The very fine Peninsular War Battle of Corunna and William IV Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal pair awarded to Quarter Master Sergeant John Robertson, 1st Battalion, 26th Cameronian Regiment of Foot, who saw service during the early stages of the Peninsular War in the retreat from Spain, and was at the Battle of Corunna on 16th January 1809 before being evacuated with the British Army. Later present during 1809 in the disastrous Walcheren campaign, he was stationed in the Channel Islands at Jersey from December 1809 to mid 1811 when he
The very fine Peninsular War Battle of Corunna and William IV Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal pair awarded to Quarter Master Sergeant John Robertson, 1st Battalion, 26th Cameronian Regiment of Foot, who saw service during the early stages of the Peninsular War in the retreat from Spain, and was at the Battle of Corunna on 16th January 1809 before being evacuated with the British Army. Later present during 1809 in the disastrous Walcheren campaign, he was stationed in the Channel Islands at Jersey from December 1809 to mid 1811 when he returned with his regiment to the Peninsular War. However the Cameronians did not participate in a major action and instead suffered much sickness within the rank, resulting in the regiment being stationed in Gibraltar from September 1812 through to the end of the war and on to the beginning of 1824 when it was posted to Ireland to maintain law and order, being briefly deployed to Lancashire to combat rioters in 1826. He then saw service in India from 1828 to 1833 when he was posted home and discharged, being awarded the long service medal in the same year.
Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 1 Clasp: Corunna; (J. ROBERTSON, 26TH FOOT); Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, William IV large ring issue for 1831-1837; (J. ROBERTSON, QR. M. SERJT. 26TH REGIMENT FOOT. 1833.)
Condition: both slightly polished and with light contact wear, second with edge bruise at 5 o’clock, Very Fine.
John Robertson was born in Stewartown, near Ayr, Scotland, and having been a weaver, and originally a Volunteer with the Berwick Militia, was then paid a bounty of £10-11-0d to enlist as a Private into the 2nd Battalion, 26th Cameronian Regiment of Foot on 22nd October 1807. Initially stationed in Glasgow and ultimately Falmouth, he was then transferred on 10th July 1808 to the 1st Battalion bound for Spain and where he saw service in the early stages of the Peninsula War in Portugal and Spain from 25th September 1808. Having taken part in the winter retreat from Spain, Robertson is listed in December 1808 as sick at Corunna, but had recovered in time to take part in the Battle of Corunna on 16th January 1809.
On his arrival in England he was sent to Gosport, and was promoted to Corporal on 25th February 1809, and then took part in the disastrous Walcheren Campaign in the Netherlands from 25th June to 24th September 1809, before being returned home and stationed at Horsham in Sussex. On 25th December 1809 he was sent to the Channel Islands and stationed at Jersey, where he was reduced to Private on 21st July 1810. Robertson remained on service in Jersey till 24th March 1811, when he returned for service in the Peninsular War, and landed in Portugal on 24th June 1811. Stationed at Lisbon from 25th September 1811, after much sickness in the ranks, the regiment then took up garrison duties in Gibraltar until the end of the war, being stationed there from 24th September 1812. Robertson completed 7 years service on 24th October 1814, and was promoted to Corporal again on 21st January 1815.
With the end of the Peninsular War and the reoccurrence of hostilities in the Waterloo campaign, the 26th Foot remained on garrison service in Gibraltar, and Robertson was still there when he was promoted to Sergeant on 25th May 1819, and was still there when he was promoted to Colour Sergeant on 17th February 1821. The Cameronians were originally ordered to return from Gibraltar in May 1821, but this order was countermanded, and it was not until November 1822 that the regiment was finally transferred to its new posting in Fermoy, County Cork, moving into Cork proper in April 1823. Here, they garrisoned the city, and patrolled the local roads at night. However, the regiment's discipline suffered heavily from the move; in Gibraltar, they had had little interaction with the Spanish-speaking local population, whilst here they could freely socialise in the town. As a result, the rate of drunkenness, and associated minor infractions, increased sharply.
In January 1824 the regiment moved to Kinsale, with detachments in a number of scattered outposts, and then in October to Tralee, again the central point of a number of smaller garrisons. It was expanded from eight to ten companies in March 1825, with Robertson being promoted to Sergeant Major on 26th May 1825, before the battalion began moving to scattered stations around Naas, County Kildare, in October 1825. In 1826 the regiment was ordered to embark for England at short notice in response to extensive rioting in Lancashire, though they returned to Ireland shortly afterwards and took up a garrison posting in the Royal Barracks, Dublin. Their time in Kildare, and to a greater degree in Dublin, was marked by a sharp increase in the rate of desertion; forty-two men deserted in 1826–27, as against thirty-seven in the previous eight years. The regiment moved to Richmond Barracks in January 1827, and in July left Dublin for various postings around Waterford. They were ordered to England late in the year to prepare for colonial service, arriving in Chatham in November, where older men were discharged.
Robertson however was redesigned as a Quarter Master Sergeant on 7th October 1827, and was with the regiment when it was readied for service in India, and embarked at Chatham on 9th May 1828 aboard the transport Rose, disembarking in Madras on 11th September 1828. This was the first time the regiment had seen service in India. It took on a draft of men from the 30th Foot in November, and settled into a peaceful and mostly healthy period as part of the city's garrison at Fort St George.
The regiment was ordered to Calcutta in July 1830, though plans were made for some months to send them to Bangalore instead. On their arrival they moved north to Chinsurah, and were then ordered to march to Kamal, in north-western India. They departed Chinsurah in December, having lost thirteen men there to cholera, and after a long and complicated march arrived at Meerut at the end of March, 1831. They had marched nine hundred miles over eighty days, some days making less than three miles. The subsequent years were again passed in quiet garrison duties, losing around twenty men a year to disease. Robertson however had come to the end of his service, and he proceeded to Calcutta in December 1832, and was then struck of active strength on 14th January 1833, and was shipped home, joining the Indian Depot from India on his arrival at Chatham on 1st June 1833, he was discharged to pension on 11th July 1833 after 25 years and 262 days service, being awarded the Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Robertson was one of 164 men of the 26th Foot to live to claim the Military General Service Medal 1793-1814 with clasp Corunna when it was belatedly issued in the late 1840’s. This was the only battle clasp issued to the 26th Foot for the Peninsular War. Prior to Corunna the regiment had seen service in Egypt in 1801, and three men would claim the medal with the clasps for both Corunna and Egypt, whilst one other man claimed the medal with six clasps, the last five clasps earned however with another regiment. Robertson may well be the only man of his regiment to have earned the medal and also received the Army Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, though this would need confirmatory research. .