The 85th Light Infantry : Chronology and Battle Honours
An outline chronology of the locations and active service of the 85th Regt. 1759 - 1881.
1759 Raised as "the Royal Volontiers" ; the first Light Infantry regiment.
1760-61 Service against Belleisle, Brittany; Seven Years' War.
1762-63 Service in Portugal ; Seven Years' War.
1779 Raised as "the Westminster Volunteers".
1780-83 Served in the West Indies.
1793 Raised as "the Bucks Volunteers".
1794-95 Campaigning in Holland & Germany; French Revolutionary War.
1795-97 In Gibraltar.
1797-99 In the U.K.
1799-1800 Campaigning in Holland.
1800 In the U.K.
1801-02 Serving on Madeira.
1802-08 In the West Indies : based in Jamaica.
1808 Converted to Light Infantry.
1809 Served on the Wa1cheren Expedition, Holland.
1811 Spain; Peninsular war.
1812-13 In the U.K.
1813-14 On campaign in Spain and Southern France.
1814-15 Chespeake Bay, Washington & New Orleans; U.S. War.
1815 85th re-styled "The Duke of York's Own Regiment of Light Infantry".
1815-21 In the U.K.
1821 Re-styled "The King's Light Infantry".
1821-31 Service in the Mediterranean: Malta and Gibraltar.
1832-36 In the U.K.
1836-38 On the Canadian frontier.
1838-43 In the U.K.
1843-46 In the West Indies.
1846-53 In the U.K. ; in Ireland during the Famine.
1853-56 In Mauritius.
1856-63 In South Africa: Cape Colony & on Natal frontier.
1863-68 In U.K.
1868-78 On service in India.
1879-80 Campaigning in the Second Afghan War.
1881 On the Natal frontier, South Africa.
1881 Returned to England; amalgamation with the 53rd Regiment.
Became the 2nd Battalion, King's Shropshire Light Infantry.
Regimental Colour of 2 KSLI with battle-honours of the 85th LI incorporated.
85th Light Infantry : Battle Honours 1759 - 1881
Those marked * were carried on the Colours
Fuentes d'Onor* 1811 Peninsular War
Nive* 1813 Peninsular War
Bladensburg * 1814 American War 1812-14.
Afghanistan * 1879-80 Second Afghan War 1878-80.
Battle Honour : FUENTES D’ONOR
Date : May 3rd - 5th 1811.
Campaign : Napoleonic War : Peninsular War 1808-14.
Regiment : 85th Light Infantry
Conferred upon 18 regiments which had been engaged in the pitched battle at Fuentes d’Onor (or d’Onoro) in May 1811. When the French under Marshal Massena withdrew from their winter blockade of Wellington’s defensive positions at Torres Vedras in Portugal and fell back into Spain, Wellington followed in pursuit. He sent one part of his army under Lord Beresford to relieve the besieged city of Badajoz; this army fought the ferocious battle of Albuhera. With the other half Wellington attempted to break the French siege of the city of Ciudad Rodrigo. Wellington’s army clashed with the French west of Ciudad Rodrigo around the village of Fuentes d’Onor (or d’Onoro) and in a very hard-fought action over two days, defeated the French and raised the siege. The 85th suffered 53 casualties during the fighting. A number of regiments which were engaged in the battle did not receive or claim the honour.
Battle Honour : NIVE
Date : Dec. 9th to 13th, 1813.
Campaign : Napoleonic War : S. France.
Regiment : 85th Light Infantry.
Granted to 33 regiments for the fighting across the river Nive at the end of 1813. Driven through the Pyrenees and across the river Nivelle in a series of hard-fought actions in the summer and autumn of 1813, Marshal Soult made one last stand using the barrier of the Nive and its tributaries. In the course of four days of severe fighting, the allies pierced Soult’s line and crossed into France. It is interesting to note that elements of the 2-53rd were present during these operations, but the 53rd (along with a number of other regiments which were more heavily engaged) did not receive the honour. The 85th lost only one man killed and 12 wounded during the fighting.
Battle Honour : PENINSULA
Date : 1808 - 1814
Campaign : Peninsular War : Portugal, Spain & Southern France.
Regiment : 2nd Battn., 53rd Regiment and 85th Light Infantry.
The general theatre award granted to 72 regiments which had served in the Peninsular War at various times between 1808 and the continuation of the war into southern France in 1813-14. Both the war-raised 2-53rd (disbanded in 1817) and the 85th Light Infantry received the honour.
Battle Honour : BLADENSBURG
Date : Aug. 24th, 1814
Campaign : Anglo - American War, 1812-15.
Regiment : 85th Light Infantry.
During the Anglo-American war of 1812-15 most of the fighting took place along the Canadian frontier, on the frontier lakes or at sea. However, by July 1814 with the Peninsular War at an end, more troops could be spared from Europe. A British column under Major General Robert Ross sailed to Chesapeake Bay and up the Potomac River and marched inland towards the newly-designated capital city, Washington. On Aug. 24th, they encountered an American army defending the route into Washington at Bladensburg. After a sharp action, in which the 85th L.I. suffered 78 casualties, the Americans were driven from the field and the British entered Washington, whose new public buildings (docks, arsenal, library, presidential offices etc.) were burned down. The battle-honour was granted to only four regiments. Two U.S. Colours - of the James City Light Infantry and the Harford Light Dragoons - which were taken by the 85th at Bladensburg now hang in the Regimental Museum in Shrewsbury Castle.
Battle Honour : AFGHANISTAN 1878-80
Date : 1878-80.
Campaign : Second Afghan war, 1878-80 (second phase, 1879-80)
Regiment : 85th Light Infantry.
This, the last battle-honour of the 85th prior to amalgamation with the 53rd in 1881, was a theatre award commemorating the general service of the regiment in the latter part of the Afghan War. In actual fact, the 85th hardly fought the Afghans at all, being engaged in frontier tribal operations, in particular against the Zaimusht tribe who had harassed lines of communication during the campaign. Nevertheless, although they did not participate in any of the larger actions for which separate battle-honours were awarded, the 85th and regiments engaged in similar work shared the hardships of the campaign and suffered the effects of disease and climate. 29 British regiments were granted this honour, in addition to a very large number of Indian units.
85th Regiment : Succession of Colonels
Dates are those of appointment as Colonel of the Regiment
Colonel John Craufurd 21st July 1759.
General the Earl of Harrington April l779.
Field Marshal Sir George Nugent, Bt., G.C.B. 1st March 1794.
Lieut. General Sir Charles Ross, Bt. 27th Dec. 1805.
General Sir Charles Asgill, Bt., G.C.H. 30th Oct. 1806.
General Thomas Slaughter Stanwix 25th Feb. 1807.
General Sir James Willoughby Gordon, Bt., G.C.B., etc.. 27th Nov. 1815.
Lieut. General Sir Herbert Taylor, G.C.B., G.C.H. 23rd April 1824.
Lieut. General Sir William Thomton, K.C.B. 9th Apri11839.
Field Marshal Sir John Forster Fitzgerald, G.C.B. 4th April 1840.
Lieut. General Sir Thomas Pearson, K.C.B., K.C.H. 21st Nov. 1843.
General Sir John Wright Guise, Bt., G.C.B. 1st June 1847.
General Frederick Maunsell 2nd April 1865.
Lieut. General George Camnpbell, C.B. 19th Oct. 1875.
General Amold Charles Errington 23rd Dec. 1876.
Lieut. General Percy Hill, C.B. 27th Sept. 1879.
General Sir Henry Percival de Bathe, Bt. 25th April 1880.