Author Topic: Background history of the 96th Regiment of Foot  (Read 14339 times)


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Background history of the 96th Regiment of Foot
« on: December 17, 2011, 10:33:30 PM »
Minorca Regiment

The Minorca Regiment was raised in 1798 from prisoners of war from Swiss mercenary regiments in Spanish service, while Minorca was under British control. In 1801, the regiment took part in the expedition to Egypt, where a large French force commanded by the future Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte were attempting to conquer the country. During the Battle of Alexandria, French cavalry charged the British infantry and appeared to be about to break through the lines, such was the ferocity of their charge, but the Minorca Regiment bravely advanced forward to meet the enemy and launched volley after volley into the mass of cavalry, with such devastating effect that the survivors retreated in the face of such an onslaught.

The regiment distinguished itself even further, when Private Antoine Lutz left the formation under his own initiative to re-take a French cavalry standard which had been recaptured by the French, having already been taken by a soldier of the 42nd (now The Black Watch). He showed great courage, shooting the French standard bearer and subsequently seizing the colour. Two other dragoons charged towards him. Lutz shot the horse from under one of the dragoons. The dragoon asked for clemency, and his life was spared. Private Lutz was later awarded a Royal Bounty of �20 pounds 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 presently 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 Siege of Badajoz.

They were subsequently 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

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 M?oris, largely caused by the Treaty of Waitangi which had been signed between the British and M?ori 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 M?oris. In one incident, the 96th met a large M?ori 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 sub-continent 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.


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.

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