According to army documents Cornelius McCarthy was born in St James’ parish, Dublin on the 25th of September 1830. Cornelius
took the King’s shilling on Christmas eve of 1846 at the tender age of 16 years and 3 months joining the 3rd Regiment of Foot
(East Kent Regiment) who were known as ‘The Buffs’ due to the colour of the facings (or collar and cuffs) on the red jackets they
wore. Having joined at the Dublin HQ he joins the main body of the battalion (also at Dublin) 2 days later where he is issued the
regimental number of 2398 and given his 4 pound bounty, a further 16 shillings going to his recruiters.
The Buffs had arrived in Dublin only a month previously from Portsmouth and were to be based in Dublin for only a short period
before they moved inland. By the middle of 1847 the battalion is split into detachments all over Ireland, Dublin, Naas, Newbridge,
Birr, Carlow, Newry and Maryborough being among the many locations. Private McCarthy is under command of Lieutenant J.W.
Pownall at Navan, the journey to which he makes in the first two days of July 1847 in company with 61 other men. Pownall and his
company remain at Navan until the 12th of October when they move on to Trim to take up a new detachment. Cornelius is granted
a furlough from the 4th to the 29th of December 1847, during this period on the 20th he joins from detachment at the Buffs’ new
station at Belfast. In February he is again on detachment at Armagh and on the 15th of March 1848 he marches to Charlemont in a
detachment under Captain J.W. Richardson.
Being in Charlemont at this point, Private McCarthy misses the presentation of the new colours at Belfast on the 20th of May 1848.
On the 13th of July the detachment return to Belfast and a few days later (24th to 27th ) join the regimental move by sea to
Waterford, the battalion going into camp in Lord Bessborough’s park at Piltown . The Buffs remained at Piltown until September
when they moved to Limerick via both sea and road, a journey of 12 days march and 5 days on the sea. Cornelius is not to see
Limerick for long as he is on detachment at Newport under Lt. Pownall with 63 other men from the 19th of October until the 20th
of February 1849. On return to Limerick Cornelius is in hospital for 40 days in August and September 1849, regimental fatigues
employ over the October muster and goes on furlough from the 21st of December 1849 to the 13th of January 1850.
By this time the Buffs have been warned of a coming tour of the Mediterranean, however they were still to serve a few more
months in the Emerald Isle. Having been back from fatigues for less than 2 weeks, Lieutenant Pownall and his company are sent to
Rathkeale on the 24th of January 1850 where they remain for over 2 months. Back at Limerick in April 1850, Private McCarthy is on
fatigues, the Buffs having been split between Limerick and Galway. In December he is on furlough from the 2nd to the 31st, by this
time the regiment have again moved, marching to Birr in October. This was to be the Buffs last station in Ireland. The regiment had
been ordered to Cork to board transport, they marched from Birr to Templemore on the 11th to the 13th of February 1851 and
then on to Cork on the 5th of March, 584 men strong. The first 3 companies of the Buffs boarded the freight ship ‘Emerald’ on the
5th of April with the remainder of the regiment boarding the ‘Athenian’ on the 9th, Cornelius was on the latter ship. The ‘Emerald’
landed at Valetta in Malta on the 28th of April, the ‘Athenian’ arriving on the 2nd of May. Cornelius spends 8 days in hospital in the
month of May and is on guard at the muster at the end of the month. The time spent in Malta was a quiet period for the Buffs,
however it was not so for Private McCarthy. On the 1st of November 1851 Private McCarthy is promoted to Corporal vice No. 2206
Corporal John Daniel Haigh who was reduced to Private.
Corporal McCarthy remains with the regiment at Valetta for the next 19 months before he boards a ship bound for England on the
4th of June 1853. Cornelius’s health was obviously poor as he lands at Portsmouth from HM steamer ‘Oberon’ on the 20th of June
and goes into hospital there. He remains in hospital until the 22nd of July 1853 when he continues his journey to the depot of the
Buffs at Naas in Ireland. After 8 days journey Corporal McCarthy reports for duty at Naas where he would begin the task of a
Corporal at a depot, to recruit and train men to augment the service companies. On the 26th of September 1853 he gains his first
long service and good conduct payment which gives him a penny a day pay rise (in an era where average pay for a private was a
shilling or 12 pence per day) and the right to wear a good conduct badge on his left sleeve. Cornelius is at Naas until the 13th of
February 1854 when his pay is transferred to the district because he has been sent on recruitment duty, at the end of February he
is at Wakefield in Yorkshire.
Whilst at Wakefield he is told of the increase in establishment of the infantry regiments to 950 men (the Buffs numbered only 550
at that time in Malta) and as such the increase in the number of NCO’s and officers . Cornelius is promoted to Sergeant on the 1st
of April 1854 and later in that month moves on to York to continue his work. By June of 1854 he is recruiting in Sunderland and
his period of work in England ends in October when he returns to Cork on the 13th of that month. Sergeant McCarthy is on
command at Cork until the end of October 1854 when he joins the depot of the Buffs at Newry (they moved from Naas in May
1854). His time back in Ireland is to be short however as he boards a transport at Cork on the 9th of November with a draft of
men bound for the service companies which he knows to be at Malta. Only 3 days later however the service companies in Malta
(heavily depleted by providing volunteers to the 41st, 47th, 49th and 68th regiments who were bound for the Crimea) board ships
to replace the 97th Regiment at Piraeus, about 4 miles from Athens in Greece. Sergeant McCarthy and his draft of men had a long
journey but eventually reached the service companies on the 28th of January 1855 after a journey of nearly 3 months, they’d
arrived at Malta on the 1st of December and spent nearly 2 months on that island.
The Buffs spent a comfortable and enjoyable winter in Greece alongside their French allies and gradually gained the respect and
goodwill of the local population who had been hostile to them on their arrival. On the 23rd of March 1855 the Buffs were replaced
by the 91st Regiment at Piraeus, marching in good order to the docks, their presence in the Crimea having been requested by
none other than Lord Raglan himself . The regiment boarded the ‘Emu’ and disembarked once more at Valetta in Malta where they
were to remain until the 14th of April. On the 14th they boarded the sailing ship ‘Timandra’ which was towed by HMS Ardent
through the Dardanelles and the Black Sea to Balaklava, the 675 men of the regiment disembarking on the 2nd of May 1855.
Although the battalion had missed the ravages of the winter in the Crimea the problems of sickness were still abundant and 17
men died within a short time from cholera. The Buffs had moved inland from Balaklava to a camp at Kamara where they were
brigaded with the 31st Regiment and the 72nd Highlanders. Heavy rain at the end of May had turned the area of the camp into a
sea of mud, so the Buffs were moved to higher ground near Cathcart’s Hill. At this time the regiment also suffered it’s first
casualties with Captain Pownall and 2 men being wounded. At the beginning of June a draft of 208 new men arrived and the
regiment began to prepare for it’s first real action, the attack on the Quarries which was planned for the 6th of June. Sergeant
McCarthy was not to see this action with the Buffs however as on the 5th of June he is transferred to the 44th Foot (East Essex),
a unit that had suffered heavily throughout the earlier battles of the Alma and Inkermann and had lost scores of men in the winter
of 1854. Retaining his rank, 2398 Sergeant McCarthy of the 3rd Regiment becomes 4442 Sergeant McCarthy of the 44th Regiment.
With the successful capture of the Quarries the Allied forces were in a position to assault the Russian positions around the town of
Sebastopol and the date of the 18th of June was selected, it being the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo. The following is an
extract from ‘Historical Record of the Forty Fourth or The East Essex Regiment’ :-
A third bombardment commenced on the 6th of June, in the afternoon instead of at daybreak, as in the two former instances. This
also ended in a few days. By the 16th of June new batteries had been completed, which, it was anticipated, would place the
besiegers in a position to resume the offensive with the utmost vigour, Accordingly, on Sunday the 17th of June, the fourth
bombardment was commenced, and an attack on the following day determined upon. This afforded the regiment, which on the
previous day had been armed with Enfield in lieu of Minie rifles, an opportunity of distinguishing itself in the attack and occupation
of the Cemetery at the head of the Dockyard Creek. It was arranged that the French assault on the Malakoff should take place at
three o'clock in the morning of the 18th, and before that hour the British Commander and head-quarter staff, with other officers,
arrived at the 1855 appointed post. As day broke the French commenced their operations from the Inkerman attack, and, as their
columns issued from the works, they encountered the most serious opposition both from musketry and the guns in the works,
which had been silenced the previous evening. Observing this, Lord Raglan forthwith ordered the British columns to move out of
the trenches upon the Redan.
By half-past three it was perceived that General Pelissier had not succeeded in his attack upon the Malakoff. All the allied batteries
were therefore ordered to resume their fire as heavily as possible. However, at about half-past seven, the firing slackened in
consequence of the attack being relinquished.
Lieutenant-General Sir Richard England had been ordered, whilst the direct attack upon the Redan was in progress, and as a co-
operative movement from the left of the English position, to send one of the brigades of his division, under the command of Major-
General Barnard, down the Woronzoff Ravine, with a view to afford support to the attacking columns on his right; and the other
brigade, under Major-General Eyre, was, still further to the left, to threaten the works at the head of the Dockyard Creek. Major-
General Barnard, proceeding down the Woronzoff Road, was placed in position on the right of the ravine, ready to co-operate with
the columns of attack on the right, whilst Major-General Eyre, with the second brigade, moved down by the " Valley of Death " to
another ravine which separated the left of the British from the right of the French advanced works, for the purpose of attacking
the enemy's ambuscades, and making a demonstration on the head of the Dockyard Creek.
The brigade under Major-General Eyre, consisting of the 9th, 18th, 28th, 38th and 44th Regiments-total strength about two
thousand bayonets-moved off on this service between one and two o'clock a.m., and, in attacking thefirst of the ambuscades, the
troops were anticipated by the French, who cleverly took them on their left flank as the British advanced in front, and made several
prisoners. Beyond this the French had no orders to co-operate, and Major-General Eyre therefore pushed on an advanced guard
under Major Robert Feilden, of the 44th, composed of marksmen from each corps, formed into two companies under Captain
Robinson and Lieutenant the Hon. H. Handcock, of the 44th, and a captain and subaltern of the 28th Regiment, supporting it on
the right by the 44th and 38th, and on the left by the 18th, and keeping at first the 9th and 28th in reserve. The Russian picquets
were at once driven in by the advance, and the ground to be occupied by the brigade cleared.
No estimate could be formed of the strength of the enemy, who occupied a strong position, their right resting on a mamelon and
their left on a cemetery. Marksmen in rifle pits occupied all these points, and the intervening ground was intersected and the road
barricaded with stone walls, which the men were obliged to pull down, under fire, before they could advance. In rear of this
position, towards the fortress, several houses were occupied by the Russians, and there were reserves of them seen in the rear.
This position, under the fire of the gnus of the fortress, was strong, and it could not be expected to be carried ;and retained
without incurring a considerable loss, which was experienced both in officers and men, who all nobly discharged their duty. The
18th pushed on and occupied some houses immediately under the garden-wall battery, on the left; and the 44th, swarming into
the advanced houses on the right, kept up a continuous fire on the embrasures at the head of the Dockyard Creek. After taking
possession of some houses in front, the 38th endeavoured to turn the flank of a battery which annoyed the troops in front.
These parties were subsequently reinforced from time to time by the 9th Regiment, the 28th being drawn up in line in rear to
support the whole.
Having driven the Russians from all these points, the brigade continued to occupy them, with a view to ulterior movements, in case
of the attack on. the right proving successful, and until it should be decided what portion of the ground it was considered advisable
to retain for siege operations.
It had been expected that the anniversary of Waterloo would have proved more fortunate, but as the attack was not successful,
and as the town front was not attacked, Lord Raglan gave orders for the withdrawal of Major-General Eyre's brigade, the ground
won being too far in advance to be permanently occupied for siege operations ; the high ground in the Cemetery however was
retained, and the advanced parallel of the left attack was prolonged to it on the following night. The whole position was,
nevertheless, held until dark, the troops having been exposed throughout the day to a concentrated fire from the guns of the
fortress, in addition to some field guns being expressly brought to bear upon them.
At dusk the fire slackened, and after removing the wounded to the rear, the brigade was gradually withdrawn the command of it
having devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Adams of the 28th, in consequence of Major-General Eyre having received a wound in the
head in the early part of the day, which incapacitated him at the close of the action from attending to his duties. No attempt was
made to molest the troops on their retiring ; their casualties were considerable, amounting to thirty-one officers, forty-four
sergeants, and four hundred and eighty-seven rank and file, killed or wounded.
The 18th, 38th, and 44th were the most advanced on this day. It was ten minutes past three when they went into action. They
got (for the first time for any part of the British army) actually into the town of Sebastopol, being so close to the Creek and
Garden Batteries that the Russians could not depress their guns sufficiently to oppose them. The buildings and gardens of this
portion of the town, the suburb at the head of the creek-the inhabitants having only just left them- were occupied by these
regiments ; but all were enfiladed and exposed to a plunging fire from the Great Redan. and Barrack Batteries. Five hundred and
sixty-two officers and men-more than a quarter of the brigade- were the casualties of this day, and the conflict might, in truth, be
named the "Infantry Balaklava." The brigade was altogether under fire about eighteen hours, having remained in the position until
nightfall, when. it slowly retired at about half-past nine, under cover of darkness, and reached the camp between ten and eleven p.
m., having been absent just twenty-one hours. Soon after its return to camp there was an alarm, when the fatigued remnant of
the brigade again fell in; this proved to be a false alarm. The affair in the Cemetery was, according to Lord Raglan's despatch, most
daring, and so hot was the fire from the Garden, Barrack, and Creek Batteries, that many of the wounded officers and men had to
be left in the open all day; at dark, and before the brigade was withdrawn, all were brought in that could be found; the dead were
left where they fell, and although search was made for them after dark were, with a few exceptions, never recovered or buried. The
following night the new trench was opened in the Cemetery, when the Russians shelling the working-parties unceasingly, and
setting fire to the long grass with carcases and fireballs, the effect, more brilliant than welcome to the soldiers at work-their exact
position being thus discovered-was heightened by a bombardment of the town and sea batteries by the allied fleet.
In his despatch (of which a copy was forwarded by Lord Raglan to Lord Panmure), Major-General Eyre stated that he could not
sufficiently express his sense of the conduct of the officers, non-commissioned officers and men on this occasion. The conduct of
all was so exemplary, during this trying day, that he could scarcely with justice particularize individuals. Colonel the Honourable
Augustus Spencer, commanding the 44th Regiment, who was wounded, and Lieut.-Colonel Staveley, who succeeded to the
command on the former being obliged to quit the field, were specially thanked for their assistance, together with Major Feilden, who
commanded the advanced guard. The valuable services of Brigade Major Captain Faussett and Assistant-Surgeon John Gibbons
of the 44th, were also acknowledged, -the latter, in conjunction with Assistant .Surgeon Jeeves of the 38th, whilst exposed to a
most galling fire, having exerted himself in the field in attending to the wounded in. so zealous and humane a manner as to call
forth special notice. Colour-sergeant James Donelan and Private Robert Thimbleby were particularly named by Major-General Eyie
for gallantry-the latter for assisting wounded comrades while exposed to a heavy fire.
The 44th had the following officers killed or wounded on the 18th of June :-
Captains Bowes Fenwick (died following day) Honourable Charles Welbore Herbert Agar (died same evening), William Henry
Mansfield (died of wounds, 28th June), and Francis William Thomas Caulfeild (died following day, 10th) ; Colonel the Honourable
Augustus Almeric Spencer, and Lieutenants Joseph Logun and T. Orton Howorth wounded ; Lieutenant B. S. Hoskins, although
not so reported, was also wounded ; one drummer and sixteen rank and file killed ; eleven sergeants, two drummers, and ninety-
six rank and file wounded ; seven men were missing, supposed to have been. killed, but, owing to the roughness of the ground,
were not found by the party sent after dark to bring in the killed and wounded.
Of six captains who went into action four were killed, and buried in front of the camp of the third division. A. monument was placed
over them, and their names also inscribed on the general regimental monument afterwards erected on Cathcart's Hill. Great credit
was gained by the regiment for its steadiness and endurance on. this trying day.
On the receipt of the news in England, a telegraphic despatch was sent to the Crimea, and being published to the army, afforded
much gratification to the troops. It expressed Her Majesty's grief that so much bravery should not have been rewarded with
merited success. An. additional interest attaches to the order issued on the occasion, from its being the last emanating from Lord
Raglan, who died about nine o'clock on the 28th of June, the date of the order. This was a sad blow to the army, for his Lordship
was esteemed by all; and his country, to use the Minister of War's expression, It had, indeed, been deprived of a brave and
accomplished soldier, a true and devoted patriot, and an honourable and disinterested subject.
Among the wounded on this day was Cornelius McCarthy. He was wounded in the small of the back by a gunshot whilst in the
cemetery before Sebastopol, although not mentioned in the ‘Casualty Roll of the Crimea’, his officer records show this to be the
case. Although this attack proved to be a failure, there followed on the 8th of September another assault that the East Essex
would have witnessed and that also failed. The French however succeeded in taking a part of the defences which made the
Russians burn and abandon the town that same night. With the siege of Sebastopol finished the regiment was issued medals for
the army of the Crimea, Cornelius awarded with the Medal with bar ‘Sebastopol’. He was awarded this on the 20th of September
(the first medals had reached the Crimea in the winter of 1854 with bars ‘Balaklava’, ‘Inkerman’ & ‘Alma’) but would have to wait
until the 5th of November 1860 before he was given a Turkish Crimean medal. The 44th remained in the Crimea through the winter
of 1855 until the peace was finally signed with Russia in Paris on the 29th of March 1856. On the 25th of June 1856 the 44th
embarked on HM ship ‘Colossus’ and disembarked at Spithead on the 18th of the next month. The Queen visited the regiment,
and other regiments, on board their ships at this time. On arrival at Portsmouth the 44th moved to Aldershot, where they were
inspected by Her Majesty, and then on the 4th of August they moved on to their new station at Dover. Sergeant McCarthy is not
to stay at Dover for long however as he is sent to the School of Musketry at Hythe on the 23rd of August where he would no
doubt be instructed in rifle drill.
Cornelius returns to the regiment on the 6th of November 1856, by this time the 44th have moved to Shorncliffe (arrived on the
25th of September) where they remain for the remainder of the year and the first half of 1857. With the outbreak of mutiny in
India in May 1857 the 44th were ordered to Madras, they marched to Portsmouth on the 20th of July 1857. On the 26th of July
the first 3 companies under Lt. Colonel MacMahon boarded the ‘Hersilia’, Cornelius being on this ship which arrived in Madras on
the 12th of January 1858, it’s slow pace being due to it’s being a sailing ship. The HQ and the other 5 companies boarded the
‘Indomitable’ and later the steamer ‘Khersonese’ which arrived at Madras a full 6 weeks earlier on the 28th of November. The 44th
went into barracks at Fort St. George at Madras and as such missed the action that was happening in the north of the country as
the clearance of the mutineers continued. The Indian musters are never as detailed as those in ‘home’ stations, however it is plain
that Cornelius is sent to Ballary where he is shown as ‘on command’ from August of 1858 and remains there until October of
1859. The probable explanation for this is that he was attached to a native regiment for purposes of rifle training.
On returning to the 44th Cornelius is promoted to Colour Sergeant as of the 1st of October 1859 vice 2338 James Johnston who
reverts to Sergeant. At this time he is briefly at St. Thomas’s Mount before rejoining at Fort St. George. Here we again rely on
regimental history for our story
The war with China in 1860 was owing to the Emperor having refused to ratify the treaty which had been signed two years
previously by his ministers at Tien-Tsin. In this campaign, as in the Crimea, the French and British forces acted again together. The
English troops were commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir James Hope Grant, K.C.B., and the 44th was one of the regiments
selected for this service.
Five companies of the regiment embarked at Madras on the 31st of January for China, under the command of Lieut.-Colonel
MacMahon ; and the head-quarters, under Colonel Staveley, followed on the 3rd of March. The strength on embarkation consisted
of ten companies, of thirty-five officers, and one thousand one hundred and seventy-six men of all ranks. The women and children
of the regiment arrived at Madras, from England, after the first detachment had embarked, and were again left behind. After
landing at Kowloon, on the mainland opposite Hong Kong, the 44th proceeded on the 15th of May to the north of China. Colonel
Staveley having been appointed to command the first brigade of the first division in this 1860 expedition, the command of the
regiment devolved upon Lieut.-Colonel MacMahon. Captain Hon. R. Bailie Hamilton was appointed major of brigade, and Ensign
Irvine orderly officer to Brigadier Staveley. The regiment furnished detachments in charge of parties of the Coolie corps proceeding
in seven transports, and to which Lieutenant Howorth was attached. Several picked men of the regiment were also permanently
employed with it as orderlies. Lieutenant Acklom and Ensign O'Neill were appointed to the commissariat at Hong Kong, where also
the weakly men were left under command of Captain Raymond and Ensign Rennick, and attached to the provisional depot battalion
On the 16th of June the regiment arrived at Talienwhan Bay, near the entrance of the Gulf of Pecbeli, where, eventually, the troops
were landed and employed in digging wells. The expedition re-embarked on the 24th of July, and sailed for the Peiho River, near the
mouth of which it anchored four days afterwards, but moved to the Pehtang River on the 30th. Here the regiment disembarked on
the 6th of August, and on the 12th the troops advanced to attack the Tartar posts at the Sin-Ho intrenchmcnts. This delay was
occasioned by the very heavy rains, which had made the country nearly impassable. The ground upon which they were about to
advance was at any time of a most difficult nature, and intersected with broad and deep canals used by the Chinese for the
manufacture of salt. The 44th formed a portion of the second division, under Major-General Sir Robert Napier, whose force
commenced to move out of their quarters at four o'clock in the morning of the 12th of August, in the following order:-
An advanced guard of two hundred men of the 3rd Buffs, with two Armstrong guns of Milward's battery, under the command of
Lieut.-Colonel Sargent, of the 3rd Foot; four Armstrong guns of the same battery, the 23rd Company Royal Engineers, 3rd Buffs,
8th Punjaub Infantry, 44th Regiment, Potion's rocket battery, Royal Marines, Madras Sappers and Miners, right wing of the 67tb,
reserve ammunition, hospital stretchers, &c. Rear guard-left wing of the 67th Regiment; the cavalry brigade, comprising two
squadrons of the 1st or King's Dragoon Guards, Probyn's Horse, three guns, Stirling's battery, and Fane's Horse.
Although two days' hard work had been devoted to the repairing of the roads, yet the deep tenacious mud rendered them so
difficult, that the rear of the column did not clear the gate of Pehtang until half-past seven o'clock. It cost the troops two hours of
hard labour to traverse the first two miles.
The plan of operations was for Sir John Michel's division to move straight along the causeway, and carry the intrenchments
defending it, while Sir Robert Napier made a detour with his division to the right, taking the enemy's position in flank.
Sir Robert Napier perceiving the enemy in great force both in the intrenchments and front of the village of Sin-Ho, after gaining his
flank, marched directly towards him, threatening also his line of retreat. On arriving within fifteen hundred yards, Milward's
Armstrong guns opened ; these were the first shots fired with that weapon in actual warfare, and their range and accuracy excited
great admiration. This fire surprised the Tartar horsemen, but did not shake them ; after some hesitation they poured out in a
long line through a passage across the marsh which separated them from the British, find forming with great regularity and
quickness, enveloped Sir Robert Napier's force in a great cordon of skirmishers. -An opportunity was afforded for the cavalry to
charge, and although the Chinese eventually gave way and fled with precipitation from the field, they evinced considerable personal
courage under a heavy fire of artillery.
No opportunity was afforded throughout the day of coming in contact with the Chinese infantry. A cloud of Tartar cavalry,
skirmishing, threatened the artillery of the brigade, but were driven off by four companies of the 44th wheeled up and firing volleys.
Captain Bower, with the rear-guard, in charge of ammunition, also received and repulsed a charge of Tartar cavalry. Only four men
of the regiment were wounded. The British casualties were limited to one man killed, and four officers and twenty-three men
wounded. These included those which were incurred in the attack of the intrenched fortified camp of Tangku on the 14th of
August. This small loss was partly attributable to the enemy being paralyzed by the fire of the artillery. On the latter occasion the
regiment was in reserve.
After the capture of the fortified town of Tangku, the next place taken, Sir James Hope Grant commenced bringing up siege guns
and ammunition from Pehtang with a view to the reduction of the principal fort on the left bank and near the mouth of the Peiho,
about two miles distant from Tangku. On the 19th of August the regiment moved from Tangku to an encampment near the North
Major-General Sir Robert Napier was placed in charge of the advance, his division being quartered at Tangkn. By the 20th of
August the road was made practicable to within eight hundred yards of the fort, batteries were traced, and the heavy guns were
brought out in readiness to be placed in position by daybreak of the following day, at which time every thing was in readiness for
the attack. The regiment left the encampment this day for a position near the fort selected for attack, and sent out strong working
parties during the night to prepare batteries for the artillery. So eager were the Chinese for the fight, that they opened fire upon
the troops at five o'clock on the morning of the 21st, from all their forts within range, causing the allied forces to commence an
hour earlier than had been arranged
The storming party of Infantry consisted of a wing of the 44th, under Lieut.-Colonel Patrick William MacMahon, and a wing of the
67th, under Lieut.-Colonel Thomas, supported by the other wings of these two regiments, and the Royal Marines, under Lieut.-
Colonel Gascoigne. A detachment of the latter, under Lient.-Colonel Travers, carried a pontoon bridge for crossing the wet ditches,
and Major Graham, of the Royal Engineers, conducted the assault, the whole being commanded by Brigadier-General Reeves.
About seven o'clock the enemy's magazine blew up with a terrific explosion, and a few minutes later the one in the outer North
Fort was also exploded by a shell from the gunboats.
The firing of the forts having almost ceased, a breach was commenced near the gate, and a portion of the storming party
advanced to within thirty yards to open a musketry fire-the French Infantry being on the right and the British on the left. This
advance caused the allies partially to slacken the fire of their artillery, when the enemy, emerging from their cover, opened a heavy
musketry fire upon the advancing troops. So vigorous was the resistance of the Chinese that the French, after having crossed the
wet ditches in the most gallant manner, were unable to escalade the walls. The efforts of the Sappers to lay down the pontoon
bridge were unavailing, no less than fifteen of the men carrying it being knocked over in one instant, and one of the pontoons
destroyed. The difficulties were therefore considerable, and the troops had to wade through deep mud and swim ditches, the
banks of which were thickly planted with sharp stakes.
Sir Robert Napier at this crisis had two howitzers of Captain Govan's battery brought up to within fifty yards of the gate, with the
view more speedily to create a breach. A space sufficient to admit one man was soon made, and the storming party forced their
way in by single file in the most gallant manner.
Lieutenant Robert Montresser Rogers, commanding the leading (letter E) company, Private John M'Dougall, of the 44th, and
Lieutenant Edmund Henry Lenon, of the 67th Regiment, after swimming the ditches, entered the North Taku Fort by one of the
apertures during the assault, and were the first of the British established on its walls. They passed through in the same order as
their names are recorded, each assisting the other to mount the embrasure, which was climbed by sticking bayonets into the wall.
This gained for them the much prized Victoria Cross, which was also conferred upon Lieutenant Nathaniel Burslem, Ensign John
Worthy Chaplin, and Private Thomas Lane, of the 67th Regiment, for similar gallantry. At the same time the French had effected
their entrance by escalade, and the garrison, driven back step by step, were hurled pell-mell through the embrasures on the
opposite side, where the same obstacles which had formed an impediment to the advance of the allies proved an obstruction to the
retreat of the Chinese. In addition to two wet ditches and two belts of pointed bamboo stakes, there was, besides swampy
ground, a third ditch and bank.
A destructive fire was opened upon the enemy by the storming parties from the Cavalier, enhanced by the canister fire of Captain
Govan's guns, which had been moved to the left of the force to bear on them, causing the ground outside of it to be covered with
the dead and wounded of the garrison. About an hour afterwards the whole of the forts on both sides of the river hoisted flags of
trace. When summoned to surrender, however, an evasive and insolent, reply was given, the allies being defied to advance to the
attack. After evincing considerable obstinacy, the Tartars were compelled to succumb, and the allied Infantry, pushing on towards
the outer North Fort, scaled the walls without further opposition, and made prisoners the garrison of two thousand men. Towards
evening the Chinese were seen evacuating the South Forts. Detachments of British and French were therefore passed over in
ships' boats to occupy them.
This success was not gained without severe loss. The 44th had Captain George Ingham and Lieutenant Robert Montressor Rogers
severely wounded, fourteen men killed, one drummer and forty-five men wounded.
The words "TAKU FORT'' were authorised by Her Majesty to he borne on the colour of the regiment, to commemorate its gallantry
at their capture.
Shanghai being threatened by the Taeping rebels, the 44th regiment was despatched at a few hours' notice, on the 25th August,
for its protection, landed there on the 10th of September and was quartered in Joss-houses and Yamuns, in the Chinese city. The
war terminated on the l3th of October by the allies jointly occupying one of the gates at Pekin, the ratification of the former treaty,
and the payment of a large sum of money by the Chinese Government.
The 44th continued at Shanghai, where the regiment suffered much from fever and ague, consequent on the wretched
accommodation and unhealthiness of climate, until the 15th of November, when it was removed to Hong Kong, landing there on
the 27th November, from this date the command of it devolved upon Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Browne, Lieut.-Colonel
MacMahon having been appointed commandant at that island. Both these officers, for their services in China, were made
Companions of the Order of the Bath. Captain Gregory and the Honourable R. Baillie Hamilton were promoted to the rank of Brevet-
Major, and Lieutenant Rogers to an unattached company, the latter in addition to the award of the Victoria Cross.
Upon Brevet Lieut.-Colonel Browne returning to England, in February, 1861, the command of the regiment was assumed by Major
John Hackett, Brigadier Staveley, who received the distinguished service pension having continued in command of the force at Tien-
Tsin, with the rank of Brigadier-General. Whilst stationed at Hong Kong the regiment was divided into wings, one being quartered
there and the other in hats and tents at Kowloon, on the main land opposite.
The summer of 1861 at Hong Kong was an unusually healthy season, and the regiment had but little sickness for a quarter so
In September the 44th received the order for its return to India, and, on leaving China, the following order and letter were
published to the regiment:
Head-quarters Hong Kong, 13th October, 1861.
Division Orders. No. I.
H.M.'s 44th Regiment being about to leave this command, Brigadier-General Crawford, C.B., commanding South China, begs to
convey to Colonel MacMahon, C.B., the commandant, and to Major Hackett, commanding the regiment, his unqualified approbation
of the state of the regiment.
The Brigadier-General has been unable to make the half-yearly inspection, in consequence of the continued bent of summer and his
own protracted illness, but, from his constant and close observation, he is perfectly satisfied that the regiment leaves this
command in the highest state of discipline and efficiency.
The interior arrangement of the 44th Regiment appears to be admirable, ensuring correctness and precision in all that is required
from a regiment.
To officers, non-commissioned officers, and men of H.M.'s 44th Regiment, the Brigadier-General tenders his best thanks for the
admirable conduct of the regiment whilst under his command, and best wishes for their prosperity.
(Signed) C. F. GRANT. Capt.. D.A.A.G.
Head-quarters, Hong Kong,
Oct. 13, 1861. No. 503.
SIR,-The Brigadier-General Commanding in South China has forwarded to Sir J. Michel his Order No. 1 of this date.
In every word of that Order the Major-General desires me to say he heartily concurs, and directs that you will notify to the
regiment his approbation of their great merit as a corps.
He will not fail to bring very prominently to the notice of the Commander-in-Chief in Bombay, find also of His Royal Highness the
Duke of Cambridge, the Order issued by Brigadier-General Crawford, and his own thorough concurrence in its spirit.
The Major-General much regrets that he was not enabled to see the regiment before their embarkation, and express to them in
person his sense of the loss he sustains by their departure.
I have, &c., (Signed) L. MANSERGH, Capt., D.A A.G.
On the 11th, 12th, and 14th of October the 44th, being relieved by the 99th, from Canton, embarked for Bombay in three
detachments, and on arrival at Vingoria, on the Malabar coast, during the month of December, proceeded to Belgaum, to relieve
the 83rd, under orders for England.
The head-quarters, under Lieut.-Colonel MacMahon, arrived at Belgaum on the 4th of January1862, the other two portions of the
regiment having reached that station on the 18th and 25th of the previous month. The women and children arrived here from
Madras at the same time, most of them having been separated from their husbands and fathers for upwards of four years.
For this campaign the men on the 44th were presented with China War medals with clasps for ‘Taku Forts’, 752 such medals were
presented on the 8th of January 1863 by Brigadier Adams, commander of the Belgaum district. The time in Belgaum passes
mostly without incidence in both the musters and the history of the regiment with the 44th spending in all nearly 3 years at
Belgaum. On the 14th of January 1865, the Sergeant Major (No. 2099 David Watson) boards a ship for passage to England for
discharge to pension, the following day Cornelius McCarthy is provisionally promoted to take his place. Sergeant Major McCarthy is
confirmed in that rank on the 31st of May 1865 and towards the end of the year the regiment is warned for orders to return to
England, 287 men volunteering for other regiments at that time.
3 companies of the 44th board the transport ‘Tweed’ at Bombay on the 20th of November 1865, the remainder (including
Sergeant Major McCarthy) over a month later on the 23rd of December 1865 on the ‘Dilawar’. On the passage back to England a
fire broke out on the ‘Dilawar’ on the 15th of March 1866 in the spirit room, the fire was extinguished with the greatest difficulty
due to high winds and a rolling ship. The conduct of the regiment on this occasion was described as ‘most admirable’. The ‘Dilawar’
landed at Portsmouth on the 28th of March 1866 and the men proceeded to Dover where they were joined by the men from the
‘Tweed’ and the depot company from Colchester. The establishment at that time was 4 field officers, 10 Captains, 12 Lieutenants,
8 Ensigns, 48 Sergeants (including a single Sergeant Major), 40 Corporals, 21 Drummers and 560 Privates in 10 Companies.
Cornelius is on a well deserved furlough from the 18th of October to the 30th of November 1866 and the regiment left Dover after
a year on the 8th of March 1867.
Having entrained at Dover the 44th proceed to Aldershot where they become part of the 2nd Infantry Brigade and are housed in
the West Block Permanent Barracks. The stay in Aldershot was not to be prolonged, 10 months later on the 22nd of January 1868
they are moved to Portsmouth where they board the ‘Simoom’ which takes them to Kingstown and another spell in Ireland. Once
in Ireland the main HQ and 4 companies proceed to Kilkenny (including Cornelius), 4 companies to Templemore and the other 2
companies at Birr. Whilst at Kilkenny the Commanding Officer presents Cornelius McCarthy with his Long Service and Good
Conduct medal on the 1st of May 1868, with this award for 21 years service comes a £5 a year gratuity. The 44th move on the
27th of July 1869 to the Curragh camp, it is near here at Dublin on the 11th of October that Cornelius marries Agnes M. Mooney
with the rev. Francis O’Rielly (Church of Rome) presiding. At this time his picture is taken and a clock is presented to him with the
PRESENTED TO SERGEANT MAJOR McCARTHY FOR LONG AND MERITORIOUS SERVICE AND ON HIS MARRIAGE BY COLONEL
BROWNE C.B. AND OFFICERS 44TH REGIMENT 1869.
11 days later on the 22nd of October the 44th move to Inniskillen with 4 companies at Newry, 2 companies at Armagh and a
company at Monaghan. In July of 1870 the regiment move to the Curragh where it is concentrated for possible deployment to the
Cape of Good Hope, during this stay at Inniskillen or just after the move a child is born to Agnes, the muster of July to September
1870 shows a 1 month old child on the married list to the couple. The regiment are not due to remain in Ireland for long as orders
for a return to India are received on the 27th of July 1871, the child of Cornelius and Agnes is not to see this voyage however as it
died on the 13th of March 1871. The East Essex board the ‘Malabar’ at Queenstown on the 27th of September 1871 and using the
Suez Canal arrive at Bombay on the 1st of November. From here they proceed by rail to their new location at Kamptee (Kampti).
The 44th were to remain at Kamptee for the next 4 years. A second child (Edward Reuben) was born to Agnes at Kamptee on the
17th of December 1872. On the 12th of September 1873, the Quartermaster W.H. McHarg embarked for England (44th Brigade
Depot, Warley) after 30 years with the 44th, including 17 years as the Quartermaster. With no immediate replacement it is decided
that Sergeant Major McCarthy is to be the new Quartermaster and his is commissioned as such on the 21st of January 1874
The regiment leave Kampti to replace the 107th Regiment (Sussex, formerly Bengal Infantry) at Secunderabad on the 26th of
November 1875. Quartermaster McCarthy has obviously decided for his own reasons that he does not want to continue his time in
India and so he exchanges with Quartermaster Samuel William Tempest of the 107th on the 30th of July 1875. The 107th
Regiment depart from Bombay before the arrival of the 44th and land at Portsmouth 6 weeks later in December 1875, they then
take up station at Parkhurst on the Isle of Wight. Quartermaster McCarthy is shown as taking leave from the 5th of September
1876 to the 22nd of September 1876 and the 22nd of February 1877 to the 7th of March 1877. On the 28th of August 1877 the
regiment moves across the water to Portsmouth to go into barracks there. Cornelius is again on leave on the 13th of April 1878 to
the 12th of May 1878. This is the last but one entry for Cornelius McCarthy, he dies on the 17th of May 1878 at Ventnor, Isle of
Wight and is replaced by No. 3001 Orderly Room Sergeant Thomas Kinloch. No explanation of the death is given in musters, but
death is registered in the civil births, deaths and marriages, the cause of his death was Kidney problems. Cornelius McCarthy was
47 years old at the time of his death, he’d served the army for over 30 years man and boy.
|Cornelius McCarthy, 3rd, 44th & 107th Regiments, 1846-1878