Beneventre 29 December 1808


In December 1808 the 10th Hussars were fighting in Spain with the British Army under the command of General Sir John Moore.  By this stage of the campaign, orders had been given for the Army to withdraw to Corunna to avoid being cut off by Napoleon Bonaparte’s army of 50,000 men which included the Imperial Guard.

The 10th Hussars arrived at Benevente after crossing the River Esla and piquets were left to watch the ford of the Esla while the Army was given two day’s rest. It had rained the whole day on the 27th December and after the frost the roads had been made almost impassable. On the morning of 29th December, a force of between five and six hundred cavalry of the French Imperial Guard crossed the river. The 10th Hussars who were formed up but concealed by some houses charged the French who fled towards the river and crossed to the other side.  In the mêlée, the French lost two hundred killed, wounded and captured. During the pursuit, General Lèfevre-Desnouettes, commander of the French cavalry, became separated and was chased by Private Levi Grisdall of the Tenth. The General, who refused to halt, was wounded and captured by Private Grisdall.

On the return of the Regiment to England, Private Grisdall was promoted to Sergeant by order of the Prince Regent. General Lèfevre-Desnouettes was sent as a prisoner to England and was treated with many privileges. He lived at Cheltenham and Malvern on parole but in May 1812 he escaped to France.

The Action of Benevente and other engagements during the Peninsula War in which the Regiment took part are described in the Museum of The King’s Royal Hussars in Winchester.