Yellow Fever and Mutiny in the West Indies

Thursday, 15 June, 1837

The 89th Regiment was serving in the West Indies on 15 June 1837.

On 9 and 10 October 1835, the 89th Regiment had embarked on the Transports Parmelia and Prince Regent. Sailing from Cork on 22 October the Regiment had arrived in Barbados on 3 December 1835. It was there, in St Ann's Barracks, that Lieutenant Colonel Richard Doherty, formerly of the 1st West India Regiment, assumed command of the 89th Regiment on 23 December 1835. In early 1836 the Regiment deployed two companies to Tobago and the Headquarter Division to St James's Barracks, Trinidad. Yellow Fever caused many deaths in the Trinidad and Tobago based companies during 1836 - some 90 died - a figure that would have been greater had it not been for Doherty's extensive experience of conditions in the West Indies.

During the night of 18 June 1837, the Regiment was aroused by the news that mutiny had broken out among the 1st West India Regiment - the Commanding Officer’s previous command - a few miles away at St Joseph. The 89th’s Light Company was called to arms and made a forced march to the scene. On arrival they found that the trouble was almost over. This colonial regiment had recruited many of its soldiers in Africa and the mutiny had started among the recruits but petered out as it was not supported by the majority of experienced soldiers. However, a court martial that included seven officers from the 89th assembled a month later to try the ringleaders; in due course three men were executed by firing squad. This may well have been an attempt at deterrence as the mutiny had followed the recent emancipation of slaves in the West Indies.