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‘The Corpse of India’, or a Cautionary Tale of Citogenesis

This post is a sobering illustration of how readily fiction can become entrenched as accepted fact, through a process of historiographical ‘Chinese whispers’ or ‘broken telephone’.

In late August, the ‘Colonial Countryside’ project, an initiative that partners with the National Trust to facilitate discussion of colonial history, called for public interpretations of the Duke of Wellington to give more prominence to his early military service in India. In support of this reasonable suggestion, it shared a claim that the future Lord Wellington had celebrated the death of Tipu Sultan, slain during the British storming of Seringapatam (Srirangapatna) in 1799, with a contemptuous toast: ‘Ladies & gentlemen, I drink to the corpse of India.’ The anecdote was reiterated on social media by the project’s leader, Professor Corinne Fowler, as a means of emphasizing Wellington’s involvement in the British subjugation of the Indian subcontinent.

Having never encountered this quotation before, I searched for it online, and soon found that the remark is mentioned on page 354 of William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company. It is also used as the title of a chapter in this prizewinning 2019 book. I noticed, however, that Dalrymple attributed the toast to Richard Wellesley, Lord Mornington, the Governor-General of India, rather than his younger brother Arthur, the colonel of the 33rd Regiment of Foot and the future Duke of Wellington. Further investigation revealed that no other sources attributed the line to Arthur; it transpired that an individual had read Dalrymple’s reference to ‘Wellesley’ and failed to appreciate that more than one Wellesley brother was in India in 1799. I pointed out the mistaken attribution to Professor Fowler, along with the erroneous claim that the future Duke of Wellington ‘oversaw’ the assault on Tipu’s stronghold. The social media posts were consequently deleted, although no corrections were posted.

There was, however, a good deal more to the story. While investigating the origin of the ‘corpse of India’ comment, I had been disconcerted by the fact that relatively few reliable accounts seemed to mention the toast. It was quoted in the Journal of the Pakistan History Society in 1983 and the 2010 edition of India First by K. R. Malkani, but neither provided a source. Dalrymple did include a citation, albeit to another secondary work: page 39 of Abdus Subhan’s chapter ‘Tipu Sultan: India’s Freedom-Fighter par Excellence’ in A. Ray (ed) Tipu Sultan and his Age: A Collection of Seminar Papers (Kolkata, 2002).

Encouraged by several friends who were curious about the origins of and context for the remark, I consulted the book at the Bodleian Library. I discovered that, while Subhan did indeed mention the anecdote, the author failed to give a source (see below).

In fact, the only work I could find which furnished a reference for Mornington’s ostensible ‘corpse of India’ comment was Kabir Kausar’s Secret Correspondence of Tipu Sultan (New Delhi, 1980), available on Archive.org. On page 33, Kausar presented the episode as fact and cited The Sword of Tipu Sultan by B.S. Gidwani.

Yet Gidwani’s bestselling book, first published in 1976 and subsequently adapted for Indian television, was subtitled A Historical Novel about the Life and Legend of Tipu Sultan of India. Gidwani described his extensive research into Tipu Sultan’s life and times in the author’s note but unambiguously identified his book as a work of historical fiction, complete with ‘imaginative judgements’ and ‘invented’ dialogue intended to fill out his characterization of the Tiger of Mysore. I searched the 2015 edition on Amazon Preview and discovered that the ‘corpse of India’ toast was the final line in the novel.

Despite considerable sleuthing, I have not been able to find any references to such a toast prior to 1976. While I would be happy to stand corrected, it seems clear that the comment originated with Gidwani and was heedlessly copied by scholars who either did not recognise or did not bother to identify its fictional genesis. The toast’s allegorical nature was certainly not lost on critics of the novel, including a 2005 reviewer in the Indian Journal of English Language Teaching, who understood the quip as a ‘metaphorical proclamation’ illustrative of Gidwani’s authorial imagination rather than a bona fide exclamation by the historical Mornington.

The evolution of the ‘corpse of India’ anecdote from invented scene to accepted historical truth is a classic case of what Randall Munroe, creator of the xkcd comic series, has termed ‘citogenesis’. A false claim, mentioned in and repeated by ‘reliable’ sources such as books and media articles, all too easily becomes established as fact.

xkcd comic by Randall Munroe on ‘citogenesis’

Needless to say, I am not writing this post to criticize either the ‘Colonial Countryside’ project nor William Dalrymple. The former’s valuable work has often been unfairly smeared and the latter is a fine historian. I have read The Anarchy and you should too – it is a magnificent and accessible survey which deserves the ample praise it has received. No book is free from errors; I am sure mine won’t be. Dalrymple was, it should be remembered, relying on a published chapter authored by an academic – something most laypeople would consider the very definition of a dependable source.

When I shared my findings, William Dalrymple responded with grace, thanking me and and adding: ‘I rarely cite secondary sources for quotations and this is a very good illustration of why one should be very careful when doing so.’

As a PhD student presently occupied with drafting my thesis, I am fully cognizant of the fact that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to trace every scrap of evidence back to its origins, even with all the wonders of the digital revolution. Historians must inevitably rely to a greater or lesser degree upon the work of others. I consider this story a lesson in humility (There but for the grace of God…) rather than a reason for smugness. That said, it is important to verify sources wherever practicable, cite them properly, and treat unreferenced anecdotes and assertions, especially quotations that seem too good to be true, with due skepticism.

On reflection, it is not entirely surprising that the quip has been so widely parroted. The toast seems to perfectly encapsulate the arrogance and genuine rapacity of the conquerors of India. It also dovetails with a popular South Asian perception of Tipu Sultan as ‘the first among modern Indian nationalists’, to borrow a phrase from the back cover of the 2015 edition of Gidwani’s novel. The fictional anecdote’s invocation as historical evidence unfortunately reinforces this interpretation – criticized as anachronistic by the Indian-born American historian Narasingha Sil – by casting Tipu as the embodiment of India who led a doomed last stand against the British.

As public and academic debates about Wellington, Mornington and colonialism continue, I fully expect that the ‘corpse of India’ anecdote will be trotted out by well-intentioned individuals unaware of its backstory for many years to come. Yet I hope that, by laying out the origins of the remark in this blog post, I will have prevented its wholesale acceptance as fact.

The journey of the ‘corpse of India’ red herring and the phenomenon of citogenesis more broadly are disturbing reminders of the fragility of truth and the historical record. They prompt us to recognize that misinformation can be spread not only by demagogues, pranksters and conspiracy-mongers but also by people acting in good faith. Once accepted and echoed by mainstream sources, false or exaggerated claims are often exceedingly difficult to debunk. A far-fetched origin story for the Amelia Bedelia books, an American children’s series, for instance, was even believed and repeated in an interview by the author’s own nephew! To choose another example, readers of the Washington Post learned in 2018 that nineteenth-century Toronto, Canada, was widely known as ‘Methodist Rome’ on account of the prevalence of Protestant nonconformity and strait-laced morals, an anecdote allegedly mentioned in ‘all the tour books’. This unfounded piece of trivia had in fact been popularized by an unreferenced Wikipedia article created fourteen years earlier.

Readers interested in learning more about ‘citogenesis’ can peruse a list of further cases on (where else?) Wikipedia.

Eamonn O’Keeffe, September 2021

Featured image: ‘The Assault and taking of Seringapatam, 1799’; Coloured aquatint c1800 by Laminet after H Singleton. National Army Museum, Accession Number 1971-02-33-385-1

Toronto Star reports on Radelmüller’s demise

The 1815 murder of J.P. Radelmüller, lighthouse keeper and servant of royalty, forms the basis of one of Canada’s most famous ghost stories. My 2015 research on the case was featured in the 8 August 2021 edition of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.

Reporter Peter Edwards describes the tall tales surrounding the lighthouse and my efforts to distinguish fact from fiction. The story is available on the Star’s website here.

Lecture: The 1815 Murder behind Toronto’s Oldest Ghost Story

On 24 June at 2pm EDT (7pm in UK/ROI) I will be giving a lecture for the Ontario Genealogical Society (Toronto Branch) on the 1815 demise of J.P. Radelmüller, royal servant and lighthouse keeper. His death, allegedly at the hands of soldiers, forms the basis of a famous Canadian ghost story. The talk is based on my past research on the case, which was nominated for the 2016 Heritage Toronto Awards and can be found elsewhere on this website.

Those interested may register for the talk, part of a four-part speaker series entitled ‘Unusual Lives’, by clicking the following link: https://torontofamilyhistory.org/unusual-lives-online/
A recording of the lecture, along with recordings of the other talks in the series, will be available to paid registrants until July 31, 2021.

See below for the lecture synopsis:

June 24, 2:00 pm EDT: The 1815 Murder behind Toronto’s Oldest Ghost Story – Eamonn O’Keeffe

The 1815 murder of J.P. Radelmüller, keeper of the Gibraltar Point Lighthouse, forms the basis of Toronto’s most enduring ghost story. In this webinar, historian Eamonn O’Keeffe will share his research into the case, separating fact from fable. He will explore Radelmüller’s early life as a servant of royalty, consider the circumstances of his untimely death, and identify the soldiers charged with his murder. The webinar will devote extensive attention to the sources used to discern the truth behind one of Toronto’s oldest mysteries, ranging from court records and newspapers to British military muster rolls. By sharing his research methods, Eamonn will provide insight for genealogists and historians interested in researching the inhabitants of colonial York and life in early-19th-century Upper Canada more generally.

Speaker: Eamonn O’Keeffe, a Toronto native, is undertaking a PhD at the University of Oxford on military musicians during the Napoleonic Wars. He has published several academic articles and appeared as an expert on the BBC’s hit family history show “Who Do You Think You Are?” Eamonn has served as a trustee of the Society for Army Historical Research since 2016 and previously spent eleven years volunteering and working at Fort York in Toronto.

Siblings or Subordinates? – History Symposium talk

On Saturday 27 February I gave a presentation as part of the Heritage Days 2021 History Symposium. For those unable to attend the (virtual) proceedings, a recording of my talk, which explores honour, hierarchy and discipline among British army officers during the era of the Napoleonic Wars, is now available on YouTube.

Siblings or Subordinates?  Brotherhood, Hierarchy, and Discipline among Napoleonic-era British Army Officers

Although a regiment’s officer corps indeed formed an ‘exclusive club with its own distinct values’, Napoleonic-era martial masculinity was profoundly indebted to the social milieu in which most officers were bred. Gentility and politeness were considered essential for military leadership, enhancing discipline and social harmony, while preoccupation with personal honour promoted battlefield bravery. However, if some aspects of civilian elite masculinity proved germane to army life, other doctrines imported from wider society threatened military discipline. The civilian credo of manly autonomy, encouraged by a mess-room culture of fraternal camaraderie, fomented resentment of soldierly subservience, while duelling, socially expected among gentlemen, imperilled military authority and cohesion. Officers were obliged to negotiate the competing conduct codes of law, honour and martial subordination, with the limits of mess-room brotherhood and hierarchical obedience often contested and ill-defined. Was it acceptable, for instance, to challenge superiors to duel? Did rank still apply at mess? While military authorities insisted on absolute subordination, junior officers championed a vision of regimental social relations instead defined by fraternal egalitarianism. To the frustration of their commanding officers, subalterns often considered the mess a space of brotherly comradeship free from hierarchical trammels and regularly asserted their right to overrule superiors at collective meetings and courts-martial. Exploration of these contemporary points of conflict reveals both the tensions implicit within early nineteenth-century military masculinity and the influence of civilian elite culture on mess-room life.

Click on this link to view the presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Ft6r0_yFaM


New article: ‘A Natural Passion’

This Valentine’s Day, I’m very pleased to share a new publication, “‘A natural passion?’: The 1810 reflections of a Yorkshire farmer on homosexuality”. It considers a diary entry by Matthew Tomlinson which made the news last year and appears in the journal Historical Research.

The article can be accessed via this link but requires a subscription. However, I am able and willing to share a PDF with anyone who wants a copy via email.

My research on Tomlinson’s diary entry has been a diversion from the main thrust of my PhD studies into military music, albeit a very fruitful one. I hope specialists in the history of sexuality find the resulting article stimulating and useful.

I gratefully acknowledge the Arts and Humanities Research Council for funding the doctoral research which led to this discovery. I thank Rictor Norton for his advice and encouragement as well as my supervisors Erica Charters and Bob Harris, Matt Pickles at the Oxford University Press Office and the staff at Wakefield Library, especially Claire Pickering. I am also grateful to Helen Craske, Fara Dabhoiwala, Matthew Grimley, Joanna Innes, Gerard Killoran, Seth LeJacq and the two anonymous reviewers of the article for their suggestions and contributions.

Keyed Bugles and Coach Guards

Opposition Coaches at Speed, 1832 (Yale Center for British Art)

The military was the largest single employer of professional musicians in late Georgian Britain and Ireland by a country mile. The armed forces considerably expanded opportunities for men and boys to acquire musical skills and, as Trevor Herbert and Helen Barlow have argued, stimulated innovations in instrument design.⁠1

Instruments popularized by military musicians were widely employed in the amateur wind and later brass bands which proliferated in the decades after Waterloo, often comprised of working-class men under the direction of old soldiers. But the impact of military music-making on wider musical culture can also be discerned in more unexpected contexts – including the world of stagecoach transport.

Aquatint depicting traditional tin post horn from ‘The Costume of Great Britain’ by W.H. Pyne, published by William Miller, 1805: Plate 54, Royal Mail Coach (Science Museum, London)

Red-coated coach guards had traditionally blown tin post horns to announce their arrival at inns or toll-gates, producing (according to one army officer) an unmelodious and ‘intolerable blast’.⁠2⁠ But these unsophisticated instruments were frequently cast aside in the post-war years in favour of the keyed bugle, which had been patented in 1810 by Joseph Haliday, the master of the band of the Cavan Militia, and rapidly adopted by myriad regimental ensembles thereafter.⁠3 The keyed bugle boasted not only the requisite audibility but (unlike the ordinary bugle) a full chromatic range, allowing guards to entertain travellers with lively melodies on tedious journeys and thereby secure generous gratuities.⁠⁠4 Although musical competence among coachmen varied widely, able performers achieved considerable renown along their routes, drawing eager listeners ‘to the windows and doors of their houses’ as they played their way through the countryside.⁠5⁠ Musically-inclined coach guards were also acutely audible in late Georgian cityscapes, participating in civic processions and entertaining ‘very numerous’ audiences outside inns while waiting to depart. The London artisan and social reformer Francis Place, for example, described several guards joining in waltzes and ‘fashionable airs’ from their respective vehicles around Charing Cross on a sunny summer morning in 1827.⁠6 Accomplished performances on the keyed bugle were an advertised selling point on some services, with knowledge of the instrument becoming a common job requirement for coach guards.⁠⁠7

Keyed bugle manufactured by Joseph Greenhill (St Cecilia’s Hall Music Museum, Edinburgh Acc. No. 3741)

Unsurprisingly, some of these musically-trained transport workers had honed their skills in the military. One coach guard, who ‘always attracted much attention’ by blowing his bugle through central Manchester, had previously served as a musician in the Grenadier Guards.⁠8⁠ Indeed, the keyed bugle craze among coachmen owed much to the enterprise of an old soldier, Joseph Greenhill, a London-based teacher and maker of the keyed bugle. Formerly the bugle-major of the Shropshire Militia and a virtuoso performer in his own right, Greenhill was reportedly the first to introduce Haliday’s new-fangled horns on coaching services. Having aggressively developed the market and manufactured thousands of bugles, he enjoyed a roaring trade catering to coach guards until his death in 1836.⁠⁠9

The coming of the railways undermined the coaching industry soon after, while new valved brass systems imported from the Continent, adopted and publicized by regimental bands and ex-servicemen such as John Distin, rendered Haliday’s instrument obsolete by the 1840s. Yet the cheery bugle solos of passing coachmen elicited considerable nostalgia from Victorian writers, and were even credited by one commentator in 1853 with better attuning ‘the ears of the masses’ to the correct musical scales.⁠⁠10 As the keyed bugle’s ubiquity in the coaching trade suggests, the technologies, repertoires and musical forms developed or inspired by martial musicians and armed conflict – from the brass band to the battle piece – were embraced and reimagined by civilians in contexts as disparate as radical political rallies and fashionable drawing rooms. The entrepreneurial spirit of Joseph Greenhill, moreover, was by no means atypical of discharged regimental bandsmen in the post-war decades. These men moved between civilian and military spheres with relative ease, carving out varied careers as street performers, amateur band leaders and retailers, developing controversial piano teaching methods and even making their mark as opera singers on the London stage. In music as in so many other areas, war and culture were intertwined: state and elite investment in military ensembles, combined with the ingenuity of individual ‘musical warriors’, spawned technological innovation and helped stimulate the nineteenth-century expansion of popular music-making.

Images: ‘North Country Mails at the Peacock, Islington’ by James Pollard, 1821 and ‘The Birmingham Tally-Ho! Coaches Passing the Crown at Holloway’, 1828 (Yale Center for British Art)


1 T. Herbert and H. Barlow, Music and the British Military in the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 2013), p.85. Wartime coachmen had occasionally experimented with more sonorous alternatives, not always with felicitous results: a guard on the Derry mail coach in 1810 delighted passengers by playing the clarinet but was thrown from the roof and killed instantly. See J. Gamble, Society and Manners in Early Nineteenth-Century Ireland, ed. B. Mac Suibhne (Dublin, 2011), p.179.

2 Journal of an Officer in the King’s German Legion… (London, 1827), p.41.

3 R.T. Dudgeon, The Keyed Bugle, 2nd edn (Lanham, MD, 2004), pp.14-16; J.B. Logier, Logier’s Introduction to the Art of Playing on the Royal Kent Bugle (Dublin, [1813]), p.5.

4 Dudgeon, The Keyed Bugle, p.34; Morning Post, 27 September 1825; United Service Journal (February 1837), p.198.

5 [H.E.] Malet, Annals of the Road or Notes on Mail and Stage Coaching in Great Britain (London, 1876), p.44; J. Cossins, Reminiscences of Exeter fifty years since (Exeter, 1877), p.54.

6 F.E. Witts, The Complete Diary of a Cotswold Parson: The Diaries of the Revd Francis Edward Witts, ed. A. Sutton (10 vols, Chalford, 2008), vol. iv, p.188; Malet, Annals of the Road, p.41; United Service Journal (May 1837), p.70; British Library, Add MS 27828, Francis Place: Collections on manners and morals, vol. iv, 25 July 1827, p.7.

7 Western Times, 13 August 1842; Bell’s Life in London and Sporting Chronicle, 31 January 1836; Freeman’s Journal, 5 May 1836.

8 J.T. Slugg, Reminiscences of Manchester Fifty Years Ago (Manchester, 1881), pp.212-213.

9 D. Lasocki, ‘New Light on the Early History of the Keyed Bugle, Part 2: More on England and Ireland; The United States’, Historic Brass Society Journal, 22 (2010) pp.22-23; Morning Advertiser, 16 August 1827; Bell’s Life, 31 January 1836; Morning Advertiser, 2 April 1836.

10 Musical Times, 1 March 1853, p.149; C.T.S. Birch Reynardson, ‘Down the Road’, or, Reminiscences of a Gentleman Coachman, 2nd edn (London, 1875), p.208.

Band of the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers, 1838

Michael Angelo Hayes, Band of the 23rd Fusiliers, 1838 (Yale Centre for Brit Art), poss at Kilkenny

I hope my readers are faring as well as can be expected during the current lockdown. I am holed up in Oxford at the moment, working on writing up a chapter for my PhD thesis.
I figured I would share this beautiful 1838 watercolour by Michael Angelo Hayes, now held in the collections of the Yale Center for British Art. The depiction dates from a few decades after my main period of interest, but is a lovely image that I thought was worth sharing. The wooden music stand is an especially interesting feature, and a reminder of the sort of investments made by army officers to enhance their regiment’s musical offering. The setting is Kilkenny Barracks in Ireland. Now known as James Stephens Barracks, it is still used by the Irish Defence Forces. I was lucky enough to be given a guided tour of the place in the autumn of 2018.

Matthew Tomlinson’s diary

Today’s been a busy day for me so far: it began with an interview on BBC Radio Four’s Today Progamme and has since then been packed with media correspondence and calls, interspersed with much-appreciated messages of support and congratulation from friends.

The reason for all the hubbub is my discovery of a passage from the 1810 diary of Yorkshire farmer Matthew Tomlinson, which I uncovered quite by chance in Wakefield Libraries. Reflecting on news reports of the execution of a naval surgeon for sodomy, Tomlinson suggested that homosexuality is innate and should not be punished by death. Despite their ultimately inconclusive nature, his comments indicate that recognizably modern attitudes towards human sexuality were circulating in British society more widely – and at an earlier date – than is commonly assumed. It seems especially fitting to share this find in February, the UK’s LGBT History Month.

On 14 January 1810, Tomlinson wrote: “it appears a paradox to me, how men, who are men, shou’d possess such a passion; and more particularly so, if it is their nature from childhood (as I am informed it is) – If they feel such an inclination, and propensity, at that certain time of life when youth genders [i.e. develops] into manhood; it must then be considered as natural otherwise, as a defect in nature”. Either way, “it seems cruel to punish that defect with death.” This inference sparked solemn religious introspection, as Tomlinson struggled to understand how a just Creator could countenance such severe penalties for a God-given trait: “It must seem strange indeed that God Almighty shou’d make a being, with such a nature; or such a defect in nature; and at the same time make a decree that if that being whome he had formed, shou’d at any time follow the dictates of that Nature with which he was formed he shou’d be punished with death.”

To find out about the discovery of the passage, its context and wider significance, consider reading the BBC News article on the find (“The 200-year-old diary that’s rewriting gay history”) or the University of Oxford’s press release. My own comments on Tomlinson’s diary can be found on the University’s Arts Blog – “How I made a remarkable discovery in LGBT history – by mistake!” See below for a full transcript of Tomlinson’s comments on homosexuality.

IMG_0142.jpeg
Speaking with Claire Pickering (Wakefield Libraries) and Sean Coughlan (BBC News) last week in Wakefield.

Wakefield Local Studies, 920:TOM, Journals of Matthew Tomlinson of Doghouse Farm
pp.1049-1050 – 14 January 1810: “Was this week sencibly affected in reading the behavior, and execution of a Mr Dixon Taylor, surgeon on board the Jemaica [sic] Westindia-man for an unnatural crime: a man of great genious, and a ready turn of wit: it appears a paradox to me, how men, who are men, shou’d possess such a passion; and more particularly so, if it is their nature from childhood (as I am informed it is) – If they feel such an inclination, and propensity, at that certain time of life when youth genders [i.e. develops] into manhood; it must then be considered as natural otherwise, as a defect in nature – and if natural, or a defect in nature; it seems cruel to punish that defect with death. But if it first takes its rise in the human mind from a viciated, and corrupted inclination; and by cherishing and encouraging such a propensity or inclination it becomes habitual, then it is upon such premises worthy of capital a severe punishment: It must seem strange indeed that God Almighty shou’d make a being, with such a nature; or such a defect in nature; and at the same time make a decree that if that being whome he had formed, shou’d at any time follow the dictates of that Nature with which he was formed he shou’d be punished with death. Now we do not see any symptoms of such a propensity in the brute creation: male invariably seeks the female, and that is the only argument which causes me to think that it is first formed from a visiated [sic] principle. Now as life is very desirous to all animated beings, I think it would be no reproach to the legislative power, were they to mitigate the punishment which is executed upon rapes, and sodomy, from death to casteration [sic]: as I shou’d suppose that if a man was casterated [sic], he wou’d neither have power, or feel inclination to commit such a crime a second time, and he might perhaps become a useful member of society: but when he his [sic] punished with death, we are certain that he cannot do either any more hurt or good; whereas if he was only casterated [sic], it wou’d be equally put out of his power to commit the same evil, and there wou’d be a great possibility of him doing much good.”

Change for change’s sake: Sir John Moore on the 95th Rifles

I am currently on a train returning from Cambridge, having presented a paper on duelling, honour, and military law at an eighteenth-century graduate seminar yesterday afternoon. I stayed over with a friend last night and consulted a few Napoleonic-era collections this morning at the Cambridge University Library.

Besides a few welcome anecdotes of duelling officers and military musicians, I chanced on a set of December 1803 inspection reports written by Major-General John Moore, including one for the iconic 95th Rifles. I am not an expert on Moore’s Shorncliffe system or the early years of the 95th, but found the report intriguing as it casts this revered and supposedly revolutionary regiment in a rather unflattering light. Moore took a dim view of most of the officers, decrying their willingness to indulge in ill-considered innovations simply to differentiate themselves from the rest of the army. According to Moore, these ‘eternal changes’ resulted in inconsistent practices and unpolished manoeuvres.

“The five companies of the 95th (Rifle) Regt. are a very active, stout body of men, perhaps the best for service in the Brigade…there is a good military spirit in the corps, to do their duty & to distinguish themselves. A desire to form something quite different from the rest of the Army, without having sufficiently considered, or previously determined in what the difference was to consist, has prevented the Regt. from being formed upon any one system. The eternal changes which have been made, have occasioned inaccuracy in drill, & uncertainty in movement. Lt-Col Beckwith is not an intelligent officer, nor is he calculated to command a light corps, nor are the other field officers I have seen good exercising officers, or expert with their men in the field. Thus, good materials have not been made the most of – but still there are some good officers in the 95th. The non-commissioned officers and men are intelligent, and it is a corps which will be useful, & do its duty upon service.” [signed] Major-General John Moore

Source: Cambridge University Library, Sir John Moore Papers, MS Add.9340/1, Major-General J. Moore to General Sir D. Dundas, 30 December 1803, pp.39-40.

Bugler 95th c 1809 by the square peak.jpg