State of the British Army in 1805
The British Army in 1805, had approximately 161,000 Regulars, which were backed by a 90,000 man militia force. On 1 January 1805, these forces included:
Although on paper, this appears to be a fairly strong force, over one third of the regulars were deployed in garrisons in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North America, and the West Indies. Furthermore, at any given time, 10 - 12,000 men were in transit between their home garrisons in the British Isles and their new posts or vice versa.
1 January 1805
By the beginning of June there was a further increase in the number of troops deployed overseas, with another 6,000 soldiers going to various garrisons. This trend would continue for the rest of the Napoleonic wars, where eventually there would be more troops deployed overseas than at home.
1 June 1805
In July, Prime Minister Castlereagh instructed the Commander-in-Chief to form a disposable force of 30,000-50,000 infantry and 8,000-10,000 cavalry. They were to be stationed near Cork, Portsmouth, and East Kent. A fleet would always be available to move about 10,000 men in one lift.
Four expeditions were planned or sent out from England in 1805, one under Eyre Coote to the West Indies; a second under James Craig to Malta and Sicily; a third under David Baird to the Mediterranean and then subsequently to the Cape of Good Hope; and the fourth under Lord Cathcart to Hanover. The year 1806 saw numerous small actions by these forces: in January the British captured the Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch and then occupied Buenos Aires, Argentina five months later. In the Mediterranean, British forces from Sicily, attacked the Italian mainland and defeated the French forces under General Reynier at Maida, while another force landed in northern Germany.
British Sessional Papers House of Commons; 1805; Volume VIII.
Fortescue, John. The County Lieutenancies and the Army: 1803-1814 London : MacMillan; 1909.
Haythornthwaite, Philip J. The Napoleonic Sourcebook New York : Facts on File; 1990.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: June 2000
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