Lieutenant Polhill of the 95th
'Our Heroes of the Crimea'. 1855 (pp.116-117)
Robert Graham Polhill, who was born in the year 1827, was the second son of Edward Polhill Esq., of Brunswick Square, Brighton, by Anne, daughter of the late Thomas Graham Esq. of Edmond Castle, Cumberland. The Polhill family is one of great antiquity. In Kent, the Polhills have been settled since the reign of Edward III. Two branches of the family made settlements in other counties;’ one in Sussex and another in Bedfordshire. The Sussex branch, at Burwash, produced the celebrated theological writer, Edward Polhill, whose works were much read in the reign of the second Charles, while that in Bedfordshire is represented by Captain Polhill, of Howbury Park, whose father sat many years in Parliament for Bedford.
The subject of this memoir was gazetted an ensign in the 95th (Derbyshire) when in his eighteenth year, and became lieutenant on the 13th of April, 1852. From the day of his entering the corps, Polhill became a favourite with officers and men. His temperament was such as to secure him the affection and respect of all. Attentive to duty, and considerate of the men under his command, his name was of good repute not only in the mess-room, but in the canteen, where officers’ characters are discussed in whispers.
Lieutenant Polhill belonged to a gallant regiment. At the battle of the Alma, it earned emblazonments for its colours. When the light division rushed at the enemy, the Second division moved rapidly to its assistance. The 95th was in the latter division, it rushed up towards the enemy’s redoubts, cheering as it advanced. It had eighteen officers disabled long before any material impression was made on the murderous batteries in its front. On went officers and men, however, with their standards s surrounded by a devoted band. The redoubts were passed, and the enemy who were flying before the gallant 95th made brief halts, and wheeling round, delivered deadly showers of ball on their pursuers. The colours were still in front, though tattered from shot. On went the 95th, its colours in their ragged glory defended by Lieutenant Polhill and Captain Eddington. The enemy at all points were now flying from the field in broken columns, but so also were their balls on the British hunters. The 95th delivering a singeing fire on the enemy at bay in their immediate front, charged home, and their loud cheer rang out as they witnessed its effect. Their standards were high in the air, but most of their heroic preservers were laid low. A few yards in advance of the colours of the 95th was found the body of Lieutenant Robert Graham Polhill, his sword firmly fixed in the death-grasp. He had been struck by a musket ball in the head. In the moment of victory, an honour to his regiment, and amidst the glorious din of exultation, in the heroism that had achieved so great a triumph, he fell, as a brave soldier could wish to fall, between the foe and his sovereign’s flag.