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"British Light Infantry Colours in the Peninsula" Topic

8 Posts

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704 hits since 11 Sep 2020
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Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 7:50 a.m. PST

As I understand it, the accepted belief is that British light infantry regiments did not carry their colours in the field during the Peninsular War due to the nature of their role. However, in reading up about the 51st (2nd Yorkshire, West Riding) Light Infantry I learnt that at Fuentes d'Onoro, the CO, fearing they were about to be overrun, ordered the colours to be burnt. (I cannot find out whether the order was carried out.)

Therefore the question is raised, did some light battalions carry their colours on campaign? If they did, was it the whole campaign or just a part?

Anyone have some definitive information?

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 9:57 a.m. PST

I'd not heard this before. The Light Infantry regiments fielded as whole battalions and did not always deploy in open order. I'd be surprised to learn they didn't carry colours.

Major Snort12 Sep 2020 1:11 p.m. PST

This question keeps coming up here. Some certainly carried their colours throughout the campaign, while at least one never carried them and there is some uncertainly about others.

The colours of the 51st were burned at Fuentes de Onoro and were not replaced during the Peninsular War.

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Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2020 1:46 p.m. PST

Thanks Major.

Handlebarbleep13 Sep 2020 2:41 a.m. PST

I think the problem is with confusion between regulation, custom and practice and the huge amount of lattitude commanders exercised.

Personal logo Artilleryman Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 3:08 a.m. PST

Agreed. Regulation is one thing but reality another, especially in the British Army of the time. The only thing you can do is try and track down individual accounts of regiments and incidents to tease out the truth. TMP is a great help with this.

laretenue13 Sep 2020 4:49 a.m. PST

Not the Iberian Peninsula, I realise, but the 52nd Light Infantry unquestionably carried their colours at Waterloo. The Regimental Colour was entrusted to Ensign William Leeke, who left a detailed account of the battle.

Delort13 Sep 2020 1:20 p.m. PST

But the 71st, who were brigaded with the 52nd, did not carry their colours at Waterloo.

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