Prince George of Denmark's Foot

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Prince George of Denmark's Foot

Origin and History

This regiment has its origin in the English companies and regiments that were raised from the 1570s onward to aid the Dutch in their conflict with Spain. Sir Thomas Morgan's company of 300 men that was raised in 1572 is considered first of the English units in Dutch service. The first permanent English regiment in Dutch service was formed in July 1593, under the command of Sir Francis Vere. In 1616 there were four English regiments in Dutch service.

Following the outbreak of the Second Anglo-Dutch War in 1665, English regiments in Dutch service were effectively disbanded. The officers were given the choice of taking the oath of allegiance to the Dutch Republic, or being discharged. A large number refused to do so and returned to England. On 31 May 1665, the repatriated English officers and soldiers formed a new regiment known as the “The Holland Maritime Regiment”: of the twenty-one officers in the regiment, twenty had previously been in Dutch service. The regiment was establishment in six companies, each of 100 men. The regiment was on the Naval Establishment and was primarily intended for service at sea.

In 1665 and 1666, the regiment served against the Dutch in the fleet. On 13 June 1665, it took part in the Battle of Lowestoft. On 10 May 1667, it was placed on the establishment of the Guards and Garrisons (the de facto English army) and ranked behind the Admiral's Regiment. By July 1667, the regiment consisted of twelve companies. During the year, a company of the regiment was transferred to the Barbadoes Regiment and a new company immediately raised to replace it. In September, the regiment was reduced to 10 companies of 60 men each. By 1668 the regiment was known as the “4th (The Holland) Regiment”. In April 1671, three companies formed part of an emergency regiment formed for the defence of the Medway at Rochester. In late 1672, one company was detached as part of a regiment in French service.

During the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment contributed detachments and companies to serve on the fleet. In January 1674, eight companies were added by reduction of a war-formed regiment. The additional companies were already reduced in March 1674, when the regiment became established with twelve companies - this did not take immediate effect, and the eleventh company was added only in 1677. In 1676 the regiment furnished a cadre for a company of a battalion sent to quell the Bacon Rebellion in Virginia. In 1678, nine additional companies were added and, with the addition of a company of grenadiers, the regiment numbered twenty-one companies, each of 100 men. This regiment was organised in two battalions. During the same year, the two battalions of the regiment were deployed in Flanders. On 14 and 15 August, the second battalion took part in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1679, the nine new companies and the company of grenadiers were disbanded, and the regiment was reduced to twelve companies. In 1680, the regiment contributed a company to a temporary battalion for service at Tangier. In July 1685, a company of grenadiers was once more added to the regiment.

In 1688-1689 its name was "4th The Lord High Admiral's Regiment". Then, in 1689, it became the “Prince George of Denmark's Regiment”. Around May 1689, the regiment was renamed the "Prince George, Hereditary Prince of Denmark's Regiment", and the title of "Holland Regiment" was dropped. From then until 1751, the regiment took the name of its successive colonels.

N. B.: before May 1689 the title of "Prince George's Regiment" was carried by the regiment raised in 1664 as the Lord High Admiral's Regiment. This regiment was disbanded in 1689.

At the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1689, the regiment was sent to the Low Countries where, on 25 August, it took part in the Battle of Walcourt. It then took its winter-quarters in Bruges. In 1690, the regiment returned to England and, on 10 July, it was present at the Battle of Beachy Head. In 1692, it returned to Flanders. On 3 August, it fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Ghent. On 29 July, the regiment took part in the Battle of Landen; and in 1695, in the siege and capture of Namur. At the end of 1697, the regiment returned to England.

By 1698, the regiment was in the English Establishment. It consisted of 10 companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.

The regiment was named after Prince George of Denmark from 1689 to 1708. However, during the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonel of the regiment were:

  • from 31 December 1688: Charles Churchill (a younger brother of John Churchill, Earl of Marlborough)
  • from 26 February 1707: John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll aka Lord Lorne
  • from 26 February 1711: John Selwyn
  • from 14 April 1713: Archibald Douglas Earl of Forfar

In 1714, the regiment was reduced to 10 companies.

In March 1715, the regiment was placed on the Irish Establishment.

Service during the War

In 1702, the regiment took part in the expedition against Cádiz and, on October 23, in the Battle of Vigo Bay. It then returned to Portsmouth.

In 1703, the regiment was ordered to join the Duke of Marlborough in Flanders. At that time the regiment consisted of:

  • staff
    • 1 colonel
    • 1 lieutenant-colonel
    • 1 major
    • 1 chaplain
    • 1 adjutant
    • 1 quarter-master
    • 1 surgeon
  • 13 companies each consisting of
    • 1 captain
    • 1 lieutenant
    • 1 ensign
    • 3 sergeants
    • 3 corporals
    • 2 drummers
    • 56 privates

N.B.: the 13th company was raised only after the departure of the regiment and joined it the following year.

On 23 April 1703, the convoy transporting the regiment landed it at Willemstad. The regiment then marched to Maastricht to join the army. On 7 May, the British contingent marched to Maaseick. The regiment participated in the sieges of Huy and Limbourg.

At the beginning of 1704, recruitment in England brought back the regiment to full strength and an additional company was added. In May, the regiment accompanied Marlborough in his march to the Danube. On 2 July, a detachment of 130 men of the regiment fought in the Battle of the Schellenberg where it lost Ensigns Harrison and Caldicott and 3 men killed and 37 men wounded. On 13 August, it fought in the victorious Battle of Blenheim where it formed part of Webb's Brigade. In this battle, the regiment lost 2 officers killed, 9 officers wounded and a large number of soldiers. On 12 September, the depleted regiment was attached to the force who escorted French prisoners taken at Blenheim from Mainz to the Dutch Republic, arriving at the Hague on 10 October.

In 1705, the regiment took part in the forcing of the French Lines at Helixem and Neer-Hespen.

On 23 May 1706, the regiment fought in the Battle of Ramillies.

In 1708, the regiment briefly returned to England before being recalled to Flanders. On 11 July, it fought in the Battle of Oudenarde. It then took part in the sieges and capture of Lille and Ghent. On that year, Prince George of Denmark, the proprietor of the regiment, died.

In 1709, the regiment took part in the siege of Tournai. On 11 September, it fought in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet.

In 1710, the regiment took part in the forcing of the French Lines at Pont-à-Vendin. It then participated in the sieges of Douai, Béthune, Aire and Saint-Venant.

In 1711, the regiment took part in the storming of a redoubt at Arleux and in the capture of the Castle of Chanterin. It later surprised a French force in its camp near Douai. It was at the forcing of the French Lines at Arleux and at the siege of Bouchain.

In 1712, the regiment initially encamped near Ghent before being placed in garrison at Nieuport.

In 1713, the regiment remained in Flanders during the period of negotiations for the Peace of Utrecht.

In 1714, the regiment re-embarked for England, arriving in London on 23 August. At the beginning of September, it proceeded to Berwick and then to Scotland where it was reduced to 10 companies of 40 men each.

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
London Gazette
Headgear
Musketeer black felt tricorne laced white
Grenadier cloth cap with a raised and stiffened front decorated with an embroidered green dragon; 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 buff lining; 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 buff, each with 3 pewter buttons

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

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

Drums with a buff body decorated with a green dragon.

Colours

Cannon cites a description of the colours in 1684 as “the red cross of St. George, bordered with white, in a green field.” In 1707, the dragon was placed on the regimental colours.

Colonel's Colour (1701): black field; centre device consisting of a “sun in splendour”

Lieutenant-Colonel's Colour (1701): black field with a red cross of St. George bordered with white; centre device consisting of a “sun in splendour”

Major's Colour (1701): black field with a red cross of St. George bordered with white; a silver pile wavy; centre device consisting of a “sun in splendour”

First Captain's Colour (1701): black field with a red cross of St. George bordered with white; centre device consisting of a “sun in splendour”; numeral I in the first canton

Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Lieutenant-Colonel Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
Major Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf
First Captain Colour - Copyright: Kronoskaf

Colonel's Colour (1707): buff field; centre device consisting of a green dragon.

Colonel Colour in 1707 - Copyright: Kronoskaf

References

Cannon, Richard: Historical record of the Third Regiment of Foot, or the Buffs [microform] : formerly designated the Holland Regiment, containing an account of its origin in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and of its subsequent services to 1838, London

Dalton, Charles (ed.): English Army List and Commission Registers Vol. VI. p. 68

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

Knight, Charles Raleigh Bruère: Historical records of The Buffs, East Kent Regiment (3rd Foot) formerly designated the Holland Regiment and Prince George of Denmark's Regiment, Vol. 1, London: Gale & Polden, 1905

Public Record Office Lists and Indexes, Vol. 53, Reprint New York 1963, p. 333

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

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 13, 216, 854

Wikipedia - The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)

Acknowledgement

Wienand Drenth for additional information on the lineage and history of the regiment