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200th Anniversary Exhibition

Lieutenant Francis Maguire and the Forlorn Hope at San Sebastian,
31st August 1813

"The Fourth led and perhaps in the whole history of war there cannot be found a stronger instance of courage and obedience to orders."
Major General Robinson, 1813

The Mothers Letters


                                                                                           Camp before St. Sebastian
Mrs. Maguire                                                                         Augt. 20th 1813
Brentwood, Essex

England Postmark 2. Sp. 1813

                                                                                            Stamped: "Favoured by ship"


I was favoured with your letter of the 29th July yesterday, and feel much flattered by the confidence you have placed in me.

It is with great pleasure I inform you, that the conduct of your son has already brought him very much within my notice and regards. He is a fine fellow, and distinguished himself in a most particularly gallant manner at the Battle of Vittoria; You may make your mind easy respecting him, for he has established his reputation as an Officer on the firmest Basis; He is very well.

I remain, Madam, Your faithful servant

F P Robinson


                                                                                             St. Sebastian
Mrs Maguire                                                                             Septr. 7th 1813

Dear Madam,

It is not many days since I had pleasure of answering your letter respecting your Son; which I intended should set your heart at rest; I wish I could now confirm whatever expectation you may have formed; because I am well acquainted with a Parent’s cares and anxieties – particularly those who have Sons in this unexampled and unequalled Army.

But my dear Madam it becomes my duty now to call upon you to exhibit that firmness of mind and that resignation to the will of the Almighty which his Religion requires of you.

Your gallant son had three times solicited the dangerous Post of leading the Forlorn Hope in the different attempts upon the works of this Place. Twice he was disappointed in his intension – but the third time fulfilled his wishes and destroyed your hopes.

I can scarcely refrain from tears as I write the sequel, how then shall a Mother be able to retain the fortitude when I inform her that my incomparable young Hero fell at the Head of a chosen party of volunteers in the most desperate and dreadful assault ever given by the British Army ….. Had he survived the bloody contest certain Promotion attended with peculiar Honour would have been is reward. But since he has fallen let me conjure you to endeavour to derive some consolation in the idea that his death was MOST GLORIOUS ….

With sentiments of deep sorrow and sincere condolence,

I remain, Dear Madam

Your faithful servant

F P Robinson

Major General

In this conflict My Brigade has lost 49 Officers in killed and wounded; consequently there are many Mothers who will be in similar affliction with yourself …. I am in pain myself from a wound which must plead my excuse for not having written by the ship that carried the dispatches.


bulletThe Mother, Elizabeth Maguire
bulletThe Mother's Letters
bulletThe Hero: Lieutenant Francis Maguire
bulletThe Painting
bulletCommentary on the Action


© Images are copyright, Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum.
 You must seek permission prior to publication of any of our images.

Only a proportion of our collections are on display at anyone time.  Certain items are on loan for display in other institutions.  An appointment is required to consult any of our collections which are held in store.

© 2013 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum