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The History of the Rifle Brigade (the Prince Consort’s Own) Formerly the 95th

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The History of the Rifle Brigade (the Prince Consort’s Own) Formerly the 95th by William Henry Cope
(Illustrated Edition)

The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort’s Own) was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army formed in January 1800 as the “Experimental Corps of Riflemen” to provide sharpshooters, scouts, and skirmishers. They were soon renamed the “Rifle Corps”. In January 1803, they became an established regular regiment and were titled the 95th Regiment of Foot (Rifles). In 1816, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, they were again renamed, this time as the “Rifle Brigade”.

The unit was distinguished by its use of green uniforms in place of the traditional redcoat, as well as being armed with the Baker rifle which was the first British-made rifle accepted by the British Army in place of smooth-bore muskets—and the first regular infantry corps in the British Army to be so. They performed distinguished service in both the First and Second World Wars. The regiment was amalgamated with the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) and the King’s Royal Rifle Corps to form the Royal Green Jackets on 1 January 1966.

Four months after its formation, the Rifle Corps was judged ready for its first operation. On 25 August 1800, three companies, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William Stewart, spearheaded a British amphibious landing at Ferrol, Spain, where the Rifles helped to dislodge the Spanish defenders on the heights. Despite this, the expedition was defeated and withdrew on 26 August 1800. In April 1801, one company of the Experimental Corps of Riflemen, under the command of Captain Sidney Beckwith, took part in the British victory at the Battle of Copenhagen, as marksmen aboard Royal Navy ships that were under the overall command of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson. During the battle, the Rifle Corps suffered one lieutenant killed, its first officer to fall, and two other ranks killed and six wounded, some of whom died later.

The 1st Battalion was renamed the 3rd Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade in 1958 and was amalgamated with the 1st Green Jackets (43rd and 52nd) and the King’s Royal Rifle Corps to form the Royal Green Jackets on 1 January 1966.

The regimental collection is held by the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum which is based at Peninsula Barracks in Winchester.

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