43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry 1795 - 1815
The 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment of Foot was raised initially has Thomas Fowke's Regiment of Foot in 1741 with its headquarters at Winchester. The regiment was numbered the 54th Foot , which lasted until 1748 when it became the 43rd Regiment Foot.
On the 17 July 1803 the 43rd was converted to light infantry becoming the 43rd Monmouthshire Light Infantry. It joined with the 52nd and 95th regiments to become the senior regiment in the new Flank or Light Brigade.
French and Indian War
The 43rd Regiment of Foot sailed for north America in May 1757, arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia. Beginning a long history in north America, the regiment spent almost two years on garrison duties until 1759. When as part of General Wolfe's force, it took part in the capture of Quebec gaining its first battle honour.
It’s next campaign was in the West Indies in 1762 where the 43rd took part in the capture of Martinique and St Lucia from the French and Havana, Cuba from the Spanish.
American War of Independence & Georgian Period
The regiment returned again to north America in 1774 where it remained during the American war of independence. The 43rd was joined by the 52nd at Boston starting a long association and history. The two regiments fought side by side at Lexington and at Bunker Hill. The 43rd were at Yorktown during the final siege and surrender in 1781.
The 43rd became the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Regiment in 1782. The regiment returned to the West Indies in 1794 to re-take for the second time Martinique and St Lucia which following the peace treaty of 1763 had been returned to France. They met defeat at Guadeloupe in 1794 after being besieged by a much larger French force for three months
In 1803, the first corps of light infantry was organised in the British regular army and formed the light brigade at Shorncliffe in Kent, under the command of Sir John Moore. The regiment was re-titled on the 17 July 1803 as the 43rd (Monmouthshire) Light Infantry.
With the threat of French invasion hanging over Britain, recruiting and mobilisation of the army continued a pace and 43rd gained a 2nd battalion on the 25 November 1804.
Apart from light infantry training, the light brigade took up an essential position on the English south coast facing France during Napoleon’s invasion of Britain build up. With Napoleon’s invasion fleet defeated at Trafalgar in 1805, Napoleon was forced to find replacement war ships and attempting an unsuccessful European port closure to British trade from the landward side.
Indeed with the Royal Navy in the English channel, Europe was cut off! with nominal French allies (Russia) keeping it's ports open to Britain and Britain’s oldest allies Portugal ignoring Napoleon. The French Emperor was maneuvered into his two most costly wars In Spain and Russia.
With Napoleon trawling the continent for a replacement war fleet to cover his invasion barges the 43rd was part of the British force, which in 1807 captured Copenhagen and removed the entire Danish fleet from his grasp.
The Spanish Peninsular War
In August 1808, the 43rd fought in the battle of Vimeiro which drove Napoleon's forces from Portugal. The campaign moved to Spain under Sir John Moore who in January 1809 was forced to retire to the coast . With the 43rd taking part in the retreat to Vigo and Corunna, achieving a great deal of fame as part of the famous rear guard to the army before returning to England.
In May 1809 the 1st battalion of the 43rd, as part of Sir Roberts Craufurd's light brigade sailed for Portugal again to join Sir Arthur Wellesley's new army. On landing at Lisbon the 43rd moved to Spain to support Wellesley's forces there. The battalion's march of 250 miles from Lisbon to Talavera included a march of fifty-two miles in twenty-six hours during the hottest part of the year became one of it's legendary exploits. The battle of Talavera had been won before the majority of battalion arrived however one company of the 43rd which had been at Lisbon since December 1808 fought in the battle as part of General Richard Stewart's brigade.
In 1810 the 43rd formed part of the light division under the command of Sir Robert Craufurd. The 43rd fought in the battles of the crossing of the Coa, Sabugall and Bussaco. The 43rd took part in the assault on the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo in January1812 and at the siege of Badajoz in April 1812 when in the storming the breach the 43rd lost 20 officers and 335 men.
Following the end of the Peninsular war in 1814 the light division was disbanded and the 43rd returned to England.
The 2nd battalion of the 43rd was part of the expedition to Walcheren in 1809 where many troops lost their lives to fevers in the Scheldt marshes, but was reinforced has news of the 1st battalions exploits attracted many new recruits and was in strong enough send reinforcement drafts to the 1st Battalion for it’s return to North America to help defend against the US invasion of Canada
War of 1812 & Waterloo
The 43rd returned to America in 1814 as part of an expeditionary force helping to draw of US forces away from the northern border by attacking New Orleans in January 1815 and sucessfully capturing Fort Bowyer near Mobile. With word of a successful peace treaty maintaining the pre war status quo. The regiment then began its returned to England to be met with flurry of urgent calls.
Napoleon had broken free and was forming an army, the 43rd arrived in Belgium too late to fight in the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815 as a whole. But a number of 43rd officers who went ahead of the regiment were present during the battle including Lord Fitzroy Somerset and Major James Kennedy Shaw who both served on the Duke of Wellington's staff during the battle.
With the need to cover the Duke of Wellington's retreat should the battle go badly removed by his victory on the 18th. The regiment formed part of the pursuit on the 19th June and the army of occupation in France until November 1818.
Corunna Busaco Fuentes d'Onor Ciudad Rodrigo Badajos
Salamanca Vittoria Pyrenees Nivelle Nive Orthes Toulouse
43rd Monmouthshire light infantry 1795 -1815 Re-enactment group
Napoleonic War of 1812 Regency & Georgian living history