View showing the Inniskilling Dragoons during the Battle of Balaclava.
The 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons was a cavalry regiment in the British Army, first raised in 1689. It saw service for three centuries, before being amalgamated into the 5th/6th Dragoons (later the 5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, then finally the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards) in 1922. The 'Skins' (as they were known) are one of the four ancestor regiments of the Royal Dragoon Guards.
The regiment was first raised as Sir Albert Cunningham's Regiment of Dragoons in 1689, by the regimenting of various independent troops, and ranked as the 6th Dragoons. It later took the nickname of the "Black Dragoons", and in 1751 was formally titled as the 6th (Inniskilling) Regiment of Dragoons, later simply the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons.
The Battle of Balaclava, October 1854.
In 1854, Great Britain and her allies, France and Turkey, went to war against Russia. An army was sent to the Black Sea to destroy the Russian naval base at Sevastopol in the Crimea. The 6th Dragoons were part of the Heavy Brigade. On the way, the fire broke out on one of the transport ships. The commanding officer, Lt Col Willoughby Moore, 16 men and all the horses were lost. A further 75 horses were lost in a gale and cholera ravished the men.
The regiment arrived in the British base at Balaclava much diminished. On 25th October the Russians attacked the British base. The Heavy Brigade, some 700 men from five Dragoon regiments, faced a Russian cavalry force of about 2000. The Brigade, commanded by Brigadier-General Scarlett, charged uphill at the enemy. Such was the ferocity of the attack that the Russians began to falter and then to retreat.
The whole action took only eight minutes. The Inniskillings lost two men killed and 14 wounded. Though ordered to follow the Light Brigade later that day in its disastrous charge, the Heavy Brigade was stopped in time when the mistake was realized. In spite of the fact that the Inniskillings saw no further action in the campaign the death toll rose to over 120, a testament to disease and hardship.