Wednesday, October 29, 2014

British 85th Regiment - Buck's Volunteers Light Infantry

The original 85th Regiment was raised as “The Royal Volontiers” by Col. John Crawford in Shrewsbury Castle in 1759; it was the first actual regiment of Light Infantry to be raised in the British army.  Its first active service came during the Seven Years’ War (1756 -63) when it took part in operations against the island of Belle-Ile off Brittany in 1761 and in Portugal in 1763. Its never fulfilled its originally intended function - service in the woodlands of North America!  The 85th was disbanded on the conclusion of the war in 1763 amidst a general reduction of the army.

The 85th Infantry Regiment was re-raised in 1778. The early years of its existence were not happy ones, as it performed extended service in the Caribbean, never a popular station due to the losses from tropical diseases. Upon it's return to the British Isles, so many of its officers and men were lost in storms at sea that it was disbanded (1783). It was reformed in 1794 on the lands of the Duke of Buckingham, and then saw service with the "Grand Old Duke of York" (of up hill and down hill fame in song) in Flanders that year, then on Gibraltar, then back to Holland again in 1799.  the 85th was stationed at Madiera in 1800 - 1801, and then returned to the Caribbean, garrisoning Jamaica until 1808.

When the regiment then returned to the United Kingdom, it was trained and re designated as a Light Infantry regiment. It then saw further unhappy and disease ridden service, participating in the Walcheren landing sideshow of 1809. From there it was sent to Portugal, where it  fought at the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro (3–5 May 1811). Having suffered severe losses, it was returned home later in 1811. After returning to the Peninsula in 1813 (and fighting at the battle of Vittoria), following Napoleon's abdication in 1814, the 85th took ship to the Americas once again, and fought at Bladensburg and Washington. It suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of New Orleans before returning to Europe in May, 1815. It missed the Waterloo campaign.

In token of its service during the French Wars, the 85th was re-designated “the Duke of York’s Light Infantry”later in 1815, with the motto “Aucto Splendore Resurgo” (“I rise again in increased splendour”) in token of its numerous re-formations. In 1821, after its officers defended King George IV during riots in Brighton, the 85th was yet again re-designated, now as “The King’s Light Infantry”.


The 85th Infantry Regiment, "Buck's Volunteers Light Infantry" (28mm Old Glory figures), fresh off the painting table. In keeping with the Light Infantry fashion of the era, the command stand has a bugler instead of a drummer. 


Following my own personal scheme for British Light Infantry regiments, it wears red-brown pants of the kind commonly seen on field service in the Peninsula, and carries a King's color (Union flag based pattern, although being cheap I've co-opted the GMB flag of another regiment!). 


Being a Light Infantry regiment, all of the companies have red "shoulder wings" on their jackets, and green plumes  and silver hunting horn plaques on their shakos. 


The 85th had yellow facings, with silver lace for its officers. I have adopted the facing colored discs that were often painted onto on the back of the backpacks, but have not attempted to paint the regimental number or badge upon it. My sanity is more important than that!


Red and yellow are also the colors of Fall in New England, so the following pictures are of the center of "Our Town", Bridgewater, Connecticut, taken on a cloudy mid October day. Originally a part of the Town of New Milford, it began the process of separation in 1812. At that time, in order for the State Legislature to approve the formation of a new municipality, it had to have an established congregation of the approved sort (i.e., a church descended from the Puritan tradition). Seen through the trees is my church, The Bridgewater Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, officially established in 1803. Parts of the Meetinghouse date back to 1807. The Town was not formally incorporated until 1856, however.


Diagonally across the very small Town Green is the Bridgewater Village Store, constructed in 1898. It is the only retail business of significance in the town; the post office occupies the right side of the building. Among other Gourmet items, the store sells Bridgewater Chocolates; these are pricey but easily the best chocolate I have ever had, anywhere in the world... period!  If you have a true Chocoholic in your life, order them a box. Seriously!

Bridgewater has been a "dry town" since the Temperance movement days, and is presently the only remaining such town in the State of Connecticut. , However on the ballot this November is a proposal to allow restaurant liquor sales, with an eye towards allowing the Store (which survives economically only courtesy of local resident Peter May, whose family owns the Macy's department store group) to open a restaurant in the adjacent building off to the left. I personally support allowing "Demon Rum" a foothold in our town once again, LOL!


As you might recall my post on new Milford, any old New England town pretty much has to have two churches in the center of town, one Congregational, one Episcopal (ex Church of England). This is our local den of ex-loyalists, St Mark's Episcopal Church. The present building was completed in 1859, and is unusual for an Episcopal church of that era in being constructed entirely of wood instead of stone. It originally also boasted a tall spire, which was destroyed decades ago and not replaced. 



Closer view of the Congregational Church and its octagonal spire. The Bridgewater area has truly abysmal cell phone reception. Some years ago, a proposal to disguise a cell phone tower within the steeple was declined, IMHO unwisely; as well as greatly improving cell phone service without the visible signs of a cell tower, it would have been a major buttress to the church's budget!


A view to the Northwest shows two of the twenty three private residences that are within the Bridgewater Town Center, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Most were constructed after 1820 and before the Civil War. 


A view of the Congregational Church from the side. I served as a Deacon of the Church for six years back in the 1990's. The walls and ceiling of the interior are entirely clad in intricately patterned stamped tin, painted light blue or white. 


Another  19th century private residence, featuring a huge front porch (probably added  later) , situated across from the Church. 


Bridgewater Town Hall, built in 1904. "Czar Barry's" historic home is almost across the street. 
Our First Selectmen, aka "King Billy", reigned from here for over 30 years before finally stepping down about a year ago. In one of the few seriously contested elections of his long term in office, he famously called up the opposing candidate, haranguing him for daring to oppose him, and concluding by proclaiming:  "This is MY town!"     (It's our town too, Billy!)

22 comments:

  1. Such a pretty part of the town. I recognise the New England architecture from a book of paper models I bought many years ago. I still have it but never did make any of the models:
    Edmund V. Gillon Jr, 'Cut and Assemble AN EARLY NEW ENGLAND VILLAGE', Dover Publications, 1977.
    I also got his Wild West book.

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    1. The Town Center is about as classic New England c. early 1800's as you could ask for!

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  2. Great job on the 85th, and nice pics too..

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  3. Great idea to match the flock to the town photos.

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    1. I have been using that particular mix for my Brits, and yes, it is a bit Fall like in composition!

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  4. Very interesting post and great painted figures.

    John

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    1. Thank you, John. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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  5. Nice figures (I like the brown trousers) and a classic New England town!

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  6. Great photos of your town, Peter. Exactly as I imagine New England in the fall. Beautiful!

    Very interesting regimental history of the 85th. Perhaps the 85th was the inspiration for the Timex watch slogan that they "take a licking and keep on ticking!"

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    1. It could be that was part of the inspiration, but probably not , LOL!
      (Timex is actually a Swiss company - My Dad (BS Mechanical Engineering, MBA) was director of Research for Timex Corporation for about 20 years - most of that time having to do with gyroscopes and inertial guidance systems for the aerospace industry, not watches!)

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  7. Peter painting British....truly the final sign of the apocalypse drawing nigh!

    Nice job, too!

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    1. Aw, I've been painting British for over a year now; just took a Hiatus the last 6 months getting ready for Montmirail. I have another 5 infantry units primed and ready to paint, plus about 20 commander figures, and 3 fott batteries to paint. After that I have to get more cavalry, KGL, and Highlanders!

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  8. Lovely stuff Peter, and I note they appear to have the same facings of the 14th Bucks.

    Your town looks superb by the way, and it is great to see it represented in something else than a clichéd Hollywood movie (to confirm that these places do actually exist).

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    1. Thanks, Lawrence.

      Yes, places like this really do exist - quite a few of them, especially in the smaller towns of New England (the population of Bridgewater is only about 1700 people).

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  9. A very fine regiment, but rather a sad regimental history - sounds like far more of them died of disease or drowning than ever were done in by the French, though to be sure, New Orleans wasn't any picnic. You did a nice job on them.
    I loved the pictures of your town - with a few allowances for architecture it could pass for a SW Ontario town. Your church reminds me of a funny moment I had in Texas this March - I was at a conference at Texas Christian University near Fort Worth and in the heart of campus they have a chapel that could be a near replica of your church. One of the patrons was a wealthy woman from New England, a Congregationalist, and she thought TCU should have a proper church!

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  10. The 85th certainly had quite a bit of bad luck - Jamaica, the Atlantic crossing, Walcheren, and heavy combat losses in Portugal and New Orleans.

    The TCU story is funny; although the minor details vary from Church to church, the basic pattern of these classic New England churches is similar, with the decoration being limited largely to geometric patterns, and stained glass and especially images of any kind being rarely seen.

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  11. The slow march toward Waterloo continues, good looking unit. I'm trying to finish up the Dutch/Belgians that I'll need.
    Nice tour of your local area, looks like a great place to live and raise a family.

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    1. Yes, I'm trying to decide whether to continue targeting Waterloo for July, or do Ligny then and save Waterloo for November (EllisCon),.

      It is a great area to live and raise a family. Expensive, however!

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