16th Light Horse

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 16th Light Horse

Origin and History

The regiment was created on August 4, 1759 when John Burgoyne was appointed lieutenant-colonel commandant. It was raised in Nottinghamshire and assembled at Nothampton with recruits from various part of the country, particularly from London and its vicinity. It initially consisted of four troops (Captains William Gordon, Edward Walpole, Henry Laws Lutterell and Sir William Peere Williams). The unit was originally designated as the “16th Light Dragoons” although it was more commonly known as the “Burgoyne's Light Horse”. In October, the regiment was increased to six troops by the addition of the troops of Captain William Harcourt and Captain G. Osborne. Furthermore, Hugh Somerville was appointed major.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons and rode black horses.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • from August 4, 1759 to 1779: Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant John Burgoyne (in 1762 in Portugal, Colonel Burgoyne was appointed brigadier and Lieutenant-Colonel Somerville assumed effective command).

In 1766, the regiment became “Royal” and was designated as the “2nd or (The Queen's) Regiment of Light Dragoons” but changed back to its original number in 1769.

Service during the War

By February 1760, the regiment had already been organized and brought into a state of discipline and efficiency, as to be ordered to march to Scotland. In July, it returned to England and its headquarters were established at Hertford. In October, it was ordered to hold itself in readiness to embark for foreign service; but its departure was delayed for some month.

In the spring of 1761, the British fitted out an expedition against Belle-Isle, a French island in the Bay of Biscay, off the coast of Bretagne. On April 7, an unsuccessful attempt to effect a landing was made. Experiencing greater opposition than expected, it was decided to send reinforcements. Among those were two troops of the regiment, commanded by Captain Sir William Peere Williams and Captain Sir George Osborne, which embarked at Portsmouth. On April 25, some British units finally managed to land. Soon afterwards, the two troops of the regiment disembarked. The British then laid siege to the citadel of Palais. During the siege the two troops were actively employed. The French made repeated sallies and were, on several occasions, charges by the light dragoons and pursued to the walls of the castle. The regiment lost several men and horses in these services, including Captain Peere Williams who was killed. On June 11, Palais, the fortress of the island surrendered.

In 1762, the regiment was part of the British Contingent sent to prevent the Spanish invasion of Portugal. On May 6, the 4 first troops, who had sailed from Portsmouth, arrived in Lisbon. On June 9, the remaining 2 troops, who had been stationed on Belle-Isle Island since its capture, arrived in Portugal. In the third week of July, these two troops effected a junction with the four troops sent previously. By August 3, Burgoyne had reached Sardoal near Abrantes with his regiment along with the 83rd Armstrong’s Foot and the 91st Blayney’s Foot. By August 20, a detachment of the regiment was attached to General Townshend's Corps consisting mainly of Portuguese troops. On August 24, the Count of Lippe-Bückeburg, commander of the Anglo-Portuguese Army sent Brigadier Burgoyne with a detachment of his own regiment (400 men), 6 British infantry coys, 11 Portuguese grenadiers coys, 2 howitzers and 2 light guns upon Valencia d'Alcantara, not very far from Badajoz, where the vanguard of the Spanish third division was with the main magazine. Burgoyne passed the Tagus at Abrantes. At Castelo de Vide, Burgoyne was joined by 100 Portuguese foot, 50 irregular cavalry and about 40 armed peasants. On August 27, after forced marches totalling 70 km, Burgoyne's force carried the town of Valencia d'Alcantara in a surprise attack, annihilating 5 companies of Sevilla Infantry which had obstinately resisted and capturing the commanding Spanish Major-General Don Michael de Irunibeni, his aide-de-camp, a colonel, several prisoners and 3 colours. The town was left undamaged but had to pay a heavy contribution in corn. In mid September, Brigadier Burgoyne was at Tolosa. He had been ordered to cover the border between Portalegre and Vila Velha de Rodao. Besides his own regiment, he had under his command the 85th Crawford’s Volunteers, 1st Olivença Infantry, and Cais Cavalry. He occupied a strong position on the Tagus, opposite Villa Velha. At the beginning of October, 50 men of the regiment were engaged in covering the retreat of Count São Jago’s Portuguese battalions from the pass of Alvito, towards Sobrina Formosa, on which occasion the light dragoons evinced great spirit and activity. On October 5, another detachment of 50 men took part in a surprise attack on a Spanish camp near Vila Velha. The Spanish magazines were taken and destroyed; six pieces of cannon, 60 artillery mules, some horses, and a considerable quantity of valuable baggage, were captured. In this action the regiment lost only 1 corporal killed and 2 privates wounded.

In April 1763, the regiment returned to England.

Uniform

We have not found any primary source describing the uniform of this regiment. Several part of our description are assumptions based on the uniforms of the regiments of dragoons.

Privates

Uniform in 1759 - Source: Ibrahim90 from a template made by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1759
Headgear black boiled leather helmet; the front plate edged white and decorated with a crowned GR cypher in white; red horsehair tail; black band round the base of the helmet; white metal fittings
Neck stock black
Coat short double breasted red lined white with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes
Collar black
Shoulder strap left shoulder: white epaulette
Lapels none (a contemporary painting illustrates black lapels)
Pockets probably vertical pockets with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes in a chevron pattern
Cuffs black (slashed in the British pattern) edged white with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes in a chevron pattern on the sleeve
Turnbacks white
Waistcoat white with very narrow white buttonholes
Breeches white with white knee covers
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt buff leather slung over the left shoulder
Waistbelt n/a
Cartridge Box buff leather pouch
Scabbard n/a
Bayonet scabbard n/a
Footgear light calf-length black boots
Horse Furniture
Housings white with rounded corners decorated with the designation of the regiment “XVI LD” (for light dragoons) on a red ground within a small wreath of roses and thistles; bordered with a red braid with a blue stripe
Holster caps white decorated with the yellow crowned royal cypher; bordered with a red braid with a blue stripe
n/a


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of shortened pistols and shortened musket and, probably, a bayonet.

Officers

As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • a narrow silver lace at the lapels, cuffs and pockets
  • a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
  • crimson and silver striped sword knot
  • deep green housings and holster caps laced silver

NCOs

Sergeants were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the lapels, cuffs and pockets; a silver aiguillette; a black worsted sash about their waist.

Corporals were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; white silk aiguillette.

Musicians

Drummers rode grey horses. They wore white coats lined and turned up with red (or white) and laced with the regimental braid (unknown). Red waistcoats and breeches.

Drummers wore a mitre cap similar to the grenadier mitre cap but with a lower crown and the tassel hanging behind. White front decorated with a trophy of guidons and drums; little frontal red flap with the White Horse and the the motto “Nec aspera terrent”; red backing, white headband with a drum and the initials of the regiment (XVI LD) in the middle part behind.

The drums were of brass with a white forepart carrying the initials of the regiment (XVI LD) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.

Colours

We have not found any primary source describing the colours of this regiment. Several part of our description are assumptions based on the colours of the regiments of dragoons.

The guidons were made of silk, fringed in silver and embroidered with silver. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.

King's Guidon: crimson field decorated with the rose and thistle conjoined surmounted by a crown. Underneath the central decoration: the king's motto “Dieu et mon Droit”. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a compartment. In the second and third corners: the initials of the regiment (XVI LD) in silver characters on a black ground.

Regimental Guidon: black field with its centre decorated with the initials of the regiment (XVI LD) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the Rose and Thistle conjoined upon a red ground.

King's Guidon - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Guidon - Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Sixteenth or The Queen’s Regiment of Light Dragoons, London: John W. Parker, 1842

Other sources

Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Kirby, Mike: The British Contingent - Uniform Information, Seven Years War Association Journal, Vol. XII No. 3

Mills, T. F.: Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)

O'Hara, Danny: Eighteenth Century Wargaming Resources On-Line (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)

Wikipedia 16th The Queen's Lancers