The regiment was formed as part of the Honourable East India Company's army firstly as a Guard of Honour in 1652. By 1756 it was the Bengal European Regiment - 'European' indicating it was composed of white soldiers, not Indian sepoys - and when this was split in 1765, it became the 1st Bengal European Regiment. In 1846 it became the 1st Bengal European Fusiliers, also referred to in contemporary official papers, with inverted word ordering, as 1st European Bengal Fusiliers. It retained this title until British India was transferred to the Crown after the Indian Mutiny of 1857. The "European" was then dropped and replaced by Royal, the title becoming in 1861 1st Royal Bengal Fusiliers. The regiment was then transferred to the British Army and renumbered as the 101st Regiment of Foot at the same time retaining the Royal Bengal name.
On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny the order to march on Delhi was given from Simla, and reached the regiment at Dugshai via Major George Ogle Jacob on 13 May 1857, who had ridden down with it, upon which the regiment marched down from its rest station at Dugshai, due to reach Umballa that evening. A depiction of the march was made by George F. Atkinson of the Engineers, see illustration.
Major George Ogle Jacob was mortally wounded at Delhi on 14 September 1857 aged 38, having been wounded in the morning and died in camp at 10 pm. He was the son of Surgeon George Jacob (Bengal Medical Service) and had joined the Bengal Army in 1837 serving in Afghanistan (1838) and Sutlej (1845). His grave at Rajpura Cemetery, Delhi states: "Sacred to the memory of Major George Ogle Jacob, 1st Bengal Fusiliers, who whilst commanding his Regiment fell mortally wounded at the storming of Delhi, on the 14th September 1857, aged 38 years. This monument is erected by his family."
- For example in the correspondence of Lt.Col. George Gladwin Denniss(1821-1862) (ed. P. Chantler, South Molton, 2010) who invariably placed the word "European" before "Bengal"
- Correspondence of Lt.Col. George Gladwin Denniss II, 13/5/1857, ed. P. Chantler, South Molton, 2010
- (list of memorials from Indian Mutiny). His mother was Mrs M.A. Jacobs, who was paid a pension by the HEICS (from a list in Bombay Times, 11 Aug.1858)
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