“A rifleman, 1808. This famous corps was formed in the year 1800 from men selected from fourteen regiments. In 1802 it was brought into line as the 85th (Rifles) Regiment. After Waterloo, for its brilliant service, it was given the title of ‘The Rifle Brigade’.”
Number 2 of 25 from “British Uniforms of the 19th Century” – a cigarette card series issued by manufacturer Amalgamated Tobacco (Mills).
The Featured Figures on this occasion are Strelets British Light Infantry of the Crimean War. More correctly, these are the Rifle Brigade, one of two ‘green jacket’ regiments the British army had. It was formed in 1800 as the Experimental Corps of Riflemen by the wonderfully named Colonel Coote-Manningham, before being called the 95th Rifles. Wearing green jackets instead of the more usual scarlet, the riflemen made use of the Baker Rifle which was far more accurate than the infantryman’s Brown Bess. Their chief characteristics were to skirmish, scout and snipe, a function made more practical by their green jackets. The regiment’s participation in the Peninsular War and the battle of Waterloo was brought to popular attention in the 1990s by the Sharpe TV series, featuring Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe of the 95th. (I really ought to try and buy some DVDs of this sometime…)
By the time of the Crimea, the regiment had been renamed “The Rifle Brigade”. It took part in the battles of Alma and Inkerman as well as the lengthy siege of Sevastapol, in the process winning more Victoria Crosses than any other single regiment during that campaign. After WWII, the regiment was merged to form the Royal Green Jackets alongside the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry Regiment and its sister Rifle Regiment; The King’s Royal Rifle Corps. I had my first visit to the mighty Royal Green Jackets museum in Winchester in 2013 which featured much about the Crimean War and was quite possibly the best military museum that I’ve ever visited!
Anyhow. This is a blog about little plastic soldiers. So bring on the figures! Note that some wear the despised Albert Shako but the remainder have opted for the Kilmarnock cap.