The Early History Of The Regiment

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Shortly after the Monmouth Rebellion, the regiment is raised in the West Country, by the Earl of Huntingdon.


While stationed in Plymouth, the Colonel is arrested with all his Catholic officers following the landing of William of Orange.


Under the command of Colonel Ferdinando Hastings, they are the only English regiment to fight at the Battle of Killicrankie. Positioned on the right of the Government line they retire from the field at dusk, following the rout of the rest of the army.


The regiment fights in Ireland at the Battle of the Boyne, where they are deployed in the centre of the second line. They later serve under Marlborough at Cork and Kinsale.


The regiment is one of ten picked for the Brest raid. The combined grenadier companies lead the first wave of the assault at Camaret Bay. They are met by French infantry, cavalry and artillery in prepared defences. The grenadiers are forced to withdraw to their boats, but the tide has turned and many of the boats are now aground. The entire Grenadier Company of the 13th is captured.


Colonel Hastings is deprived of his commission following an investigation into his financial management of the regiment and the practices of his regimental agent.


In 1701 the regiment is transferred from Ireland to Holland and in 1702 takes part in the successful assault on Fort St. Michael during the siege of Venlo.


In 1704 the regiment is sent from Lisbon to reinforce Gibraltar, being besieged by a Franco-Spanish force. After the seige is lifted they join the Earl of Peterborough's expeditionary force to Spain and participate in the capture of Barcelona.


The Earl of Peterborough converts Barrymore's 13th foot into Pearce's dragoons, who go on to serve at Almansa in 1707 and on foot at La Caya in 1709. Colonel Barrymore leaves for England with a cadre of 25 officers and NCO's to raise a new 13th foot.


The newly raised 13th foot returns to Spain in 1708 and serves at the Battle of La Caya in 1709, being surrounded and captured en masse. In 1710 they are exchanged with French prisoners taken by Marlborough in Flanders.


The regiment serves in Gibraltar continuously without home leave, enduring a further siege in 1727. The garrison originally consists of the 5th, 13th and 25th foot. Initially conditions are very poor and in 1713 a written 'Representation of hardships' by the officers of the garrison leads to the suspension of the Colonels and a reprimand for all the other officers.


In 1735 the regiment was recorded as being stationed in North Britain and later it formed part of the garrison of Edinburgh Castle.


The Honourable Colonel Henry Pulteney takes command of the regiment. The 13th, like all mid eighteenth century regiments it is named after its Colonel. In the same year a third of the private soldiers are drafted to form Lowthers 3rd Marines along with soldiers from the 6th and 19th Regiments.


During the summer Pulteney's regiment is stationed at the Camp on Lexden Heath (near Colchester) ready to proceed to the continent in case of war.


The regiment is ordered to Flanders as part of a 17,000 strong force under the Earl of Stair sent to support Maria Theresa and the Pragmatic Sanction in the War of the Austrian Succession.


Pulteney's fight at the Battle of Dettingen, placed in the centre of the second line of infantry.


The regiment fights at the Battle of Fontenoy, brigaded with the 12th foot, the Blackwatch and the Hanovarian Regt. Bocchlanger, under the command of Brigadier General James Ingoldsby.

In September they return to England to deal with the Jacobite threat. During November they are in Newcastle under General Wade.


At the Battle of Falkirk Pulteney's flee the field with most of the infantry following the defeat of the Government dragoons. The regiment suffers 1 man killed, 3 wounded and 10 missing.

At the Battle of Culloden they are positioned on the far right of the Government line and suffer no casualties.

In August Pulteney's 13th along with Wolf's 8th and Sempill's 25th Foot are transferred back to Flanders under the command of Brig General Houghton. In October they are at Maastricht and march over night to reach the Battle of Roucoux as the action begins. They are deployed on the left at right angles to the main line covering the flank facing Liege and help to cover the successful withdrawal of the infantry at the end of the battle.


At the Battle of Val or Lauffeldt as it is sometimes known, Pulteney's form part of Prices 3rd Brigade along with the 25th Foot, 37th Foot and two Hanoverian battalions. They are placed in the partially fortified village in front of the allied line. Four separate French attacks on the village are repulsed before the fifth attack led by the Irish Brigade finally forces out the defenders. As they withdraw, retreating allied Dutch cavalry endanger the English infantry and they are forced to fire on the Dutch in order to prevent themselves from being ridden down. Finally General Ligonier's desperate charge with three regiments of British cavalry enables the army to break off and withdraw.

In November the regiment returns to England.


The peace of Aix la Chappelle is signed bringing the war to an end. Two companies of the regiment are disbanded, those remaining carry out anti smuggling patrols on the Kent coast.1748 also sees the 13th issued with steel ram rods, in place of its earlier wooden ones.


Pulteney's are once more in Scotland. A small detachment garrisons Corgaff Castle to enforce the prohibition of the wearing of Highland dress, root out Jacobite sympathizers, and attempt to catch illegal distillers and smugglers.

The regiment also takes part in the Scottish road building programme, in 1749 1350 men including 300 from Pulteney's work on the road from Lochearnhead towards the Pass of Leny. In 1752 they form part of a group of 1100 men working on the road at Black Mount.

In May 1752 the regiment becomes involved in the most notorious of Scottish murders, as its officers lead men in searching for suspects in the murder of Colin Campbell 'The Red Fox'.


For most of the Seven Years War the regiment serves on Garrison duty in Gibraltar. In 1757 new cartridge boxes are issued, while in 1760 some members of the regiment are involved in a mutiny which leads to the temporary disarming of the garrison.


The regiment serves in aid of the civil powers against rioting weavers, during hunger riots in Wiltshire and Somerset.


Garrison duty in Minorca.


Garrison duty in Plymouth.


During the American revolution the 13th assists in seizing the tiny Caribbean island of St Eustatius from the Dutch. The island is later re-taken by the French.


Garrison duty in Dublin.


The regiment serves in the West Indies, where sickness reduces them to 60 men.


The 13th is at the defeat of Napoleon's "Armee de l'orient" at Aboukir bay and Alexandria. Egypt and Sphinx are awarded as battle honors.

Until 2007 the Regiment survived as The 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry.
It has now been combined with The Devonshire and Dorset Light Infantry, The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Light Infantry, and The Royal Green Jackets
to form The Rifles.

A book
History of the Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert's): 1685-1914
is available from Amazon Books.

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