Royal Fusiliers

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Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Royal Fusiliers

Origin and History

On 11 June 1685, a new regiment of 12 companies of fusiliers and 1 company of miners (no company of grenadiers) was created by by George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth to escort the artillery train. It was formed of two companies of the garrison of the Tower of London and of ten new companies of fusiliers raised in London. The company of miners was raised on 15 June. Because of their role as artillery escort, soldiers of this regiment were all armed with flintlock muskets. This regiment was initially named “The Tower Guards” or the “Ordnance Regiment”.

Each company comprised:

  • 3 officers
  • 3 sergeants
  • 3 corporals
  • 2 drummers
  • 100 privates

In September 1685, three companies of the regiment were sent to Sheerness where they remained until October. Before the end of the year, the regiment was reduced to 11 companies of fusiliers, each company being reduced to:

  • 3 officers
  • 3 sergeants
  • 3 corporals
  • 2 drummers
  • 50 privates

The company of miners was also reduced to:

  • 2 officers
  • 1 sergeant
  • 2 corporals
  • 1 drummer
  • 40 privates

In 1686, the regiment took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath. In 1687, a twelfth company of fusiliers was added to the unit which once more took part in a training camp on Hounslow Heath.

In 1688 a company of grenadiers was added to the regiment. At the end of September, Lord Dartmouth was ordered to send a lieutenant, with 40 fusiliers and some NCOs to serve as marines on board the fleet, against the anticipated invasion of William Prince of Orange (the future William III). In November and December, the regiment remained in London during the crisis which lead to the exile of King James II. At the end of December, some officers and soldiers of the regiment were dismissed from service because of their “Papist” sympathies and the unit sent to Barnet and then to Norwich (7 coys) and Yarmouth (6 coys).

In 1689, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment embarked at Harwich for the Dutch Republic.

In the spring of 1690, the regiment was recalled to England. It was renamed the “7th Regiment of Foot, Royal Fusiliers”, retaining only its companies of fusiliers. At the end of August, it embarked for Ireland where it took part in the sieges and capture of Cork and Kinsale. It was then placed in garrison in Kinsale.

On 11 January 1691, the regiment embarked at Kinsale to return to Flanders, arriving in Ostend in early April. In 1692, it took part in the unsuccessful defence of Namur and in the Battle of Steenkerque; in 1693, in the Battle of Landen. By 1695, the troopers already had the privilege to wear the mitre cap. Exceptionally, the regiment had no grenadier company. The same year, the regiment took part in the siege and capture of Namur. In 1696, it was sent back to England to resist a possible French invasion. However on its way, it received new orders to return to Flanders. In 1697, after the Treaty of Ryswick, it returned to England.

N.B.: from 1696 to 1713, the regiment was also known as “Tyrawley's Foot”.

In 1698, the regiment was sent to the Channel Islands: Guernsey (6 coys) and Jersey (7 coys).

In 1700, three companies were removed from the regiment and sent to New York where they would serve as independent companies.

By the time of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment counted one battalion.

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

  • since 12 November 1696: Sir Charles O'Hara, 1st Baron Tyrawley
  • from 29 January 1713 till 27 August 1739: James O'Hara, 2nd Baron Tyrawley

In 1747, the regiment was renamed the “Royal English Fuziliers”.

Service during the War

In 1702, the regiment remained in the Channel Islands until May. It was then sent back to England where it arrived at Cowes on 27 May. Seven companies of the regiment took part in the unsuccessful expedition against Cádiz. On October 23, they took part in the Battle of Vigo Bay. They then returned to England: 3 companies landed at Dover; 1 company at Plymouth; 1 company at Portsmouth. In December, the regiment gave 3 companies to complete Gustavus Hamilton Viscount Boyne's Foot then serving in the West Indies.

In January 1703, the regiment was stationed at Portsmouth. In February it was transferred to Reading. In March, it was distributed among several towns. In August, the regiment assembled in Portsmouth to embark on board the fleet but the order was cancelled and it returned to Reading.

In 1704, the regiment was initially quartered at Reading. In April, it was transferred to Portsmouth. In early August, it was relieved by Pastons's Foot and left for Salisbury. From there six companies were sent to Taunton, two to Bridgewater, one to Ilminster, and one to Wellington. In October, the company at Ilminster marched to Chard. In November, one company went from Taunton to Langport and South Petherton. In December, Lieutenant-Colonel Worthevale, who had served with the regiment since its establishment, left, and was succeeded by Major Withers. The regiment counted 408 men.

In 1705, the regiment was augmented by two companies, of 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers, and 59 privates each. The other companies were augmented by 1 corporal, 1 drummer, and 19 privates each. During the summer the regiment was employed in escorting prisoners to Farnham and Salisbury while some companies served on board the fleet as marines.

On 19 February 1706, the regiment (834 men) embarked for Gibraltar at Plymouth under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Hunt Withers and Major Christopher Simpson. It was then immediately sent to the relief of Barcelona. The French then lifted the siege. The regiment then marched to Girona.

In 1707, the regiment initially garrisoned Girona but was transferred to Tortosa. In October, it took part in the defence of Lérida which capitulated on 10 November. The remnants of the regiment were allowed to rejoin the Allied army and were later sent to Barcelona.

For the campaign of 1708, the remaining men were drafted into other regiments. In the early summer, officers and staff were sent back to Great Britain to recruit. The establishment was fixed at 13 companies, 25 sergeants, 36 corporals, 24 drummers, and 644 privates. The new regiment assembled at Taunton Deane.

By March 1709, the regiment counted 25 sergeants, 36 corporals, 24 drummers and 708 privates. On 18 August, it sailed for Gibraltar where it joined an Allied force which proceeded to Barcelona. The regiment then encamped at Tarragona.

On 11 June 1710, the regiment was reviewed by Archduke Charles at the camp of Balaguer.

In mid-1711, the regiment was stationed on the Island of Minorca.

By the end of March 1712, the regiment was still stationed on the Island of Minorca.

By 13 February 1713, the regiment was in garrison at Minorca.

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 Kronoskaf
Uniform Details as per
a Catalan publication entitled “Catalonia stands alone”
Headgear
Fusilier black felt tricorne laced white or a cloth cap similar to the one of grenadiers
Grenadier cloth cap with a dark blue raised and stiffened front decorated with the embroidered regimental badge (a red rose with pink and white highlights to the edges of the leaves on a dark blue field within a dark blue garter belt edged yellow wearing the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense” in yellow) surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband)crowned Royal cypher or the colonel's crest; a small red front flap edged white; red back with white piping; a dark blue headband edged white with an embroidered grenade; and a white pompom with dark blue inner threads.
Neck stock knotted white linen neck-cloth with ends hanging or tucked into the top of the coat
Coat red with dark blue 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 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

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

Cuffs dark blue, each with 3 pewter buttons

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

Turnbacks none
Waistcoat long dark blue waistcoat with pewter buttons
Breeches dark blue
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.

Musicians

Drummers and hautboys wore coat similar to those of fusiliers with the following distinctions:

  • dark blue laced loops ornamenting the buttonholes on the coat, pockets and cuffs
  • seams of the coat ornamented with a dark blue braid

Colours

no information found yet about the colours carried during this period

References

This article incorporates texts of the following source which is now in the public domain:

  • Wheater, W.: Historical Record of the Seventh of Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, 1875

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

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)

Tunath, Andrew: The British army in Catalonia after the battle of Brihuega, 1710-1712, in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 91, No. 367 (Autumn 2013), pp. 182-205

Vilalta, Lluís: “Catalonia Stands Alone - 1713-1714: The Catalans' War”

Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 44-45, 854

WikipediaRoyal Fusiliers

N.B.: the section Service during the War is partly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.

Acknowledgement

Jörg Meier for the info on the service of the regiment in 1711 and 1712