British Regiments in the Peninsular War 1808-1814
By Ron McGuigan
The Peninsular War involved many of Britain's regiments. These regiments earned Battle Honours which are commemorated to this day. However, due to the many reorganizations which occurred in the British Army since that time, it may be difficult to recognize the lineage of the regiments which exist today. This article is a short guide to the regiments which served during The Peninsular War 1808-1814 and their modern titles.
During the war, many regiments raised extra battalions which represented their regiment in the Peninsula. At the peace in 1814, the government began to disband these war-raised battalions. The parent regiment was sometimes granted, or in other cases just assumed, the Battle Honours earned by their disbanded battalion(s). By 1819, all of the war-raised battalions were gone and the total of numbered line regiments had been reduced to 93. Only the Foot Guards, 1st Regiment, 60th Regiment and the Rifle Brigade had more than one battalion. Most of the Foreign, Colonial and other Corps were also disbanded. The line cavalry regiments were similarly reduced to 16 regiments by 1821 (the Household Cavalry and Dragoon Guards were not affected).
In 1823 and 1824, the British army raised six new regiments, numbered 94 to 99. Although some officers were brought in from half-pay of the previously disbanded regiments, these regiments had no connection with the Peninsular Regiments of the same numbers; however, the 94th and 96th, were awarded the Battle Honours of the Peninsular War. The 94th received those of the disbanded 94th and the 96th received those of the old 97th Regiment which had been renumbered the 96th in 1816 and then disbanded. A number of Royal Veteran Battalions were raised in 1819 and although some half-pay officers of the old 4th Battalion were appointed, the 4th Royal Veteran Battalion of 1819-1821 had no real connection with the Peninsular War Battalion.
The next major expansion of the army occurred in 1857-1858 and saw second battalions raised for the 2nd Regiment to 25th Regiment with the 60th Regiment and Rifle Brigade adding their 4th Battalions (having raised their 3rd Battalions in 1855) and the 100th Regiment raised and awarded the Battle Honours of the disbanded 100th Regiment. None of these battalions had any connection with the Peninsular War battalions. The 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers were raised and awarded the Battle Honours of the old 5th (Royal Irish) Dragoons which had been disbanded in 1799 and the 18th Hussars were raised and awarded the Battle Honours of the 18th Light Dragoons of the Peninsular War.
In 1862, the European Regiments of the Honourable East India Company's army were taken on the strength of the British Army and numbered 101 to 109. None of these regiments were awarded earlier Battle Honours which had been granted to the previously disbanded British regiments of the Napoleonic Wars. The cavalry added the European Cavalry Regiments of the Honourable East India Company's army and numbered them 19 to 21. Both the 19th Hussars and the 20th Hussars were granted the Battle Honours of the 19th Light Dragoons and the 20th Light Dragoons of the Peninsular War.
The next reorganization of the British Army resulted in a major change in the identity of the British Regiments. This was the Cardwell reform of 1881, in which the total number of regiments was reduced by amalgamating many of the existing 109 numbered regiments into regiments of two battalions. The regiments were no longer to be known by a number, but, by a Regimental Title. The first 25 regiments already had two battalions and so were not affected by the new amalgamations. The remaining regiments were amalgamated to form two battalion regiments (except the 60th, 79th and Rifle Brigade). Many received new Regimental Titles.
No new regular regiments were raised; however, some regiments raised extra battalions which were disbanded before World War I. Post-World War I, the number of cavalry regiments was reduced as a number of regiments were amalgamated. The creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 led to further reductions in the infantry as two old regiments disappeared (18th & 88th Regiments along with the re-raised 94th & 100th Regiments and the former HEIC European Regiments of the 101st, 102nd, 103rd, 104th & 109th Regiments).
During World War II the cavalry arm was increased with the raising of the 22nd Dragoons, 23rd Hussars, 24th Lancers, 25th Dragoons, 26th Hussars and 27th Lancers 1940/1941. They were all reduced in 1948. After World War II, most regiments saw their 2nd Battalions amalgamated with their 1st Battalions by 1948 and they became single battalion regiments once again.
The next major reorganization occurred in 1951, when the infantry regiments were grouped in 15 named brigades (the Brigade of Guards already existed). From these brigades, came the concept of the large regiment and a number of the brigades were converted with the component regiments becoming battalions of the new large regiments. These large regiments received new titles. This concept continues to today.
Since the formation of the large regiments began, a number of their battalions have also been disbanded over the years; however, the original regiments can be considered to be perpetuated in the existing large regiments.
All of these reductions and amalgamations of battalions and regiments which occurred after World War I, World War II and in the subsequent years resulted in so many title changes that many of today's titles have little or no resemblance to the names of the regiments which fought in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.
For those who wish to further research into this subject, I recommend the following (as well as those listed as Sources): Battle Honours of the British and Commonwealth Armies by Anthony Baker, Ian Allan Ltd, London 1986, and A Register of the Regiments and Corps of the British Army by Arthur Swinson, The Archive Press, London 1972. Visit the Official British Army website at www.army.mod.uk. For a listing of the regimental histories see A Bibliography of Regimental Histories of the British Army by Arthur S. White, Society for Army Historical Research, 1965.
The list below details the Peninsular Battalion and title of the regiment in 1808-1814, 1914 and the modern day title. The Peninsular Army included Wellington's main army, as well as, the forces at Cadiz, at Cartagena and, late in the war, on the East Coast of Spain. It did not include the forces at Gibraltar or in the Mediterranean proper and these regiments are not recorded.
1st Life Guards
2nd Life Guards
Royal Regiment of Horse Guards
3rd (or the Prince of Wales's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards
4th (or Royal Irish) Regiment of Dragoon Guards
5th (or Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Regiment of Dragoon Guards
1st (or Royal) Regiment of Dragoons
3rd (or the King's own) Regiment of Dragoons
4th (or the Queen's own) Regiment of Dragoons
7th (or the Queen's own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
9th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
10th (or the Prince of Wales's Own Royal) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
11th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
12th (or the Prince of Wales's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
13th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
14th (or the Duchess of York's own) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
15th (or the King's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
16th (or the Queen's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
18th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)
20th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
23rd Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
1st Regiment of Foot Guards
Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards
3rd Regiment of Foot Guards
1st (or the Royal Scots) Regiment of Foot
2nd (or the Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot
3rd (or East Kent) Regiment of Foot, or the Buffs
4th (or the King's own) Regiment of Foot
5th (or the Northumberland) Regiment of Foot
6th (or 1st Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
7th Regiment of Foot (or Royal Fuzileers)
9th (or the East Norfolk) Regiment of Foot
10th (or the North Lincolnshire) Regiment of Foot
11th (or the North Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
14th (or the Buckinghamshire) Regiment of Foot
20th (or the East Devonshire) Regiment of Foot
21st Regiment of Foot (or Royal North British Fuzileers)
23rd Regiment of Foot (or Royal Welch Fuzileers)
24th (or the 2nd Warwickshire) Regiment of Foot
26th (or Cameronian) Regiment of Foot
27th (or Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot
28th (or the North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot
29th (or the Worcestershire) Regiment of Foot
30th (or the Cambridgeshire) Regiment of Foot
31st (or the Huntingdonshire) Regiment of Foot
32nd (or the Cornwall) Regiment of Foot
34th (or the Cumberland) Regiment of Foot
36th (or the Herefordshire) Regiment of Foot
37th (or the North Hampshire) Regiment of Foot
38th (or the 1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot
39th (or the Dorsetshire) Regiment of Foot
40th (or the 2nd Somersetshire) Regiment of Foot
42nd (or the Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot
43rd (or the Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
44th (or the East Essex) Regiment of Foot
45th (or the Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot
47th (or the Lancashire) Regiment of Foot
48th (or the Northamptonshire) Regiment of Foot
50th (or the West Kent) Regiment of Foot
51st (or the 2nd Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
52nd (or the Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
53rd (or the Shropshire) Regiment of Foot
57th (or the West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot
58th (or the Rutlandshire) Regiment of Foot
59th (or the 2nd Nottinghamshire) Regiment of Foot
60th (or Royal American) Regiment of Foot
61st (or the South Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot
62nd (or the Wiltshire) Regiment of Foot
66th (or the Berkshire) Regiment of Foot
67th (or the South Hampshire) Regiment of Foot
68th (or the Durham) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
71st (Highland) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry)
74th (Highland) Regiment of Foot
75th (Highland) Regiment of Foot
76th Regiment of Foot
77th (or the East Middlesex) Regiment of Foot
79th Regiment of Foot (or Cameron Highlanders)
81st Regiment of Foot
82nd Regiment of Foot (or Prince of Wales's Volunteers)
83rd Regiment of Foot
84th (York and Lancaster) Regiment of Foot
85th Regiment of Foot (or Bucks Volunteers) (Light Infantry)
87th (or the Prince of Wales's own Irish) Regiment of Foot
88th Regiment of Foot (or Connaught Rangers)
91st Regiment of Foot
92nd Regiment of Foot
94th Regiment of Foot
95th Regiment of Foot (Riflemen)
97th (or the Queen's own) Regiment of Foot
These were all disbanded by 1816:
4th Royal Veteran Battalion
There were also a number of Foreign Units in British Service serving in the Peninsula. They were all disbanded by early 1816. The designation of the Dragoons of The King's German Legion changed during the war to Light Dragoons and that of the Light Dragoons to Hussars.
1st Regiment of Light Dragoons, The King's German Legion
Royal Artillery Units
During the war, the companies were organized in battalions and were known by the name of their commander within the battalion. The Horse Artillery was organized as a Horse Brigade and Troops were designated by a letter, but were usually known by the name of their commander as well. Each Company and Troop had two captains, one the actual commander and the other referred to as the 2nd captain. It is difficult to trace the batteries during the war because they were recorded in the dispatches, etc. by the name of the commander at the time, which in many cases was the 2nd captain. I have identified those that served in the Peninsular Army marked as [*], at Cadiz as [+], and on the East Coast of Spain as [#].
For those who wish to research the batteries, I recommend, Major Francis Duncan’s History of the Royal Regiment of Artillery and The Dickson Manuscripts: Series C 1809-1818, by Major John Leslie, R.A. Institute Woolwich 1905.
The Royal Artillery did not avoid the reductions at the war's end.
Of the 28 Companies of Foot Artillery, 7 Troops and a detachment from
one Rocket Troop of Royal Horse Artillery which served in the Peninsula,
seven Companies and two Troops were disbanded by 1819. Overall the
artillery was reduced to 9 Battalions of 8 companies each from 10 Battalions
of 10 companies each and an Invalid Battalion and the Horse
Artillery was reduced from 12 Troops and 2 Rocket Troops to 6 Troops
and a Rocket Troop.
Between 1846 and 1848 the tenth, eleventh and twelfth battalions were raised. The next major expansion of the artillery occurred at the time of the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny [1854-1857] when the total number of battalions was raised to fourteen and the Troops to ten.
In 1859 the battalion system was abolished and the companies were reorganized as batteries within brigades. In 1862 the artillery of the Honourable East India Company was taken on the strength of the army and between 1870 and 1879 further reorganizations took place.
In 1882 the artillery was divided into Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Field Artillery and a separate Royal Garrison Artillery with troops, batteries and companies assigned to each branch. By 1899, the batteries of the Field Artillery were numbered consecutively and in 1902 the companies of the Royal Garrison Artillery were numbered consecutively. In 1924 they were reunited into a single corps of Royal Artillery again with the Royal Horse Artillery retaining a separate identity.
Between 1901 and 1903 the Army issued orders that formerly disbanded companies and troops were to be considered as being reformed by units raised in later years and to perpetuate their battle honours. As the lineage was not clear even then, I have not attempted to show the linkage as there is no real connection between them and the Peninsular artillery.
In 1947, all Royal Artillery units [except the Royal Horse Artillery] were numbered on a single roll, thus eliminating any duplicate numbers [e.g. 5 Field Battery, 5 Heavy Battery and 5 Coastal Battery]. It is difficult in this short work to trace the lineage through all of the changes and J. M. B. Frederick's two volume work is recommended. [see sources]
The list below details the Peninsular Troops and Companies and their titles for 1808-1814, 1825, 1914 and their modern day titles.
A Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [H. Ross's]
B Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [T. Downman's]
C Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [H. Evelegh's]
D Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [G. Lefebure's/G. Bean's]
E Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [R. Macdonald's/R. Gardiner's]
F Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [J. W. Smith's]
I Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [R. Bull's]
1st Rocket Troop, Royal Horse Artillery* [H. Lane’s]
J. May's Company, 1 Battalion Royal Artillery*
P. Campbell's Company, 2 Battalion Royal Artillery+#
A. Campbell's Company, 3 Battalion Royal Artillery*#
P. Drummond's Company, 3 Battalion Royal Artillery*
G. Bean's/T. Hutchesson's Company, 3 Battalion Royal Artillery*
R. Truscott's Company, 3 Battalion Royal Artillery*
E. Wilmot's Company, 3 Battalion Royal Artillery*
J. Hawker's/S. Maxwell's Company, 4 Battalion Royal Artillery*
G. Skyring's/W. Morrison's Company, 4 Battalion Royal Artillery*
H. Geary's/R.Carthew's/R. Lacy's Company, 5 Battalion Royal Artillery*#
F. Glubb's/H. Trelawney's Company, 5 Battalion Royal Artillery*
H. Owen's Company, 5 Battalion Royal Artillery+*
G. Crawford's Company, 6 Battalion Royal Artillery*
H. Holcombe's Company, 6 Battalion Royal Artillery*#
R. Thornhill's Company, 7 Battalion Royal Artillery*
A. Wall's Company, 7 Battalion Royal Artillery*
C. Sillery's/G. Thomson's Company, 7 Battalion Royal Artillery*#
A. Bredin's Company, 8 Battalion Royal Artillery*
J. Williamson's Company, 8 Battalion Royal Artillery#
R. Lawson's Company, 8 Battalion Royal Artillery*
R. Raynsford's/R. Gardiner's/S. du Bourdier's/L. Carmichael's Company,
8 Battalion Royal Artillery*
P. Meadow's/J. Eligé's/T. Brandreth's Company, 8 Battalion
H. Stone's/J. Michell's Company, 9 Battalion Royal Artillery*
R. Douglas 's Company, 9 Battalion Royal Artillery*
P. Hughes's Company, 9 Battalion Royal Artillery+
A. Dickson's Company, 10 Battalion Royal Artillery+*
W. Shenley's/J. Chester 's Company, 10 Battalion Royal Artillery+
W. Roberts's Company, 10 Battalion Royal Artillery+
The following three companies of the King's German Legion Artillery were disbanded by 1816:
1 Company [G. Gesenius/C. von Rettberg]
Barnes, Major R. Money, A History of the Regiments and Uniforms
of the British Army, Sphere Books Limited London 1972
Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2009
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