At Waterloo, the 51st was part of Colonel Mitchell’s brigade being ordered to occupy a portion of the narrow road leading to the junction of the Hougoumont avenue with the Nivelles road. about 400 yards behind the Chateau.
During heavy fighting, the French cavalry repeatedly tried to penetrate the allied squares. On being repulsed, a body of cuirassiers was intercepted in its direct line of retreat by a party of British Light Dragoons and induced to surrender; but taking advantage of the weakness of their escort, they suddenly broke away and galloped down the Nivelles road hoping to reach the French lines. As they passed the high bank on the right of the road, a detachment of the 51st stationed in support and concealed by brushwood cautiously opened fire, not wishing to hit the Light Dragoons who were in close pursuit It is reported that this firing attracted the attention of a Captain Ross (there was a Cpt. John Ross listed on the Waterloo Roll belonging to the 51st,) who was stationed with his company more in advance, and close to the abattis (a rampart of felled trees with the branches facing outward) thrown across the road, near the head of the Hougoumont avenue. Captain Ross, being thus prepared, also fired upon the cuirassiers, whereupon their commanding officer finding further retreat cut off by the abattis, surrendered to Ross, declaring he would not give himself up to the dragoons. 80 of the cuirassiers and 12 of their horses were killed, and the remainder, about 60, were taken prisoner or dispersed.
310gm Limited edition of 50 c/w authentication certificate
Illustration by David Higham