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The Times 10.4.1855 p 5




Sir, — In The Times of yesterday I observed a letter signed ‘Omnibus’ professing to quote statements from the work of the late Captain Nolan, in reference to the efficiency of the British cavalry, and instancing the success of the 15th Light Dragoons, at Villars en Couche, in the campaign of 1794, in Flanders. The account, as given by ‘Omnibus,’ is full of gross inaccuracies, for which I can scarcely believe Captain Nolan’s publication is answerable; and I therefore subjoin an authentic narrative of that brilliant affair.

On the 24th of April, 1794, two squadrons of the 15th Light Dragoons, mustering 186 officers and men, and 120 of the Austrian regiment of Leopold Hussars, encountered a force of 10,000 French cavalry, infantry, and artillery. They first charged the cavalry, which broke and fled; the infantry, both in line and squares, was then ridden down and dispersed; and the cavalry, which had re-formed in their rear, was again charged, put to flight, and pursued under the guns of Bouchain. The 15th and the Hussars then retired, and cut their way through the French infantry (which had re-formed, supported by their artillery) and joined the column of heavy cavalry, which was by this time approaching the scene of action. The loss of the French on this occasion was, as reported, 1,200 killed and wounded. Three guns were taken, the remaining 50 pieces could not be brought off. The 15th had 16 men and 19 horses killed; one officer, 12 men, and 18 horses wounded. The officer who commanded the two squadrons of the 15th, and was wounded, was the late Sir William Aylett; not Sir James Irskine, as stated by ‘Omnibus.’

This charge of the 15th secured the safety of the Emperor of Germany, who was in danger of being taken prisoner by the enemy, and the Cross of the order of Maria Theresa was in consequence conferred upon each of the eight officers of the regiment who were in the action.

General Otto, who commanded and was present with the 15th, stated the loss of the enemy at above 800 killed, and three pieces of cannon.

I am, Sir, your obedient servant

Devonport, April 6.

PS. I believe your correspondent ‘Omnibus’ is equally incorrect in his statement respecting the loss of the 3d Dragoons in the Punjab. I have no means of ascertaining the point at present, but I apprehend the circumstance did not occur at Goojerat.

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