8th Dragoons

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised In Derry in Ireland on February 1 1693 by Colonel Henry Conyngham from the Protestant survivors of the siege of Londonderry. It was known as the "Henry Cunningham Dragoon".

During the War of the Spanish Succession, from 1707, the regiment served in Spain. On April 25 1707, it fought in the battle of Almansa where it suffered very heavy losses (more than 50% killed or captured). On July 27 1710, it took part in the battle of Almenara where it distinguished itself in the pursuit of a Spanish cavalry corps, recovering crossbelts of the fleeing enemy. For many years, these crossbelts became a distinctive of the regiment who was nicknamed the “Crossbelt Dragoons”. On December 8 and 9 1710, the regiment was taken prisoners of war at the battle of Brihuega.

The regiment was disbanded on April 16 1714, re-raised on July 22 1715, disbanded again in February 1716 to be finally re-established on March 17 1719.

During the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the regiment served in the North of England and Scotland where it took part to several actions.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British cavalry, the regiment was designated as the "8th Regiment of Dragoons".

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

  • since 1756: J. Waldegrave
  • from 1758: Major-general Yorke
  • from 1760 till 1763: Severn

On December 25 1775, the regiment was converted into a Light Dragoon Regiment known as the "8th Light Dragoons". In 1777, it was renamed "8th or King's Royal Irish Light Dragoon".

Service during the War

As of May 30 1759, the regiment was stationed in Ireland and counted 2 squadrons for a total of 180 men. It was not involved in any campaign during the war.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Ibrahim90 from a template made by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1758
Headgear black tricorne laced silver with a black cockade on the left side
Neck stock white
Coat double breasted red lined yellow with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes grouped 3 by 3
Collar none
Shoulder strap left shoulder: red fastened with a white button
right shoulder: white aiguillette
Lapels none
Pockets long vertical pockets with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes in a chevron pattern
Cuffs yellow (slashed in the British pattern) with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes in a chevron pattern on the sleeve
Turnbacks yellow
Waistcoat yellow with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes
Breeches yellow with white knee covers
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather crossbelts remained a characteristic of the regiment despite several attempts to eliminate them
Waistbelt n/a
Cartridge Box natural leather pouch
Scabbard n/a
Bayonet scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Housings yellow with rounded corners decorated with the rank of the regiment (VIII D.) on a red ground within a small wreath of roses and thistles; bordered with a white braid with a central yellow stripe
Holster caps yellow decorated with the King's Cypher in white with the Crown over it; bordered with a white braid with a central yellow stripe
Blanket roll yellow 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 silver lace at the lapels, cuffs and pockets
  • a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
  • crimson and gold striped sword knot
  • yellow housings and holster caps laced silver

NCOs

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

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

Musicians

Drummers rode grey horses. They wore yellow coats lined and turned up with red and laced with a white braid with a yellow stripe. Red waistcoats and breeches.

Drummers wore a mitre cap similar to the grenadier mitre cap but with a lower crown and the tassel hanging behind; yellow front decorated with a trophy of guidons and drums; little frontal red flap with the White Horse and the motto “Nec aspera terrent”; red backing, yellow headband with a drum and the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in the middle part behind.

The drums were of brass with a yellow forepart carrying the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.

Colours

The guidons were made of silk, fringed in yellow and silver, and embroidered in silver. 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 (VIII. D.) in silver characters on a yellow ground.

Regimental Guidon: yellow field with its centre decorated with the rank of the regiment (VIII. D.) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the Rose and Thistle conjoined upon a red ground.

King's Guidon - Source: Richard Couture from a template by PMPdeL
Regimental Guidon - Source: Richard Couture from a template by PMPdeL

References

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)

The Queen's Royal Hussars

Schirmer, Friedrich: Die Heere der kriegführenden Staaten 1756 - 1763. Edited and published by KLIO-Landesgruppe Baden-Württemberg e.V., Magstadt, 1989

Wikipedia - 8th Dragoons

Acknowledgements

Digby Smith for additional info on the regiment.