Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Short History of the 83rd Regiment of Foot

Here is an excerpt of the regimental history of the 83rd Regiment of Foot taken from the web site of the Royal Irish Rangers, an amalgamation of the 27th, 83rd and 87th regiments in 1968. The 83rd does not seem to have a separate name (e.g. a county name or a nickname such the The Buffs, etc.), so if this becomes my Peninsular regiment, I don't know what I would call it. Does anyone have any ideas?

I took another peak at my stock of GMB flags and discovered an error; I did not have a flag for the 88th Connaught Rangers, but rather I had the 20th, 27th and 2/83rd. The 20th doesn't seem to have played an important role in Wellington's army, the facings of the first dozen figures painted are probably too bright of a yellow to use for the 27th (Inniskillings), so by default, that sort leaves the second battalion of the 83rd as my choice, or some other regiment with similar facings. They could still become the 88th by virtue of ordering new flags from GMB. This would entail painting a silver button color rather than a gold button color on the figures. I am holding off on this until I decide the name of the regiment. I think that I may reorder the flags anyway (as my old ones look like Grahame used a different technology in the start up days of his business, i.e. the newer flags look much sharper and natural in their color and shading, compared to the set that I have), so they could still end up being the 88th.

The first dozen figures are nearly complete, along with a mounted officer.

History of the 83rd Regiment (courtesy of the Royal Irish Rangers web site)

The 83rd Regiment was raised in Dublin by Colonel William Fitch and soon saw active service in the West Indies. Thereafter they remained in garrison in Jamaica for seven years, losing many casualties from yellow fever. The 83rd had returned to Ireland and raised a 2nd Battalion to meet the expansion of the Army required by the Napoleonic Wars. In 1805 the 1st/83rd landed at Cape Town and swiftly overcame the resistance of the small Dutch force, then remained as garrison of the Cape of Good Hope until 1818.

The 2nd/83rd joined the Peninsular Expeditionary Army in Portugal in 1809. They- had before them five years of stiff campaigning with long marches up and down the length of Spain and Portugal and eventually across the French frontier, gaining twelve battle honours. One of their earliest battles but certainly the bloodiest was "Talavera". The battalion suffered in casualties over half its strength including the Colonel killed and many taken prisoner, not to be released for five years. Sergeant Major Swinburne was commissioned in the field for gallant conduct. He eventually retired as a Lieutenant Colonel some 44 years later, much honoured by The Regiment.

There followed the battle of Busaco in 1810, the storming of the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz in 1812 and the engagement at Fuentes d' Onoro (referred to by the soldiers as "Fountains of Horror"). At Badajoz Sergeant Hazlehurst saved the life of Captain Powys, the first man through the breach, by laying about him with his halberd. Hazlehurst served right through the Peninsular campaign being awarded twelve clasps to his Peninsular medal.

"Salamanca", "Vittoria", "Pyrenees", "Nivelles", "Orthez" and finally "Toulouse" were the further honours won by 2nd/83rd. 83rd’s march since their early days had been "Garry Owen".


I rather like it that their regiment song was Garry Owen. Harry Flashman talks about hearing this tune played by a number of infantry and cavalry regiments over the course of his travels, of course including Custer's U.S 7th Cavalry regiment. So it would appear that the use of Garry Owen might be somewhat common. Hmm, I could call it the Garry Owen Regiment.


  1. As they were raised in Dublin what about 'The Dubliners'? I'm sure the musical group of the same name wouldn't mind you pinching their moniker, and they play some very jaunty Irish folk music for your boys to march along to!.

  2. If you are willing to invest less than $20 on a regimental history, Amazon has Memoirs and Services of the Eighty-Third Regiment, County of Dublin from 1793 to 1907: Including the Campaigns of the Regiment in the West Indies, Africa, the Peninsula, Etc. for $14 + shipping, while Barnes and Noble has it for ~$11 + shipping.

    I've found that these period memoirs are pretty useful in getting one inspired about one's chosen units - especially if you want to personalize certain miniatures the way General Pettygree's Campaign has done. I'm building HMS Active Naval Brigade for service on foreign stations for just that reason - I got her Surgeon's book on the Zulu War!

  3. I kind of like "The Dubliners" as the regimental name. I will have to get a copy of that book to learn more about the regiment and glean the name of it's officers

  4. They were raised in Dublin, but it looks like they only took the County of Dublin title in 1859. They may well have been known by a different nickname in the Napoleonic Wars.

    If you don't mind reading on a screen, you can get a free PDF of their history here from Google Books:

  5. Now you have mentioned Garry Owen I will be humming it for days. It was of course used in the fantastically bonkers film 'They Died with their Boots On' with Errol Flynn. Now they really don't make movies like that any more.


  6. How about "the Mavericks"?

    It's certainly a name with some history behind it.