The Maltese Light Infantry (1800 – 1802)
The Maltese Light Infantry was raised by Brigadier–General Thomas Graham in April 1800 to reinforce the two infantry regiments that had arrived from Sicily on 10 December 1799. Two companies were raised in the new regiment named
I Cacciatori Maltesi or the
Maltese Light Infantry.
The Maltese Light Infantry was placed under the temporary command of Captain James Weir Royal Marines. On 9 June 1800 Brigadier–General Moncrieff arrived at Malta and was offered, and accepted the command of the Maltese Regiment.
The establishment was initially fixed at eight companies of 100 men each, who were enlisted for two years local service. They were paid 8d a day. Two companies were enrolled by 2 April 1800, and another 4 companies by May. Sergeants from the 30th and 89th Foot were appointed as subaltern officers in the Maltese Corps.
The men were recruited for local service only, but in September 1801, 300 men volunteered for Service in Elba.
The Maltese Light Infantry was disbanded in April 1802, the discharged men re-enlisting in the Provincial Battalions.
The Maltese Light Infantry
22 Feb 1800 Brigadier-General Thomas Graham informed Lieut-General Henry Fox at Port Mahon, that he intended to raise a local levy to reinforce the 30th and 89th Regiments in the land blockade of the French in Malta.
In April 1800, Lt Philip R Bulkeley (Green's Coy) Lt William E Fitzthomas (Reynold's Coy), Ensign Peter Dumas (Smyth's Coy), Sergeant Major Peter Wallace (Colonel's Coy) and Cpl Charles Wharton (Vaumorel's Coy) took over duties with the newly formed Maltese Corps. In July, Captain Richard G Hare (Colonel's Coy) was also listed as doing duty with the Maltese Corps.
9 June 1800 Brigadier-General Moncrieff accepted the command of the Maltese Light Infantry.
1 Jan 1801 Strength: 747 men (43 sick).
The officers and men on the establishment were: 1 Major, 6 Captains, 6 Lieutenants, 6 Ensigns, 1 Pay Master, 1 Adjutant, 1 Quarter Master, 1 Surgeon, 1 Assistant Surgeon, 41 Staff Sergeants, 16 Drummers, 698 men of whom 38 were sick in Hospital, (1 Died on 5 Sept 1801). The men were at Fort Manoel and Fort Ricasoli, with a detachment at Fort St Angelo.
22 Sept 1801 A detachment of 200 men embarked on HMS Athenian to reinforce the garrison at Porto Ferrajo, Elba, where Col Airey with a small body of men had for four months resisted being dislodged by overwhelming opposition.
11 Oct 1801 The Maltese Light Infantry arrived at Elba. However, in accordance with the Preliminary Treaty of Peace of 1 October 1801, Britain was compelled to remove her troops from Elba, and the men returned to Malta in April 1802.
1 Jan 1802 Strength: 489 men, 0 Surgeon, 2 Assistant Surgeons.
Apr 1802 The detachment of the Maltese Light Infantry returned to Malta from Elba.
The battalion was disbanded. 638 men were discharged, but most subsequently enlisted in the Maltese Provincial Battalions.
31 July 1802 General Villettes to Lord Hobart:
On disbandment of the Maltese corps, three of the officers having been Sergeants in the 30th and 89th Regiments, and appointed to do duty as subaltern officers in the Maltese corps on account of their merit, it would be a most cruel and mortifying case for them to return to the station of Sergeants after having served two or three years with general approbation in the character of officers.
1 Jan 1803 By 1 January 1803, the Maltese Corps was reduced to 0 Surgeons, 2 Assistant Surgeons, and 15 men.
1 Aug 1803
The 3 ensigns, 2 Chaplains, 1 Quarter Master, 2 Assistant Surgeons, and 7 Sergeants, and 15 men who were formerly included in the monthly returns are now struck off having joined the new Maltese levy. Five British officers of the late Maltese Corps are attached to a convalescent detachment.
13 Sep 1803 The first payment of prize money from the proceeds of the property captured in Malta on 4 September 1800 commenced to be paid out to the officers and men of the Maltese Corps. Major James Weir received the sum of £845 11s 6d. Lieutenant Peter Dumas (14 Aug 1805), Ensign D R Kelley (24 Oct 1803), Ensigns Thomas Caleraft (30 Apr 1804), Peter Wallace (9 May 1804), Ensign James Stewart (15 Mar 1804), Robert Thompson (9 May 1804), Richard Drewe (31 Dec 1803), Chaplain George Evangelista (9 May 1804), Chaplain Alosio di Malte (9 May 1804), QM Francesco Grech (9 May 1804) each received the sum of £43 4s 6d. Entitled sergeants were paid a first payment of £18 10s 6d, corporals, drummers and privates all received £3 0s 6d.
On 7 April 1804, Captain Alexander Ball RN was paid £2000 in prize money for the armed men under his control which formed a separate body from the Maltese corps raised by Brig Gen Thomas Graham.
Following the disbandment of the Maltese Light Infantry the regimental colours were presented to Major James Weir RM. In 1884, his son, Dr Thomas Weir, restored them to General Sir Arthur Borton, Governor of Malta 1878-1884, who passed them on to the Royal Malta Fencible Artillery.
- TNA:WO 17/2117; Monthly Returns to the Adjutant General 1800-1.
- TNA:WO 17/2118; Monthly Returns to the Adjutant General 1802.
- TNA:WO 17/2119; Monthly Returns to the Adjutant General 1803.
- TNA:WO 1/291; Graham to Fox 22 Feb 1800.
- TNA:CO 158/6; Villettes to Hobart 31 July 1802.
- Chesney A. G. 1897 Historical Records of the Maltese Corps of the British Army. London: William Clowes and Sons Ltd.
- TNA:WO 164/503, Malta 1800, Prize Records Royal Hospital Chelsea first and second payments (1804–1808).
- TNA:WO 164/134, Malta 1800, Prize Records Royal Hospital Chelsea first and second payments (1811–1840).