|MAJOR CHARLES THOMAS
VESEY BUNBURY ISAAC
Charles Thomas Vesey Bunbury Isaac was born on the 28th of July, 1819, in France.
He was the son of Simon Isaac of Dunkirk, France and Dromore Cottage, Monaghan,
Ireland, and his wife Eliza Dawson. Charles’ fraternal grandfather was Thomas
Bunbury Isaac of Hollywood House, County Down. His grandfather, Thomas Bunbury
Isaac, died circa 1823 and Charles’ grandmother, Maria Isaac, soon married the Very
Rev. Hon. George Gore, son of Sir Arthur Saunders Gore, 2nd Earl of Arran of the
At the age of 19, Charles was commissioned an Ensign without purchase in the 82nd
Regiment of Foot (The Prince of Wale’s Volunteers) on the 30th of October, 1838.
From the 19th of December, 1839, until the 2nd of February, 1840, Charles served
with the Regiment in Gibraltar. Thereafter, he served with the Regiment in Jamaica,
being promoted Lieutenant without purchase on the 26th of December 1840. Lucky to
have survived the yellow fever epidemic in Jamaica, beginning in May of 1843 Charles
began serving with his regiment in Canada, which was successively quartered in
Quebec, Kingston, Toronto, London, again in Quebec and finally Halifax. While
serving in Canada, Charles married Harriet Cartwright at Quebec on the 20th of
July, 1844. Charles was promoted Captain by purchase on the 2nd of February
1849, just a short time before the 82nd Regiment returned to England from Halifax
in May of that year.
According to Historical Records of the Eighty-Second Regiment or Prince of Wale’s
Volunteers, by Major Jarvis, the 82nd Regiment during the years that followed did
routine garrison duties in the British Isles at among other places Wales, Manchester
and Stirling. Upon the outbreak of the Crimean War, the 82nd remained in England
under orders to prepare to leave for garrison duties in India, losing many of its
officers and men when called upon for volunteers to transfer to other regiments
ordered to the Crimea.
The Indian Mutiny having broken out on May 10th, 1857, both ships narrowly missed receiving orders to divert to India
when the orders arrived at the Cape of Good Hope after both ships had already sailed from the Cape on their journeys to
China. However, the orders eventually reached each of the ships and they arrived in Calcutta by October of 1857.
The 82nd arrived in India at a time when the all of Northern India was hostile territory. Most of the Bengal native
regiments has mutinied, murdering all Europeans in the area where the mutineers were stationed. The garrison at Lucknow,
which included the headquarters of the 32nd Regiment and the 84th Regiment, was besieged in the Residency. Delhi, the
most important city in Northern India had been assaulted by a besieging force and only since the 21st of September was it
under the control of the British.
On the 24th of October, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Blagden Hale left Calcutta with the first detachment of the Regiment
for the Northwest Provinces. On each succeeding day another detachment followed until the whole Regiment was on the
march for Allahabad. By the 5th of November, five companies had reached Allahabad, a fortress at the junction of the
Ganges and Jumma Rivers.
The 82nd joined Sir Colin Campbell's force advancing to the relief of the besieged Residency at Lucknow. On the 7th of
November, ten officers and two hundred men of the Regiment under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hale advanced to
the Alumbagh to be part of the Lucknow relief force. The remaining men of the regiment were left with Major-General
Windham to protect Cawnpore and guard the bridge of boats across the Ganges River, the mutineer’s only route of retreat
from Lucknow. Major Isaac remained with this portion of the Regiment, in command of No.1 Company.
With the forces leaving Cawnpore to advance on Lucknow, Major-General Windham's force consisted of only about 500
men including the remaining men of the 82nd, detachments from various regiments and approximately 50 sailors of the
Naval Brigade. General Windham received intelligence that the rebel leader Tanti Topi's Gwalior Contingent consisting
of approximately 25,000 men, complete with cavalry, artillery and infantry, were planning on attacking the British forces
at Cawnpore while General Campbell's force were engaged in the relief of Lucknow. After communicating this intelligence
to General Campbell, by the 25th of November detachments arriving at Cawnpore had swelled Major-General Windham’s
forces to about 1700 men, including two batteries of artillery.
General Windham force, including members of the 82nd Regiment, advanced outside their entrenched position and attacking
the rebels at Pandoo Nuddee fought a brief, but sharp fight with the mutineer’s on the 26th of November. The General
drove the rebels back in confusion and followed them across the river, capturing three of the enemy’s guns. However,
Windham soon realized that unlike he had first thought, he was not engaging the enemy’s main body of troops. With Tanti
Topi continuing to press the counter-attack with his vastly superior force, the General quickly came to the realization the
he needed to withdraw from the fight and retire back towards Cawnpore. During this retrograde movement, the enemy
forces followed in great numbers, harassing the flank and rear of the retiring troops. Windham fell back to a position
covering Cawnpore, encamping across the Kalpi Road in close proximity to some brick kilns which afforded a good means
of forming cover for his guns and infantry.
On the morning of the 27th, the mutineers attacked in force. After many hours of heavy fighting against overwhelming
numbers, Windham’s forces were compelled to again retire towards the entrenchment, leaving their camp of the previous
night in possession of the enemy.
On the 28th, hoping to gain possession of the bridge of boats before assistance for Windham’s forces could arrive from
Lucknow, the enemy attacked Windham’s position from all directions. Brigadier Carthew of the Madras Native Infantry
commanded and held his ground as long as possible. The No.1 Company of the 82nd, with Captain Marriott and Lieutenant
Maunsell, was posted in the center under the command of Major Bunbury Isaac. However, early in the day, Major Bunbury
Isaac, received a severe bullet wound in the right elbow, which necessitated amputation of his arm. Command by necessity
passed to Captain Marriott. The 82nd was hard pressed and engaged in hand to hand fighting through out the day
defending the woods and the city. They captured three field pieces, but were forced to concede ground to the enemy.
However, the defenses of the vital bridgehead remained intact.
Windham forces fought heroically, but by the end of day on the 28th. the bulk of Cawnpore had fallen to the rebels and
their advantage was being pressed toward the all important bridgehead. On the morning of November 29th, just as rebel
forces were advancing on the bridge, a brigade of Sir Colin Campbell’s forces arrived from Lucknow and with the additional
troops and artillery, the bridge was secured and the rebels forced to withdraw.
In the three days of severe fighting Windham’s forces suffered causalities of 36 officers and 306 men killed and wounded,
including Major Isaac. The holding action fought by Major-General Windham, from a purely military perspective, may have
been even more important in securing an overall British victory over the rebels than the actual relief of the Residency at
Lucknow and arguably was one of the most strategically important battles of the Mutiny.
During the night of the 29th, the wounded were evacuated from Cawnpore. Presumably, this included Major Isaac, who
was to eventually recover from his severe injury. Although the 82nd was to continue to be actively engaged in the
suppression of the Mutiny, including the Second Battle of Cawnpore, Major Isaac is not mentioned again in the Regimental
History until the end of the following year. It is reasonable to assume that the period of his convalescence was an
extended one and that he did not return to active duty for some time. It is unclear whether Major Isaac participated
in any of the numerous hard fought battles in which the 82nd Regiment was engaged during 1858. The last major
engagement of the 82nd Regiment during the Indian Mutiny was the action in October of 1858 against the mutineers at
Bunkagong, near Shahjehanpore.
The Regimental History states that during December of 1858, the 82nd Regiment marched to Mohundee and encamped
there, acting in concert with other moveable columns in the district and subsequently returned to Shajehanpore, where
it remained until 1859 when the left wing was detached to Moradabad under the command of Major Bunbury. The 82nd
Regiment remained in India until 1869 when it returned to England.
The Regiment was ultimately ordered to the Crimea, embarking from
Liverpool in January of 1854 and arriving at Balaclava on the 4th of
September of that year. The Regiment was in position on the Balaclava
Heights before the fall of the fortress of Sebastopol on the 8th of
September, and although they had played only a minor part in the victory,
the Regiment was granted the battle honor Sebastopol by General Order
dated October 16, 1855. For his part in the campaign, Captain Isaac was
awarded the Crimean medal with clasp for Sebastopol and the Turkish
Crimea medal. Unfortunately, the current whereabouts of these medals are
The 82nd Regiment left the Crimea in July of 1856, returning home to
England. While in England, Charles was promoted to Major by purchase on
the 13th of March, 1857.
The Regiment was stationed at Aldershot in 1857, when it was ordered to
proceed to China as one of four regiments selected as the advance guard
of a British force which, in concert with the French forces, was to redress a
pattern of treaty violations and continued mistreatment of foreign merchants
and citizens. Forty-eight officers and eight hundred, ninety-six men of the
82nd Regiment sailed from Portsmouth for China aboard the troop ship
Assistance and H.M.S. Adventure on the 20th of May, 1857.
Interestingly, in The London Gazette of September 24, 1858, the following notice was published:
Whitehall, September 15, 1858
The Queen has been pleased to give and grant unto Charles Thomas Vesey Bunbury Isaac, Esquire, Major in the 82nd
Regiment of Foot, and Vesey Thomas Bunbury Isaac, Esquire, sometime an Officer in the 82nd Regiment, younger sons of
Simon Isaac, late of Dunkirk, in the Kingdom of France, and formerly of Dromore Cottage, in the county of Monaghan,
deceased, and grandsons of Thomas Bunbury Isaac (formerly Thomas Bunbury), of Bloomfield and Hollywood, in the county
of Down, Esquire, also deceased, Her royal license and authority that they may henceforth resume their paternal family
surname of Bunbury only, and be called and known by the names of Charles Thomas Vesey Bunbury, and Vesey Thomas
And also to command that the said royal concession and declaration be recorded in Her Majesty’s College of Arms,
otherwise to be void and of none effect.
How the surname Isaac became attached to the family name is unknown and can only be speculated on. The same applies to
the reason that Major Bunbury desired he be granted permission from the Queen for Isaac to be deleted from his legal name.
The text of the Regimental History refers to him as Charles Bunbury Isaac up to that date, but subsequent to the date of
the Royal Grant refers to him as correctly Major Bunbury. In addition, the no bar Indian Mutiny medal issued to him for
his services during the Indian Mutiny is correctly named to him as Major C.T.V. Bunbury.
Major Bunbury died during the January of 1871 at Portsea Island, a small island off the south coast of England. Major
Bunbury name is commemorated on the Memorial to Officers of the 82nd Regiment who served in the Crimea in Royal Garrison
Church. He was 51 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife Harriet and their son, born at Nynee Tal in
1862, who also became an Officer in Her Majesty’s Army.
N.B. Major Bunbury’s medal group appears to have been intact as recently as 1974 when a prior owner referred to the
medals in correspondence with the Regimental Headquarters of the Queen’s Own Lancashire Regiment, the successor
regiment to the 82nd Regiment. It is possible that the medals may have become separated due to confusion over his Crimea
Medal being named to Captain Isaac and the Mutiny medal to Major Bunbury.
|An original albumen print,
possibly by the photographer
C.C. Taylor, of the Officers of
the 82nd Regiment circa the
Major Bunbury, dressed in
mufti, is the third officer
from the left standing in the
back row. He is missing his
right arm which was amputated
as a result of a bullet wound
received during the Indian
Mutiny at Cawnpore on the
28th of November, 1857.