General Review Observations, 1769-1784
A Perspective View of Coxheath Camp representing a Grand Review of the Army
engraved by W. Walker after a drawing by O'Neil. Published by Fielding & Walker, 1778
© Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, Brown University Library
While at home in Great Britain, Ireland, and when serving in overseas locations during peacetime, British army regiments were given a yearly General Review by a general officer (who could also be the regiment's own colonel). Although there were some significant differences between the layouts of the pre-printed General Review forms as used by the English and Irish Establishments, information recorded on those forms were generally the same:
1) Names, ranks, ages, nationalities, lengths of service, and commission and appointment dates of commissioned and staff officers.
2) General information enumerating lengths of service, heights, ages, and nationalities of the other ranks.
3) Field return, recording the disposition of all officers and men by company.
4) Return of all arms, accoutrements, and clothing. This included years of issue, condition, and what material articles were "wanting." Also listed was a one year record of the regiment's non-effective account. English Establishment regiments also accounted for one year's worth of company respites ("respitts").
5) Observations (or "Remarks") of the regiment made by the inspecting general. This included commentary regarding the general physical appearance of the officers and men and their uniforms and equipment, as well as their performance of the Manual Exercise and "Movements Evolutions Firings and Manśuvres."
The following transcripts are the complete yearly General Review Observations (or "Remarks") on the 62nd Regiment of Foot, as given by various reviewing general officers. Note: no inspections of the regiment were performed from 1776-1783, inclusive. Any bracketed text was added by the editor in order to correct or clarify words or phrases found in the original manuscripts. Spelling and punctuation are per the original documents.
Observations on His Majesty's 62d Regiment of Foot [commanded by
Lieutenant-General William Strode, made by Major-General Richard Peirson.
Reviewed at Corke, Ireland, 5 June 1769]
This Regiment on account of the great weakness of it's numbers, and the languid state of those remaining in it,
were incapable of performing any thing at the inspection
[signed] Richd Peirson
[There is no extant general review of the 62nd Regiment for the year 1770]
Lieut: Gen l [Michael O'Brien] Dilkes's Observation's on the Sixtysecond Regiment of
Foot [commanded by Lieutenant-General William Strode.] Reviewed by Him in
the Phśnix Park near Dublin on the 1st day of August 1771
Officers——Made a good Appearance.—Properly Armed and Appointed.—Saluted regularly but with too much Stifness.—Uniforms According to the Kings Regulations.—Coats too Short, & Hats too Small.
Non Commissd Offrs——Very Clean.—& Well Dressed.
Drummers and Fifers——Beat extreamly Well.—& Play Well.
Men——A Fine Size.—Young and Well Made.—Clean under Arms.—Remarkably Steady & Attentive.—Hats Well Cocked.—Black Gayters.
Cloathing——Good.—Well fitted and agreeable to His Majesty's Regulations and the patterns sealed and approved of by the Board of General Officers.
Arms——Clean and Bright.
Accoutrements——Good.—According to the Kings regulation.
Recruits——464 Inlisted Since Last Review Of Which 250 In the Ranks.—49 Unfit for the Ranks.—12 Dead.—48 Discharged.—& 105 Deserted.
Complaints——The Old Men complain of the Colonel having defrauded them of a full Cloathing.—And in Obliging them to buy Waistcoats and Breeches to another Cloathing [see The court-martial of Lieutenant-General William Strode].
Accounts——Settled to the 24th June 1770
Orderly Books——Properly kept.
Manual Exercise——Well performed and according to His Majestys last Regulation.
Movements Evolutions Firings and Manśuvres——Exactly the Same as have been Described for the 5th Regiment.
General Observations——This Regiment Shews the great Attention the Officers have given it.—They performed all their Evolutions &c with Spirit & Activeness, And will be fit for Service by the Next Year.
Barracks——Vide Report of the Barracks of Dublin, Annexed to the Observations on the 24th Regiment.
[signed] OB Dilkes
Lieut: Genl [Michael O'Brien] Dilkes's Observation's on the Sixtysecond Regiment of
Foot [commanded by Lieutenant-General William Strode.] Reviewed by Him in
the Phśnix Park near Dublin on the 20th day of May 1772
Officers——Made a good Appearance.—Well Armed.—Saluted Well.—Uniforms Conformable to the King's Regulation.—Buttons Numbered.
Non Commissd Offrs——Alert, Very Clean.—And Attentive.
Drumrs and Fifers——Beat and Play Well.—Young.—And Clean.
Men——Front Rank a Tall Size.—Center and Rear not Equal to it.—Well Dressed, the Coats Extreamly Short.—Very Steady & Attentive.—Hatts Extreamly Small, contrary to the Kings Regulation.—Black Gayters.
Cloathing——Good.—And Well fitted.
Recruits——Some Good and Young.—78 Inlisted Since Last Review.—of Which 49 In the Ranks.—10 unfit for the Ranks.—1 Dead.—4 Discharged.—And 14 Deserted.
Accounts——Not settled on Account of the Pay Master being in London Attending Lieutt General Strode's Court Martial.
Orderly Books——Properly Kept.
Manual Exercise——Extreamly well Performed, Exactly according to His Majesty's last Regulation.
Movements Evolutions Firings and Manśuvres——Exactly the Same as Described in the Observations on the 28th Regiment. [See below]
General Observations——This Regiment will Certainly be a Good One, by the Attention of the Officers to it.—As all the Movements, Evolutions, Firings and Manśuvres were Performed with Briskness and Attention.—And will very Soon be fit for Service.
Barracks——Vide Report of the Barracks of Dublin, Annexed to the Observations on the 28th Regiment [see below].
[signed] OB Dilkes. Genl
Lieut: Genl [Michael O'Brien] Dilkes's Observation's on the Twentyeighth Regiment of
Foot Reviewed by Him in the Phśnix Park near Dublin on the 20th day of May 1772.
[Note: the following transcription is from those parts which relate to the 62nd Regiment only; see above]
Movements Evolutions Firings and Manśuvres——The 28th, 44th, 49th and 62d Regiments of Foot formed in One Line.—Received the General.—Performed the Manual Exercise together.—Wheeled to the Right by Grand Divisions, and Marched past the General.—Formed in Line.—Fired twice by Sub, and Grand Divisions and Wings.—Advanced.—Fired twice by Grand Divisions and Wings.—Retreated.—Fired twice by Grand Divisions and Wings to the Rear.—Advanced in Line.—Retreated in Line.—Each Regiment formed a Column from the Center.—Advanced, and Formed the Line.—Retreated in Columns from the Center and formed the Line.—Each Regiment formed a Column from the Right.—Advanced, Formed the Line, and Fired twice by Grand Divisions.—Retreated in Column from the Left.—Formed the Line.—Each Regiment Formed a Column from the Left.—Advanced, Formed the Line, and Fired twice by Sub Divisions.—Retreated in Column from the Right.—Formed the Line.—Formed one Column by Double Grand Divisions from the Center of the Line.—Advanced, Formed the Line, and Fired twice by Grand Divisions.—Retreated in two Columns.—Formed the Line, and Fired by Battalions Once.
Barracks——Bedsteads, Bedding Utensils &ea all in Good Order.—The Barracks in the Royal Square in Dublin are in general in Good Order—The Rooms Gallerys & Stair Cses want White Washing.—Private Mens Rooms Smoak.
General [Michael O'Brien] Dilkes's Observations on the Sixtysecond Regiment of Foot
[commanded by Lieutenant-General William Strode.] Reviewed by Him in the
Phśnix Park near Dublin on the 3d Day of August 1773
Officers——Made a good Appearance.—Well Armed.—Saluted Well but with Stiffness.—Uniforms agreeable to the Kings Regulation; But much too Short and Tight.
Non Commissd Offrs——Made a Good Appearance.—Very Clean and Alert.
Drummers and Fifers——Beat Well, and Play Well.
Men——The Front Rank full Size, Rear Rank Lower, and Center very Low.—Well made.—Mostly Young Very Clean under Arms.—Well Dressed.—Extreamly Steady and Attentive.—Hats Cocked with a Foreign Pinch.—Their Hair Qued with Art.—Black Gayters.
Cloathing——Good.—But Remarkably Short and Tight, and Contrary to the Pattern approved of by the General Officers.
Arms——Clean and Bright.
Accoutrements——Good, and agreeable to the Kings Regulation.
Recruits——Young, Good Size.—58 Inlisted Since Last Review.—of Which 47 In the Ranks.—17 unfit for the Ranks.—4 Discharged.—20 Deserted.—And 3 Entertained from Desertion.
Accounts——Properly Settled to the 24th of June 1772.
Orderly Books——Properly Kept.
Manual Exercise——Extreamly well performed but rather too Quick.
Movements Evolutions Firings and Manśuvres——Exactly the Same as Described in the Observations on the 9th Regiment.
General Observations——This is a Good Regiment Marched Well. Fired Well.—And performed the Several Movements Evolutions, and Manśuvres with great Spirit.—And will Soon be Fit for Service.
Barracks——Vide Report of the Barracks of Dublin Annexed to the Observations on the 9th Regiment.
[signed] OB Dilkes.
Major General [James] Gisbornes Report of the Sixty Second Regiment of Foot
[commanded by Lieutenant-General William Strode.] Reviewed by him at
Dublin on the 14th day of May 1774
Officers——Made a good Appearance—Well Armed—Saluted Pretty Well—Uniforms Conformable to the Kings Regulation—
Non Commissd Officers——Made a good Appearance—
Drummers and Fifers——Well Taught—
Men——A tolerable good Body of Men—young and of a tolerable Size—Very Clean and Well dressed—Hats well Cock'd—And agreeable to the Kings Regulation—Black Spatterdashes According to Order—
Cloathing——Good—Well Fitted—And agreeable to the Kings Regulation—
Arms——Clean—And in Remarkable good Order—25 Firelocks bad—
Accoutrements——Very Good—And agreeable to the Kings Regulation—Except Drums which are all Bad—
Recruits——Good—96 Inlisted since last Review—24 in the Ranks—57 not in the Ranks—1 Dead—9 deserted—5 Discharg'd—
Non Effective Accot——Properly Settled to 24th March 1774—
Orderly Books——Regularly kept—
Manual Exercise——Well Performed—And Agreeable to the Kings Regulation—
Movements Evolutions Firings and Manśuvres——Described in the Report of the Twenty Second Regiment—
Barracks——Described in the Report of the Twenty Second Regiment—
General Remarks——This is a smart Well dress'd Regiment—Performed its Buseness with a good degree of Attention and Steadiness—And is fit for Service—
[signed] Ja: Gisborne MGenl.
Observations on the 62d Regiment of Foot [commanded by Lieutenant-General
William Strode] as Reviewed [by the Right Honorable Lieutenant-General
Cadwallader, Lord Blayney] at Cork on the 25th day of May 1775
Officers——Saluted well, their Uniforms very Short and their Hatts very small.
Non-Commissioned Officers——Made a pretty good Appearance. their Coats too short, and Hatts too small.
Drumrs & Fifers——Beat pretty well but differ in several of their Beats from other Regiments, and from the Army in General. The Fifers Play'd Pretty well.
Private——A Pretty good Body of Men. A Great many rather Old[.] Hatts too Small. several of the new Hatts wanting.
Cloathing——Of a good sort what there is of their Coats which are so short that I must call them Jackets.
Arms——They have been so abus'd to keep them bright, that there is not the least appearance of the Kings mark.
Accoutrements——They are in General very bad particularly the Slings, the Serjeant Sashes and Swords.
Recruits——They are but Indifferent.
Accounts——Settled to the 24th of March 1775.
Orderly Books——Pretty well kept
Manual Exercise Evolutions——Perform'd with the 11th and 54th.
Firings & Manśuvres——Column by four file from Center and Fire. Change the Front. Pass the Bridge by One Company from the Center. Repass from Flanks by Files, Advance in Battalion, Light Infantry in the Rear. Fire by Companies from the Center and Advance. take Ground to the Rear. Advance Quick,—Fire Volley and Charge.—
This Regiment has been very much drafted, are at present but very indifferent[.] they march in too open order as doe most of the Regiments at a Review[.] they doe their motions with a good deal of life but levell too high—
Note to the 1775 Review: what happened to “Poor Regiment?”
In his Uniforms of the American, British, French and German Armies in the War of the American Revolution 1775-1783 (New-York Historical Society, New York: 1926), Charles Lefferts recorded extracts from the 62nd Regiment's 1775 General Review Observations (transcribed above in full). Lefferts's presentation style was careless; he placed words or phrases out of context and sometimes outright conjured interpretations without acknowledging them as his own thoughts. In one such instance, Lefferts recorded that the 62nd was a “Poor Regiment.”
This was further popularized in Robin May's The British Army in North America 1775-1783 (Osprey Publishing, Ltd, London: 1974, reprinted 1989, 1990, 1992, revised 1997). The plate description for the 62nd Regiment soldier included a streaming quote, also supposedly transcribed from the regiment's 1775 General Review Observations. May's description was in fact taken directly from content later published in another secondary source, Hew Strachen's seminal British Military Uniforms 1768-96 (Purnell Book Services, London: ). Assuming Lefferts's commentary was likewise accurate, May fatefully decided to tack "Poor Regiment" onto the description, and the whole was presented as though it came directly from the original 1775 review. Sadly, May never consulted the original 1775 review. Nowhere throughout the 1775 General Review of the 62nd Regiment of Foot, in the observations or otherwise, was it recorded that the regiment was a poor one. Such was the product of Lefferts's careless bias, unfortunately further repeated in subsequent popular history media.
Remarks on the 62d Regiment of Foot [commanded by Major-General
Edward Mathew, made by the Honorable Major-General Alexander Leslie.
Reviewed at Dundee, Scotland, 20 September 1784].
[Note: observations made and signed by Lieutenant-General Alexander Mackay]
Officers——Well looking, Saluted well, and attentive, and were uniform in their dress.
Non Commissioned Officers——Young, and well looked.
Drummer and Fifers——Young, Beat and played pretty well.
Recruits since last Review——Young and growing, but in general low men.
Manual Exercise——The few that handled their Arms performed with great life.
Marching——Pretty well performed.
Firings——None, not sufficient number of men fit for it.
Arms——New, and in good order
Accoutrements——New, and well fitted
Clothing——New, and fitts well
Gayters——Short, long not made up
Regimental Book for entry of General Orders——Regularly kept
Regimental accounts——Properly kept.
Officers absent without Leave——None
General Observations——The officers and Non Commissioned Officers were attentive, the men well set up and well dressed, and in time, has every appearance of being a well disciplined Regiment.
[signed] Alexr Mackay Lt Genl