Thomas and William Wood – Parallel Lives

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95th (Rifles) Regiment Shako

In 1800 the Experimental Corps of Riflemen was formed. In 1803 it became the 95th (Rifle) Regiment of Foot (ultimately three battalions).

Riflemen were different, in many ways, to the soldiers that made up the bulk of the British Army. Instead of the classic ‘redcoat’ with white cross belts worn by most infantrymen, the Rifles wore a distinctive ‘green jacket’ and black leatherwork. This was the first attempt at camouflage by the British Army and was a reflection of the very different role expected of this new soldier. Of course the other most notable difference between a Rifleman and most of Wellington’s redcoats was the weapon he carried, the Baker Rifle. Redcoats were generally issued with the ‘Brown Bess’ musket, capable of wavering accuracy at 75 yards. The ‘Baker’ was able to hit a man-sized target 200 yards away,

The Rifles were masters of the battlefield and second-to-none at skirmishing in particular. They were held in high esteem by the French and Allies alike. One officer, Major John Blackiston of the Portuguese Cacadores said, I never saw such skirmishers as the 95th. They could do the work much better and with infinitely less loss than any of our best light troops. They possessed an individual boldness, a mutual understanding, and a quickness of eye in taking advantage of the ground, which, taken altogether I never saw equaled. They were as much superior to the French Voltigeurs as the latter were to our skirmishers in general.

All three battalions of the 95th fought together, unsupported, for the first time during the closing weeks of the Peninsular War at the Battle of Tarbes. The Regiment independently swept the forces of Marshal Soult from the path of Wellington’s army as it advanced into France. The Battle of Tarbes went some way to dispelling the myth that rifles were slow to load and therefore could not operate alone.

The 95th (Rifle) Regiment of Foot served throughout the Peninsular War in Spain and Portugal, seeing action in many battles like Bussaco, Salamanca and Vittoria. They saw action in America during the War of 1812, and oversaw the downfall of Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

The Regiment remained the 95th (Rifle) Regiment of Foot until 1816, when they were renamed the Rifle Brigade in honour of their achievements during the Peninsular War and Waterloo campaigns.

Excerpts from the History of the 95th Rifles courtesy of Adam Paylor.
Images: 95th Rifles Shako (from the Sharpe TV series). La Haye Saint 1815 by David Higham.

NAME: Thomas WOODName variations: Woods
Birth Date and Placec. 1787/1788 Birmingham, Warwickshire, England [WO119-0055-33].
Baptism Date and Place
OccupationLabourer [WO119-0055-33].  Woolcomber [WO121-0220]. Poundkeeper [NSW Govt. Gazettes].
Regiment3rd Battalion, 95th (Rifles) Regiment (later Rifle Brigade).
RankPrivate.
Attestation Date and Place1 Apr 1809 Harwich, Essex. Limited Service. Re-enlisted for Unlimited Service.
Physical DescriptionHeight: 5 ft. 8 ins. Complexion: dark.  Eyes: hazel. Hair: dark.
Service/CampaignsPeninsular War (Iberian Peninsula) and the War of 1812 (North America).
PromotionsPrivate to Corporal – date unknown.
Medals, Clasps and BadgesMilitary General Service Medal 1793-1814.
Casualty/Medical and Cause of DischargeWorn out by long and severe service in the Peninsula.
Gun shot wounds of the right arm received in actions at Tarbes, France 20th March 1814.
Gun shot wounds of the thigh received in actions in the Pyrenees 1st August 1813.
Gun shot wounds of the same thigh received in actions in New Orleans, America 8th January 1815.
Whereby he is rendered unfit for further service.
Courts MartialNone.
First Discharge Date and Place12 Dec 1818 Birr, King’s County, Ireland.
12 Dec 1818 confirmed by Adjutant General’s Office, Dublin.
Age at First Discharge30 years.
Length of First Service9 years 256 days. (Private 7 years 359 days; Corporal 1 year 262 days).
First Discharge ReferenceWO119-0055-33.
Veteran Regiments4th Royal Veteran Battalion  (1 year 191 days) followed by Out Patient half time (2 years 92 days). Discharged 2 Jul 1821.
Royal New South Wales Veteran Company No. 1.
RankCorporal in 4th RVB.  Private in NSWRVC.
Enlistment Date and PlaceNovember 1819: 4th Royal Veteran Battalion [Supplement London Gazette 28 Oct 1819].
29 Dec 1825: Royal New South Wales Veteran Company No. 1, Chelsea, Middlesex. Unlimited Service.
Arrival New South Wales: Ship and DateJohn Barry 8 Jul 1826 from London 20 Feb and Portsmouth 8 Mar 1826 [The Australian 12 Jul 1826].
Arrival Western Australia: Ship and DateAmity 26 Dec 1826 from Port Jackson, New South Wales 8 Nov 1826. [Major Edmund Lockyer’s Journal].
Military Postings within Western AustraliaHQ New South Wales July 1826 to Nov 1826 [WO12-11230 folios1/10].
King George Sound 1826 to 1828 [WO12-11230 folios 12/73].
Final Discharge Date and Place24 Jul 1829 Windsor, New South Wales.
25 Jul 1829 confirmed by commanding officer R Darling [Governor], Sydney, New South Wales [WO121-0220].
Final Age at DischargeAbout 46 years.*
Final Length of Service17 years 30 days.*
Final Discharge ReferenceWO121-0220.
Admission to Pension Date30 Dec 1818 [WO23-31-86]
ResidenceIllawarra, NSW [WO23-31-86].
Pension Amount6d. per diem. as at 31 Dec 1853 [WO22-272-48].
NAME: William WOODName variations: Woods
Birth Date and Place1790 Woodhouse, Leeds, Yorkshire, England [WO97-1090-071].
Baptism Date and Place22 Nov 1790 (birth 21 Oct 1790) St Peters Parish Church, Leeds, Yorkshire – not verified [Parish Record p.107].
OccupationShoemaker.
Regiment2nd Battalion, 95th (Rifles) Regiment (later Rifle Brigade).
RankPrivate.
Attestation Date and Place5 May 1811 Colchester, Essex. Limited Service.
Physical DescriptionHeight: 5 ft. 8 ins.  Complexion: fair. Eyes: grey. Hair: light.
Service/CampaignsPeninsular War (Iberian Peninsula) and the Battle of Waterloo (Netherlands) [WO97-1090-071].
The Anglo-Allied Army of Occupation (France) [John R. Grodzinski].
PromotionsPrivate to Corporal – date unknown.
Medals, Clasps and BadgesWaterloo Medal 1815 [WO100-15b-473].
Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, with clasps for Salamanca (1812); Vittoria (1813); Pyrenees (1813); Nivelle (1813); Orthes (1814); Toulouse (1814) [WO100-8-173].  Also present at Pamplona, Vera, Bayonne (Nive), and Tarbes.
Casualty/Medical & Cause of DischargeAt expiration of his service after having been severely wounded in the face at Waterloo, it is not unlikely that he will at some future period have exfoliation of some of the small bones of his nose.
Courts MartialNone.
First Discharge Date and Place13 Jul 1818 Dover Castle, Kent.
15 Sep 1818 confirmed by Horse Guards.
Age at First Discharge27 years.
Length of First Service9 years 134 days (Private 4 years 254 days; Corporal 2 years 245 days plus 2 years awarded for service at Waterloo).
First Discharge ReferenceWO97-1090-071.
Veteran Regiments4th Royal Veteran Battalion  (1 year 183 days) followed by half time (2 years 326 days). Discharged 24 Jun 1821.
Royal New South Wales Veteran Company No. 1.
RankPrivate.
Enlistment Date and PlaceNovember 1819: 4th Royal Veteran Battalion [Supplement London Gazette 28 Oct 1819].
5 Jan 1826: Royal New South Wales Veteran Company No. 1.  England, deduced – not stated.
Arrival New South Wales: Ship and DateJohn Barry 8 Jul 1826 from London 20 Feb and Portsmouth 8 Mar 1826 [The Australian 12 Jul 1826].
Arrival Western Australia: Ship and DateAmity 26 Dec 1826 from Port Jackson, New South Wales 8 Nov 1826. [Major Edmund Lockyer’s Journal].
Military Postings within Western AustraliaHQ New South Wales July 1826 to Nov 1826 [WO12-11230 folios1/10].
King George Sound 1826 to 1828 [WO12-11230 folios 12/73].
Final Discharge Date and Place24 Jul 1829 Windsor, New South Wales.
25 Jul 1829 confirmed by commanding officer R Darling [Governor], Sydney, New South Wales [WO121-0220].
Final Age at DischargeAbout 40 years.*
Final Length of Service17 years 103 days including Waterloo benefit.*
Final Discharge ReferenceWO121-0220.
Admission to Pension Date23 Sep 1818 [WO23-31-86].
ResidenceBerrima, NSW [WO23-31-86].
Pension Amount6d. per diem. as at 31 Dec 1853 [WO22-272-48].
NOTE*Ages and length of service details often vary between War Office documents; there are many explanations for the anomalies.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION

A separate page will show

  • Thomas and William Wood’s personal lives including family, land grants, occupations, settlement, death and burial.
  • Additional detail about their involvement in the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Their time at King George’s Sound.
  • An overview of the Royal Veteran regiments.
  • Research Difficulties.
  • Red Herrings and Mis-directions.
  • Sources and Bibliography.
  • And many other things!

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