Napoleon Series Archive 2004

Re: Belem Rangers

Excellent examples of individual reactions to continued service. The 1/95th along with the 1/43rd were out of the line in late February 1814 when they were refitting and missed the Battle of Orthez [27 February]. Refitting meaning I take it, that they were receiving a new clothing issue.

There is a description of a regular army outfit from another era and army, but it might apply to any: 'There were the "deadbeats"--dirty, malingering, and untrustworthy; the "old soldiers"--quiet, dutiful, subordinate, of limited intellect and initiative, often corporals but never sergeants; and the 'daredevils' -- first in a fight, frolic or to volunteer for duty, faultlessly uniformed, often in the guardhouse but never the hospital, "the pride of the officers and the admiration of their companions." '

The General Order of 17 March 1813 stated NCOs and Rank & Rile belonging to Regts. of the line invalided for Garrison Duty in Portugal may be transferred to the 13th Royal Veteran Battalion which is to be formed at Belem. Lieutenant Colonel Macdonnell, late 92nd Regt. to command. Perhaps matching the description given to me about a battalion of detachments in a later war, "every Sergeant-Major's 'sick, lame and lazy.' "

There was the so-called "Belem Rangers" [Belem a small town downstream from Lisbon and the first stop for newly arrived reinforcements]. "This troop of heroes was composed of men and officers with facings of all the colours of the rainbow. Among them were those who could not fight, and those who would not; and I am sorry to say that of the latter there was a large proportion..." [unsourced quote]

The 49th Foot were in Canada from 1802. It had previously served on the continent and as Marines in the fleet. It had been dispersed in garrison the Canada. Its Colonel described them as much given to drink, he had tracked down a number of deserters, and they had once rebelled under harsh discipline by the 2nd Lieutenant Colonel. In fact, just prior to the Battle of Queenston Heights during the War of 1812, some of the flank companies had again rebelled against being isolated at Queenston, but this was attributed again to drink.

However, they fought magnificently at Queenston, Fort George, Black Rock, at Stoney Creek and even though they had an establishment of 931 men and could only field 382 in 10 companies at Crysler's Farm they were one of two under-strength regiments which bore the brunt of the fighting and defeated a larger force.

James Talbot of the 45th Foot had the Military General Service Medal with 15 clasps [the maximum number]. Although making any comparisons are probably unsatisfactory, yet in those fifteen battles he was under fire and in danger of losing his life for about total 24 hours spread over eight years of campaigning. His regiment had a total of 123 battle deaths [with more for died of wounds]. It is noted that the total time he spent under fire and in physical danger would only equate to about two days service in a 'hot' portion of the Western Front and the casualties his regiment suffered would be considered negligible against those of 1914-1918.

Lord Moran made an interesting analogy: courage was like a bank balance, diminishing with each 'withdrawal' or period of combat pressure.

Ron

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Combat fatigue
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Picton
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Combat fatigue, shell shock, war wearriness
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Units
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Definitions
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Battle Stress in the 1st/95th
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Battle Stress in the 1st/95th et al.
Re: Belem Rangers
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Re: Nostalgia
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