Black Soldiers of the West India Regiment, 1850s


Print by R. Sinkin, held by the Barbados Museum


A colored print showing troops in their dress uniforms with white turbans, red coats, blue serge trousers, etc.; and white officers. These Zoave uniforms were adopted for the West India Regiments on the suggestion of Queen Victoria; they were based on the uniform worn by light infantry recruited for the French army in Algeria. In an early period, many of the black soldiers in the West India Regiments (first formed in the mid-1790s) were purchased or captured slaves, many African-born; later they included free people of color. For details, see Roger Buckley, Slaves in Red Coats: the British West India Regiments, 1795-1815 (Yale University Press, 1979). Black troops initially stationed in Barbados in the 1790s were purchased or captured slaves who primarily came from the French Caribbean territories; later, the British Army recruited these people in Barbados and by the early 1820s, free people of color in Barbados were also recruited to the 1st West India regiment. See also image reference pg372.


Sinkin, R.

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