96th Regiment of Foot

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For other regiments with this name, see 96th Regiment of Foot (disambiguation).
96th Regiment of Foot
Active 1798–1818
1824–1881
Country Great Britain, United Kingdom
Type Infantry

The 96th Regiment of Foot was a regiment of the British Army from 1798 to 1881, when it became the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment. Its lineage is perpetuated by the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment (King's, Lancashire and Border).

History[edit]

Minorca Regiment[edit]

The Minorca Regiment was raised in 1798 from German-speaking prisoners of war, formerly in Spanish service, when Minorca was under British control. In 1801, the regiment took part in the expedition to Egypt to dislodge a French army of occupation. During the Battle of Alexandria, French cavalry charged the British infantry and were about to break through the lines, such was the ferocity of their charge, but the Minorca Regiment advanced in support and launched volley after volley into the mass of cavalry with devastating effect.

The regiment distinguished itself even further, when Private Antoine Lutz left the ranks under his own initiative to seize the colour of the 21st Demi Brigade Legère, which had been captured previously by the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment (later The Black Watch) before being recaptured during the cavalry attack. Private Lutz shot the French officer holding the colour and took possession of the flag before being ridden over by French cavalry. As two dragoons charged towards him, Lutz claimed to have shot the horse from under one, whose life he spared. He returned to the British lines with the colour of the 21st Demi Brigade Legère and the captured dragoon as trophies. Private Lutz was later awarded a Royal Bounty of £20 per annum for life. In honour of his performance a painting was made, with him posing in uniform holding the French standard he had captured. It is now located in the Museum of the Manchester Regiment.

The regiment had certainly fought with honour and bravery, despite their origins, fighting keenly for the British in the Egyptian Campaign. That year, the regiment was renamed the Queen's Own Germans and in 1805, was given the numeric title, the 97th. The regiment also saw service in the Peninsula War, taking part in the Battle of Vimeiro, emulating their astonishing courage in the campaign in Egypt. The regiment later fought at the battles of Talavera, Busaco and Albuera, and the Second Siege of Badajoz (1811).

They were then posted to the West Indies. In 1814, they were dispatched to Upper Canada, where they took part in some of the last engagements of the Anglo-American War of 1812.

By 1816 the regiment was renumbered as The 96th (Queen's Own Germans) Regiment of Foot, though had now only a minimal element of foreign soldiers within its ranks, and was no longer considered a foreign corps in 1810. It was disbanded in 1818 in Ireland.

96th Foot[edit]

In 1824, the 96th regiment was reformed, inheriting the history and battle honours of their predecessors. The regiment was deployed to a variety of territories in the Western Hemisphere, before providing detachments for convict ships sailing to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, now Tasmania.

In 1843, during tensions between the British and Māoris, largely caused by the Treaty of Waitangi which had been signed between the British and Māori in 1840, a detachment from the regiment was dispatched to the northern island of New Zealand. Trouble did occur, with confrontations occurring between the regiment and Māoris. In one incident, the 96th met a large Māori force and in response withdrew in the face of a numerically superior opponent. The Flagstaff War began on 11 March 1845. The regiment took part in a number of engagements during the war, which lasted into early January 1846. In 1849, the 96th arrived in Calcutta in India, which at that time was under control of the British East India Company. They left the subcontinent in 1854, returning home to the UK, before deploying to Gibraltar for garrison service.

In 1862, the regiment was en route to Canada when the ship they were sailing on hit a storm in the Azores. The 96th spent only a brief time in Canada, being deployed to South Africa in 1863, after a brief period back home in the UK. In 1868, the 96th deployed to British India, an entity only created ten years before. They remained there until 1873. The following year the regiment was officially deemed to be the direct descendant of the Minorca Regiment, later The 96th (Queen's Own Germans) Regiment of Foot.

Amalgamation[edit]

On 1 July 1881, in accordance with the Childers Reforms of the army, the regiment merged with the 63rd Regiment of Foot to form the 2nd Battalion, Manchester Regiment.

References[edit]

See also[edit]

Preceded by
96th Regiment of Foot
1824–1881
Succeeded by
The Manchester Regiment