Grenadier Guards Mutiny 1890

For general discussions on the British Army of the Victorian era or specific regiments.

Grenadier Guards Mutiny 1890

Postby jf42 » 13 Dec 2016 09:07

This was news to me.

Taken from http://www.bermuda-online.org/britarmy.htm

2nd Battalion, Grenadier Guards. After refusing to serve at Wellington Barracks in London in July 1890, this unit was sent - exiled - to Bermuda as a punishment, after their conduct in the strikes in London of 1889 and 1890. In this volatile situation the final step towards revolution was predicted by many. First reported in the evening papers of 7th July, 1890, the news broke nationally in The Times the following day, that the 2nd Grenadier Guards had 'refused duty' at Wellington Barracks, London, in consequence of excessive guard duties and inspections, in addition to their normal duties. The dissatisfaction of the men started with the appointment in 1889 to the command of the battalion of Col. Mackgill-Crichton-Maitland, who had little idea of handling men. The flashpoint of the Guard's dissatisfaction seems to have been the detailing of the battalion to move to Pirbright to be used in the drill training of Militia and Volunteer officers. This always entailed a considerable amount of preparation of their uniforms by the men. However, owing to a breakdown in command (the adjutant resigned over this failure) the men were not informed of the journey until late, some as they came off guard duty and others on their return from week-end leave. This brought to the boil the men's simmering discontent.

Col. Maitland went to the barrack rooms, and is said to have been "disrespectfully received. The company officers then spoke to the men, urging them to parade, even if they dressed as they pleased, a suggestion which was quietly obeyed, thus reducing a possible charge of 'failing to obey a lawful command' (i.e. mutiny) to that of 'failing to appear on parade properly dressed'. It is reported than when Col. Maitland addressed the men, threatening to send in the Scots Guards, "murmurs were heard that those men would be found to be with the Grenadiers". On being confined to barracks indefinitely, some of the men threatened to break out, but this confinement order was repealed the next day, the 9th, possibly to help to defuse the situation. but it did not and courts-martial ensued. Grenadiers were found guilty and the question of punishment for the battalion as a whole was considered. 

The worst disgrace for a Guards regiment was to be sent abroad in peacetime, as opposed to going to a seat of war, and several stations were mooted, including South Africa, Aden or Ireland. In the London Gazette of 22nd July 1890 Col. Maitland is shown as "retiring on half pay", his place in command of the 2nd Grenadier Guards being taken Col the Hon. H. Eaton (later to succeed his brother as 3rd Lord Cheylesmore). The former Adjutant, Lt. the Hon. W.D. Murray also resigned, his place being taken by Lt A. H. O. Lloyd. Another casualty of the affair was a sergeant who was in the process of receiving a (Q/M's?) commission, and who had reached the stage of being ordered to hand in his NCO's uniform. When it was found that he had been his company's orderly sergeant at the time of the disturbance his commission was instantly cancelled. 

On the 21st the Duke of Cambridge reviewed the whole battalion, and delivered a violent tongue-lashing to the officer, the NCOs and men, before dismissing the parade, for it to prepare for embarkation the following day, to Bermuda.

The journey started at 5.30 am on the 22nd, when the battalion marched to Victoria Station, and travelled to Chatham, where it embarked on the trooper Tamar, which cast off at 2.30 pm. As a further act of spite the porter ration for the men was stopped during the voyage to Bermuda, a deprivation worsened by the fact that the crew and the Royal Marines on board naturally continued to receive their rum ration.

The arrival in Bermuda of the battalion deliberately overlapped the stay of the Leicestershire Regiment and King's Regiment (Liverpool). The battalion was also deliberately stationed in St. George's, despite the fact that Prospect Garrison had been established decades earlier. 

The whole matter continued to rumble on in the correspondence columns of The Times, where an assortment of retired officers (mostly titled) while admitting that the men had been hard done by, blamed the short service system, which failed to inculcate regimental loyalty into the young soldiers. One of these writers, General Baron de Ros, also regretted the abolition of flogging. He obviously felt that a touch of the cat would have sorted things out smartly.

By the 6th of August several MP's presented the Secretary of War a petition praying that favourable consideration might be given to the case of the imprisoned Guardsmen, this petition having been signed by about 50,000 inhabitants of London. It demonstrated the strength of popular feeling, and may have been why the jailed men, although sentenced to between 18 months and two years' imprisonment, were, in fact, released on the 23rd November 1890, after only four months' servitude. Of the six men, only one was discharged with ignominy, the others returning to the battalion and finishing their periods of engagement.

Col. Maitland was promoted to command of an army district, but a distant one, the No. 101 District, in  south-west Ireland, at Tralee. Thus he received promotion, but was denied the opportunity of causing any further trouble. As for the battalion, it returned quietly to England on the 28th July 1891, although its sentence of banishment had been for two years. The Times' report of 22nd July concluded that whole of this unfortunate military scandal had been caused by one man, who, notwithstanding his zeal and capacity, apparently did not know how to deal with men.'
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2235
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12

Re: Grenadier Guards Mutiny 1890

Postby zerostate » 13 Dec 2016 19:10

Nice article, with more detail than the VMS one.

There were other guards' mutinies around that time, generally attributed to over-drilling and too much duty: viewtopic.php?f=30&t=5438

"Cookery is the art of preparing and softening food by the action of fire, so as to render it fit for digestion" - Instructions to Military Cooks in the Preperation of Dinners at the Instructional Kitchen, Aldershot, 1878.
User avatar
zerostate
Senior Member
 
Posts: 456
Joined: 13 May 2010 22:38
Location: Suffolk, UK

Re: Grenadier Guards Mutiny 1890

Postby jf42 » 14 Dec 2016 01:53

Excellent. Thanks for the reminder and link
User avatar
jf42
Senior Veteran member
 
Posts: 2235
Joined: 10 Mar 2011 15:12


Return to The Army

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest