EVENTS IN PORTSMOUTH

 

THE HISTORY OF THE PORTSDOWN VOLUNTEERS

In 1803 there was panic along the South Coast; the tension was mounting as war with France was likely to be declared any day, and the area around Portsmouth expected to be invaded. Preparations were being made to repel the enemy. In July proposals were made for defence in case of invasion. Detailed plans had been made to drive away all live stock within fifteen miles of the coast and to destroy all means of subsistence in the country which was in imminent danger of falling into the possession of the enemy.
 
Although there would be Regular Troops to engage the enemy when they landed there was a call for volunteers to group themselves into bodies of 25 to 35 men, and to select one from among themselves as their leader. There was call to their "Valour, Energy and Patriotism" to defend their Country.
 
The Lindegren Family were quick to set an example, and the following is an extract from the "Hampshire Telegraph", for August 6th. 1803:

"Above 300 farmers and men employed by them in the neighbourhood of Andrew Lindegren Esq. have offered their services, and have requested that Gentleman to command of their corps."

Although Andrew Lindegren is mentioned in the article records only show his son John living in the area at Widley.
 
Within a few days all the roads leading to Portsmouth and the neighbouring villages were crowded with volunteers. A strange ship had been sighted and invasion was expected at any moment:
"In Cosham, there were not less than 600 cavalry and foot. Mr. Lindegren's Corps and the Forest of Bere Volunteers, cavalry and foot, waited the expected signal at that place." But it was a false alarm and all could relax for the moment.
 
Three weeks later, the Prince of Wales visited Portsmouth, where he was met at the Barrier Gate by General Whitelocke; whilst drawn up inside the gate was Mr. Lindegren's company of volunteers waiting to be inspected by the Prince, who complimented them on their fine appearance.
 
A Public Subscription was raised to defray any incidental expenses, such as clothing, and supporting any Volunteer Corps, and the Corporation resolved to pay the sum of 50 to aid the subscription.
 
John Lindegren played an active part in the volunteer movement for many years. On the 4th. of February, 1804 he was made Captain, and on the 14th. September, 1807 he became Lieut. Colonel, and the last commanding officer.
 
After peace was signed on 30th. May, 1814, there was a great celebration and the , Emperor Alexander of Russia, Frederick, King of Prussia, Marshal Blucher and Prince Platoff arrived in London. They asked to see the fleet and arsenal at Portsmouth and so the Allied Sovereigns were invited to Government House. The town was full of illustrious visitors, and state beds were brought from London to furnish Government House, part of the Commissioner's House, and Messrs. Godwin's Bank, of which Andrew Lindegren was a partner.
 
The roads were crowded and decorated with triumphal arches and wreaths of flowers, whilst the route from Portsdown Hill to Government House was lined with eleven thousand military, including the Portsdown Yeomanry Cavalry, commanded by Colonel Lindegren, who had been waiting for thirteen days for the arrival of the Prince Regent. They finally preceeded him down the Hill into the Town.
 
Although some troops in the neighbourhood were disbanded, Col. Lindegren's Squadron volunteered to continue. On 10th. February, 1817, there was a large protest meeting on Portsdown Hill to petition for Parliamentary Reform. The magistrates anticipated revolt, so the Portsdown Regiment of Yeomanry Cavalry, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Lindegren were stationed in different parts of the area to quell any troublemakers. Fortunately the occasion went off without any unfortunate incidents.
 
For about three years little happened with the exception of Troop drill; but in 1821 a regulation was issued requiring the smaller corps, like the Portsdown Squadron, to perform six consecutive days of duty in every year.
 
In 1827 the Government decided to reduce the Yeomanry Force, and in April, 1828, after 33 years of service, the arms of the Portsdown Yeomanry Light Dragoons were collected and returned to the Board of Ordnance, and the little regiment ceased to exist.
 
Cynthia Sherwood