5th Foot

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Origin and History

On August 8 1674, the regiment was raised in North Brabant by Colonel Daniel O'Brien, Lord Clare for service with the Dutch Army. It was initially formed from Irish troops and was accordingly known as the "Irish Regiment". In 1675, many English gentlemen received commissions in the regiment. In 1676, it took part in the siege of Maastricht; in 1677, in the Battle of Mont-Cassel; in 1678, in the Combat of Saint-Denis.

In 1679, after the Treaty if Nijmegen, the regiment remained in the Dutch service and assumed garrison duties in Grave. In 1684, it was transferred to Mechlin.

In 1685, the regiment, along with five other British regiments, was recalled to England to quench Monmouth Rebellion. However, it landed in England after the defeat of Monmouth at the Battle of Sedgemoor. It then proceeded to Blackheath and then to Hounslow Heath where it was reviewed by the king. The rebellion having been suppressed, the regiment returned to the Dutch Republic and was again employed in garrison duty.

In 1687, when James II demanded the return of the British regiments in the Dutch service, the States-General, in concert with the Prince of Orange, resolved not to part with these favourite corps, for whose services they expected soon to have urgent occasion; at the same time they laid no constraint upon the officers, but allowed them either to remain in the Dutch Republic or to return to England, at their own choice. Out of 240 officers, only 60 embraced the latter alternative.

In 1688, the colonelcy of the regiment having become vacant by the death of Colonel Monk, it was conferred by the Prince of Orange on Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Tollemache (aka Talmash), formerly of the Coldstream Guards. In November of the same year, the six British regiments in the Dutch service were part of the Prince of Orange's Army who landed on the Devonshire coast. The regiment landed at Brixham key, 4 km from Dartmouth, from whence it marched to Exeter and afterwards to Honiton, where, on the night of November 13, it was joined by a number of men of the Earl of Oxford's Horse and Duke of St. Alban's Horse, and of the Royal Regiment of Dragoons, who had quitted the service of King James. Once the Prince of Orange had become king of England as William III, the regiment, who had marched to the vicinity of London and then proceeded into quarters in the western counties, was placed on the English establishment. Dating its seniority from June 5 1685, the day on which it first received pay from the British crown during Monmouth Rebellion, the regiment obtained rank as Fifth Regiment of Foot in the British Line. In June 1689, the regiment marched from the west of England for London, and was quartered in Southwark until October, when it embarked at Deptford and Greenwich for Plymouth, and in December marched into Cornwall, with detached companies in Devonshire.

In the Spring of 1690, during the Williamite War, the regiment was sent from Bristol to Ireland, landing at Belfast on April 30. On July 11, it took part in the Battle of the Boyne and then occupied Dublin. In 1691, it took part in the sieges of Athlone and Limerick before returning to England.

Towards the end of February 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment was sent to Flanders but it was soon recalled to England to defend the country against a possible landing of a French army. The regiment landed at Greenwich in the early part of May and was stationed along the southern coast. In October, now that all threats of invasion had vanished, the regiment marched to Portsmouth to assume garrison duty. During the summer of 1693, the regiment was embarked on board the fleet, and, proceeding with an expedition to Martinique, it effected a landing, drove the enemy's troops from the coast, and laid waste several French settlements on that island. In the autumn, it landed at Portsmouth and marched into cantonments in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. During the winter, the regiment was part of a strong reinforcement sent to Flanders. In December, it embarked at Greenwich and Deptford, and lander at Ostend. It then marched to Sluys where it remained several months. From mid-May 1694, the regiment campaigned in Flanders and Brabant. On August 26, the colonel of the regiment died; William III conferred the vacant colonelcy on Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Fairfax, by commission dated November 6. In the Autumn, the regiment marched into barracks at Bruges. In 1695, it took part in the covering of the siege of Namur. From Namur, the regiment marched to Nieuport and encamped on the sand-hills near that town. Towards the end of October, it marched to Bruges. In 1696, the regiment covered Ghent and Bruges. It passed the winter in its former station at Bruges. In the spring of 1697, the regiment marched from Bruges to Bruxelles. In December, it returned to England.

In 1698, the regiment proceeded to Ireland. It then counted one battalion of 10 companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.

During the early part of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment remained stationed in Ireland. In 1704, Thomas Pearce was appointed to the colonelcy of the regiment. In 1707, the regiment was sent from Ireland to Portugal. In 1709, it fought in the Battle of La Gudiña. In 1710, it was employed in the Alentejo and took part in the capture of Xeres de los Cabaleros. In 1711, it was engaged in the capture of several small towns, and in levying contributions in Spanish Extremadura. In 1712, it continued in Portugal. In 1713, the regiment proceeded from Portugal to Gibraltar which had been ceded to Great Britain at the Treaty of Utrecht.

From 1713, the regiment remained in garrison at Gibraltar for a period of fifteen years.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the “5th Regiment of Foot”. It was one of the "Six Old Corps" entitled to use a regimental badge on its colours, drums and other devices rather than the typical GR cipher as used by normal line infantry regiments.

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

  • August 20 1754: George Bentinck
  • October 24 1759 to November 7 1768: Studholme Hodgson

Service during the War

In September 1757, the regiment, which was stationed on the Isle of Wight, embarked aboard the fleet and took part in the unsuccessful and wasteful raid on Rochefort.

In May 1758, the regiment was at the Isle of Wight in preparation for a raid on the French Coasts. It then embarked on the fleet and took part to the first expedition from June 1 to July 1. It also participated to a second expedition on the French Coasts from August to September of the same year. Its grenadiers suffered heavy losses during the disastrous re-embarkment at Saint-Cast.

As of May 30 1759, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 1 battalion for a total of 900 men.

On May 1 1760, the regiment was warned that it would be part of the British reinforcement (six battalions and two regiments of Highlanders) promised to Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was shipped to Bremen on the Weser instead of, as heretofore, to Emden. By June 17, the regiment had joined the Allied army at the camp of Fritzlar where it was reviewed by Ferdinand. On July 10, the regiment was with the Hereditary Prince at the battle of Corbach. Along with other British regiments, it covered the retreat of the defeated Allied army.

In July 1761, the regiment was with Granby's corps in Germany and took part to the battle of Vellinghausen.

In June 1762, the regiment still was with Granby's corps in Germany and took part to the battle of Wilhelmsthal. During this battle, the regiment captured a large body of French grenadiers. Because of this feat of arm, it received the privilege of wearing French grenadier busbies.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier
5th Foot Grenadier Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
British mitre with: a gosling green front edged white embroidered with white branches with dark green and yellow leaves and with the regimental badge (St. George in a golden armour mounted on a white horse killing a dark green dragon with a red tongue lying on a dark yellow patch) surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small red front flap edged white with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent" in white and with a bright green bottom strip with bright yellow stripes; red back; a gosling green headband edged white probably wearing the number 5 in the middle part behind; a white pompom with gosling green inner threads
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined goslin green and laced white (plain white lace) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel and brick red shoulder wing laced white (same lace as above)
Collar none
Shoulder Straps red (left shoulder)
Lapels goslin green laced white (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets vertical pockets with white fishbone laces (same lace as above), each with pewter buttons
Cuffs goslin green (slashed in the British pattern) laced white (same lace as above) with white fishbone laces (same lace as above) and 4 pewter buttons on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks goslin green
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above)
Breeches brick red
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


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

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences

  • silver gorget around the neck
  • a silver 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.

Musicians

The drum body was goslin green with the regimental badge (St. George killing the dragon), the number of the regiment under the badge, the regiment number "V" in the upper left corner and a crown with a rose in the three other corners.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (St. George killing the dragon). The regiment number "V" in roman gold numerals in the upper left corner.

Regimental Colour: goslin green field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (St. George killing the dragon). The Union in the upper left corner with the regiment number "V" in roman gold numerals in its centre. A crown with a rose in the three other corners.

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

References

The section on origin and history is mainly a condensed and abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: "Historical Records of the British Army – The Fifth Regiment of Foot or Nothumberland Fusiliers, London: William Clowes and Sons, 1838

Other sources

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

Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II, p. 100

Wikipedia - 5th Regiment of Foot