1st Dragoon Guards
Origin and History
The regiment was raised on June 6, 1685, to curb Monmouth's rebellion and was designated as the "Queen's Regiment of Horse" in honor of Queen Mary. It then ranked as 2nd Horse and consisted of nine troops. The first service performed by the regiment, appears to have been the escorting of the Duke of Monmouth and other prisoners taken after the battle of Sedgemoor, from Winchester to London. With the rebellion curbed, the regiment was reduced to 40 men per troop. At the end of August, it took up quarters at Winchester, Ilchester and Blandford. In 1686 and 1687, the regiment took part in the training camps on Hounslow Heath. It also furnished a guard to attend the queen during her residence at Bath.
During the summer of 1688, the king fearing an invasion led by the Prince Of Orange, an encampment was formed on Hounslow Heath. Towards the end of the year, the army was ordered to assemble near London and the regiment was quartered at Colnbrook, Chertsey and Byfleet. After the Prince of Orange had landed at Torbay, the regiment marched by Newbury and Marlborough to War- minster, which was the most advanced post of the King's army. The King gave orders for his army to assemble at Salisbury, intending to command them in person but alarmed by the daily desertions which took place, he returned in haste to London, and orders were given for the troops to retire and take up a position beyond the Thames. When the king fled to France, the Prince of Orange ordered the regiment to march to Cambridge. In March 1689, the regiment was ordered to proceed to Huntingdon and afterwards into Lincolnshire. It was later sent to intercept the Duke of Schomberg’s Foot, which had declared for King James II, taking them prisoners at Sleaford in Lincolnshire.
In June 1689, the regiment marched to Scotland to quench a Jacobite rebellion. On 13 June, the British force captured Edinburgh. At the beginning of October, the regiment was transferred to Ireland. In 1690, it took part in the Battle of the Boyne, in the unsuccessful siege of Limerick and in the relief of the Castle of Birr; in 1691, in engagements near Streamstown and Wyands Town, in the capture of Ballymore, in the siege of Athlone, in the Battle of Aghrim, in the encounter near Charleville and in the siege and capture of Limerick.
In 1692, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), the regiment returned to England and was sent to North Brabant soon afterwards. In 1693, it took part in the Battle of Landen; in 1695, in the siege and capture of Namur; and in 1697, in the engagement of Enghien. In 1697, the regiment returned to England where it was quartered in Salisbury and Dorchester.
In 1701, on the eve of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment occupied quarters at Windsor and the neighbouring villages. In 1702, it was sent to the Netherlands where it took part in the covering of the sieges of Venlo, Roermond, Stevensweert and Liège. In 1703, it participated in the capture of Bonn and in the covering of the sieges of Huy and Limbourg; in 1704, in the battles of Schellenberg and Blenheim; in 1705, in the passage of the lines at Neer-Hespen and Helixem; and in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies In the spring of 1707, the British heavy cavalry regiments were supplied with cuirasses. In 1708, the regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, in the covering of the siege of Lille and in forcing the passage of the Scheldt; in 1709, in the siege of Tournai and in the Battle of Malplaquet and in the siege of Mons; in 1710, in the siege and capture of Douai and in covering the sieges and capture of Aire and Saint-Venant; and in 1711, in the passage of the lines at Arleux and in covering the siege and capture of Bouchain. In 1713, the regiment was quartered at Ghent until the treaty of Utrecht was concluded. In the spring of 1714, it embarked for England.
In 1714, on the accession of King George I, the regiment became the "King's Own Regiment of Horse" and the colour of the facings was changed from yellow to blue. In 1715, the regiment quenched a Jacobite rebellion at Bristol. In 1717, it furnished detachments to act as assistant keepers in protecting the royal parks and forests against the depredations of poachers.
In 1731, the regiment was stationed at Canterbury. In 1734, the regiment continued to occupy quarters generally in the south of England, and to furnish the usual detachments to attend on the court.
In 1742, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was sent to the Austrian Netherlands and fought in the Battle of Dettingen. In 1745, it took part in the Battle of Fontenoy. In 1746, it was ordered home to quench the Jacobite Uprising. On December 25 of the same year, when three regiments of horse were converted to Dragoon Guards, the "2nd Regiment of Horse" also known as the "King's own Regiment of Horse" became the "1st King's Dragoon Guards". In 1748, the regiment was employed on coast duty in Norfolk.
In 1749, the quarters of the regiment were extended to several parts of Essex.
After the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, the regiment was reduced to 1 sergeant, 1 corporal and 23 men per troop. Exceptionally, this regiment had 9 troops forming 3 squadrons rather than the usual 2 squadrons of other heavy cavalry regiments. The regiment was always mounted on black horses.
In the autumn of 1752, the regiment proceeded to Scotland. In September 1754, it returned to England where it was stationed at York, Leeds and Wakefield. In the spring of 1755, it occupied quarters in the South of England. The same year, it was augmented to 2 sergeants, 2 corporals and 38 men per troop. At the same time, a company of light dragoons (1 captain, 1 lieutenant, 1 cornet, 1 quarter-master, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, 2 drummers and 60 privates) was added to the regiments. These light dragoons had brass helmets.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from July 1752 to May 1763: Colonel Humphrey Bland
In 1763, the troop of light dragoons of the regiment was disbanded.
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment was stationed near the southern coast of England.
In March 1757, the regiment was ordered to march into quarters in the vicinity of London.
In the summer of 1758, the light dragoon company of the regiment took part in the first expedition against the French Coasts and the second expedition against the French Coasts. When the expedition returned to England, the light troops were quartered in villages near the coast. Meanwhile, the heavy cavalry squadrons of the regiment were among the first British contingent (6,000 men) sent to reinforce the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. The contingent embarked at Gravesend on July 19, disembarked at Emden on August 3 and arrived at Coesfeld on August 17, after marching through a very heavy rain. On August 20, Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick reviewed the British contingent.
Early in the spring of 1759, the regiment, brigaded with the Royal Horse Guards and the 6th Dragoons, took part in an offensive in Western Germany. In June, the regiment was part of the main Allied army under the command of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, the regiment was present at the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the right hand column under Lord George Sackville. This cavalry corps did not take part in the battle despite several orders requesting its intervention. Lord Sackville was later court-martialed and lost his command. After their victory at Minden, success the Allies pressed upon the French army. On August 28, the brigade, of which the regiment formed a part, had a sharp action with Colonel Fischer's Corps of about 2,000 men, at Wetter. The British brigade attacked sword in hand, killed 60 of the enemy, wounded a great number, and took 400 prisoners, with many horses, and the camp equipage of the corps. In November, the regiment went into cantonments in villages near the river Lahn; but a desultory warfare was continued throughout the winter.
On May 5, 1760, the British contingent left its quarters in the region of Osnabrück. On May 20, it encamped near Fritzlar where several additional units joined from Great Britain. On July 10, the regiment was with the Hereditary Prince at the Combat of Corbach. After the defeat, the rear-guard was so hard pressed that the prince only extricated it by putting himself at the head of two squadrons of the present regiment and 3rd Dragoon Guards, and leading them to a desperate charge. Fortunately the squadrons responded superbly. The squadron of the 1st Dragoon Guards involved in this charge initially counted 90 men and returned with 24. But, the Allied rearguard was saved. On July 31, the regiment fought at the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of Granby's cavalry. Granby charged and broke the French cavalry right wing then wheeled and hit the French infantry in the flank, winning the day for the Allies. The regiment was despatched in pursuit and after passing through Warburg, crossed the Diemel, and halted at night on the heights before Wilda, 6 km in advance of the main army. In this battle, the regiment lost 7 men and 17 horses killed; with Cornet Earl, 28 men and 4 horses wounded. On the morning of August 3, the regiment returned from its advanced post on the heights of Wilda to Warburg, where the main army was concentrated. It was afterwards stationed at Borcholz. From September 14 to 29, it occupied an advanced post at Geissmar. At the end of the year, the British contingent was cantoned in the Bishopric of Paderborn, where it suffered much from a scarcity of provision and forage.
In February 1761, the regiment took part in the Allied offensive in Hesse. During the spring, remounts arrived from Great Britain to replace the losses of the preceding year. During the campaign of 1761, the regiment served in Conway's Corps. On July 16, it took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen. On August 24, the brigade of Dragoon Guards, with a number of other corps, under Prince Ferdinand, proceeded towards the Diemel, forced all the enemy's posts in that quarter, captured 300 prisoners, at Dringenberg. On September 17, the regiment passed the Diemel a second time at Liebenau and having been joined by several other corps, drove the enemy from a strong post near Immenhausen. At the beginning of October, the regiment was again in motion. Early in November, after various unimportant movements, the brigade of Dragoon Guards, with several other corps, was engaged with the enemy's advance posts at Einbeck. It then marched in the night through a heavy snow to Vorwohle, and commenced erecting their tents; but just as the encampment was formed, an alarm was given by the outposts of the advance of the enemy in great force. The brigade instantly formed, advanced, attacked the French and drove them back with considerable loss. On November 9, the brigade had another sharp skirmish with the enemy near Vorwohle. This irregular warfare by detached parties, in which British troops sustained great loss in men and horses from fatigue, privation, and constant exposure to inclement weather, was continued until the beginning of December, when the regiment went into winter-quarters in East Friesland.
In June 1762, the regiment left its winter-quarters in East Friesland. On June 18, it joined the allied army encamped at Brakel where it formed in brigade with the 3rd Dragoon Guards under the command of Major-General Henry Earl of Pembroke as part of Granby's Corps. While encamped at Brakel, this brigade was posted in the rear of the centre of the army. On June 24, the regiment took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal where its brigade, after supporting the attack on the enemy's centre, was engaged in surrounding the French troops in the woods of Wilhelmsthal, and after the pursuit encamped that night between Holtzhausen and Weimar. A few days afterwards, the regiment marched to Hoff. On July 15, Granby’s Corps forded the Eder and reconnoitred the position of a French division of the enemy near Felsberg but the French forced Granby to retire precipitously and repass the Eder the same afternoon. On July 22, the regiment, with several other units under the Marquis of Granby, passed the Eder a second time, and encamped near Kerstenhausen. On July 23, Granby advanced to Homberg/Efze. On July 24, he dislodged a strong French detachment from the heights near that town. On September 21, it was at the the Combat of Amöneburg when, late in the afternoon, the British corps came to the relief of the Hanoverians guarding the bridge and repulsed several French attacks, saving the day for the Allies. The regiment was afterwards engaged in several operations against the enemy; by a succession of combined movements, in which the several commanders displayed great ability, the French were compelled to evacuate a considerable portion of the territory they had occupied, and the Allies took Kassel. In November, a suspension of arms took place and the regiment went into quarters in the Bishopric of Münster.
On January 25, 1763, the regiment commenced its march through the Dutch Republic, proceeding through Gelderland, Nijmegen and Breda to Willemstad where it embarked for England. After its arrival in England, the regiment was stationed in dispersed cantonments in the County of Sussex.
|Headgear||black tricorne laced gold with a black cockade|
|Coat||red lined blue
|Waistcoat||blue with very narrow yellow buttonholes|
|Breeches||blue with white knee covers|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket.
As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:
- a narrow gold lace at the bindings and buttonholes
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and gold striped sword knot
- housings and holster caps laced gold
Sergeants distinguished by a narrow gold lace on the lapels, cuffs and pockets; a gold aiguillette; a blue worsted sash about their waist.
Corporals distinguished by a narrow gold lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; yellow silk aiguillette.
The oboists and drummers rode grey horses. They wore red coats lined and turned up with blue and laced with the royal lace (yellow and blue). Hanging sleeves fastened at the waist. Red waistcoats and breeches.
Drummers wore a mitre cap similar to the grenadier mitre cap but with a lower crown and the tassel hanging behind. Blue front decorated with the badge of the regiment; little frontal red flap with the White Horse and the the motto “Nec aspera terrent”; red backing, blue headband with a drum and the rank of the regiment in the middle part behind.
The drums were of brass with a blue forepart carrying the badge of the regiment.
The standards were made of damask, fringed and embroidered with gold. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.
King's Standard: crimson field decorated with the rose and thistle conjoined surmounted by a crown. Underneath the central decoration: the king's motto “Dieu et mon Droit”. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a compartment. In the second and third corners: the badge of the regiment (the king's cipher “GR” on a red field, surrounded by a blue garter carrying the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense”).
Regimental Guidon: blue field fringed gold with its centre decorated with the badge of the regiment (the king's cipher “GR” on a red field, surrounded by a blue garter carrying the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense”). In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment in a red compartment.
This article incorporates texts of the following source:
- Cannon, Richard: Historical Record of the First, or King’s Regiment of Dragoon Guards, London: William Clowes and Sons, 1837
Fortescue, J. W.: A History of the British Army, Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899
Funcken, Liliane and Fred: Les uniformes de la guerre en dentelle
George II: The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751
Lawson, Cecil C. P.: A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II
Mills, T. F.: Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)
N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.