Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Jenkin Evans 15th Kings Hussars

Jenkin Evans Discharge, Held at the HSSC

A member of the 15th KIngs Hussars re-enactment group The 15th Web site.
This is the uniform that Jenkin Evans would have worn.

Jenkin Evans of the 15th Kings Hussars

In the October 5, 1839 issue of the Pottsville Miners Journal was a lone obituary which had the headline:

In this borough on Thursday last, Mr. Jenkin Evans, aged 61. His funeral will take place, without further invitation, at 4 o’clock this afternoon.
In his humble walk of life, Mr. Evans will be much missed in our community, he was one of those persons of all work, so often seen in small towns, as it were identified with it, always employed and understandably performing his duty. He was a native of Wales and had served for 25 years in the British Army, as a private in the 15th Hussars. He was at the battle which decided the fate of Napoleon, and often showed his Waterloo Medal, with all the pride of an old soldier. On the last anniversary of this engagement, he wore it, with a proud and glowing spirit, and recounted to us many interesting anecdotes of the day. Having obtained, after the continental war, an honorable discharge from the service, on account of age, he immigrated to this country, and has resided some years in this vicinity. Notwithstanding his age, with youthful ardor, he joined the First Troop of Schuylkill County Cavalry, and sat his charger on the last parade, as firmly as the youngest member.
By his own desire, the war warn veteran we be buried with military honors, and buried in compliance with his dying request, in such a manner, that when the partner of his life is called to follow him her coffin may repose on his! “Alas poor Jenkin!” If a warm heart, an honest conscience, and an affectionate disposition, can command the countersign to pass into the camp of eternal peace, the old soldier has now grounded arms before the mercy seat of heaven.


The funeral of Jenkin Evans will take place this afternoon from his late residence in Adams Street. The Troop, National Light Infantry and the Washington Yeager’s, will parade at their several Quarters at 3’o’clock, and the funeral will move precisely at 4 o’clock. The citizens generally are invited to join the procession without further invitation.
The Troop parade dismounted, the Yeager’s with side arms, and the Light Infantry fully equipped, with three rounds of blank cartridges.

In the Historical Society of Schuylkill County is Jenkin Evans actual military discharge, printed on a cloth like material with the original Royal Seal. Also held in the Society is his Waterloo Medal.
This medal was the first award issued to all ranks, and set a precedent for the issue of campaign medals. It was awarded to all those who served at the battles of Ligny, Quatre Bras and Waterloo 16th-18th June 1815.The battle is well-known, and a wealth of literature on the subject is available. The most sought-after awards are, as usual, those to officers and to casualties. In addition, medals to cavalry regiments are popular, especially those to the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys), who made a famous charge during the battle. Awards to members of Colville's Division consisted of the 35th, 54th, 59th and 91st Foot. Some 39,000 of these medals were issued, 6000 were issued to Cavalry; 4000 to Guards; 16,000 to Line Regiments; and 5000 to Artillery. In addition, there was the usual contingent of supply personnel, and a 6,500 strong contingent of the King's German Legion. This latter group played an important part in the battle and suffered high casualties, The medal itself was always issued in silver and is unusual in that the head of the Prince Regent is shown, whilst all other campaign awards show the head of the relevant king or queen. The reverse depicts the figure of Victory. Originally, the suspension was by a steel clip and ring, but as this was unattractive and prone to rust, many recipients had suspenders fitted privately. The naming is always in large impressed Roman capitals, with stars at the beginning and end of the naming to fill up any free space. The ribbon is of crimson, with blue edges. - This roll is a list of recipients of the Waterloo Medal, issued to all who took part in the battle, including the King's German Legion. Lists are arranged by regiments/corps, placed in order of precedence, and in most cases broken down into companies or troops (cavalry) within regiments and battalions, each identified by its officer commanding. In some units casualty details are given. The staff are shown separately.
According to his discharge Jenkin enlisted in the 15th Kings Hussars on April 3, 1803 at the age of eighteen. His discharge also states that he served in the Army for the space of 24 Years and 50 days. From the 25th of May 1803 to 13 May 1827. And that he was discharged in consequence of .... age and being worn out!...... That his General Conduct as a soldier has been...Extremely Good. And he served in the Peninsula at Corunna, and in all the campaigns of 1813 and 1814! At the time of his discharge he was 43 years of age.
When Jenkin enlisted in the 15th they were known as Light Dragoons and in 1805/7 they were converted to Hussars. The hussars were a prominent cavalry force in the Napoleonic wars (1796 - 1815). As light cavalrymen mounted on fast horses they would be used to fight skirmish battles and for scouting. Most of the great European powers used the hussar within their military forces. The armies of France, Austria, Prussia and Russia had included hussar regiments since the mid-18th century. In the case of Britain four light dragoon regiments were converted to hussars in 1805. Hussars were notoriously impetuous and Napoleon was quoted as stating that he would be surprised for a hussar to live beyond 30* due to their tendency to become reckless in battle, exposing their weaknesses in frontal assaults. The hussars of Napoleon created the tradition of sabrage the opening of a champagne bottle with a saber, something that is still popular in France to this day the uniform of the Napoleonic hussars was made up of the pelisse: a short cloak which was often worn slung over one shoulder and fastened with a cord. This garment had a fur edging and was extensively adorned with braiding (often gold or silver for officers) and several rows of multiple buttons. Under this was worn the dolman or tunic which also was decorated in braid. On active service the hussar normally wore reinforced breeches which had leather on the inside of the leg to prevent them from wearing due to the extensive riding in the saddle. On the outside of such breeches, running up the outside was a row of buttons, and sometimes a stripe in a different color. In terms of headwear the common hussar wore either a shako or fur Busby the colors of dolman, pelisse and breeches varied greatly by regiment, even within the same army. The Napoleonic hussar was armed with a brass hilted sabre and sometimes with a brace of pistols although these were often unavailable.
Jenkin would have served with 15th throughout the whole of the Napolenoic War, serving in Penninsula, Spain and Portugal and the famous battle of Waterloo. I wonder what stories and tales old Jenkin could have told. I can only imagine sitting down and listening to a man who served for nearly 25 years in the cavalry. Oh for the want of a time machine.
Jenkin was initially buried in the cemetery behind the Episcopal Church. Actually the church is now on top of where is grave would have been. At the back entrance to the church.
Jenkin was married to Sara Hand at the beautiful church of Saint Martin in Birmingham, England on the 13th day of February 1817. By C.W. Wineford Minister.

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