Duke of Leinster's Horse

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Duke of Leinster's Horse

Origin and History

In 1688, King James II assembled an army of some 30,000 men, fearing the intervention of the Dutch Prince of Orange (the future William III) in British domestic affairs. On 5 November, the Prince of Orange landed on the western coast. As soon as William Lord Cavendish, Earl of Devonshire was apprised of this event, he proceeded with a small armed retinue to the town of Derby, where he invited the neighbouring gentry and yeomen to join the cause of the Prince of Orange. The Earl of Devonshire then proceeded to Nottingham, where he was joined by additional troops. On 25 November, he escorted Princess Anne to Oxford. When the Prince of Orange assumed the reins of government, he commissioned the Earl of Devonshire to raise a regiment of horse from his unit and from Protestant soldiers previously belonging to the five regiments of horse raised by James II and recently disbanded. The new regiment was style3d the “Devonshire’s Regiment of Horse”.

In 1689, the regiment was sent to Scotland. In August, its destination was changed to Ireland where it took part in the capture of Carrickfergus.

In April 1690, the Earl of Devonshire was succeeded in the colonelcy by Meynhardt Count de Schomberg and the regiment became known as the “Schmomberg’s Horse”. In July, it took part in the Battle of the Boyne. Soon afterwards, it was ordered to embark for England because William III feared a landing of the French Army. In October, the regiment was sent back to Ireland.

In the spring of 1691, the Duke of Leinster became colonel of the regiment which obtained the appellation of “Leinster’s Horse”. The regiment was then sent back to England.

In 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was sent to the Netherlands where it joined the confederate army. In 1693, it took part in the attack of the Lines of the Scheldt. The same year, after the death of his brother, the Duke of Leinster became Duke of Schomberg and the regiment was once more designated as the “Schmomberg’s Horse”. In 1695, the regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Namur.

From 1698 to 1701, the regiment was stationed, generally, in the south of England. Its establishment was fixed at 21 officers, 6 quarter-masters, 12 corporals, 1 kettle-drummer, 6 trumpeters and 204 men.

On 12 February 1702, the regiment was ordered to be augmented to a war establishment of 3 corporals, 2 trumpeters and 57 troopers per troop. There were 6 troops organised in two squadrons.

During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonels of the regiment were:

  • from 1691: Duke of Leinster (since 1693, Duke of Schomberg)
  • from January 1711: Charles Marquis of Harwich
  • from 12 October 1713: Major-General Charles Sybourg

Service during the War

In mid-March 1702, the regiment arrived in the Dutch Republic where it was quartered near Breda for three months. In June one squadron marched with five other regiments from Breda, under the orders of Lieutenant-General Lumley, and joined the main army commanded by the Earl of Marlborough at Duckenburg. The other squadron remained at Breda with the train of artillery until the middle of July, and joined the army on 26 July. Throughout the campaign of 1702, the services of the regiment were limited to outpost duty, escorting supplies for the army, and covering the sieges of Venloo, Roermond and Stevensweert. The regiment was the first corps which entered the city of Liège when it was surrendered to the allied army. It remained at Liège until after the capture of the citadel by storm, and the chartreuse by capitulation, and subsequently marched back to the Dutch Republic for winter-quarters.

In May 1703, the regiment joined the army near Maastricht and, advancing to the enemy's lines, was encamped near Haneff. While at this camp, parties of the British cavalry had several skirmishes with detachments of the enemy. On 11 June June, 10 of Schomberg's troopers, who were foraging, encountered a French detachment of infantry of more than 20 men. They overthrew their adversaries and captured 18 prisoners. The regiment was subsequently employed in covering the sieges of Huy and Limbourg. In October, it struck its tents and retired from the plains of Spanish Guelderland to the Dutch Republic, for winter-quarters.

In May 1704, the regiment left Holland and marched to Coblenz, where it passed the Rhine and the Moselle, and directed its march with the army through the several states of Germany to the assistance of Emperor Leopold I, whose troops were unable to withstand the united forces of France and Bavaria. Marlborough to the distant Danube and joined the forces of the empire. On 2 July, in the Battle of Schellenberg, the Allies attacked the enemy's fortified post on the heights near Donauworth. The regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Sybourg, supported the attacks of the infantry. When the fortifications were forced, the British cavalry charged and completed the overthrow of the French and Bavarians, who fell in great numbers beneath the sabres of the pursuing horsemen. After crossing the Danube, the regiment penetrated with the army into Bavaria, and appeared before the enemy's fortified camp at Augsburg. It subsequently retired, and was employed in operations near the Danube, while the Germans besieged Ingoldstadt. On 13 August, the regiment took part in the Battle of Blenheim where, early in the morning, one squadron commanded by Major Charles Creed, forming part of the advance-guard of 3 squadrons commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Francis Palmes of the Carabineers, crossed the little river Nebel and advanced to enable the Duke of Marlborough to make a reconnaissance. The French commander, Maréchal Tallard, ordered forward 5 squadrons of horse to cut to pieces the 3 squadrons of British cavalry. Two of the French squadrons having inclined outwards, menaced the flanks, while the other 3 advanced to charge the front. The British horsemen, advanced to measure swords with their antagonists. The regiment, being on the right, wheeled outward to charge the French squadron which menaced that flank; a squadron of Wood’s Horse wheeled to the left to attack the squadron which menaced that flank, and the squadron of Carabineers advanced against the enemy's front. The British squadrons broke their French opponents and pursued them a short distance and then retired towards the Nebel. Later during the battle, the entire regiment, as part of Palmes’ Brigade, advanced towards Blenheim to support the British infantry, threatened by 5 squadrons French Gens d’Armes. They broke the Gens d’Armes and chased them, but pursuing too far, they were assailed in front and flank by a storm of musketry, charged by fresh squadrons of cavalry, and forced back in disorder, leaving several brave officers and troopers lifeless on the plain. For the rest of the battle, the regiment was occasionally called forward. In this hard-fought battle, the regiment lost Major Creed, with Lieutenant Hawkes and Cornet Charlton, killed; and Captain Prime, Lieutenant Palmes, and Cornet Cresaw, wounded. The number of men lost has not been ascertained. The regiment then marched with the army through the Circle of Swabia to Philipsburg, where, early in September, it crossed the Rhine and encamped at Croon-Weissemberg, while the Imperialists, besieged the important fortress of Landau. After the capture of this place, the regiment marched back to the Dutch Republic for winter-quarters.

In April 1705, having bee joined by a body of fine recruits, and a remount of horses of superior weight and power, the regiment quitted its cantonments, advanced to the vicinity of Maastricht and encamped on the banks of the Meuse, where it was reviewed by the Duke of Marlborough. It then advanced on Trier with the army but had to march back to the Netherlands when the Imperialists delayed their arrival. On July 18, the regiment took part in the forcing of the French lines at Neer-Hespen and Helixem where it was among the squadrons which, after passing the works, engaged and defeated the Spanish and Bavarian horse guards. The regiment was also employed in the failed attempt to force the passage of the Dyle. It passed the winter in cantonments in Holland.

On 23 May 1706, the regiment took part in the Battle of Ramillies where the British horse were held in reserve until towards the close of the engagement, when they were ordered forward, and by their powerful and resolute attacks completed the victory. After pursuing the enemy until 2:00 a.m. on the following day, the regiment was ordered to halt. The regiment was one of the corps detached under Brigadier-General Cadogan to summon Antwerp. After the surrender of that fortress, the regiment was employed in the blockade of Dendermond, which place was delivered up in the early part of September. The regiment passed the winter in the Spanish Netherlands.

On 20 June 1707, the regiment was reviewed by Marlborough at the camp of Meldert. The campaign passed without either a siege or general engagement.

On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde where it was formed with Wood’s Horse under Brigadier-General Sybourg but had no occasion to get involved in combat. On July 12, it was sent forward in pursuit in pursuit of the wreck of the French army, towards Ghent. It then formed part of the covering army during the siege of Lille. It also took part in the passage of the Scheldt and in the relief of Bruxelles. After the capture of Lille, it marched back to Flanders for winter-quarters.

In 1709, another remount and a body of recruits replaced the losses of the preceding campaign. In June, the regiment advanced towards the frontiers of France and encamped near Lille. It then took part in the siege of Tournai. The town surrendered on 29 July and the regiment was detached under the Earl of Orkney towards Saint-Ghyslain to facilitate the subsequent operations in Hainaut. On 11 September, the regiment took part in the Battle of Malplaquet where it supported the infantry in its fierce and sanguinary attacks on the enemy's entrenchments and other defences which covered his front. When the position was forced, the cavalry was ordered forward, and the British horse defeated and chased to the rear the renowned French Gens d’Armes; but as the regiment, and the other cavalry under Major-General Wood, pursued their adversaries, they were charged by a compact line of household troops who broke the British horsemen and drove them back in disorder. The French cavalry having been checked by fire of the infantry, the British cavalry rallied and, along with Prussian and German squadrons, counter-attacked and defeated the French cavalry. After this victory, the regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Mons; and on the surrender of that fortress, it proceeded into winter-quarters at Ghent, where its losses were replaced by men and horses from England.

During the summer of 1710, the regiment was employed in covering the sieges of Douai, Béthune, Saint-Venant and Aire; also in protecting convoys of provision and ammunition for the army, and in keeping up the communication with the towns in the rear. This year, the Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Sybourg was promoted to the rank of major-general; but he retained the lieutenant-colonelcy of the regiment until he was appointed to the colonelcy of Orrery's Foot.

In January 1711, the Duke of Schomberg was succeeded in the colonelcy by his son, Charles Marquis of Harwich and the regiment was styled “Harwich’s Horse”. On May 29, the regiment was reviewed by the Duke of Marlborough at the camp of Warde. During this campaign, the regiment took part in the passage of the lines at Arleux and in the siege of Bouchain.

In April 1712, the regiment took the field and advanced with the army commanded by the Duke of Ormond to Cateau-Cambrésis where it was encamped during the siege of Le Quesnoy. A cessation of hostilities was soon afterwards published, and the British army retired from the frontiers of France to Ghent, where this regiment encamped a short time, and afterwards went into quarters, to await the conclusion of negotiations, and the settlement of the barriers of the several states concerned in the treaty.

In June 1713, the regiment was placed upon the Irish establishment; but it was not withdrawn from the Netherlands; the negotiations being prolonged until the succeeding year.

In August 1714, the regiment was ordered home from Flanders. It then proceeded to Ireland.

Uniform

In August 1690, a deserter from the regiment is depicted with a red coat with blue lining and pewter buttons, and a grey overcoat with black buttons.

Standards

To do

References

This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Seventh or Princess Royal’s Regiment of Dragoon Guards, London: William Clowes and Sons

Other sources

Linney-Drouet, C.A.: 1692-1799: Extracts from the Notebook of the Late Revd Percy Sumner, In: Journal of the the Society for Army Research, Vol. 78, No. 314 (Summer 2000), p. 87

Acknowledgements

Jörg Meier for info on the uniform of the regiment