Fletcher served in the West Indies, being wounded in action during the capture of St. Lucia in 1791. During 1799 he took part in the preparation of the defences for the Turks in the Dardanelles. An expedition in 1800, to reconnoitre the Egyptian port of Alexandria, lead to his capture by the French navy; he was held prisoner until his release following the capture of Alexandria.
Returning to England in 1802, he was subsequently sent to fight in the Battle of Copenhagen, before participating in the Peninsular War as chief engineer, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, to General Sir Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. He was responsible for building the celebrated Lines of Torres Vedras. He also saw action at the Battle of Buçaco and the sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, taking a wound in the groin in the latter engagement.
He returned to England to recover, and was made a baronet on 14 December 1812, and awarded a pension and the Army Gold Cross for Talavera, Bussaco, Ciudad Rodrigo, and Badajoz. He returned in 1813 and directed the sieges of Pamplona and San Sebastián. He was killed in action during the final assault on San Sebastián on 31 August 1813.
Though Fletcher was buried near San Sebastián, a monument to his memory stands at the western side of the north aisle in Westminster Abbey, London. His eldest son died without issue and one of his five daughters – Harriet – married the Rev. William Darwin Fox, a second cousin of Charles Darwin.
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
Richard John Fletcher
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