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Thread: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

  1. #1

    Default British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    Whilst researching the quality of Croatian troops in Austrian service for the 'Austria' thread, I came across these proposals for the formation of a regiment of Croatian volunteers on the island of Vis by the commander of the British Garisson.
    From Lt.Col.Robertson Commander of the British military garrison on the Adriatic island of Vis, on his plans to raise a regiment of Croatian soldiers on Vis, which was then known as Lissa:

    "My Lord, In consequence of the state of Dalmatia and Croatia at this moment as well as the evident inclination of many of the inhabitants of those countries, who are so remarkable as a robust and brave race of people, to enter into the service of Great Britain.

    I am induced to propose the raising of a Regt. in this island, which I make no doubt I can accomplish with the greatest facility from my own knowledge of the people and also from that of some Officers and others whom I should emply on this Service. This Regt. I conceive would not only be of infinite service to Great Britain as soldiers in the field but would also prove extremely beneficial in a practical point of view, in the present almost defenceless state of those Countries.

    I shall not trouble your Lordship by enlarging out the utility of this measure, leaving it to your better judgement to be decided on, but shall give your Lordship a brief sketch of the terms I propose for your Consideration.

    A Battn. of 8 Companies, each Company to consist of 1 Captain, 1 Lieut, I Ensign, 4 Sergeants, 4 Corporals, 2 Drummers and 70 Privates the total number of officers to be as follows: 1 Lieut, Co1, 2 Majors, 8 Captains, 8 Lieutenants, 8 ensigns, 1 Paymaster, 1 Adjutant, 1 Qr AMaster, 1 Surgeon, 1 asst. Surgeon, .One Lieut.Col, 1 Major, 4 Captains and 4 Lieuts, to be taken from Officers of the Line, the remaining Companies to be filled up by gentlemen of the same Countries as the men with temporary rank in the army.

    The men to be enlisted for five years or during the War, to serve on the Coast and islands of the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas and to receive a bounty of fourteen Dollars per man and to be in every other respect on the same establishments as the Greek Light Infantry. I beg leave to observe that as I am provided with arms and accoutrements sufficient for the number which I propose to raise I have reason to think that the Corps would in a short time be ready for Service.

    Should this proposal meet with your Lordship's approbation, and I should proceed in carrying it into execution I should feel highly grateful to your Lordship to recommend me to His Royal Highness the C in Chief to be LieuLCol.Commandant of the prosed Corps."
    The proposal was supported by Lord William Bentick, Envoy to the Sicilian Court and Commander in Chief of the British forces on the island.
    "I have the honour to enclose two letters from Lieut.Colonel Robertson Commanding at Lissa; in the first he announces the desertion of some Croatians to Lissa and in the second proposes a levy of Corps of the Natives of that Country, of which he begs to be the Commandant.

    I consider the Croatians to have infinitely the advantage of the Greeks, because in the latter years of the Austrian War, the Croatians had been formed into regular Regiments, and made as good soldiers as any in the World. The same plan has been pursued by France, to whom these provinces are now subject. I have taken upon myself to authorize Lieut.Col.Robertson to begin by raising one Company upon the same System as the Italian Levy; and if the recruiting should be successful I would propose that such Companies as might be raised should form an additional Battalion or Regt. to the Italian Levy.

    If the command of such a Conps were given to an English Officer, a braver or better Officer than Lieut.Col.Robertson could not be selected; but as far as my observation goes the efficiency of these foreign Corps is never so effectually secured as when an Esprit de Nation is established, when the natives of the same Country are united together under the Command of their own Natonal Officers wtih the least possible mixture of other men or officers. I would therefore alway wish by preference, if a good Croatian Officer for example could be found, whose character had been established in the Austrian Service that the Command should be given to him, than to one of our own Countrymen; who, whatever his personal merits, must possess the draw-back of not understanding the language or habits of the soldiers he is to command; and cannot accept with time, possess the same share of their regard, as a fellow Countryman. His feelings will vary very much with Circumstances; whether the national Character is high or low, whether the national Officers have or have not a Military reputation; as they had not either in Portugal or India but have in the Austrian states, and in many instances in Italy recruited into the Austrian Service.

    Major General Tugent named to me some most distinguished Croatians but I have hitherto refrained from making them any offers, thro the desire of not compromising the Individuals before the Season of action might appear more advanced."
    However, I've not had any luck verifying that this regiment was actually raised, its history, uniform, or performance. I've found the Greek Light Infantry Regiment that Robertson refers to, and I've establsihed that there is a British built barracks on the island itself, but so far nothing about the regiment.

    Can anyone shred any further light on the outcomes of Robertson's proposal?

    Found a bit more info:

    On April 11, 1811 the English decided to formalize their status on the island. They renamed the city of Viz, Port Saint George. They installed a Governor, a constitution, laws of its own and a means to enforce them.
    1. Lieutenant-Colonel George Duncan Robertson was appointed Governor
    2. Major Slessor and Captain MacDonald were in charge of two companies each of 220 men of the 35th Regiment.
    3. 260 Swiss mercenaries were under Captain Balbier. (Capt. Balbier was appointed Chief of Police)
    4. 280 Corsicans were under Captain Gerolini.
    5. 300 Italians were of the Calabrian Corps.
    The British built one massive fortress, called Fort Saint George, and 3 smaller forts named Bentinck, Robertson and Wellington. The city of Viz, now called Port Saint George, became the major British base in the Adriatic. The island at the mouth of the harbor was named "Hoste Island" and was also fortified with a round tower, a battery of guns, a small barracks and a signal station.

    In 1815 Napoleon was defeated. The island of Lissa was then handed over, by the British, to the Austrians. The Austrians ruled the land for over 100 Years with a major revolution in 1848, and an almost constant state of minor revolts by the peasants against the nobility and the Government.
    Last edited by Didz; November 21, 2009 at 06:15 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    Nice information, even as a Croat i didnt know this about VIS (I dont go that much into the details of the Napoleonic age).

    I knew about the Battle of Vis 1866, but not this, + 1 rep from me
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  3. #3

    Default Re: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    Thanks.

    I was hoping to find out if this regiment was ever raised. Presumably, the company authorised uni-laterally by Lord William Bentick would have been formed, but I have yet to find any record of the rest of the battalion ever being recruited, and the list of troops defending the island in April 1811 makes no mention of Croatians.

    So, its possible the proposal was rejected, but that would seem unlikely.

  4. #4

    Default Re: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    I'm a Croat but I didn't know about this. Stupid me. Great informations.
    + 1 rep

  5. #5

    Default Re: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    Deleted
    Last edited by Didz; November 25, 2009 at 01:27 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    Ima nas, cak kupujemo i originale

    And what about Croats under Napoleons army ?

    BTW, the whole "give me 100 000 Croats and i will conquer the world" is this just a patriotic myth, or is it confirmed that he said it ?
    Last edited by Alte; November 26, 2009 at 03:35 AM.
    On release
    Quote:

    “Empire: Total War has exceeded all our expectations. It's one of those rare "great works" that the team will remember with enormous pride for the rest of their lives, and the public will remember as one of the landmark games of the decade”
    Mike Simpson, Creative Director at The Creative Assembly

    Oct 9 '09
    Quote:

    "I had 6 copies of Empire: Total War sat on my shelf intended for close gamer friends that I didn’t send out because I was too embarrassed about the flaws."
    Mike Simpson, Creative Director at The Creative Assembly

  7. #7

    Default Re: British Croatian Volunteers on the island of Vis 1811

    Quote Originally Posted by Alte View Post
    And what about Croats under Napoleons army ?
    I've found quite a bit of information on the Croatian Regiments in French service so I'll post it as a new thread, rather than corrupt this one.
    Last edited by Didz; November 26, 2009 at 05:29 PM.

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