A Brief History of the King's Royal Rifle Corps
The cover image was created by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.
From a photograph by W. & D. Downey, London.
A BRIEF HISTORY
THE KING’S ROYAL RIFLE CORPS.
|1st Battalion -||Field Marshal Rt. Hon. F. W. Lord Grenfell, P.C, G.C.B., G.C.M.G.|
|2nd Battalion -||Lieut.-Gen. Sir Edward T. H. Hutton, K.C.M.G., C.B.|
|3rd Battalion -||Major-Gen. Sir Cromer Ashburnham, K.C.B.|
|4th Battalion -||Major-Gen. Sir Wykeham Leigh-Pemberton, K.C.B.|
|1.—1755–1763.—||Origin of the Regiment and its Services in North America||page 2–8|
|2.—1764–1807.—||West Indies and the American War||page 8–11|
|3.—1808–1824.—||Peninsular War—60th The Royal American Regiment become 60th The Duke of York’s Own Rifle Corps||page 11–15|
|4.—1825–1856.—||Sikh War—South Africa||page 16–18|
|6.—1861–1870.—||North America—Red River||page 23–25|
|7.—1871–1881.—||India—Afghan War—South Africa—Zulu War—First Boer War||page 26–34|
|8.—1882–1885.—||Egypt, 1882, Tel-el-Kebir—Egypt, 1884, El Teb, and Tamai—and 1884–85, Nile Expedition—Mounted Infantry||page 34–38|
|9.—1886–1898.—||India, Wreck of Warren Hastings||page 38–40|
|10.—1899–1902.—||South African War—Talana Hill—Defence of Ladysmith—Relief of Ladysmith—Transvaal||page 40–50|
|Map—||No. I.—North America. Illustrating the area of Military Operations referred to in Part I, sections 1 and 2; also Part II, section 6||p. 10|
|Map—||No. II.—Spain, Portugal, and South-Western France. Illustrating the area of Operations referred to in Part I, section 3||p. 16|
|Map—||No. III.—India. Illustrating the area of Operations referred to in Part II, sections 4 and 5; also Part III, sections 7 and 9||p. 22|
|Map—||No. IV.—South Africa. Illustrating the area of Operations referred to in Part III, sections 7, 8, and 10||p. 52|
This abridged history of the Regiment has beenprepared by certain members of the History Committee,and edited by the Chairman.
The Chairman (Lieut.-General Sir Edward Hutton)is indebted to the following members of the RegimentalHistory Committee:—Major-General Astley Terry,Major the Hon. C. Sackville-West, Captain HerewardWake, and also to Colonel Horatio Mends for the contribution,wholly or in part, of Part I, Sec. 3; Part II,Secs. 4 and 5; Part III, Secs. 9 and 10; and Part III,Secs. 7 and 8 respectively.
The existing short history, written by Major-GeneralAstley Terry and Colonel Mends and published withthe Standing Orders of the Regiment, has been takenas a basis.
It has been the object of the compilers, whileamplifying the short history, to form a Prelude tothe large and comprehensive History of the Regimentby Captain Lewis Butler, the publication of which—fromthe difficulties to be overcome, the researchesto be made, and the immense mass of detail to be dissected—mustnecessarily be further delayed.
Every effort has been made to narrate in a conciseand popular form the origin, history, and world-wideservices of the several battalions, so that every Riflemanmay be able to learn at least the outlines of thehistory of his Regiment—a Corps whose battle honoursare unequalled in number, and whose reputation fordiscipline and courage is unsurpassed in the annals ofthe British Army.
The gallant exploits of the Regiment are here givenin no spirit of pride or self-adulation, but with theearnest hope that, profiting by the example of theirpredecessors, the present and future generations ofRiflemen may not only successfully maintain as asacred trust the credit and renown of The King’sRoyal Rifle Corps, but may also still further add tothe honours and reputation already won.
Note.—The names of Officers of the British Army who do not belongto the Regiment are printed in italics. Campaigns andbattles, which have been awarded as “Battle Honours”to the Regiment, are printed in capitals.
1755–1763.—Origin of the Regiment and its Services in North America.
The Regiment was raised during 1755–56 in NorthAmerica under special conditions, for the expresspurpose of assisting our Army to retrieve the terribledisaster which had befallen the British troops underGeneral Braddock at the hands of a smaller force ofFrench and Red Indians in the forest fastnesses uponthe banks of the Ohio River. It had been found thatthe slow and ponderous movements of troops trained3upon the European model, with their heavy accoutrements,tight uniforms, and unsuitable tactics, werehelpless against savages, and almost equally helplessagainst soldiers habituated to wars in the dense forestsand trackless wastes of America. It was thereforedecided by the British Government to raise in America,from amongst the Colonists themselves, a force whichshould be able to meet these conditions.
Designated as the 62nd, and the following yearas the 60th Royal Americans, the Regiment wasaccordingly formed of 4,000 men in four battalions,and General the Earl of Loudoun, Commander-in-Chiefof the British Army in America, was appointed Colonel-in-Chief.It was recruited from settlers, mainly ofGerman and Swiss origin, in the States of Massachusetts,New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and North Carolina,to which were added volunteers from British regimentsand others. Many of the senior officers and a considerablenumber of the Company officers were drawn fromthe armies of Europe, some of them being highly trainedand experienced soldiers.
Through the bold initiative of Lieutenant-ColonelHenry Bouquet, a Swiss officer of distinction, commandingthe 1st Battalion, the 60th Royal Americansadopted Colonial methods of equipment, simpler drill,open formations, and the Indian system of forestwarfare, thus early acquiring those attributes ofindividual action, swift initiative, and of elastic thoughfirm discipline, which have been the conspicuous characteristicsof the Regiment throughout its long andbrilliant career, characteristics which have made itsreputation. Thus equipped, The Royal American Regiment4from its very beginning played a distinguished andmemorable part in establishing British power in NorthAmerica.
The great struggle between France and Englandfor supremacy in America was at its height, whenearly in 1758, Abercromby, who had succeededLoudoun as Commander-in-Chief, decided upon ageneral advance.
The 1st and 4th Battalions, under Bouquet andHaldimand, formed part of the main Army in theWestern Field of operations, and on the banks of LakeChamplain, at the memorable defeat of Ticonderoga,“at once a glory and a shame,” the 4th Battalionand a portion of the 1st showed a stubborn courageworthy of the highest praise, and lost very heavilyin killed and wounded. On July the 27th, three weekslater, regardless of their losses, the Regiment furnisheda part of the column under Bradstreet, of the 60th,which, after a forced march, captured by a coup de mainFort Frontenac on Lake Ontario.
The 1st Battalion, employed on the Western frontiersunder General Forbes, played the leading part in theadvance against Fort Duquesne on the Ohio, in November,1758, and led by the gallant Bouquet effectedits capture from the French and Red Indians.This brilliant triumph over great physical difficultieswas achieved by sheer determination, endurance, andpluck; and the solid value of the victory is thussummed up by the American historian, Parkman:—“Itopened the great West to English enterprise, tookfrom France half her savage allies, and relieved herWestern borders from the scourge of Indian Wars.”5Fort Duquesne, re-christened Fort Pitt, was thereupongarrisoned by a detachment of the 60th, and wasdestined later to play a prominent part in the subsequentoperations.
The 2nd and 3rd Battalions, under Lieut.-ColonelYoung and Major Augustine Prevost respectively,early in 1758 were ordered to join Generals Amherstand Wolfe in the Eastern Field of operations, and theytook a prominent part in the capture of Louisburg.
These two Battalions were subsequently in 1759moved up the St. Lawrence to Quebec, where theystill further distinguished themselves at MontmorencyFalls, below Quebec, on July the 31st, and by their rapidmovements and their intrepid courage won from GeneralWolfe the motto of “Celer et Audax” (Swift and Bold).A still greater opportunity occurred on the 13th ofSeptember at the decisive battle of Quebec, whereupon the Plains of Abraham the 2nd Battalion, whoseGrenadier Company had been the first to scale theheights, covered the left during the battle against avery superior force of Red Indians and French, whomade the most determined efforts to assail the flankand rear of Wolfe’s army under cover of the densebush and rocky ground. The 60th thus lost heavily inkilled and wounded. The 3rd Battalion played a noless