First Afghanistan War Charge at Tezin Pass September 1842, First Sikh War and Second Sikh War “Devil’s Children” multiple charger, and Crimean War “probable” Charge of the Heavy Brigade

The superb, well documented and rare to survive combination First Afghanistan War Charge at Tezin Pass September 1842, First Sikh War and Second Sikh War “Devil’s Children” multiple charger, and Crimean War “probable” Charge of the Heavy Brigade man’s group awarded to Sergeant Bernard Shamburg, 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, formerly 3rd King’s Own Light Dragoons - the Devil’s Children. Shamburg from Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, originally spent the first five years of his service combatting civil unrest in Ireland with the Royal Irish Dragoon’s, but then volunteered for service out in India from 1837 with the 3rd Light Dragoons, and would remain out there through to 1853. Of the 420 men in the Regiment who sailed to India in 1837, only 47 of the original contingent would return to England in 1853.

During the latter stages of the First Afghanistan War, his regiment formed part of General Pollock's 'Army of Retribution' which invaded the country a second time both to relieve British troops in Jalalabad and Kandahar, and to re-establish British prestige in the district. They fought a passage through the Khyber Pass in April 1842, and amongst continuous skirmishing they fought a major engagement at Tezin Pass which destroyed the Afghan forces of Mahomed Akbar-Khan, before entering Kabul in September 1842. It was however whilst fighting the Sikhs during both the First and Second Sikh Wars in the Sutlej and Punjab campaigns this his regiment gained the nickname of the “Devil’s Children”. During both conflicts the 3rd Light Dragoons made multiple and decisive cavalry charges, with Shamburg being present in the major engagements at Moodkee on 18th December 1845, Ferozeshuhur from 21st to 22nd December 1845, and Sobraon on 10th February 1846 during the Sutlej campaign, and then at Chillianwala on 13th January and Goojerat on 21st February 1849 during the Punjab campaign. At Chilianwala his regiment was one of the few to come out with credit, when closely engaged with the Sikh cavalry who were dressed in chain mail and helmeted as in medieval times.

On his return home, Shamburg then re-transferred back to the Royal Irish Dragoons, and was present with them in the Crimea from October 1854 during the Russian War. As such he is listed as having been probably present when two squadrons his regiment made the decisive flanking charge that broke the Russian cavalry attack at Balaclava on 25th October 1854 in what became known as the Charge of the Heavy Brigade. Just over a month later he was hospitalised owing to rheumatism from his time in India, and soon returned home.Group of 5: Cabul Medal 1842, variation with ‘Victoria Regina’ legend to obverse, and Cabul 1842 reverse, fitted with a contemporary German silver suspension of the form usually seen on the China Medal 1842, and named in a similar officially impressed style to the China Medal, indicative of slightly later issue circa 1850; (BERNARD SHAMBERG, 3RD. DRAGOONS.); Sutlej Medal 1845-1846, reverse for Moodkee 1845, with 2 Clasps: Ferozeshuhur, Sobraon, officially impressed naming in a slightly later form circa 1850; (BERNARD SHAMBERG, 3RD. DRAGOONS.); Punjab Medal 1848-1849, 2 Clasps: Goojerat, Chilianwala, correct officially impressed naming; (CORPL. B. SHAMBURG, 3RD. LT. DRAGNS.); Crimea Medal 1854-1856, 3 Clasps: Balaklava, Inkermann, Sebastopol, regimentally engraved naming in serif capitals; (SEJT. BERND. SHAMBURG. 4TH. DN. GDS:); Turkish Crimea Medal 1855, British issue, with double ring suspension, unnamed as issued.Condition: first two with correct but slightly later issue impressed naming, third with suspension slightly slack and rod bent, overall light contact wear, Good Very Fine.Provenance: Sotheby, September 1989 and Noonans October 2021.Bernard Shamburg, surname also spelt Shamburgh and Shamberg, and as Schomberg, was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland, and having been a farmer, then attested for service into the British Army when aged 21 years and 3 months on 29th September 1832, joining as a Private (No.1163) the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards. Shamburg would go on to serve for the next 24 years, but owing to numerous spells in confinement owing to misconduct, his service would be totalled at 20 years and 292 days, of which seem 16 years would be spent on overseas service with 15 years and 1 month in India, and 11 months in Turkey and the Crimea.

On his joining his regiment, Shamburg found himself on service in Ireland where his regiment had been posted to that same year, and during his period there, he was with his regiment and employed in dealing with the state of civil unrest there. It spent its time quelling riots and dispersing illegal meetings.Trouble began when he was first placed in confinement from 14th to 27th October 1834, and he was once again in confinement between 4th to 23rd December 1836. Shamburg then volunteered for transfer to the 3rd King’s Own Light Dragoons on 1st July 1837, which regiment was detailed for service in India. Shamburg arrived with the main body on 13th November, disembarking at Calcutta.Shamburg was promoted to Corporal on 16th February 1840, and was awarded his 1st Good Conduct Pay on 1st September 1840, only to be then tried by Court Martial on 5th May 1841, and reduced to Private and deprived of his Good Conduct Pay.After the British retreat from Afghanistan in 1842, the Regiment joined General Pollock's 'Army of Retribution' which invaded the country a second time both to relieve British troops in Jalalabad and Kandahar, and to re-establish British prestige in the district. They fought a passage through the Khyber Pass in April, 1842, and amongst continuous skirmishing they fought a major engagement at Tezin Pass (Tazeen Pass) which destroyed the Afghan forces of Mahomed Akbar-Khan. The British entered Kabul on 15th September 1842.Of his regiment’s action at the Tezin Pass, Sir Harry Lumsden would recall: “The enemy artillery and cavalry came down the valley and opened a well directed fire on the rear guard from a distance of some 1200 yards… when the enemy cavalry had advanced about half way towards us I went with an order to the officer commanding 3rd Dragoons to retire before the enemy and when they should come out from hills to charge. The moment the Dragoons retired the enemy came out in thousands, horse and foot thinking our cavalry were repulsed. The Dragoons retired until joined by the 1st Bengal Cavalry and by Tait’s Horse, who on being formed up, received the order to charge. Every horse shot around and off went the whole line… in a flash our cavalry were through the broken enemy like lighting, back again and though them again. We could see nothing of the actual fighting… only here and there the glimmer of a sabre through the dust, but the number of Afghan horses without riders galloping over the plain, spoke their own tale.” One officer who had command of a squadron of the 3rd Light Dragoons wrote home enthusiastically that “all the officers and men of our regiment distinguished themselves.”Shortly after the entry into Kabul, the 3rd Light Dragoons were sent to Bamier over the Hindu Koosh as escort to Sir Robert Sale, and witnessed the touching reunion with his wife and daughter after having survived being held captive by the Afghans after the earlier disastrous retreat from Kabul.Shamburg then returned with his regiment to peace time duty in India. Between October and December 1842 his regiment was stationed at Ferozepore, Pareh Walla, and Lundi Khana, and in early 1843 was moved to the station at Kumanl.Shamburg then took part in the First Sikh War during the Sutlej Campaign, being present in action at the Battle of Moodkee on 18th December 1845, where 57 men of his regiment were killed out of 519 present.It was in this action that his regiment lived up to the nickname given to it by the Sikh’s of “The Devil’s Children”. On the infantry advancing the Sikh cavalry extended around the sides. The 3rd Light Dragoons on the right of the British line were ordered to attack. It is clear that as had happened so often the men of the 3rd Dragoons attacked with little comment. Lieutenant George Denham-Cooke described how, cheered on by their Commander in Chief “it maddened our men and prevented the officers from keeping them back… we kept advancing at a gallop… the dust was so thick that I could not see my horse’s head, but every now and again I felt him bound into the air…. the enemy had now discovered us and the round shot came tearing through our ranks. The first shot took off a trumpeter’s head just behind me…” The leading troops came upon the enemy. From there on, it was every trooper for himself.

“They swept into the whole mass of the Sikh infantry and guns, silenced for a time the latter and put numerous cavalry to flight” in the words of General Gough describing their “praiseworthy gallantry”. Night brought a close to the fierce conflict in which casualties had been high on both sides.Shamburg was next present at the Battle of Ferozeshuhur from 21st to 22nd December 1845, where 55 men of his regiment were killed out of 446 present having in this action repeatedly charged enemy guns and suffered heavy casualties. The 3rd Light Dragoons made a dashing charge over the Sikh re-entrenchments, cutting down the Sikh gunners and sweeping through the Sikh infantry to the opposite side of the enemy’s position. Gough in his dispatches said: “Her Majesty’s 3rd Light Dragoons charged and took some of the most formidable batteries.” George Denham-Cooke wrote that: “The Sikh’s thought they had beaten us until we charged and cut to pieces and dispersed three battalions of their best infantry, which enabled our infantry to rush in and secure the guns.” As night fell the Sikh camp blazed, with the entrenchments, partly in British and partly Sikh hands, ammunition exploding and intermittent firing continued through the night.

Trooper Shamburg and his comrades would have had little sleep, and little respite had been had when in the morning the engagement resumed but the Sikh army had lost spirit for a fight and withdrew.Shamburg missed out on his regiments participation in the Battle of Aliwal on 20th January, but was present to take part in the Battle of Sobraon on 10th February 1846, which was the final action of the First Sikh War. By this time his regiment had been reduced to less than 300 strong out of the 700 who had took to the field on 12th December 1845. For this final battle was on the left of Sir Robert Dick’s division. The morning of the action was spent in an artillery duel before the British infantry then advanced. It then came the turn of the 3rd Light Dragoons, which was vividly described in Gough’s despatch. “The Sikhs, even when at particular points their entrenchments were mastered with the bayonet, strove to regain them by the fiercest conflict sword in hand. So was it until the cavalry on the left under Major General Sir Thomas Thackwell, had moved forward and ridden through the openings in the entrenchments made by our sappers, in single file, and reformed as they passed them; and the 3rd Dragoons, whom no obstacle usually held by horse appears to check, had on this day, as at Ferozeshuhur, galloped over and cut down the obstinate defenders of batteries and field works. Not until the weight of three divisions of infantry with every field artillery gun which could be sent to their aid, had been sent into the scale, that history finally declared for the division… At Sobraon the 3rd Light Dragoons galloped over the batteries and field works with the infantry in close support, the enemy orderly retreat turning into a rout. A Corporal Pearman described the charge of the 3rd Light Dragoons: “In we went by the dead and dying, and partly over the poor fellows and up on the parapet our horses arrived. One of the Sikh artillery men struck at me with his sponge staff but missed me, hitting my horse on the hind quarters. This made the horse bend down. I cut a round cut at him and felt my sword strike him but I could not say where, there was such a smoke on. I went with the rest trough the camp at their battalions which we broke up.” The 3rd Light Dragoons were however lucky to not be hit too much and riddled by their own guns which were firing in support into the Sikh positions, and unable to see who was who owing to the smoke.

The British guns could not depress enough and therefore mostly fired overhead. Within the entrenchment the squadron had been reformed and charged the retreating enemy repeatedly. Lieutenant Denham-Cooke described the resulting scene: “The tremendous sight… such as few men have seen and more probably will see again” of about 20,000 Sikhs trying to escape over the Sutlej causing the bridge to collapse. The retreating forces, hurled into the deep swirling waters of the Sutlej, under a relentless fire from the advancing British infantry and artillery lost at least 8000 killed - few reached the relative safety of the far bank.With the disintegration of the Sikh army, the conflict came to an end on 9th March 1846. For his part, Shamburg has survived unscathed, and on 77th November 1847 would have his Good Conduct Pay restored, being then once again promoted to Corporal on 1st February 1848. Shamburg would have been stationed at Umballa in mid 1848, and was then present on operations during the Second Sikh War in the Punjab Campaign, being present in action with 586 men of his regiment at the Battle of Chillianwala on 13th January 1849.Chilianwala was all but a defeat for the British troops, but the 3rd Light Dragoons came out with credit. Four squadrons were present with about 120 rank and file each, whilst the British forces numbered about 14,000, the Sikh army spread through six miles of scrub numbering about 30,000, well concealed in scrub along the banks of the Jhelum. The infantry suffered fearful losses, whilst the cavalry on the right, including the 14th Light Dragoons, turned and flew in disarray. On the British left the Sikh cavalry tried to turn the British line. At this a squadron of the 3rd Light Dragoons was ordered to charge, this being once again described by Corporal Pearman. “Well away we went. Captain Unett in front, and Lieutenant Stisted and Cornet Gough. Captain Unett shouted “Come on boys! Now for it”. But he was soon cut down and so was Lieutenant Stisted and young Gough was also on the ground, the first and second badly wounded. The enemy formed a complete wedge and we had to cut our way through them for quite a hundred yards before there was clear ground.”Captain Unett wrote afterwards: “I received a sword cut…. near a foot in length” across the back and left shoulder, then a spear thrust which glanced off the ribs “cutting through everything and drawing lots of claret” and finally “a tremendous blow across the loins” with a matchlock intended to knock him off his horse.”The Sikh cavalry dressed in chain mail and helmeted as in medieval times, a bar vertically down to protect the nose, re-formed their line on nearly the same ground on which the squadron had charged through them, and they had to charged back again.

The regiments casualties are 1 sergeant and 23 rank and file killed, 2 officers 14 rank and file wounded according to the official despatch, though this differs slightly from other reports. Again Corporal Shamburgh survived unscathed.As night fell, the British Army had lost 2000 and the Sikhs nearer 5000, and Corporal Pearman wrote: “that night I prayed to God that I might never see that sight again.”During the Second Sikh War, Shamburg was ultimately present in the Battle of Goojerat on 21st February 1849. At 7 am the line advanced toward the enemy lines, the 3rd Light Dragoons to the left of the centre. The artillery began a massive gun duel which lasted over 2.5 hour, after which the infantry advanced, after severe fighting, putting the Sikh army to flight .Round six and more round shot and shell flew over the heads of the waiting ranks of the 3rd Light Dragoons as they waited their turn. Then ordered to advance they drew out some Sikh artillery who were led into an ambush by the apparently retreating cavalry after which they advanced again. Corporal Pearman described the advance: “The battle was now at its height and the air had become filled with shot, shell and smoke. Trumpets were sounding, drums beating, bugles sounding, Colonels and the officers hollering; when all of a sudden came the order for the 3rd Light Dragoons to charge… we got among some of their cavalry and killed a few… we came to a halt on the left of the town of Gujerat when their guns began to give it us again hot. But in a short time we again at a trot.”The Sikh army disintegrated and orderly retreat turned to rout, the 3rd Light Dragoons harrying the retreating forces until dark, when weary they returned to the camp and Gujerat. The casualties had been light with only rank and file wounded. This battle saw an end to the Sikh Wars.The regiment then returned to its base at Ambala and the particularly unhealthy climate there, where over the next four years one officer and 82 men died of disease. Of the 420 men in the Regiment who sailed to India in 1837, only 47 would return to England in 1853.Shamburg was once again one of the lucky ones and in addition was awarded Good Conduct Pay on both the 7th November 1849 and the 7th November 1851, before being promoted to Sergeant on 1st November 1852. Shamburg was posted home with his regiment to England via Karachi in February 1853, having served the entirety of his regiments tour in India, a little over 16 years. His regiment disembarked at Gravesend on 27th June 1853.On his arrival in England, Sergeant Shamburg was once again transferred, this time back to his old regimennt, the 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards, with whom he had originally seen service between September 1832 and July 1837 when stationed in Ireland. Shamburg transferred on 1st July 1853, and joined it in Ireland.It was in mid 1854 that he was once again posted on foreign service, this time to face at different enemy, the Russians owing to the onset of the Crimean War. Sailing via Malta, by 6th July his regiment reached Scutari, and then at the end of the month was at Varna on the Black Sea. This was an unpleasant location, of which the commanding officer wrote: ‘the horses are picketed in the boiling sun, and in deep sand which is scorching hot. At nights the dew is cold and heavy. There are many dead horses lying about the shore, the stench from which is awful.” Cholera soon set in, and by the end of July some 12 men were in hospital and some had died from it. By 19th August 1854 some 23 men had been buried owing to cholera. Discipline was therefore not good, and “Private’s and N.C.O.’s get drunk on escort duty and the N.C.O.’s are not broken or the privates flogged.” It was therefore a relief to leave Varna on 22nd September, and to be taken by steamer to the Crimea, being disembarked at the little port of Balaclava on 1st October.Soon afterwards he and two squadrons of his regiment found themselves involved in the Battle of Balaclava on 25th October 1854 as part of General SirJames Scarlet’s Heavy Brigade, and as such went down in history when defeating a Russian attack. In the book ‘Forgotten Heroes - The Charge of the Heavy Brigade’ by Roy Dutton, on page 214, Shamburg, also recorded as Schomberg, is listed as having ‘probably rode in the charge’.The Heavy Brigade was composed of two squadrons each of the 1st Dragoons (The Royals), the 2nd Dragoons (Scots Greys), the 4th Dragoon Guards (Royal Irish), the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales’s), and the 6th Dragoons (Inniskilling).Shamburg’s commanding officer, Colonel Edward Hodge takes up the story: ‘a large body of cavalry came into the plain and were charged by the Greys and the Inniskillings.
We were in reserve, and I brought forward our left and charged their cavalry in flank. The Greys were a little in confusion and retiring when our charge settled the business. We completely routed the hussars and cossacks and drove them back.”This was the last time the Shamburg would wave his sword in a cavalry charge, the first time being in a gorge before Cabul back in 1842.Captain Forster who rode with the 4th Dragoon Guards in the charge would recall in correspondence with his commanding officer that: “When we moved down by the side of the vineyard to attack the Russians, we were in column of Troops in Squadrons left in front. At the bottom of the vineyard where we wheeled to the left, we were certainly in column of troops, as I remember perfectly your ordering one, when my squadron spurred through some broken ground at the end of the vineyard to front-form my squadron, and charge immediately in the flank of the Russians and that you would being up the second squadron after me.” Another officer would recall that “the 4th came up at a very slow trot, till close to the enemy when they charged them in flank at a gallop and sent them to the right about.”Kingslake, who late wrote the history of the Crimean War would note that “Hodge went on in person with his left squadron, and soon with that and Forster’s squadron were wheeled and formed up with their front towards the enemy’s right flank… the enemy made a hasty endeavour to cover the flank thus threatened by an evolution from the rear of his masses, but the troops which moved where too late to complete this manoeuvre… having burst his way into the Column Hodge was driving fast through it from flank to flank - driving through it without losing men to the far side of the Russian mass.” The trumpeter sounded to rally but already the Russian cavalry was breaking upland beginning to retreat.

It was probably the charge of the 4th Dragoons, followed closely on that of the 1st Squadron of the Inniskillings on the right, which broke the camels back of the wavering Russian cavalry.Following the destruction of the Russian cavalry the 4th Dragoon Guards along with the rest of the Heavy Brigade were ordered to support the notorious charge of the Light Brigade taking place in the valley to the north. Fortunately the supporting charge was called off by Lord Lucan in the nick of time so the Heavy Brigade were not to face the same obliteration as had been wrought upon the Light Brigade.Shamburg was also present in a minor role with his regiment at the Battle of Inkermann on 5th November 1854, but was otherwise employed in front of Sebastopol. It was disease however which was most prevalent in takin its toll on the regiment. Major W.C. Forrest of the 4th Dragoon Guards, in his letters now held in the National Army Museum. would write one on 5th December 1854 from the Camp near Kadikoi in which he recounted that ‘Poor old Schomberg (in the musters as Shamburg) is sick at Scutari, we have now only 150 men at their duty, and about 160 horses etc nominally at their duty, but scarcely able to carry their own provisions up from Balaclava’.Shamburg was suffering from rheumatism which had been originally brought on by military service when out in India circa 1844, and after some 11 months in Turkey and the Crimea, he was posted home (apparently on 26th February 1855), being eventually discharged at Chatham on 28th October 1856. He was by then listed as ‘being considered unfit for further military service’. In a medical report that had been written at Sheffield on 10th August 1856, he is noted as having suffered from ‘rheumatism and general debility. The rheumatism first appeared in the East Indies about 12 years ago - he suffered greatly from this in the autumn of 1854 when in the Crimea - was sent down from the seat of war being crippled by the disease.’ As of 1877, Shamburg’s widow was receiving a grant from the Patriotic Fund. Confirmed as his full entitlement.