Royal Horse Guards
Origin and History
The regiment was raised in 1661 for the Earl of Oxford and named the "Royal Regiment of Horse". Quite unusually, the regiment had a blue uniform. For this reason, it was nicknamed “The Blues”.
In 1690, when William III arrived in England with his own blue clad cavalry regiment, the regiment became known as "The Oxford Blues" to differentiate it from this Dutch regiment.
The regiment had precedence over all line cavalry regiments but was not part of the Guard.
On July 1, 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British army, the regiment remained unnumbered.
At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment exceptionally counted 3 squadrons rather than the usual 2 squadrons of other British heavy cavalry regiments. In 1758, before its transfer to Germany, its cavalrymen each received a cuirasse and an iron skull-cap. The Royal Horse Guards always rode black horses.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from 1758 until 1770: John Manners, Marquess of Granby
Service during the War
In the summer of 1758, the regiment was among the first British contingent (6,000 men) sent to reinforce the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. The contingent embarked at Gravesend on July 19, disembarked at Emden on August 3 and arrived at Coesfeld on August 17, after marching through a very heavy rain.
During the first half of 1759, the regiment formed part of the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was attached to Mostyn's Division in the first line of the cavalry right wing. On April 13, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the first column under the command of the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick. In June, the regiment was still part of the Allied Main Army under the command of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, the regiment was present at the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the right hand column under Lord George Sackville. This cavalry corps did not take part in the battle despite several orders requesting its intervention. Lord Sackville was later court-martialed and lost his command.
On July 31, 1760, the regiment fought in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of Granby's cavalry. Granby charged and broke the French cavalry right wing then wheeled and hit the French infantry in the flank, winning the day for the Allies.
In 1762, the regiment was once more part of Granby's Corps. On September 21, it was at the Combat of Amöneburg when, 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.
To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1762
|Headgear||black tricorne laced yellow with a black cockade
N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron skull-cap
|Waistcoat||red (a painting of lord Granby suggests that the waistcoat might have been buff for campaigning)|
|Breeches||red with white knee covers (a painting of lord Granby suggests that the breeches might have been buff for campaigning)|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols, a musket and a bayonet.
As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:
- a narrow gold lace at the bindings and buttonholes
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and gold sword knot
- housings and holster caps laced gold
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According to a document entitled “The Establishment of H.M. Guards, Garrisons, and Land Forces,” dated December 25, 1735, a kettle-drummer was allowed to each troop.
Buglers rode grey horses.
Standards were made of damask. The Royal Horse Guards carried a unique square design of standard.
1st "King's" Standard (as per the 1751 Warrant and the Windsor Colour Book): crimson field, fringed gold with central decoration consisting of the arms of the house of Hanover surrounded by a blue garter carrying the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense”. This central scene was flanked by a golden lion rampant (near the pole) and a white unicorn. Under the central scene: a yellow scroll carrying the motto “Dieu et mon droit”. Above the central scene: a golden crown flanked by the letters “G” and “R”.
2nd Standard (as per the 1751 Warrant and the Windsor Colour Book): crimson field, fringed gold with central decoration consisting of the Union badge of rose and thistle proper with a golden crown flanked by the letters “G” and “R”.
3rd Standard (as per the 1751 Warrant and the Windsor Colour Book): crimson field, fringed gold with central decoration consisting of the double cypher interlaced under a golden crown flanked by the letter “G” and “R”.
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
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 through the Way Back Machine
- John Manners, Marquess of Granby
- Royal Horse Guards
- File:Royal Horse Guards uniform (1758).png
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.