Sunday, 24 January 2016


Tom Pickrel has done a great job recreating this pivotal yet obscure unit. As he writes:

When formed by Baron von Hompesch and attached to the Duke of York's army during the War of the First Coalition, Hompesch's Chasseurs were put under the command of a Polish-born emigré officer who also commanded the Baron's Hussars:Francis de Rottenburg. Rottenburg was a cutting-edge thinker on light infantry tactics, and authored the first book on the subject.
De Rottenburg was raised in what is now Gdańsk in Poland. He spent almost a decade in the French army which came to an end with the French Revolution. In December 1795, de Rottenburg joined the British army, serving in Hompesch's Hussars, a unit of foreign-born troops. In 1794 he helped to establish Hompesch's Light Infantry (Chasseurs), which later became part of the 5th Battalion of the 60th Regiment of Foot, the first rifle-armed unit of the British Army. De Rottenburg rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the unit, and commanded it during the Irish Rebellion of 1798 and the capture of Suriname in 1799.
De Rottenburg compiled a series of instructions on the training of light troops. Originally written in German, the instructions were translated into English and published by the War Office in 1798 as "Regulations for the exercise of riflemen and light infantry". A number of other editions followed, and the book was used by Sir John Moore in training his Light Division. Rottenburg’s effect on military thinking suggests that he was an officer of higher than average acuity with a concern for thorough training uncommon among British officers.
Seen in the broader context of the evolution of rifle units in the British Army between the Seven Years' War and the early 19th century, Hompesch Chasseurs appear as the critical link between the German Jägers of the AWI and the British Rifle Brigade of the Napoleonic Wars.

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