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|Militia movements and Numbers
Written by Captain Everett
(3/7/2003 6:42 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Thanks, Jason!, penned by Caroline
Thank you Caroline and others. I was working on a general overview of the Wars, etc. Thus, I didn't want to get into too much detail with the movements of the various militia units, even if that might have brought them into direct contact with JA. (Another project I suppose.)
In February of 1793, the Oxfordshire Militia was moving towards the Channel coast to help guard against invasion. It's first halt was at Newbury (Bershire) for two weeks. On Feb. 21 it moved on to Whitechurch and Overton. Henry was commissioned on April 8, 1793 and joined the regiment in Southhampton. In the spring, four companies spent ten days escorting a thousand French prisoners to Salisbury (each moving seperately with 250 men). The Oxfords were at Waterdown Camp in July. They moved to Brighton in August, staying three months. On Nov. 14 it moved to winter quarters in western Sussex: Petworth (HQ), Midhurst and Arundel.
On May 16, 1794 the Oxfords were ordered to Portsmouth, and the very unhealthy Hilsea Barracks (located in swampy ground). During the summer they moved to camp at Portsea for two months. In September to Portchester Castle (site of a large prison camp); later to Netley Camp, near Southhampton. In November they moved to eastern Hampshire: Petersfield (HQ and 4 coy.), Alton (3 coy), and Alresford (2 coy). On January 20, 1795, the Oxfordshires moved into their new barracks at East Blatchington on the south coast of Sussex (about ten miles east of Brighton). Unfortunately, the building was not complete, and lacking most of the necessaries and conveniences necessary for comfort which gravely effected its morale (leading up to the Mutiny).
The South Devons: three of the eight companies were quartered in Basingstoke in the winter of 1794-95. As you say, doubtless their officers attending some of the Assemblies. Their Colonel, John Tolle was the MP for Devonshire. As militia officers had to have at least half of the required property within the "home" county, most would have had land in Exeter. They spent at least two winters here.
] The Derbyshires being in Hertfordshire in 1794-95 is also quite well established, so that Mr Darcy would have known many of the officers personally, as Wickham , we are told, did.
Yes, in the winter of 1794-95 the HQ was in Hertford, with its nine companies billeted in the surrounding communities.
The Surrey Regiment, formed at Chapham Barracks in 1792, spend the winter of 1794-95 at Porchester Castle (Hampshire); then Hull and Beverley (Yorkshire) for two years.
As barracks were completed and properly outfitted through 1795 there would not be the same need to spread the regiments about, resulting in less contact with the civilian population.
] I wonder if it's common knowledge just how big the "whole campful of soldiers" was at Brighton.....
Clive Caplan, in his article on Henry Austen and the Oxfordshire Militia in JASNA's "Persuasions" gave 10,000 as the number for the entire Brighton garrison attending the execution of the mutineers.
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