1st Dragoon Guards
Origin and History
The regiment was raised in 1685 to curb Monmouth's rebellion and was designated as the "Queen's Regiment of Horse" in honour of Queen Mary. It ranked as 2nd Horse.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment served in Europe under Marlborough. It fought at Blenheim (August 13 1704), Ramillies (May 23 1706) and was present at Oudenarde (July 11 1708). The regiment also fought at the battle of Malplaquet (September 11 1709).
In 1714, the regiment became the "King's Own Regiment of Horse".
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served in Europe. It took part to the battle of Dettingen on June 27 1743.
In 1746, when 3 regiments of horse were converted to Dragoon Guards, the "2nd Regiment of Horse" also known as the "King's own Regiment of Horse" became the "1st King's Dragoon Guards".
Exceptionally, this regiment had 3 squadrons rather than the usual 2 squadrons of other heavy cavalry regiments. The regiment was always mounted on black horses.
At the end of 1755, a company of light dragoons was added to the regiments. These light dragoons had brass helmets.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- in 1758: colonel Bland
Service during the War
In the summer of 1758, the regiment was among the first British contingent (6,000 men) sent to reinforce the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. The contingent embarked at Gravesend on July 19, disembarked at Emden on August 3 1758 and arrived at Coesfeld on August 17, after marching through a very heavy rain.
In June 1759, the regiment was part of the main Allied army under the command of the duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, the regiment was present at the battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the right hand column under lord George Sackville. This cavalry corps did not take part in the battle despite several orders requesting its intervention. Lord Sackville was later court-martialed and lost his command.
On July 10 1760, the regiment was with the Hereditary Prince at the combat of Corbach. After the defeat, the rear-guard was so hard pressed that the prince only extricated it by putting himself at the head of two squadrons of the 1st and 3rd Dragoon Guards, and leading them to a desperate charge. Fortunately the squadrons responded superbly. The squadron of the 1st Dragoon Guards involved in this charge initially counted 90 men and returned with 24. But, the Allied rearguard was saved. On July 31, the regiment fought at the battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of Granby's cavalry. Granby charged and broke the French cavalry right wing then wheeled and hit the French infantry in the flank, winning the day for the Allies.
In 1761, the regiment served in Conway's Corps in Germany. On July 16, it took part in the battle of Vellinghausen.
In 1762, the regiment was once more part of Granby's Corps. On September 21, it was at the the battle of Amöneberg when, late in the afternoon, the British corps came to the relief of the Hanoverians guarding the bridge and repulsed several French attacks, saving the day for the Allies.
To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1762
|Headgear||black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade|
|Coat||red lined blue
|Waistcoat||blue with very narrow yellow buttonholes|
|Breeches||blue with white knee covers|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket.
As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:
- a narrow gold lace at the bindings and buttonholes
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and gold striped sword knot
- housings and holster caps laced gold
Sergeants distinguished by a narrow gold lace on the lapels, cuffs and pockets; a gold aiguillette; a blue worsted sash about their waist.
Corporals distinguished by a narrow gold lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; yellow silk aiguillette.
The oboists and drummers rode grey horses. They wore red coats lined and turned up with blue and laced with the royal lace (yellow and blue). Hanging sleeves fastened at the waist. 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. Blue front decorated with the badge of the regiment; little frontal red flap with the White Horse and the the motto “Nec aspera terrent”; red backing, blue headband with a drum and the rank of the regiment in the middle part behind.
The drums were of brass with a blue forepart carrying the badge of the regiment.
The standards were made of damask, fringed and embroidered with gold. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.
King's Standard: 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 badge of the regiment (the king's cipher “GR” on a red field, surrounded by a blue garter carrying the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense”).
Regimental Guidon: blue field fringed gold with its centre decorated with the badge of the regiment (the king's cipher “GR” on a red field, surrounded by a blue garter carrying the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense”). In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment in a red compartment.
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
George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Lawson, Cecil C. P., A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.