Colonel John Birch's Regiment of Foot

A old regiment in a new guise. Once upon a time, this regiment appeared on this blog as the Tower Hamlet's Regiment of Foot of the  London Trained Band. When I first started my ECW project I fell in to the trap of taking information on wargaming websites about coat colours as being correct. So they ended up with red coats. Regular readers (hello both of you) will know that 'the London Trained Bands wore red' is a particular bugbear of mine: so they have had a little bit of a makeover - a change of flag, and label underneath their base. The Tower Hamlet's Regiment will be raised anew in their correct attire - civilian clothes and trained band buff.

But back to Colonel John Birch and his Regiment of Foot, raised in Kent in 1644 for service in Sir William Waller's Southern Association. We know that they had red coats and yellow flags, but not what design of flag. Playing it safe I've gone for the Lieutenant Colonel's flag (I've used the Gell's Lieutenant Colonel from the Maverick Models list).

The Regiment spent their first few months in Plymouth, where they were besieged. Once the siege was lifted they took part in the siege of Bridgewater and Bristol before garrisoning Bath. They stormed Hereford and then took up garrison duties there. They fought at Stow, before undertaking more siege work at Ludlow, Raglan Castle and Goodrich Castle. In August 1646 Colonel Humphries took over command of the Regiment. 

Under Humphries they were picked to go to Ireland in 1648 but mutinied at the prospect, a few months later the Regiment was disbanded.

Birch was born in Manchester, but made his fortune as a merchant in Bristol, and was a keen supporter of Parliament as a captain in the City of Bristol militia. Allegedly he foiled an attempt to seize Bristol for the King in March 1643. When Bristol finally fell to Rupert's army, Birch fled to London.

Supported by Hesilrigge he was commissioned into Waller's Southern Association. He fought at Basing House, Alton Church before being wounded at Arundel Castle. He was shot in the stomach and his survival is put down to the extreme cold stemming the bleeding from his wound.

After recovering, he returned to serve with the Southern Association participating in Cheriton and Cropredy Bridge. After Cropredy he was promoted and commissioned to raise his Regiment of Foot,

After the First Civil War Birch became an MP, he was one of the MPs imprisoned in 1648 (Pride's Purge). After Cromwell's death he became a supporter of the Restoration.

His military memoir "Military Memoir Of Colonel John Birch - Sometime Governor Of Hereford In The Civil War Between Charles I and The Parliament" is available in print (Qureshi Press).

A plaque of a diary entry from Pepys's Diary ( 25th September 1660), mentions Birch (albeit incorrectly calling him Col Rich) strangely stands on Stew Lane London, EC4V 3PT.

Birch's Memorial

Birch died on the 10th May 1691, and is buried at St Peter and Paul Church, Weobley, Hereford HR4 8SD

The Regiment is re-enacted by Colonel John Birch's Regiment of Foote.

Brushwork on these by Alan Tuckey, basing by my own fair hand.

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