The year 1660, in which H.M. King Charles II returned from exile to the throne, is known as the year of the Restoration. It also marks the birth of the Regular Army of our country.
The Army was kept very small in time of peace, and new regiments were raised for war, instead of, as in the war of 1914-19, new battalions being added to already existing regiments. The new regiments, or those considered surplus to requirements, were disbanded at the conclusion of hostilities.
In those days, and in fact, up to 1881, as will be told presently, regiments did not use territorial titles, but were known until 1751 by the names of their Colonels, and then by their numbers officially, as well as only in the sense in which we still say " the 43rd " and " the 52nd." A connection with counties and districts was established in 1782.
Thus, in 1741, the seven new regiments raised were the 54th, 55th, 56th, 57th, 58th, 59th, and 60th of the Line. The 54th, Colonel Fowke's Regiment, was detailed for garrison duty in Minorca where, in 1748, in consequence of the disbandment of eleven regiments senior to it, it was renumbered 43rd, the number which it has kept ever since.
In 1749 the 43rd returned to detachment duty in Ireland, being quartered in various stations in that country till 1757.
It should first be mentioned, however, that in those days the flank companies of each regiment were known respectively as the " Grenadier Company " and the " Light Company," to either of which it was an honour to belong; the Grenadiers being selected for their stature and physique, and the Light Infantrymen for the qualities which make the best Light Infantry soldier to-day.
As to the tactical use of the Grenadier Companies, see the following lines from " The British Grenadiers :--
" Whene'er we are commanded to storm the palisades, Our leaders march with fuses and we with hand-grenades, We throw them from the glacis about the enemy s ears. And the foe soon turn their backs on the British Grenadiers."
In May, 1757, the 43rd sailed from Cork for North America, and after a voyage of nearly eight weeks reached Halifax, Nova Scotia, and were quartered there or in detachments until the concentration of the Army under General Wolfe, in the spring of 1759, for the attack on Quebec.
It was not, however, until September 13th that the Heights of Abraham were taken by a surprise attack by the light companies at dawn. This enabled the British Army to take up its position for the battle, in three lines, the first being of six regiments with the 43rd in the centre.
Discipline, well-aimed fire of musketry, and at the proper moment a vigorous charge, led in person by the General, who received his death-wound in the fight, resulted in a complete British victory, the French being pursued up to the walls of Quebec, which surrendered on September 17th.
The casualties amounted to nearly seven hundred, those of the French to more than twice that number, and including, also, the General in command, the Marquis de Montcalm.
During the winter of 1759 the British troops were occupied in holding the ground won, remaining on the defensive until the Fleet arrived in May, 1760, but a determined attempt by the French to recover Quebec on April 28th was beaten back after a hard fight and heavy losses. September saw the capture of Montreal, followed by another winter of garrison duty until an attack on the West Indian Islands was decided upon.
In November, 1761, the 43rd sailed from New York to the Island of Barbados, and there joined the force assembled under General Monckton. Martinique was taken in January, 1762, from the French, and Havannah, the capital of Cuba, from the Spaniards in August.
Then came garrison duty in Jamaica, whence the Regiment sailed for home in March, 1764, reaching Portsmouth in July. A period of home service, remarkable for many changes of quarters, followed, until in July, 1769, the 43rd occupied the Castle at Edinburgh, and remained in Scotland for nearly five years.
In the early summer of 1774 the 43rd again sailed for America, and was encamped with the 52nd in General Gage's army at Boston until the opening of the campaign in the following spring, caused by the revolt of the American Colonists.
On April l9th, 1775, the combat of Lexington took place, followed on June 17th by the attack on the rebel entrenchments near Bunker Hill, from which the battle took its name. Here for the first time the 43rd and 52nd attacked side by side, having over two hundred casualties between them ; in fact, so stubbornly was the position defended that the British force actually lost more than half its attacking strength.
Both the 43rd and the 52nd took part in the evacuation of Boston and the capture of New York and other places in 1776; and in the victories of Brandywine River and Germantown in 1777.
In 1778 the 43rd was in garrison at Rhode Island, but was transferred to New York in 1779, and remained there until May, 1781. During this time the flank companies were detached to help in the Siege of Charlestown. Then the Regiment was sent to Virginia to join Lord Cornwallis, whose force was finally surrounded in Yorktown in October, and returned to England early in 1783.
In 1782, by the wish of H.M. King George III, regiments were affiliated with counties for recruiting purposes, and the 43rd became the Monmouthshire Regiment. Some organization on the depot principle seems to have been formed at Monmouth in 1783, for obtaining recruits, but the Regiment was in various quarters in the south of England till 1788, when it went to Ireland, remaining there till 1793.
In that year began the great war with France, and early in 1794 the 43rd arrived once more at Barbados, in time to take part in another attack on Martinique, which finally surrendered in March. The Regiment was present at the taking of St. Lucia and Guadeloupe, and remained in occupation of the latter place until, outnumbered, decimated by disease and without reinforcements, it was surrounded, and the survivors made prisoners of war. Early in 1795, however, some officers succeeded in escaping, and after an exchange of prisoners the skeleton of the Regiment returned to England to be made up to strength at Monmouth, Exeter, and other places during the next two years.
In March, 1797, again over one thousand strong, the Regiment sailed for the West Indies, but returned in 1800, and after six months in England was quartered; in the Channel Islands till the beginning of 1804.