19th Foot History 1845-1857
After nearly 3 years' service in the Ionian Islands the Nineteenth embarked on board the "Java" freightship for the West Indies once more, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Hay
The regiment disembarked at Barbados, and during the year had detachments quartered at Demarara and Trinidad.
The establishment was augmented to 950 privates, making a total of ranks of 1118.
The headquarters and two companies moved to St Vincent, with detachments at Grenada and Barbados.
The headquarters of the regiment left St Vincent on 1 April for Barbados, picking up the Grenada detachment on their way, and transhipping there, sailed with all the service companies for Canada, under the command of Major Robert Saunders.
The regiment arrived at Montreal after transhipping at Quebec
The establishment was reduced to 730 privates, a total of 874 of all ranks.
The regiment encamped on the island of St Helen's, owing to the prevalence of cholera at Montreal, and remained there for four months.
The service companies embarked at Cork for Canada
The service companies arrived in Quebec
The six service companies sailed for England.
The six service companies arrived at Plymouth and took over quarters at Devonport, sending out detachments to Pendennis Castle, Dartmoor, St Nicholas, and Market Heights.
The headquarters and four companies moved by rail to Exeter, from whence they marched to Winchester, being met there by the two outlying as well as the four depot companies
The Regiment left Winchester by rail for London. The men were billeted in Boro' High Street, and on the day of the funeral the regiment marched to St Paul's
The Nineteenth was one of the regiments attending the funeral of Field Marshall the Duke of Wellington. The regiment marched to St Paul's
The Regiment returned to Winchester
The Nineteenth moved by rail to Portsmouth
Principally on account of a disgraceful disagreement between the 38th and 19th Regiments the Regiment was removed to Gosport and a detachment consisting of Nos. 1 ,6 ,7 & 8 Companies were despatched to Weymouth and Portland to duty over the convicts
Minie Rifles were substituted for the old smooth bore with which the regiment had hitherto been armed
The regiment assembled for a few weeks at Chobham Camp, where it was brigaded with the 79th Highlanders and the 97th Foot, under the command of Colonel Lockyear, K.H.
The headquarters and ten companies left Chobham and marched to Woking, where they entrained for Deal and then marched to Walmer Barracks
The Nineteenth entrained for London, and on arrival took up quarters in the Tower
Whilst the Nineteenth was stationed in London, the negotiations with the Emperor of Russia were brought to an abrupt conclusion. Owing to his unprovoked aggression against Turkey, and his rejection of the terms offered him by the principal European Powers, Her Majesty Queen Victoria was compelled to declare war. The 19th's band and drums, together with two companies of the regiment, marched to the Royal Exchange, from the steps of which the Royal Proclamation was read by the Herald. At its conclusion, the band played the National Anthem and the men presented arms. The 19th was one of the regiments warned for service with the Eastern Expedition.
A detachment consisting of 1 Lieutenant, 2 Sergeants and 55 Rank and File embarked at Charlton Pier, Woolwich for Turkey on board the "Tonning" sailing ship.
Another detachment embarked at the same place on board the "Emperor", Steam Vessel, for Turkey consisting of 1 Captain, 2 Subalterns, 5 Sergeants and 115 Rank & File.
1 Captain, 1 Sub. S Serjts, 1 Drummer and 56 Rank & File sailed from Portsmouth with the "Euxine" for same destination
Another detachment went off in the "Medway" steamship from Liverpool for Turkey, whose numbers were 1 Subaltern, 2 Sergeants and 45 Rank & File.
Finally, the Head Quarters of the Regiment embarked at Woolwich Dockyard being carried from thence by a steamer to the "Victoria" steam vessel lying off Blackwall the Band of the Royal Artillery being present and playing complimentary airs. The total strength of the Nineteenth going out was 3 Field Officers, 8 Captains, 16 Subalterns, 6 Staff Officers, 47 Sergeants, 40 Corporals, 15 Drummers, 810 Privates.
The headquarters arrived at Malta, and left for Constantinople the next day on
The "Victoria" anchored at Constantinople
The regiment disembarked at Scutari and marched into camp there, being told off to the Light Division. The Nineteenth was encamped with its right resting close to the wall of the Turkish cemetery
The regiment left Scutari embarking on the SS "Medway" for Varna.
The regiment disembarked at Varna.
A Memo was issued discontinuing Stocks in hot weather, but were to be kept in the knapsacks and shewn at kit inspections.
the Light Division marched at 5 a.m. for Alleydeyn, ten miles distant, and encamped at about a mile from the village. This was a very trying march ..... there were many cases of heat apoplexy.
Marshal St Arnaud, Commander in Chief, of the French Forces came and inspected the Divisions
Up to this point there had been little sickness amongst the men, but now cholera broke out, and soon spread rapidly.
The Division marched to Devna, over eight miles distant. .... it was the unhealthiest camp of all.
No less a personage than the chubby and portly Turk, Omar Pasha, Commander in Chief of the Ottoman Troops, inspected the Division.
Up until now, the health of the men had been very good on the whole, but as the heat increased so did the cholera. The Nineteenth, in common with other regiments, lost many men, - no less than twenty dying one day in the Division. Cholera attacked the French with the greatest severity, and they sank under it at the rate of sixty to eighty per day.
A contemporary account by Margaret Kerwin, one of the few wives who accompanied the Regiment records:
"The men were dying so fast from Cholera, and what they called the Black Fever, that they had to be buried in their blankets. We moved then up country, and no sooner were we gone than the Turks opened up the graves and took the blankets from around the dead men. We were then ordered to bury them without any covering, except brambles and branches we picked up."
To avoid further cholera the regiment moved to Monastir. The men's time was employed in throwing up entrenchments and being trained in the use of gabions and fascines.
A Draft came out for 19 Foot consisting of 1 Sub. Goren, 1 Asst. Surgeon Hifferman, and 102 Rank and file.
A Circular Memo bearing date 21 July 1854 was promulgated announcing that moustaches were authorized to be worn.
The regiment, with the rest of the brigade, marched from Monastir and encamped at Yursakova.
Arrived at Karagoli
Arrived at Varna. The Crimea having been chosen as the scene of the operations against Russia, the regiment embarked from Varna for the Crimea on the "Courier"
The "Courier" assembled with the rest of the fleet in Baltchik Bay.
The Nineteenth disembarked early in the morning at the Old Fort, Crimea. The strength on disembarking was 3 field officers, 6 captains, 12 subalterns, 5 staff, 49 sergeants, 43 corporals, 15 drummers, and 763 privates.
"After landing safely, the Light Division moved off by fours from the right of companies preceded by the Rifle Brigade in skirmishing order this Corps taking possession of a village some 5 miles or so inward. After a short march the Division halted and forming into contiguous Brigade order at quarter distance by companies bivouacked for the night the tents all being left on board ship.
During the night the rain came down, and the men were saturated to the skin and covered in mud as they had no tents and had to sleep on the mud that had been created by the tramp of many feet assisted by the deluge of rain.
The men had been ordered to leave their knapsacks on board ship with the greater portion of their kits labelled with the owner's name but were found months afterwards to have been ransacked and many articles stolen and in many cases entirely gone. This left the men to fold in a blanket the following items: one pair of boots, 1 shirt, 1 pair of stockings and 1 towel. The blanket and greatcoat were folded separately and slung on the back. In addition, they were issued with three days ready cooked rations which were stored in their haversacks."
In the morning, the allied armies commenced their march southwards towards Sebastopol, twenty seven miles distant. The Turks on the right were close to the sea, then the French 28,000 strong, with the English 27,000 in all, on the left.
The cavalry were on the extreme left.
The English advance was in double column from the centre of the divisions, the 19th and 23rd marching together.
The whole of this moving mass covered several square miles.
The Battle of the Alma took place.
"What happened to the 19th during the battle was very confused, even accounts by those who were there differ greatly. What is clear is that everyone was weary and orders from the General Staff confusing. By 10am the 19th formed up on the right flank of the 2nd Brigade, which was on the left of the Light Division. At 11am the army was halted while a conference of the Allied Commanders was held. At 1 o'clock the armies moved forward again. As the battalion moved into line there was a great deal of confusion on the right where other units had converged. The British assault waited for the French to succeed in their objective and the men had to lay down in their ranks, suffering 90 minutes of hammering from the Russian guns on the heights above. Finally the order came to attack and everyone moved towards the river, through vineyards, over walls, climbing banks and taking casualties all the time. Eventually the river was reached and into it they all plunged. Units became a confused mass, with troops trying to keep their weapons and ammunition dry by holding them over their heads. Many drowned, stepping into deep holes in the riverbed. Having crossed the river the brigade was halted as clear orders still had not been issued to the Brigade Commanders. The 19th were so mixed up with Codrington's Brigade they never received the order and carried on to attack the feature the British had named the Great Redoubt. In the confused fighting, with the ground swept with roundshot, grape and canister from the redoubt, groups of soldiers were urged on by whatever officers were left standing. Taking heavy casualties the Brigade, with most of the 19th attached to it took the Great Redoubt.
Codrington managed to regain control of the scattered units to try and repel the inevitable Russian counter attack from the 10,000 Russian infantry which were still grouped round the position. The attack was not long in coming. During the confused fighting an unknown officer (not of the 19th) ordered the "Retire" to be blown. Many queried the order but eventually a retreat started which left the Russians in possession of the Redoubt once again.
Behind the Light Division in support was the 1st Division composed of a Brigade of Highlanders and a Guards Brigade. They were at last ordered forward, but too late to relieve the retiring units. They started to climb the hill into the attack, up the slope covered with nearly 1,000 Light Division casualties. Following the wounding of Colonel Sanders, Lt-Col Unett rallied what was left of the 19th and followed the Guards back up the hill In support. The Russians retired leaving the battlefield to the Allies. The survivors of the 19th stayed on the top of the hill for the night, scavenging Russian knapsacks for food."
The losses sustained by the regiment in the battle of the Alma were;-
Killed : 1 subaltern, 1 drummer, and 36 privates
Wounded : 2 Field Officers, 2 subalterns, 1 Staff, 6 Sergeants, 13 Corporals, 12 Drummers, 174 Privates, many of whom died afterwards of their wounds
The Allied forces bivouacked on the ground they had won, and the Nineteenth were employed for the remainder of the day in collecting the dead and wounded.
The Light Division with the rest of the army moved forward. On all sides was evidence of the hasty flight of the Russians, as arms, accoutrements and cooking utensils lay strewn about in every direction. The delay in not immediately advancing after the Alma was due to indecision and want of cohesion between the French and English commanders, and judging from the state of panic that the Russians were in, some vigorously concerted action might have brought about the fall of Sebastopol.
The march was resumed, and there from the hills, half-way between Katcha and the Belbec, the men looked down on the town of Sebastopol, which they were not to enter for so many weary months.
The flank march round the East side of Sebastopol was begun.
The Light and 1st Divisions captured the port of Balaclava. Captain Lidwill and his company was placed in charge of Balaclava till the 29th September, when the division marched away, and the sickly men of each regiment were made up into a battalion and left there as a garrison.
The Light Division marched from Balaclava and formed the line of investment on the South side of the fortress, where it bivouacked on the left of the position taken up by the Allies
The Light Division marched to a position below the picquet house on the right adjoining the Woronsoff road and other side of the middle ravine and where it remained during the siege of Sebastopol.
The first bombardment of the town took place.
Battle of Balaclava. Shortly after the battle the Russians concentrated an overwhelming force of 50,000 men to attack the scanty British force on the plateau of Inkerman.
The Battle of Inkerman took place.
The casualties in the Regiment were;-
Captain Ker and 1 Private killed
Sergeant-Major Madden and 2 Privates wounded, all of whom afterwards died of their wounds.
From November 5th, the Nineteenth were on trench guard, advanced trench guard, and the Malakoff picquets up to Christmas. There were frequent sorties.
Early in 1855
A French corps took over the Malakoff picquets, and the Light Division had then nothing but guards and working parties to finish. This was because the regiment had become so weak, not only numerically but also physically, that there was a considerable difficulty in finding men in sufficient numbers to do duty in the trenches
The second bombardment of Sebastopol, which was continued until the close of the 18th
The third bombardment commenced
The first assault on the Great Redan took place, the Light Division leading. The British casualties were 100 Officers and 1444 Other ranks, but the Nineteenth formed part of the reserve and suffered no loss.
The second assault on the Redan took place.
In the Light Division 73 Officers and 904 men were killed or wounded. Of this the share of the Nineteenth was 192, or 45 per cent of its strength at the commencement of the action.
In the Green Howards, out of 18 Officers and 420 men engaged, there was
- 1 Officer, 3 Sergeants, and 25 rank and file killed, and
- 9 Officers, 9 Sergeants, 1 Drummer, 16 Corporals, and 124 Privates wounded. Many of the latter afterwards died of their wounds.
- Missing, 4 Privates who were made prisoners, but were afterwards exchanged.
Sir W Russell, in his History of the War, says;-
"....it will be seen that this gallant body (the Light Division), which behaved so well at the Alma, and maintained its reputation at Inkerman, suffered as severely as it did in gaining the former great victory, and an examination of the return will, I fear, show that the winter, the trenches, and a careless recruiting have done their work...."
The capture of the Malakoff by the French settled the war. Sebastopol was no longer tenable, further resistance was in vain, and the Russians silently and skilfully evacuated the town without the knowledge of the Allies. On the 9 September they retreated across the harbour by a bridge of boats to the forts on the northern side, after blowing up those on the southern side and sinking their fleet. The docks were soon afterwards destroyed by the Allies and the great Russian fortress reduced to absolute ruin.
On the first anniversary of the Alma the regiment was inspected by Lieutenant-General Sir William Codrington, now commanding the Division, and was presented with medals for the Alma, Inkerman, and Sebastopol by Lord William Paulet.
News arrived that an armistice had been arranged with the enemy until the 31 March.
Peace was signed in Paris
A grand review of British troops took place, when about 30,000 men were under arms.
The whole of the English army paraded in review order on the plain of Balaclava
June 11 & 15
The regiment, in two detachments, embarked at Balaclava and Kazatch on board the steam transport "Imperatrice" and HMS "Furious", and landed at Portsmouth on 28 June and 24 July. On arrival, they proceeded by rail to Farnborough, and thence by march to South Camp, Aldershot.
The headquarters and three companies were reviewed by Queen Victoria at Aldershot.
The depot companies consisting of 408 of all ranks, joined the battalion from Walmer, and were amalgamated.
A further change in the establishment was made and the battalion was divided into eight service and four depot companies, the former consisting of 800 men and the latter of 200.
Early in 1857
The depot companies moved from Aldershot to Parkhurst, Isle of Wight, to form part of the battalion at that station.
The battalion moved to Portsmouth by rail, and took over quarters in Clarence Barracks.
The Nineteenth, having been warned for service in India, embarked for India in 3 detachments, consisting of 45 officers and 1,007 men
The last detachment reached Calcutta, the others having arrived a few days earlier.
To the great disappointment of the officers and men their services were not required up country, for during the few months they had been at sea affairs in India had begun to wear of a very different aspect, and the mutineers had been checked at all points. For the time-being, therefore, the regiment took up its quarters at Fort William, sending a detachment of 3 officers and 120 men to Alipore.
The Regiment served in India until 1871, when orders came for the return of the regiment to England, after a service in India of fourteen years almost to a day.
This history has been abstracted principally from
"A History of the Services of the 19th Regiment" by Major M L Ferrar, published by Eden Fisher & Co Ltd, London, 1911.