THE DUKE AND THE LATE LIEUT.-GEN. SIR JOHN WATERS, K.C.B.
The Duke held Waters in the highest estimation; and, whenever any important information during the Peninsular war, as to the movements of the French, was required, the services of the gallant Waters were appealed to. It was his report of the motions of the French army that led to the battle of Bussaco.
It was Waters whom the Duke asked, when on the opposite side of the Douro, if he thought he could cross the river and see how matters stood with the French, then in possession of Oporto. No sooner said than done. Waters got a boat of some sort, worked himself across and returned with an additional boat; and, with this small beginning, the Duke, at a lower part of the river, got over a sufficient force to drive the French out of the city.
On another occasion it was reported at head quarters that Waters was captured, to which the Duke replied, "Waters will join us ; I know him too well. Bring on his baggage. "The Duke was right ; for, that same day, Waters was seen galloping into camp, bare-headed.
John Waters of the Royal Scots was known as a wily and capable man
behind enemy lines. Despite his skill and stealth, he was caught by the
French and given up for dead by his regiment.
When Wellington was told about his capture and probable execution, he
delayed the usual splitting up of a lost soldier's personal possessions,
saying that "Waters would be back and would want his things."
Wellington was right, for Waters eventually returned.
At the end of May, or the beginning of June, 1815, a letter was received at the Horse Guards by one of the officials, from his Grace, at Brussels, in which he says, "Send me Waters;" and in a postscript to the same letter, " Be sure to send me Waters." Accordingly, a messenger was despatched to his club, to ask for Colonel Waters' address.
The only information that could be obtained was, that the gallant colonel was fishing somewhere in Wales, but the whereabouts unknown. The messenger was then despatched to the residence of his brother, the late Mr. Edward Waters. The same answer, "Fishing in Wales;" but no address. Application was next made to his brother-in-law, the late Mr. Bainbridgo, a banker: a similar reply. Fortunately, however, the weather in Wales became unpropitious for his piscatory enjoyments. He wended his way slowly to London, where he found note after note awaiting his arrival, to go down immediately to the Horse Guards. The precise day we forget, but it was close upon that which led to a thirty-seven years' peace. The duke's note was skimmed over by Waters; and that night saw him off to his illustrious chief, arriving in time to act as deputy adjutant-general of the forces, and signing the returns of the killed and wounded at Waterloo, being himself one of the latter.
in Wellington anecdotes