Raising of the 2/67th, 1803

The 2/67th was formed under the Army of Reserve Act of July 1803 to counter the renewed threat from Napoleonic France. The Act allowed 50,000 troops to be raised and formed into 2nd battalions of existing regiments. The Army of Reserve Act failed to produce anything like the required number of men, but the 2/67th were fortunate that, in early 1803, the 1st Battalion had enjoyed a highly successful round of recruiting in Ireland which provided a nucleus of men for the new battalion. The standard of recruits, however, was not high – one senior officer described the 1st Battalion as ‘a mass of peasants’. It is difficult to imagine recruits to the 2nd Battalion being of markedly better quality.

Another problem with these 2nd battalions was that they were not intended to serve outside the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands. Consequently, they hampered recruiting for general service at a time when the main requirement was for men to serve overseas. Eventually limited service men who would not volunteer for general service were drafted to garrison battalions or discharged. The 2nd battalions were then reconstituted with general service men, after which many went overseas.

The early history of the 2/67th is scanty, its first recorded return being from Guernsey in January 1805 which showed it being under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Gordon. The battalion complement also included two majors, seven captains, a dozen subalterns, 46 sergeants, 22 drummers and 656 rank and file, overwhelmingly Irish. In 1806 Gordon departed to the 1st Battalion and Lieutenant Colonel William Prevost assumed command of the 2/67th. Although several 2nd battalions went out to the Peninsula in 1808 the 2/67th, short of numbers, was not among them. It was not until 1810 that the battalion sailed for Gibraltar and then onward to Cadiz to reinforce the British garrison there under Sir Thomas Graham.

Further information – see C.T. Atkinson, Regimental History of the Royal Hampshire Regiment, Volume 1, pp.266-73.

Footnote: The 37th Regiment also raised a second battalion, in June 1813. However, it took part in only one major action against the French at Bergen op Zoom in March 1814 before being disbanded in 1817.

Raising of the 2/67th, 1803