While researching the White Documents in the Public Records Office (D2861)* I came across the following account of John White’s experiences as a Lieutenant in the 36th Herefordshire Regiment during the time of the Peninsular War. The extract contains four handwritten foolscap sheets. There is no trace of any other journal among these White papers and it is not known whether any other account of his activities was kept.

John White was born at Whitehall, Broughshane in 1785, the elder son of James White and Jane Stuart. He inherited in 1804 from his father the Ballyteerim Estate near Cushendun, and Whitehall. He also purchased the townlands of Innispollan, Balure, Clady and the Grange of Innispollan. Known locally as the ‘ould captain’ he was probably responsible for the replanting of Craigagh Wood in the 1840’s, and when Cushendun became a separate Catholic parish in 1848, John White gave the Strand House as a parochial residence. John White never married. He died in 1857 and his property passed to his brother James Robert White.


* I would like to thank the P.R.O.N.I. for permission to reprint this extract from the White Papers. Ref. A3/6b.


I joined the 36th regiment in Dublin on the 14th October 1804 and got my lieutenancy in the June following. Marched from thence to the Curragh camp on the 21st August 1805. Marched from thence to Bandon in the County of Cork on the 6th September and arrived there on the 19th. Left Bandon for foreign service on the 18th October and embarked at Monkstown on the 29th and sailed for The Downs on the 12th November. Obliged to put into Falmouth by contrary winds. On the 17th sailed from thence for Portsmouth, on the 29th November and came to anchor on the 30th. Sailed from thence for The Downs on the 2nd December where we came to anchor on the 3rd. Sailed for Germany on the 10th. Driven back by contrary winds and came to anchor again in The Downs on the 16th.

Sailed again for the River Weser on the 22nd and came to anchor in its mouth on the 25th. Proceeded up the river on the 27th as far as Bremerlee where we disembarked on the 1st January 1806 and proceeded to Bromslodz where we arrived on the 2nd. It is about 20 or 30 miles from Bremen where I went for a few days. This expedition was under the command of Lord Cathcart. Received orders to march for our ships on the 27th. Marched on the 29th. Embarked on the 29th at Bremerlee. Dropped down to the mouth of the river on the 3rd February. Sailed for the Downs on the 4th. Obliged to put into Yarmouth on the 5th by contrary winds. Sailed again for the Downs on the 17th. Arrived there on the 18th. Sailed for Ramsgate on the 19th and disembarked there on the 21st. Marched to Battle in Sussex where we arrived on the 24th February 1806. Received the rout for foreign service on the 12th September 1806. Marched in two divisions for Portsmouth, the first on the 14th, the second on the 16th. The first embarked on the 19th, the second on the 21st. Sailed for Falmouth on the 10th October. Arrived there on the 11th from whence we sailed on a secret expedition under the command of Brigadier General Crawford early in November and made the island of Madeira on the 5th December and the island of Palma on the 7th, distant from them about two leagues.

Crossed the Tropic of Cancer on the 13th and came to anchor at the island of St. Jego on the 14th December. Sailed from thence for the Cape of Good Hope on the 11th January 1807. Crossed the Line on the 29th, longitude 27 west and the Tropic of Capricorn on the 17th February. Came to anchor off Falxbay on the 26th March. Went into the bay next morning. We were then ordered round to Table Bay where we arrived on the 24th after a coasting voyage of two days. Sailed from thence to Saint Helena on the 7th April where we came to anchor on the 21st. Sailed from thence to Buenos Aires on the 26th and came to anchor in the mouth of the River de la Plate on the 27th May.

From thence we proceeded up the river to Montevideo where we did not arrive until the 14th June in consequence of a gale of wind which drove most of the transports to sea again and lasted for several days. We were then considerably reinforced and got General Whitelock as commander of the expedition.

We then proceeded up the river to Colonia Sacramento where we arrived on the 24th and then proceeded to Ensonada where we disembarked on the 28th and arrived before the town of Buenos Aires on the evening of the 2nd July, after a fatiquing march, having frequently to wade through swamps up to our middle and never getting under the cover of a house and also badly supplied with provisions.

Had frequent skirmishes with the enemy for the next two days. Made the grand attack on the town on Sunday morning the 5th July. We were entering the town as the day began to dawn where after some hand fighting the Regiment was obliged to retire after the loss of 106 men killed and wounded. I was left with many other severely wounded, in the hands of the enemy. The treaty commenced on the morning of the 6th between General Whitelock on the part of the British and Lanciers on the part of the Spaniards, and was concluded on the 7th. Both sides were to give up the prisoners taken and we were to evacuate the country. The troops commenced embarking for Montevideo on the 9th and sailed on the 13th. Those who were severely wounded were left behind at Buenos Aires under the care of our own surgeons, of whom I made one of the number.

I embarked on the 20th July to join my Regiment at Montevideo where I arrived on the 5th August. Embarked for England on the 9th September 1807, went out of reach of the Spanish batteries that night and proceeded up the river to water the next day and finally sailed for England on the 13th. Crossed the Tropic of Capricorn on the 11th October and the Line of The Equator on the evening of the 21st,distant at 12 o’clock 6 leagues by observation longtitude 24 degrees west.  The thermometer near the Line was in general 84°, I have seen it at 86° in the shade and as high as 94°.  Crossed the Tropic of Cancer on the 9th November. Went so far to the westward 40° 20. The Admiral found soundings on the 14th December, depth of water 104 fathoms. Obliged to bear up for Cork on the 17th December. Disembarked at Monkstown on the 29th and proceeded to the barrack at Cork.

Received the rout at Cork on the 3rd April 1808 to march to Fermoy and proceeded according to rout on the 7th where we arrived the same day. Received the rout at Fermoy for foreign service at half past twelve o’clock on the morning of the 5th July. Marched at six o’clock the same morning to Cork where we remained till the morning of the 9th when we marched to Monkstown and embarked and sailed at six o’clock on the morning of the 12th under the command of Sir Arthur Wellesley.

Made the Spanish coast on the evening of the 21st and cleared Cape Finister on the 23rd. Made Oporto on the morning of the 25th or rather the mouth of the River Quiero and came to anchor in Mondego Bay on the morning of the 26th. Landed on the 1st August and were brigaded with the 40th and 71st Regiment under the command of General Ferguson on the 7th. Encamped within a few miles of Mondego Bay for some days until joined by General Spencer’s division. We then proceeded on our march towards Lisbon.

The French outposts were driven in on the 15th at Oviedo, by two or three companies of the Rifle Corps. The attack on the 17th at Roleisa was more general when the French were obliged to retire with considerable loss. They in their turn attacked us on the morning of the 21st August at Vermira with their whole force then in Portugal under the command of General Junot and after a vigorous attack they were entirely defeated with great loss of killed, wounded and prisoners, also twenty one pieces of cannon with a quantity of ammunition and wagons.

The French sent in a flag of truce the next day for the purpose of entering into terms with the British, which terms were agreed to and the French evacuated the country and left us in possession of Portugal. We then proceeded to join Sir John Moore’s army by way of Torres Vedras which we did on the 7th September 2 leagues from Lisbon and remained encamped in and about Lisbon till the 2nd October when we commenced our march into Spain. We were then put into General Hope’s division and Brigadier General Crawford’s brigade. There was also a change in the brigade as we got the 92nd Regiment instead of the 40th.

Leave a Reply