2nd Foot Guards
Origin and History
The regiment was raised by Colonel George Monck in Northumberland on August 13 1650 from 5 companies of Fenwick's Regiment, quartered at Berwick, and five companies of Hesilrige's Regiment, quartered at Newcastle. A few weeks later, on September 3 1650, the regiment fought at the Battle of Dunbar. In November, it took part in the capture of Edinburgh and Leith, in the storming of Derlton House near Haddington, in the capture of Roswell Castle, and on December 24, in the capture of the Castle of Edinburgh. In 1651, it took part in the capture of Tantallon Castle and in the sieges and capture of Stirling Castle and Dundee. In mid-November, the regiment took its quarters in Aberdeen. In January 1652, it marched from Aberdeen to Dundee where it relieved Colonel Cooper's Foot. In May, it took part in the capture of Dunotter Castle. In June, the army was ordered to march into the Highlands. By July 18, the regiment was at Bashenough while detachments occupied the Bray of Mar and Ruthven Castle. Towards the end of autumn, the regiment left the Highlands and marched to Edinburgh where 200 of its men were disbanded. In October 1653, two companies of the regiment took part in the reduction of the Western Isles and of the Orkneys. In January 1654, the entire regiment went to Falkirk. In April, it entered into Stirling and then marched to Kilsith beyond Glasgow. It then took part in the capture of the Island of Loch Tray and Balloch, Weemys Castle and Garth Castle. In August, Monck returned to St. Johnstone's and Stirling for provisions, then marched on Aberfoile in pursuit of the Earls of Glencairn and Athol who finally surrendered. In March 1655, two companies of the regiment marched from Edinburgh to Berwick to strengthen that garrison. In August, the regiment was reduced 20 men per company, leaving it 800 strong.
On October 19 1659, after Cromwell's death and the reinstatement of the Parliament, Monck, who was commander-in-chief in Scotland, mustered his regiment and Morgan's Foot in Edinburgh. He then told his officers that he was resolved to make military power subordinate to the Parliament. Officers and soldiers unanimously declared they would live and die with him. He also announced his intentions to Wilkes' Foot, stationed in Leith. On October 21, Monck marched to Lithgowe with some troops of horse and a few companies of foot. On October 22, he returned to Edinburgh. On December 8, Monck's Army assembled at Coldstream on the Tweed. From then on, his regiment was almost always designated as the "Coldstream Regiment". On January 1 1660, Monck set off from Coldstream at the head of his army (including his own regiment), marching towards London by Newcastle, Leicester, Harborough, Northampton, Dunstable, St. Albans and Barnet. On 3 February, Monck triumphantly entered London. Upon its arrival in London, the regiment repressed anarchy, enforced due obedience to the laws and secured the respect for the civil government. On February 24, Monck was constituted Captain-General under the Parliament. On April 9, Lambert escaped from the Tower of London but companies of the regiment pursued him and defeated his supporters at Daventry. On April 22, it brought Lambert back to the Tower of London. On May 8, with the support of Monck and of the Parliament, Charles II was proclaimed king in London. On May 28, Monck's regiment encamped at Blackheath with the rest of the army, in readiness to receive the King. For his role in the Restoration, Monck received the title of Earl of Albemarle. In August, orders were given to disband all former regiments of the English Army with the exception of Monck's regiment, now known as the “Lord General's Own Regiment” or “Duke of Albemarle's Regiment of Foot”. On January 11 1661, the King resolved to constitute this regiment his household troops along with the newly created King's Regiment of Guards. On February 14, the regiment was symbolically disbanded in relation to the kingdom's pay and immediately taken in the king's service as guards. From then, it was known as the “Lord General's Regiment of Foot Guards”.
In May 1664, 50 men of the regiment were drafted for an expedition to Guinea. In November, a detachment of the regiment embarked on board the fleet for service. In January 1665, when war broke out with the Dutch Republic, 500 men were added to the regiment for sea-service and distributed on board the fleet. In May 1666, a large portion of the regiment served once more on board the fleet, taking part in the Four Days' Battle (June 1 to 4) and in the St. James's Day Battle (July 25).
After Monck's death, in January 1670, William Earl of Craven became colonel of the regiment. From this period, the regiment became better known as the “Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards”. In February, a detachment of the regiment (1 officer, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 50 men) embarked to reinforce the ships sent in the Mediterranean to check the depredations committed by the Algerian pirates. The squadron returned in November.
In February 1672, when the Third Anglo-Dutch War broke out, each company of the regiment contributed 10 men for the creation of the “Duke of Monmouth's Regiment of Foot”. Furthermore, 300 men of the regiment embarked on board the fleet. On May 28, they took part in the Battle of Solebay before being sent back to London. In November, 100 men of the regiment were integrated into a combined regiment who served with the French against the Dutch. In May 1673, 6 companies of the regiment were distributed on board English ships. They took part in the two Battle of Schooneveld (May 28 and June 4) and in the Battle of Texel (August 21). By March 1674, the regiment was stationed in and about London while two of its companies were quartered at Rochester.
In October 1676, the 12 companies of the regiment contributed a total of 3 officers, 2 sergeants and 84 men for the creation of a regiment destined for service in Virginia. In 1677, two men from each company of the regiment were trained and exercised for the duty of grenadiers. The same year, England concluded an alliance with the Dutch Republic. In January 1678, the regiment was increased by 480 men to bring all 12 companies to 100 rank and file. Another augmentation of 8 companies soon took place. These 8 new companies were ordered to assemble at Rochester. In February, 4 of the old companies embarked at the Tower for Ostend. On April 4, a company of 100 grenadiers was added to the regiment. In May, 4 additional companies of the regiment were ordered to embark for Ostend. These 8 companies then campaigned under the command of the Duke of Monmouth, being attached to the brigade of Colonel John Churchill. After the Treaty of Nijmegen, the 8 companies returned to London. The regiment was then reduced to 12 companies of 60 men each.
At the end of July 1680, a detachment of the regiment (1 captain, 1 ensign, 4 sergeants and 120 privates) was sent to the relief of Tangiers. They were converged with other contingents to form the so called “King's Battalion” who sailed from Portsmouth. Meanwhile, 2 companies of the regiment went to Oxford to attend the King. In April 1684, the detachment previously sent to Tangiers returned home. The same month, a second grenadier company was added to the regiment. In September, the uniform of the regiment is described as follows:
- “red coats lined with green, red stockings and red breeches, ...grenadier caps lines green with green tassels”
By the time of the coronation of King James II in 1685, the regiment consisted of 12 companies and one company of grenadiers. The same year, one battalion of the regiment saw active service during the Monmouth Rebellion and, on July 6, fought at the Battle of Sedgemoor. In July, the regiment was twice reduced first from 100 to 80 men and then to 60 men per company. On May 21 1686, the regiment was provided with bayonets for the first time; previously only the grenadiers had them.
From September 1 1688, four companies were to the regiment: 3 musketeer companies and 1 grenadier companies. On November 5, the Prince of Orange landed at Torbay and marched with his Dutch regiments to Exeter. In December, prior to his entry into London, the Prince of Orange sent orders for all the King's forces in and about the capital to march out, with the exception of the Coldstream Guards. On December 19, the regiment was drawn up in Moor-fields and received orders to march for Rochester, Maidstone and Dover. On the accession of William III, the regiment was taken from Lord Craven and bestowed to Thomas Talmash.
In March 1689, according to its treaty with the Dutch Republic, England got involved in the Nine Years' War (1688–97). The two battalions of the regiment embarked for Helvoet Sluys. In may the regiment was reduced from 17 to 14 companies (2 companies were transferred to the 1st Foot Guards and the third was disbanded). At the end of the year, a battalion of 7 companies was raised for home duty and only one battalion remained on the establishment in Flanders. At the end of May, the regiment, commanded by Colonel Bridgeman, and some other regiments from England assembled on the Sambre, under Marlborough. On August 25, the first battalion of the regiment took part in an engagement at Walcourt. It later took its winter-quarters in Ghent. In July 1690, the battalion was posted in Bruxelles. In May 1691, the first battalion left its cantonments and joined the Allied army assembling at Anderlecht. On August 3 1692, the battalion took part in the Battle of Steenkerque. It was then attached to a force sent to Bruges and later formed part of the garrison of Dixmude. At the beginning of 1693, the Allies evacuated Dixmude. In May, they assembled at Dieghem, between Bruxelles and Louvain. On July 29, the first battalion fought in the Battle of Landen. In September, it was part of a force placed, under the command of the Elector of Bavaria, who marched to Saint-Quentin Linneck but was soon recalled to Ninove. The battalion took its winter-quarters in Ghent. In May 1694, it rejoined the army assembling near Louvain. In June the Brigade of Guards encamped at Valeduc to cover the king's quarters. In October, the whole of the heavy artillery was forwarded to Ghent in charge of the first battalion of the regiment. On June 18 of the same year, a detachment of the home battalion (4 officers, 4 sergeants, 6 corporals, 3 drummers and 138 privates) took part in an unsuccessful landing in Camaret Bay where Lieutenant-General Talmash was mortally wounded. Lord Cutts was then appointed colonel of the Coldstream Guards. In July 1695, the first battalion was part of Cutts' Brigade who contributed to the siege of Namur. In March 1696, William III fearing a French invasion recalled several units, including the first battalion of the regiment to England. However, this force was soon sent back to Flanders and, by April, was back in Ghent. On June 2, it marched to Wavre where an army was assembling. It later took its winter-quarters at Ghent. Early in April 1697, the first battalion was part of William's Army of Brabant who encamped between Deynse and Nivelle. In October, after the signature of the Treaty of Ryswick, the battalion embarked for England.
In 1702, during the War of the Spanish Succession, six companies of the regiment took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz and in the naval battle of Vigo Bay]]. In July 1704, 400 men of the regiment were converged with 200 men of the 1st Foot Guards to form a Battalion of Guards destined to Portugal. This battalion sailed for Lisbon and later joined the relief force destined for Gibraltar. From January to May 1705, the Battalion of Guards took part in the defence of Gibraltar; it then took part in the capture of Barcelona where it remained with Archduke Charles of Austria. In March 1706, a detachment of 338 men of the 1st Foot Guards and the Coldstream Guards embarked and sailed from Portsmouth to reinforce the Battalion of Guards defending Barcelona. At the end of May, the Battalion of Guards sailed from Barcelona to Valencia and took part in the capture of Requena and Cuenza. The same year, Charles Churchill succeeded to Lord Cutts as colonel of the Coldstream Guards. In 1707, the Battalion of Guards took part in the siege of the Castle of Villena and in the Battle of Almansa where it surrendered as prisoners of war. In September, the companies in England from which the Battalion of Guards had been formed, were newly recruited. In March 1708, a battalion of English Guards, drawn from the 1st Foot Guards and the Coldstream Guards (4 companies), was ordered to Scotland in consequence of the threatened French invasion. However, orders were changed and this converged battalion of English Guards (now including 6 companies of the Coldstream Guards) embarked and sailed for Flanders where it took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, covered the siege of Lille, its grenadiers taking part in the siege, relieved Bruxelles and took part in the siege and capture of Ghent. In 1709, the Brigade of Guards took part in the siege of Tournai, in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet and in the siege and capture of Mons. In 1710, they took part in the siege and capture of Douai. They were also present at the sieges of Béthune, Saint-Venant and Aire. In 1711, the Guards were at the siege and capture of Bouchain The same year, the regiment received a second battalion. In 1712, the Brigade of Guards serving in the Low Countries was part of Ormonde's British contingent who separated from the Imperialist army under the command of Prince Eugène and marched to Avesnes le Sec. On 17 July, Ormond published a cessation of arms and notified that Great Britain had made a separate truce with France. As the British troops marched towards the coast, they were insulted by their former allies: the gates of Denain were closed against them, they were denied admittance into Douai; and at Oudenarde they were refused passage through the town. On 29 July, Ormond took possession of Bruges and Ghent, the British Guards taking up their old quarters at Ghent. The Guards remained in Flanders till 1713.
At the end of March 1713, the two battalions of Guards who had served in the Low Countries returned to London.
During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment served in Flanders and took part in the battles of Dettingen (June 27 1743) and Fontenoy (May 11 1745).
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:
- from April 8 1755 to July 15 1773: James O'Hara, 2nd Lord Tyrawley
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 first battalion of the regiment landed in the Bay of Saint-Marais near Cherbourg and gained possession of the rising ground in front of its position. On September 10, during the retreat of the British army to reach its point of embarkment after the failed attempt against Saint-Malo, the battalion took possession of the ground to the right of the village of Saint-Cast, near the windmill. During the night, it captured 2 small batteries and destroyed them. 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 2 battalions for a total of 1,260 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. 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 (royal lace) red coat and wore blue breeches.
- The front or forepart of the drums were painted blue, with the royal arms. Another part wore the “Garter Star” which was the badge of the regiment.
King's Colour: none, only the 1st Foot Guards carried a King's colour.
The 2nd Foot Guards carried three crimson colours: the colonel's, the lieutenant-colonel's and the major's. Finally, each of its 15 companies carried a company colours in the form of the Union flag with differing devices.
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.
Colonel's Colour: crimson field; centre device consisting of a star of the Order of the Garter surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband).
Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour: crimson field; centre device consisting of a star of the Order of the Garter surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband). The Union in the upper left corner.
Major's Colour: crimson field; centre device consisting of a star of the Order of the Garter surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband). The Union in the upper left corner; a golden flame emerging from the Union.
Colours of the 15 companies:
This article is mostly and abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:
- MacKinson, Daniel: Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards, vol. 1, London: Richard Bentley, 1833
Aylor, Ron, British Regimental Drums and Colours
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 - Coldstream 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