Last updated: 7 July 2014
In 1793 the 88th Regiment of Foot was raised by an Irish nobleman in Connaught, a region in the west of Ireland, and the following year it was shipped to the Low Countries.
In 1795 it was deployed to the West Indies, but only two companies arrived after the rest were lost in a storm. The regiment re-formed in Jersey in 1796 and four years later moved to India, where it served in Bombay, Madras and Ceylon. In 1801 the regiment moved yet again, this time to Egypt, where it spent two years.
It was stationed in south-east England in 1803 and two years later raised a 2nd Battalion, which was posted to Scotland. In 1806 the British drew up plans for a secret attack on Buenos Aires and the 88th’s 1st Battalion was assigned to the invasion force. The battalion was then stuck on board ship for months until its arrival in Buenos Aires in July 1807. Unprepared for the urban warfare which it faced there, it had to surrender and only got back to England in November 1808, in return for British assurances that it would not attack Buenos Aires again.
In 1809 both the regiment’s battalions deployed to the Peninsula, where an officer and 20 men from the regiment volunteered to be the first party through the breach at Cuidad Rodrigo in 1812. The 88th remained in the Peninsula until the end of the campaign in 1814, so long that by 1819 70 of its men had seen 12 or more general actions. The regiment suffered so heavily in the Peninsula that 2nd Battalion had to return to Ireland in 1811 to re-recruit. It remained there until its disbandment in 1816.
In 1814 1st Battalion was sent to Upper Canada to defend the frontier against American invasion during the War of 1812. It was recalled to Europe after Napoleon’s escape from Elba but arrived too late for Waterloo and so spent 1815 as occupation troops in France.
The regiment returned to Britain in 1816 and then began four years in Ireland in 1821. Its first post-war overseas posting came in 1825, with 11 years garrisoning the Ionian Islands in Greece. The regiment spent 1838 to 1840 back in Ireland and then returned to the Mediterranean for seven years.
Next it was in the West Indies, Nova Scotia and the Crimea, before deploying to India in 1857 during the Mutiny. It remained in India until 1870. After home service, the 88th moved to South Africa to fight in the Kaffir and Zulu Wars (1879). Two years later it was merged with the 94th Regiment of Foot to form The Connaught Rangers, becoming the senior of the new unit’s two battalions.
|The Connaught Rangers|
|88th Regiment of Foot |
|94th Regiment of Foot|