1st Foot Guards
Origin and History
The regiment was raised as the "Lord Wentworth's Regiment" in Bruges in 1656 by King Charles II who was then living in exile in the Spanish Netherlands.
In 1660, when Charles II returned to England, the regiment was placed on British establishment. The same year, Charles II raised a second regiment of Foot Guards designated as the "King's Regiment of Guards".
In 1665, on the death of Lord Wentworth, the two aforementioned regiments were amalgamated into a single regiment counting two battalions.
In 1685, the regiment was renamed "1st Regiment of Foot Guards".
In 1759, a third battalion was added to the regiment.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:
- from February 18 1742 till his disgrace: William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland
- from November 30 1757 to April 30 1770: John Louis Ligonier, 1st Earl Ligonier
Service during the War
Throughout the Seven Years' War, a battalion was stationed around London and Windsor.
In May 1758, the first battalion was sent to the Isle of Wight in preparation for a raid on the French Coasts. It then embarked on the fleet and took part in the expedition from June 1 to July 1. It also participated in a second expedition on the French Coasts from August to September of the same year. On August 7, the battalion landed in the Bay of Saint-Marais near Cherbourg and gained possession of the rising ground in front of its position. On September 11, it suffered heavy losses during the re-embarkment at Saint-Cast.
As of May 30 1759, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 3 battalions for a total of 1,960 men.
In the Summer of 1760, the 2nd Battalion was sent to Germany to reinforce the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 25, it arrived at Ferdinand's headquarters near Bühne in Germany. It was immediately integrated into Ferdinand's Reserve deployed along the Diemel.
In 1761, the 2nd Battalion was part of Conway's Corps in Germany. On July 16, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen.
In 1762, the 2nd Battalion was part of Granby's Corps in Germany. On June 24, it took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. The corps fought stubbornly against the flower of the French infantry until Ferdinand managed to turn the rear of the French position with additional troops. A French corps was nearly annihilated. On September 21, the battalion took part in the Combat of Amöneburg. 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.
|Coat||brick red lined blue and laced white (unknown pattern)
|Waistcoat||brick red laced white (same lace as above)|
|Gaiters||white with black buttons|
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Troopers were armed with with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a sword. They also carried a dark brown haversack with a metal canteen on the left hip.
Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences
- gold gorget around the neck
- an aiguilette on the right shoulder
- silver lace instead of normal lace
- a crimson sash
Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.
Officers generally carried a spontoon, however, in battle some carried muskets instead.
According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:
- The drummers of the regiment were clothed with a heavily laced red coat and wore blue breeches.
- The front or forepart of the drums were painted blue, with the royal arms.
The 1st Foot Guards were unique in carrying the Royal Standard that no other regiment carried. Furthermore, they carried three crimson colours: the colonel's, the lieutenant-colonel's and the major's. Finally, each of its 24 companies carried a company colours in the form of the Union flag with differing devices.
It is most probable that the Royal Standard was only carried abroad when the Sovereign were in attendance. As per Lawson and others, company colours were not carried by each company after circa 1751. Thereafter the time-honored practice of rotational use as a regimental colour became routine.
Royal Standard: crimson field with its centre decorated with the king's cypher surmounted by a golden crown. Corners decorated with the following devices: the crowned rose and thistle, a crowned golden fleur de lys, a crowned golden Irish harp and a crowned white horse of Hanover.
Colonel's Colour: crimson field with its centre decorated with a golden crown.
Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour: crimson field with its centre decorated with the king's cypher surmounted by a golden crown. The Union in the upper left corner.
Major's Colour: crimson field with its centre decorated with the king's cypher surmounted by a golden crown; the Union in the upper left corner; a golden flame emerging from the Union.
Colours of the 24 companies:
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
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth
Wikipedia - Grenadier Guards
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Tim Reese for additional information on the use of colours during the Seven Years' War and on the campaign of 1758