Dr Abel (General)

by sidtoomey01 @, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, Tuesday, March 01, 2022, 21:50 (840 days ago) @ Kate

Hi Kate,
Your Joseph Abell (the ex Army surgeon) has intrigued me. When i first the and saw the Army regiments he had belonged to and the Peninsular wars, i became hooked. I am working on putting all the information in to a story form and once finished, will put it on to the FOD resources section of this site. (mind you, the administrators might choose to start a new comedy section to store it owing to my punctuation and spelling abilities). I will let you know once i have finished. A brief overview of his service is as follows using the first record uncovered to date as a starting point.
In 1805 he was a hospital Assistant with the new 95th Regiment (RiflesBrigade) which had Green uniforms, not redcoats, different tactics and even marched faster than the other Infantry regiments. He went to Hanover in Germany then as an Assistant Surgeon went to the siege of Copenhagen and battle of Kioge in 1807.
Each Battalion of a Regiment was supposed to have one Surgeon and two assistant Surgeons although apparently it was often hard to find people to fill these positions. After 1807 his regiment went to fight in the Peninsular wars which would be the lead up to the battle of Waterloo. During this time each time a Regiment stopped for the night it was regulations that one of the first duties to be done was for an Aid post to be set up for any sick and wounded . This was often done by commandeering a local farmhouse. During a battle or engagement it was desirable for the Battalion Surgeon and assistant to be located "no more than seven paces" behind the fighting. At the first battle of the Peninsular Wars there are reports of this location for the Surgeon being just behind the Regiments "Colours" which were probably their most treasured possession and a rallying point during a battle.
He was part of the retreat to Corunna during winter and then the battle of Corunna. After that battle battalions were understrength and evacuated back to England to be brought back to strength. During the evacuation by small boats to the ships waiting off shore the French artillery shelled the boats carrying the sick and wounded. Probably Joseph would have been amongst this chaos.
The Regiment returned to the Peninsular after regrouping and Joseph was in more action. In addition , in one four month period the Army lost more than 5,000 men to fever with the 95th Rifles losing 100.
Sometime after 1811 he was transferred to 49th Regiment of Foot (It might have been in 1813). By August 1813 he was promoted to an Ensign and Surgeon of a new 7th Battalion of the 60th Regiment of Foot. The new 7th Battalion was raised on Guernsey and most of the soldiers were ex German prisoners of War. (The 60th Regiment of Foot was like a British Foreign Legion which served outside of the UK and comprised of mostly "foreigners.). the 7th Battalion then went to Canada with some of it participating in action against the Americans. After this action the next few years were spent defending Nova Scotia and garrison duties. By the end of 1818, his regiment had been reduced to two battalions and Joseph was on half pay and out of the Army to begin the next stage of his life.

Did you know he had a younger Brother Thomas who was a Lieutenant who died in India in 1833. The circumstances leading up to his death were tragic. I haven't read much about this yet but it looks like his regiment were ordered to proceed to a particular location about 250 miles away. The regiment commander thought the distance by land to be too far through mosquito and fever infested swamp and requested transport by sea. The Commander in Chief refused permission and ordered them to march. The majority of the regiment then died from Cholera with as little as 15 men presenting themselves on parade. Thomas's date of death was only a couple of days after the remainder of the regiment were eventually transferred by sea to Burma to recover. He either died at sea or was one of the ones left behind. I also believe he might have been married so was his wife with him and what happened to her ?
Let me know if you want more about him and i will look in to it.

Sid Toomey


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