83rd Regiment of Foot

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A ceremony in Grouville Churchyard to commemorate the deaths of 83rd Regiment of Foot soldiers on the day of the Battle of Jersey

The 83rd Regiment of Foot (also called the Royal Glasgow Volunteers) was a regiment stationed in Jersey and Guernsey at the time of the Battle of Jersey It was created in 1778 and disbanded in 1783.

Formation

In 1778, during the American Revolutionary War, James Findlay, a Glasgow merchant, together with Mr Ingram the former Provost and Mr Gray of Carntyne, resolved to raise an infantry regiment in the service of King George III. Findlay's motives appear to have been a mixture of patriotism and commercial interests - the War was having a detrimental effect on Glasgow's trade with Virginia.

On Monday, 26 January 1778, a procession of the city's civic dignitaries met at the Town Hall, and marched through the streets of Glasgow in search of recruits. Two fifers and two drummers provided music with James Findlay in the centre of the party on the bagpipes. Initially there was little success - at the end of the first day Ingram observed that they had a piper and a sergeant, but otherwise he was the regiment. Over the next few days, however, the recruits started to come in and the regiment soon reached full strength of one thousand men, including a large number of Irishmen.

Uniform and equipment

The regiment wore the standard 1768 uniform of close fitting, long tailed red coat, white waistcoat, white breeches and stockings with black gaiters, black shoes with buckles and a black cocked hat. The grenadier company wore tall black bearskin caps, whilst the light infantry company would have worn some form of light cap and short spatterdashes rather than gaiters. It was common practice for Grenadiers in the field to abandon their bearskin caps in favour of the more practical cocked hat. Because the 83rd was a Royal Regiment it was entitled to have royal blue 'facings' (collars, cuffs and lapels) augmented by white lace on the button holes. Officers wore an identical uniform, except that the coat was made of a superior scarlet cloth and the lace was gold. However this was usually only worn on formal occasions, and for everyday wear it was usual practice to wear a cheaper cloth, unlaced coat.

In addition, the soldiers wore white crossbelts to carry the ammunition pouch, bayonet and canteen, with a goatskin backpack. The standard weapon was the Short Land Pattern 'Brown Bess' flintlock musket.

Career

Raised in early 1778, the regiment spent some time in training before being sent to the Channel Islands, where it established its headquarters at Fort Conway (now Fort Henry) in the east of Jersey. Half the regiment were based here, the other half in Guernsey, the total strength of the regiment at this date being 781. On 6 January 1781 Baron Philippe de Rullecourt landed with a force of French infantry in a bid to capture Jersey. He was eventually defeated at the hands of the 95th Regiment of Foot and 78th Highlanders, together with elements of the Jersey Militia, under the command of Major Francis Peirson in the Battle of Jersey. The Grenadier Company of the 83rd, led by Captain Campbell, stormed La Rocque Battery and recaptured it from the French. Seven grenadiers were killed during this action.

Later that year the 83rd was transferred to New York, where it remained as part of the garrison of the city until the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. It then returned to Glasgow, where it was disbanded.

Known Members

Known members of the regiment are as follows:

Officers

  • Colonel James Findlay (Commanding officer 1778 to ?1780);
  • Colonel George Scott (Commanding officer in 1781).
  • Major Charles Gordon (Third in command, 3 April 1782 - ?14 April 1783);
  • Captain William Campbell (Commander, Grenadier Company, in 1781);
  • Lieutenant James Robertson, (Second in command, Grenadier Company, 1781);
  • Lieutenant William Niven (in regiment 1781);
  • Lieutenant John Russell;
  • Lieutenant Anderson (in regiment 1781)
  • Lieutenant Harris (in regiment 1781)
  • Ensign Thomas Ashe (1783);
  • Ensign Brown (in regiment in 1778);
  • Ensign John Baker (gazetted Ensign January 1781)
  • John Findlay (Subaltern of unknown rank, ?1778 to ?1783)

Chaplains

Other ranks

  • Grenadier John Hunter (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • Grenadier William McCulloch (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • Grenadier James Reid (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • Grenadier Alexander McKechney (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • Grenadier Alexander Glinn (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • Grenadier Robert Walker (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • Grenadier John Wilson (killed Jersey, 1781)
  • James Mahon (Irish, enlisted 6 March 1778, deserted 8 November 1779 after being charged with robbery, possibly defected to French Army)
  • William Osborne (aged 16, deserted 10 June 1779)
  • James Smith (deserted 7 July 1779)
  • Private John Chalmers (1778-1783)

Regimental music

  • Grand March of the Royal Glasgow Volunteers
  • The Royal Glasgow Volunteer's Jig
  • The Royal Glasgow Volunteer's Farewell
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