Essex Regiment & Essex Militia History

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Richard Sharpe - South Essex Battalion

Richard Sharpe and the South Essex Battalion are both fictional creations by Bernard Cornwell in a series of books which were used as the base for a successful TV series called Sharpe.

In the books Sharpe joins the 33rd Regiment of Foot as a private before receiving a field promotion to ensign in the 74th Regiment.

Sharpe later transfers to the 95th Rifles and for most of the books is in various command positions in the South Essex Regiment.

The books concentrate on the Peninsula Campaign of the Napoleonic Wars during which mirrored the real 44th East Essex Regiment who took a similar route to the fictitious South Essex including taking the French Eagle that is proudly displayed at the Regimental Museum in Chelmsford.

The author Bernard Cornwell was adopted by a family who lived in Thundersley, Essex near to the Essex Marshes that were the setting for the book Sharpe's Regiment and would have seen the Napoleonic war fortifications along the Essex Coast including Tilbury and Coalhouse Forts that were vital links in the nations defence.

Several real Essex locations such as Tilbury Fort were used during filming of the series although in fact neither of the Essex Regiments were actually stationed at the fort.

Tilbury Fort is open to the public and well worth a visit to illustrate Napoleonic defensive buildings and make the difficulties of assault clear.