Origin and History
|Some sources indicate the regiment was part of the Scottish Establishment at its creation in 1633. However, there was no regular Scottish army at that time, nor was there a Scottish Establishment. The regiment was raised by a Royal Warrant, and was raised solely for the purpose of foreign service.
Some sources indicate the regiment dates back to 1625, when it was in Swedish service. Though Hepburn commanded a regiment in Swedish service, this was not a Scottish regiment. The regiment of 1633 should be regarded as a new corps.
Though a Scottish regiment, the regiment was never part of Scottish Establishment – except for a battalion between 1686 and 1688.
The regiment remained the only two battalion regiment of the British army, other than the Guards, for many years, Contrary to the foot guards, the regiment served as one regiment with both battalions – the foot guards dispatched battalions for overseas service.
Acknowledgement: Wienand Drenth
The regiment was raised for French service by a Royal Warrant dated 28 March 1633. The regiment was commanded by Sir John Hepburn and was known in French as “Regiment d’Hebron”; it consisted of 1,200 men. Hepburn’s commission from the French King Louis XIII dates from 26 January 1633.
In late 1634 or early 1635, at the outbreak of the Franco-Spanish War (1635–59), the regiment absorbed the remnants of Scottish regiments formerly in Swedish service, that had been decimated at the battle of Nordlingen. At this time the regiment numbered 8,316 men all ranks, in forty-eight companies. It then joined the French Army in Flanders, taking part in the siege of La Motte (aka La Mothe) before occupying Mannheim and relieving Heidelberg.
In 1635, it campaigned with the French Army of Germany, taking part in a rearguard action near Metz. In 1636, it participated in the siege of Saverne where Colonel John Hepburn was killed in action. King Louis XIII conferred the vacant colonelcy of the regiment on Lieutenant-Colonel James Hepburn. In 1637, the regiment campaigned in Alsace where Colonel James Hepburn was killed, and he was succeeded in the command of the regiment by Lord James Douglas, second son of William, first Marquis of Douglas. From this period the regiment was known in France by the title of “Regiment de Douglas”. It then numbered 1,200 men. During the year, it was transferred to Picardie which had been invaded by the Spaniards. In 1638, it took part in the invasion of the Duchy of Artois in the Spanish Netherlands, in the unsuccessful siege of Saint-Omer, in the capture of Renty and in the storming of Catelet in Picardie; in 1639, in the siege and capture of Hesdin, and in a skirmish near Saint-Nicolas.
During the English Civil War (1642–1651), the regiment remained in the service of France. In 1643, it was sent to Italy where it took part in the siege and capture of Turin. In 1644, the regiment returned to Picardie and took part in the siege and capture of Gravelines. In 1649, it participated in the siege of Paris; in 1651, in the defence of several strong towns on the frontiers of Picardie and Flanders, and in operations against the insurgents of the Fronde.
On 2 July 1652, the regiment fought in the Battle of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. During the following winter, it took part in the siege and capture of Bar le Duc and in the assault upon the Castle of Ligny where it suffered heavy losses. In 1653, it participated in the siege and capture of Château Portien in the Ardennes, in the siege of Vervins. In 1654, it assumed garrison duties. In 1655, it was employed in the Netherlands where its colonel, Lieutenant-General Lord James Douglas was killed in action; he was succeeded in the colonelcy by his brother, Lord George Douglas, afterwards Earl of Dumbarton. In 1657, the regiment was placed in remote garrison to prevent it from joining Charles II who had sided with Spain.
In 1658, the regiment fought in the Battle of the Dunes, alongside the Cromwellian regiments that served with the French army, and against the Royalist regiments formed from exiles that served with the Spanish army.
In 1660, after the signature of the Treaty of the Pyrenees between France and Spain, the “Regiment de Douglas” was reduced to eight companies. These events were followed by the restoration of King Charles II to the throne of Great Britain. Meanwhile, the regiment, still in the service of France, was in garrison at Avennes. In the Spring of 1661, the eight companies of the regiment were sent from Flanders to England to assist Charles II, following the Restoration. It obtained rank in the British Army from that date. Soon after its arrival in England, the establishment of the regiment was augmented with soldiers of another Scottish regiment in French service. In 1662, Charles II having raised several new regiments, it was not deemed necessary to detain the “Regiment de Douglas” veteran corps in England, and it was, accordingly, sent back to France. The same year, the battalion of Gardes Écossaises of General Andrew Rutherford and the battalion of Lord James Douglas were both incorporated in the regiment which now consisted of 23 companies of 100 men each. In 1663, it was reduced to only eight companies of 100 men each.
In 1665, the Second Anglo-Dutch War (4 March 1665–31 July 1667) broke out between England and the Dutch Republic. In 1666, Louis XIV sided with the Dutch against England. The “Regiment de Douglas” was then ordered to quit the French service, and to return to England. From 12 June, the regiment again served as part of the English establishment. On 12 July, the 800 men of the regiment landed at Rye, in Sussex. Shortly after its arrival from France, the regiment was ordered to proceed to Ireland, where it appears to have remained upwards of twelve months. It remained in the English establishment until 12 October 1667.
In 1668, after the conclusion of the Peace of Breda, the insurrections in Ireland having been suppressed, the regiment was again sent to France. By an ordnance of Louis XIV issued on 26 March 1670 the regiment was ranked as 13th regiment of foot.
It served as part of the British Brigade in French service between 1672 and 1678, during the French-Dutch War.
In 1672, the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78) broke out. King Charles II of England also declared war against the Dutch Republic; and a British force, commanded by the Duke of Monmouth, was sent to France to co-operate with the army of Louis XIV in an attack upon Holland. In the meantime, the regiment had been augmented to 16 companies and, when the army took the field, it formed two battalions. It served as part of the British Brigade in the division of the army commanded by Maréchal Turenne. Several fortified towns were captured by the main army. The regiment took part in the siege and capture of Grave. A number of the subjects of the British crown, who had entered the service of the Dutch Republic, being found in garrison, they were permitted to engage in the service of Louis XIV, and were received as recruits in the “Regiment de Douglas” who later joined Turenne's Army. In 1674, even though King Charles II had concluded a treaty with the Dutch Republic, he authorised the regiment to continue to serve with the French Army on the Rhine. In 1675, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Dachstein, and in the defence of Trier; in 1676, in a campaign on the Rhine where Lord George Hamilton was killed in a rearguard action; in 1677, in a campaign in Alsace.
On 29 January 1678, King Charles II having concluded a treaty with the Dutch Republic, he recalled the regiment to England, where it was reintegrated into the English Army as the "Earl of Dumbarton's Regiment of Foot". This marked the end of an almost unbroken period of 45 years in service of the kings of France. It was then the oldest Scot regiment of the army. Soon after the arrival of the regiment from France, a number of men, who each carried a large pouch filled with hand-grenades, were added to the establishment, and formed into a company, under the command of Captain Robert Hodges. These men were instructed to ignite the fuses, and to cast the grenades into forts, trenches, or amidst the ranks of their enemies, where the explosion was calculated to produce much execution; and the men, deriving their designation from the combustibles with which they were armed, were styled “grenadiers”. Their duties were considered more arduous than those of the pikemen or musketeers; and the strongest and most active men were selected for the grenadier company.
On 25 March 1679, the Dumbarton's Regiment, which consisted at this period of 21 companies (including one company of grenadiers), was transferred to the Irish Establishment and stationed in Ireland. In the autumn of 1679, Tangier in Africa (which had been ceded by Portugal to Charles II, in 1662, as part of the marriage-portion of his consort, Donna Catherina, Infanta of Portugal), was besieged by the Moors, who destroyed two forts at a short distance from the town, and then retired. In the Spring of 1680, the Moors reappeared before the town and four companies of the regiment were ordered to reinforce the garrison of Tangier. These companies embarked at Kinsale in the James and Swan frigates. On 4 April, they landed at Tangier. Fort Henrietta, which stood at a short distance from the town, was at this time besieged by the Moors. Two breaches had been made and the works undermined, and the garrison could not maintain the place; consequently a sally from the city was resolved upon, to give the garrison an opportunity of blowing up the fort, and of cutting their passage through the Moorish army to the town. Captain Hume, Lieutenant Pierson, Lieutenant Bayley, 4 sergeants and 80 privates of the regiment were selected to form the forlorn-hope in the sally. Accordingly, on 12 May at 8:00 a.m., they issued from the town and made a gallant attack on the Moorish army; at the same time the garrison in the fort blew up the building, and rushed forward, sword in hand, to cut their passage through the besiegers. Out of the 165 men forming the garrison of Fort Henrietta, only 44 managed to effect a junction with Captain Hume's party. This party was also attacked by several bodies of Moorish horsemen who were all repulsed. The party continued skirmishing and retiring in good order until it arrived under the protection of the guns of the fortress. In this action, the regiment lost 15 men killed, and Captain Hume and several men wounded. During the summer 12 additional companies of the regiment arrived at Tangier, from Ireland, under the command of Major Sir James Hackett. Hostilities resumed in September. On 24 September, the regiment distinguished itself and had Captain Forbes and eight men killed. On 27 September, it took part in a general sally on the Moorish lines, quickly carrying the first trench, then mixing in fierce combat with the Moors, they routed them. In this action, the regiment lost 6 officers and 36 men killed and 15 officers and 100 men wounded. Thus the siege of Tangier was raised. In December, the regiment received 200 recruits sent from England. In the Spring of 1681, a treaty of peace for four years was concluded. Towards the end of 1683, the Parliament refusing the necessary supply for Tangier, Admiral Lord Dartmouth was sent with a fleet to demolish the fortress, and to bring away the garrison and British inhabitants. In November, one company of the regiment arrived from Tangier and landed at Gravesend. In February 1684, the 15 remaining companies of the regiment arrived in the river Thames and landed at Rochester. Eight companies were quartered at Rochester and Chatham; six at Winchester; and two at Southampton. At the same time, directions were sent to the Duke of Ormond, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland, to send back the five companies of the regiment still stationed in that country to England. On 1 May 1684, King Charles II conferred upon the regiment the title of "His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Foot", which ranked first among the line infantry regiments. By October, the regiment consisted of 21 companies (2 lieutenants, 3 sergeants, 3 corporals and 2 drummers per company).
On 6 February 1685, when King Charles II died, the regiment was ordered to march from the County of Kent into quarters in London and the adjacent villages. In March, four companies proceeded to Yarmouth, and four to Rochester, leaving thirteen companies in quarters in London. In June, the Duke of Monmouth rebelled. The regiment was increased to 100 men per company and five companies were sent from London to Portsmouth, to increase the strength of that garrison. Furthermore, five companies of the regiment, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Douglas, were sent to the West of England to curb Monmouth's rebellion. The four companies of the regiment at Yarmouth were at the same time ordered to march to London; so that during Monmouth's rebellion the regiment was employed as follows:
- 5 companies with the army
- 5 companies in garrison at Portsmouth
- 7 companies attending the court in London
- 4 companies at Rochester
The five companies of the regiment, under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas, with 9 field-pieces, having joined the army under the Earl of Feversham, the rebels found it necessary to move to Bridgewater. The King's forces advanced to the village of Weston, where they arrived on 5 July, and the cavalry having been quartered in the village, the infantry encamped on Sedgemoor. The 5 companies of the regiment, being formed in one small battalion, took the right of the line, and were posted behind a deep ditch; a squadron of horse and 50 dragoons were sent forward as an advanced guard, and 100 men of the regiment were kept under arms in readiness to support the cavalry out-guards. During the night the rebels marched out of Bridgewater, with the design of surprising the King's forces; but the guard having given an alarm, the five companies of the regiment were formed in order of battle in a few moments, and opening their fire upon the advancing rebels with good effect, held them in check, and gave time to the other battalions to form, and for the cavalry to draw out of the village. The rebel cavalry, under Lord Grey, first attempted to charge the regiment, but being unable to cross the ditch, they were driven back by the steady fire of the veteran Scots. The rebel infantry, headed by the Duke of Monmouth, directing their march by the fire, first attacked the regiment, and extending along the moor, a sharp combat of musketry ensued in the dark. The rebel foot, consisting principally of miners, fought with desperation; but their cavalry was soon chased out of the field by the King's horsemen; and when daylight appeared, the Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, and Royal Dragoons, charged the right flank of the rebel infantry, and put Monmouth's untrained battalions into disorder. A complete rout ensued ; the insurgents fled from the moor; and numbers were slain and made prisoners in the adjoining fields. The companies of the Royal Regiment were foremost in the pursuit, and captured the Duke of Monmouth's standard with his motto in gold letters, “Fear none but God.” The Duke of Monmouth was taken prisoner soon afterwards, and was beheaded on 15 July on Tower-Hill, London. A few days after the battle of Sedgemoor, the establishment of the regiment was reduced from 100 to 50 privates per company. In August, eleven companies were encamped on Hounslow Heath, where they were reviewed by the King. In September, thirteen companies marched to Winchester, to attend the court at that city. The regiment passed the winter at Portsmouth and Exeter, with one company detached to Lynn. At this period the establishment of the regiment consisted of:
- 1 colonel
- 1 lieutenant-colonel
- 1 major
- 18 captains
- 1 captain-lieutenant
- 41 lieutenants
- 1 adjutant
- 1 chaplain
- 1 quartermaster and marshal
- 1 surgeon
- 1 surgeon's mate
- 1 drum major
- 1 piper
- 42 drummers
- 63 sergeants
- 63 corporals
- 1,050 privates
On 1 March 1686, a second adjutant and a second surgeon's mate were added to the establishment, and the regiment was again divided into two battalions: the first battalion consisting of eleven, and the second of ten companies. On 20 March, the second battalion was placed on the Scottish Establishment, in exchange for the battalion of Scots Foot Guards. In April, this second battalion embarked at Gravesend for Scotland. At the same time the whole of the first battalion was placed in garrison at Portsmouth, from whence it marched in June to the training camp of Hounslow. In July, four companies marched from Hounslow Heath and encamped near Tunbridge Wells, to attend the Princess Anne during her residence at that place. In August, the first battalion struck its tents, and marched to Yarmouth and Bungay, with a detachment at Landguard-Fort, where it passed the winter.
In the Spring of 1687, the first battalion was sent to garrison Portsmouth. In the Autumn, it marched into Yorkshire and the men were employed during the winter in working on the fortifications at Hull.
In April 1688, the first battalion was recalled from Yorkshire and stationed at Greenwich, Woolwich, and Deptford, until 26 June, when it encamped on Hounslow Heath. In the meantime the second battalion, which had been transferred to the English Establishment, had marched from Scotland to York. In August, it proceeded to Hertford and Ware; and in September to Gravesend, where the first battalion had previously arrived from Hounslow Heath. The reunited battalions occupied Gravesend, Tilbury-Fort, Sheerness and other places along the banks of the Thames and the coast of Kent. In September, the regiment contributed four companies to form the nucleus of Archibald Douglas’s Regiment (the future 16th Foot). At this period, many noblemen and gentlemen who felt the greatest concern for the welfare of their country had invited the Prince of Orange to land in England with a Dutch army to aid them in resisting the proceedings of the court. King James II made preparations to avert the danger, and augmented his army. The Royal Regiment was increased to 26 companies, and its total strength to 1,858 officers and soldiers, each battalion having now a grenadier company. In the early part of November, the Dutch fleet having sailed past Dover, the Royal Regiment was ordered to the west. When the Prince of Orange landed at Torbay and advanced to Exeter, the regiment proceeded to the advanced post of Warminster. On 21 November, King James reviewed his army on Salisbury Plain. However, many officers and soldiers of his army deserted from his camp and joined the Prince of Orange. The Royal Regiment of Foot was an exception; it preserved its ranks entire, and stood with an unshaken loyalty amidst the general defection which prevailed in the kingdom. When the king ordered his forces to retire towards London, the Royal Regiment marched, first to Devizes, and afterwards to Windsor, where it arrived on 29 November. The desertions continuing, the King sent orders to Lieutenant-General the Earl of Feversham to make no further resistance to the Prince of Orange, and his Majesty afterwards attempted to effect his escape to France. These orders produced much confusion. Several corps were disbanded and the men spreading themselves in parties over the country, committed many disorders. The Royal Regiment, however, appears to have been equally conspicuous for good order as for loyalty, and continued at its post of duty until directed by the Prince of Orange to march to Oxford. The Earl of Dumbarton, the colonel of the regiment, having fled to France with James II, the Prince of Orange conferred the colonelcy on one of his most distinguished officers: Marshal Frederick de Schomberg, afterwards Duke Schomberg.
In 1689, a convention declared the throne abdicated and vacant, and conferred the sovereignty on William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange. The regiment received orders to embark for the Netherlands to replace the Dutch troops which were in England. This order was considered premature: the national assembly in Scotland had not declared for King William, and the Scots officers and soldiers did not consider themselves bound to obey the commands of a king who had not been acknowledged in Scotland. A number of officers and men mutinied and, seizing the money appointed for their pay, marched with four pieces of cannon towards Scotland. At the same time the Royal Regiment of Scots Horse, commanded by Major-General Viscount Dundee, deserted from its quarters at Abingdon, and proceeded in the same direction. William III sent Major-General Sir John Lanier with his own regiment of horse and Colonel Langston's Horse, and Lieutenant-General de Ginkell (afterwards Earl of Athlone) with three regiments of Dutch dragoons, in pursuit of the mutineers. These troops overtook the men of the Royal Regiment in Lincolnshire, about 20 officers and 500 men laid down their arms and submitted themselves to William's clemency who dismissed four officers and pardoned the remainder of the regiment. William III then ordered the first battalion to be completed to its establishment from the second, and to proceed to its original destination. The second battalion of the Royal Regiment having transferred its serviceable men to the first, proceeded to Scotland.
In the Spring of 1689, when England got involved in the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the first battalion embarked for the Netherlands, where it arrived in the beginning of May, and joined the Dutch camp at Tongres in the early part of June. On 25 August, the first battalion took part in the Battle of Walcourt. During the winter, the second battalion of the Royal Regiment having recruited its ranks, was sent from Scotland to the Dutch Republic. In the Summer of 1690, both battalions took the field. On 21 June, they were still on the march to Bruxelles when the Allies were defeated at Fleurus. On 1 July, Marshal Duke Schomberg was killed at the battle of the Boyne in Ireland and the colonelcy of the Royal Regiment remained vacant until 5 March 1691, when it was conferred by King William III on Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Robert Douglas. On 23 June 1692, Colonel Sir Robert Douglas, with 2 captains, 2 lieutenants, 2 ensigns, and 120 privates of the Royal Regiment, was detached, with other troops, to attempt the surprise of Mons. On 24 June at 1:00 a.m., the detachment arrived within a short distance of the town and the troops were ordered to halt while Sir Robert Douglas and Colonel O'Farrel proceeded to consult with the Prince of Württemberg, who commanded the party. However, they mistook their way in the dark, fell into the hands of a detachment of French cavalry and were made prisoners. The enemy being found prepared to resist, the detachment returned to the camp at Mellé and, on 29 June, Sir Robert Douglas was released on payment of the regulated ransom and rejoined his regiment. On 3 August, the regiment took part in the Battle of Steenkerque where the first battalion distinguished itself, storming three trenches. In this battle, the regiment lost its colonel, Sir Robert Douglas, killed in action. A few days after the battle, King William III conferred the colonelcy on Lord George Hamilton (afterwards Earl of Orkney) from the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The regiment took its winter-quarters in Bruges. On 29 July 1693, the regiment fought in the Battle of Landen. In May 1694, the first battalion joined the army assembling near Louvain while the second battalion assumed garrison duties at at Bruges before joining the small army of observation of Count de Merode along the banks of the canal leading to Ghent. Towards the end of August, the second battalion quitted its post on the Bruges Canal, and joined the first battalion at the camp at Rousselaer. The regiment then took part in the coverage of the siege of Huy. In October, the regiment returned to Bruges where it took its winter-quarters. In May 1695, it took the field and the first battalion took part in the siege and capture of Namur while the second battalion formed part of the covering forces. In 1696, the regiment passed the Summer in camp along the banks of the Bruges canal and took its winter-quarters in Bruges. In the spring of 1697, when the regiment took the field, four companies were left in garrison at Bruges, where they remained during the summer. The remainder of the regiment took part in the several operations of the main army under King William III. After the conclusion of the Peace of Ryswick the regiment marched from Brussels to Ghent.
On 26 March 1699, the regiment was placed in the Irish Establishment. It then embarked for Ireland. A reduction of four companies was made in its establishment. On 1 May, the regiment was further reduced to 22 companies, each of 3 officers, 2 sergeants, 2 corporals, 1 drummer and 34 privates. At the end of 1700, events in Europe convinced the king to place the regiment on a war establishment. Accordingly, it was augmented to 24 companies, each of 3 officers, 3 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers and 59 privates.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonels of the regiment were:
- from 1 August 1692 to 27 June 1737: Lord George Hamilton
On 25 March 1715, the regiment returned to the Irish Establishment again.
Service during the War
In 1701, King William III decided to send 13 British battalions (including the two battalions of the regiment) to assist the Dutch Republic. On 15 June, the regiment embarked at the Cove of Cork in two ships of war. On 16 June, it sailed from Cork. On 8 July, it arrived at Helvoetsluys, on the island of Voorn, in Southern Holland where it was transferred on board Dutch and sailed up the Meuse to the several garrisons of Breda, Geertruidenberg, Heusden, Workum, Gorkum (aka Gorinchem) and Borsch (unidentified location). In mid-September, it was recalled to the vicinity of Breda and encamped on Breda Heath. On 21 September, the regiment was reviewed by King William and afterwards returned to its former stations. It took its winter-quarters in the Dutch Republic.
On 10 March 1702, the regiment quitted its cantonments and proceeded to Rozendaal, where the British infantry assembled and encamped under the orders of Brigadier-General Ingoldsby. While encamped at Rozendaal, the regiment took the oath of allegiance to Queen Anne. In mid-April, the British Corps (including the regiment) marched to the Duchy of Clèves, where they joined a body of Dutch and Germans under the Earl of Athlone, and encamped at Kranenburg on the Lower Rhine to cover the siege of Kaiserwerth. While the regiment lay with the army at this camp, a French force of superior numbers, commanded by the Duc de Bourgogne and Maréchal Boufflers, traversed the forest of Clèves, and advanced through the plains of Goch to cut off the communication of the Allied army with Grave and Nijmegen. A little before sunset on 10 June, in consequence of this movement, the Allied army struck its tents and continued its retreat throughout the night. On 11 June about 8:00 a.m., it arrived within a few km of Nijmegen; at the same time the French columns appeared on both flanks and in the rear, marching with all possible expedition to surround the Allies. Some sharp skirmishing occurred; the regiment along with the Foot Guards and other British units forming the rear guard, behaved with distinguished gallantry, and having taken possession of some hedges and buildings, held the enemy in check while the army effected its retreat under the works of Nijmegen. On 15 June, Kaiserswerth surrendered. In the meantime additional forces had arrived from Great Britain, and the Earl of Marlborough assumed the command of the British, Dutch, and auxiliary troops. Marlborough assembled the Allied army and advanced against the enemy, and by skilful movements forced the French commanders to retire. The regiment formed part of the force under the Earl of Marlborough, and was engaged in several movements designed to bring on a general action, which the enemy avoided. In September the regiment was encamped a few km from Maastricht, and formed part of the covering army during the siege of Venlo, a town in the Province of Limbourg, on the east side of the Meuse, which surrendered on 25 September. One battalion of the regiment was detached with other troops to undertake the siege of Stevensweert, situated on a small island in the Meuse, 30 km from Maastricht. At the beginning of October, two batteries opened a sharp fire against Stevensweert. On 3 October, the place surrendered. On 6 October, the detached battalion rejoined the army. On 10 October at 1:00 a.m., the main Allied army struck its tents and advanced in two columns towards the city of Liège, and at 4:00 p.m. encamped near the works. The French set the suburb of St. Walburgh on fire, and retired into the citadel and Chartreuse, when the magistrates delivered up the city, and the army commenced the siege of the citadel, which was taken by storm on 23 October; the British grenadiers and fusiliers engaged in the assault highly distinguished themselves. The Chartreuse surrendered a few days afterwards; and these conquests terminated the campaign. On 3 November, the British troops quitted the pleasant valley of Liège and marched to Tongres, where they halted one day, and afterwards continued their route to the Dutch Republic. The regiment proceeded to Breda, in which city it appears to have passed the winter in garrison, together with a battalion of Foot Guards and two or three other corps.
Towards the end of April 1703, the regiment left its quarters and traversed the country to the vicinity of Maastricht. Maréchal Villeroy and Maréchal Boufflers, tried to take advantage of the dispersed state of the Allies, and made a sudden advance to surprise the troops in their quarters. The first attack was made on two British regiments at Tongres. They held their ground for more than 24 hours before surrendering. This delay allowed several other units (including the regiment) to strike their tents and to proceed to Maastricht where they deployed in order of battle near the works. When the French commanders advanced and reconnoitred the position, they decided to retreat to Tongres. In mid-May, the first battalion of the regiment was brigaded with the battalion of Foot Guards, and the regiments of Stewart, Howe, Ingoldsby, and Marlborough, under the orders of Brigadier -General Withers ; and the second battalion with the regiments of North and Grey, Derby, Row, and Ferguson, under the command of Brigadier-General the Earl of Derby. On 24 May the army advanced towards Tongres and the French precipitously retreated. In mid-October, at the end of the campaign, the regiment proceeded to the neighbourhood of Tongres, where it halted ten days, and afterwards continued its march through the Province of Limbourg to Holland.
In the Spring of 1704, the regiment sent a detachment of 600 men to Maastricht to garrison that city, while the Dutch troops were working at the entrenchments on the heights of Petersberg. In the early part of May, the remainder of the regiment marched from its winter quarters towards the Rhine, and was joined at Bedburg by the detachment from Maastricht. The regiment then took part in Marlborough's famous march to the Danube. On 2 July, the regiment took part in the Battle of the Schellenberg, charging three times before storming the Bavarian entrenchments. The first battalion of the regiment had Captain Murray, Ensigns M'Dugal and M'llroy, one sergeant, and 38 rank and file killed; and Lieutenant-Colonel White, Major Cockburn, Captains Hume, Irwin, and Brown; Lieutenants Kid and Ballatine; Ensigns Stratton, Cunningham, and Stewart; with 3 sergeants, and 103 rank and file, wounded. The second battalion had Captain Baily and Lieutenant Levingston, with 1 sergeant and 76 privates, killed; and Major Kerr, Captain Carr, Lieutenants Pearson, Moore, Vernel, Hay, Dickson, and Hamilton, Ensigns M'Queen, M'Onway, Moremere, Elliot, Inglis, and Moore, with 12 sergeants, and 184 rank and file, wounded. The regiment was then attached to the corps who covered the siege of Ingoldstadt. On 13 August, the regiment took part in the Battle of Blenheim. In this glorious victory, the regiment lost Lieutenant-Colonel White, Ensigns M'Conway and Craig, killed; Captain Lord Forbes died of his wounds; and Captains Montgomery, Bruce, and Lindsay, with Lieutenants Harrowby and Lisle, and Ensign Hume, wounded. The number of French and Bavarians taken on this occasion was so great that the second battalion of the regiment, with Prince George of Denmark's Foot, Lord North and Grey's Foot, Scots Fusiliers and Thomas Meredith's Foot, commanded by Brigadier-General Fergusson, escorted the prisoners to the Dutch Republic. They marched to Mainz, where they embarked in boats and sailed to Holland. Having delivered them into the charge of other corps, they were placed in garrison for the remainder of the year. Meanwhile the first battalion continued with the army in Germany and the enemy abandoned several important cities, which were occupied by the Allies. The first battalion proceeded through the Circle of Swabia and directed its march to Philipsburg, where, on 7 September, it crossed the Rhine, and subsequently formed part of the covering army during the siege of Landau. On 13 October, this battalion, with the regiments of Hamilton, Ingoldsby, and Tatton, marched from the covering army encamped at Croon-Weissemberg to Germersheim, and embarking in boats, sailed down the Rhine to the Dutch Republic, and were placed in garrison for the winter.
In the Spring of 1705, the losses of the preceding campaign were replaced with recruits from Scotland. In April, the regiment quitted its quarters and directed its march towards Maastricht, passed that city on 13 May, and proceeded to Juliers. From Juliers the regiment proceeded through a mountainous country to the Valley of the Moselle. By 28 May, both battalions were encamped at Trier where an Allied army had assembled. On 3 June, this Allied army passed the Moselle and the Saar, and advanced towards Sierck, near which place a French army of superior numbers, commanded by Maréchal Villiers, was encamped. The Allied army halted a short distance from the enemy, and vainly awaited the arrival of the Imperialists under the Margrave of Baden. The margrave was delayed so long that, on the night of 17 June, the Allies were forced to start their retreat to the Netherlands, where the French were making considerable progress. On 20 June, Lieutenant-General the Earl of Orkney was detached with all the grenadiers, and 100 men of each battalion, to observe the motions of a detachment which Maréchal Villiers had sent towards the Netherlands. The approach of the army towards the Meuse alarmed the French, and they raised the siege of the citadel of Liège and retired. On 4 July, the first battalion of the regiment was detached, with other forces under General Schultz and Lieutenant-General the Earl of Orkney, to besiege Huy, which had been captured by the French during the absence of the army up the Moselle. On 6 July, a battery of 12 cannon and 6 mortars opened a sharp fire upon Fort Picard; and during the afternoon of the same day the troops forced the covert way and reared their ladders against the walls, when the French quitted this fort and also Fort Rouge, and fled to the castle. On 10 July, the batteries were brought to bear on the castle and on Fort Joseph. On 11 July, the garrison surrendered. Marlborough then decided to force the fortified lines of the French. The first battalion rejoined the army in time to take part in this enterprise. The lines were menaced by a detachment on the south of the Mehaigne, which drew the greater part of the French army to that quarter and, during the night of 17 July the Allied army marched to its right, and on 18 July at 4:00 a.m. The leading regiments approached the works at Neer-Hespen and Helixem. Both battalions of the regiment were in the leading division. Their advance was concealed by a thick fog, and under the cover of this obscurity one column cleared the village of Neer-Winden and Neer-Hespen, another gained the bridge and village of Helixem, and a third carried the Castle of Wange, which commanded the passage over the Little Gheet. Then rushing through the enclosures and marshy grounds, the troops forded the river, and crowded over the defences with an ardour which overcame all opposition. The French guards were surprised and overpowered, and a detachment of dragoons fled in a panic. Thus the lines were forced; the pioneers were instantly set to work, and in a short time a passage was made for the cavalry. While this was in progress, the Marquis d'Allegre advanced with 20 battalions and 50 squadrons, and opened a sharp cannonade; but his advance was retarded by a hollow way, which gave time for more troops to pass the lines; and eventually his forces were attacked and defeated, and the Allies took many prisoners, and also captured a number of standards and colours. The French retreated behind the river Dyle. On 21 July, a small body of French troops passed the Dyle, when the first battalion of the regiment was ordered forward, and a slight skirmish ensued. The French fled to their lines, and a few companies of the regiment pursuing too far, were fired upon from the works, and had one captain killed and several men wounded. Major-General Wood was also wounded. The French lines were demolished in the autumn. In the early part of November, the regiment marched back to Holland, and was placed in garrison for the winter.
In May 1706, the regiment again took the field and proceeded to the Province of Limbourg. On 19 May, it arrived at the general rendezvous of the army at Bilzen, near Tongres. Advancing from Bilzen, the army proceeded in the direction of Mont Saint-André. On 23 May, as the army was on the march, the enemy's army, commanded by Maréchal Villeroy and the Elector of Bavaria, was discovered forming in order of battle in the position of Mont Saint-André. The regiment took part in the ensuing Battle of Ramillies where it was initially deployed near the right of the first line, on the heights of Foulz. It then descended, with several other British, Dutch, and German corps, into the low grounds near the river, menaced the villages of Autre-Église and Offus with an attack. This movement occasioned the enemy to weaken his centre to support his left flank, when Marlborough made a powerful attack on the enemy's centre and right. The regiment was spectator of the fight for above an hour; at length a critical period in the engagement arrived, and the regiment was brought forward and the French, Spaniards, and Bavarians were overthrown and driven from the field with a terrible slaughter. The fugitives were pursued many km, and an immense number of prisoners, with cannon, standards, and colours, was captured. The French subsequently abandoned Louvain and Bruxelles. The principal towns of Brabant and several others in Flanders, were immediately submitted and others surrendered on being summoned. The regiment formed part of the covering army during the sieges and capture of Dendermonde, Ostend and Menin. In September, after the surrender of Dendermonde, one battalion of the regiment was detached under Marshal Nassau-Ouwerkerk and Lieutenant-General Ingoldsby, to besiege Ath, a town and fortress on the river Dender. On 16 September, Ath was invested. Several attacks were carried on with vigour and, on 3 October, the garrison surrendered. In the early part of November the regiment marched into garrison at Ghent.
On 16 May 1707, the regiment took the field. Its first battalion was brigaded with the Foot Guards, Godfrey's Foot and Sabine's Foot under Brigadier-General Meredith while its second battalion was brigaded with Webb's Foot, Ingoldsby's Foot, Tatton's Foot and Temple's Foot under the command of Brigadier-General Sir Richard Temple. The opposing armies passed the campaign in manoeuvring and observing each other's movements. In October, the regiment returned to Ghent.
In 1708, when King Louis XIV planned a descent on the British coast in favour of the Pretender, the regiment with the Foot Guards and seven other units, were ordered to return to England to repel the invaders. On 19 March, the regiment marched from Ghent. On 26 March, it embarked at Ostend. On 1 April, it arrived at Tynemouth. The French fleet having been unable to effect a landing in Great Britain, the regiment was sent back to Flanders. On 20 April, it landed at Ostend and proceeded in boats along the canal to Ghent. It then remained at Ghent until 22 May, when it took the field. On 11 July, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, where it formed part of the division commanded by the Duke of Argyle. Having traversed the Scheldt by the pontoon bridge between Oudenarde and the Abbey of Ename, they ascended the heights of Bevere; then, inclining to the right, engaged the enemy in the fields and open grounds beyond the rivulet. A fierce conflict of musketry ensued, and charge succeeded charge until darkness. The remnants of the French army then retreated to Ghent. The regiment was subsequently employed in covering the siege of Lille. During the siege, one battalion of the regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, was detached from the covering army to protect a supply convoy during its march from Ostend to Lille. On 27 September, the convoy left Ostend and the battalion remain at Oudenburg while the convoy was passing there and then marched to Torhout where information was received that a large French force was on its way to intercept the convoy. The battalion marched with all possible expedition to succour the convoy. On 28 September, it arrived at the wood of Wijnendale at the moment when Major-General Webb was forming the few troops he had with him in an opening beyond the wood. The French had to pass through the wood, and Major-General Webb placed a battalion in ambush amongst the trees on each side of the defile, and drew up the main body of his detachment, which consisted of about 8,000 men, in an open space at the end of the defile. The French (22,000 men) advanced in full confidence but, when passing through the wood, they were assailed by the ambush on their left, which put them in some confusion. They, however, continued to advance and broke through two of the battalions of the Allies posted at the end of the defile; but the battalion in ambush on the enemy's right having opened its fire, and the head of their column being attacked, the French were repulsed and driven back through the wood. They soon rallied and returned to the attack, and were again assailed by a destructive fire in front and on both flanks, and they shrunk back in dismay. The attack was repeated, and the destructive cross fire was again opened with the same results. The French commander, the Comte de la Motte, being unable to induce his men to return to the charge, was forced to retire. At this moment Lieutenant-General Cadogan arrived with a few squadrons and the convoy was conducted in safety to the army. The regiment continued to form part of the covering army, and was employed in several services connected with the procuring of provision and stores for the besieging troops. In November, the Elector of Bavaria besieged Bruxelles and the regiment formed part of the force which advanced to relieve the place. On 27 November, the strong positions of the enemy behind the Scheldt were forced and, when the troops advanced upon Bruxelles, the Elector of Bavaria raised the siege and made a precipitate retreat. On 9 December, the Citadel of Lille finally surrendered. The regiment then took part in the siege of Ghent. On 24 December, a detachment of the regiment formed part of the forlorn-hope, and had several men killed and wounded. The trenches were opened during the same night, and the siege being prosecuted with spirit and vigour, the garrison surrendered on 2 January 1709. Bruges was also vacated by the French; and the regiment, having marched into Ghent when that city was delivered up, remained there during the winter.
At the beginning of 1709, the regiment obtained a body of fine recruits from Scotland. It then advanced from Bruges to the plain of Lille and was afterwards encamped with the army on the banks of the Upper Dyle. The French had constructed a new line of entrenchments and forts. The Allies advanced with the apparent design of attacking the enemy, when Maréchal Villars drew a number of troops out of the neighbouring garrisons, and prepared to make a determined resistance. This was what Marlborough wished; and no sooner had a considerable detachment of French troops quitted the garrison of Tournai, than the Allies struck their tents, marched to the left, and invested the town. Both battalions of the regiment were in the besieging army, and took an active part in the several attacks on the works, and in repulsing the sallies of the garrison. On 29 July, while preparations were made to attack the town by storm, the governor surrendered. The citadel still held out but five British regiments, which had not taken part in the siege of the town, were selected for the siege of the citadel, and the regiment joined the covering army. During the siege, Lieutenant-General the Earl of Orkney was detached with the grenadier companies of the regiment and several other regiments, and twenty squadrons, towards St. Ghislain, to seize on certain passes, and to facilitate the subsequent operations of the campaign. On 3 September the citadel of Tournai surrendered. The Allies then proceeded towards Mons, the capital of the Province of Hainault, which they intended to besiege. While the Allies were on the march, Maréchal Villars made several movements to prevent the loss of Mons. On 10 September, the French army was in position in front of Taisnière and the hamlet of Malplaquet, and having thrown up entrenchments and constructed abatis and other defences, until their camp resembled a fortified citadel, they awaited the attack of the Allies. On 11 September, the regiment took part in the sanguinary battle of Malplaquet, where it formed part of the division commanded by General Count Lottum, and was engaged in the assault of the entrenchments in the wood of Taisnière. Two battalions of Foot Guards led the attack, and, having overcome several local difficulties, they commenced ascending the enemy's breastwork, but were repulsed and driven back. The Royals seconded the Foot Guards while Argyle's Foot (3rd Buffs) and several other regiments, prolonged the attack to the left. These troops forced the entrenchments in gallant style, and the French fell back fighting and retreating into the woods. The regiment and other corps pressed forward. The trees and foliage being thick, the ranks were broken. When the fighting in the wood of Taisnière, where the regiment was engaged, had assumed the character of a series of skirmishes, a most sanguinary conflict was raging in other parts of the field. Eventually the enemy's position was broken, and a conflict of cavalry ensued, in which the allies proved victorious. Meanwhile, the regiment and other corps engaged in the woods, continued to gain ground, and the French were forced to retreat. The allies captured a number of prisoners, colours, standards, and cannon ; but this victory was purchased at an immense expense of human life, especially of Germans and Dutch. The regiment having fought a great part of the day in the wood, where the men were partly covered by the trees, the regiment did not sustain a very severe loss. Lieutenant Haley and a few privates were killed; and Lieutenants J. Stratton, Dixon, and W. Stratton, were wounded. The victory at Malplaquet was followed by the siege and capture of Mons which surrendered on 20 October. The regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege, and afterwards marched back to Ghent.
On 14 April 1710, the regiment quitted Ghent. On 19 April, it joined the army in the vicinity of Tournai. The Allies, by a forced march, succeeded in passing the French lines at Pont-à-Vendin without opposition, and invested Douai. The regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege. The French army advanced and menaced the Allies with an attack, but retreated after a sharp cannonade. On 27 June, Douai surrendered. After the capture of Douai, the regiment marched in the direction of Aubigny, and formed part of the covering army encamped at Villers-Brûlin during the siege of Béthune which surrendered on 28 August. The regiment was afterwards detached from the main army and sent under the command of the Prince of Anhalt, to besiege the town of Aire, on the banks of the river Lys. The governor of this place made a vigorous defence; and the regiment was sharply engaged several times in carrying on the attacks and storming the outworks, and had a number of men killed and wounded. On 9 November, the garrison of Aire surrendered. The regiment then marched back to its former winter-quarters at Ghent, where it arrived on 23 November.
Towards the end of April 1711, the regiment again took the field and joined the army near Douai. On 8 June, it was reviewed with the remainder of the British infantry by the Duke of Marlborough, at the camp at Lewarde. On 14 June, the army advanced to the plains of Lens. The enemy had thrown up a new line of entrenchments; and the French army, commanded by Maréchal Villars, was posted behind these formidable works, which were deemed impregnable. But the British commander, by menacing the enemy's left, occasioned the French troops to be drawn to that quarter; then, by a forced march, passed the lines at an unguarded part at Arleux, and afterwards invested Bouchain, a fortified town of Hainault, situated on both sides of the river Scheldt. The regiment formed part of a division of 20 battalions, commanded by Lieutenant-General the Earl of Orkney, which took post on the north and north-west side of the town and river. The French, by a night march, gained possession of the heights of Wavrechain, from whence they expected to be able to relieve the town; and the regiment formed part of a division of infantry which advanced to dislodge the enemy; but the position was found too formidable to be attacked, and the regiment retired without firing a shot. During the night a series of works was constructed; a causeway was also made through the deep inundations which the enemy had, by means of sluices on the river, caused to overflow the low grounds near the town; and thus Bouchain was completely invested, and all communication with the troops on the heights of Wavrechain cut off. The siege was then prosecuted with vigour, and the regiment took its turn of duty in the trenches, and in carrying on the attacks, and had several men killed and wounded. On 13 September, the garrison of Bouchain agreed to surrender. The regiment remained at Bouchain until the works were repaired, and afterwards went into quarters for the winter.
In the early part of April 1712, the regiment once more took the field. On 19 April, it pitched its tents near Tournai. On 9 May, the Duke of Ormond arrived at Tournai to take command of the British contingent, the Duke of Marlborough having, for a political cause, been removed from his military appointments. On 19 May, the army advanced. On 21 May, it encamped on the hills of Saint-Denis, near Bouchain. The army then crossed the Scheldt and arrived a few days afterwards near the frontiers of France. Two grenadier companies of the regiment, forming part of a reconnoitring party, advanced a few km into Picardie. The siege of Quesnoy was afterwards undertaken, and the regiment, forming part of the covering army, was encamped at Cateau-Cambrésis; but was not engaged in any act of direct hostility. On 4 July, the garrison of Quesnoy surrendered. Soon afterwards, the Duke of Ormond having received orders to proclaim a suspension of arms between the British and French, preparatory to a general treaty of peace, the British troops retreated from the frontiers of France to Ghent. The French monarch having agreed to deliver the city of Dunkerque into the hands of the British as a pledge of his sincerity in the negotiations for peace, it was taken possession of by six battalions from England. On 4 August, the regiment, with four other British regiments, twenty pieces of cannon, and four mortars, under the command of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Orkney, marched from the camp near Ghent to Dunkerque, where they arrived on 6 July. The regiment remained in garrison in this city nearly two years.
In 1713, a treaty of peace having been concluded at Utrecht, the British troops were ordered to return from Flanders.
In the Spring of 1714, several regiments embarked. In May, the regiment marched from Dunkerque to Nieuport, where it remained until after the decease of Queen Anne and the accession of King George I, which occurred on 1 August. The first battalion embarked a few days after this event. On 15 August, it landed at Dover (7 companies) and 5 at Greenwich and Deptford (5 companies). On 22 August, the second battalion landed at Gravesend and the borough of Southwark. Both battalions assembled in the vicinity of London, and having been reviewed by the Duke of Ormond, afterwards proceeded into garrison at Portsmouth and Plymouth.
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.
By October 1684, the uniform of the regiment consisted of red coats lined with white; white sashes with a white fringe; light grey breeches and stockings; grenadiers distinguished by caps lined white, the lion's face, proper, crowned; flys St- Andrew's Cross, with thistle and crown, circumscribed in the centre, “Nemo me impune lacessit.”
|Neck stock||knotted white linen neck-cloth with ends hanging or tucked into the top of the coat|
|Coat||red with white lining; 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 tufted laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes down to the waist
|Waistcoat||long red waistcoat with pewter buttons|
|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|
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 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 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.
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.
According to the MS Colour Book at Windsor:
- Colonel colour: plain white field; centre device consisting of thistle surmounted by a crown; the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit”
- Lieutenant-Colonel colour: blue field with the St. Andrew's Cross; centre device consisting of thistle surmounted by a crown; the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit”
- Major colour: blue field with the St. Andrew's Cross; a red pile wavy; centre device consisting of thistle surmounted by a crown; the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit”
- 1st Captain: blue field with the St. Andrew's Cross; numeral I in silver; centre device consisting of thistle surmounted by a crown; the motto “Nemo me impune lacessit”
In 1707, the Union of Scotland with England having taken place, the Cross of St. Andrew was placed on the colours of the English regiments in addition to the Cross of St. George previously displayed. Furthermore, the regiment obtained, as a regimental badge, the Royal Cypher within the circle of St. Andrew, surmounted with a crown; instead of the St. Andrew's Cross which it had formerly borne on its colours.
This article is mainly a condensed and abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the First or Royal Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall & Parker, 1847
Farmer, John S.: The Regimental Records of the British Army, London: Grant Richards, 1901
Fortescue, J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899
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, 62-63, 134
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)
Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 10, 854
N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Wienand Drenth for additional information on the lineage and history of the regiment