March 5th 1694 a Warrant was issued to Colonel John Gibson (Lieutenant-Govorner of Portsmouth) to raise "Volontiers for a Regiment of ffoot under your Command.."
In February 1697 they sailed for Newfoundland , arriving in St. John's on June 6th 1697. By October the Regiment was sailing home, leaving 2 companies to build a fort.
1704 Gibson sold his Regiment to a Huguenot officer named Colonel Sampson de Lalo. The 28th then sailed for Holland to join the Duke of Marlborough's victorious army. In Flanders, along the fortified Lines of the Geet, July 18th 1705 they fought their first battle, defeating the French. On May 23rd 1706 the Regiment earned its first Battle Honour at Ramillies, when Marlborough again defeated the French and secured Flanders.
July 1706 the 28th took part in the successful siege of Ostend, then returned to England. The Regiment then had a new Colonel, John, Viscount Mordaunt.
The Regiment sailed for Alicante to take part in the Battle of Almanza. April 27th 1707. The Battle was a defeat for the British, but under strange circumstances. The British were commanded by a Frenchman (Henri de Massue, Earl of Galway) and the French commanded by James FitzJames (an Englishman !)
1709 the Regiment came under the command of Colonel Andrew Wilson. 1715 Colonel William Barrell took over.
The next action was in September 1719 when the Regiment was among those landed on the Spanish coast to attack Vigo, while the Navy attacked the Spanish fleet.
Next came a 23 year duty in Ireland. In 1734 Colonel Philip Bragg assumed command. Bragg was promoted to Lieutenant-General in 1747 and was Member of Parliament for Armagh. His 25 years with the Regiment resulted in the adoption of the nickname 'The Old Braggs.'
In 1742 the British Regiments were given numbers, according to their seniority. Bragg's Regiment became the 28th Foot.
1743 they sailed for Holland and fought in the Battle of Fontenoy. The British infantry advanced in perfect order, driving the French back at bayonet point. However, their allies (the Dutch and Austrians) would not advance (the Dutch cavalry fled the field at the first shot !) When the British advance halted they found themselves isolated and soon being driven back by French cavalry.
"Their discipline remained wonderful, and they marched back at the same steady pace with which they had advanced. At the signal from the drums battalions halted, faced about, fired an aimed volley, shouldered arms, faced about, and continued their retreat in perfect order. When the survivors at last reached safety they were silent, exhausted and defeated. But they had added an unforgettable example of discipline to the annals of the British army." Cap of Honour (Daniell)
The 28th lost 11 officers and 126 men.
1749 - 1757 another tour of duty in Ireland.
March 1757 the 28th sailed for Canada. The British army laid siege to the French fortified town at Louisberg. In July the French surrendered, having lost 1000 killed to the British loss of 171. In June 1759 they sailed as part of 9000 strong force under Major-General Wolfe to take Quebec.
June 28th the 28th Foot were put ashore to secure a landing area. But the assault upon Quebec was delayed by Wolfe's illness. Before dawn, September 13th 1759 lines of boats packed with British soldiers sailed silently past the French sentries. The lead Regiment was the 28th. The 28th led the way, scaling the heights of Abraham, before the sun rose the British force was taking up positions before Quebec.
Wolfe took up position with the 28th. The French were astonished to see the thin line of Red coats. The French attacked. Stopped dead by the British volley, the French lines wavered. Wolfe drew his sword and at the head of the 28th ordered advance. The French fled and 5 days later Quebec surrendered. But early in the battle Wolfe was wounded in the wrist, ignoring this he continued to advance until shot in the body. He lay wounded and upon told of his victory, died.
Garrison duty in Montreal followed before a spell in the West Indies.
The 28th joined the force under command of General Monckton assembled to attack Martinique. January 16th 1762 they landed on the island; by February 12th the French had surrendered.
April the 28th joined an expedition to attack the Spanish. By June the fleet arrived near Havannah, which was defended by 2 forts. After attacking and taking these the Spanish governor surrendered the island of Cuba. In the expedition under 1000 men were lost in action, but 5000 died of fever. After a year in Cuba the 28th went to New York with a strength of only 208 men. 1767 the 28th finally sailed for England after 10 years foreign service.
1775 the 28th sailed for America again. On the outbreak of the Revolution the 28th were with the 2nd Brigade under General Howe. They advanced on New York, held by Washington and 18,000 rebels behind strong entrenched lines along Brooklyn Heights. After outflanking them the British drove the rebels away and entered New York.
Washington took up a position 25 miles north at White Plains. (see nickname 'The Slashers'). The Americans fell back to Fort Washington, which the British took on November 16th. Washington continued his retreat to Delaware.
his men for Philadelphia, Washington marched south to meet him.
They met at Brandywine Creek, the rebels were again driven off
and Philadelphia taken. The 28th also saw action at Germantown in
October. An indecisive battle, but the first one in which British
troops retreated before the rebels:
Lieutenant Martin Hunter:
"We charged them twice, till the battalion was so reduced by killed and wounded, that the bugle was sounded to retreat. This was the first time we retreated before the Americans, and it was with great difficulty to get our men to obey our orders. By this time General Howe had come up, and seeing the battalion retreating he got into a passion and exclaimed 'For shame, light infantry! I never saw you retreat before. Form!' "
June 1778 the 28th sailed north to New York. By October they were embarked for the West Indies. The American colonies were lost:
"The American War of Independence.... a savage conflict - a war condemned by thousands of native Americans, which Washington came dangerously close to losing; a war in which the British rarely lost a battle until the French helped defeat Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown in 1781." .......C. Hibbert (Redcoats & Rebels)
"There is very little doubt that properly handled the rebellion could have been crushed."
"If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, the British blundered while America got away..... Its outcome was due more to the many errors made by British politicians and generals than to any grand strategy on the part of the American colonists."....................................................................W. Seymour (The Price of Folly)
........... Private 28th Foot c. 1795 ........................ ........Officer 28th Foot c. 1795
St. Lucia 1778
December 1778 12 ships and 6000 men attacked the French island of St. Lucia. In 2 weeks they defeated the French garrison of 13,000 men. Dividing his force, Major-General Grant selected the flank companies of 8 regiments (including from the 28th) to form a Grenadier and a Light Battalion (1,300 men) and placed them at La Vigie. It was against these men that the 12,000 French launched an attack.
"During the battle, solid masses of French were advancing on the slender British lines, our ammunition got down to the last few rounds. Colonel Meadow gave the order "Cease fire," intending to give one final volley and then finish the battle with the bayonet. At the order, in the full heat of battle, with the enemy in vastly superior numbers advancing on them, every single soldier lowered his musket and stood, waiting for death. It was a manifestation of discipline which even amazed some of the officers present."
With that final volley the French advanced stalled and they fell back. 1,300 men had defeated 12,000. Within 2 weeks the French had abandoned the island.
In 1780 Ensign John Owen and Surgeon William Armitage died on the Leeward Islands. In 1781 Ensign Richard Foster and Captain John Cathcart died. After 3 years garrison in the West Indies the 28th sailed for home in 1783.
A General Order of 1782 first established the Regimental County links and the 28th became the "North Gloucestershire Regiment."
The 28th spent 2 years in Scotland, then 7 in Ireland.
March 8th 1801, the British fleet was at Aboukir Bay. The opposed landing was made by 6000 men, including the 28th. Soon the French were driven off and the army landed.
12th March the French attacked the British columns at Mandora but were repulsed. 21st March the great French attack began at the Battle of Alexandria.
The key to the British positions was an unfinished redoubt held by the 28th Foot. It was against this position that Napoleon's 'Invincible' Regiment launched its assault. For 4 hours battalions of French infantry advanced against the 28th and was repulsed. After a cavalry charge failed the French commander sent 2 regiments of Dragoons to out-flank the 28th, but they were also beaten off. Finally the French managed to get behind the British position and charged the 28th in the rear. Lieutenant-Colonel Chambers ordered "rear Rank, 28th ! Right About Face !" The rear rank turned and the 2 thin lines fought back to back, repulsing both attacks.
The French retreated, their army broken. Cairo was captured and Egypt was taken.
The 28th were awarded the unique distinction of wearing a small bdge on the rear of their head-dress, to commemorate their actions at Alexandria.
By December the Regiment was back in England.
In 1803, with the threat from Napoleon growing, each British Regiment raised a second battalion.
In 1807 the 28th were part of the expedition to Copenhagen to capture the Danish fleet, this was done to prevent Napoleon invading Denmark and using its fleet to attack Britain.
1808 the 28th sailed for Portugal to join the army under Sir John Moore. Napoleon had been busy, installing his relatives as King of Holland, King of Naples and King of Westphalia. He now took 250,000 foot and 50,000 cavalry to conquor Spain. Sir john Moore had a mere 20,000 men, but they were welcomed by the Portuguese and Spanish people. (unfortunately the Spanish army proved very poor allies, often leaving the field of battle at the first cannon shot.) Very soon, Moore realised that he could not depend on the Spanish army and took the decision to fall back. Napoleon sent Marshall Soult to destroy the British. The winter retreat was a terrible affair but the British finally reached Corunna where they were to face the French.
"Corunna was a notable victory, against veteran troops by an army which had suffered all the rigours of a winter retreat over mountains...... the battle was more than usually violent, for there was a great accumulation of venom and anger stored up by both sides .... it was kill or be killed, a fight to the finish. For a long time both lines fought without giving ground, but at last the French wavered, and with a final bayonet charge driven back.... It was about this time that Moore was mortally wounded by a cannon-ball. In spite of a terrible wound in the breast, he was uncomplaining and curteous, and when the news was brought that the French were decisively beaten he thanked his friends, sent his remembrances to a lady, and died.... The whole army mourned their commander sincerly."
The British army embarked for England, but 5 months later the 28th were preparing for action again; this time 40,000 men under Lord Dalhousie were heading for Holland. They landed at Walcheren and pushed the French back, but an outbreak of miasmic fever swept through the army. The survivors sailed home to England.
The Peninsular Campaign
The British had not all left the Peninsular after Corunna. A number of men had been left in hospital at Lisbon. Among them were 200 men of the 28th under Captain Bradby.
The new army in the Peninsular was under the command of Sir Arthur Wellelsey. He marched his men to Oporto, which was held by 10,000 men under Soult. Oporto was taken and the great campaign was under way.
Talavera (July 27th - 28th 1809)
Marshall Victor had 46,000 troops. Wellesley had 22,000 British and 32,000 Spanish. True to form whole Spanish regiments fled and Victor placed a mere 16,000 men to deal with the Spanish. Victor concentrated the other 30,000 foot and 5,000 cavalry on the British.
"When victor first saw the British troops drawn up in their thin line he said 'If I can't break that line I'd better give up soldiering !' But he had never before met the British."
The French were defeated and retreated from Talavera, this was greeted with joy across Europe, which had considered the French unbeatable. More battalions arrived to join the army, including the 2/28th Foot.
The French attempt to break into north Portuagal was defeated. More victories followed, with the 28th fighting at Barrosa and Albuhera.
At Barrosa Lt-General Graham had 4,000 men and 11,000 Spanish troops. Marshall Victor had 11,000. At the start of the battle the Spanish commander, La Pena, withdrew, leaving the 4,000 British and Portuguese to face Victor. In less than 2 hours the French were in full retreat. Another Regimental tradition was established when, after the battle, the Officer's Mess was reduced to 2 men. The senior officer proposed the toast "Mr. Vice, The King" The other officer stood and changed the usual "Gentleman, The King" to "The king, Mr. President." This unique loyal toast was used by the Regiment from then on.
Albuhera (May 16th 1811)
The 2/28th fought at the 'murderous battle of Albuhera.' It lasted from 9am to 3pm and the French lost 8,000 men to the Allies 7,000.
Vittoria (June 28th 1812)
"Vittoria was a great victory, one of the greatest in the history of the British Army. The fighting was desperate, losses on both sides were very heavy, and the victory was complete."
Battle of the Pyrenees
The 28th fought in this battle, which extended over several days. During the action Ensign Delmar was killed while carrying the Colours, another boy, Ensign Hill, seized them and shouted "The Slashers shall never want a man to display their Colours to the enemy."
November 1813 the British entered France. wading across the River Nive the 28th joined the attack on the French, driving them off.
Toulouse (April 10th 1814)
The 28th took a fortified mill and then climbed up onto houses to watch the battle develop (see the 61st). April 14th Napoleon abdicated and the 28th marched to Bordeaux, where they were warmly received by the French people.
After the War had finished the 28th were sent to Ireland on garrison duty. The second battalions were disbanded and Wellesley was made a Duke, The Duke of Wellington. The 28th were aboard transports for Bermuda when news arrived of Napoleon's escape from exile. They immediately set out for Ostend and then marched to Brussels. Napoleon had 124,000 men and 370 guns. Wellington had 120,000 of whom 23,000 were British, the rest being Hanoverians, Dutch and others.
(June 16th 1815)
Whilst Napoleon attacked the Prussians at Ligny, Marshall Ney attacked the British at Quatre Bras. The British held firm and repulsed the French infantry. Then French cavalry charged. The 28th formed square and held firm, despite being attacked on 3 sides at once. For half an hour the French cavalry tried to break the 28th but failed every time.
"In one interval Sir James Kempt, raising his hat shouted 'Bravo 28th ! The 28th are still the 28th, and their conduct this day will never be forgotten.' "
Just then the enemy attacked again, Kempt rode inside the square and watch the enemy be repulsed. Then the 28th deployed and charged the retreating enemy. For 6 hours the British infantry withstood desperate attacks, but held firm.
(Sunday 18th June 1815)
The 28th were 537 strong and situated in the centre of the Allied line. Wellington's 66,000 men and 156guns faced Napoleon's 74,000 and 250 guns. Wellington knew he could rely on his 23,000 British and 6,000 men of the King's German Legion, but the rest were suspect.
For hour after hour the Allied squares stood firm under a hot summer sun, while the French cavalry launched ferocious attacks. Finally the French infantry formed.
"The French advanced with great enthusiasm and the British stood still, waiting, as always, with their wonderful discipline. Then the order to fire was given, and incessant volleys were poured into the enemy columns. The front ranks wavered and reeled, the panic increased as the Scots Greys came thundering up and charged, turning their panic into a rout."
In the ensuing advance Private Wheeler of the 28th killed the Colour-bearer of the French 25th regiment and seized their flag. With the Prussians approaching Napoleon ordered the 'Old Guard' to advance.
"The long line of the Imperial Guard, veterans of Napoleon's long score of victories, advanced towards the Allied centre with the whole French infantry in support. The Duke ordered the british Guards forward, and they waited their moment, and then fired one murderous volley, checked the advancing french, and soon, before the advancing red-coats, the French Guards wavered and broke."
At that moment Wellington ordered a general advance. The French fled and Wellington's exhausted army camped on the field while the Prussians took up the pursuit of the fleeing French.
The Allied army lost 10,000 (6,000 British) to the French loss of 25,000. In the fighting at Quatre Bras and Waterloo the 28th lost 20 officers and 230 men killed or wounded.
In Wellington's despatch he wrote: "I must particularly mention the 28th, 42nd, 79th and 92nd Regiments." Thus the 28th were the only English regiment mentioned, the others being Scottish regiments.
July 10th the 28th reached Paris. 4 months later the 28th marched for Calais to return to England. As they approached Calais the Governor closed the gates and demanded that they could only enter if they marched with 100 yards between companies, arms reversed, Colours cased and band silent. Sir Charles Belson replied that he had 15 minutes to open the gates or face assault. The gates promptly opened and they marched in at normal distance, bayonets fixed, Colours flying and the band playing 'The Downfall of Paris."
The 28th were in England for 3 months and then went to malta and on to the Ionian Islands for 10 years. In 1828 they returned.
1835 they sailed for Australia. The regiment established HQ at Sydney, with detachments at Parramatta, Hassan's Wells, Illawara, Tonrang, Newcastle, Moreton Bay and Port Phillip (near Melbourne).
...... ... ...... .
Officer 28th Foot c. 1830..........................Private 28th Foot c. 1835
1840 Major William Irwin died at Parramatta - "Sacred to the memory of Brevet Major WILLIAM IRWIN of H.M. 28th Regiment Who died at Parramatta The 12th of November 1840 Aged 56 Years This table was erected by his brother officers as a token of their esteem and admiration on his long and gallant service of 33 years in the Corps."
In 1842 Lt. Henry Smart and 6 men were sent to new Zealand to act as Mounted Police.
In June 1842 the 28th left for India. On the night of June 29th one of the transport ships struck a reef. The ships were stuck until the 5th July and a disaster narrowly averted. The reefs are still called "The Slashers' Reef" and each part is named after one of the ships that stuck there, "Kelso," "Arab," "Hopkinson," and "John Brewer Reefs."
miles off the coast of Queensland, near Hinchbrook Island.
August 1842 the 28th arived in Bombay with 800 men. Cholera soon killed 97 (including Captain Sawbridge). Ordered to sail to Karachi, another 37 men died. On 1st January1843 Lieutenant H.M. Owen died of fever, Lieutenant Meecham died of fever at Tatta, on 7th January Lieutenant-Colonel French died of fever, on 20th January Adjutant Lieutenant McGregor died of fever. Then Lieutenant Cormick, Major Parker and Lieutenant McLachlin died of fever. In 1844 Lieutenant C. Grant died of cholera at Poona, When they reached Hyderabad the 28th could parade only 420 strong. June 1848 they arrived back in England.