Formation of the 27th Regiment of Foot
The regiment was raised as local militia at Enniskillen by Colonel Zachariah Tiffin as Zacharaiah Tiffin's Regiment of Foot in June 1689, to fight against James II in the Williamite War in Ireland. The regiment served successfully, most notably at the Battle of Newtownbutler in July 1689, and it gained a place on the English establishment in 1690 as a regular infantry regiment. As such it then fought at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, at the Battle of Aughrim in July 1691and at the Siege of Limerick in August 1691. A contingent from the regiment took part in the Siege of Namur in August 1695 during the Nine Years' War.
The regiment was deployed to the West Indies in late 1739 but returned in December 1740. It formed part of the Government army sent to defeat the Jacobite rising of 1745, participating in the Battle of Falkirk in January 1746 and in the Battle of Culloden in April 1746. At this period they were commonly known as Blakeney's Regiment after the colonel-in-chief. In 1751, the regiment was formally titled the 27th (Enniskillen) Regiment of Foot. In 1756 the regiment departed for Canada and fought against the French at the Battle of Carillon in July 1758 and the Battle of Ticonderoga in July 1759 during the Seven Years' War. It then took part in the Invasion of Martinique in January 1762 and the capture of Grenada in February 1762. It also took part in the Battle of Havana in June 1762 during the Anglo-Spanish War: the regiment suffered heavy losses and was evacuated to New York. In August 1767 the regiment returned to Ireland.
The 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Foot that fought at Waterloo, some 747 officers and men, was a regiment with a strong family tradition and recruited largely in Ireland. In fact they were the only Irish infantry regiment to be present at Waterloo. Brothers served with brothers and cousins, sons followed fathers. Most of the ordinary soldiers were Roman Catholics and a considerable number were Irish speaking. The average soldier of those days was small by modern standards. Today, the surviving uniforms look as though they were made for boys rather than grown men! The average height seems to have been about 5 foot 5 inches. These men would have been tough and fit: they marched long distances, they carried a heavy musket and ammunition, a pack and rations. They wore newly designed headgear, issued in 1812, called the Belgic shako. It was made of leather or felt, had the regimental badge in front, a peak at the crest and a feather or plume at the side.
27th in Square Formation at the battle of Waterloo
Uniforms of the 27th Regiment of Foot
History of the 27th Regiment of Foot
The 1st Battalion entered the Peninsular War in November 1812 and participated in the Battle of Castalla and the Siege of Tarragona, both in 1813. The 2nd Battalion landed in Spain in December 1812 and fought brilliantly at Castalla on 13 April 1813. While formed in a two-deep line, the unit inflicted 369 killed and wounded on the French 121st Line Infantry Regiment in a few minutes. In the same action, the entire brigade only lost 70 casualties. On 13 September 1813, the French surprised and cut the 2nd Battalion to pieces at the Battle of Ordal. In this action, the 2nd/27th lost over 360 men killed, wounded, and captured.
The 3rd Battalion disembarked in Lisbon in November 1808. It became part of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington's army and fought at many of the key battles including Badajoz in March 1812, Salamanca in July 1812, Vitoria in June 1813 and the Pyrenees in July 1813 before pursuing the French Army into France and fighting them at Nivelle in November 1813, Orthez in February 1814 and Toulouse in April 1814. The 3rd Battalion belonged to Cole's 4th Division throughout the war. At the Battle of Sorauren (Pyrenees), the 3rd/27th lost two officers and 41 men killed, nine officers and 195 men wounded, and seven men were taken, prisoner. At Toulouse, the unit lost two officers and 23 men killed, and five officers and 76 men wounded.
The 1st Battalion went on to fight at the Battle of Waterloo as part of John Lambert's 10th Brigade in the 6th Division. At about 6:30 PM, the French captured the key strongpoint of La Haye Sainte farm. After this success, they brought up several cannons and took the Anglo-Allied lines under fire at extremely close range. At this period, the 698-strong battalion was deployed in a square at the point where the Ohain road crossed the Charleroi to Brussels highway. At a range of 300 yards (270 m), the French artillery caused the unit enormous casualties within a short time. At day's end, the 3rd Battalion had lost 105 killed and 373 wounded, a total of 478 casualties, without breaking. The unit was described as "lying dead in a square". At the time of Waterloo, the soldiers of the 27th were dressed in red, short-tailed jackets, overall trousers, and a high-fronted shako. The facing colour was buff and it was displayed on the collar, cuffs, and shoulder-straps. The lace on the cuffs and jackets had square-ended loops.
Between 1837 and 1847 the 27th Regiment was engaged in several of the Xhosa Wars in South Africa. In 1840, the spelling 'Enniskillen' was changed to 'Inniskilling'. From 1854 and 1868 it served in India as part of the suppression of the Indian Mutiny and helped to maintain law and order in North-West India.
As part of the Cardwell Reforms of the 1870s, where single-battalion regiments were linked together to share a single depot and recruiting district in the United Kingdom, the 27th was linked with the 108th (Madras Infantry) Regiment of Foot, and assigned to district no. 64 at St Lucia Barracks, Omagh. On 1 July 1881 the Childers Reforms came into effect and the regiment amalgamated with the 108th (Madras Infantry) Regiment of Foot to form the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers: the "Twenty-Seventh" became the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, with the 108th (Madras Infantry) Regiment of Foot as the 2nd Battalion. The 27th was the only Irish infantry regiment (out of eight in the army) to fight at the Battle of Waterloo on the 18th June 1815, where Emperor Napoleon was finally overthrown and his dreams of world-domination dispelled forever.