The Battle of Vittoria

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During the Battle of Vittoria in 1813, a patrol of the 14th Light Dragoons became involved in the capture, with the 18th Light Dragoons, of a French Royal Baggage Train.  Some attempts were made by British soldiers to ransack the King’s Carriage, but order was restored, and the King’s possessions, documents and looted works of art, were secured and safely handed over to the General Headquarters.

Royal Wagon Train: Battle of Vitoria on 21st June 1813 during the Peninsular War: Picture by Charles Hamilton Smith.

A notable exception to this was King Joseph Bonaparte’s silver chamber pot, engraved with his Coat of Arms, which was secured by the patrol from the 14th because, no doubt, the sight of this particular domestic utensil caused some amusement; no objections seem to have been raised to its retention by its captors.  The Chamber Pot was believed to have been a present to his brother by the Emperor Napoleon, and it came to be known as ‘The Emperor’. Accordingly, within the Peninsula Army, the 14th as its custodians became known as “The Emperor’s Chambermaids”, a nickname which apparently gave much pleasure to the Regiment at the time.

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Today, the Commanding Officer traditionally asks officers to drink from the Emperor on Mess nights.  It remains the most treasured piece of silver possessed by the Regiment.

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A regimental website for veterans of the 14th/20th King's Hussars


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