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Troop Assembly on Barham Down - Researched by Col. R. G. Clarke in 1941  

The expedition to The Helder (Holland) in August 1799 necessitated the assembly of a large military force near to the Kent Coast so that troops could be embarked from Deal, Margate and Ramsgate.   Barham Down was selected as the collection point and it is probable that most if not all of the cavalry and artillery were assembled there.

Sir Ralph Abercromby was summoned from Edinburgh by letter dated 8th June 1799 to take command.   There were four brigades numbering some 10,000 men: -

1st Brigade - Massed Grenadiers and 3/1st Guards under Major-General D'Oyley.
2nd Brigade - Coldstream Guards and I/3rd Guards under Major-General Burrard.
3rd Brigade - 2nd, 27th, 29th, 69th and 85th Foot under Major-General Coote
4th Brigade - 2/1st, 25th, 49th, 79th and 92nd Foot under Major-General Moore
Reserve - 23rd and 55th Foot under Colonel Macdonald
Cavalry - 18th Light Dragoons
Artillery - 600 all ranks including drivers.

The 1st Brigade left on 5th August for embarkation at Ramsgate.
The remaining brigades (except 3rd) left on 6th and 7th August for embarkation at Deal and Ramsgate.
The 3rd Brigade left about the same time but were embarked at Margate.

During August troops poured into the camp after being given a bounty of 10-10s-0d to serve in units overseas.   In his history of the British Army, Fortescue writes

"...the militia had been pouring into the appointed camp at Barham Downs in the uproarious condition which, in those days, was invariably produced by a large bounty.   Such a sight has rarely been seen in England, even after paying off the fleet.   The possession of 10 filled the majority of men with a pride which forbade them to walk to the rendezvous.

They rolled up into the camp, riotously drunk, in post-coaches, post-chaises and six, caravans and every description of vehicle, leaving the officers to plod on foot with such luckless men as had already lost or spent their money."

Thousands of these troops left England never to return.   Four soldiers and six children from the camp were laid to rest in Barham Churchyard.   Except for the recording of baptisms, marriages and deaths from the Barham Down camp in the church registers there is absolutely nothing in Barham to record the activities that went on on the fringe of the village during that time.