The 60th Regiment of Foot,originally the 62nd, was raised in the American colonies in 1756 as the 62nd (Royal American) Regiment of Foot to combat the French and their native allies. Following the disaster of the Braddock expedition royal and parliamentary approval for the funds to raise a new regiment were given just prior to Christmas of 1755,hence the regiments traditional birthday of Christmas day.
According to a regimental history compiled in 1879 by a captain of the by then Kings Royal Rifle Corps, it was in December 1755 when Parliament approved for the sum of £81,000 to be used in order to raise four battalions,each a thousand men strong to serve in North America. Unusually the Parliament of Great Britain additionally granted His majesty King George additional powers
The Earl of Loudoun, commander in chief of all American forces, was appointed colonel-in-chief of the regiment. Additionally a further fifty officer commissions were granted to Swiss and Germans,though none would ever be able to rise above Lieutenant-Colonel.
1805-1815 the Napoleonic Wars
Peace was concluded with France in 1802, and the usual drastic education in England's Army and Fleet followed. But Bonaparte kept France mobilized, and made his plans to subjugate the world. War soon broke out again. The threatened invasion of England was settled in 1805 by the victory of Trafalgar, and the French armies marched east; while Napoleon closed all European ports to English trade. In 1807 he dispatched an army of 80,000 men to Spain to place his brother Joseph on the throne. Spain and Portugal appealed to England for help, and it was decided to send an army to Portugal under Sir Arthur Wellesley to drive the French out of Spain in co-operation with the Spanish armies. The British troops landed in 1808, which marked the commencement of the Peninsular War.
Among the troops under Sir Arthur Wellesley which landed in 5th Bn. Portugal were the 5th Battalion 60th and 2nd Battalion 95th Rifles,' raised in 1801. Our 5th Battalion gained thirteen battle honours for the Regiment in the Peninsula. It was at first under the command of Major W. G. Davy,' who had succeeded de Rottenburg.
Soon after this force landed a general order was issued by Sir Arthur Wellesley which explains how the 5th Battalion came to be attached by companies to infantry brigades and therefore to be present at nearly all the major engagements of this war. The order was dated 6th May, 1809, and was as follows
"The Commander of the Forces recommends the companies' of the 5th Battalion of the 60th Regiment to the particular care and attention of the General Officers commanding the brigades of infantry to which they are attached; they will find them to be most useful, active and brave troops in the field and that they will add essentially to the strength of the brigade."
Another order (of 4th May) directed that attached Riflemen were to be formed together on the left of the brigade. But "when opposing the enemy they would of course be on the front, flanks or rear according to circumstances.
The 60th at Barrossa
|In April, 1809, Sir Arthur Wellesley again arrived in Portugal and assumed command. There were 250,000 French troops in the Peninsula. He at once advanced against Soult, who had invaded the northern provinces, forced the passages of the River Douro and, driving the French out of Portugal, advanced upon Madrid at the end of June. He soon found himself faced with an army of 50,000 French under King Joseph and Marshal Victor, and took up a position at Talavera. His force consisted of 57,000 men, but 34,000 of these were Spaniards and the brunt of the ensuing battle fell on the 23,000 British.|
The French attack was repelled with heavy loss. In his subsequent despatches Sir Arthur spoke warmly of our Regiment, which on one occasion had saved him from being taken prisoner. "Upon this occasion," he states in his despatch, "the steadiness and discipline of the 5th Battalion 60th Regiment were conspicuous."
At Talavera, the 5th Battalion lost 7 officers and 44 other ranks. Major Davy proceeded home and Major W. Woodgate took command.
Lieutenant-Colonel W. Williams' took command in 1810: he had seen much active service and had been wounded at Corunna. Operations came to a standstill until the following year.
The French having been largely reinforced, Wellesley retired into Portugal, which was invaded in 1810 by the enemy under Marshal Massena. The British General, now created Lord Wellington, inflicted on the French a sanguinary check at Busaco, where the 60th, under Colonel Williams, again distinguished themselves.
The five companies of the 60th engaged lost 5 officers (the C.O. being wounded twice) and 24 other ranks. The enemy was too strong to be permanently stopped, and Wellington retired to the previously prepared lines of Torres Vedras, covering Lisbon.
Thence, in 1811, he again advanced and drove the French from Portugal. But Massena advanced with 57,000 men and a desperate two-day battle ensued at Fuentes d'Onor. Here Colonel Williams was distinguished by his defence of the village of that name: he had three companies of the 60th under his command. He was dangerously wounded and Major Woodgate took command of the 5th Battalion.
A few days later a detachment of the Anglo-Portuguese Army (including four companies of the 60th), under Marshal Beresford, which was covering the Spanish fortress, Badajos, repulsed a most determined attack on Albuhera. Captain John Galiffe, of the 60th, and one Rifleman were present both at Fuentes d'Onor and Albuhera.
In October some Rifle companies were present at the surprise of the French at Arroyo dos Molinos, where Captain Blassiere distinguished himself by penetrating into the town on the previous night.
The 1812 campaign began with the siege and capture by assault of the two fortresses which guarded the Spanish frontier. Companies of the 5th Battalion played their part as covering troops to divisions.At Ciudad Rodrigo one company distinguished itself at the capture of the convent of Santa Cruz. At Badajos four companies lost 6 officers and 44 other ranks, mainly in the final assault.
Sending Hill to destroy the bridge of Almaraz, and advancing into Spain, Wellington on 22nd July defeated Marmont at the decisive Battle of Salamanca, when the 5th Battalion lost 3 officers and 33 other ranks. Lieutenant-Colonel Williams was wounded.
The English General thereupon marched towards Madrid and entered the capital in triumph on 12th August. But the French were so strongly reinforced that the British troops were obliged to retire for the winter to Portugal.
In May, 1813, the army finally quitted Portugal, and again advancing drove the French northwards. On 21st June Wellington gained a splendid victory over King Joseph at Vittoria, capturing 150 guns and all their transport.
In this battle Colonel Fitzgerald commanded a battalion made up of three companies of the 5th Battalion and light companies of other regiments. They had very heavy fighting, attack and counter-attack, on the right of the battle front. Three headquarter companies under Major Galiffe led the final attack on Arinez, cleared the village and broke the French centre.
Driven from Spain, the French army rallied on the frontier on the River Bidassoa, where Soult assumed command, having been dispatched by Napoleon to supersede his brother, King Joseph, and Marshal Jourdan.
He immediately attacked the English, but was defeated with great slaughter at the Battle of the Pyrenees, which lasted eight days, from 24th July to 2nd August. The 5th Battalion was at this time commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel John F. Fitzgerald.
Wellington, then advancing into France, forced the passage of the Bidassoa on 7th October and carried the strongly fortified lines of the French upon the Nivelle River, after a battle which he considered the finest action of his career. The campaign ended in a further victory on the Nive after a battle lasting five days.
After Napoleon's defeat at Leipzig in October, 1813, the Allies had driven the French armies back into France. In the south, after the Nive battle, operations ceased. Wellington, with 40,000 men, including Portuguese and Spaniards, faced Soult with 35,000. He also had 28,000 investing Bayonne. Early in February he resumed the offensive. A company of the 60th led the advance of the Guards Brigade at the passage of the Adour.
Soult withdrew slowly on Orthez, where he took up a strong position from which he was driven, after heavy fighting, on 27th February. The French fell back fighting on Toulouse.
This battle was the last great victory of the Peninsular War. The French were thrown back into the city, which they evacuated two days later. Meanwhile, on the 10th, a determined sortie from Bayonne had been defeated. on 12th April news was received of Napoleon's abdication. Hostilities ceased on 18th April.
The 5th Battalion companies attached to divisions with Wellington had only 9 officers and 250 rifles remaining after this campaign of six weeks: the company at Bayonne had lost all its officers and was reduced to a strength of 40 other ranks.
Following the Peninsular war the first,fourth,fifth,sixth,seventh and eighth battalions were all disbanded,however by this point all of the battalions had become Rifles battalions and the regiment itself was designated the 60th Rifles.
Thanks to the 3ci Uhlans for allowing us to use their table.
Additional thanks to Jezza,who put this whole thread together.