Arroyo Day and the capture of the French drums

Topics about the infantry regiment prior to its amalgamation with the 55th Regiment to form the Border Regiment in 1881.

Arroyo Day and the capture of the French drums

Postby plbramham » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:36 pm

The 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot served with distinction during the Peninsular Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. In the battle of Arroyo dos Molinos, they successfully fought their opposite number (literally!) - The French 34th regiment ,capturing the French drums and the Drum Major's mace which the regimental museum at Carlisle castle still possesses and has on public display (despite French government requests for their return!)
“Arroyo Day” has always been celebrated by the regiment and its successors. On the anniversary of the battle 28 October the Regimental band would form up and march beating the captured drums in celebration.
The Battle of Arroyo dos Molinos took place on 28 October 1811 when the allied force led by General Rowland Hill trapped,defeated and destroyed a whole French infantry division and a brigade of cavalry causing the French commander General Jean-Baptiste Girard to be dismissed by Napoleon.
In mid-October 1811, Jean-Baptiste Girard’s division crossed the River Guardiana at Mérida and campaigned in Northern Extremadura. Major-General Rowland Hill received permission from Wellington to pursue Girard with his Second Division. Hearing that the French had halted at the village of Arroyo dos Molinos, near Alcuéscar, Hill force-marched his troops in poor weather for three days to catch the French before they moved on.
On the evening of the 27 October, Hill's forces were four miles from the French at Arroyo dos Molinos, and had them surrounded. On the following morning the weather was so bad that the French pickets on duty had their backs turned to gain some reprieve from the wind and rain - it was from this direction that Hill's forces attacked at dawn. The French 34th and 40th Regiments suffered extremely heavy losses, and over 200 French cavalry were captured plus three pieces of artillery.
Hill was made a Knight of the Bath for Arroyo dos Molinos, On 5th November he wrote to his sister :
“I have time merely to inform you that on the morning of the 28th at daybreak I succeeded in surprising, attacking, and annihilating the French corps under General Girard at Arroyo dos Molinos. The enemy's force, when attacked, consisted of about 3,000 infantry, 1,600 cavalry and artillery. The result is the capture of one general, one colonel (the Prince d'Aremberg commander of the 27th Chasseurs), 35 lieutenant-colonels and inferior officers, 1,400 prisoners, and probably 500 killed. The others dispersed, having thrown away their arms; we have also got all the enemy's artillery, baggage, and magazines—in short, everything that belonged to the corps”
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Re: Arroyo Day and the capture of the French drums

Postby plbramham » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:22 am

Here’s a 22mm button of the type worn at Arroyo by the FRENCH 34th Regiment. On the rear is an unusual crown shape with four slots to take thread, and lettering under decades of polish and dirt. The only letters I can make out for certain are C * and T 80.
Paul
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34th French button.jpg
34th French button rear.jpg
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