8th Foot

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised as the “Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Foot” during the Monmouth Rebellion according to a warrant issued on June 20 1685. The first company was raised by Lord Ferrars, in Hertfordshire; the second by John Beaumont, Esq., in Derbyshire; the third by John Innis, Esq., near London; and the other seven by Rowland Okeover, Charles Chudd, Thomas Paston, William Cook, Simon Packe, Walter Burdet, and Thomas Orme, in Derbyshire. The general rendezvous of the regiment being at Derby. The formation of the regiment was in rapid progress, when Monmouth was defeated and captured in the Battle of Sedgemoor, on July 6 1685. Each company of the regiment was immediately reduced to sixty privates. On 25 July, each company was further reduced to 50 privates.

In 1686, the eight companies of the regiment were sent to Northumberland. In 1687, they returned to the neighbourhood of London and received a grenadier company. The regiment then consisted of 10 companies of pikemen and musketeers, and one of grenadiers. It took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath and then marched into garrison at Portsmouth, its grenadier company being detached to York.

In 1688, the Duke of Berwick, the current colonel of the regiment, gave orders for a number of Irish Catholics to be incorporated in the regiment. The Lieutenant-Colonel, John Beaumont, and Captains Simon Packe, Thomas Orme, John Port, William Cook, and Thomas Paston remonstrated against receiving Irishmen into their companies and concluded with a declaration of their determination to resign their commissions rather than receive Irish Catholic recruits into their companies. James II was so incensed by their declaration that he immediately sent 20 cuirassiers of the Queen Dowager's Regiment to Portsmouth to arrest these officers who were later dismissed from the service. A number of men of the regiment then deserted rather than serve with the Irish Catholic recruits, who had been forced into the regiment. At the end of the year, the Prince of Orange landed with a powerful force to support the Protestant interest. James II and the Duke of Berwick fled to France. On December 31, the Prince of Orange, having assumed the powers of the government, promoted the patriotic Lieutenant-Colonel Beaumont to the colonelcy of the regiment.

In 1689, when some resistance to King William's authority was experienced in Scotland, the regiment was ordered from its quarters at Southampton to the north. It halted at Carlisle and, on June 13, was inspected by the commissioners appointed to re-model the army. Edinburgh Castle having surrendered to the forces of King William, the regiment did not continue its march to Scotland. It was one of the units selected to proceed to Ireland with the army commanded by the Duke Schomberg. After encamping a short time near Chester, the several regiments embarked at Highlake. On August 13, they anchored in the Bay of Carrickfergus, landed immediately and pitched their tents in the fields, near the shore. The regiment then took part in the siege and capture of Carrickfergus. Schomberg's Army then advanced to Dundalk where it entrenched. After losing a number of men at the unhealthy camp at Dundalk, the regiment marched into winter-quarters, and was stationed at the frontier garrisons of Green Castle and Rostrever. In the spring of 1690, the regiment was stationed at Londonderry. In July, it took part in the Battle of the Boyne and in the capture of Dublin. On July 7, it was reviewed by King William at Finglass. It then counted 526 rank and file, exclusive of officers and non-commissioned officers. The regiment then took part in the unsuccessful siege of Limerick. In September and October, it took part in the sieges and capture of Cork and Kinsale. It then garrisoned Kinsale and then Cork. In 1691, the regiment was initially left in the County of Cork to assume garrison duty. It then joined the field army and took part in the siege and capture of Limerick.

In February 1692, the regiment returned to England. Shortly after its return from Ireland, it embarked for the Netherlands, to serve with the army commanded by King William in person, against the forces of Louis XIV. However, the order was countermanded, the shipping returned to port, and the regiment landed at Gravesend. Once the threat of a French invasion had been eliminated, the regiment marched to Portsmouth, where it embarked for an expedition against the coasts of France. Landing was found impracticable, and the fleet sailing to Ostend, the troops disembarked in the beginning of September. They were subsequently joined by a detachment from the Allied army, commanded by Lieutenant-General Talmash, and having taken possession of Fumes, fortified it against any sudden attack, for a winter cantonment. They afterwards repaired the works of Dixmude. The regiment returned to England during the winter, and was employed in garrison duty at Portsmouth. In April 1693, the regiment was removed to Canterbury and Dover. It sent a draft of 100 men to reinforce the English regiments stationed in the Netherlands. In 1694, the regiment was stationed in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. In December, 1695, Colonel Beaumont was succeeded in the command of the regiment by Colonel John Richmond Webb. In February 1696, the regiment was sent to Flanders and was placed in garrison at Dendermonde. In June, it joined the troops under the Duke of Württemberg encamped on the banks of the Scheldt, from whence it proceeded to the main army, commanded by King William in person. On its arrival at the camp at Gemblours, the regiment was brigaded with the Royal Fusiliers and the regiments of Mackay, Stanley, and Seymour. In August, it was sent to Ghent where it passed the winter. In the spring of 1697, it marched to Brabant.

In 1698, the regiment returned to England and soon afterwards proceeded to Ireland.

In 1701, on the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession (1702-13), the regiment embarked at the Cove of Cork for the Netherlands. On March 8 1702, information was received of the decease of King William and the accession of Queen Anne. The elevation of the Princess Anne of Denmark to the throne, was followed by the royal authority for this regiment to be designated “The Queen's Regiment”, though it was also known after its colonel, John Richmond Webb. In that same year, the regiment initially formed part of the covering army during the siege of Kayserswerth, on the Lower Rhine. In June, it had to precipitously retire to Nijmegen. It later took part in the siege of Venlo. It also took part in the siege of Roermond. On October 23, the grenadiers of the regiment were engaged in storming the citadel of Liège , and highly distinguished themselves. In 1703, the regiment took part in the sieges of Huy and Limhourg. In 1704, it took part in Marlborough's famous march to the Danube, fighting in the Battle of the Schellenberg and in the Battle of Blenheim. It then marched back to the Rhine to support the siege of Landau. In 1705, it was involved in the recapture of Huy and took part in the passage of the lines at Neer-Hespen and at the bridge of Helixem. In 1706, it was at the battle of Ramillies and at the siege of Menin.. In 1708, it took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, capturing some colours from Swiss battalions in the French service. Later during the year, the regiment was at the sieges of Ghent, Bruges and Lille. In 1709, it took part in the siege of Tournai and fought at Malplaquet where it suffered heavy casualties. In 1710 the regiment took part in the sieges of Douai, Béthune, Aire and Saint-Venant.

In 1715, the regiment was recalled to England to fight the supporters of the Stuart pretender to the throne. The regiment took part in the battle of Sheriffmuir, suffering heavy casualties (100 killed, about 12 wounded) and withdrawing to Stirling.

In 1716, the regiment was renamed the “King's Regiment of Foot”.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, the regiment fought in the battle of Dettingen on June 27 1743. On May 11 1745, it took part in the battle of Fontenoy where it suffered over 150 casualties. Early in 1746, the regiment was recalled to fight the Jacobite Rebellion and, on January 17, took part in the battle of Falkirk. Then on April16, it fought at Culloden. It then went back to the continent where, on October 11, it was present at the battle of Roucoux. On July 2 1747, it fought at Lauffeld. After the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the regiment returned to England during the winter of 1748.

In 1749, the regiment was reduced and ordered to proceed to Gibraltar, in which fortress it was stationed during 3 successive years.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the “8th (King's) Regiment of Foot”.

In 1752, the regiment returned to Great Britain.

As per a resolution of September 20 1756, a second battalion was exceptionally added to the regiment. Two years later, in 1758, this second battalion was made a distinct regiment as the 63rd Regiment of Foot.

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

  • from April 25 1745 to March 1759: Edward Wolfe
  • from March 1759: vacant
  • from October 24 1759 to April 11 1764: Honorable John Barrington

Service during the War

During the summer of 1757, both battalions were encamped near Dorchester, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir John Mordaunt, and were held in readiness to repel a threatened invasion by the French. However, the formidable preparations in England and other causes deterred the French from making the attempt. From Dorchester, both battalions were removed to the Isle of Wight. By September, the regiment was stationed on the Isle of Wight and embarked on the fleet for the aborted raid on Rochefort.

In 1758, the second battalion was constituted a regiment and numbered 63rd Foot, the command of this new regiment being conferred on Colonel David Watson seconded by Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Desbrisay and Major John Trollop. The 8th Foot was at the Isle of Wight in May in preparation for a raid on the French Coasts. It then embarked on the fleet and took part to the first expedition against the French coasts from June 1 to July 1.

In March 1759, Lieutenant-General Edward Wolfe died. As of May 30, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 1 battalion for a total of 900 men. The colonelcy remained vacant until October following, when it was conferred on Major-General the Honourable John Barrington from the 40th Foot who had, a few months before, signalized himself in the West Indies, particularly in the capture of Guadeloupe.

On May 1 1760, the regiment was notified that it would be part of the British reinforcement (six battalions and two regiments of Highlanders) promised to Ferdinand of Brunswick. In June, it was shipped to Bremen on the Weser instead of, as heretofore, Emden. By June 17, the regiment had joined the Allied army at the camp of Fritzlar where it was reviewed by Ferdinand. It took part in the movements and skirmishes of the main army previous to the battle of Warburg on July 31. During this battle, its grenadier company was sharply engaged and highly distinguished itself, losing 1 sergeant and 2 privates killed, Captain Wilkenson and 13 privates wounded and 1 man missing. The regiment was subsequently encamped behind the Diemel. While in this position, the grenadier company was detached, with several units of cavalry and infantry, across the river. In the night of September 5, this detachment surprised a body of French in the town of Zierenberg. After some sharp fighting in the streets, about 40 French officers and 300 soldiers were made prisoners, and the Allies returned to their camp at Warburg. The grenadier company of the regiment was subsequently detached to the Lower Rhine and was engaged, on October 16, in the battle of Clostercamp where it formed part of Lennox's grenadier battalion. In this battle, it lost lieutenant Morrison wounded and several privates killed and wounded. In December, the regiment went into cantonments, in villages near the river Weser.

In February 1761, the regiment was withdrawn from these villages and proceeded through a deep snow into Hessen-Kassel where it was engaged in several operations. The French were forced to surrender several fortified towns and extensive magazines and, in March, the Allies returned to their former quarters. In June, the regiment again took the field, brigaded with the 20th Foot, 25th Foot and 50th Foot under Major-General Townshend, in the division commanded by Lieutenant-General Conway. The grenadier company was in the division under the Marquis of Granby. On July 15, the French attacked the Marquis of Granby's division at Vellinghausen and were repulsed. They renewed the attack on the following day. The 8th Foot was posted on the high grounds between Illingen and Hohenover, and a detachment stationed in front had a slight skirmish with the enemy, and had 1 private killed and 1 taken prisoner. The French were repulsed and the grenadier battalion, of which the company of the 8th Foot formed part, took the Rougé Infanterie prisoners, together with its cannon and colours. The regiment was subsequently employed in numerous operations in the bishopric of Paderborn, and on the river Weser, and took part in several skirmishes. In November, it was engaged at Einbeck, in the electorate of Hanover. It was subsequently encamped on the banks of the Have, near Einbeck. In December, the regiment marched into cantonments in the bishopric of Osnabrück.

During the campaign of 1762, the regiment was brigaded with the 20th Foot and the 50th Foot under Major-General Mompesson. This brigade took part in the battle of Wilhelmstal where it formed part of the center column under Ferdinand of Brunswick. They crossed the Diemel at 4:00 AM and, after a long march, gained the front of the French camp and fought stubbornly against the flower of the French infantry until Ferdinand managed to turn the rear of the French position with additional troops. The French made a precipitate retreat to Kassel and one division was surrounded and made prisoners in the woods of Wilhelmstal. The regiment was later engaged in numerous operations and in several skirmishes. The campaign concluded with the siege and capture of Kassel.

In January 1763, the regiment commenced its march from Germany and proceeded through the Netherlands to Williamstadt where it embarked for England. Upon arrival, its numbers were reduced to a peace establishment. From England, the regiment proceeded to Scotland where it was stationed two years.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier
8th Foot Grenadier Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
British mitre with: a dark blue front edged white embroidered with white floral twigs and with the regimental badge (the white horse of Hanover on a piece of green turf on a red field within a dark blue garter belt edged yellow wearing the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” in yellow) 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 yellow and with a green bottom strip with yellow stripes; red back; a dark blue headband edged white probably wearing the number 8 in the middle part behind; a white pompom with dark blue inner threads
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined blue and laced white (white braid with a thin yellow braid in its centre) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel and brick red shoulder wing with laces (same lace as above)
Collar none
Shoulder Straps red (left shoulder)
Lapels blue with laces (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets with laces (same lace as above)
Cuffs blue slashed cuffs with laces (same lace as above) with 4 pewter buttons and 4 buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks blue
Waistcoat brick red with lace (same lace as above)
Breeches blue
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
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:

  • gold gorget around the neck
  • a gold aiguilette on the right shoulder
  • gold lace instead of normal lace
  • a crimson sash
  • red breeches

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

According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:

The drummers of the regiment wore the royal livery. They were clothed in red, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with blue, and laced with the royal lace (golden braid with two thin purple central stripes).

The drum body was blue with the regimental badge (the white horse of Hanover on a red field surrounded by a blue garter and surmounted by a gold crown), the number of the regiment under the badge, the regiment number "VIII" in the upper left corner and the gold King's cipher surmounted by a crown in the three other corners. The drum rims were red.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (the white horse of Hanover on a red field surrounded by a blue garter and surmounted by a gold crown; the motto "NEC ASPERA TERRENT" underneath). The regiment number "VIII" in roman gold numerals in the upper left corner.

Regimental Colour: blue field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (the white horse of Hanover on a red field surrounded by a blue garter and surmounted by a gold crown; the motto "NEC ASPERA TERRENT" underneath). The Union in the upper left corner with the regiment number "VIII" in roman gold numerals in its centre. The gold king's cipher surmounted by a crown in the three other corners.

N.B.: since this regiment exceptionally counted 2 battalion, the colours of the 2nd Battalion were distinguished by a flaming ray superposed to the upper left branch of the saltire.

King's Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Colour - Source: Frédéric Aubert
King's Colour 2nd Battalion - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Regimental Colour 2nd Battalion - Source: Frédéric Aubert

References

This article incorporates texts from the following books which are now in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical record of the Eighth, or The King's Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1844
  • Fortescue, J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899
  • George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

Other sources

Aylor, Ron: British Regimental Drums and Colours

Blomquist Erik S. and DeCroix Douglas W.: Advice to the Soldier

Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)

"Regiment, The Military Heritage Collection", August/Sept. 1994

Wikipedia - 8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot

N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.