Bradwell: Ancient and Modern

A History of the Parish and of Incidents in the Hope Valley.

By Seth Evans (1912)

Transcriptions by Rosemary Lockie, © Copyright 2013

Chapter XXV.



In a house on Nether Side, on the 12th of June, 1816, Thomas Morton first saw the light. He was a son of George and Hannah Morton, a good Christian couple, who, although Wesleyans, first opened a door for the reception of the Primitive Methodists, who held their first services in Morton's barn, which is still standing near to the house. George Morton allied himself with the new sect, but his sons, with one exception, remained with the parent body, and all their lives were prominent Wesleyans. Jacob Morton became a famous Wesleyan minister and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society; John Morton became a pioneer minister of the Primitive Methodists and in the early days was thrown into prison for preaching; Frederick and Jabez Morton were prominent Wesleyan laymen all their lives, and for twenty years Thomas Morton saw more active service in the army than is given to most men in that period of time.

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Thomas Morton left his home and enlisted in the 29th Regiment at Sheffield in the early part of 1838. Here is what he wrote to his distressed mother - a note scratched in pencil on a scrap of rough paper:-

“Dear Mother, it is to comfort you that I write at this time. I am quite comfortable of myself, and am fully persuaded it is for the best. Be not uneasy, for I will write at Liverpool, and every month after. I am pleased with your letter and shall be steady and look at my Bible. My respects to you all.

Historical House in Nether Side
Where lived George Morton, who first opened his door to the Primitive Methodists.

And the Bible was his guide throughout one of the most strenuous lives even of a soldier.

In June, when he was sailing with about forty other recruits from Dublin to Plymouth, at midnight the mast-head smashed down on the boat, the engine and the compass broke down, and in this condition the boat was tossed about all night until they were picked up by another vessel and taken on to Cork, 35 miles, where they remained a week before the voyage could be resumed. In his own words, “it was a miserable scene to see, men, women and children expecting to meet with a watery grave every moment. The sailors themselves never thought of landing any more”. In his final letter from Plymouth he says:

“At Cork I met with Thomas Hibbs, and among Sheffielders in the 82nd Regiment, and at Dublin I met with Ephraim Lloyd that opened Bradwell Chapel. He has been a soldier, and been bought off”.

This is interesting as having reference to the opening of the first Primitive Methodist Chapel in Bradwell (now a cottage). In the next letter in July, in reply to one from his parents, he remarks: “You said you could not understand that Ephraim Lloyd. He told me that he had been a travelling preacher in the Primitives, and that he opened Bradwell Chapel, and had slept many times with you. He had been in the 99th Regiment, and was bought off. You told me to inquire about William Cheetham. He is in the same with me, and is my companion, but I am sorry to inform his uncle that he is in hospital very ill”. In the same letter he gives an account of the army discipline of that day, and says: “I have seen deserters punished in a very cruel manner. I have seen one flogged and others sent to the treadmill, and many are marching up and down the bricks with a pack on their backs. One deserted out of our company, servant to the captain, and stole £170 from him. He has since been taken to Chatham, having committed another robbery of £500. I should not like to see him punished: I should not wonder but he will get shot”.

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But before he had been in the army a year he was tired of a soldier's life, for on Christmas Eve, 1838, the following official letter was sent to his father:-

Horse Guards, 24th Dec, 1838.
“The Adjutant General has now to acquaint George Morton with reference to his application of the 15th instant that the General Commanding in Chief has been pleased to authorise the discharge of Private Thomas Morton of the 29th Foot, on payment of the regulated Compensation of Twenty Pounds, which must be lodged with the Paymaster of the Regiment at Devenport within one month from the date hereof, or the authority will be cancelled.”
George Morton, Bradwell.

But in less than a year, he again joined the Army, for Nov. 21st, 1839, saw him enlisted in the 31st Foot, where he was destined to make his mark, for his Regiment was soon called out to the East Indies.


Morton had an eventful six years in the East Indies. His regiment landed at Calcutta on October 26th, 1840, and sailed up the Ganges to Chinsurah, arriving at Agra on March 3rd, 1841. In a letter at this time he mentions that he had received a letter from another Bradwell soldier, William Cheetham, who had been reduced from the rank of Corporal. Four years later he reports the death of William Cheetham.

For about a year he was in Cabul in General Elphinstone's army, when there was fearful massacre, - “thousands of human skeletons strewn all over the road, it was heart-rending to hear their bones cracking under the wheels of the guns”. They had to fight all the way to Cabul, where the road for six or seven days' march was “strewn over with skeletons shocking to relate”. The Massena battle was fought against the tribes that had never before been conquered, and this with the sun at 126 degrees. They destroyed 40 forts.

The letters written by Morton to his parents at Bradwell would fill a volume, and would certainly provide material for a history of the campaign in Afghanistan. He was in the East Indies from 26th October, 1840, to December, 1846. and went through the Afghanistan campaign in 1842 including the actions of Mazeena, Tezeen, and Jundallah. He was in the Battle of Dubbain 1843. when the Indians, under Shere Mohammed, were defeated by the British, under Sir Charles Napier; also at Hydrabad when the Belochees were defeated by the British, under Sir Charles. The Belochees numbered 35,003, and the British only 2,600, and this led to the surrender of Hydrabad.

He also served throughout the Sutlej Campaign of 1845-6, and was present at the Battle of Moddkee on December 18th, when the Sikhs were defeated by the British under Sir Hugh Gough and Sir John

Littler, and was there when Sir Robert Sale fell. This was on the 18th December, and three days later he was in the Battle of Ferozeshah. when 16,700 British, under Sir Hugh Gough, defeated 50,000 Sikhs under Tej Sing. Six days later he was in action at Maharajapore, under Sir Hugh, when 18,000 Mahrattas were defeated by 14,000 British. He was also in the great battle at Aliwal, on January 28th, 1846, when the Sikhs (19,000) were defeated by the British (12,000), under Sir Harry Smith, and he fought in the still greater Battle of Sobraon on February 10th, under Sir Hugh Gough, when the Sikhs lost 13,000 and the British loss of killed and wounded was 2,338.



But the most eventful period of Morton's life was that of the Crimean War and the Indian Mutiny. England and France declared war against Russia on March 28th, 1854, and his regiment, then stationed at Preston Barracks, being ordered out to active service, he made his will, sent his gold watch and other belongings to his brother Jacob, and embarked from Liverpool on the first Tuesday in April.


Writing from Camp Scutari opposite Constantinople, on May 21st - he had promised to write once a month - he says how glad the soldiers were to leave barracks, as they were “nearly eaten alive with fleas”. There were fearful thunderstorms that flooded the tents, and two of the officers of the 93rd Regiment returning from town to camp after the storm, were washed away to sea. In his highly interesting descriptive letter, he enclosed to his Bradwell relatives some rose leaves from the Sultan's garden. Ho says: “Lord Raglan is gone up to Varna with the other bigwigs, French and English, to hold a Council of War, so that in a few days we expect to move towards the enemy. The steamers are all ready to take in the cavalry and artillery are just arriving”. In his description of life in the camp he observes: “The men drink hard, wine and spirits are so cheap. A good many men have been flogged - one of our regiment, the first for a number of years - it is the only punishment that will answer for insubordination”. Again, “the Turkish women are very virtuous, either by choice or force; if they are known to go astray they are sure of death instantly. They go about in groups more like Egyptian mummies than anything else”. He concludes by wishing his friends “good health, a good spring, and a prospect of a good harvest with plenty of Hools and a good price for lead”. Hools, it may be explained, is the miner's term for the lumps of lead ore got from the mine.

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A month later - June 19th - writing from Camp Slojin, he tells how cholera is affecting the soldiers. Already some have died of the malady, and two were drowned while bathing. He says, “You will begin to think in England that we are a long time before we commence to fight the Russians, but I assure you that our generals, officers, and soldiers are all as anxious to be at the enemy as you are to hear of the success of our Arms, but they have to take care that they are prepared in every respect to meet the enemy. However, five or six days will bring us to the seat of war, and before another month passes we shall have measured swords with the Russians. I believe the Turks are giving them plenty to do, and when we get up there we shall bring Nicholas to his senses”.

With just a touch of humour the brave soldier remarks: “I don't think I shall be at Bradwell Wakes this year, but I shall think of you all if I am alive, and will drink a glass to all your very good health, and think that I am amongst you”.


Thomas Morton, a Famous Soldier

A letter of July 28th from Camp Marrartine, shows that the cholera made its appearance among the troops at Deona, and the Division lost 42 men and two women in two days, but since removing there had been only six or seven deaths. He remarks pathetically: “Poor Hogan, Quartermaster of the Seventh Regiment, was buried to-day. I think Jacob saw him at Chatham, a little man. He only lasted about 18 hours after he was taken ill. Five of our strongest Grenadiers died in a few hours. While I am writing I hear that we have two more deaths in our regiment, and if we stop at this place long I am afraid we shall have it very bad. The country is beautiful to all appearance, but it is the Valley of Death. The Russians lost 40,000 men in 1828-9 by plague and cholera, the French have had it at Varna, so have our other Divisions. It is very hot. This is worse than fighting, losing our fine men for nothing”. He adds: “I drank all your healths at the Wakes, and wished I was with you for a few days”.

Singularly enough, the very next day he writes a doleful letter anent the disease in the camp. The weather was boiling hot. He says: “We have lost two men by cholera up to 12 a.m., the 19th Regiment next to us lost two also. One bad case in hospital. We are to get a dram of rum today, which I think will do the men good. It is better than wine. When we left our last camp we left our cases of cholera with two doctors, and 21 men on guard behind. Three or four of the men died. When I wrote last I was not well, and thought it might be my last letter to you”. 2nd August: “Yesterday four men died, and the officer 77th. My groom took sick last night. I have just been to hospital to see him. The tents are full, a melancholy night. Two men appear to be dying, and a number more bad cases”. 3rd: “We have had no deaths yesterday or to-day, and I think this ground is much healthier than our last. All of us that are well are as jolly as possible. We want nothing but work, and it is a pity to see such a fine army sent out from England to fight the common enemy and to be left to die in such a country as this without a sight of the Russians”. “A doctor of the 23rci Regiment dead to-day”.

A letter covering events from the 4th to the 8th of August is pregnant with interest. The doctors are compelling each man to take one eighth of a pint of rum daily. Large numbers of men continue to die daily in hospital, and the doctor told Morton that he had over 150 under his treatment. One of his pioneers died after an hour or two's illness. He says: “There is a visible change at divine service now. Everyone seems to take a part. I hope our united prayers will be heard, and that the sickness may leave as. It is very dreadful to see fine men cut off in a few hours. Oh that we may all be ready for the great change”.

7th inst.: “Yesterday we got the English Mail. I got no letters and was much disappointed. I got the illustrated and also the ‘Daily News’ with the Bradwell postmark on it, which did me good. When I saw it I called it my ‘Brada Wakesing’.

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We have one man dead to-day in our regimen. We have lost now in our Division one Paymaster, one Quartermaster, one Doctor, and one Ensign, and about 30 men per Regiment”.

8th inst.: “We had one man died last night. A captain of the artillery is dead”.

The Regiment frequently removed their camp a few miles in the hope of finding a healthier site, and every day Morton dotted down a few events on a sheet of paper, and posted it to Bradwell with every mail. His next letter, which begun on August 9th, reports further deaths. Writing from a strong Turkish post, where the Turks had fortifications, garrisoned with 10,000 men, and where he had been digging wells and opening fountains to get water for the troops, he says: “I found Roman tiles cemented together with Roman cement, which must have been in the ground for ages. We have four men dead in hospital now. A captain of the 77th died the other day. Our army stores have been burned downed at Varna by Greeks, and 15,000 pairs of boots sent out for the troops were destroyed, besides biscuit and other stores. Two of the Greeks were killed on the spot, and others arrested. I don't think we shall fire a shot this year. What a miserable prospect before us for the winter”.

In a hurriedly-written letter of August 29th, Morton informs his relatives at Bradwell that the cholera was still hanging about, that the assistant-surgeon was taken ill that morning and died at noon. They brought him “home” in a cart and buried him at night. Major Mackie and the paymaster were both very ill. He adds: “It took 30 native carts with two bullocks each to move our regimental sick, and 112 horses to carry the men's knapsacks, so by that you may judge in what state this country has left our men. They are not like the same men that you saw at Liverpool on the 4th of April”. At the close he adds: “I was very sorry to hear of Sister Mary's death, but the will of the Lord must be done. I hope to be spared to write to you again, but if not I hope we shall all meet in Heaven”.

Morton's regiment. 27 officers, 16 women, and 780 men, embarked on August 30th on the ship Orient. Major Mackie had died on the march a few days before, and one man died on board ship.


Morton's first letter from the battlefield is a curious document. It was written “lying before Sebastopol, 3rd October, 1854”. and is scribbled with pencil on narrow strips from the margin of a newspaper. At his own request he was allowed to do the duty of an officer with the men in action. Alluding to the great Battle of Alma, when the Russian army (46,000), under Prince Menchikoff, were defeated by the British, French, and Turkish forces (57,000), under Lord Raglan and Marshal

St. Arnaud, he says: “On the 20th we fought a bloody battle. . . . I was slightly wounded in the right leg, but was able to continue the action till it was over. . . . We put the fear of the English and French in their hearts, but at a great loss of life on our side. I was the only officer in our regiment touched, and we were always in front of the battle. The Colonel got a ball through his pistol bolster, and it lodged in his prayer-book”. On this narrow strip of newspaper he goes on to tell how they have now surrounded Sebastopol. He said: “It is tremendously strong to look at, and we must expect to lose a great number of men in taking it, but take it we shall. They keep throwing shot and shell at anyone approaching too near, and they are working like bees, throwing up fresh works. We have not fired a gun at them yet, but if any one of them come near us we try the range of our mine rifles at them. It will be four or five days before we are ready to open fire on them. What destruction of life will then commence! Thousands upon thousands must fall on both sides”. “My trust is in God, the God of Battles, who is able to preserve me. I know you all pray for me; continue to do, and if we are not spared to meet again on this side the grave I hope we shall meet in Heaven”.


Morton was at the Battle of Balaclava on October 25th, when the Russian army (12,000) were defeated by the British and Turkish army, under Lords Raglan and Lucan. In this battle occurred the famous charge of the Light Cavalry Brigade, under the gallant Earl of Cardigan. Here the Bradwell soldier distinguished himself. In view of the historical importance attached to this famous battle, Morton's letter to Bradwell, written on November 12th, is of the greatest interest. He says: “Since I wrote last we have had some rough work to do, without mentioning the continued fire in the trenches, which causes us a great deal of loss at times. The enemy have attacked us once at Balaclava, and got nearly into the town. To drive them back we lest most of our light cavalry. . . . I got a good view of the charge of the Dragoons. They did their work in grand style, but they were outnumbered and overpowered, and, poor fellows, they had to retire under a heavy fire of artillery and musketry. I went over the field afterwards, and it was a fearful sight to see men and horses strewn in all directions. I went to the Balaclava two days afterwards with Colonel Jefferys, and we saw two horses which appeared to have been blown to pieces with a shell. They were at a French post, so the Colonel asked the French officer how it happened, and to our surprise the officer told us that the horses had only been shot with musket balls, but his soldiers had cut them up for beef

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steaks. . . . A few days after this they made a determined attempt to turn off right flank. I mounted and rode to the place, but the balls and shell began to fall pretty thick about me, so drew back out of range of their guns, and the enemy were beaten back with a great deal of loss on their side. Our loss was trifling”.


In the same letter Morton goes on to give his experiences at the historic battle of Inkerman on November 5th, when the British and French allied forces (14,000), under Lord Raglan and General Canrobert, were victorious over the Russians (46,000), under Liprandi, the British loss being 2,612 against a Russian loss of over 9,000. He continues:-

“On the morning of the 5th (this day week) they made a most determined attack at the same point, namely, the Heights of Inkerman, and the slaughter on both sides was tremendous. We beat them back, and their loss is estimated at 16,000 killed - I think myself about 9,000 or 10,000. I went twice over the ground after the battle, and never saw such a sight. The Russians were lying in heaps, hundreds of wounded lying with the dead, and lots of our poor fellows lying head to head with them just as they fell in defence of our camp and position. A more determined attack was never made. Our regiment went into action 346 men, and lost 131 killed and wounded, including two officers wounded, both through the left thigh. The regiment was in a most critical position. Being so weak in numbers, and having a large body of the enemy opposed to them, they fired all their ammunition away and still showed a front. When I saw them firing so much I loaded 6,000 rounds on three ponies, and went myself to the front with it, and it was very welcome. The regiment had greatcoats on, and I had not, so I was conspicuous, and I drew a heavy fire on them, so I left them when I had given them the ammunition. Our sergeant-major was killed, and the two majors both lost their horses. Colonel Shirley, with the remainder of the regiment, was on duty in the trenches and outposts. On my way to the regiment I met Sir George Brown, and he told me, if I saw any of his staff, to say that he wanted them. I answered, 'Yes, Sir George', but turned round on my horse and saw that he was wounded, so I galloped back and asked him if he would have a doctor. He thanked me and said he would do so. I soon found one, and we got him off his horse and placed him in my greatcoat on the ground, he is wounded through the left arm. He was very cool and in good spirits, but he only just got off his horse in time. He was quite weak from loss of blood. When his arm was dressed he was taken to his tent on a stretcher, which he first refused. saying that the stretchers were more wanted for the poor men, but he found that he was too weak, and submitted. Now we are blazing away at each other from morning till night. We have batteried the town very well, but the houses are built of stone, and I think the wood and shipping in the place is fireproof, for they won't burn any length of time; besides, they have two guns for our one, and they are excellent gunners. Don't be in a hurry to hear of the fall, for we understand that we are to winter here. God help us, for we shall be miserable if any of us survive. We have now had six days' rain, men and officers drenched to the skin and no change of clothing, so how can any constitution stand it? The regiment is never in their tents more than sixteen hours out of the forty-eight. Just returned from divine service. Our numbers get weaker every Sunday. . . . Continue to write to me and pray for me. My thanks to Mrs. John for wishing to dress my wound; thank God, it does not want dressing, as it is quite well. I have only slept one night without my clothes since we have been in the Crimea, and then I got cold. We are in a sad state for want of clean linen. I paid 50 shillings for three old shirts at an auction. Our adjutant lost his arm in the trenches ten or twelve days ago. The Colonel asked me if I should like to be adjutant. I thanked him, but declined”.

Three days before Christmas (December 22nd) Morton wrote home, giving a graphic description of the hardships the men were undergoing. “I don't think we have more than 400 men doing duty, and most of them would not be able to put their bayonets through a Russian's greatcoat. We are getting lots of reinforcements, but lots of them are not able to stand the climate, being too young to endure the hardships, so they die in dozens, or are sent on board ship. The French assist us in removing them, and they took 1,100 sick one day from our army, 700 another day, and so on”.

Other Bradwell men were in this war, and Morton says: “I inquired about the armour-sergeant of the 68th; he was well, r have not seen anyone that could give any record of Hill. If his friends write to him and tell him to call on me, I will give him a glass of grog and be glad to see him”. He goes on to say that “everything is very dear, flour 1s. a pound, a small loaf that would not be enough for brother Fred's breakfast 2s., and everything in proportion”.

Giving his relatives accounts of the progress made from time to time during this terrible war in the camp before Sebastopol, Morton concludes a letter of March 19th with: “I hope you all continue to pray to God to preserve me and bring me safe back to Bradwell to lay my bones beside my parents, there to slumber till the great day”.

In a letter a week later he says: “Last night about midnight the Russians attacked the French, also our advance post, and a

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dreadful conflict ensued. The French were driven out of their works with a loss of about 500 killed and wounded, together with some of their best officers. The Russians attacked our works at the same time, but they were repulsed in grand style, but not without serious loss. Colonel Kelly, of the 34th regiment, who was in command, was killed, also two captains, one of the 7th, the other of the 97th regiment, and a lieutenant of the 34th killed, besides a number wounded. We did not lose many men in proportion to officers. . . . Colonel Brownrigg came into our camp early this morning, and said that our men had behaved nobly. A Greek officer in the Russian service rushed into our 8-gun battery, followed by some desperate fellows, but they were cut down instantly. The officer had a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other. The dagger was taken by one of our officers, and it is now in my tent. Neither party dare go to collect their dead till dark”.

In a further letter he says: “We opened fire on the town on Easter Monday, and we have kept it up ever since. The Russians return the fire faintly at times, but if we attempt to encroach upon them they are most vigorous, and it is with difficulty and loss that we gain any advantage over them. We have had an officer and several men killed since we opened fire, and eight or ten men wounded. My head is completely bothered with the din of guns and mortars going off every moment”. In the same letter there is a reference to the kindly interest which the wife of the Vicar of Hope took in the soldiers at the front, for he says: “I received a parcel from the Colonel the other day which had been sent to the regiment from Mrs. Cave, of Hope, to be distributed to the officers and men of the regiment, and I distributed the articles. I think, in the spirit in which they were sent, and from the Colonel to the private all were most thankful for the kind feeling which prompted the gift from our native village ladies. The tracts were very nice, and I read many of them. I write to Mrs. Cave by this mail to acknowledge the receipt of parcel”.

“Another Bloody Day's Work”.

In a letter dated June he says: “The day before yesterday we opened fire from our trenches, which is tremendous, and yesterday, between five and six o'clock, the French went out to attack the Mamolong, which they carried in grand style, after which they attempted the Malacoff Tower, but they found it too strong, and they went back with great loss. At the same time they lost the Mamolong, and oh! what a fearful loss of life. The French did not lose less than 3,000 men, killed and wounded. However, they went at it again, and were successful, and this morning they are in possession of the Mamolong, and are reversing the works so as to open on the shipping in the harbour, which keeps a continual fire upon them. At the same time yesterday we attacked another outwork of the Russians in front of our works. This attacking party was commanded by Colonel Shirley, and the greater part of the men and officers belonged to our regiment. They have done their work well, but at what cost! Major Bailey killed: Captains Corbett and Wray and Lieut. Webb killed; Captain Maynard, and Lieuts. Grice, Pearson, and Remy wounded. The number of killed we do not know. Other regiments lost a great many too. We are going to attack them again to day, so that I am too much excited to write a letter. . . . You must all continue to pray for me, and I have great faith that the Almighty will spare me to return once more to my native village”.

In a further letter of the 18th he says: “We have had another bloody day's work”, and goes on to speak of the “fearful loss of life, some thousands and a great many senior officers”; and a week later he says that they have more than 1,000 “serious praying officers in the army; they are not the unthinking people that they are taken for”.

Marked for Promotion.

With the strenuous work Morton's health suffered, but he was marked for promotion, and soon had offer as quartermaster-sergeant at Parkhurst. In a letter in December he says he heard from Colonel Jefferys lately, and he should be in the “Gazette” in January. As usual, he remembers everybody at Bradwell, and writing to his brother, the Rev. Jacob Morton, he says: “Will you be good enough to send them all £1 each to make them merry at Christmas - John, Louisa, and yourself included, that will be to Bradwell, Fred, Jabez, Alice, Hannah Ashmore, and Fanny, and if there is no chance of my being at home soon I will send you a cheque”.

Briefly, here is the career of this distinguished man:-

Private 31st Foot, 1839; corporal, 1843; sergeant, 1844; colour-sergeant, 1845; quartermaster-sergeant, 1851; quartermaster of the 88th Regiment, 1852; quartermaster Depot Battalion, 1855.

Service: East Indies from 26th October, 1840, to 6th December, 1846; United Kingdom from 6th December, 1846, to 4th April, 1851; embarked for Scutari 4th April, 1854, and landed in the Crimea 14th September, 1854. Was in Bulgaria awhile.

Engagements: Campaign in Afghanistan in 1842, including the actions of Mazeena, Tozeen. Jungdallurk; served through the Sutlej campaign of 1845-6; was present at the battles of Mookee, Ferozeeshah, Buddiwall, and Sobraon; served through the whole of the Crimean campaign of 1854 and 1855, and was engaged at the Battle of the Alma (where he was wounded), Inkerman, and the Siege of Sebastopol.

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Medal for Cabul; medal and three clasps for Moodkee, Ferozeeshah, Aliwal, and Sobraon; medal and three clasps for Alma, Inkerman, and Siege of Sebastopol; also 5th class Order of the Medfidi for distinguished conduct during the Crimean campaign.

And this distinguished soldier entered into rest at Parkhurst Barracks on the 24th of March, 1860, aged 43 years.

Editor's Note
The Image of ‘LATE WILFRED FISKE’ on Page 92 in the original source has a note beneath it to say “see page 63”, so it has been transferred to the associated text in Chapter XVIII for this web version.

OCR/transcript by Rosemary Lockie in February 2013.

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