Scots Dragoons

From Project WSS
Jump to navigationJump to search

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

Origin and History

In the early part of 1678, two troops of dragoons were levied in Scotland and added to the regular army. These troops were the nucleus of the present regiment. In the autumn a third troop of dragoons was raised. In 1679, a troop unsuccessfully tried to quench a riot of the Presbyterians near Drumclog. The other companies took part in the defence of Glasgow before retiring to Edinburgh. The three troops later fought in the combat of Bothwell-bridge. In 1680, these troops were employed against the Presbyterians. In 1681, Charles II raised three additional troops and formed the "Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons" with these 6 companies. From 1682 to 1685, the regiment served against the Presbyterians.

In 1685, the regiment was ordered to march to England to curb Monmouth's rebellion. It was still on its way when it received the news of the Battle of Sedgemoor which put an end to this rebellion and was instructed to return to Scotland.

In the fall of 1688, the regiment joined other Scot units marching towards England against the Prince of Orange. In November, it joined the army assembling at Salisbury. When James II fled to London, the regiment retired to Reading. When the king fled to France, it marched back to Scotland but received orders from the Prince of Orange to take up quarters at Islip and other places in Oxfordshire. On 31 December 1688, the commander of the regiment having declined to serve under the new [[William III|King William III], Sir Thomas Livingstone was appointed colonel of the regiment which, by that time, consisted of 443 officers and men organised in six troops. In 1689, the regiment was ordered to march to Edinburgh. It was then sent to Stirling and later to the shire of Angus to confront the rebels. In 1690, it campaigned in the region of Inverness, taking part in an engagement near Balloch Castle and in the relief of Abergeldie. In 1692, after the pacification of the Highlands, the king confirmed the name of the regiment to be the “Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons.”

On 19 April 1694, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment was reviewed by the King in Hyde Park and is grey and white horses are specifically mentioned. Soon afterwards, the regiment was sent to Flanders. In 1695, it took part in covering the siege of Namur. At the end of 1697, it returned to England.

In 1698, the regiment marched to Scotland where it was reduced from eight to six troops, totalling 294 officers and men.

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

  • from 31 December 1688: Sir Thomas Livingstone (from 1696 Viscount Teviot, so the regiment was then also referred to as Teviot's Dragoons)
  • from 7 April 1704: Lord John Hay (died of sickness at Courtrai on 15 August 1706)
  • from 15 August 1706: to 1714: Lord John Dalrymple (later to be known as the 2nd Earl of Stair)

From 1706, as Lord John Dalrymple was rarely accompanying his regiment, effective command devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel James Campbell, younger brother of the 3rd Earl of Loudoun

After the unification of 1707, the regiment became known as the "Royal Regiment of North British Dragoons".

From 1713, the regiment ranked as 2nd Dragoons.

Service during the War

In 1701, the regiment, which was stationed in Scotland, was selected to proceed on foreign service and its establishment was increased to eight troops.

In 1702, the regiment was also known as the “Grey Dragoons” or the “Scots Regiment of White Horses”, from which it is evident it was now mounted on grey horses exclusively. The regiment embarked for the Dutch Republic. After arriving on the continent, the regiment quartered a short time in Dutch Brabant. In July it was ordered to form part of the guard for the British train of artillery then at Breda, with which they joined the camp of the allied army commanded by the Earl of Marlborough. During the campaign in the Low Countries, the regiment was employed in covering the sieges of Venlo, Roermond and Stevensweert, and also in the capture of Liège. After these conquests, the regiment marched to the Province of Limbourg, and encamped a short time near the little river Jaar, from whence the troops proceeded, in the early part of November, to the Dutch Republic; one squadron being selected to form a guard to the Earl of Marlborough. The regiment took up its winter-quarters in Dutch Brabant.

By the end of 1702, Jajor Agnew's Troop consisted of:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 cornet
  • 1 quarter master
  • 2 sergeants
  • 3 corporals
  • 2 oboists
  • 2 drummers
  • 54 troopers

Towards the end of April 1703, the regiment took the field, and encamped, with other forces, under Lieutenant-Generals Lumley and Churchill, near the small town of Hamont, in the Province of Limbourg; from whence they marched and encamped on Ladner Heath. They afterwards proceeded to the Château d'Horn, near Roermond. On 7 May, they marched to the vicinity of Tongres. Meanwhile a party of British horse, escorting a quantity of specie towards the army, was attacked and defeated by a detachment of French troops, who captured the treasure. When the information of this disaster reached the army, the regiment was instantly ordered out, and, dashing across the country by the bye-road, it intercepted and defeated the French detachment, and retook the specie, with which it returned in triumph to the camp. The regiment was afterwards detached towards Bonn, which place was besieged by the forces under the Duke of Marlborough; and after the capture of this fortress it marched to the vicinity of Maastricht, where it joined the main army on 21 May. In June, a remount of 80 men and horses joined from Scotland. During the siege of Huy, the regiment was stationed between the main army, and the troops employed in the siege, to keep up the communication across the Mehaigne. After the capture of Huy the regiment marched to the Province of Liège, and was engaged in the siege of Limbourg, which was terminated by the surrender of the garrison on 28 September. The troops were afterwards placed in dispersed cantonments in the Dutch Republic.

On 7 April 1704, Lord John Hay was appointed colonel. In April, the regiment, having been joined by a remount from Scotland, marched from its cantonments. In the early part of May, it arrived at Bedburg on the Lower Rhine. Here the army was assembled and reviewed by the Duke of Marlborough. On 19 May, commenced the famous march to the Danube. On 22 June, Marlborough’s Army effected a junction with the Imperialist army of the Margrave of Baden. A new line of battle was formed, and the brigade consisting of the present regiment and of the Royal Dragoons of Ireland was posted on the left of the first line. On 2 July, the regiment took part in the Battle of the Schellenberg during which it was ordered to dismount, form as infantry, and assault the trenches. The loss of the regiment in this action was Captain Douglass and 7 men killed; and Captain Young, Lieutenant Maltary and 17 men wounded. The Allies then penetrated into Bavaria. On 13 August, the regiment took part in the Battle of Blenheim. On this occasion, the regiment was detached with several other corps under Lieutenant-General Churchill, to attack the French posted in the village of Blenheim, which covered the right of the enemy’s line. At the end of the battle, the French troops posted in Blenheim attempted to effect their escape by the rear of the village, but were repulsed; they then rushed towards the road leading to Sonderheim, but the regiment drove them back into the village where they were surrounded and forced to surrender. In this action, the regiment had several men and horses wounded, but not a single officer or man killed. After this splendid victory, the regiment formed part of the covering army during the siege of Landau. In November, it marched back to the Dutch Republic where it took up its winter-quarters in Guelderland.

Early in 1705, the regiment was joined by a remount from Scotland. In the early part of May, it quitted its quarters, marched through the plains of Limbourg and encamped on the banks of the Meuse. It then took part in Marlborough’s campaign on the Moselle. On 26 May, it encamped at Trierweiler. In mid-June, Marlborough tired of waiting for the arrival of an Imperialist army, retreated towards the Netherlands. On 18 July, the regiment took part in the Passage of the Lines of Brabant near Eliksem and Neerhespen. At the end of the campaign, it took up its winter-quarters in Dutch Brabant.

In early May 1706, the regiment left its quarters. On 20 May, it joined the allied army at Bilsen. On 23 May, it distinguished itself at the Battle of Ramillies where it charged into the village of Autre-Église and overthrew and sabred the infantry in the streets. Emerging from the village, it encountered the French Régiment du Roi which immediately surrendered and delivered up its colours and arms to the victorious regiment. For its conduct during this battle, the regiment received the distinction of wearing the grenadier mitre cap. A few days later, the regiment joined the detachment which made itself master of Bruges. The regiment was then employed in covering the sieges of several fortified towns in Flanders. In the autumn, the regiment returned to the Dutch Republic for the winter.

In the spring of 1707, the regiment proceeded to Spanish Brabant and encamped near the banks of the little river Sienne. After the unification of 1707, the regiment became known as the "Royal Regiment of North British Dragoons".

On 11 July 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde. It passed the night on the battlefield, and at daybreak on 12 July was despatched in pursuit of the enemy on the road leading to Ghent. The regiment was later employed in covering the siege of Lille. After the capture of the place in December, it took up its winter-quarters in Flanders.

In June 1709, the regiment was employed in covering the siege of Tournai. On 11 September, it took part in the Battle of Malplaquet where it was posted near the centre of the allied army to sustain the attacks of the infantry and protect the artillery, and for some time was only spectator of the fierce storm of battle which raged on every side. At length, however, its brigade was ordered to file through a wood in its front, and charge. Scarcely had the brigade emerged from among the trees, before it encountered a line of French cavalry; these squadrons were soon dispersed but they were instantly succeeded by a number of squadrons of the French household cavalry. The brigade met these squadrons with signal bravery, but was driven from its ground by superior numbers. The brigade soon rallied, and being joined by several corps of horse, returned to the charge; yet such was the resolution displayed by the French troopers on this occasion, that it was not until the third charge, that they were driven from the field. In this sanguinary battle, the regiment lost about 30 officers and men killed and wounded the officers were Adjutant Scotte, Cornets Auchenleek, Skeene, and Dunbar. The regiment was subsequently employed in covering the siege of Mons. After the surrender of this fortress, it marched into winter-quarters at the little town of Tiel.

Early in the spring of 1710, a remount of 100 men and horses from Scotland joined the regiment. At the beginning of April, it marched from its cantonments and encamped on some elevated ground near Tournai. On the afternoon of 20 April, it was again on the march, and formed part of the first division of the allied army which forced the enemy's fortified lines at Pont-à-Vendin on 21 April and encamped at night in the plain of Lens. It was afterwards employed in covering the siege of Douai. After the surrender of the place, the regiment took part in the siege of Béthune. It was subsequently employed in escorting military stores and and provisions up the country; and after the capture of Béthune, it was engaged in operations connected with the sieges of Aire and Saint-Venant, and was for a short time encamped on the banks of the Lys. The surrender of Aire terminated the campaign, and the regiment was disposed in quarters in the conquered territory.

In the early part of May 1711, the regiment joined the corps assembling in French Flanders, and encamped a short time at Warde, from whence it advanced to the plain of Lens. After some skilful manoeuvring, the Duke of Marlborough succeeded in forcing the French lines by the causeway at Arleux, crossed the Scheldt, and besieged Bouchain. The regiment took part in these brilliant achievements.

In 1712, when a cessation of hostilities was published, the regiment marched from the frontiers of Picardie to Flanders.

Towards the end of 1713, the regiment quitted the shores of the Netherlands and returned to great Britain.



Uniform Details
Headgear laced hat with a cockade, grenadier caps are also mentioned in the first years of the war
Neck stock white cravate
Coat red lined blue with white loops
Collar none
Shoulder straps none
Lapels none
Pockets no information found
Cuffs blue with a red flap with 4 copper buttons
Turnbacks none
Waistcoat no information found
Breeches no information found
Leather Equipment
Bandolier buff leather
Waist-belt natural leather worn above the coat (white for grenadiers)
Cartridge Box no information found
Scabbard no information found
Footgear boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth no information found
Housings no information found
Blanket roll no information found

Troopers were armed with a sword, two pistols and a carbine and a bayonet. In 1703, it is specifically mentioned that the tails of the horses were cut in a "short dock".


The uniform of officers were distinguished by

  • gilt buttons
  • gold embroideries


The NCOs were clothed in the same manner as the soldiers.


The regiment had drummers and oboists. They were clothed in the same manner as the soldiers.


In 1705, the guidons are described as embroidered blue damask with a blue "stave". Sumner mentions that "these guidons probably bore the white saltire of St. Andrew until 1707, when the Union of the two Kingdoms took place. The mention of embroidery makes it clear that some badge was placed upon them, most likely the Thistle and Crown, with the motto "Nemo me impune lasessit" in the centre."


This article incorporates texts of the following source:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons now: The Second or Royal North British Dragoons, commonly called The Scots Greys, London: William Clowes and Sons, 1840
  • Sumner, Percy and J.O. Dalrymple: The Royal Scots Greys Part I – 1678 to1751 in Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, Vol. 15, No. 59 (Autumn 1936), pp. 151-170

Other sources

Dalton, Charles (ed.): English Army List and Commission Registers Vol. V.

Johnston, S. H. F.: The Scots Army in the Reign of Anne"", in: Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Vol. 3 (1953), pp. 1-21


Jörg Meier for additional info retrieved from an article by Sumner & Dalrymple