Although it may appear late in the day to publish for the
first time a record of military life in the Peninsular and Waterloo
campaigns, at a date now separated from us by the greater part
of a century, I am encouraged by the opinion of many friends to
hope that the contents of this book may prove not without
interest to the general public, and possibly of some value to the
student of military history.
A recent perusal of the "Memoirs of General Marbot
me fully sensible of the fact that, in comparison with the thrilling
scenes and incidents with which that book of contemporary
history abounds, this volume may appear tame, if not dull. The
good horse "Bob
" at Girijo cannot claim to emulate the deeds of
" at Eylau, although, like her, he saved his helpless rider;
from death or captivity; nor had her master the opportunities,
even if he had the will, to perform such deeds of desperate daring
as the French General describes. Something, possibly, should
be allowed for the difference of nationality and temperament of
the two writers; and, in any case, the writing of the English
Cavalry Officer carries with it, I venture to think, by its directness
and simplicity, a conviction of accuracy and absence of
The original volume was written near the scene of the events
described in it, and bears at its commencement the superscription,
"Copied from some memoranda made at the time.
" Both ink
and writing have stood the test of age well, and are still for the
most part clear and legible; though fortunately for the Editor,
a fair copy was also made some thirty-five years later. It has
been thought best to publish it almost exactly as it was written,
suppressing no names, and to let it tell its own story. Consequently,
little is needed by way of introduction or explanation.
The Author, Lieutenant-Colonel William Tomkinson, was the
youngest son of Henry Tomkinson, Esq., of Dorfold Hall,
Born in 1790, he was gazetted to a cornetcy in the 16th Light
Dragoons in December, 1807; joined his regiment in April, 1808;
and in 1809 entered on that period of mihtary adventure described
in this volume. He was thanked in the general orders of
the day of January 22nd, 1811, and recommended for promotion
in the Duke of Wellington's despatch to the Horse Guards of
May 14th of the same year. In 1812 he was gazetted a Captain
in the 60th Regiment, from which he exchanged back into his
old regiment without leaving it. It is somewhat remarkable
that, while severely wounded in four places in almost his first
skirmish, he passed practically unscathed through four years'
service in the Peninsula and the Waterloo campaign, although
under fire, to the best of his recollection, on nearly one hundred
occasions. He received the Peninsular and Waterloo medals,
with clasps for the actions of Busaco, Fuentes, Salamanca, and
Of his character it may be said that, simple in tastes and
habits, quiet and unassuming in demeanour, yet prompt and
decisive in action, of iron constitution, and an excellent rider, he
was in all respects a worthy follower of the great leader under
whom he served. He retired on half pay in 1821, and settling
at Wellington in his native county, engaged actively in the
duties and pursuits of a country gentleman, as a magistrate,
landlord, and sportsman. In the hunting field he became as
distinguished as in the field of battle, and with his two brothers
formed one of the trio sung by the Cheshire poet as "The
brothers three from Dorfold sprung whom none of us could beat.
He married, in 1836, Susan, daughter of Thomas Tarleton,
Esq., of Bolesworth Castle, Cheshire (by Frances, daughter of
Philip Egerton, Esq., of Oulton Park), and sister of the late
Admiral Sir Walter Tarleton, K.C.B., and died in 1872, in his
83rd year, leaving surviving issue four sons and two daughters.
One of the former is Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Tomkinson, now
in command of the ist Royal Dragoons; and upon me, as his
heir and successor, devolves the duty of editing his diary.
Willington Hall, Tarporley.
Researched & Compiled by Way-Mark.