Expedition to the north of Germany, Copenhagen, and Gottenburgh.
1802 - On Christmas day the 28th regiment arrived at Portsmouth harbour, on their return from Egypt, and disembarked from the Druid, Winchelsea, and Blonde frigates. Immediately on landing, they marched to Winchester, ramining there, however, only for a short time, and thence proceeded to Hilsea.
1803 - In the spring of this year the regiment marched to Plymouth, where the second battalion was formed, by draughts from the army of reserve, drawn from the counties of Cornwall, Devon, and Somerset. On the 9th of July the officers of the different second battalions, then in progress of formation, appeared in that memorable Gazette, which gave greater promotion to the British army than has ever been known at any period of its history; and on the 12th of the following month, Colonel, now Sir Edward Paget, issued a brief code of standing orders for the 28th regiment, preceded by an address to his corps, of which the following is a copy:
"In consequence of the great augmentation of the 28th regiment, which is now to be composed of two battalions of 1000 men each, by which a great number of young officers, as well as soldiers, must necessarily be introduced into it, Colonel Paget has deemed it expedient to establish the following regulations for their guidance; and imperfect as they must be, yet he trusts that they may tend, in some measure, to promote amongst them a uniform system of discipline and regularity. He earnestly desires every individual to recollect, that it is only by the most steady exertion, and by the most hearty unanimity and co-operation, that so large a body of men can be formed effectually, to take the field in a few weeks.
He most earnestly hopes to observe their rapid advance to perfection, proceeding from a spirit of emulation, and a laudable ambition to excel, rather than from any exertion of authority, or resort to rigid discipline, on his part. He feels desirous of impressing on the minds of all the young soldiers, that they have the good fortune of being incorporated with a regiment which, for upwards of a century, had been uninterruptedly employed in the acquirement of honour and reputation. He wishes the to know, that they have, upon their right and upon their left, comrades accustomed to victory, who have often met, and well know how to chastise, that insolent vain-boasting enemy, who, at the same time that he threatens our beloved country with slavery and desolation, knows, to his cost and to his shame, that in no one instance upon record has he dared to stand the attack of a British bayonet. He wishes every individual at once to consider himself an old soldier, and he will find that he is already more than half become so. He wishes everyone to listen with eagerness to those, who know from experience how to instruct; and it is not alone to the exertions of the officers and non-commissioned officers that he looks for assistance; but he fully relies upon the beneficial effects which will be produced by the general distribution of that stock of military information and instruction, which every old soldier has it in his power to dispose of to so much advantage.
Under the fortunate circumstance of being united to such a corps, Colonel Paget feels the most perfect confidence, that that proud spirit of superiority, which so naturally and so justly inspires the heart of every British soldier, will prompt each individual in his station to the most unlimited exertion of his powers, to render the 28th regiment at once an object of surprise and admiration to our beloved Sovereign and our Country, of satisfaction and pride to ourselves, and of terror and dismay to the common and inveterate enemy of all mankind.
Plymouth Dock. August 12th 1803."
In the latter end of the year, the two battalions embarked for Ireland, and were quartered at Fermoy, forming there a brigade under the command of Brigadier-General Paget, who had recently been promoted to that rank, Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson being appointed to succeed him in the command of the first battalion.
1804 - In the summer the two battalions were brigaded with the 28th, or Tipperary Militia. This corps, on account of bearing the same number, and from the similarity of their facings with the 28th regiment, styled themselves our third battalion, which was afterwards the means of the regiment obtaining many volunteers from them. These three formed a brigade of the army encamped at Kilady, near Cork, under the command of Sir Eyre Coote; but at the close of the year they returned to their old quarters at Fermoy.
1805 - In the spring of this year we marched to Birr, for the purpose of being brigaded under General (now Lord) Beresford, and in August encamped on the Curragh, as General Wilkinson's brigade of the army under Lord Cathcart; but on the breaking up of the encampment, the two battalions separated - the first being ordered to Mallow, and the second to Dublin.
An expedition to the North of Germany having been resolved upon by the government, the first battalion of the 28th regiment, at the request of Lord Cathcart, was selected to form part of the army under his Lordship destined for that service; and after a very stormy and unfavourable passage - in which two transports, one of which had the head-quarters of the 26th Cameronian regiment on board, foundered at sea - landed at Broomila, and marched to Bremen, where we remained six weeks in a state of inactivity.
1806 - Re-embarking in the spring, the regiment landed at North Yarmouth from Cruxhaven, and in company with the first battalion 4th regiment, first battalion 23d regiment, and first battalion 95th regiment, marched to Woodbridge and afterwards moved to Colchester. In the middle of the year we changed quarters to Maldon and Danbury, remaining there until the 20th of July 1807, when we returned to Colchester, and again prepared for active service.
1807 - By the following order, the 28th regiment was directed to embark again for foreign service -
22d July 1807. The following corps are to be held in readiness
for immediate embarkation:
1st Battalion 4th, 1st Battalion 23d, 1st Battalion 79th - Major-gen. Spencer.
1st Battalion 28th, 1st Battalion 92d, 1st Battalion 95th - Brigadier-gen. Ward."
On the 24th July, General Ward's brigade, which was afterwards composed of the 28th and 79th regiments, marched from Colchester for Harwich, and, after having been inspected by Sir David Baird, immediately embarked on board the transports in waiting for us. In a few days we sailed, quite ingorant of our destination. After a very pleasant voyage, we arrived at the mouth of the Sound, on the evening of the 8th of August. The night was very dark; but a dreadful storm of thunder and lightning coming on, the vividness of the flashes fortunately enabled the whole of the immense fleet (we had been joined by the other divisions of the army from Portsmouth and the Downs) to anchor in perfect safety. The Danes were astonished to see such a fleet of men of war and so many transports casting anchor in their harbour, without the slightest accident, in the midst of such a storm. During the few days the fleet remained at Elsinore, we recieved much attention from the Danes; little did they suspect that we should prove such bitter foes.
On the 13th, however, some suspicions of our destination appeared to arise. The friendship of the Danes seemed to be cooling apace, and arms were distributed among the people in every direction. This was the last day we were allowed to land. Our intentions were evidently suspected; and on the morning of the 14th, at day break, we observed that a black Danish frigate had slipped off in the night from her moorings. The moment she was missed by the Admiral, the Comus, sloop of war, was towed out by the boats of the fleet - for it was then a perfect calm - and gave chase. This was the most beautiful sight. The Comus overtook her in the Cattegat, on her way to Norway, and after a short action, captured her. This was the first act of hostility.
On the morning of the 15th, the fleet sailed from Elsinore, in the direction of Copenhagen, and at four o'clock, on the morning of the 16th of August, commenced landing at the small village of Wibeck, about eight miles from that town. This was the place where Charles XII landed on his first campaign. We recieved no opposition; we only saw a few dragoons at a distance. The army advanced about four miles this evening, and that night we lay upon our arms in a barley field. This was the first night that many of us had lain out. On the morning of the 17th, our division, under Sir George Ludlow, consisting of the brigade of Guards, and General Ward's brigade, moved on towards Friedericksburg, where there is a royal palace, close to a village of the same name. Here a curious circumstance happened.
On our march we had reached the main road, leading from Copenhagen to Holstein. The brigade of guards were already upon it, and the music of the 28th regiment; when a part of the royal family was seen, coming from Copenhagen, in their royal carriages. The moment they were known, the Guards wheeled into line, opened ranks, and presented arms, the band playing "God save the King." What must have been their feelings to have been recieved in that way by an hostile army, on the way to besiege their capital! They were all females, and seemed nuch afflicted. (It appeared afterwards, that they were the two princesses, nieces of the King, who had solicited and obtained passports to quit the city. The King himself afterwards applied for the same permission, and passed through the hostile army in the same manner.)
We proceeded to Friedericksburg, and bivouacked in the neighbourhood that night. Next day, the 18th, was employed in establishing ourselves. For some days our men were employed in making fascines and gabions, and working at the mortar battery, which was destined to shower destruction on the unfortunate city. On the morning of the 31st, while under arms, an hour before daylight, we heard a heavy fire of musquetry on our left. We were all immediately on the alert, hoping that a part of the enemy might be coming our way; but in a hour's time the firing completely ceased. The enemy had made a sortie from their right, which was gallantly received by a piquet of the 50th regiment, under Lieutenant Light. Sir David Baird came up with the other regiments, when the Danes were repulsed with loss - Sir Daid Baird was twice slightly wounded, but did not quit the field. The attacking party of the Danes were the students of the University, formed into a corps of light infantry, and officered by their professors. They advanced in a most gallant manner, and fought nobly. Many of these young heroes were killed and many wounded. Such an instance of heroic devotion to their country, deserves to be recorded in letters of gold, and recalls the days of Rome and Sparta.
Two very extraordinary occurences happened during the 31st. A number of those gallant young Danes had formed themselves into a corps of artillery, and were continually firing at the British from the ramparts of the town. A man of No.7 company (Alum's), on a working party near the Ten Mortar Battery, was in the act of drinking out of his canteen, when a shot from one of their guns astonished him by knocking it out of his hands, without in the least bit hurting him. A party of the Guards were likewise at work a little to our right, one of which was not so fortunate; he was standing with his cap off, when a shot from the enemy passed so near the crown of his head, that it killed him on the spot, without leaving the slightest perceptible mark. From several other instances of the excellent aim of these gallant fellows, we were obliged to keep well under cover: the working parties were relieved in the dark, for nothing escaped these expert marksmen. The same afternoon, a fine milk cow, belonging to a native, was grazing near one of the batteries, the enemy supposing that she belonged to the besiegers, opened upon her, and very soon provided an excellent supper for our working party.