Thomas Beardsmore enlisted for the British Army on the 10th of October 1807, sadly the place of his enlistment is not recorded in
Army musters at that time. Thomas’s first appearance in the musters of the 4th (Queen’s Own)Dragoons is on the 7th of
December 1807 when he joins the Regiment at Canterbury, he is placed as a Private in the 4th Troop under command of Captain C.
P. Ainslie and Lieutenant’s Charles Walton and William Fryer.
The next year is a quiet one in the Regiment, the Troop having a change of command in October 1808 (Captain Holmes taking
charge) and on the 28th of November 1808 the men begin the long march by road to Portsmouth which takes them 7 days.
Arriving on the 5th of December at Portsmouth the unit takes a short break before moving on to Chichester on the 10th and 11th
of December. In barracks at Chichester the men are warned off for service in the forthcoming campaign in Spain and eventually
board transports on the 1st day of April 1809 at Portsmouth. As a matter of interest, Thomas is paid the sum of £5, 12 shillings
and 6 pence for the period 15th December 1808 until the 24th of April 1809, the date the Regiment arrived at Lisbon, Portugal.
The 4th Dragoons were to spend the next 5 years on campaign, and Thomas Beardsmore was to see every minute of it. A concise
description of the events are given below, but the whole story is told in ‘4th Hussar – Story of the 4th QOH 1685-1958’ by David
Scott Daniell, Aldershot, 1959.
The 4th Dragoons arrived at Lisbon on April 25th 1809 with a strength of 29 officers, 37 sergeants and 674 other ranks.
Commanding the regiment was Lieutenant Colonel Lord Edward Somerset. The regiment formed part of Fane's cavalry brigade
along with the 3rd Dragoons. The regiment's first action came at Talavera on July 27th-28th 1809 where it took part in the charge
that saw the 23rd Light Dragoons plunge headlong into a hidden ditch. The 4th Dragoons, however, advanced at a much more
leisurely pace and came through unscathed. The regiment saw no further action until September 27th 1810 at Busaco although the
regiment was held in reserve. Soon afterwards the regiment retreated along with the rest of the Allied army to the Lines of Torres
Vedras. When Massena withdrew to Santarem in November 1810 the 4th Dragoons took part in the pursuit and frequently clashed
with the French rearguard. In April 1811 the 4th Dragoons were sent co assist in the operations around Badajoz and when Soult
advanced to relieve the place the battle of Albuera was fought during which the 4th Dragoons attacked the Polish lancers who had
earlier overwhelmed Colborne's brigade. The regiment lost 29 men during the battle.
On May 25th 1811 the 4th Dragoons took part in the victory at Usagre and for the remainder of the year saw much skirmishing
around Ciudad Rodrigo which was besieged in January 1812, the regiment forming part of the covering force during the operations.
In February 1812 the 4th Dragoons became part of Le Marchant's Heavy Brigade of Cavalry and the following month again formed
part of the force covering the siege operations, this time at Badajoz. On July 22nd 1812 the 4th Dragoons fought at Salamanca
where, as part of Le Marchant's brigade, it helped smash several French battalions. The regiment lost 8 men killed and 20 wounded
during the day. Following Le Marchant’s death at Salamanca command of the brigade passed to William Ponsonby who led it into
Madrid on August 12th 1812. Shortly afterwards it marched north to cover the siege operations at Burgos and retreated to
Portugal when the operation failed. The 4th Dragoons were present at Vtttoria on June 21st 1813 although they took no part in
the battle itself. The regiment remained in quarters close to Vittoria until February 1814 when it marched north and entered France.
The 4th Dragoons were present at Toulouse on April 10th and on June 1st, the war having ended, paraded before marching north
to Calais, arriving back in England on July 20th 1814.
The musters show that Thomas’ Troop (the 4th) was in Abrantes in May 1809, Merida in June 1809 and Tentugal in March 1810.
On the 23rd of April 1810 Thomas is promoted to Corporal and takes up a post in the 10th Troop under command of Captain
Charles Walton, at this time his pay was 1 shilling 1½ pence a day, but he would have to buy all his own food and other supplies
from this amount. The Regiment and Troops that formed a part of it are in constant motion throughout the next year, the Troop
being shown at Estramoz in June 1811 and Covilhao on the 12th of February 1812.
In March 1812 the command of the 10th Troop falls to Lieutenant Gregory, who in turn hands command to Lieutenant George
Luard in October 1812. The musters show no real activity until Lieutenant Edward Wildman takes command of the Troop in January
of 1814, the Troop being at Arbulo at that time, at the same time on the 14th of that month, Thomas Beardsmore is appointed to
the post of Sergeant in the 6th Troop, at that time under the command of Lieutenant Gregory.
As stated above, the Regiment arrive at Dover from Calais on the 20th of July 1814 and on the following day they board ships
again and are taken to Kingston in Ireland ( a sea voyage of 6 days), no doubt for service in that Country. There would seem,
however, to have been a change of heart as on the 29th of July (having only arrived on the 27th) the men are shipped to Liverpool
where they make a journey south to Lichfield, arriving on the 8th of August. The Regiment is only to spend 8 days at Lichfield
before making the journey to Liverpool in reverse from the 16th to the 20th of August, where they then embark on transports on
the 25th of August, arriving at Dublin, Ireland on the 31st of that month. After all this travelling the Regiment must have welcomed
the period of stability they were about to embark on at Dublin, and a period of nearly 5 years in the Emerald Isle.
On the 28th of January 1815 the command of the 6th Troop devolves to Captain C. Spedding. Although based in Dublin, the
individual Troops (and sometimes even smaller groups) would find themselves spread around the country to try and maintain
order. As such the musters of the next few years show a continued absence from the unit HQ, mostly under a Troop but often in a
section of only a few men. Throughout February and then through to June of 1815 Sergeant Beardsmore is detached at Carlow
with his Troop, his Troop moving then to New Ross by early July and returning to Carlow by August. The Troop remains at Carlow
until September when they move to Clonmel, and then on the 27th of November 1815 the 134 men in the detachment travel to
Cahir where they are to remain for the next few months.
On the 25th of May 1816, 17 men (including Thomas) of the 6th Troop (still under Captain Spedding) travel back to Dublin. The
small group arrive on the 31st of May and the following day 5 men (again including Thomas) travel back to Cahir, arriving on the
8th of June. There are no events then shown in the musters for Thomas from June 1816 until August of 1818, the entire period
being spent as a Sergeant with the 6th Troop at Cahir.
On the 8th of March 1818, Thomas and 95 other men leave Cahir and travel south to Cork, arriving two days later. This Troop
deployment was to last until the 22nd of June 1819 when the Troop (then 129 men strong) moves to Waterford, arriving on the
24th of June and boarding a ship the following day with the rest of the collected men of the 4th Dragoons. The transport ship
docks at Bideford the following day and the HQ moves to Exeter with Troop deployments happening at Plymouth, Truro and
Taunton. Thomas is with the 6th Troop at Truro when he is promoted on the 25th of September 1819 to take the position of the
Troop Sergeant Major of the 8th Troop, also at Truro, commanded at that time by Captain W. Fryer. The 8th Troop under its new
TSM is to remain at Truro until the 27th of April 1820 when the Regiment moves north to the Midlands and arrives at Coventry on
the 13th of May.
The period in Coventry is a rather short 3 months before the Regiment moves south via a series of marches (Coventry to St.
Albans, 11th to 15th August 1820, St. Albans to Bromley, 16th to 18th of August 1820, Bromley to Pimlico, 21st August 1820).
The unit is in London until the 12th of September when they then move to the Cavalry Barracks at Canterbury, arriving 2 days
later on the 14th. It is here, at Canterbury, that TSM Beardsmore commits an indiscretion that results in him being reduced in the
ranks to Private on the 11th of October 1820, sadly no other details are available in the musters to add more detail to this event.
From this period there is no other detail except that Private Beardsmore was put in the 2nd Troop under Captain C. Walton at the
time of his reduction in the ranks and remained at Canterbury.
Eventually, for his own reasons, Thomas decides to leave the Army. In a period where a man signed for life and only left the army
by means of death, desertion or being medically unfit, he found the 4th way out, to purchase his freedom. The Army set a high
price on discharge, for Thomas this was £20, an amount equal to 400 days gross pay, how he managed to find this sum is not
clear. What is clear is that on the 18th of June 1821, after nearly 14 years service, Thomas Beardsmore is discharged from the 4th
Dragoons at Canterbury. Because he was not pensioned, sadly no papers exist for this soldier.
WO 12/ 630 to 634 (Musters, 4th Dragoons 1807-1821)
WO 25/ 1407 (Casualty index, 4th Dragoons)
Wellington’s Regiments, Ian Fletcher, Spellmont, 1994.
|Thomas Beardsmore - 4th Dragoons - 1807-21