Wednesday, 14 January 2015

31st (Huntingdonshire Regiment) Foot - The Young Buffs

British Units at Casa de Salinas
Division Major General Sir Alexander Mackenzie

Mackenzie's Brigade
2/24th Foot (Warwickshire Regt.)
2/31st Foot (Huntingdonshire Regt.)
1/45th Foot (Nottinghamshire Regt.)
Mackenzie's Brigade Light Battalion

Donkin's Brigade
2/87th Foot (Prince of Wales Own Irish Regt.)
1/88th Foot (Connaught Rangers Regt.)
Donkin's Brigade Light Battalion

Anson's Brigade
23rd Light Dragoon's
1st KGL Hussars

The Casa de Salinas project nears completion with the addition of the second battalion in General Mackenzie's 1st brigade, the 2nd battalion, 31st Foot, otherwise known as the "Young Buffs".

The nickname was gained around 1760, to quote The Napoleon Series with my additions

"Because of their buff facing colour they were mistaken by George II for the 3rd Foot who greeted them with "Bravo Buffs" at Dettingen. The King, on being told that they were not the "Old Buffs", but were the 31st Foot, replied, "then bravo Young Buffs".

With the beginning of the War of Spanish Succession in 1702 Colonel George Villiers was directed to re-raise his foot regiment previously raised in 1694 for the nine years war, this time as the 2nd Regiment of Marines. Ending the war under the command of Sir Henry Goring, the Marine Regiment was converted to a Line Infantry Regiment in 1713. Thirty first in the list of seniority, it was known as Sir Henry Goring's Regiment of Foot.

2nd Regiment of Marines in the War of Spanish Succession
In 1751 the Regiment was officially numbered as the 31st Regiment of Foot. On the 1st of August 1804 the 2nd battalion was reformed at Chester in response to the war with France, and in November 1808, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel William Howe Campbell, formed part of the Corps under Lieutenant General David Baird which attempted to land at Corunna in late October, but together with the 3/27th Foot ended up being diverted to Lisbon in November.

Arriving too late to be part of Sir John Moore's campaign into Spain that year, the two battalions wintered in Lisbon forming part of the small British force under the command of Major General John Cradock.

Left behind by Sir Arthur Wellesley who took command of British forces in April 1809 and marched against Marshal Soult in Oporto, the 2/31st together with the 2/24th and 1/45th are put under the command of Major General Mackenzie as his 1st Brigade in his newly formed 3rd Division.

On the 25th July 1809 they were reported with a strength of 733 men all ranks.

The first taste of action for the 2/31st happened on the banks of the Alberche Stream east of Talavera

The inexperienced 1st Brigade was caught by the onrush of French voltigeurs followed by their battalion columns.

The 2/31st, falling back on their supports, re-established their order and it was then discovered that they had paid a high price for their initiation to battle with the loss of 119 of their comrades.

The casualties were 24 dead including Captain William Lodge, five officers and 88 men wounded and 2 men taken prisoner.

The next day the battalion received its final exams as far as battle initiation was concerned, forming the second line in Wellesley's defences. The battalion suffered heavy artillery bombardment and was involved in a severe fire fight with French troops leading to the death of their brigade and divisional general, Mackenzie, together with 21 men of the 2/31st. At the end of the days fighting at Talavera the 2/31st had lost, all causes, another 131 men.

The 2/31st would go on to prove itself as one of Wellington's veteran second battalions that suffered, as did most second battalions, from an inability to maintain their strengths over time. Surviving the debacle of Albuera in 1811, by being able to rapidly form square and survive the destruction of the other battalions in its brigade, the 2/31st would continue to dwindle in strength.

The value Wellington placed on them was confirmed when four companies of the 2/31st , three companies of the 2/66th and three companies of the 29th Foot were combined to form The Provisional battalion in May 1811 following Albuera, later to become the 1st Provisional Battalion.

The 2/31st as part of the 1st Provisional Battalion would serve throughout the rest of the war ending its days before the walls of Toulouse in 1814.

My battalion is composed in the main with figures from the Xan range of British infantry with Colonel Campbell and his two Ensigns from the AB range. The colours are from GMB flags.

Sources consulted were:

Talavera, Wellington's First Victory in Spain - Andrew W. Field

Next up the 1/45th Foot (Nottinghamshire Regt.) or "Old Stubborns"


  1. Very nice work as usual! These little historical backgrounds for the units are a really great addition

    1. Hi Samuli S, thank you, glad you like it. Once the 45th are up I think we will be looking at Soanish forces plus the Casa did Salinas scenario play through