Ready to defend the realm

Rouser 2012
Rouser 2012

FEAR of invasion by the French prompted the British to organise and deploy land forces in an unprecedented way.

Sussex with its low-lying beaches and proximity to France was seen as especially vulnerable.

There were three distinct groups of armed land forces.

The regular army was a permanent paid force of men serving at home and abroad. The

militia was a paid force of infantry raised in the counties by ballot.

The volunteers were men living at home who volunteered to serve part-time in their own areas.

Rouser isn’t sure, but he thinks this photograph (almost certainly Reeves) shows a Lewes volunteer brigade at attention in the precincts of

the castle.

The picture was probably taken around 1870 - quite late in the day.

Note the man, second from left, with the long white beard. He must have had a tale to tell. And the dog - the brigade’s mascot - at ease below the gun.