the first encounter Wheatley’s Brigade formed line and delivered a devastating broadside. The French suffered heavy casualties, with their 8th Line alone losing 730 out of 1,000 men. On the ridge the 2/67th joined the Guards in a determined advance which saw off the French. Efficient gunnery aided and supported the infantry throughout.

The 2/67th’s performance in Spain earned it the battle honours of ‘Barrosa’ and ‘Peninsula’, thereby contributing something outstanding to its short history. The gallantry displayed at Barrosa was also recognised by the award of gold medals to all commanders of units and heads of departments, among them Lieutenant Colonel Prevost. His medal can be seen in the Royal Hampshire Regimental Museum. General Graham strongly pressed for Major Acheson’s inclusion among the recipients, a claim warmly supported by none other than the Duke of Wellington. Acheson was also promoted to the brevet rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Between 1812 and 1814 the 2/67th were involved in a series of operations on the Spanish east coast, including the securing of Cartagena and actions at Alicante, Onil, the Col de Balaguer, San Phillipe, Tarragona and Barcelona. The effect of these was to deny the French Marshal Soult the success in Valencia he was bent on achieving. In April 1814 the 2/67th was recalled to garrison duties in Gibraltar where it remained until April 1817 when, with the Napoleonic Wars over, it was disbanded along with many other 2nd battalions.

The 2/67th at Cadiz and Barossa, 1810-11