Paul_1957

MGS medal to KGL defender of La Haye Sainte at Waterloo 1815

8 posts in this topic

ID: 1   Posted

Corporal Heinrich Heise served in the King's German Legion from 1805 till 1816.  Initially serving in the 7th Line Battalion he was transferred to the 5th Line Battalion in 1811.  Heise fought in the Peninsular War and qualified for the Military General Service Medal with 9 battle clasps when it was instituted in 1848. 

At the battle of Waterloo Heise was attached from No. 5 Company to the Light Company of the 5th Line Battalion. During the battle, the Light Company was detached from the regiment and sent as reinforcements to Major Baring in the farmhouse at La Haye Sainte.  On the disbandment of the King's German Legion in 1816 Heise enlisted in the Hanoverian Army.

Significant events in Heise's military service:
Volunteered to participate in the assault of Burgos made by 300 men of the King’s German Legion on 18 October 1812. Noted for his bravery at the attack on Tolosa on 25 June 1813. Wounded at St Etienne on 27 February 1814. At Waterloo he was wounded and taken prisoner during the hand to hand fighting when La Haye Sainte was captured by the French.

In 1821 Heise was awarded the Guelphic Medal:  The translation of his citation for that medal says:

Sergeant Wilhelm Stegen, Corporal Heinrich Heise, and Rifleman Friederich Breithaupt. At the defence of La Haye Sainte, after these three had accounted for many enemy by their calmly directed fire, they were among the last, who defended the building, to withdraw from the farm. Heise engaged in hand-to-hand fighting with several of the enemy, until he sank to the ground after a blow to the head and was taken prisoner. He had previously fought extremely bravely at Tolosa and had taken part in the storming of Burgos as a volunteer.

All three of the above named soldiers were serving with the Light Company, 5th Line Battalion, King’s German Legion. Heise is mentioned on page 51 of the book "The Longest Afternoon The Four Hundred Men who Decided the Battle of Waterloo" by Brendan Simms (published 2014).  Simms records that Heise was part of the rear guard left by Baring to gain time for the remaining defenders to evacute the farm as it fell to the French .

Medal entitlement:
Military General Service Medal (clasps Talavera, Busaco, Fuentes d’Onor, Ciudad Rodrigo, Salamanca, Vittoria, San Sebastian, Nivelle and Nive). For the first three clasps he was serving in the 7th Line Battalion, King’s German Legion.
Hanovarian War Medal for the King’s German Legion 1803-1814 – instituted 1841
British Waterloo Medal 1815
Hanoverian Guelphic Medal

Note:
A Corporal of the same name served at Waterloo in the 2nd Light Battalion of the King's German Legion.  That soldier was taken prisoner in the Peninsula in 1811 and not released till the peace of 1814.  Therefore, he cannot be the Corporal Heise mentioned in the citation for the Guelphic Medal because the 2nd Light Battalion man was in prison in 1812 and 1813 so cannot have been present at Burgos or Tolosa.

Heise MGS medal.JPG

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ID: 2   Posted

Hello:

Thank you for this post. I am from the area of the former Kingdom of Hanover from which most of the members of the Kings German Legion were formed I have a special attachment to such items.

Bernhard H. Holst

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ID: 3   Posted

2 hours ago, Bernhard H.Holst said:

Hello:

Thank you for this post. I am from the area of the former Kingdom of Hanover from which most of the members of the Kings German Legion were formed I have a special attachment to such items.

Bernhard H. Holst

Hello Bernhard,

Pleased that you enjoyed reading my post.  Heinrich was born on 22 February 1787 in Harste, Hanover.

Regards

Paul

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ID: 4   Posted

Paul

A great and well researched medal. Thank you for showing it.  If I could have my life over, I would collect KGL medals, and those of the Hanoverian army. I recently discovered that my mother's family were from Hanover, hence my current interest in this region..

Regards

Brett 

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ID: 5   Posted

2 hours ago, Brett Hendey said:

Paul

A great and well researched medal. Thank you for showing it.  If I could have my life over, I would collect KGL medals, and those of the Hanoverian army. I recently discovered that my mother's family were from Hanover, hence my current interest in this region..

Regards

Brett 

Hello Brett,

Thanks for your comment.  Within the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars the KGL was held in high regard for their discipline and fighting abilities; it was a well deserved reputation.

Paul

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ID: 6   Posted

Paul,

Thanks for sharing the medal and Heise's fascinating story - it's amazing that so much detail of his military experiences survives to be found near and told.  You can certainly pick your medals!

I think the KGL were also well known for their singing!

Regards,

Owen

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ID: 7   Posted

12 hours ago, Owen said:

Thanks for sharing the medal and Heise's fascinating story - it's amazing that so much detail of his military experiences survives to be found near and told.

Much of his personal story was pieced together from information contained in documents in the National Archives at Kew.  It took perseverance and a bit of luck but it was well worth it.  There are still some avenues of research open to me in Hanoverian records but that is a bit less straightforward for me.

Paul

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