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95th rifles

95th rifles

In 1800, an "Experimental Corps of Riflemen", the 95th Regiment of Foot was raised by Colonel Coote Manningham and Lieutenant-Colonel the Hon. William Stewart, drawn from officers and other ranks from drafts of a variety of British regiments. The purpose of the regiment, was to be the sharpshooters, skirmishers and scouts of the British Army.

The riflemen wore dark green jackets rather than the bright red coats of the British line infantry regiments of that time; pantaloons, which were close-fitting breeches, rather than wool breeches; black facings and black belts rather than white; a green plume on their shakoes which the light infantry also wore, as well as other accoutrements unique to rifles regiments.

The "Rifles" were armed with the formidable, but slow-loading Baker rifle, which was more accurate and of longer range than the musket. As the Baker rifle was smaller than the musket, the Rifles were issued with a 21-inch sword-bayonet. This rifle was an accurate weapon for its day with reported kills being taken at 100 to 300 yards away. During the Peninsula War, Rifleman Thomas Plunkett of the 1st Battalion, 95th Rifles shot the French General Auguste-Marie-Fran├žois 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. By comparison, a standard issue Brown Bess musket was unlikely to hit a man-sized target at ranges beyond 80 yards.

During the Napolonic Wars they fought the Peninsula to the Baltics and finally on to Waterloo. The 95th became the Rifle Brigade in 1816.

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