Origin and History
The regiment was raised on 21 October 1661 as a single troop of veterans of the Parliamentary Army. In December of the same year, this troop formed part of the expeditionary force sent to occupy Tangier which had recently been ceded to England by Portugal. From 1664 to 1666, it took part in the defence of Tangier against the Moors. In 1664, it suffered heavy losses in an ambush.
In 1679 and 1680, the troop once more took part in the defence of Tangier. In 1680, the unit, then consisting of single troop, was reinforced with five additional troops. In 1684, when these troops returned to England, they were formed in four troops of dragoons designated as the “Tangier Horse” because of their former service in this Moroccan town. They were soon combined with two recently raised troops of dragoons into a new regiment, the “King's Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons”. In 1690, the regiment became the “Royal Regiment of Dragoons”, but its usual nickname was "The Tangier Cuirassiers". It was initially quartered in Southwark and then at Newbury, Abingdon and Hungerford. At the death of King Charles II in 1685, two troops of the regiment were sent to Carlisle to quench any sedition. The same year, the regiment was increased to twelve troops to curb Monmouth's rebellion. Four of these troops took part in the Battle of Sedgemoor. After the suppression of the rebellion, the regiment was reduced to eight troops of 40 privates each. In 1686 and 1687, the regiment took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath.
During the summer of 1688, the king fearing an invasion led by the Prince Of Orange, an encampment was formed on Hounslow Heath. In November, the army was ordered to assemble at Salisbury. However, the regiment left the camp and its commanders tried to join the forces of the Prince of Orange. The greater part of the men, however, resolved not to join the prince, and, when they observed what was taking place, they galloped back. When King James returned to London, the regiment marched into garrison at Portsmouth. When the king fled to France, the Prince of Orange ordered the regiment to march to Farnham and Alton.
In 1689, the regiment was ordered to proceed to the north. In August, it was sent to Perth to quench a Jacobite rebellion. Immediately after the dispersion of rebel Highlanders, the regiment was ordered to proceed to Ireland. In 1690, it took part in the blockade and capture of Charlemont, and in the Battle of the Boyne, before sailing back to England which was threatened with a French invasion. By October, the regiment was back in Ireland. In 1691, it took part in the storming of a fort near Scronclaird and in the siege and capture of Limerick.
In 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment returned to England and was sent to Leicestershire soon afterwards. In 1694, it was sent to the continent. In 1695, it formed part of the army covering in the siege of Namur. In 1697, the regiment returned to England where it was quartered in Yorkshire where it was reduced to six troops for a total of 294 men.
In 1699, the regiment was quartered in Lancashire and Leicestershire.; in 1700, in Yorkshire and Cumberland; and in 1701, in Yorkshire with three troops in garrison at Hull. The same year, it was augmented to eight troops amounting to 532 officers and men.
In 1702, at the beginning of the War of the Spanish Sucession (1701-13), the regiment embarked for the Dutch Republic. It then participated in in covering the sieges of Venlo, Roermond, Stevensweert, and in the capture of the city of Liège. In 1703, it took part in covering the sieges of Bonn and Huy. in the siege of Limbourg. In October, it embarked, dismounted, for Portugal. In 1704, the regiment received new mounts in Portugal and a detachment made a successful incursion into Spain. In 1705, it took part in the capture of Valencia de Alcantara, Albuquerque and Barcelona; in 1706, in the defence of Valencia, in the relief of Barcelona; in 1707, in the unsuccessful relief of Lerida; in 1709, in the capture of Balaguer and Ager; and in 1710, in the battles of Almenar and Saragossa. On December 10 of the same year, one squadron surrendered prisoners of war at the Combat of Brihuega. The two other squadrons of the regiment continued in Spain. In the summer of 1712, when negotiations for a general peace were commenced, the officers and men of the regiment quitted Spain and returned to England.
In 1714, the regiment was quartered in Yorkshire. In 1715, the regiment contributed two troops to the newly raised 7th Dragoons. The same year, the regiment was sent to Scotland to quench the rebellion of the Earl of Mar.
In 1716, the regiment was stationed in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire; in 1718, in Yorkshire and Lancashire.
In 1719, during the War of the Quadruple Alliance (1718-20), the regiment was sent to Scotland. It soon returned to England and was quartered in Yorkshire. A detachment then took part in the capture of Vigo.
In 1721, the regiment was stationed at Nottingham and Derby. In 1726, it was transferred to Sussex and Essex. In 1727, it was stationed in Leicestershire and Derbyshire; in 1730, in Worcestershire and Gloucestershire; in 1731, in Kent; in 1732, in Somersetshire; in 1737, in Lancashire, in 1738, in Essex and Kent; and in 1739, in Worcestershire.
In 1739, the establishment of the regiment was augmented to 435 officers and men. In 1740, it was stationed Leicestershire; and in 1741, in Somersetshire.
In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was sent to the Low Countries. On June 27, 1743, it fought at the Battle of Dettingen where it captured the standard of the II./Mousquetaires de la Garde. On May 11, 1745, it took part in the Battle of Fontenoy. In November of the same year, it was recalled to Great Britain to quench the Jacobite Rising. It remained in England for the rest of the war.
In 1749, the establishment of the regiment was reduced to 285 officers and men. In 1750, the regiment marched to Scotland.
On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British cavalry, the regiment was designated as the "1st (Royal) Regiment of Dragoons".
In 1752, the regiment returned to England and was stationed at York. In October 1753, it was transferred to Norfolk and Essex. In September 1754, it was cantoned in Kent.
In 1755, the regiment was augmented with an additional 110 men. It counted 2 squadrons and was always mounted on black horses. At the end of the same year, a company of light dragoons (3 officers, 1 quarter-master, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers and 60 privates) was added to the regiment.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from May 1740: Major-General Henry Hawley
- from April 5, 1759 to 1764: Honourable Henry Seymour Conway
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was stationed in the maritime towns in the southern counties.
During the summer of 1757, the regiment was encamped near Salisbury.
In May and June 1758, the light troop of the regiment took part in an expedition against the French Coasts. In August and September, this troop also took part in a second expedition against the French Coasts.
As of May 30, 1759, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 2 squadrons for a total of 390 men. In the same year, the establishment of each of the six heavy troops was augmented to 60 privates and the light troop to 89 privates for a total of 544 officers and men.
In 1760, the light troop of the regiment was augmented to 4 officers, 1 quarter-master, 4 sergeants, 4 corporals, 2 drummers, and 118 privates. In May, the regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel James Johnston, was among the second British contingent sent to reinforce the Allied army of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. The troops were shipped to Bremen on the Weser instead of, as heretofore, to Emden, and seem to have been despatched with commendable promptitude since some regiments were reviewed by Ferdinand in his camp at Fritzlar on June 17. On July 31, the regiment took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was placed at the extreme right of the first line. It was set loose on the broken French battalions who had vainly tried to dislodge the Allies from a hill to their rear. It attacked Planta Infanterie, taking 21 officers and 200 soldiers prisoners. Three troops of the regiment formed part of the force under the Marquis of Granby, which pursued the enemy across the Diemel and halted that night on the heights of Wilda; the other three troops having suffered severely in the attack on Planta Infanterie, remained at Warburg. In this action, the regiment lost 8 men and 21 horses killed; and 12 men and 13 horses wounded. The regiment was subsequently encamped on the banks of the Diemel. On October 1, it was despatched towards the Lower Rhine, forming part of a separate corps under the Hereditary Prince, which invested Wesel. The French advanced in force to relieve the besieged and, on October 15, encamped behind the convent of Campen. On the evening of the same day, the regiment and other units advanced towards the French, the Hereditary Prince designing to surprise them in the night. On October 16, the regiment fought in the Battle of Clostercamp where it formed part of the advanced guard. The action commenced before daybreak, and a succession of attacks, repulses, and charges were kept up until 9:00 p.m., in which the regiment took an active part. Two pieces of cannon and a pair of colours were captured; but at length the Prince ordered a retreat. In this battle, the regiment lost 8 men and 10 horses killed; Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, 2 men and 4 horses, wounded; and Captain Wilson, Lieutenant Goldsworthy, Cornet Duffe and 25 men, taken prisoners. On October 18, the regiment repassed the Rhine. It was then cantoned in the principality of Hesse, where the officers received orders to wear mourning for his late Majesty King George II.
In February 1761, the regiment was engaged in an incursion into the French cantonments and took part in several skirmishes. In the spring, a remount joined from England. The regiment later encamped on the heights between Illingen and Hohenover. On July 16, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen where it was posted near Vellinghausen, and, when the enemy's columns of attack were repulsed, advanced to charge, but was prevented by the hedges and marshy hollows which intersected the country. The regiment was subsequently employed on the Diemel. Afterwards, it marched into the Electorate of Hanover. Early in November, it was engaged in a skirmish near Einbeck. On the same night, it marched through heavy snow to Vorwohle, where they encountered and drove back some French cavalry. On November 9, it had another skirmish at Vorwohle, and subsequently marched into quarters in East Frisia.
In May 1762, the regiment left its winter-quarters. On June 18, it joined the Allied army encamped at Brakel, in the Bishopric of Paderborn, from whence it marched to the heights of Tissel. On June 24, the regiment took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal where it advanced against the enemy's front, and was subsequently employed in surrounding a division of the French army commanded by General Stainville in the woods of Wilhelmsthal; several French units were made prisoners. The pursuit was continued, and the French took refuge under the cannon of Cassel. The regiment then retired a few km and encamped near Holtzhausen. During the remainder of the campaign, the regiment was employed in operations on the Fulda, the Eder, and the Lahn, which were attended with such signal success, that a considerable portion of territory was wrested from the power of the enemy, and the allies took Cassel. These successes were followed by a treaty of peace, and the regiment proceeded into quarters in the Bishopric of Münster.
During the winter of 1762-63, shipping arrived from Great Britain to convey the troops home. In February 1763, the regiment commenced its march for Willemstad and embarked at that port for England. According to the official returns, the strength of the regiment was 14 officers, 329 men and 423 horses, with 24 servants and 35 women. After its return from Germany, the regiment was ordered to proceed to Scotland; at the same time the light troop was disbanded, and the establishment was reduced to 231 officers and soldiers.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced gold with a yellow metal loop and a black cockade|
|Coat||double breasted red lined dark blue with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes grouped 2 by 2
|Waistcoat||dark blue with very narrow yellow buttonholes|
|Breeches||dark blue with white knee covers|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket and usually rode black horses with hunter's tails. Their horses were lighter than those of most other dragoons.
As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:
- a narrow golden lace at the lapels, cuffs and pockets
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and gold striped sword knot
- blue housings and holster caps laced gold
Sergeants were distinguished by a narrow golden lace on the breast, cuffs and pockets; a golden aiguillette; a yellow and blue worsted sash about their waist.
Corporals were distinguished by a narrow golden lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; yellow silk aiguillette.
Drummers rode grey horses. They wore red coats lined and turned up with blue and laced with the royal lace (yellow and blue). Blue 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 regimental badge (crest of England within the Garter); 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 (I. D.) in the middle part behind.
The drums were of brass with a blue forepart carrying the regimental badge (crest of England within the Garter).
The guidons were made of silk, fringed and embroidered with gold. 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 rank of the regiment on a blue field.
Regimental Guidon: blue field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (crest of England within the Garter). In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment on a red ground within a small wreath of roses and thistles.
This article incorporates texts of the following source:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the First, or The Royal Regiment of Dragoons, London: William Clowes and Sons, 1840
English Wikipedia - 1st The Royal Dragoons
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.
Digby Smith for additional info provided on the regiment.