Battle of Waterloo - Queensland connection (200th anniversary)

The wars of Wellington, a narrative poem. British Library collection on Flickr Commons

The wars of Wellington, a narrative poem. British Library collection on Flickr Commons

June 18th marks the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, which saw the final defeat of the armies of French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.  You may be surprised to discover Queensland has a few connections with this famous battle.

Portrait of Colonel Charles George Gray. Published in "Jubilee History of Ipswich, 1910"

Portrait of Colonel Charles George Gray. Published in "Jubilee History of Ipswich, 1910"

Colonel Charles George Gray, a prominent identity in early Ipswich, was a noted Waterloo veteran. Gray was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1786 and his career in the British army began in 1796 after obtaining a commission as an ensign. In 1810, Gray sailed to Spain and participated in the Peninsula War where he was wounded at Badajoz. In 1815, he served at Waterloo as a captain with the 95th foot, receiving the Waterloo medal. He retired from the army in 1837. Gray later travelled to Australia, settling in Ipswich and becoming the town's first police magistrate in 1853. He died in 1873. His obituary in the Queensland Times provide more detailed information on his army career. A book entitled That gallant gentleman : the remarkable story of Colonel Charles George Gray by Kenneth Dutton was also published in 2009.

Captain Henry Miller. John Oxley Library, SLQ. Neg 109891

Captain Henry Miller. John Oxley Library, SLQ. Neg 109891

Another veteran of Waterloo with a Queensland connection was Lieutenant Henry Miller, who later became the first commandant of the Moreton Bay penal colony in 1824. Miller was born in Londonderry, Ireland in 1785 and joined the army at the age of 14. Like Gray, Miller also served during the Peninsula War and was present at the Battle of Waterloo. Miller left Moreton Bay in 1826 and settled in Hobart until his death in 1866. His obituary in the Tasmanian Morning Herald stated that Miller would always observe the anniversary of Waterloo and proudly wore his Waterloo medal on his chest.

Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland

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Less proud are Queenslanders of George Winfield, a lesser known veteran who lost an arm at Waterloo in 1815. However by 1870's he was frequently locked up by the police as town drunkard, and probably tried to pawn his own Waterloo medal out of desperation before being sent to the Dunwich Benevolent Asylum.

On my maternal line of Devitts in Warwick Cemetery is Martin Schnitzering who was with Blucher at Waterloo. Martin passed 21/2/1865 and was the son of Louis Schnitzerling and Ann Figge. His daughter Annie Gertrude married John Devitt in Warwick. John was the brother of my great grandfather Michael Joseph Devitt of Warwick.