Monday 2 October 2023

A Fine Corps and will Serve Faithfully - The Swiss Regiment de Roll 1794-1816

‘A Fine Corps and will Serve Faithfully’ by Alastair Nichols is a fine account of the Swiss Regiment de Roll and its service in the British Army between 1794 and 1816. No 113 in Helion’s from Reason to Revolution series, it takes us from the early days of the French Revolutionary War when human resource-starved Britain looked to recruitment sources like the Swiss formerly in the service of the French monarchy, to the regiment’s disbandment in 1816. Raised in 1795 it first had to March from Switzerland through Northern Italy before embarking for Corsica. The regiment spent the entire war moving about the Mediterranean wherever there was British presence either as a garrison or part of an expeditionary force, to places such as Portugal, Minorca, Egypt, Gibraltar, Egypt again, the Ionian Islands, Italy, Sicily, Spain. Often split into detachments, there was even a de Roll presence during the overthrow of Murat in Naples in 1815.

This book gives a detailed and fascinating account of the regiment’s service throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic War. Much of what we read about the Napoleonic Wars (from the British perspective at least) is very Peninsular War and Waterloo-centric, so this is a very welcome change, providing as it does an insight into these secondary but no less important campaigns across the breadth of the Mediterranean, from the Iberian Peninsula to Egypt and pretty much all points in between and I found an account free of Wellington and Napoleon a refreshing change.

The author references many primary sources, some previously unpublished, including reports, official correspondence and private letters and many of these are used to illustrate the narrative and provide context to the regiment’s service. Finally there is a chapter on the varied uniform styles worn by the officers and men of the regiment and the colours they bore.

The book is illustrated with a number of black and white photographs and a central spread of eight colour plates, a mixture of contemporary illustrations, photographs of surviving uniform items and specially commissioned artwork. Their service is also charted by numerous maps.

What is clear overall is that this was a well regarded, distinguished and disciplined regiment, and as such is deserving of this excellent account of their service. No doubt a very useful resource for historians and wargamers alike.

ISBN 978-804511-91-6 softback 237 pages.


  1. Perhaps an alternative remedy would be that the Russian infantry columns start much nearer to the Turkish infantry? A 3 inch move is a bit on the thin side perhaps…?🧐

    1. I think you’re replying to a different post.