The King's German Legion
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1803, Napoleon Bonaparte
was again at war with Britain but was unable to launch his
formidable armies against his intransigent foe. Instead the
French emperor looked towards Germany and aimed a blow at
Hanover, the homeland of the British king George
small and badly equipped French corps was despatched to deal
with the Hanoverians, whose government was in turmoil and
unsure of what to do.
had been taken in by an earlier French threat to send 20,000
against their country and despite the fact only 13,000 men
under General Mortier were
on the march, the government sued for peace and were immediately
asked to surrender its entire 10,000-man army.
battle took place - at Borstel, where a small detachment of
Hanoverians drove off the French.
was all academic, however, and on 3 June the Convention of
Suhlingen was signed.
convention allowed for the occupation of the electorate by
the French, who would be paid for by the host country, and
the army would be sent to France as Prisoners of War. As good
as that seemed for the French, Bonaparte didn't ratify the
agreement and so war loomed.
second, more acceptable peace - the Convention of the Elbe
- resulted and Hanover agreed to disband its army.
advantage of this mass of trained troops, Britain set out
to recruit 4000 Hanoverians for use in British colours and
even sent agents there to solicit support. These men later
on faced the death penalty if caught in their activities.
King's Germans were initially set down to be light troops,
but within the ranks were many excellent cavalrymen and artillery
and so, in December of 1803, permission was given to create
an all-arms corps to be known as The King's German Legion.
1805 it consisted of two cavalry brigades, a light infantry
brigade, two line infantry brigades and its own artillery
and engineering units. By
1808 the KGL had been fully incorporated into the British
army and had abandoned its own training and language of command.
of the first expeditions undertaken by the KGL was in 1805
when 6000 of the Legion tok part in what was supposed to be
the freeing of Hanover from French rule.
had just denuded the country of its forces to take part in
the Austerlitz campaign
and when the smoke had cleared from Napoleon Bonaparte's crushing
victory there Hanover had been ceded to Prussia as part
of Austria's peace settlement. British troops were then ordered
to return home, albeit with a large huge boost in the number
of recruits for the KGL.