Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Ford appears in Sharpe's Waterloo.Ford is not a military man, but a wealthy landowner who purchases a commission as lieutenant colonel of the Prince of Wales Own Volunteers in the peace of 1814-1815. He was surprised to find himself in in the field at the Battle of Waterloo. He is an indecisive, and nervous commander, but was also accounted a kind and decent man. He relies on the support of other under-experienced senior officers, Major Micklethwaite and Major Vine, the latter of whom was disliked by the rank and file.
Ford had the habit of nervously polishing his spectacles on his sash when trying to either avoid or make a decision. Harry Price admits to D'Alembord to rubbing a little butter into the ends of the Colonel's sash on the day of the battle, Ford for his part could not understand why his spectacles seem misty. This habit breaks him when he discovers he is doing so after having been spattered with Vine's blood and brains, and he is wiping his glasses with his gory sash. He goes into a full blown panic and freezes on the field while his men awaited orders.
A quarter of the men he led into battle were counted among the dead and wounded. Only the intervention of his veteran junior officer, Peter d'Alembord, and Richard Sharpe, saves the regiment from complete destruction.
He survives the battle and is sent back to Brussels, "...weather he wanted to stay alive any longer was another matter" (Sharpe's Waterloo).