THROUGH THE ARCHIVES: From the News Letter of May 1871

Major-General praises ‘soldierlike bearing’ of troops garrisoned at Belfast

Thursday, 20th May 2021, 10:00 am
Members of the 37th (North Hampshire) Regiment's non-commissioned officers' Masonic Lodge, India, 1880 (circa). Picture: National Army Museum (

The customary half-yearly inspection of the troops from the Belfast garrison took place on Wednesday, May 17, 1871, before Major-General Newton, Commanding the Forces in Ireland, and Colonel Harrison, reported the News Letter.

The troops garrisoned in Belfast in May 1871 comprised of the 80th (Staffordshire Volunteers) and the depot of the 37th (North Hampshire).

At half-past nine that morning, the men of both regiments assembled on the parade ground and went through a number of manoeuvres ahead of the arrival of the inspecting officer.

A large number of the general public were present in the barrack square during the inspection.

At precisely ten o’clock Major-General Newton, accompanied by Captain Brown, ADC, arrived at the barracks and they were received by a salute on bugles.

Major-General Newton then carefully inspected the different companies in open column, “each company shouldering arms”.

He particularly examined the arms and accoutrements of the men, and expressed his satisfaction at their “soldierlike bearing” and “the general order which prevailed”.

Prior to going through the bayonet exercise, the 
companies marched past 
the saluting point with the band playing the regimental quick step, after which they formed in “quarter-distance columns”.

The News Letter noted: “The manner in which this manoeuvre was gone through called forth loud cheering from the spectators.”

After Major-General Newton had passed up and down the various lines, the regiment was “equalised for battalion drill and bayonet exercise”.

The various rooms of the garrison were then visited by Major-General Newton and the men’s kits were examined.

The following day, reported the News Letter, Major-General Newton inspected the troop of the 6th [Regiment of Dragoon Guards] Carabineers who were stationed in the Cavalry Barracks.

The News Letter reported: “After going through a number of movements, the General expressed his satisfaction with the manner in which the manoeuvres had been executed, and the general good order of the men and their accoutrements.”