Reference Library – Infantry Regiments – King’s Division – King’s Regiment
In May of 1768, six years before a column of their peers would march out for Concord, a British Army regiment embarked for North America to relieve the 15th Regiment on duty in Canada. These soldiers crossing the Atlantic would not see home again for the next seventeen years, many never would at all. In their nearly two decades abroad, these soldiers would participate in raids and expeditions ranging from the Mohawk Valley to present-day St. Louis; center-stage in the political and Armyrats © military game on the frontier of the American Revolution. These soldiers were the men of the 8th, or King s, Regiment of Foot. The 8th was one of the British Army s most senior regiments, being formed in 1685 as the Princess Anne of Denmark s Regiment of Foot during the Monmouth Rebellion. The regiment went on to serve illustriously during the first Jacobite Rising. Winning the favor of King George I, they earned his namesake and were granted royal status in 1716. The regiment saw combat in the War of Austrian Succession, and also played a crucial part in the 1746 Battle of Culloden in another Jacobite rebellion.
Grenadiers of the 7th, 8th, and 9th Regiments of Foot. Painted by David Morier, ca. 1751-1760
In 1751, the army numbered its regiments by seniority, thus the King s also became known as the 8th. The newly-named 8th Regiment again saw action, this time during the Seven Years War. After enjoying a dignified service record for almost a century in Europe, the regiment was on its way to honor itself for the first time on another continent North America. The regiment arrived in the summer of 1768 in the St. Lawrence River, landing at the Isle of Orleans. The regiment then deployed to Quebec, Montreal, St. John s, Fort Chambly, and the surrounding posts. After six years of duty in Canada, the regiment was reassigned. This time, the regiment was to relieve the 10th Regiment deployed to the Upper Posts, a string of fortifications and outposts from Oswego to Detroit that protected the interior of the continent.
The 10th, probably eager to leave the frontier and return to England, was rerouted to Boston where tensions were rising. Although nobody knew it yet, the 10th would soon take part in the march to Lexington and Concord on that fateful April morning. While the 10th sailed toward their destiny, the 8th settled into their new home in the wilderness. The companies of the King s were spread out much like the order of the line of battle, the traditional model for organizing companies on the European battlefield. However, instead of companies packed tightly together on one field, the companies were dispersed over some 400 miles. One of the regiment s two flank companies, the light infantry company, garrisoned Oswegatchie on the banks of the St. Lawrence. The other flank company, the grenadier company, and one of the eight battalion companies garrisoned the westernmost post at Fort Michilimackinac where British civilization ended and the wilderness began. The remaining seven battalion companies garrisoned the major hubs of British trade on the Great Lakes, Fort Niagara (four) and Detroit (three).
A belt plate and button of the 8th Regiment of Foot. Notice the Ks as an abbreviation for King s on the button. As the winter of 1774/75 slowly passed, the men of the King s most likely made every attempt to escape the harsh winters on the Great Lakes by their fires, unknowing of the blaze that would come in the spring and engulf their world for the next eight years.
The 4th “Queen’s Own” Dragoons could trace their history back to 1685 and the Monmouth Rebellion, the first campaign of a series that could be grouped together as the Jacobite Wars in Britain that culminated with the the last battle fought on British soil at Culloden in 1746. I covered the details of the Monmouth Rebellion and the Battle of Sedgemoor in my post from December 2014. http://jjwargames.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/a-day-out-in-sunny-somerset-battle-of.html 1 The 4th Dragoons therefore have a link to the South West of England where they were raised and merged with other troops raised in Bradford as a single regiment of dragoons named, Princess Anne of Denmark’s Regiment of Dragoons, in honour of Princess Anne, daughter of King James II.
The regiment fought in Portugal and Spain during the War of Spanish Succession, was back at home during the Jacobite risings of 1715 and was present at Dettingen in 1743, the last time a British monarch, King George II, personally led his troops. Battle of Dettingen 2 Returning to home duties in 1748 the regiment gained its rank of forth in the listings in 1751 and gained its prefix “Queen’s Own” in 1788 after Queen Charlotte, King George III’s wife. The 4th Dragoons were landed between the 22nd and 27th of April 1809 at Lisbon and were brigaded with the more senior 3rd Dragoon Guards under Major General Henry Fane forming the first British Heavy Cavalry brigade in the Peninsular War.
Their commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel Lord Robert Edward Henry Somerset who would go on to command a cavalry brigade in the Peninsula and the Household Cavalry Brigade at Waterloo. http://empire.histofig.com/Les-troupes-anglaises.html# 3 Like their French counterparts, the British heavy cavalry spent the Battle of Talavera held as an exploitation/covering force, moving from the British centre to the left flank to cover threatened areas. The casualties of three men killed and nine wounded indicate that they were drawn close enough to the action in the latter sector, when Anson’s brigade charged the French squares in the northern valley.
This rather modest start to their participation in the war doesn’t give any hint to the pivotal role they would have in shifting the moral ascendancy British cavalry would achieve over their French opposite numbers as the war progressed. On the 25th May 1811, at a little hamlet called Usagre, they were in the lead of the charge of General Lumley’s cavalry force that completely surprised and ambushed the French cavalry rearguard, under the very experienced but very shocked General Latour Maubourg, following the Battle of Albuera. Things would never quiet be the same following this action and we have it and others to look forward to in future posts.
The 4th Dragoons would go on to become a veteran Peninsula regiment serving at Talavera, Busaco, Albuera, Salamanca, Vittoria, Pyrenees and Toulouse. British heavy cavalry regiments were subject to regulations on horse colours, although I take the view that peace time regulations soon gave way to campaign reality and regiments involved in a war as long the Peninsular campaign would have struggled to keep to them. That said I’m sure, given the choice, commanders would attempt to apply the regulations and with newly arrived regiments such as the 4th Dragoons would probably have been equipped accordingly.
The other peculiarity with British cavalry, in general, was the docking of tails (nag-tailed), although the heavy regiments may well have moved away from that style during this period. The Household Regiments didn’t dock and it seems that other heavy regiments might have followed suit. The docked tail certainly became a recognition peculiarity that helped to distinguish British cavalry at distance from their French counterparts particularly after the 1812 uniform changes that introduced shakos and helmets very much like the French style.
So the General Orders for horse colours issued on the 10th August 1799 from Horse Guards has been my guide, with the caveats mentioned above. Note the direction that trumpeters were not to be mounted on greys. “GENERAL ORDERS. The heavy cavalry, with the exception of the two regiments of Life Guards and Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses.
The First, or King’s Regiment of Dragoon Guards; the First, or Royal Regiment of Dragoons; the Third, or King’s Own Regiment of Dragoons, are to be mounted on black nag-tailed horses. The Second, or Queen’s Regiment of Dragoon Guards, are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses of the colours of bay and brown. The Second, or Royal North British Regiment of Dragoons, are to be mounted on nag-tailed grey horses.
All other regiments of heavy cavalry on the British establishment are to be mounted on nag-tailed horses of the colours of bay, brown, and chestnut. The custom of mounting trumpeters on grey horses is to be discontinued, and they are in future to be mounted on horses of the colour or colours prescribed for the regiments to which they belong. Harvey Calvert, Adjutant-General.
Horse Guards 10th August, 1799.” My 4th Dragoons are composed of figures from the AB range, appropriately mounted on browns, chestnut and bay horses.
http://www.nam.ac.uk/research/famous-units/4th-queens-own-hussars 4 http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/Britain/Cavalry/Regiments/c_4thDragoon.html 5 http://www.napoleon-series.org/index.html 6 http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/Britain/Cavalry/Wellington’sCavalry/c_4thDragoons.html 7 Other sources used in this post Wellington’s Armyrats © Military Machine – Philip J Haythornthwaite British Napoleonic Uniforms – C.E.
Franklin Osprey, Wellington’s Heavy Cavalry – Bryan Fosten References ^ http://jjwargames.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/a-day-out-in-sunny-somerset-battle-of.html (jjwargames.blogspot.co.uk) ^ Battle of Dettingen (en.wikipedia.org) ^ http://empire.histofig.com/Les-troupes-anglaises.html# (empire.histofig.com) ^ http://www.nam.ac.uk/research/famous-units/4th-queens-own-hussars (www.nam.ac.uk) ^ http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/Britain/Cavalry/Regiments/c_4thDragoon.html (www.napoleon-series.org) ^ http://www.napoleon-series.org/index.html (www.napoleon-series.org) ^ http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/Britain/Cavalry/Wellington’sCavalry/c_4thDragoons.html (www.napoleon-series.org)
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