The Regiment, 1719 to
Chapter 3: The Early Days: Campaigns of the 41st, Part 1
The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 brought the inevitable Parliamentary clamour for the reduction of the army. Twenty-two regiments were immediately disbanded, and the rest pruned down to 37 NCO's & men per company. Then, in 1715, the Stuart banner was raised in Scotland on behalf of the "Old Pretender" (James III) and Parliament had reason to regret its recent actions. While several new regiments were raised, another expedient resorted to was to raise independent companies by re-employing some of the Out-Pensioners of the Chelsea Royal Hospital who, while not fit for active service, were reckoned capable of performing the undemanding duties of garrison troops. On the suppression of the "15" the scheme seemed to have proved itself. In 1719, a regiment of "Invalids" was approved and on 11 March Colonel Edmund Fielding was ordered to raise 10 companies. An "invalid" was simply a pensioner, whether disabled or not. Fielding's men were all veterans of Marlborough's campaigns, and it only took five days to form 3 complete companies who took over garrison duties at Portsmouth from the Foot Guards.
Many years of garrison duty followed. Until 1743, the Regiment was known as Fielding's. From 1743 to 1751, it was known as Wardour's. In that year, the Regiment was numbered as the 41st.
In 1787, the decision was taken to turn the Regiment in to a regular "marching regiment of the line." In effect, the regiment was born anew, as almost the complete existing complement was discharged on Christmas Day, 1787.
In January 1788, an 18-year old foppish aristocrat was posted in as a Lieutenant. The 41st saw little of the future Duke of Wellington, however - shortly after joining he was sent on staff duty with the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in Dublin. Six months later he joined another unit on his purchased climb to the top of the regimental commission system that would see him in India commanding the 33rd (another famous red-faced regiment, I've heard) before he had even hit the ripe old age of 30. Still, the 41st is one of a handful of infantry regiments that can claim Wellington as a member. He no doubt learned everything he needed to know while with the 41st! None of the other War of 1812 units we interact with had this distinction!
Chapter 4: The Shooting Starts...
In 1793 the Regiment embarked for overseas service in the West Indies. From 1794 to 1796, the 41st were engaged in suppressing a French-backed rebellion in the West Indies. Action was seen at the capture of Martinique, St. Lucia, and Guadeloupe. Casualties were suffered more from sickness than enemy action. During two years on San Domingo, the 41st were virtually destroyed by yellow fever, typhus, malaria, and other tropical diseases. A total of 754 rank and file were lost.
Recent research has analyzed medical reports from the West Indies and made a strong case that many soldiers died, not from tropical disease, but the cheap rot-gut rum obtained by parsimonious commissary officers for use by the scum - err, "rank and file". Lead poisoning from improper "Ozark-style" stills was also apparently a factor
When the regiment was pulled back to Portsmouth in October of 1796, only the surviving officers and NCO's were taken. The remnants of the rank and file were transferred in to the 17th Foot. One speculates that few of them ever saw Britain again.
One of the 41st's officers in this interlude was Lieutenant Colonel Coote Manningham, whose name is now remembered mainly as the founding Colonel of the Experimental Corps of Riflemen in 1800 - which later became the 95th, then the Rifle Brigade, and is now The Royal Greenjackets. Yet another ex-41ster who made good...
One of the officers who made it back to Britain was Adam Muir - who rose from the ranks to important commands with the Regiment and the Right Division in the War of 1812.
The Regiment was eventually transferred to Ireland, and embarked from there for Canada in August 1799.