General Sir Edward Nicolls KCB - The 'Fighting Nicolls'
Updated: Nov 17, 2021
Unit/ Formation: RM People
Location: Monte Christe
Period/ Conflict: Napoleonic Wars
Date/s: Saturday 5th November 1803
Lieutenant Edward Nicolls RM led a 12 man cutting-out party in the cutter from HMS Blanche, and captured the French cutter Albion from under the battery at Monte Christe in Santo Domingo.
The Albion had a crew of 43 men and was armed with two 4-pounder guns and six swivels. In the fighting the French Captain wounded Nicolls with a pistol shot before being himself killed. The British lost two dead and two wounded, including Nicolls.
Later he became known as fighting Nicholls. During his remarkable career he saw action 107 times, was wounded six times, court martialed twice, and demoted. However, he was eventually promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General.
General Sir Edward Nicolls KCB (1779 – 5 February 1865) was an Anglo-Irish officer of the Royal Marines. Known as "Fighting Nicolls", he had a distinguished military career.
According to his obituary in the London Times, "He was in no fewer than 107 actions, in various parts of the world ... He had his left leg broken and his right leg severely injured, was shot through the body and right arm, had received a severe sabre cut in the head, was bayoneted in the chest, and had lost the sight of an eye."
In 1795, at the age of 16, he received his first commission in the Royal Marines and soon began service with shipborne detachments of marines. During the Napoleonic Wars and associated conflicts in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and North Sea, he served as a commander of ships' detachments, and gained his reputation for ferocity and courage.
From 1823 to 1828, he was the Commandant of Ascension Island in the South Atlantic, which was followed by a posting from 1829 to 1835, as Superintendent of Fernando Po, off the coast of Africa, an important base in the British operations against the slave trade.
In 1835, Nicolls retired from the Royal Marines with the rank of a lieutenant colonel. For his service, Nicolls was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1855—among other honours—and was promoted to the rank of full general in his retirement.