Established on 31st August 1803, the Legion Irlandaise was originally created in anticipation of an invasion of Ireland. The purpose was to establish a core of trained Irish who could raise the population of Ireland in a war of liberation against the English. By using Irish soldiers, Napoleon hoped the invasion force would be viewed by the Irish population as an army of liberation, rather than a foreign invader and such an invasion, if properly carried out, would tie up a maximum number of English troops for years to come, and could result in the English suing for peace.
However, with the continuing superiority of the British fleet, an invasion of England became more unlikely. The dream of an Irish invasion died with the British victory over the combined French and Spanish Fleets off Cape Trafalgar in 1805. With Austria and Russia preparing to renew the struggle for control of Central Europe, Napoleon's attention turned to the east.
As the need of manpower for the Empire increased, the decision was made to expand the Irish Legion from a battalion sized unit into a regiment. Men were recruited first from Irish and Scottish Jacobite expatriates, whose families had been forced to flee following failed revolts. Recruiters for the Legion found that Irish Sailors who had been taken by press gangs, and forced into the British Navy before their capture, had no loyalty to King George. Other men for the Legion came from German and Polish recruits -- forming a truly European force. While commands were given in French, the troops and officers spoke to each other in English or in their native tongues.
The Regiment received its own flag and an eagle. The flag bore on one side a large gold harp, with the motto: "L'INDEPENDENCE D'IRLANDE" and on the other "L’EMPEREUR DES FRANÇAIS A LA LÉGION IRLANDAIS"
Size range is 54mm, cast in pewter, painted by experienced Irish artists, designed by Chris Tubb, internationally famous designer. Also available separately - Officer, Drummer, Standard Bearer or sold as a set.
If you like these soldiers check out our Irish Brigade of the Union Army.