Essex Regiment & Essex Militia History

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56th Essex Regiment Third Battalion

The Third Battalion was formed in 1813 towards the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

It was embodied at Horsham in November 1813 by Lt Colonel J F Brown with an establishment of 650 men.

The Battalion was earmarked for urgent deployment at the war then taking place in Holland. In view of this skilled men were required so recruitment was largely from the Militia.

Within a month the Battalion was passed fit for active service and its 400 men were part of a force of six thousand men under the command of General Bulow to embark at Ramsgate on 6 December 1813 for Holland.

On arrival they joined the Brigade commanded by General Gibbs near to Williamstadt. Other battalions in the brigade were 2nd/25th , 33rd and the 54th.

From Williamstadt the brigade moved to garrison the town of Breda and then the Battalion joined the First Division under General Cooke to move towards Antwerp in company with their allies the Prussians.

On route members of the French Army blocked their way at the village of Merxem. The Battalion together with the 78th Highlanders were ordered to take the village by a bayonet charge. This proved a success although four men were killed and fourteen wounded.

After this attack the move to Antwerp was no pressed home and the troops withdrew.

On 2 February 1814 the offensive was resumed and the Battalion was ordered to retake Merxem again. Once again they completed the task  gallantly and in doing so captured two enemy guns that has been causing problems to the general advance.

As the enemy fell back to Antwerp the Battalion were ordered to take the strategic embankment of St Ferdinand's Dyke which again they did even though they were under artillery fire.

In these attacks they lost thirteen men with one officer and twenty four men wounded.

Once again an attempt to take Antwerp was shelved with the Battalion being sent back to Breda.

In march 1814 the Battalion marched to Bergen op Zoom where the British Army attempted to storm the castle but they were used as part of the covering force and not directly involved.

Following the abdication of Napoleon the Battalion moved to Ostend where it was embarked for Deal in September 1814 and was disbanded at Sheerness on 24 October 1814 although two strong drafts remained in service and were sent to the two Essex Battalions serving in India.