The British Army raised foreign troops at the outbreak of the Crimean War to augment the infantry regiments of the Line. The men were recruited in accordance with the Enlistment of Foreigners Act 1854, and the troops became collectively known as the British Foreign Legion.
In 1855 recruitment started into the British German Legion, the British Italian Legion, and the British Swiss Legion. A total of 14,000 men were recruited, although none saw active service, and all were disbanded after the war with Russia.
In 1861, Surgeon Major Thomas Wood in his diary Account of a journey from Khanpur (Cawnpore) to Malta had this to say of the Italian Legion:
A few years ago the vindictive character of the Maltese was exhibited in the brawls they had with the soldiers of the Italian Legion, which was stationed in Malta during the Crimean War. Most of the Maltese of the lower class carry knives generally in a sash around their waist, and these are freely used when their blood is up.
The Italian Legion were a turbulent set, mutinied in 1855 or 56 and marched out to an old castle, where they took up their position. However, they were checkmated when they found that during the night a battle ship of the line or two, had been quietly brought quite close to them, with broadsides bearing directly upon their retreat, and so rendering their destruction certain if they offered any further resistance.