Sunday, October 30, 2011

28mm British Napoleonic Battalion - The 2nd/66th (The Berkshires)


I've taken a break from my recent Steampunk silliness to base-up some new recruits for my British Napoleonic collection. This unit (composed of Perry plastics and a Victrix mounted officer) represents the 2nd battalion of the 66th Regiment of Foot (The Berkshires). I had mentioned previously that I was building a British force around Colborne's ill-fated brigade which was severely mauled by French cavalry at Albuera in 1811 (approximately 70% casualties throughout the brigade).


On top of being a speed bump for Polish lancers, the 66th had the distinct misfortune of loosing both its Regimental and King's colours that day.


The 2nd/66th was all but destroyed at Albuera. Of the approximately 400 men that made up the battalion at the start of the day, it suffered 16 officers and 310 men killed or wounded. The following day, it was able to muster only 53 bayonets. The majority of the casualties had been killed and among the dead were the battalion major, and the ensigns Walker and Colter. Captain Clark was taken prisoner, but was able to escape later, wrote that one of the flags was saved, but he does not specify which one. The remnants of the 2/66th was formed into a provisional battalion with the 2nd Battalion 31st, which had saved its flags. It was noted in its last inspection in Roncesvalles in 1813 said “The Battalion of the 66th doesn't have flags, because their new ones were sent to Lisbon in 1812. It is the undeniable test of their loss at Albuera, and the King's Colours also exists still in Paris”.


Another document, a letter from Lieutenant George Cromption of the 66th, dated May 18, 1811 states, "Oh, what a day that was. The worst of the story I have not related. Our Colours were taken. I told you before that two ensigns were shot under them; two Sergeants suffered the same fate. Lieutenant seized a musket to defend them, and was shot to the heart, what could be done against cavalry?"



These flags, in fact four complete and two reduced to the flagstaffs with their spearhead and  some fragments of their cloths, were sent by Soult to Paris, where they were temporarily deposited in the home of Marshal Berthier, until their presentation in the Tulleries in August 1811, along with 200 flags taken from the Spanish in the past campaigns.



After 1814, these trophies remained hidden until 5 April 1827, when five were displayed in the Museum of Artillery. During the Revolution of 1830, a mob stormed the Museum and took weapons and flags from it, including the King's Colour of the 66th Foot. 

In 1831, the four remaining Colours, were placed in the cornices of the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides. During the funeral of Marshal Sebastiani on 11 August 1851 a fire broke out. The Regimental Colour of the 66th Foot was completely destroyed, while the King’s Colour of the 48th Foot was badly damaged with only its central shield surviving. 

In 1861, General Duffourc d'Antist donated to the Invalides his collection of flags. Among these flags was the King's Colour of the 66th Foot which had been stolen by the mob in 1830.

From what I understand, currently there still exists the shield of the King’s Colour of the 48th Foot, which is in a frame in storage of the l'Armée Musée, while the King's Colours of the 66th Foot, as well as the remains of those of the 3rd and 48th are suspended of the cornices of the chapel of the Hotel des Invalides, which is part of the annex to the l'Armée Musée.

(Information from napoleon-series.org)

14 comments:

  1. Great looking unit and unit history. I built a Victrix unit representing the 3rd "Buffs" - another unit battered at Albuera. Best, Dean

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  2. Very nicely done, and interesting background info.

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  3. They look great Curt, Very nice flags too!
    Cheers
    Paul

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  4. Really nice unit. Love the basing. Thanks for the history too.

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  5. Lovely figures and great background story.

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  6. Really liked the story and a very nice looking unit (quite big as well). I am shifting over to Flagdude Flags myself, sort of just can not defeat the fading problem with GMB flags. Great look. Hopefully in Paris soon, I will really look at Les Invalides with a different eye then my last visit.

    John

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  7. A great looking unit and great info on them too!!

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  8. Look great and great basing as well

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  9. These certainly look great and I like the command figures with the officer on horseback blended in. Interesting history of the unit as well, for me this background add to the fun of painting the unit.

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  10. Great!!!!
    one of my proyects is play ciudad rodrigo siege in 28mm, but for now is too far.
    I am painting, 15mm, for lasalle, spanish Maria Luisa Hussars. You can see a picture in my blog.

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  11. excellent painting the detail is superb great work

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  12. Thanks for your comments guys!

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