Fire & Retire !

First hand accounts from
the Napoleonic Wars.

The Iron Duke - Wellington. Napoleon Bonaparte.



About these pages.


The distinctive uniform of the 95th (Rifle) Regiment of Foot. The title of these pages "Fire and Retire" was inspired by those words which were one of the commands of the 95th (Rifle) Regiment of Foot1See the Box with Green text below. In addition to being armed with the Baker Rifle 2See the Box with Green text below. and a Rifle-Sword-Bayonet 3See the Box with Green text below. they were distinctive in that they had a green uniform so that they could blend into the countryside rather better than their red-coated fellow infantry soldiers.

As the Rifles were 'sharpshooters' they were best utilised as the vanguard - in close contact with the enemy and picking off any officers that they saw or else as the rearguard, once again in close contact with the enemy. It was at this point that the "Fire & Retire" command was most likely to be issued ... in other words, fire your shot and immediately retreat to a safer place and reload - ready to fire again.

In "Fire & Retire" there are four sections: "Anecdotes", "Campaigns", "Diaries" & "Appendices" in addition to this 'Introduction'. Each of the Book Sections contains as accurate a copy of the text of the books as my typing, and eyesight, allows - any errors are mine!  I have not "corrected" the original spelling or punctuation - remember that the books are about 200 years old !

1 In 1800 'The Experimental Corps of Riflemen' was formed. Three years later it became known as the '95th (Rifle) Regiment of Foot' and continued with that name until 1816 when it was renamed the 'Rifle Brigade'.

2The Baker Rifle: The new regiment was armed with the Baker rifle which, though it took two or three times as long to load and required a non-standard calibre of ball (leading to supply problems), it was considerably more accurate and effective at a longer range than the standard issue 'Brown Bess' musket of the line regiments and regular light infantry companies. A a standard issue 'Brown Bess' musket was unlikely to hit a man-sized target at ranges beyond 80 yards. The Baker Rifle was an accurate weapon for its day with reported kills being taken at 100 to 300 yards (270 metres) away. During the Peninsula War, Rifleman Thomas Plunkett of the 1st Battalion, 95th Rifles shot the French General Auguste-Marie-François Colbert at a range that may have been even greater. He then shot a second French officer who rode to the general's aid, proving that this was not just a lucky shot.

3The Pattern 1800 Baker Sword bayonet had a flat, unfullered 24 inch blade, (Further note: A "Fullered" blade is one with a so-called 'Blood Groove'), ribbed brass grips, a brass knuckle-guard and was carried in a leather and brass scabbard. The means of attachment of this bayonet was a bar brazed to the barrel which engaged with a mortise slot on the hilt of the bayonet and was held in place by a sprung locking bolt operated by a press-stud. This method (with some modifications) was later to be adopted almost universally for the attachment of bayonets.

About Copyright of books that are very old, say 200 years or so: Works created before the existence of copyright and patent laws also form part of the public domain. The Concept of copyright originated in Britain with the Statute of Anne (Short Title "Copyright Act 1709 8 Anne c.19"; Long Title "An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, by vesting the Copies of Printed Books in the Authors or purchasers of such Copies, during the Times therein mentioned". It was enacted in 1709 and entered into force on 10th April 1710. The Statute of Anne was the first real copyright act, and gave the authors rights for a fixed period, a fourteen year term for all works published under the statute, after which the copyright expired.


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Researched & Compiled by Way-Mark.

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Updated: 15th June, 2011.
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