1st Volunteers Govt. House, c1854 Lewis, Thomas Harvey courtesy of Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Citizen soldiers

The NSW Volunteer Rifles, also known as the Sydney Battalion Volunteer Rifle Corps, formed in 1854 and revived in 1860, was the forerunner of today's reservists.

The Volunteer Rifle Corps was Originally formed in response to the Russian scare of the 1850s. Between 1860 and 1870 the volunteers occupied the now-demolished southern range of buildings at the Hyde Park Barracks, in Macquarie Street, Sydney. They were drilled and paraded in the adjacent Outer Domain.

Although their role was largely ceremonial, these citizen soldiers were called upon to perform duties normally undertaken by Imperial troops during times of crisis such as the Lambing Flat riots at Young in 1861 and the attempted assassination of Queen Victoria's son, Prince Alfred, at Clontarf in 1868.  In answering the call of the Empire in 1885, many embarked for the Sudan.

Citizen soldiers explored an important but little-known aspect of our 19th century military history, the precursor of the regular infantry. The exhibition featured evocative relics of volunteer life - rare photographs, resplendent uniforms and regalia, rifles and bayonets, and memorabilia associated with their famed rifle matches.

 

Although their role was largely ceremonial, these citizen soldiers were called upon to perform duties normally undertaken by Imperial troops during times of crisis
20 October 2007 - 17 October 2010
19°  Rain