The Buffs Case Contents
Flint and lead
Framed relics from the battlefield of Albuhera presented to the 1st Battalion of the Buffs by the Mayor of Albuhera in 1926.
The number of musket balls collected for this gift gives some idea of the thousands that must have been fired during the battle. The flint pieces were part of the musket firing mechanism and would strike a spark that fired the gunpowder and propelled the musket ball.
Brigadier General Van Straubenzee and Officers of The Buffs
Copy of photograph by Roger Fenton (1819-69)
This photograph shows soldiers of the Buffs in the Crimea with a Brigade commander: from left, an Officer, Major Maude, a Sergeant Major, Brigadier-General Charles Thomas Van Straubenzee (seated), a Corporal-Bugler and an Adjutant. Roger Fenton went to the Crimea as the first official war photographer. Cameras needed a long time to create a picture and he was only able to take posed group shots like this one, or landscapes. Despite the poor conditions he produced 350 photographs, which were published in the Illustrated London News.
Cigar box commemorating the Relief of Chitral, 1895 and Indian Frontier Campaign, 1897
Silver hallmarked London
Chitral was a remote outpost on India’s Northwest Frontier. In 1895 it was besieged by Pathan tribesmen. The Buffs and the rest of the relief force reached the fort after 26 days clambering over snow and ice of the Himalayas.
These two carved wooden dragons were looted from the personal railway carriage of the dowager Empress of China during the Boxer Rebellion in Peking (Beijing) in 1900. It is not known how they came into the possession of the Buffs, as the regiment did not take part in what was known as the 3rd China War.
Letter written in blood
Photograph of original
In November 1810, during the Peninsular War, Captain Joseph Fenwick was wounded in action with a French foraging party at Chamusca, Portugal. He had no ink with which to write a message so he wrote in his own blood: “I am shot through the body and arm for God sake send me a surgeon English if possible. If I do not recover God Bless you all.” Fenwick died of his wounds. In reporting his death the Duke of Wellington wrote: “he is lamented by all that had any knowledge of his gallantry.”
Mahratta flag in a case
Cloth, wood and glass
The Mahratta (Maratha) Empire was the most powerful in India until conquered by the British in the early 19th century. Mahratta warriors continued to fight the British. At the Battle of Punniar on 29 December 1843, during the British invasion of Gwalior, Mahratta fighters attacked the British forces but were driven off by the Buffs. During the fighting the Mahratta flag was defended bravely by a young warrior, like Lieutenant Latham at Albuhera, until he was killed. The flag was carried by the Buffs as a trophy until 1875, when it was place in this case at Fort William, Calcutta, India.
On the knoll at the Battle of Inyezane 22nd January 1879, Lloyds Guns and the Buffs in Actin
Photograph of watercolour by an unknown artist
During the invasion of Zululand in 1879, the Buffs were in the right of three widely separated columns. They were attacked by Zulus but managed to beat off the attack and push on to their target, the missionary station at Eshowe. The central invasion column was wiped out at the Battle of Isandlwhana and the Buffs were besieged at Eshowe. The Zulus did not attack but surrounded the station and the Buffs were not relieved for 67 days.
Ornamental screen, taken from the Summer Palace in 1860
Brass, glass, wood, velvet
One of the items taken from the Summer Palace at Peking (Beijing) was this ornamental screen. Its use in the palace, other than as decoration, is unknown.
Paternoster Bay, South Africa
Photograph of watercolour by an unknown artist
The 2nd Battalion of the Buffs was sent to South Africa in 1876. They sailed from Dublin for Capetown in the St Lawrence. At 3am one morning the ship hit rocks in Paternoster Bay on the west coast of South Africa and began to sink. There were only four lifeboats and all the passengers, soldiers and baggage had to be rowed ashore. An officer found a horse and rode to Capetown, 100 miles away, to fetch help. Three days after the wreck he returned with rescue ships. The watercolour shows the camp of the Buffs on the beach.
Private John Moyse, the 3rd (East Kent, The Buffs) Regiment of Foot, refusing to kow-tow before the Tartar Mandarin Tsan-koo-lin-sin in 1860 about 1910
Photograph of a painting by William R Scott
An Anglo French army invaded China in 1860 to enforce trade treaties on the Chinese Emperor. A landing was made at the Pei Ho river and the Taku forts, which guarded the river mouth, were captured.
John Moyse was a Private in the Buffs, having been demoted from Sergeant for insurbordination. He was captured by Tartar cavalry near the Taku forts on 12 August and after refusing to kow-tow (bow) to a Mandarin was executed. His defiant action was later immortalised by Sir Francis Hastings Doyle in his poem A Private of the Buffs.
Red glazed vase with silver rim and stand
Chinese hard paste porcelain, silver
After capturing the Taku forts the army moved on to Peking (Beijing), leaving the Buffs to garrison the forts. However, one officer of the Buffs, Colonel Mark Walker, was attached to the General’s staff and went to Peking, where the Emperor’s Summer Palace was looted and destroyed. Many beautiful items were lost, or destroyed, but some were auctioned and Colonel Walker bought this vase, and possibly the Arabic box also on display. The silver rim and stand were made in Calcutta in 1860.
Replica Victoria Cross and original Crimean War medals of Private John Connors
Metal, cloth ribbon
During the Crimean War the Buffs took part in the siege of Sebastopol and were heavily involved in the assault on the largest of the city’s defences, the fort known as the Redan. During the attack Private John Connors rescued a wounded officer under heavy fire. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. The men of the Buffs gave him a specially made medal in admiration of his actions, inscribed: ‘A token of admiration and esteem from his comrades to Pte J. Connors in recognition of his remarkable gallantry during the assault on the Redan Sept 8th 1855’.
Replica Victoria Cross awarded to Corporal (later Sergeant) James Smith, 1st Battalion, The Buffs (East Kent Regiment)
Corporal Smith won this Victoria Cross during the Mohmand Campaign, an expedition against the Northwest Frontier tribes, in September 1897. One of a group answering a call for volunteers, he followed two Royal Engineers officers to the village of Bilot, Mamund Valley, in an attempt to dislodge the enemy. In a night lit by thunderstorms, and despite being wounded, Smith continued to fight and held the position until the return of an officer who had gone for help.
Replica Victoria Cross of Major Francis Maude
Metal, cloth ribbon
Major Maude was the commanding officer of the Buffs in the Crimea. He led the regiment in the attack on the Redan fort and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery. The Buffs and other attackers managed to break into the fort, but were driven out under heavy fire losing 32 killed and 106 wounded from an original strength of 260 men. Despite having held the fort the Russian withdrew from Sevastapol that night. The Buffs were the only British Regiment to enter the ruined city.
Oil on wood panel
Inscribed ‘At the taking of Sebastopol, on the 9th September, 1855, this was found Enshrined on the Altar of a large Church’, this religious painting was brought back to England by J. N. Sargent, an officer of the 95th rifle regiment, who transferred to the Buffs in 1860. In Russian Othodox churches the nave is generally separated from the sanctuary by a screen wall of icons with double doors in the centre. Icons usually
Tenor Side Drum
1795c, Unknown maker
Wood, calf skin
Drummers of the Buffs would have carried drums like this one into battle during the Napoleonic Wars. These drums were particularly deep to produce a loud sound as drum signals were used to relay commands across noisy battlefields.
The badge of the Buffs had been a dragon since at least 1707 so it is odd that the drum should have a white horse badge on it. Drums were also used to attract a crowd during recruiting and as East Kent had been given to the regiment as its recruiting area in 1782 it may have been intended to increase the number of local men eager to join up.