Martinique 1809

The British regiments storm the strong French defences on the island of Martinique in this contemporary watercolour. The reproduction is taken from the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research vol XX no. 77 (Spring 1941). It was one of three pictures on this subject found at the Parker Gallery in London by W Y Carman. The signature on the painting appears to be Thos. Driver. The regiments are not identified but some soldiers have yellow facings which were worn by the 13th at that time. Other regiments present were the 15th and 46th who also had yellow, and the 7th 8th 23rd and 25th who had blue facings. The scene may represent the storming of Fort Desaix. The French redoubt is well prepared, with a deep ditch that has a spiked wooden palisade. This has not deterred the brave individuals who have reached the top of the redoubt to tackle the defenders. One officer holds his regimental Colour aloft to encourage his men. The uniforms at this time consist of a waist-length red jacket with tails, buttoned down the front, white overalls which button down the side, and the stove-pipe shako worn between 1806 and 1812. The regiment were not light infantry at this time so there would have been three types of plume on top of the shako: red and white for battalion companies, white for the grenadier company and green for the light company.

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by Stephen Luscombe