The Royal Corsican Rangers
The Corsican Rangers was raised at Minorca on 1 September 1799 from Corsican émigrés. By 1 October 1799, the regiment could muster 7 officers and 226 men. In July 1800 Captain, Temporary Major, Hudson Lowe 50th Foot, commanded the unit. Lowe had served in Corsica with 50th Foot from 1794 to 1796 and was regarded as the most suitable officer to command the Corps. The Corsican Rangers served in Egypt, but was disbanded after the peace Treaty of Amiens on 25 March 1802.
The Corsican Rangers was reformed on the outbreak of hostilities between England and France. On 14 September 1803 Major Hudson Lowe 7th Foot received authority to raise a corps of Light Infantry. Eleven officers of the former Corsican Rangers, including Count Francesco Rivarola, were commissioned by Lt Col Hudson Lowe to raise the
Royal Corsican Rangers on behalf of the British Crown. The men were predominantly Corsicans, mostly deserters from the French army, but Sicilians, Sardinians and Neapolitans were also recruited.
The Royal Corsican Rangers was placed on the establishment of the British Army on 25 October 1804. It was disbanded at Corfu in March 1817.
The Corsican Rangers (1799 – 1802)
1801 Corsican Rangers
1 Nov 1801 The Corsican Rangers arrived at Malta.
Strength: 212 officers and men with 187 rank and file fit for duty and two men sick in hospital.
1802 Corsican Rangers
1 Jan 1802 Strength: 10 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 14 NCOs, 190 rank and file fit for duty, 5 rank and file sick, 220 total officers and men, 220 establishment.
1 Mar Strength: 10 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 14 NCOs, 194 rank and file fit for duty, 0 rank and file sick, 218 total officers and men. The Corsican Rangers disbanded consequently to the Peace Treaty of Amiens.
1 May Strength: 10 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 14 NCOs, 193 rank and file fit for duty, 0 rank and file sick, 217 total officers and men.
Dec 1802 The Corsican Rangers embarked at Malta.
The Corsican Rangers (1804 – 1817)
23 Sep 1803 Downing Street to Villettes:
It has been judged advisable to re-establish the Corsican Corps formerly in HM Service under the command of Major Lowe, and that officer will leave Portugal with instructions to resume his former situation in that Corps and to use his endeavours under your directions to recruit it at least to its former establishment.1
1804 Corsican Rangers
May 1804 The Royal Corsican Rangers arrived at Malta.
1 Sep Strength: 11 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 5 NCOs, 255 rank and file fit for duty, 18 rank and file sick, 293 total officers and men.
1805 Corsican Rangers
10 Feb 1805 Despite several difficulties in recruiting Corsicans, by February 1805, Hudson Lowe had managed to recruit 557 men. By 1 May 1806 he had mustered 785 men, and its establishment raised to 750 men..
1 July Strength: 20 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 38 NCOs, 658 rank and file fit for duty, 54 rank and file sick, 773 total officers and men, 773 establishment.
1 Aug Strength: 11 Commissioned and Warrant Officers, 31 NCOs, 532 rank and file fit for duty, 36 rank and file sick, 612 total officers and men, 612 establishment.
On 13 August Sir James Craig said of the regiment:
I have a very good opinion of the Corsican Rangers. They are of all sizes and ages, tho none so old or so low in stature as to be unserviceable. They are active, lively and in a very fair way of training. I have desired Lieut Col Lowe to consider his corps as of Light Troops and to adapt his exercise to that service. They amount to 700 men and upwards, but cannot be counted as more than 500, the remainder being recruits of a very short standing.2
1 Nov Strength 773 officers and men with 658 rank and file fit for duty and 54 sick in hospital.
3 Nov 1805 The Royal Corsican Rangers embarked for Naples on Sir James Craig's Expedition. While on the expedition 94 men of the Royal Corsican Rangers deserted, of whom 44 were Sicilians.
- 1TNA:CO 158/15, War and Colonial Department and Colonial Office Malta, Secretary of State Despatches Military 1803-08.
- 2TNA:WO 1/293. Craig to W Gordon dated Malta 13 August 1805.
- Gregory Desmond 1996, Napoleon's Jailer. Lt Gen Sir Hudson Lowe: a life. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press