The Royal Irish Regiment

Clement Alexander Edwards CB

The photographer James Robertson took this photo of Lt-Col Edwards sitting in a chair amongst the officers of the Royal Irish Regiment at Sebastopol in May 1856. All the officers wear undress, either frockcoat or shell jacket and the undress cap with peak. The CO is the only one in his dress tunic with medals. He had a reputation as a stern disciplinarian and one soldier described him: 'Our old Colonel was a very proud man and he would glory in seeing a man flogged, especially if he thought he was a bit stubborn, and while the flogging was going on he would growl and grumble at the flogger for not hitting harder.'

Edwards was born in London on 13th Nov 1812 so would have only been 44 at the time of the photo. His father was Col C M Edwards, Military Secretary to the Duke of York. Young Clement went to Sandhurst at the age of 14 and passed out first on the list. He was commissioned into the 18th Royal Irish on 11th June 1829 and served with them through the China War of 1840-42 and afterwards was appointed AQMG to the force in China. He next served in Burma with the 18th. In Jan 1853 he led an expedition on special service from Prome to Arracan. In the Crimean War he was with the regiment from 30th Dec 1854 and was promoted to Brevet of Colonel and put in command from 9th March 1855. He took the regiment to Mhow in India but after the Mutiny he exchanged to the command of the 49th Regiment where he was in command until August 1863. He was inspector-General of Recruiting from July 1867 to Aug 1873. On 25th Mar 1877 he was appointed Colonel of the 18th, being promoted to full General in 1878, and held the post until his death on 29th July 1882.

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by Stephen Luscombe