44th East Essex Regiment of Foot

One of Wellington’s Finest!

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History of the 44th - 2

In 1803 following the resumption of war after the short lived peace of Amiens, the “Army of Reserve Act” was passed for raising men for home service and in line with other regiments, a second Battalion was added to the 44th.  This Battalion, raised in Ireland was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Nicholl and fixed at ten companies, it was destined for home duties for the next 7 years being based at the Isle of Wight and Guernsey.

On March 20th 1810, the 2/44th under the command of Lt. Colonel Charles Bulkeley, embarked for the Peninsular. After an initial stay in Cadiz, the Regiment eventually landed in Portugal on October 4th. Towards the end of December the 44th joined up with the main British army inside the lines of Torres Vedras.

Despite being present at Fuentes De Onoro and the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, it was not until April 6th 1812 as part of Leith’s division that the 2nd Battalion of the 44th took part in their first  major action - the storming of Badajoz. The 44th escaladed the walls of the San Vincente Bastion, it’s colours being the first to be planted on top of the walls. The 2nd Battalion’s casualties where considerable—losing 39 officers and men.  

Parading the Eagle at Salamanca

On the 22nd July 1812, the regiment saw action at Salamanca, Lieutenant Pearce famously taking the Eagle from the French 62nd Regiment of Line. The Battalion entered Madrid in August 1812 and afterwards marched north to take part in the disastrous siege of and retreat from Burgos. During the course of which, the regiment distinguished itself once again during the skirmishing at Vila Muriel.

By this time the 2nd Battalion had been so heavily reduced that it could only muster 130 men fit for duty.  

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