Robert Martin – 82nd Foot – 1846-1858.
Robert Martin was born in Portadown, Ireland, in around 1828. Given the strong presence of the Army in Ireland in the years of his
youth, and the fact that all that would have faced him would have been a life of agricultural labour, it is hardly surprising that he fell
for the charms of the Recruiting Sergeant. Robert enlisted to the British Army in his home town of Portadown on the 13th of April
1846, he was paid a bounty of 3 pounds and 10 shillings, the Recruiting party getting a bonus of 2 shillings and sixpence for
‘getting their man’. At the time of his enlistment he was stated as being 18 years of age and 5 feet, 6.5 inches tall.
Robert Martin had joined the 82nd Regiment of Foot, known as the ‘Prince of Wales’s Volunteers’ (later the South Lancashire
Regiment), a unit that had seen action in the Peninsular campaigns against Napoleon but, in common with most of the army, had
seen no fighting for thirty years. At this time the majority of the 82nd were serving overseas in Canada, where they had been since
April of 1843, the regiment in fact having been overseas since 1838. In order to maintain a supply of reserves and new manpower
the regiment had left behind a Depot Company, at this time it was at Kinsale under the command of Major W. Slater. It was at
Kinsale that Robert Martin joined on the 6th of May 1846. Private Martin was issued both his uniform of red with yellow facings
(collar and cuffs) and the regimental number of 2282, a unique number in the 82nd Foot, numbering having begun in around 1832.
With the service companies in Canada not requiring a great deal of replacement manpower, the Depot had reached a quite large
size of around 300 men. In common with the units in Ireland the Depot was moved on a frequent basis, the first of these moves
to impact on the life of Private Martin occurred on the 15th of May, just over a week after his arrival at Kinsale. The Depot of the
82nd is ordered to Spike Island, it proceeds in three columns on the 15th of May (62 men), 12th of June (103 men) and 17th of
June (73 men), which of these Robert was in is not ascertainable from the musters. Once in barracks the normal military routine is
established which was uneventful in the musters, except for a period of 26 days spent in the regimental hospital over the end of
September and beginning of October 1846. The period spent at Spike Island is short, at just over 4 months, and the Depot of the
82nd is moved in two columns, leaving on the 23rd and 28th of October. The journey to Fermoy takes 2 days in both cases. At
Fermoy the musters show Robert on guard over the January 1847 muster and at some time before the end of March he is on a
march, the purpose of which was to aid the Civil Powers.
The period of residence at Fermoy is also to be short, on the 20th of April 1847 the Depot (9 officers and 384 men in the HQ
element) is again on the march, this time to Buttervant which is reached in the same day. Buttervant was merely to be a short
residence for the 82nd Depot as less than 6 weeks later they were again on the march. The men of the Depot move in several
columns to Cork at the end of June and beginning of July 1847, some of the men coming to Cork from Detachments at Spike
Island, others from Ballincollig. On the 18th of July the men board a ship at Cork and arrive at Cardiff Harbour (South Wales) on
the following day, the first time that many of the men had set foot outside their native land. From Cardiff the now huge Depot
moves inland on the 19th, with the majority going to the new establishment at Brecon (448 men), the remainder (87 men) going
on detachment at Swansea. The journey to Brecon was achieved in a single day, the march to Swansea taking 3 days, Robert
Martin was in the former group.
A detachment of 140 men (including Private Martin) under the command of Captain W. Spring leaves Brecon on the 26th of August
1847 and they march south through the Black Mountains to Dowlais on the outskirts of Merthyr Tydfil. This detachment was to
remain at Dowlais for the remainder of the year and the first three months of 1848, under the command of Captain J.A.S. Philipps
in the latter period. The men of the detachment are relieved at Dowlais by a second group of men in early March, Private Martin and
his comrades making their way back north to Brecon on the 3rd.
After 10 years overseas the service companies of the 82nd return to England in May of 1848, the passage being made from
Canada on the ‘Maria Soames’ (arrived 18th of May) and the ‘Blenheim’ (arrived 3rd of May). Before the service companies settle
into barracks at Devonport, a stones throw from their disembarking point at Plymouth dock, the process of re-uniting the regiment
has already begun. The Depot contingent leaves its three stations (the HQ and majority (366 men) at Brecon, detachments at
Swansea (65 men) & Dowlais (143 men)) on the 9th of May, the men travelling to Bristol where they then make a rapid transit to
Devonport, arriving on the 12th of May. Once established as a full regiment at Devonport, the musters have little detail on Private
Martin until he joins a detachment under Captain B. Bender which leaves Devonport on the 11th of November 1848. The
detachment moves down the Cornish coast (no doubt by coastal vessel) and goes into barracks at Pendennis Castle, a beautiful
area on the outskirts of Falmouth, on the following day.
Private Martin is to enjoy a period of stability at Pendennis Castle, a period that also sees the beginnings of the discipline problems
which would dog him for the remainder of his career. In common with the majority of the soldiers of the period he would seem to
fall prey to the ‘demon drink’ which resulted in his absence from morning musters. These absences are noted on the 18th and
19th of June and the 12th of October 1849, the 17th of January and 24th of February 1850. After 18 months on the Cornish
coast the detachment is sent back to the HQ location of the 82nd, which in their absence has become Portsmouth. They march to
Falmouth on the 30th of April and are at Portsmouth the following day. The absences at Portsmouth continue to occur, and after a
period of absence from the 9th to the 10th of June 1850 the punishment is more severe than just stoppage of pay. Private Martin
is held in the guardhouse from the 11th to the 13th of June and is then sent to the district prison, where he is released on the
20th after 6 days detention. From the detail in the musters it would seem that Martin was a member of the Regiment’s 1st
Company, certainly that was the company that Captain Bender issued pay to, Lieutenant Slater and Ensign Smith were also part of
Robert Martin is sick in the period of July to September 1850, spending a total of 39 days in the hospital at Portsmouth, including
over the September muster. Again Martin goes absent in October (12th and 13th) and November (23rd and 24th), the latter
results in his being held in the guardroom on the 25th before being transferred to the prison hospital for 2 days on the 26th. On
the 28th of November 1850 he is again held in the guardroom and is sent on the following day to the district prison, his stay on
this occasion being until the 10th of December. All is quiet in the musters then, until the regiment is again on the move early the
The 82nd have been ordered back to Wales, and the HQ plus most of the companies are to be based at Carmarthen in the south
of the country. The 82nd leave in stages from Portsmouth, Private Martin, under a new detachment commander in the shape of
Captain Isaac, with two and a half other companies (a total of 11 Officers and 240 men), make their way to Carmarthen (205 miles)
from the 22nd to the 25th of April 1851. Having arrived at Carmarthen a single company (the 7th, 61 men), commanded by
Captain Isaac (with Lieutenant Baillie) and including Private Martin, leaves the following day and over the next 3 days travel to
Cardigan, around 25 miles to the north west. Martin is again posted as absent from the 26th to the 27th of July 1851, but this
time there is no other discipline except stoppage of pay. After 7 months at Cardigan the detachment is moved to Pembroke on the
south Wales coast, 35 miles away, the men travel the distance in 3 days from the 6th of November, a leisurely pace.
Around six months pass at Pembroke before the two companies based there are again on the march. The column leaves Pembroke
on the 30th of April 1852 and travels north, no doubt in part by ship or train, and the 7 officers and 137 men cover the 227 miles
to Manchester in 4 days. The HQ left its location at Carmarthen on the 23rd of April and are at Manchester four days before the
Pembroke detachment arrives. Private Martin is on guard over the July 1852 muster and is again absent from the 25th to the 26th
of October, the only occurrences of the 82nd’s short tour at Manchester shown in the musters. The regiment is ordered to
Scotland in November of 1852, the men travelling from Manchester to Carlisle on the 9th of November with the majority of the men
then going on to the new regimental HQ at Glasgow. Captain Isaac and his company leave Carlisle on the 10th and go on
detachment at Paisley, 7 miles west of Glasgow. Having been in the army for six years, Private Martin has now served in all four of
the home nations.
A change of country has not improved Martin’s discipline, he is in the guardhouse for an undisclosed crime from the 23rd of
February to the 2nd of March 1853 and is then sent to the cells from the 3rd to the 9th of March. The following month the
regiment leave Glasgow, the majority of the men (HQ plus 4 companies) going to Stirling Castle on the 20th of April, three more
companies travelling to Perth on the same day. Robert is absent at Glasgow on the 6th and 7th of May and this is the last mention
in the musters for 5 months. On the 18th of October, Captain Isaac and his company (now the 7th) transit the 56 miles to Dundee
to begin a detached period of service there. The period is not good for Private Martin as he is in hospital for 50 days until the end
of the year and another 56 days in the first quarter of 1854. The HQ and majority of the 82nd regiment move from Stirling Castle
to Edinburgh Castle on the 7th of April, however Robert Martin and his company remain at Dundee.
Robert is in the cells again from the 2nd to the 8th of June 1854, absent on the 22nd and 23rd of July and again on the 22nd and
23rd of August. The Dundee detachment is merged back into the regiment on the 9th of September, at which point the 82nd is
being used as a draft-finding unit for others ordered to the Crimea. At Edinburgh our man is again absent from the 29th to the
31st of December 1854, he rejoined on New Years Day and was in the Cells from the 2nd to the 8th of January 1855. During this
period of confinement the orders are received for the 82nd to deploy to the army of the Crimea, the winter months having
decimated the units in that campaign. The day after Robert’s release from the cells, the 82nd travel from Edinburgh to Carlisle, the
following day they travel to Preston, and on the 18th they complete their journey to Liverpool. The regiment board the transport
‘Bahiana’ on the 18th of January 1855 and arrive at the Island of Corfu (then being used as a holding place for Crimean reserves)
on the 1st of February 1855.
The regiment’s stay in this Mediterranean island was to be short, on the 13th of April they board the ‘Sidon’ for passage to
Cephalonia (now Kefallinia, a Greek Island to the south of Corfu), Captain Isaac and his company (now numbered as the 2nd) go
on detachment at Ithica. This must have been a most pleasant time for these soldiers, certainly better than the existence of their
comrades in the trenches before Sebastopol. Eventually the 82nd are to go to the Crimea, they board the transport ‘Indiana’ on
the 26th of August, and after passage through the Dardenelles and across the Black Sea, they arrive at Balaclava on the 5th of
September. The 82nd had no chance to take part in the campaign as the failed assault on Sebastopol on the 8th of September did
however lead to the surrender of the City on the following day. It must have been with some embarrassment that the regiment
received the battle honour for ‘Sebastopol’ and its men (including Robert Martin, see WO 100/ 32 p272) were awarded the Crimean
War medal with a bar for the seige of that city, a seige in which they were present for only 4 days.
Even in the Crimea, Private Martin manages to be absent from the 13th to the 14th of September and the 19th to the 20th of
October. He is also shown on fatigues on the September muster. The 82nd had been assigned to stay the winter in the Crimea and
although conditions were much improved from the winter of 1854-55 they were still poor enough for Robert to spend 8 days in
hospital at the tail end of 1855. He also missed most musters at the start of 1856 with fatigues at the May and June musters and
guard at the February and March musters. With the peace finally signed the 82nd leave the Crimea, most of the men (including
Martin) boarding the ‘Royal George’ on the 10th of July 1856 and arriving at Gosport on the 10th of August. The remainder of the
regiment travelled on ‘HMS Perseverance’ which left the Crimea on the 9th of July, stopped at Turkey from the 11th to the 15th
and arrived at Gosport on the 6th of August. Once collected at Gosport the regiment moved to Aldershot on the 11th of August.
At Aldershot Robert goes absent from the 17th to the 18th of August and is listed as ‘public employ’ on the September 1856
Robert Martin is given his first furlough from the 1st of November to the 12th of December 1856, is on guard at the December
muster and fatigues at the end of January. Over the next couple of months the regiment is boosted by an influx of volunteers
from the 9th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 20th, 30th and 80th regiments of Foot. Having been warned for overseas service in China the
82nd moved to Portsmouth on the 6th of February 1857 where they waited for 3 months before most of the 82nd (including
Martin) boarded ‘HMS Adventure’ on the 21st of May 1857, the remainder boarding ‘HMS Assistance’ on the same day. During the
long trip around the Cape the news of the Sepoy Mutiny that had begun in Meerut on the 10th of May reached the 82nd, along
with orders that would see them landing in India and not China as they had expected. The regiment was actually well beyond
Singapore before the news of their new orders were received, and they had to turn and make all speed back to India. The
‘Adventure’ arrived at Calcutta on the 22nd of September 1857 with the ‘Assistance’ arriving more than 2 weeks later on the 12th
of October. The Indian service musters are never too detailed, but here we can quote ‘The History of the South Lancashire
On the 12th October the 82nd had landed at Calcutta and by the 21st the first detachment of the regiment, under the
Commanding Officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Edward Blagden Hale, was on the march for Allahabad, the rest of the regiment following
in detachments on successive days. Conditions in India were very different then, as is shown by the following extract from ‘The
Historical Records of the 82nd Regiment' : 'A number of covered wagons, drawn by bullocks, were told off to each detachment,
and at the end of every night's march the halting places afforded commissariat supplies and shelter from the sun during the
intense heat of the day. Each officer in command of a party was furnished with a small medicine chest and clear instructions how to
use the medicines, with a description of the symptoms attending the various complaints most likely to occur. By this simple
precaution many lives were saved.
On 5th November five companies had reached Allahabad. The main garrison had by now gone up country with Havelock, and
Allahabad was in charge of a small body of the Naval Brigade under Lieutenant Wilson, of H.M.S. Shannon, who later performed
such prodigies of valour at Lucknow. On the 7th November Lieutenant-Colonel Hale, with ten officers and two hundred men of the
82nd, left Allahabad and arrived at Cawnpore on the 11th, pushing on again at once to join the force which had established itself at
the Alumbagh, on the outskirts of Lucknow, where he arrived on the night of the 13th.
The force at the Alumbagh now amounted to about 5,000 men and a new brigade was formed in which Captain Warren of the 82nd
acted as Orderly Officer to the commander. The regiment went into action immediately, for the advance on the rebel defences
began at daylight on the 14th November. The first objectives were La Maritiniere, a large school with extensive gardens and the
Dilkusha, one of the palaces of the Kings of Oude.
These were occupied by nightfall, and a violent counter-attack by the rebels was easily repelled next day, being Sunday. On the
16th November, the Secunderbagh, a large enclosure surrounded by a massive masonry wall, was attacked, and a stiff fight
ensued, in which the 82nd was in reserve but lost a number of men and Colonel Hale had a narrow escape when his horse was
killed under him.
On the 17th, the enemy made a last stand at the Moti Mahal Palace, but the relieving force was not to be denied and after breaches
had been made in the wall, the troops poured through and at last established contact with the devoted garrison which had held
out for so long, and against such odds, at the Residency. This success, too, was marred by the death of another great soldier, for
Havelock died of dysentery on the 24th.
After the relief of Lucknow, the detachment of the 82nd was part of the force covering the withdrawal of the women and children,
the wounded and the treasure, to Cawnpore, and the whole regiment was together again by the 30th November.
That part of the 82nd which had been left behind at Cawnpore had by no means been idle, for it soon became involved in the
fighting for the bridgehead over the Ganges, command of which was vital to the withdrawal of the force from Lucknow. As soon as
Sir Colin Campbell was engaged before Lucknow, the Gwalior Contingent; a well trained and equipped force of troops belonging to
the Maharjah Scindia of Gwalior, who had thrown his lot in with the mutineers, appeared before Cawnpore with the intention of
forcing its way across the river and joining the mutineers at Lucknow.. The enemy took up a number of positions round Cawnpore
and the British force, now at a strength of 1,700 men, moved out to meet them on the 25th November. The enemy were in
strength in a dry nullah known as the Pandu Naddi, and in the attack which followed the detachment of the 82nd was in reserve.
Having cleared the enemy away, the force started to retire towards Cawnpore, when the enemy followed-up hotly and the brunt of
the fighting fell on the light company of the 82nd, which was acting as rearguard : During this retrograde movement the light
company of the 82nd, in command of Captain Gordon, formed the rear-guard, and held the enemy in check at the Pandoo Nudee
until ordered to retire, when he drew off his men with great skill, inflicting considerable loss on his pursuers, who advanced as far
as the canal, where they halted and encamped, keeping this obstacle In their front. The casualties in the force this day were, one
officer and thirteen men killed, and five officers and seventy-three men wounded. Lieutenant East, 82nd, was severely wounded in
the foot, a portion of which was amputated.
On the morning of the 27th the mutineers crossed the canal in force and began a heavy cannonade of the British positions. The
enemy then attacked and after several hours of severe fighting the British force again withdrew, this time to its entrenched
positions on the outskirts of the city. The despatch describing this part of the action thus speaks of the part played by the 82nd :
‘The flank attack was well met and resisted for a considerable time by the 34th Regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Kelly, and the
Madras Battery, under Lieutenant Chamier, together with that part of the 82nd Regiment which was detached in this direction
under Lieutenant-Colonel Watson.'
On the 28th the enemy launched a general attack all along the line, in the hope of gaining possession of the bridge before the
Lucknow force could come up. The two companies of the 82nd which were detached on the left of the line during this day's fighting
distinguished themselves greatly by capturing two enemy guns in hand-to-hand fighting. They were commanded by Captains
Farmar and Slater, respectively, and this is how the Historical Record of the 82nd Regiment describes the exploit: ‘The two
companies of the 82nd were commanded respectively by Captains Farmar and Slater. Captain Farmar led his company to the
capture of the two guns, supported by Captain Slater's company and a portion of the Rifle Brigade. He was the first man up to
them, and had a hand-to-hand encounter with the native gunners, who lay down under their guns and waited the assault, rising
up and rushing at their assailants when within a short distance.
Captain Farmar was immediately surrounded, and would have been slain, but for the promptitude with which Ensign Waterfield, a
cadet of the East India Company, temporarily attached to the 82nd, handled his revolver; and the vigour with which Sergeant
Godfrey of the 82nd thrust his bayonet through a sepoy in the act of cutting down his captain. This sepoy held the bayonet, firmly
fixed in his body, with his left hand, while with his right he gave the Sergeant a sword wound in the wrist, which caused him to be
invalided, and from its effects he subsequently died. The men of the company soon dispersed and bayoneted thirty-five of the
enemy and took the guns. For this exploit Captain Farmar received the brevet rank of Major, and Ensign Waterfield was also
promoted soon afterwards. The remainder of the 82nd had taken post in the town on the right, were closely engaged all day and
suffered severely.' No. 1, No. 8, and No. 10 Companies of the regiment were here engaged, and fought through the day keeping
the enemy at bay until, at nightfall, the force withdrew into the fort. During the night of the 28th the enemy took complete
possession of the town, but the defences covering the vital bridge remained intact and the Lucknow force appeared on the
opposite bank of the river the same night. A brigade of the Lucknow force crossed next morning and on the 6th a general attack
was delivered against the enemy who, now disheartened, were driven away with little difficulty and pursued for several miles, with
After the defeat of the Gwalior Contingent, the 82nd was engaged on what would nowadays be called ‘mopping-up ' operations,
clearing rebel pockets of resistance in the country around Cawnpore and Fatehgarh, which was now the headquarters of Sir Colin
Campbell. This work took them to the beginning of February, 1858, when preparations for the final capture of Lucknow were well
advanced. In the first stages the 82nd was in the force under Sir Thomas Seaton, with headquarters at Fatehgarh, with orders to
watch the river line in that neighbourhood. A hundred men of the regiment were here trained in gun drill and used as gunners at
Fatehgarh Fort. The work of guarding the river fords meant a number of small mobile columns and the bulk of the regiment was
employed on this work during February and March 1858.
It is here, at the Forts of Futtergurh (Fatehgarh) that our story comes to an end. Having taken part in the Relief of Lucknow (this
much we know from the medal rolls), Private Robert Martin dies at Futtergurh on the 14th of March 1858, at the same time as the
assault on the City of Lucknow was proceeding. The casualty roll (WO 25/3258) does not give the cause of death, but does state
that his next of kin was his wife, Judith, in Musselburgh. From this it must be assumed that Robert Martin married at some time in
his career, more than likely in his period in Edinburgh. At his death Robert Martin was around 30 years old and had served in the
British Army for a month short of 12 years.
PRO Musters WO 12/ 8634, & 8636-8644
PRO Casualty Roll WO 25/3258
|Robert Martin - 82nd Foot - Served 1847 to 1858