Historical Portraits Picture Archive

Portrait of Ensign Henchman Birch of the 31st Regiment of Foot 1830s

 English School 

Portrait of Ensign Henchman Birch of the 31st Regiment of Foot,  English School
Oil on canvas
19th Century
30 x 25 inches 76 x 63 cm
Mr Birch is painted here in the uniform of the 31st Huntingdonshire Regiment, a unit nicknamed the ''Young Buffs''. Because of their buff facing colours they were mistaken by George II at Dettingen for the 3rd Foot. He greeted them with ''Bravo Buffs'' and upon being told that they were not the ''Old Buffs'' but the 31st Foot, he replied ''then bravo Young Buffs.''
Subsequent regimental battle honours were equally distinguished, and the Young Buffs shared the varying fortunes of the British Army in the latter years of the eighteenth and turn of the nineteenth centuries. During the American War of Independence the battalion companies helped to garrison Quebec. The flank companies served in the operations under General Burgoyne, and were with the force that surrendered at Saratoga. After eleven years service in Canada, the regiment returned home in 1787, having finve years previously been renamed the Huntingdonshire Regiment.
During the Napoleonic War the regiment served in the Peninsula. The 2nd Battalion, 31st Foot were in the 2nd Division, Byng''s Brigade, under Lt. Gen. Sir Rowland Hill''s command. The Battle Honours from the Peninsula campaign of 1808-1814 list Talavera, Albuhera, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Nivelle, Nive and Orthes.
The peace that Britain was enjoying at the date of this painting some two decades later was soon to be interrupted by three wars, in all of which the 31st was engaged: the Opium Wars of 1840-62, the Sikh Wars of 1845-49 and the Crimean War of 1853-56, in which last the regiment saw action at Sebastopol.
Philip Mould Ltd, 18-19 Pall Mall, London, SW1Y 5LU.Copyright Philip Mould Ltd.