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 December 31, 1688, the commander of the regiment having declined to serve under 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.”
In 1694, during the Nine Years' War (1688-97), 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.
In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment 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. Where it participated in covering the sieges of Venlo, Roermond and Stevensweert, and also in the capture of Liège. In 1703, it took part in the capture of Bonn and in the siege of Limbourg; in 1704, in the Battle of the Schellenberg, in the invasion of Bavaria, in the Battle of Blenheim and in covering the siege of Landau; in 1705, in the Passage of the Lines of Brabant; and in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies and in the capture of Bruges. After the unification of 1707, the regiment became known as the "Royal Regiment of North British Dragoons". In 1708, it took part in the Battle of Oudenarde and in covering the siege of Lille; in 1709, in covering the siege of Tournai; in the Battle of Malplaquet, and in covering the siege of Mons; in 1710, in the Passage of the Lines near Pont-à-Vendin, in covering the siege of Douai, in the siege of Béthune, and in the sieges of Aire and Saint-Venant; and in 1711, in the Passage of the Lines near Arleux and in the siege of Bouchain. 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.
In 1714, the regiment was augmented to 9 troops. In 1715, it was sent to Edinburgh to quench the Jacobite Rising. I then took part in an engagement near Dumferline and in the Battle of Sheriffmuir. The regiment continued to serve against the Jacobites in Scotland until 1719.
In 1720, after the suppression of the Jacobite Rising, the regiment was reduced to 207 men. In 1721, it left Scotland and was placed in cantonments in the northern counties of England. In 1723, it was once more stationed in Scotland. In 1725, it marched into quarters in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. In 1727, the regiment was quartered in Yorkshire and its establishment fixed at 309 officers and men. In 1730, the regiment returned to Scotland where it remained until 1737 when it was transferred to the coast of Kent. In September 1739, its establishment was increased to 435 officers and men.
In 1740, at the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was initially quartered in Yorkshire. In 1741, it took up quarters in Berkshire. In 1742, it was sent to Flanders. In 1743, it took part in the Battle of Dettingen; in 1745, in the Battle of Fontenoy; in 1746, in the Battle of Rocoux; in 1747, in the Battle of Lauffeld.
In 1748, the regiment returned to Great Britain and was stationed at Leicester, Coventry, and Warwick. Immediately after its return, the establishment was reduced to 285 officers and men. By the end of 1749, it was quartered in Kent.; in 1750, in Sussex and Devonshire; in 1751, in Dorsetshire.
The regiment had 2 squadrons and was always mounted on grey horses.
On July 1, 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British cavalry, the regiment was designated as the "2nd (Royal North British) Regiment of Dragoons". In 1753, the regiment marched into Lancashire with detached troops in Somersetshire. In 1754, it was stationed in Somersetshire; and in 1755 at Northampton and other towns in that part of the kingdom.
In 1755, the regiment was increased to 357 officers and men. Shortly afterwards, a company of light dragoons was added to the regiment.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:
- from April 1752 to November 1770: John Campbell (Duke of Argyle from 1761)
Service during the War
In 1756, the regiment marched into Surrey, afterwards into Dorsetshire, and in June encamped with several other corps near Blandford. In October, it marched into quarters in Blandford town and adjacents.
In April 1757, the regiment proceeded from Blandford into cantonments in Essex, where it remained four months. Afterwards, it marched into Suffolk. In October, four troops proceeded to Newmarket.
In May and June 1758, the light troop of the regiment, commanded by Captain Francis Lindsay, took part in an expedition against the French Coasts. In August and September, this troop also took part in a second expedition against the French Coasts. After its return to England, the light troop of the regiment was quartered in towns on the Sussex coast. In the mean time, the remainder of the regiment was among the first British contingent (6,000 men) sent to reinforce the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. On July 19, the contingent embarked at Gravesend. In mid-August, the six troops of the regiment, which had experienced much severe weather at sea, arrived in Germany, two weeks after the rest of the contingent. On August 31, it arrived at Coesfeld after a march of about ten days in rainy weather, through much low and marshy ground covered with water. The regiment was afterwards employed in manoeuvring and skirmishing in various parts of Westphalia. In November, it went into winter-quarters at Wewer and Alfen, small towns on the banks of the little river Alme in the Bishopric of Paderborn.
Early in 1759, the regiment took the field, called suddenly from its quarters by Ferdinand of Brunswick. It marched directly to the country of Hesse through roads no army had ever passed before and encamped at Rotenburg. In the early part of April, it proceeded to Fulda, where a cavalry division under Mostyn was assembled. This division was posted in the first line of the cavalry right wing. On April 10, Mostyn’s Division advanced towards the French positions. On April 13, the regiment took part in the battle of Bergen where it was deployed in the first column under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick. The regiment was not seriously involved in this battle and lost only one horse killed. In June, the regiment was still part of the main Allied army under the command of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, it was present at the battle of Minden, in the second 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. In November, the weather being very severe, the regiment was permitted to leave the camp, and go into cantonments in the villages near the river Lahn.
In January 1760, the regiment marched to Osnabrück and was quartered at Schledehausen. In May, it took the field and was encamped a short time near Fritzlar. It was afterwards formed in brigade with the 11th Dragoons under Major-General Eliott. After much manoeuvring and some skirmishing, the regiment was encamped, with other forces, near Halle. On the night of July 30 to 31, the regiment proceeded from Halle in the direction of the Diemel, passed the river near Liebenau. On July 31, it took part in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the second 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. After the retreat of the French, the regiment was encamped near Warburg, On August 22, it formed part of a detachment under the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick, which crossed the Diemel and and advanced on Broglie's left flank, his vanguard reaching Zierenberg. His light troops engaged a French detachment. At length the Prince brought forward the regiment and the 6th Inniskilling Dragoons, and a brilliant charge made by the two regiments decided the contest, and compelled the French to take refuge in the town. In this action, the regiment lost 5 men and 9 horses killed; Lieutenant-Colonel Preston, 6 men and 20 horses wounded. The regiment then returned to Warburg. On the evening of September 5, it was ordered to be ready to march immediately after dark. During the night of September 5 to 6, it marched along with 6 other dragoon sqns and 5 bns, crossed the Diemel and attacked the Volontaires Étrangers de Clermont Prince and Volontaires du Dauphiné (about 1,900 men) stationed at Zierenberg. The regiment continued to be employed in operations on the Diemel until December, when it marched into cantonments at Barntrup.
In the early part of February, 1761, the regiment was called from its quarters to take part in an advance into the French cantonments in Hesse. Having crossed the Diemel, it marched through snow and ice into the country of Hesse, where the army had great success. Several fortified towns and some extensive magazines were captured. No general engagement took place. In March the regiment returned across the Diemel. The towns and villages, at which the British troops were quartered had been plundered by the enemy in the preceding campaign and all the corn and cattle had been taken away: much inconvenience was consequently experienced in procuring forage and provisions and the soldiers were exposed to great hardships; they also suffered much in their health from the bad quality of the water in the district. At the beginning of May, the army again commenced operations, and the regiment was employed in Manoeuvring and skirmishing for several weeks. In July, it was encamped on the heights of the Denkernberg between the rivers Ahse and Lippe as part of Granby’s Corps. On July 16, the regiment took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen. Notwithstanding this repulse, the enemy, having great superiority of numbers, sent out large detachments which overran the country in almost every direction. The regiment was employed in defensive operations which frequently brought on slight skirmishes. In August, it was employed on the Diemel. On November 5, it took part in an engagement near Eschershausen in the Duchy of Brunswick. On November 6, it marched to Einbeck where other skirmishes took place. On November 7, it was at Weenzen. During the night of November 7 to 8, it marched, with several other corps, through a heavy snow and along roads almost impassable to Vorwohle where the tents were erected. There, another skirmish occurred. After this affair, it marched to the heights between Mackensen and Lüthorst. Shortly afterwards, the Allied army went into winter-quarters and the regiment marched to East Friesland and was cantoned at Holtzhausen.
About the middle of May 1762, the regiment took the field. It was encamped a short time at Brakel in the Principality of Paderborn. On June 24, it took part in the Battle of Wilhelmsthal. The regiment pursued the French through the towns of Wilhelmsthal to the vicinity of Kassel, and captured a quantity of camp equipage and several French dragoons; but did not sustain any loss. After this battle, the regiment was employed in a series of manoeuvres and skirmishes in which the Allies had great success; detachments of the French army were dislodged from several important posts and fortified towns, and the campaign concluded with the capture of Kassel.
At the beginning of February 1763, the regiment left Germany, and having marched through the Dutch Republic, embarked at Willemstad in north Brabant. After a quick passage, it landed at Gravesend and proceeded from thence to Hertford. Shortly afterwards, the light troop, which had not been on service with the other troops of the regiment, was disbanded, and the establishment was reduced to 225 officers and men.
|Headgear||British mitre with: a blue front carrying the badge of the regiment (thistle within the circle of St. Andrew) and a crown over it; a small red front flap with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent"; red back; a blue headband with a thistle embroidered between the letters “II. D.” in the middle part behind|
|Coat||double breasted red lined blue with white buttons and very narrow white buttonholes grouped 2 by 2
|Waistcoat||blue with very narrow white 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 silver lace at the lapels, cuffs and pockets
- coat and waistcoat bound with silver embroidery
- a crimson silk sash worn across the left shoulder
- crimson and gold striped sword knot
- blue housings and holster caps laced gold
Sergeants were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the cuffs, pockets and shoulder strap; a silver aiguillette; a blue and yellow worsted sash about their waist.
Corporals were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; white silk aiguillette.
Drummers rode grey horses. They wore red coats lined and turned up with blue and laced with the royal lace (yellow and blue). Blue 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 regimental badge (thistle within the circle of St. Andrew); 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 (II. D.) in the middle part behind.
The drums were of brass with a blue forepart carrying the regimental badge (thistle within the circle of St. Andrew).
The guidons were made of silk, fringed and embroidered with gold and silver. The tassels and cords were of crimson silk and gold mixed.
King's Guidon: 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 rank of the regiment (II. D.) in silver characters on a blue ground.
Regimental Guidon: blue field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (thistle within the circle of St. Andrew) with the regimental motto (Nemo me impune lacessit) underneath. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the rank of the regiment (II. D.) on a red ground within a small wreath of roses and thistles.
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
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.