James Ferguson's Foot

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> James Ferguson's Foot

Origin and History

The regiment was raised in 1688 by authority of the Lords of the Convention as the “Cameronian Guards” after the followers of the Presbyterian leader Richard Cameron. It consisted principally of inhabitants of Glasgow. In March 1689, three Scots regiments in the service of William III arrived in Edinburgh, and the ad-hoc forces raised to protect the Convention were dismissed. However, on May 14, a regiment was raised near Douglas by James, Earl of Angus, drawn from among the Cameronians, and placed under the service of William III. Some 1,200 men (20 companies of 60 men each) are said to have been enlisted in a single day, without the need for “the beat of drum” (active recruiting) or any bounty money being paid. The unusual religious background of the regiment was reflected in the regulation that each company was to have an elder, as well as the regimental chaplain being a Cameronian. On August 21, the new regiment defeated a Jacobite force at the Battle of Dunkeld, a turning point in the Jacobite rising of that year.

Until 1751, the regiment would be known by the names of its successive colonels.

In 1690, the regiment was reorganised in 13 companies of 60 men each, including a grenadier company. It continued to serve in the Highlands.

In February 1691, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment embarked in the Firth of Forth for the Dutch Republic. In 1692, it took part in the Battle of Steenkerque; in 1693, in the Battle of Landen; in 1695, in the attack of Fort Kenoque and in the capture of Namur

In 1697, the regiment was placed in the Dutch establishment. In 1700, the regiment was taken back into English pay and was sent to Scotland.

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

  • since 25 August 1693: James Ferguson (died suddenly on 13 September 1705)
  • from 24 October 1705: John Borthwick
  • from 1 January 1706: Lord John Dalrymple (aka Earl of Stairs)
  • from 24 August 1706: George Preston

In 1702, a new company was added to the regiment.

In 1703, a new company was added to the regiment.

In August 1713, the regiment was sent back to Ireland where it was stationed until 1715.

Service during the War

On 1 February 1702, the regiment received orders to join the Allied army in Flanders. On 7 March, it embarked for its destination. In April, it formed part of the army of the Earl of Athlone who encamped at Kranenburg to cover the siege of Kaiserwerth. On 10 June, when the French tried to cut Athlone's line of communication with Nijmegen, his army precipitously retired under the wall of the city. On 25 July, recruits arrived from Leith. The regiment now consisted of 44 officers, 104 NCOs and 736 privates. In November, it took up its winter-quarters in Holland.

In April 1703, the regiment marched towards Maastricht where the allied army was assembling. It was present at the siege of Bonn. From September 10 to 28, it then took part in the successful siege of Limbourg. Shortly after the capture of Limbourg, the regiment marched back to Holland, where it was stationed during the winter.

In 1704, the regiment accompanied Marlborough in his famous march to the Danube. On 2 July, part of the regiment fought in the Battle of the Schellenberg where it lost Captain Lawson and Lieutenant Seaton wounded; 1 sergeant and 18 men killed; 3 sergeants and 57 men wounded.. On August 13, the entire regiment took part in the decisive Battle of Blenheim where it lost Captain Alexander Campbell, Lieutenants Archibald Douglas, George Seaton and Moncrieffe, and Ensign James Hay, killed; Lieutenant-Colonel Livingstone, Captains Smart, Blackader, Borthwick, and Wilson, Lieutenant Ferguson; Ensigns Barnard, McLean, Ogilvy, Row, Dalrymple, Oliphant, and Marshall, and Quarter-Master Stephenson, wounded. The regiment was later attached to the army who covered the initial stage of the siege of Landau. In mid-October, it descended the Rhine down to Nijmegen and then marched to its winter-quarters.

In 1705, the regiment initially campaigned on the Moselle. In July, it took part in the relief of Liège. On 18 July, it participated in the Passage of the Lines of Brabant at Elixheim. On 19 July, it was at the capture of Louvain. The regiment was later attached to Churchill's Corps for the planned attack in the forest of Soignies which was cancelled at the last minute. At the end of October, the regiment marched to its winter-quarters, reaching the Busse near Rotterdam on 1 November.

On 30 April 1706, the regiment marched from its winter-quarters. On 8 May, it joined the army near Tongres. On 23 May, the regiment fought in the Battle of Ramillies. On 25 May, it reached Louvain, and on 26 May, Bruxelles. On 5 June, it marched to Cambrai. From 29 August to 5 September, it participated in the siege of Dendermonde; and then until 3 October, in the siege of Ath. The regiment then worked in repairing the fortifications of Courtrai before taking up its winter-quarters in Ghent.

On 22 May 1707, the regiment joined the grand army but no action whatever of importance occurred during the campaign. In mid-October, the regiment took up its winter-quarters in Ghent.

On 11 July 1708, the regiment was at the Battle of Oudenarde where it was deployed in the first line of the right wing. From 25 July to 2 August, the regiment formed part of a small corps which was detached on an enterprise against Leuwe; but as the enemy withdrew on its approach, no material result was attained, and it rejoined the main army. During the siege of Lille, the regiment was employed with the covering army. On 28 September, a detachment of the regiment took part in the Engagement of Wijnendale. After the surrender of the town of Lille, the regiment was assigned to the siege of the citadel who surrendered on December 8. It then took part in the siege of Ghent which capitulated on 30 December.

On 17 June 1709, the regiment marched from Ghent to join the army. On 21 June, it arrived near Lille. On 27 June, when the army invested Tournai, the regiment was employed with the covering army. On 19 July, it received a body of recruits from Scotland who completely filled up vacancies in its ranks. On 29 July, the town of Tournai capitulated and the garrison retired into the citadel which finally surrendered on 3 September. On 9 September, during the siege of Mons, the regiment suffered a considerable loss in a cannonade and had Captain Lawson and Lieutenant Simson wounded. On 11 September, it took part in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet where it lost its commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Cranston, who was killed by a shot which passed through his body as he was riding at the head of the regiment; Captain Shaw and Ensign Inglis, killed; Lieutenant Cockburn, Ensign Burnet and Sergeant Wilson wounded. It then joined the covering army and the siege of Mons was resumed. On October 23, Mons surrendered. At the end of October, the regiment proceeded to its winter-quarters in Ghent.

On 14 April 1710, the regiment left Ghent to join the army. In May, it was recalled from the covering army to take part in the siege of Douai. On 3 June, by an unfortunate explosion of some powder and grenades, Lieutenant Graham, Sergeant Davidson, and 16 rank and file, were burnt and wounded, two of whom died. On 20 June, a detachment of 39 men employed in making a lodgment in a raveline lost 32 men. On 27 June, Douai capitulated. The total loss sustained by the regiment during the siege of Douai was 1 captain, 3 sergeants and 47 soldiers killed; 1 captain, 5 subalterns, 11 sergeants and 175 soldiers wounded. From 15 July to 29 August, the regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Béthune. It later took up its winter-quarters in Ghent.

On 21 March 1711, the regiment left Ghent. On 24 March, it took possession of a French post which it fortified.

On 5 August 1712, the regiment set off from Ghent. On 10 August, it arrived at Dunkerque which it occupied.

On 3 May 1713, the regiment occupied Nieuport. On 19 May, Brigadier Preston, the colonel of the regiment was appointed governor of the place. The regiment remained in Nieuport till 16 August, when it marched to Dunkerque and encamped on the esplanade, permission to enter the town being refused. The two youngest companies of the regiment were then reduced. On 20 August, the regiment embarked for Ireland.

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.

Farmer mentions a scarlet uniform with white facings in 1689. In 1691, the facings of the regiment are stated to have been white. In 1713, the regiment had a scarlet uniform with pale yellow facings. We do not know exactly when the distinctive colour changes from white to pale yellow. Hereafter, we describe the uniform with its white distinctive.

Privates

Uniform in 1704 - Copyright Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
War Office Professional Painting Service
Headgear
Musketeer black felt tricorne laced white
Grenadier cloth cap with a raised and stiffened front decorated with the embroidered crowned Royal cypher or the colonel's crest; 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 with pewter buttons along the full length of the right side and 1 pewter button on each side in the small of the back

N.B.: the coats of grenadiers had white tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes down to the waist

Collar none
Shoulder Straps none
Lapels none
Pockets horizontal pockets placed low on the coat, each with 3 pewter buttons
Cuffs white, each with 3 pewter buttons

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

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long white waistcoat with pewter buttons
Breeches white
Stockings during campaigns, a first pair of finer stockings was pulled up under the breeches at the knees while a coarser pair of white 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 a musket. 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

Drummers and hautboys usually wore coat of the facing colour of the regiment, decorated with lace on the seams of sleeves and back and on the buttonholes. Their coat was decorated with the crowned King's cypher or the Colonel's crest embroidered on the breast and back. Sometimes their coat had hanging sleeves.

Colours

We found no contemporary source describing the colours of the regiment. Hereafter, we describe the colours illustrated by the War Office Professional Painting Service.

Colonel's Colour: blue field with the white Cross of St. Andrew; centre device consisting of a crown

Other Colours: blue field; centre device consisting of a thistle

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Other Colour- Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Carter, Thomas: Historical Record of the Twenty-Sixth or Cameronian Regiment, London: W. O. Mitchell, 1867
  • Wikipedia 26th Foot

Other sources

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, 65

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth'

Public Record Office Lists and Indexes, Vol. 53, Reprint New York 1963, p. 335

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 184, 854

War Office Professional Painting Service - Battle of Blenheim