Monday, 18 June 2012

57th Regiment of Foot

So, as it is the 18th June and the 197th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo I thought I'd post another (unfinished) battalion. This time the 57th Regiment of Foot.

The regiment started out as the 59th Regiment of Foot raised in Gloucester in 1755. After the disbandment of the 50th Regiment of Foot and the 51st Regiment of Foot in 1756, it became the 57th Regiment of Foot. The regiment took part in the American Revolutionary War (Siege of Charlestown, SC May 1776, New York Campaign 1776, Halifax Sept. 1783). In 1782, it was given a county connection, becoming the "57th (The West Middlesex) Regiment of Foot." 

The 57th Regiment earned their nickname of "The Die Hards" after their participation in the Battle of Albuera, one of the bloodiest battles of the Peninsular War, fought on the 16 May 1811. The commanding officer of the 57th, Colonel Inglis, was struck down by a charge of canister shot which hit him in the neck and left breast. He refused to be carried to the rear for treatment, but lay in front of his men calling on them to hold their position and when the fight reached its fiercest cried, "Die hard the 57th, die hard!".

The casualties of the 57th were 422 out of the 570 men in the ranks and 20 out of the 30 officers. The Allied commander of the Anglo-Portuguese force Field Marshal Beresford wrote in his dispatch, "our dead, particularly the 57th Regiment, were lying as they fought in the ranks, every wound in front". Even after this savage fight and such appalling casualties, the regiment were eager to advance with the remainder but Beresford called out, "Stop, stop the 57th, it would be a sin to let them go on!"

The remaining men and officers were joined with survivors from other regiments to form a provisional battalion but in August 1811 a fresh draft of recruits allowed the battalion to be reformed as an independent unit. The battalion continued to serve in the Peninsula and France until the end of the war in 1814. The regiment missed Waterloo (having been sent to Canada) but served in the Army of Occupation from August 1815 for two years.

Battle Honours 1789-1881
Ciudad Rodrigo
New Zealand
South Africa

As you can see (apologies for the poor focus) I actually managed to write "57" in white on some of the packs - frankly, if it was in focus you would be able to see how poor my efforts in this regard were. I only marked a few of the packs in this way before giving up on the plan - I now see that you can get decals of this kind of thing for 28mm figures, and if someone were to do it for 15mm figures I'd give it a shot.

There should be thirty figures for Albuera (in GdeB terms) but we're a bit short of that number -it was another unmarked bag from "the big box" and I'm presuming the figures are AB. 

I'm redoing the two standard bearers after my new puppy, Archie, got to one of them and chewed it to bits. Naturally he was given a flogging that wouldn't have disgraced a member of the 57th (their nickname before the "Die Hards" was "The Steelbacks" because of their reputation for flogging when based at Gibralter in 1800). 

To be honest though the original battalion came with the standard bearers with cased colours who are bimbling along in a very slovenly way - to my eyes anyway. Once I'd decided to paint them as the 57th it seemed a bit disrespectful not to let them have their flags waving (the Kings Colour had 30 bullet holes after Albuera) - so I bought a command pack at Salute that had rather more workmanlike standard bearers, but I've yet to buckle down and paint them. As for the surviving chap with the cased colours - well I'm trying to summon up the courage to perform some surgery and replace the cased colour with brass wire and a new flag.

As it is Waterloo Day I thought I'd open some port and raise a toast to the Duke - he described the French conduct of the battle as "they came on in the same old way and we saw them off in the same old way" - so as a tribute I opened a half-bottle of Fonseca Guimaraens 1998 and saw it off "in the same old way." It was a bit closed at first on the nose but first rate on the palate - not bad at all for a cask sample that should have been used up 12 years ago!


  1. I tried posting comments this morning at work, but they clearly didn't make it through! Very nice work, Malcolm. Being a 25mm junkie I forget how goos the AB figures are. Also I agree on flags - why on earth sculpt them rolled up? Tabletop armies need colours flying at full mast!

    Best wishes