3rd Dragoons

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Origin and History

Early in 1685, five independent troops of dragoons were raised in Berkshire, Middlesex, Herts, and Essex to curb Monmouth Rebellion. They were initially attached to the Royal Dragoons. On August 2, these independent troops were formed in a regiment known as the “Queen Consort's Own Regiment of Dragoons” which ranked 3rd. The Duke of Somerset was its first colonel. The regiment assembled at Acton. In 1686 and 1687, it took part in the training camps of Hounslow Heath

In November 1688, when the Prince of Orange landed in England, part of the regiment defected and joined the ranks of his army.

In August 1689, during the Williamite War, the regiment was transported to Ireland. On 27 October, a detachment of the regiment took part in a raid on Ardee. On July 1, 1690, the regiment took part in the Battle of the Boyne. It was also present at the failed siege of Limerick. On July 22, 1691, it fought in the Battle of Aughrim. On September 2, the regiment ambushed and routed two regiments of Catholic cavalry and, several days later, subdued a number of Catholic garrisons between Cork and Limerick. In the spring of 1692, the regiment returned to England.

In 1692 and 1693, the regiment was stationed in the southern and western counties of England.

In March 1694, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was transported to the Netherlands. In 1695, the establishment of the regiment was augmented to eight troops for a total of 38 officers, 72 NCOs and 480 privates. It then occupied Diksmuide where it surrendered as prisoners of war on July 18. It was exchanged later the same year. At the end of 1697, the regiment returned to England where it was reduced to six troops for a total of 286 privates.

The regiment remained in England until the summer of 1702

In 1702, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), part of the regiment took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz in Spain. After the failed siege, it returned to England. On October 12, on its way to England, it took part in a raid in Vigo Bay. In 1706, another detachment of about 240 officers and men embarked on board the fleet of Sir Cloudesley Shovel for an expedition against the coast of France. The descent was canceled, due to contrary winds, and the expedition was redirected on Lisbon. In 1707, the detachment of the regiment was sent to Alicante in Valencia. It then took part in the Battle of Almansa where it was virtually annihilated. In 1708, the officers of the detachment were sent back to England where the regiment was ordered to be recruited to 60 men per troop. By 1713, the regiment was quartered in North Britain and mustered 339 men.

In 1714, the regiment was renamed the "King's Regiment of Dragoons".

During the Jacobite Rising of 1715, the regiment took part, on November 13, in the Battle of Sheriffmuir where it covered the retreat.

From 1717, the regiment was usually stationed in the southern and western counties of England; but occasionally occupied quarters, for short periods, in Scotland.

In 1739, the establishment of the regiment was raised to 435 men. The regiment took part in a training camp on Hounslow Heath. In the summer of 1740, it was encamped in Windsor Forest.

In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was transported to Ostend. On June 27, 1743, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen where it suffered heavy losses while charging the more numerous French cavalry. It drove the French cavalry back and captured 2 kettle-drums. For its conduct, the regiment received its first battle honour. On May 11, 1745, the regiment took part in the Battle of Fontenoy. In October of the same year, the regiment returned to Great Britain to curb another Jacobite uprising. On December 16, it took part in an inconclusive skirmish.

On July 1, 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British cavalry, the regiment was designated as the “3rd (King's Own) Regiment of Dragoons”. It was also known as the “Bland's Dragoons”.

The regiment counted 2 squadrons and was always mounted on black horses.

In 1753, the regiment lay at Colchester; and in 1754, at Croydon. In December 1754, it was broken up into half troops, and employed on coast duty: being scattered along the coast, from Shoreham to the Isle of Wight.

At the end of 1755, a company of light dragoons was added to the regiment.

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

  • from April 1755 to October 1772: Major-General George, Earl of Albemarle

In April 1763, the light troop was disbanded at Putney.

Service during the War

In June 1755, the whole regiment assembled at Lewes.

In July 1756, the regiment marched from Lewes to Reading. In December, it was sent to Northampton.

In June 1757, the regiment marched to Henley, Amersham and High Wycombe.

In May and June 1758, the light troop of the regiment, commanded by Captain St. Leger, took part in an expedition against the French Coasts. The light troop then remained at Portsmouth for some time, and many experiments were made with boats of different constructions, in order to ascertain the practicability of landing men and horses in rough weather. In August and September, this troop also took part in a second expedition against the French Coasts. In December, the light troop landed and went into quarter at Maidenhead.

As of May 30 1759, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 2 squadrons for a total of 390 men. On November 7, it marched to Hounslow and Brentford.

On June 21, 1760, the regiment received orders to prepare for embarkation for Germany, to join the army of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick. These orders were, however, countermanded.

In 1761 and 1762, the regiment was successively quartered at Romford, Colchester, Uxbridge, and Chelmsford.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Ibrahim90 from a template made by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1758
Headgear black tricorne laced gold with a yellow metal loop and black cockade
Neck stock white
Coat double breasted red lined light blue with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes grouped 3 by 3
Collar none
Shoulder strap left shoulder: red fastened with a yellow button
right shoulder: yellow aiguillette
Lapels none
Pockets long vertical pockets with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes in a chevron pattern
Cuffs light blue (slashed in the British pattern) with yellow buttons and very narrow yellow buttonholes in a chevron pattern on the sleeve
Turnbacks light blue
Waistcoat light blue with very narrow yellow buttonholes
Breeches light blue 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 black boots
Horse Furniture
Housings light blue with pointed corners decorated with the regimental badge (White Horse within the Garter); bordered with a yellow braid with a blue stripe
Holster caps light blue decorated with crowned royal cypher; bordered with a yellow braid with a blue stripe
Blanket roll light blue and red


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

Officers

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

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

NCOs

Sergeants were distinguished by a narrow gold lace on the lapels, cuffs and pockets; a golden aiguillette; a yellow and light blue worsted sash about their waist.

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

Musicians

Drummers rode grey horses. They wore scarlet coats lined and turned up with light blue and laced with the royal lace (yellow with a blue stripe). 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 the regimental badge (White Horse 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 (III. D.) in the middle part behind.

The drums were of brass with a light blue forepart carrying the regimental badge (White Horse within the Garter).

Colours

The guidons were made of silk, fringed and embroidered in 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 (III D.) in gold characters on a light blue ground.

Regimental Guidon: light blue field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (White Horse within the Garter) with the regimental motto (Nec aspera terrent) underneath. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment (III D.) in gold on a red ground within a small wreath of roses and thistles.

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

References

This article incorporates texts of the following book, which is in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Third, or the King’s own Regiment of Light Dragoons, London: Parker, Furnivall, & Parker, 1847

Other sources

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)

Wikipedia - 3rd Dragoons

Acknowledgements

Digby Smith for additional info on the regiment.