Sadler Family Group
A father and son family group of medals contained in a period oak frame with original cabinet card photographs
of William Sadler, Sr., in civilian clothes wearing his medals and William Sadler, Jr., in uniform wearing medal
Private Sadler next saw action with his regiment at the Battle of Waterloo, when the armies of Wellington and Napoleon met
at a small village south of Brussels on the 16th though 18th of June, 1815. Wellington’s Heavy Cavalry was under the
command of the Earl of Uxbridge. The 1st Dragoons, along with the Royal Scots Greys and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons,
formed the famed Union Brigade, under the command of Major General Sir William Ponsonby. It is interesting to note that
of the three regiments of cavalry in the Union Brigade, only the 1st (Royal) Dragoons were battle-tested veterans, having
seen fighting during the Peninsula Campaign. The Union Brigade was one of two British heavy cavalry brigades at Waterloo.
The front line of the Union Brigade was made up of the 1st (Royal) Dragoons and the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons, with the
Royal Scots Greys in reserve.
Private Sadler took part in the famous charge at Waterloo when the Union Brigade charged the French Divisions of Donzelot
and Marcognet with terrible effect. The French infantry was in the line formation and due to the swiftness of the attack,
the terrain and the crowded conditions, was unable to form into squares, the classic defensive formation of infantry in the
face of a cavalry attack. As the result, their losses were tremendous. When the French line broke and the survivors fled,
the Union Brigade, flushed from the success of their charge and not heeding the recall order, continued their charge and
attacked the French artillery batteries. They were soon counter-attacked by fresh French cavalry. With their horses
blown, the Union Brigade sustained heavy losses, including the loss of their commander, Major General Ponsonby, who, riding
an inferior mount, was cutoff from his troops, bogged down in mud and killed by Polish lancers. The Union Brigade was
effectively destroyed as a cohesive fighting force by the French counter-attack and took no further significant part in
the battle of Waterloo.
For his service at the Battle of Waterloo, William Sadler was awarded the Waterloo medal. In addition, he was entitled to
count two additional years service for pension computation purposes.
William Sadler was promoted to Corporal on the 25th of June 1816. He was, however, reduced to Private approximately five
years later in April of 1821. As his conduct was stated to have been “very good” at the time of his discharge, the reason why
William Sadler was reduced to Private is now lost to history.
William continued to serve another fourteen years as a Private until his discharge on the 17th of June, 1835, when he was
found to be physically unfit for further service. At that time, the Surgeon stated that Private Sadler suffered from
rheumatism and was "worn out” from his long service as a soldier. William Sadler had served a total of 24 years and 95 days,
counting his two years additional credit for having served at Waterloo. He did not, however, receive any credit towards his
pension for the time he had served with the Regiment prior his 18th birthday.
William Sadler is shown in the census of 1861 as a lodger in Faringdon, England. His occupation is listed as “pensioner” and
his marital status is stated to be “widowed”. Curiously, his age is given at 62, meaning that he was born in 1799. If accurate,
this means that his actual age at the time of his enlistment into the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons in 1812 was thirteen
and not seventeen as he had claimed. As a result, Private William Sadler, by then a seasoned campaigner and battle-
hardened veteran, was only sixteen years old when he charged with the Union Brigade at the Battle of Waterloo.
No. 37 PRIVATE WILLIAM SADLER, 1ST
(ROYAL) REGIMENT OF DRAGOONS
William Sadler was born in the Parish of Farmingham in Berkshire,
England. He attested for service on the 17th of March, 1812, with the
1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons, his age then being given as
seventeen. He was assigned regimental number 37.
During the Peninsula War, Private Sadler fought with his Regiment in
Spain and Portugal in Wellington’s campaign against the French. Private
Sadler intimately received the Military General Service medal with
clasps for the battles of Vittoria (21 June 1813) and Toulouse (10 April
1814) when the medal was sanctioned and issued in 1848.
The battle of Vittoria was a major, much needed, victory for
Wellington, which resulted in him being created a Field Marshall.
Toulouse was the last major battle of the Peninsula War and for all
practical purposes was the end of Napoleon’s military power and
presence in Spain.
No. 1995 REGIMENTAL SERJEANT MAJOR
WILLIAM SADLER, 14TH LIGHT DRAGOONS
William Sadler was born in the Parish of Hulme, near
Manchester, Lancashire, in March of 1830. He was “born into
the regiment” as at the time of his birth, his father, also named
William Sadler was serving as a Private in the 1st (Royal)
William enlisted in the 14th Light Dragoons on the 30th of
October 1851 at Westminster and given regimental number 1995.
He gave his civilian occupation as a “Cellarman” (according to the
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, a cellarman is a person in
charge of the alcoholic-beverage supply of a hotel or restaurant).
He was then aged 21 years and seven months. He was
approximately five feet, eight inches tall, with a fresh
complexion, hazel eyes and auburn hair. Considering that he
had been born into the Army, it is interesting that William
waited until the relatively advanced age of 21 before following
in his father’s footsteps and enlisting in the cavalry.
William Sadler’s rise though the ranks was rapid. Two years
and one month after enlisting, he was promoted to Corporal
on 4 December 1853. On the 27th of October, 1854, he
joined the Regiment in India where it had been stationed since
before the Second Sikh War.
In February of 1857, the 14th Light Dragoons left Kirkee, India for field service in Persia with the expeditionary force
commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir James Outram, K.C.B., reaching Bushire in March. With the exception of one troop,
the 14th Light Dragoons did not see active service during the Persian campaign and did not qualify for entitlement to the
Persia clasp for the India General Service Medal. (It is interesting to note that notwithstanding the fact that the regiment
as a whole was not involved in action with the enemy in Persia, the 14th Light Dragoons was subsequently granted the battle
honor “Persia” for its services during that campaign.)
Returning to India from service in Persia, in May of 1857 the 14th Light Dragoons reached Kirkee, where the news of the
outbreak of the Indian Mutiny at Meerut reached them. On the 8th of July of 1857, William Sadler was promoted to
Sergeant, despite then having less than six years service in the Army. During the same month, the 14th Light Dragoons left
Kirkee for field service with a column formed for the relief of Mhow. The 14th Hussars (during this period of time the
regiment was converted from Light Dragoons to Hussars) were ultimately to stay in the field until the cessation of the
hostilities in 1859. As an NCO in the 14th Hussars, one of the regiments which formed the Central India Field Force under
the command of Major-General Sir Hugh Rose, K.C.B., according to his service records, Sergeant William Sadler was
present at the capture of Dhar, the actions at Mundesore, the capture of Chandairee, the battle of the Betwa, the siege
and capture of Jhansi, the action at Koonch, the battle of Gowlowie, the advance and capture of Ca1pee and subsequent
pursuit of the rebels, the capture of the Morar Cantonments, the recapture of Gwa1ior, and the action at Allipore.
For these services, Sergeant William Sadler received the Indian Mutiny medal with clasp for Central India.
In February of 1860, after having served five years and four months in India, Sergeant Sadler returned to England. In
October of that year, he was promoted Troop Sergeant Major.
In October of 1863, William Sadler re-engaged in the 4th Hussars for an additional enlistment term of twelve years. He is
shown after his re-enlistment as retaining his rank of Troop Sergeant Major until the 16th of April 1870, when he was
promoted to Regimental Sergeant Major.
Regimental Sergeant Major William Sadler was awarded the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal with a £5 Gratuity on 28
July 1871. The medal was forwarded by the Royal Mint to the Officer Commanding for presentment to RSM Sadler. (As
noted below, he ultimately would be required to return this medal to the War Office.)
At the end his second period of enlistment, William Sadler was discharged at his own request at Newbridge on 29 April
1873, after having served a total of 21 years and 182 days with the 14th Hussars. At the time of his discharge, he listed
the Seven Stars Hotel at Wolverhampton as his intended place of residence. He was then 43 years of age.
Immediately following his discharge, William Sadler attested as a Troop Sergeant Major in the Queen’s Own Royal
Regiment of Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry. Although his original enlistment period was three years, rather than the
usual five years, he was to go on to serve a total of 16 years and 245 days as a Troop Sergeant Major (Permanent Sergeant)
with the Yeomanry Cavalry.
William Sadler was discharged from the Queen’s Own Royal Regiment of Staffordshire Yeomanry Cavalry on the 31st of
December, 1889. At the time of his retirement, he had served a total of 38 years, 62 days. He was 55 years old.
On the 28th of January 1896, William was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal with annuity of £10 per annum. As
required by the Army Regulations in existence at that time, William was required to return his Long Service and Good
Conduct medal to the War Office as both medals could not be held at the same time. (Within a few years time, this
Regulation was to be abolished at the order of Lord Roberts, but too late for RSM Sadler to retain his LSGC medal.)
William Sadler is shown in the 1901 census as living in Wolverhampton as a Chelsea out pensioner. He was then 71 years
old and living with his wife, Ellen, who was 74 years old. William Sadler died on the 12th of May 1905.