Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Volunteers of Ireland

The Volunteers of Ireland was a corps of Loyalists that was raised in Philadelphia in May 1778.  A letter from General Clinton to Lord Germain (the British Secretary of State for America at the time) suggests that the motive for establishing a regiment of loyal Irishmen was recognition that, while it had been assumed that Irish immigrants were likely to be among the most hostile to continued British rule, in fact such communities had not completely assimilated and retained some affection for "the Old Country".  Lord Rawdon, son of the 1st Lord of Moira in the Irish peerage, was given command and entrusted with raising the regiment.  Rawdon had fought at Bunker Hill as a lieutenant in the grenadier company of the 5th Foot, and his actions there resulted in promotion to a captaincy in the 63rd Foot.  Whether Rawdon succeeded in recruiting only Irishmen is unclear - Clinton's letter refers to the regiment containing 380 deserters from the Continental Army.  The regiment also incorporated men from the Roman Catholic Volunteers, a unit raised in October the previous year but which was having discipline problems.

Here's what the original recruiting notice of May 1778 said:

ALL Gentlemen, Natives of Ireland, who are zealous for the Honour and Prosperity of their Country, are hereby informed, that a Corps, to be stiled the VOLUNTEERS of IRELAND, is now raising by their Countryman, LORD RAWDON.

Those who wish to seize this favourable Opportunity, of manifesting their Attachment to their Native Land, are desired to apply to Captain BOURNE, at his Quarters, opposite to Coenties Market-place, or to Lieutenant MOFFAT, at the Lines, Kingsbridge; Lieutenant BINGHAM, Long-Island; Lieutenant DALTON, Powles-Hook, or at Mr. DEAN's, at the Sign of the Ship, near the Fly Market, where they shall be honourably entertained.
Any person who shall bring an approved good Recruit, shall receive Half a Guinea for each.
Good Men of any Country will be received.

GOD SAVE THE KING

The VoI was placed on the American establishment as the 2nd American Regiment in May 1779.  The regiment saw action at Camden, where one of its sergeants was decorated for bravery, Hobkirk's Hill and then in the relief of the siege of Fort Ninety-Six.  The regiment remained in South Carolina for the duration of the war, and after the surrender at Yorktown was shipped to New York.  In December 1782, the regiment was put on the British regular establishment as the 105th Foot.  The troops were taken to Nova Scotia where they settled.  Rawdon's career continued to flourish - he served as Governor-General of India for 10 years from 1812 and died in 1826, whilst Governor of Malta.

In the published "British Grenadier!" scenarios, the VoI appear twice - 30 figures for Camden and 20 for Hobkirk's Hill.  I decided to stick with 20 figures after I'd already based the first batch on a base of 6 (the Camden scenario in the first "British Grenadier!" scenario book is enormous, so I've largely used unit strengths from the other scenarios - if a Camden game ever looks imminent I can easily paint up another 10 figures); so I used a 20x50mm base for the last 2 figures (the frontage is a couple of mm too large, but who's going to notice).  These are Perry Miniatures figures, of course, and wear the "Brandenburg coat" uniform that the regiment is thought to have worn.  The uniform is quite fiddly to paint, and I found the harp motifs on the caps particularly difficult.  Sources differ on whether the caps hat white tape around the front edge - I decided to leave that out, but added silver tape to the command figures.  Much of the VoI uniform is conjecture, including these lovely GMB flags, I assume.  These are pretty figures, but ultimately the regiment is unlikely to see much action on the tabletop.

20 figures.  Painted June-August 2016.  Flags by GMB.






13 comments:

Dalauppror said...

Stunning !!!

Jason said...

Truly wonderful! Your painting is top notch. I can see that I am going to have to get a unit of these fine looking fellows.
Best wishes,
Jason

Christopher(aka Axebreaker) said...

Lovely looking regiment Giles and of course great background write up as well.

Christopher

paulalba said...

Really nice Giles, great not of history to!

Andy McMaster said...

Yet another very nice unit, Giles. Always good to see your work.

painterman said...

Lovely paintwork Giles - didn't get to paint the harps on the hats of my VOI !

Simon Jones said...

Superb! Mine lie unpainted still...

Dannoc said...

A very fine unit - great brushwork.

David said...

Fine work once more Giles!

Phil said...

Nice post and wonderful painting!

Stacky said...

I was thinking of painting up this regiment and your superb paint-work has inspired me to do it in 2017. Does GMB have specific flags for this unit or have you just used standards from one of their green-faced line regiments from their catalogue?

AJ (Allan) Wright said...

They look snappy with their hunter-green facings.

Giles said...

Thanks for your comments, chaps. Stacky - yes, GMB have specific flags for this regiment, although I think the designs are pretty conjectural. The pack is one of the last codes in the range, I think.