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Regiments of the Malta Garrison
Maltese Provincial Battalions

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The Maltese Provincial Battalions

Two Maltese Provincial Battalions of 700 men each were embodied for garrison duty under the terms of Article X of the Treaty of Amiens dated 27 March 1802. This Article stipulated that half of the 4,000 strength of the garrison of Malta had to consist of Maltese troops under their own officers. The Maltese Light Infantry and two companies of the Militia Coast Artillery were disbanded in 1802, and the men encouraged to join the two Provincial Battalions.

Also raised in 1802, were one battalion of Coast Artillery of 300 men, and one battalion of Maltese Veterans of the same strength. The Corps of Maltese Veterans consisted of four companies composed of men who had served faithfully under the government of the Knights or during the blockade of the French, and of such others who were unfit for active service. The Maltese Veterans were commanded by the Marquis Pandolfo Testaferrata, who was succeeded by Baron Pietro Paolo Testaferrata in 1811.

The Provincials replaced the Maltese Militia Regiment raised by Major General Henry Pigot in January 1801. Pigot's Militia was made up of 900 men in three divisions, each of three companies. The 1st Division of the Maltese Militia was commanded by Count De Gatto, the 3rd Division by the Marquis Parisi.

In February 1803, two battalions of infantry of 700 men each were organised into the Provincial Battalions. The men were enlisted for five years. This newly raised unit served locally as a police force and coast guard. In 1803, it was employed by Alexander Ball to repair roads, fences, and fortifications damaged by the extraordinary winter gales.

There were originally two battalions of Provincials, but in October 1806, they were consolidated into one battalion under the command of Colonel the Marquis Parisi. When the Royal Regiment of Malta was raised in 1805, the men of the Provincials were allowed to volunteer to that regiment, so that only enough men remained to muster one battalion. Thereafter, there did not remain enough men to even form one battalion which was kept up voluntarily. In 1815, there existed only 4 companies under the command of Conte Luigi Maria Gatto, who had commanded the 2nd Provincial Battalion.

The 1st Maltese Provincial Battalion (1802 – 1815)

1802 1st Provincial

Malta 1802 Disbandment of the Maltese Light Infantry. Most of the 638 discharged men were absorbed into the Provincial Battalions.

1803 1st Provincial

Malta 5 July 1803 General W. A. Villettes reported to Lord Hobart that no steps had yet been taken to raise the Maltese Levy.

Malta 24 July Villettes reported to Lord Hobart that the Maltese recruits are now assembled to the amount of about 900.1 The men were placed at Fort Manoel.

Malta 14 Sept The two Provincial Battalions were raised under the provisions of the Treaty of Amiens. The 1st Battalion was commanded by Marquis Paolo Parisi.

Malta 23 Sept Downing Street to Villettes: The progressive reinforcements called to the strength of the Maltese regiments which have already been completed (together with additions to the garrison) will enable you to add considerably to the force you had originally destined for Messina and to afford further aid in the event of it becoming necessary for the safety of the Kingdom of Sicily.1

Malta 1 Oct 1803 The 1st Bn Maltese Provincials had 427 men, 1 surgeon and 2 assistant surgeons.

1804 1st Provincial

Malta 1804 Strength: 489 men.

Malta 13 Nov 1804 Major General William A Villettes reviewed the Provincials on the Floriana parade ground. Eleven men served as marines on board the packet King George.

1805 1st Provincial

Malta 30 March 1805 Raising of the Royal Regiment of Malta which recruited most of its men from the two Provincial Battalions. Subsequently, in October 1806, the two Provincial Battalions were reduced to a single battalion under the command of Colonel the Marquis Parisi who commanded the 1st Provincials. Conte Luigi Maria Gatto commanding the 2nd Provincials was appointed commandant of the island's militia.

Malta 25 Apr 1805 Dispatch of Alexander Ball to Earl Camden dated 25 Apr 1805: The two Maltese Battalions to be consolidated into one regiment for General Service in the Mediterranean with an English Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Adjutant. The 1st Provincial Battalion was at Fort Manoel.

1806 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 1 May 1806 Maltese Provincial Battalion commanded by Lt Col Parisi had 275 men, 0 surgeon and 2 assistant surgeons.
Malta 1 Sept Maltese Provincial Battalion commanded by Lt Col Parisi had 0 surgeon and 2 assistant surgeons.
Malta Oct A General Order directed the consolidation of the two Provincial Battalions into one corps and encouraged the disbanded men to enlist into the Royal Regiment of Malta. The Maltese Provincial Battalion was commanded by Colonel the Marquis Parisi.
Malta 1 Nov Maltese Provincial Battalion had 517 men, 1 surgeon and 2 assistant surgeons.

Malta 6 Nov 1806 The pay of a surgeon in the Maltese Provincial Battalion was 4 shillings per day; that of an assistant surgeon 3 shillings a day. In 1806, it was proposed to increase this to 6 shillings for a surgeon and 4 shillings for the assistant surgeons, and to set the establishment at one surgeon and two assistant surgeons.2

1807 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Strength Maltese Provincial Battalion 1807
Date Rank and File
Fit for Duty
Sick Total
Officers and Men
Table 1: Strength Maltese Provincial Battalion 1807
1 July 1807 466 6 585
1 October 1807 442 9 551
1 November 1807 443 7  

Malta 25 Feb 1807 The men of the 2nd Provincial Battalion were placed on half-pay in consequence of the reduction of the battalion.

Malta 1 July Strength: 37 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 63 NCOs, 466 rank and file fit for duty, 6 rank and file sick, 585 total officers and men.

Malta 1 Oct 1807 Strength: 37 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 62 NCOs, 442 rank and file fit for duty, 9 rank and file sick, 551 total officers and men.

1808 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 1 Feb 1808 Strength: 37 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 62 NCOs, 443 rank and file fit for duty, 7 rank and file sick, 551 total officers and men.

Malta 1 Aug Strength: 35 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 21 NCOs, 40 rank and file fit for duty, 96 total officers and men.

Malta 1 Sept Strength: 35 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 19 NCOs, 53 rank and file fit for duty, 108 total officers and men.

Malta 1 Dec 1808 Strength: 13 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 23 NCOs, 160 rank and file fit for duty, 196 total officers and men.

1809 Maltese Provincial Battalion

1810 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 25 June 1810 Field officers present: 3; Captains present: 2; Subalterns present: 14; Rank and File (Effective): 212.

1811 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 20 Aug 1811 Conte Luigi Maria Gatto was appointed to command the battalion after Marquis Parisi resigned his commission.

Malta 25 Oct 1811 Field officers present: 2; Captains present: 0; Subalterns present: 16; Rank and File (Effective): 261.

1812 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 1812 The battalion had 249 men under the command of Conte Luigi Maria Gatto. Its HQ Coy was at Cottonera.

Malta 25 Oct Field officers present: 2; Captains present: 6; Subalterns present: 16; Rank and File (Effective): 251.

Malta 25 Dec 1812 Field officers present: 2; Captains present: 6; Subalterns present: 16; Rank and File (Effective): 249.

1813 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 25 Feb 1813 The Provincials was under the command of Lt Col Conte Luigi Maria Gatto.

Malta 25 Feb Field officers present: 2; Captains present: 6; Subalterns present: 16; Rank and File (Effective): 249.

Malta 25 May Field officers present: 2; Captains present: 6; Subalterns present: 16; Rank and File (Effective): 246.

Malta 1 June Proposed establishment on 1 June 1813 was: 1 surgeon and 2 assistant surgeons (subsequently reduced to 1 assistant surgeon) with pay of 5 scudi 6 tari (11s) for the surgeon, and 3 scudi 3 tari (6s 6d) for the assistant surgeon.
The battalion rendered valuable service during the plague of 1813.

Malta 25 Aug 1813 Rank and File (Effective): 142.

1814 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 25 June 1814 The 1st Provincial Bn was reduced to four companies.
A Corps of Veterans was raised for public duties in 1814.

1815 Maltese Provincial Battalion

Malta 16 Feb 1815 Lieut General Thomas Maitland reduced the Maltese Provincials, the Corps of Veterans and the Coast Artillery and replaced them with the Royal Malta Fencibles. The officers of the Maltese Provincials were transferred to the Royal Malta Fencibles. They continued to serve therein under the control of the Colonial Office until 1825, when the Fencibles was transferred to the British establishment and annual provision was made for it by parliament in the army estimates. The duties of the corps were restricted to Malta, and included general military duties of the garrison, the former anomalous character of a police force having been suspended. The officers commissioned since 1825 were granted their commission by the Crown.

Malta 28 Feb 1815 The Maltese Provincial Battalion was disbanded under General Order dated 28 February 1815. By March 1815, the disbanded men of the Maltese Provincial Battalion were enlisted into the newly raised Royal Malta Fencible Regiment.

The 2nd Maltese Provincial Battalion (1802 – 1806)

1802 2nd Provincial

Malta 14 Sept 1802 The 2nd Provincial Battalion was raised under the provisions of the Treaty of Amiens. It was quartered at Fort Ricasoli under the command of Conte Luigi Maria Gatto.

1803 2nd Provincial

Malta 1 Dec 1803 The 2nd Maltese Provincials had 480 men, 0 surgeon and 1 assistant surgeon.

1804 2nd Provincial

Malta 1 Jan 1804 The battalion strength was 502 men, of which 17 were sick and 11 on duty as marines.

1805 2nd Provincial

1806 2nd Provincial

Malta 1 May 1806 The consolidated Maltese Provincials was commanded by Conte Luigi Maria Gatto. It had 275 men, 0 surgeon and 1 assistant surgeon.

Malta 18 July 23 men of the Provincials commanded by Conte Luigi Maria Gatto were killed in the explosion of a gun powder magazine at Vittoriosa.

On 16 July Lt Col Bentham commanding the Royal Artillery in Malta ordered Capt Gamble, officer in charge of the artillery in the Cottonera District, through Mr Rutter, the Ordnance Commissary, to unload shells from the magazine in Vittoriosa, so as to move them to Sicily. Capt Gamble passed the order to Bdr Anderson, Garrison Gunner. Sgt Robert Anson the laboratory Sgt had been ordered to show Bdr Anderson how to draw the powder from live shells. Anderson was told to carry the shells as far as possible from the magazine previous to unloading them. The cause of the explosion was disobedience of orders by Bdr Anderson, but Capt Gamble was relieved of his command for failing to provide adequate supervision by a more senior officer.

A Court of Inquiry was held at Valletta on 21 July 1806. Gnr Robert Cresey, a member of the working party, declared that on the evening of 16 July he had assisted in the unloading of several shells in the magazine of Vittoriosa. He stated that the boxes containing the shells were opened with an iron chisel. That seeing much danger in carrying on such work in the magazine he remonstrated with Bdr Anderson who desired him to mind his own business. The magazine blew up on the 18th July killing the working party consisting of an NCO and 12 gunners.

Malta Oct 1806 There were originally two battalions of Provincials, but in October 1806, they were consolidated into one battalion under the command of Colonel the Marquis Parisi. When the Royal Regiment of Malta was raised by Major General W. A. Villettes in 1805, the men of the Provincials were allowed to volunteer to that regiment, so that only enough men remained to muster one battalion commanded by Col Parisi. Thereafter, there did not remain enough men to even form one battalion which was kept up ever since voluntarily. In 1815, there existed only 4 companies under the command of Conte Luigi Maria Gatto, who had commanded the 2nd Provincial Battalion.

References

  1. 1TNA:CO 158/15, 24 July 1803, Villettes to Hobart.
  2. 2TNA:CO 158/12, f 225, 6 Nov 1806, Scheme for the increase of pay to the Maltese Provincial Battalion in letters of Sir Alexander Ball.
  3. TNA:CO 158/18, 3 Oct 1812.
  4. TNA:WO 17/2122, 1806, War Office correspondence Malta 1806.
  5. TNA:WO 17/2119, 1803, War Office correspondence Malta 1803.
  6. Chesney A. G. 1897 Historical Records of the Maltese Corps of the British Army. London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.