Sir Matthew Bridges' Foot
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Origin and History
The regiment was created on 27 September 1688 and raised in London, as the "Solomon Richards' Regiment of Foot" to defend England against threat posed by Prince William of Orange (the future William III). Until 1751, this regiment would be known by the names of its successive colonels.
On 23 October 1688, four companies of the regiment were ordered to march to Colnbrook and Longford; four to Staines and Egham; and five to Windsor, Datchet and Slough. On 29 October, the quarters were changed to Maidenhead, Datchet and Windsor. On 6 November, when the Prince of Orange had landed in Devonshire, the regiment received orders to march to Greenwich and Deptford. When William seized power, the regiment was allowed to continue in existence as part of William's army.
In April 1689, the regiment sailed from Liverpool for Ireland but it was not authorised to land and returned to England. Dissatisfied, King William deprived Colonel Richards of his commission and, on 1 May, conferred it to Sir George St. George.
From 1690 to 1692, the regiment was employed on home service.
In 1693, during the Nine Years' War, the regiment was sent to Flanders and was initially stationed in garrison at Ostend. In 1694, it campaigned in Flanders. In 1695, Colonel St. George exchanged his regiment with colonel James Courthope. The regiment then took part in the siege and capture of Namur where it suffered heavy losses including its new colonel.. It remained in Flanders until the Treaty of Ryswick ended the war in 1697.
From 1698 to 1700, the regiment was stationed in Ireland. In 1698, it counted one battalion of ten companies for a total of 34 officers and 411 men.
During the War of the Spanish Succession, the successive colonel-commanders of the regiment were:
- from 1695: Sir Matthew Bridges
- from 26 August 1703: Holcroft Blood (died 19 August 1707)
- from August 1707 to 1722: James Wightman
Service during the War
On 15 June 1701, on the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment embarked from Cork and sailed to Holland, where it was placed in garrison in Gorkum. In September, it was reviewed by King William near Breda.
In March 1702, the regiment marched to Rosendaal to join the British corps assembling under Brigadier-General Ingoldsby. The regiment then marched across the Duchy of Kleve and encamped at Kranenburg to cover the siege of Kaiserswerth. On 10 June, it followed the Allied army in its retreat to Nijmegen. Later, the regiment took part in the siege of Venlo. On 18 September, its grenadiers were engaged in storming the counterscarp of Fort St. Michael in front of Venlo where Lieutenant-Colonel Holcroft Blood distinguished himself as principal engineer. The place surrendered shortly afterwards. At the end of September, the regiment took part in the siege of Roermond which surrendered in mid-October. In October, it participated in the capture of the Citadel of Liège which was stormed on 23 October. It then marched back to the Dutch Republic for winter-quarters.
At the end of April 1703, the regiment marched to Maastricht. It then took part in the operations leading to the siege and capture of Huy. From 10 to 28 September, it covered the siege of Limbourg. In October, the regiment, who had been selected to form part of an army assembling in Portugal, embarked from Holland and sailed to Portsmouth.
In January 1704, the regiment put to sea at Portsmouth but was driven back by a severe storm. It finally arrived at Lisbon on 15 March and placed in garrison on the Spanish border. In July, it had joined a force trying to stop progress of a Franco-Spanish army under the Duke of Berwick. Towards the end of July, it marched into cantonments in Estremos. In the autumn, it took part in an offensive in Spain but soon retreated to Portugal where it passed the winter.
In 1705, the regiment proceeded once more to Estremos in the Alentejo. It then took part in the siege of Valencia de Alcantara which was stormed on 8 May. The regiment was also employed at the siege and capture of Albuquerque. When the summer heats became too great for the troops to remain in the field, the regiment went into quarters at Moura. In the autumn the army crossed the Guadiana, and the regiment was engaged in the siege of Badajoz, the capital of Spanish Extremadura; but the place was relieved on 14 October and the siege raised.
In March 1706, the regiment took the field. In April, it was employed in the siege of Alcantara in Spanish Extremadura. On 10 April, along with the 33rd Foot, the regiment attacked the convent of St. Francis, situate near the town, and captured this post with great gallantry. The two regiments had 50 officers and men killed or wounded, On 14 April, the garrison of Alcantara surrendered. The Allied army then advanced to the vicinity of Placencia. The regiment then took part in the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo, which surrendered on 26 May. On 3 June, the army set off from Ciudad Rodrigo for Madrid, proceeding by Salamanca, through the Guadarrama Mountains and reaching Madrid between 24 and 27 June. Archduke Charles of Austria was proclaimed King of Spain by the Allies. However, the archduke had delayed so long before coming to Madrid that his partisans had become discouraged and those of Philip V took up arms. The Allies retreated from Madrid to the province of Valencia, where the regiment was stationed during the winter.
Early in April, 1707, the regiment joined the Allied army under the Marquis das Minas and the Earl of Galway, and took part in several operations. On 25 April, it advanced to attack the Franco-Spanish army under the Duke of Berwick at Almanza. Fatigued by a long and difficult march the regiment, brigaded under Major-General Wade prepared for battle. Wade's Brigade was posted on the flanks of a brigade of cavalry in the front line of the left wing. It was engaged with nine battalions of French and Spanish infantry. While combat was raging, a body of fresh French and Spanish cavalry drove back the allied squadrons on the left. Two additional enemy battalions then attacked Wade's Brigade on the, broke it and drove it from the field with great loss. The remains of the Allied regiments retreated to the woody hills of Caudete where they passed the night without food. On 26 April, they were surrounded and forced to surrender prisoners of war. In this battle, the regiment lost Lieutenant-Colonel Woollett, Lieutenant-Colonel Withers, and Major Leech, killed; Captains Fitzgerald and Foncebrand, Lieutenants Rivesson, Ingram, and Blood, Ensigns Deaven, Callon, and Bruce, wounded and taken prisoners; Captains Dudley Cosby and Loftus Cosby, Lieutenants Martin, Brown, Brooks, and Tyrell, and Ensign Bland, prisoners. The officers and soldiers of the regiment, who escaped from the field, joined the cavalry under the Earl of Galway, at Alcira, on the river Xucar. The regiment, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Wightman, was encamped some time on the banks of the Ebro above Tortosa, and was afterwards employed in operations for the protection of the province of Catalonia. It then mustered 266 officers and soldiers. While it was in its winter-quarters, the regiment received drafts from several regiments which were ordered to return to England to recruit.
In the spring of 1708, the regiment took the field. It was encamped some time on the river Francoli, between Monblanco and Tarragona, and afterwards at Constantino. It then took part in the operations of the army commanded by Marshal Count Guido von Starhemberg, for the defence of Catalonia. After the campaign, the regiment received orders to transfer its men fit for duty to other corps, and return to England.
In 1709, the regiment arrived in England and commenced recruiting its numbers.
In 1710 the regiment was stationed in Scotland. Its head-quarters were at Leith, and four companies were detached to Musselburgh.
The regiment remained in Great Britain until the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, when it was placed on the peace establishment and sent to Ireland, where it was stationed in 17 14.
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.
Farmer mentions that from 1688 to 1790, the uniform of the regiment was “scarlet with greyish-white facings”.
Men as well as officers were clean-shaven. Officers sometimes wore small moustaches.
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.
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.
no information found
This article is essentially an abridged and adapted version of the following book which is in the public domain:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical record of the Seventeenth or, The Leicestershire Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1848
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
Walton, Clifford: History of the British Standing Army A.D. 1660 to 1700, London, 1894, pp. 46-47, 854