Princess Ann of Denmark's Dragoons

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Princess Ann of Denmark's Dragoons

Origin and History

The regiment was raised on 17 July 17 1685 to curb Monmouth Rebellion. It was known as the “Princess Ann of Denmark's Dragoon” and ranked 4th. Before its establishment was completed, the regiment was ordered to be reduced to six troops. In October, they were sent into Lancashire and quartered at Manchester, Preston, Warrington and Liverpool. In 1686, 1687 and 1688, the regiment took part in the training camp of Hounslow heath.

In 1688, when the Prince of Orange planned to land in England, the regiment was ordered to London where it arrived at the beginning of November. When the king fled to France, the Prince of Orange ordered the regiment to occupy quarters at Burford in Oxfordshire. Soon afterwards, the regiment abandoned the name of “Princess Ann of Denmark's Dragoon” and adopted the names of its successive colonels. In 1689, the regiment was sent to quench troubles in Scotland where they took part in the engagement of Forfar. In September, it returned to England where it was quartered at Newark, Grantham and Stamford.

In 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688-1697), the regiment was sent to the Spanish Netherlands where it took part in the Battle of Steenkerque. In July 1693, it fought in the Battle of Landen. In August, the Earl of Essex succeeded in command of the regiment which was designated as the “Essex’s Dragoons”. In 1695, the regiment escorted a convoy of bread-waggons, driving back the French attackers. It later formed part of the covering force during the siege of Namur. In 1697, it served in Brabant until hostilities were terminated by the treaty of Ryswick.

In January 1698, the regiment returned to England and took up quarters in Yorkshire. In 1700, it was transferred to Ireland where it would remain nearly two years.

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

  • from August 1693: Earl of Essex
  • from January 1710. Colonel Hill
  • from April 1710 to 13 April 1713: Lieutenant-General Sir Richard Temple

Service during the War

In 1702, the regiment was recalled to England where it arrived on 15 March 1702. Its establishment was again augmented, and the numbers fixed to six troops, each consisting of:

  • 3 officers
  • 1 quartermaster
  • 2 sergeants
  • 3 corporals
  • 2 drummers
  • 2 oboists
  • 54 troopers

In 1706, a detachment of the regiment was selected to form part of an expedition, commanded by the Earl of Rivers, designed to make a descent in Guyenne, and a number of French Protestants were to accompany the troops for stir revolt in the Cévennes. However, the design was frustrated by contrary winds, and the Earl of Rivers was directed to proceed to Portugal. In October, he arrived at Lisbon and the troops were landed.

In January 1707, the Anglo-Portuguese army having proceeded to Valencia and Catalonia during the preceding campaign, the Earl of Rivers re-embarked his detachment and sailed to Alicante. After a long and toilsome march across the country, the detachment of the regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Dormer, joined the Allied army under the orders of the Marquis las Minas and the Earl of Galway. On the morning of April 25, the Allies advanced to attack the Franco-Spanish army under the Duke of Berwick in the Battle of Almansa. The detachment of the regiment was brigaded with Guiscard’s Dragoons (a unit of French Protestants) and Carpenter’s Dragoons. The entire brigade could field 520 men. Upon arriving into the plain of Almansa, the elements of the regiment formed on the left of the first line, with Southwell’s Foot and Wade’s Foot on their right. The enemy having a great superiority of numbers, a brigade of Portuguese horse was afterwards moved from the second line to the left of the English dragoons, to increase the front. At 3:00 p.m., the British cavalry advanced to attack the French and Spanish horsemen, and Lieutenant-Colonel Dormer, of the regiment, was directed to charge a French battery in his front, with his own and Carpenter's squadrons. Having passed some low ground at a swift pace, the dragoons began to ascend the eminence on which the guns were placed, and giving a loud shout, dashed sword in hand upon their adversaries. The artillery was instantly withdrawn, and as the dragoons pursued with earnestness, they were charged by a force of more than three times their own numbers, when a fierce sword-fight ensued, in which the English troopers were overpowered, and a dreadful massacre followed. Lieutenant-Colonel Dormer, Cornet Owen, and many men of the regiment fell mortally wounded; the remainder withdrew, fighting, and the pursuing French troopers were checked by the fire of Southwell's and Wade's musketeers: the shattered British squadrons renewed the charge, and drove back the enemy. The action extended along the front and became general; the British and Dutch infantry forced the enemy's centre: but the Portuguese cavalry on the right fled in a panic, and the infantry on that flank, being thus abandoned, were broken and nearly annihilated. The right being overpowered, the enemy bent all his force against the centre and left, and a dreadful slaughter ensued, which ended in the defeat of the Allies with very severe loss. The Earl of Galway made good his retreat with a few horsemen; and the infantry of the centre, after retiring to the woody hills of Caudete, were forced to surrender prisoners of war. The few officers and private troopers who escaped from the field of battle, retired behind the mountains to the strong town of Alcira, on the river Xucar, where the wreck of the Allied army was assembled. Afterwards, the detachment of the regiment took position behind the Ebro, from whence they retired to Tarragona, and later removed to Las Borgues. Their numbers being considerably reduced, and their horses exhausted, they were sent into village cantonments.

During the winter of 1707-1708, the men and horses fit for duty were transferred to the Royal Dragoons and other cavalry corps in Spain, and the officers returned to England, where they arrived in May. At the same time, the establishment was augmented to 60 privates per troop. Previous to their arrival, the remainder of the regiment had marched northwards, to oppose the menaced invasion of Scotland by a French force, which had in view the placing of the Pretender on the British throne. However, the French fleet was chased from the Scottish Shores by the Royal Navy and the regiment halted in Yorkshire before returning to the south. Recruiting parties were sent out to complete the augmentation as speedily as possible.

During the summer of 1708, the regiment proceed to the Isle of Wight for the planned landing in Picardie. However plans were changed and the expedition was redirected against the French coast opposite England. On 9 August, the regiments joined the expedition. At the beginning of September, the expedition returned to Spithead without having made any landing.

In 1711, the regiment, now known as the “Temple’s Dragoons”, proceeded to the north where it received orders to embark at Leith for foreign service. However, the order was countermanded and it remained in Scotland.

In 1713, at the conclusion of the peace of Utrecht, the establishment was reduced, and the regiment was selected to proceed to Ireland, to replace some newly-raised dragoons which were ordered to be disbanded on the reduction of the general establishment of the army.


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This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Fourth, or, The Queen’s Own Regiment of Light Dragoons, London: John W. Parker: 1843