1st Foot Guards

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 1st Foot Guards

Origin and History

By the end of March 1656, King Charles II, who was then living in exile in Bruges in the Spanish Netherlands, negotiated a treaty with Spain. According to this treaty, the King of Spain would assist Charles with a body of 6,000 foot and sufficient ships to transport them to England, whenever the occasion presented itself. For his part, Charles would raise a certain number of troops, nominally for the service of Spain, to be equipped and paid by the Spaniards. The treaty was signed on 21 July and Charles raised three regiments: one of English, one of Irish and one of Scots. The English regiment was initially placed under the command of Lord Wilmot. Charles named the regiment “His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Guards” and gave its command to Thomas Lord Wentworth. The regiment was also known as the “Lord Wentworth's Regiment”. It was then involved in the last years of the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59). By the end of April 1657, the regiment, then counting 400 men, was quartered at Leuze-en-Hainaut near Tournai. The same year, part of the regiment was at the siege of Ardres and at the attempted relief of Mardyck. In the Spring of 1658, the regiment was quartered in Dixmude. On 14 June, it took part in the Battle of the Dunes. In 1659, the regiment was quartered in Nivelles.

In 1660, when Charles II returned to England, the regiment was placed on British establishment even though it had been left in the Spanish Netherlands. It was successively transferred from Nivelles to Namur and then to Dunkerque. The same year, Charles II raised a second regiment of Foot Guards (12 companies of 100 men each) in England which was designated as the "King's Regiment of Guards" and placed under the command of Colonel John Russell. In 1661, the new regiment took part in the reduction of an insurrection in London. It was then distributed among several garrisons where it replaced disbanded companies from the former Commonwealth. The same year, the old regiment, still garrisoning Dunkerque, was brought back to full strength (12 companies of 100 men each). In 1662, when Dunkerque was sold to France, “Lord Wentworth's Regiment” was recalled to England where it was distributed in several garrisons: Windsor, Landguard Fort, Pendennis, Guernsey, Dover, Plymouth, Berwick and Hull. The three companies initially sent at Guernsey were soon redirected to Portsmouth.

In November 1664, a detachment of “Lord Wentworth's Regiment” embarked on board the “Royal Catherine” and “Triumph” at Woolwich. These ships returned to Portsmouth for the winter.

In January 1665, in preparation for the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665 – 1667), 600 men of “Russell's Regiment” were apportioned for service at sea. After the death of Lord Wentworth, on 28 February, the two aforementioned regiments were amalgamated into a single regiment counting two battalions under the command of Colonel Russell on 16 March. On 13 June, part of the regiment took part in the naval Battle of Lowestoft. In July, when plague broke out in London, six companies of the regiment escorted the king to Salisbury and, in September, to Oxford. In 166, 10 companies were assembled at Hampton Court.

By August 1668, the regiment counted 12 companies of 80 men each; and 12 companies of 60 men each.

In 1670 and in 1671, detachments of the regiment were sent on board men-of-war in anticipation of a war against the Dutch.

In 1672, when the Third Anglo-Dutch War (1672 – 1674) finally broke out, detachments of the regiment served aboard the fleet, taking part, on June 7, in the naval Battle of Solebay. In August, the 24 companies of the regiment was deployed as follows:

  • at Rochester (6 coys)
  • at Carlisle (1 coy)
  • at Dover Castle (1 coy)
  • at York (2 coys)
  • aboard the fleet (5 coys)
  • in Westminster (9 coys)

In 1673, several detachments of the regiment once more served aboard the fleet, taking part in the naval combats near Schooneveld on June 7 and 14. On 28 July, part of the regiment embarked for the planned landing on the coast of Holland.

In 1677, grenadiers were introduced in the regiment.

In 1678, when England became involved in the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), detachments of the regiment served aboard the fleet. In March, 8 companies of the regiment were ordered to embark for the Netherlands under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Lord Howard Esrick. They disembarked at Ostend. In August, 6 additional companies were sent to Flanders. Lord Esrick then died of illness and was replaced by Sir Samuel Clarke.

After the war, at the beginning of February 1679, the 14 companies of the regiment stationed in Flanders returned to England.

In May 1680, 240 men of the regiment were drafted into the new regiment formed to be sent to the assistance of Tangiers which was besieged by Moorish forces.

On 14 December 1681, Henry Duke of Grafton replaced Colonel Russell at the head of the regiment.

In the Spring of 1684, the detachment previously sent to Tangiers returned to England.

In 1685, the regiment was renamed "1st Regiment of Foot Guards". In June, two battalions of the regiment were sent to Western England to quell Monmouth's Rebellion. On 16 July, they took part in the Battle of Sedgemoor.

On 22 February 1686, the musketeers of the regiment received bayonets (previously, only the grenadiers were armed with this weapon).

On 27 June 1688, the regiment joined the force assembled at Hounslow Heath. On 17 July, it returned to London. On 23 July, 1 battalion was ordered from London to Richmond to act as guard over the Prince of Wales. On 7 August, another battalion was ordered to Windsor to attend upon the king during his stay there. Rumours were now persistent that the Dutch fleet was designed for a descent upon England. On 3 November, when William of Orange effected a landing at Torbay, the third battalion of the regiment was despatched towards Portsmouth under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel William Selwyn, while the two other battalions remained in London with the king. On November 8 and 9, Selwyn's Battalion joined the force assembling at Salisbury. On 17 November, the first and second battalion were ordered to proceed to Salisbury. On 24 November, the Duke of Grafton having defected to William, James II appointed the Earl of Lichfield as colonel of the regiment. James' Army then withdrew to London. On 7 December, the first and second battalion of the regiment retired from Marlow to Uxbridge while the third marched from Uxbridge to London. On 11 December, when James decided to leave England, his army was disbanded. On 13 December William instructed to re-assemble all disbanded Protestant soldiers and reinstated the Duke of Grafton as colonel of the regiment. On 17 December, the entire regiment set off from London for Portsmouth through Kingston. At the beginning of 1689, each of its three battalions were isolated at Gravesend, Portsmouth and Oxford.

During these events, the Nine Years' War (1688–97) had broken out on the continent. In February 1689, the Dutch Republic asked William to send back the Dutch regiments who had accompanied him in his expedition in England. William sent back his Dutch foot. In March, William planned to send some English regiments, including 2 battalions of the present regiment, to the Netherlands. However, the landing of James II at Kinsale in Ireland modified William's plans. On 16 March, the Duke of Grafton was removed from command and Henry Sidney was appointed colonel of the regiment. In April, the regiment was sent away from London to Northamptonshire during the events leading to the coronation of William III. On 1 May, the regiment received two additional grenadier companies, it now consisted of 24 musketeer companies of 80 men each and of 4 grenadier companies of 80 men each, organised in four battalions. One battalion was quartered at Windsor, Eton and the neighbourhood; another at Staines and Chertsey; 4 companies at Maidenhead; 5 companies at Colnbrook; and 5 companies at Uxbridge and Hilligdon. In July, the regiment was recalled to London for the first time since the revolution. At the beginning of July, two battalions of the regiment marched to Chester to be transported to Ireland. However, William's victory at the Battle of the Boyne made these reinforcements unnecessary and these two battalions returned to London. Meanwhile, the two other battalions had been sent to Blackheath and Portsmouth to prevent a landing by the French. By the end of August, the entire regiment was back in London. In 1691, eight companies of the regiment were sent to the Hague while another battalion was posted at Portsmouth. At the end of the year, the battalion operating in the Spanish Netherlands returned to England. In 1692, the first and second battalions were sent to Flanders and Brabant while the third and fourth were recalled to London. On 3 August, the second battalion took part in the Battle of Steenkerque. On 19 July 1693, the first and second battalions fought in the Battle of Landen. In May 1694, a contingent of the regiment (12 sergeants, 12 corporals and 300 men) embarked aboard the fleet. In July, it took part in an ill fated landing at Fort Camaret near Brest. The same year, the two battalions stationed on the continent Flanders took part in the campaign in Flanders. In 1695, they took part in the siege of Namur where they stormed the covert way. In March 1696, they were recalled to England to defend the country against a potential French invasion. However, the first battalion soon returned to Flanders. Meanwhile, the second battalion had been posted in London and the third and fourth, in Portsmouth and Sheerness where it joined the Army of Brabant. In May, the third and fourth battalions were recalled to London. In November 1697, the first battalion returned to England.

By 1698, the regiment counted 28 companies and consisted of 99 officers, 224 NCOs and 2240 privates, or 80 per company for a total of 2,563 men. In that year, each company (except the King's company) was reduced to 70 privates. On 26 March 1699, the regiment was reduced by 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 30 privates per company, making a reduction of 28 sergeants, 28 corporals and 850 men.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted four battalions. In June 1700, King William III augmented the establishment of the regiment: the King's Company from 40 to 80 privates; the four grenadier companies from 40 to 60 each; and the other companies from 40 to 50 each.

Colonel-commanders during the War of the Spanish Succession:

Service during the War

On 18 June 1701, William III directed that the first battalion of the regiment (the King's coy, 2 grenadier coys and 10 musketeer coys for a total of 883 men) would be sent to the Dutch Republic to attend upon him and to assist in the defence of the country. On 29 June, these 13 companies, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Withers, left London and proceeded to Margate where it embarked on board the Centurion (54) and two frigates. On 2 July, they landed at Willemstad and marched to Breda. On 16 July, they quitted Breda and encamped at Oosterhout. On 21 July, they were reviewed. They remained at Oosterhout till September. On 22 September, William III and the Earl Of Marlborough reviewed the garrison of Breda (including the present battalion) at Oosterhout.

On 10 March 1702, the battalion serving in the Dutch Republic marched to Roosendaal on the road to Bergen-op-Zoom with the rest of the British contingent. There, they were joined by the Dutch under the Earl of Athlone. The Allies then advanced north-eastwards towards the Meuse. On 13 April, the contingent left Roosendaal. On 14 April, it arrived at Oosterhout. On the following days, it marched to Tilburg, Neerhost and Evrock. On 11 April, it reached the camp of Mookerheide south of Nijmegen where it was joined by the Duke of Württemberg and the Danish contingent. Detachments were sent to Kranenburg to cover the siege of Kaiserwerth. By May 1702, the first battalion consisted of 1 lieutenant-colonel, 12 captains, 16 lieutenants, 11 ensigns, the usual staff, 39 sergeants, 26 drummers and 819 rank and file. On 10 June, the battalion covered the retreat of the Allies to Nijmegen. On 25 June, it marched to Dukenburg where Marlborough's Army was assembling. On 6 July, it passed the Meuse at Overasselt. On 10 July, it arrived at Hamont. Marlborough then moved the first battalion to St. Hubert's Hill. The battalion was almost always stationed at the headquarters of the army, in constant attendance as a bodyguard on Marlborough. On 29 August, it marched to As. On 13 September, it proceeded to Soetendaal. It then took part in the siege of Liège. On 23 October, after the capture of the place, the battalion marched to Tongres and then to Peer and Werchen Wert. On 31 October, it arrived at Breda to take its winter-quarters.

The same year (1702) in March, a detachment of 280 men of the regiment (2 musketeer companies of 100 men each, and one grenadier company of 80 men), who were stationed in England, was ordered to join the expedition against Cádiz. This detachment was converged with 480 men of the Coldstream Guards to form a battalion of Guards totalling 8 companies under Colonel William Mathews. On 26 May, the detachment of the regiment left London. On 2 June, the combined battalion of Guards was reviewed at St. Helens. The detachment then embarked on board the Barfleur (90) and Cambridge (80). On 23 October, while on its way home after the failure of the attempt against Cádiz, the detachment took part in the Battle of Vigo Bay where they were landed and stormed the towers of Rada and Corbeiro and the boom across the mouth of the harbour. On 28 October, the troops returned from Rodondella to the mouth of the harbour. On 7 November, the fleet arrived in England and the detachment marched to London.

On 19 April 1703, the first battalion left its winter-quarters at Bred and soon joined the British contingent assembling at Oorschot. The contingent then proceeded by Hamont to Roermond on the Meuse. On 26 April, it reached Maaseik. On the night of 27 April, the battalion force marched to Maastricht. From mid-August to the beginning of September, the battalion was part of the force covering the siege of Huy. It also took part in the capture of Limbourg. Afterwards, it returned to St. Trond, On 7 November, it took its winter-quarters in Breda.

On 24 April 1704, the colonel of the regiment, Henri Sidney, Earl of Romney, died. He was replaced at the head of the regiment by the Duke of Marlborough. On 28 April, the battalion serving in the Dutch Republic left its winter-quarters at Breda. On 10 May, it arrived at Maastricht where an Allied army was assembling. On 19 May, the Allied army set off towards Bonn. Marlborough had started his famous march to the Danube, reaching the region of Ulm on 22 June. On 2 July, the battalion took part in the Battle of the Schellenberg, losing 4 officers, 7 sergeants and 75 men killed; 8 officers, 8 sergeants and 127 men wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Primrose being wounded, Lieutenant-Colonel Philip Dorner assumed temporary command of the battalion. In July, the battalion guarded Marlborough's headquarters at Olmering near Friedberg in Bavaria. On 9 August, it marched to Marxheim. On 12 August, it escorted Marlborough and Prince Eugène de Savoie to Tapfheim. In the afternoon, it was with drawn from this advanced post and rejoined its brigade under Ferguson in front of the left of the Allied line. On 13 August, the battalion took part in the Battle of Blenheim where it was attached to the left column of infantry near the Danube which launched an attack against the well defended village of Blenheim (in fact Blindheim). In this attack, Lieutenant-Colonel Dorner was killed; Mordaunt lost an arm; and young Campion, one of the ensigns was desperately wounded. Ferguson's Brigade had to retire after this first unsuccessful attempt against Blenheim. The brigade launched a second attack but was repulsed once more. The village was finally surrounded by Allied forces and the French defenders (some 12,000 men) surrendered. After this resounding victory, Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Gorsuch assumed command of the battalion who still counted 550 men. The battalion was ordered to proceed to Mainz where it embarked on the Rhine boats for the Low Countries. In October, it took its winter-quarters in Maastricht.

The same year (1704), in January, a detachment of 150 men from the home battalions of the regiment under Captain Peachy sailed for Portugal. In July, a combined battalion of 600 men of the regiment and of the Colstream Guards under Colonel Richard Russell was formed for service in the Iberian Peninsula. On 26 July, this battalion arrived at Portsmouth. On 4 August, it arrived at Lisbon. On 28 August, the army moved north-eastwards to the frontiers of Portugal. However, it soon retreated to Lisbon. On 12 December, the combined battalion was sent to Gibraltar to form part of its garrison. It arrived there on 19 December. On December 22, it was engaged in a successful sortie against the besiegers' works.

At the opening of the campaign of 1705, the battalion stationed in the Low Countries counted 1 colonel, 1 lieutenant-colonel, 9 captains, 13 lieutenants, 9 ensigns, 1 adjutant, 33 sergeants, 33 corporals, 22 drummers and 770 privates in 11 companies. It was reorganised in two battalions. These battalions were with Marlborough's Army when it marched towards Luxembourg. On 17 June, the army set off to return to Brabant. On 2 July, the two battalions crossed the Meuse at Viset and took part in the passage of the French lines. At the end of October, they took their winter-quarters in Breda.

The same year (1705) in Spain, on 7 February, the combined battalion posted at Gibraltar contributed to drive back a French assault. In the Summer, the battalion joined Peterborough's Army which was landed at Mataro near Barcelona on 16 August. The battalion then took part in the siege of Barcelona. In mid-September, it contributed to the capture of Montjuïc. On 9 October, when Barcelona finally surrendered, the battalion counted only 300 men. It remained in Barcelona as a bodyguard to Archduke Charles.

At the end of April 1706, the battalion of the regiment stationed in the Low Countries were drawn out of its winter-quarters and directed to march to Tongres and Maastricht where Marlborough's Army was assembling. On 23 May, the battalion took part in the Battle of Ramillies where it was deployed in Webb's Brigade on the right of the second line. This line, its movements being concealed by the hill, wheeled to its left, and joined the remaining troops in the great attack against the centre of the French positions which began to give way. The brigade then forming line, charged the retreating French, who were at the same time met by the victorious cavalry of the left wing. After this brilliant victory, Marlborough captured Bruxelles, Antwerp, Ghent, Bruges and Arsele. From October 13, the battalion was quartered near the Abbey of Cambron. On 31 October, it proceeded to Ghent to take its winter-quarters.

The same year (1706) in Spain, the combined battalion of Guards, reduced to about half strength, had left Barcelona. On 3 March, a reinforcement of 310 men from the 1st Guards and Coldstream Guards embarked at Gravesend on board Sir John Leake's fleet, which shortly sailed to the coast of Catalonia. Meanwhile, the French had laid siege to Barcelona by land and sea. On 25 April, the weak combined battalion of Guards repulsed an attack against the western outworks. When the relief fleet finally arrived in Barcelona, the French raised the siege. The reinforced battalion, now counting 600 men, was then attached to Peterborough's Corps who sailed for Valencia. The battalion was left in Valencia to cover Peterborough's line of communication when he marched on Madrid. On 28 July, the battalion marched from Valencia as part of a corps of 2,400 men under the command of Windham to rendezvous with the main body of the Allied army at Guadalajara. On his way, Windham captured Requena and Cuenca. On 11 August, Windham's Corps effected a junction with the army at Chinchón some 40 km south of Madrid. On 9 September, the Allied army retreated from Chinchón towards Valencia on the coast where the battalion took its winter-quarters.

In mid-May 1707, the battalion of the regiment stationed in the Low Countries joined the army at Anderlecht. On 11 August, the battalion marched to Florival. On 14 August, it joined the army at Jemappes and proceeded to Soignies. In October, the battalion took its winter-quarters in Ghent.

The same year (1707) in Spain, the battalion was attached to Lord Galway's Army. On 31 March, this little army reached Caudete. On 18 April, Galway laid siege to the Castle of Villena. On 24 April, informed that the French had assembled an army nearby at Almansa, Galway abandoned the siege of Villena and marched to the Torre de Bourgarres in preparation for battle. On 25 April, the battalion took part in the Battle of Almansa where it formed the centre of the positions of the Allies. In the centre, the Allied infantry advanced against the enemy, driving them back on their supports. The battalion even reached the walls of Almansa. However, the two cavalry wings had been defeated and the infantry centre was soon charged on both flanks. After forming squares, the infantry withdrew in perfect order from the battlefield. On 26 April, they surrendered as prisoners of war.

On 15 March 1708, a combined battalion of 450 men of the 1st Guards and Coldstream Guards set off from London for Scotland where a French invasion was feared. On 30 March, this battalion arrived at York. Meanwhile, Marlborough had detached an important force, including the battalion of the 1st Guards, from his army in the Low Countries to return to England to defend the country against the foreseen invasion. On 21 March, this force arrived at Tynemouth near Newcastle. It then sailed to Leith where it arrived on 2 April. On 21 April, when the danger for Scotland was over, the fleet sailed back to Ostend. On 22 April, the battalion re-entered its former quarters in Ghent. On 11 May, it took the field. On 18 May, it arrived at Sint-Renelde near Halle. Meanwhile, the combined battalion posted in York received orders to proceed to the Low Countries. On 20 May, it embarked for the continent. On 22 May, it landed at Ostend. On 23 May, after a force marched the battalion of the 1st Guards reached Louvain. On 15 June, the combined battalion recently arrived from England joined the battalion of the 1st Guards at Terbank near Louvain. From the 1st Guards, there were now 16 companies in the Low Countries and 12 companies in Great Britain. On 8 July, the Brigade of Guards marched to Herselingen where it was joined by the rest of the army. On 11 July, the brigade took part in the Battle of Oudenarde. After this victory, the brigade covered the siege of Lille, its grenadiers taking part in the siege. On 28 November, during Marlborough's advance to relieve Bruxelles, the Brigade of Guards force marched and seized the bridges over the Dender at Alost. At the end of December, it took part in the siege and capture of Ghent. The brigade then took its winter-quarters in Bruxelles.

On 23 June 1709, the Brigade of Guards, who had assembled with the rest of the army near Ath, marched to Leuze on the road to Tournai. On the night of 27 June, Marlborough decamped in silence from Leuze and marched upon Tournai which was immediately invested. The two battalions of Guards, encamped at Villemeau, took part in the siege. On 5 August, the town of Tournai surrendered and its defenders retired into the citadel which surrendered on 3 September. The Allies then invested Mons. On 11 September, the two battalions of Guards took part in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet where they were deployed on the extreme right of the infantry centre. The Allies then resumed the siege of Mons and the place surrendered on 26 October. In November, the Guards took their winter-quarters in Bruxelles.

In April 1710, the Guards marched from Bruxelles to Tournai. From 5 May to 25 June, they took part in the siege and capture of Douai. They were also present at the sieges of Béthune, Saint-Venant and Aire.

In April 1711, the Guards marched to the general rendezvous of the Allied army at Orchies, between Tournai and Douai. On 30 May, 300 men of the battalion of 1st Guards were attacked in the Abbey of Visny by a large force but they gallantly repelled the assailants. On 14 June, when the Imperialist army was compelled to leave the Low Countries, Marlborough crossed the Scarpe at Vitry and encamped on the plains of Lens. The Brigade of Guards was quartered near Lens. At the end of August, they were at the siege of Bouchain which surrendered on 13 September. In November, they took their winter-quarters in Bruxelles. On 31 December, Marlborough was deprived of all his offices, including the colonelcy of the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards.

On 1 January 1712, James Butler, Duke of Ormond replaced Marlborough as colonel of the regiment. On 14 April, the Brigade of Guards serving in the Low Countries quitted Bruxelles and marched to Bassieux near Tournai where the Allied army was assembling. On 26 May, the army crossed the Scheldt at Souche, between Bouchain and Denain. Ormond finally informed Prince Eugène de Savoie that he was not authorised to hazard neither battle nor siege and the Allied army moved back across the Selle. On 25 June, Ormond informed Eugène that he had received orders to publish a cessation of arms for three months. On 16 July, Ormond's British contingent separated from the Imperialist army under the command of Prince Eugène and marched to Avesnes le Sec. On 17 July, Ormond published a cessation of arms and notified that Great Britain had made a separate truce with France. As the British troops marched towards the coast, they were insulted by their former allies: the gates of Denain were closed against them, they were denied admittance into Douai; and at Oudenarde they were refused passage through the town. On 29 July, Ormond took possession of Bruges and Ghent, the British Guards taking up their old quarters at Ghent. The Guards remained in Flanders till 1713.

At the end of March 1713, the two battalions of Guards who had served in the Low Countries returned to London.

Uniform

There were still no regulation concerning uniforms and colonels were responsible for the clothing of their soldiers. Therefore, there were wide variations from one regiment to another.

Hairs were worn long in a “long bob”. They were sometimes tied at the back of the neck. The hair bag was also already in use.

Men as well as officers were clean-shaven. Officers sometimes wore small moustaches.

Privates

Uniform in 1702 - Copyright: Richard Couture
Uniform Details as per
Lawson
Headgear
Fusilier black felt tricorne laced yellow
Grenadier red cloth cap lined blue with a raised and stiffened front decorated with the embroidered crowned Royal cypher; and with an embroidered grenade at the back of the cap
Neck stock knotted white linen neck-cloth with ends hanging or tucked into the top of the coat
Coat red lined blue; yellow buttons along the full length of the right side and 1 yellow button on each side in the small of the back

N.B.: the coats of grenadiers had tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes

Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets placed low on the coat, each with 3 yellow buttons and 3 yellow tufted lace loops
Cuffs blue, each with 3 yellow buttons

N.B.: the cuffs of grenadiers had tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long blue waistcoat with yellow buttons
Breeches blue
Stockings during campaigns, a first pair of finer stockings was pulled up under the breeches at the knees while a coarser pair of blue stockings was worn over them, pulled over the knees and fastened with a leather strap and buckle
Gaiters gaiters were gradually adopted during the campaigns in the Low Countries
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather strap with a brass buckle
Waistbelt natural leather waistbelt with a brass buckle worn above the coat
Cartridge Box natural leather cartouche box hanged at the crossbelt

Grenadiers had a pouch on a shoulder belt to carry grenades

Bayonet Scabbard black leather with a brass tip
Scabbard black leather with a brass tip
Footwear shoes fastened with a strap and buckle


Musketeers were armed with a musket without sling, a bayonet and a sword. Grenadiers were armed with a firelock with a sling, a hatchet, a bayonet and grenades.

NCOs

NCOs wore uniforms almost identical to those of privates with the following differences:

  • tricorne laced silver
  • silver braids on the seams of the coat

Sergeants initially carried a halberd and corporals pole-axe. Gradually, all NCOs were equipped with musket.

Officers

Officers wore beaver tricornes laced gold (probably reserved to superior officers) or silver (probably reserved to subaltern officers). They also wore the fashionable full flowing curled wigs. On service they usually plaited their wig.

A large gorget was worn around the neck tied with ribbons. The gorget was gilt for captains, black studded with gold for lieutenants and silver for ensigns.

Officers usually wore uniforms somewhat similar to those of privates (even though there were not yet any regulation compelling them to do so), made of finer material. Their coats were decorated with gold or silver braids down the seams and on the sleeves; and with gold or silver embroidered buttonholes. Cuffs were usually of the same colour as the coat instead of the distinctive colour of the regiment.

The waistcoats of officers were often decorated with gold or silver fringes.

A crimson sash (often interwoven with gold or silver and fringed similarly) was worn around the waist.

Breeches were tied with rosettes below the knee.

Officers wore gloves, often decorated with gold or silver fringes.

Officers carried a sword and a half pike or a spontoon.

The cartouche box of officers were often covered in velvet and decorated with gold or silver embroideries.

In 1708, the Duke of Marlborough ordered all officers serving in Flanders to have, in sign of mourning, red coats with black buttons and black buttonholes for that year.

Musicians

In 1713, Drum Major of the 1st Foot Guards wore a crimson coat lined blue and laced gold; embroidered back and front with Her Majesty's cypher and crown; sleeves faced with blue Genoa velvet; crimson breeches; hat trimmed gold with a gold band; crimson taffeta scarf trimmed with very deep and narrow gold fringes; crimson cloak lined blue and laced gold; blue faced cape.

The hautboys of the regiment wore crimson coats lined blue and laced gold; blue cuffs; purple leather belt stitched and laced with gold; cordebeck hat laced gold with a gold band or black velvet cap.

Colours

The 1st Foot Guards were unique in carrying the Royal Standard that no other regiment carried. Furthermore, they carried three crimson colours: the colonel's, the lieutenant-colonel's and the major's. Finally, each of its 24 companies carried a company colours in the form of the Union flag with differing devices.

It is most probable that the Royal Standard was only carried abroad when the Sovereign were in attendance.

Royal Standard: crimson field with its centre decorated with the king's cypher surmounted by a golden crown.

Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour: crimson field with its centre decorated with the king's cypher surmounted by a golden crown

Major's Colour: crimson field with its centre decorated with the king's cypher surmounted by a golden crown; and with the stream blazant crimson.

Tentative Reconstruction
Royal Standard and Lieutenant-Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Major Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf

Furthermore, each company also had its own colour, carrying the badge of the regiment. These badges are illustrated below.

Badges of the 1st to 12th Companies - Source: Hamilton, The origin and history of the First or Grenadier Guards
Badges of the 13th to 24th Companies - Source: Hamilton, The origin and history of the First or Grenadier Guards

References

This article is mostly an abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Hamilton, F. W.: The origin and history of the First or Grenadier Guards, London: John Murray, 1874
    • Vol. 1
    • Vol. 2, pp. 1-57

Farmer, John S.: The Regimental Records of the British Army, London: Grant Richards, 1901

Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army, Vol. 1 From the beginning to 1760, London: Kaye & Ward, pp. 12-54, 74-75

The Royal Sussex Regimental Society

Vilalta, Lluís: “Catalonia Stands Alone - 1713-1714: The Catalans' War”

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