15th Foot

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Origin and History

The regiment was raised on June 22 1685 in Nottinghamshire and the adjoining counties as the "Sir William Clifton's Regiment of Foot" and assembled at Nottingham. Earlier the same month, James Duke of Monmouth had erected the standard of rebellion in the west of England, and asserted his pretensions to the throne. While the regiment was completed in numbers, the rebel army was overthrown at Sedgemoor, and the Duke of Monmouth was subsequently captured and beheaded. In August the regiment marched from Nottingham to Hounslow Heath where it was reviewed by the king. In the spring of 1686, it proceeded into Yorkshire. On May 12, Colonel Sir William Clifton retired from service and was succeeded by Colonel Arthur Herbert. In 1687, the regiment returned to Kingston-upon-Thames and detachments were sent to Windsor to mount guard at the castle. A grenadier company was added to the establishment. On April 12 1687, Colonel Sackville Tufton assumed command of the regiment. In June, the regiment took part in the training camp on Hounslow Heath.

In the summer of 1688, the regiment once more took part in the camp of Hounslow Heath. In September, it was stationed at Berwick. In November, Prince William of Orange (the future William III) landed in England. The king fled to France. On December 31, Colonel Tufton was replaced in command of the regiment by Sir James Lesley.

In the spring of 1689, during the Jacobite rising (1689-92), the regiment was ordered to Scotland where it took its winter-quarters at Inverness. In April 1690, it fought in an engagement against the Highlanders near Cromdale and later took part in the capture of the Lethindy Castle and in the construction of a fort at Inverlocky. After the submission of the Highlands at the end of 1691, the regiment remained in the northern districts of the kingdom till the end of 1693.

In the spring of 1694, during the Nine Years' War (1688–97), the regiment embarked from Scotland and landed at Ostend. In the autumn, it formed part of the covering army during the siege of Huy. In 1695, it took part in the attack on Fort Kenoque and in the unsuccessful defence of Dixmude. On November 20, Emanuel Howe succeeded to Colonel Lesley at the head of the regiment. In 1697, the regiment took part in the campaign in Brabant. At the end of 1697, after the Treaty of Ryswick, the regiment returned to England.

In 1698 the regiment was sent to Ireland where it was stationed until 1701.

In 1701, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13), the regiment was augmented to 830 officers and soldiers and sent from Ireland to the Dutch Republic. In 1702, it took part in the covering of the siege of Kaiserwerth, in an engagement near Nijmegen, in the covering army of the siege of Venlo, in the siege of Roermond and in the capture of the Citadel of Liège; in 1703, in the sieges and capture of Huy and Limbourg; in 1704, in Marlborough's march to the Danube, in the Battle of the Schellenberg, in the covering of the siege of Ingoldstadt, in the victorious Battle of Blenheim and in the covering of the siege of Landau; in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies and in the conquest of Brabant; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde and in the covering of the siege of the important fortress of Lille; in 1709, in the covering of the siege of Tournai, in the siege of the Citadel of Tournai; in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet and in the covering of the siege of Mons; in in the passage of the lines at Pont-à-Vendin, in the siege and capture of Douai and in the covering of the siege of Béthune; in 1711, in the passage of the lines at Arleux, and in the siege of Bouchain. In 1712, the regiment occupied Dunkerque where it remained stationed in 1713. In the early part of 1714, it was stationed at Nieuport. In August, it returned to England.

In 1715, the regiment was employed in South Britain during the troubles but was not called upon to take the field against the rebels under the Earl of Mar, who were dispersed at the beginning of 1716.

In 1719, the regiment was sent to Scotland to quench the Jacobite Rising and took part in the Battle of Glen Shiel.

In mid-June 1740, the regiment was encamped on the Isle of Wight. It then embarked on board the fleet for the West Indies. In March 1741, during the War of Jenkins' Ear, the regiment took part in the expedition against Cartagena de Indias (present-day Cartagena, Colombia) where it suffered heavy losses. In 1742, it returned to England and commenced recruiting its numbers.

In 1743 and 1744, the regiment was stationed in Great Britain.

In 1745, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), the regiment was sent to the Austrian Netherlands where it took part in the unsuccessful defence of Ostend. In October, it was recalled to Great Britain to quench a new Jacobite Rising. The regiment then took part in an amphibious expedition against Lorient and the Peninsula of Quiberon..

In 1749, the regiment proceeded to Ireland where it remained until 1755.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the "15th Regiment of Foot".

During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was under the command of:

Service during the War

In 1755, the establishment of the regiment was augmented and it embarked for England.

In July 1756, the regiment joined five other regiments of foot and two of dragoons at a camp near Blandford under Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Howard.

At the beginning of 1757, the regiment along with four other units encamped on Barham-Downs under Charles Duke of Marlborough, in readiness to repel a threatened invasion of the French. In September, the regiment was stationed on the Isle of Wight and embarked on the fleet for the unsuccessful and wasteful raid on Rochefort.

In 1758, the regiment (850 officers and soldiers) was selected for the planned Campaign against Louisbourg. Sailing from Britain, it arrived at Halifax in mid-April. The British Fleet departed Halifax on May 28 for Louisbourg. In June and July, the regiment took part in the Siege of Louisbourg. On June 8, when Amherst's Army landed near Louisbourg, the regiment was part of the left brigade under Lawrence. During the landing, the regiment lost Lieutenant Kennedy, 2 sergeants and 13 rank and file, drowned; and Lieutenant Nicholson and 8 men killed. Louisbourg surrendered on July 27. During the siege, the regiment lost Lieutenant Campbell killed; Lieutenant Hamilton, Lieutenant and Adjutant Mekins and Ensign Moneypenny, wounded; and a considerable number of privates killed or wounded. The regiment was stationed at Louisbourg during the remainder of the year.

At the beginning of June 1759, the regiment joined the expedition against Québec. During this expedition, it belonged to Brigadier-General Monckton's Brigade. On June 27, the army landed on Île-d'Orléans and were drawn up on the beach near the village of Saint-Laurent. On July 31, the regiment took part in the Battle of Beauport where it was part of the second wave with the 78th Fraser's Highlanders. The assault failed and, towards 7:30 p.m., the British retreated in good order. The 15th Foot rowed for Pointe Lévis. The grenadiers suffered heavy losses in this fight. On September 13, the regiment took part in the victorious Battle of the Plains of Abraham near Québec. It was deployed on the left wing, protecting the left flank. Finally, on September 18, Québec surrendered. During the operations against Québec, the regiment had lost 1 surgeon's mate, 2 sergeants and 11 rank and file killed; Major Paulus Armil Irving, Captain Arthur Loftus, Lieutenants Samuel Rutherford, John Maxwell senior, John Maxwell junior, William Skeane, Robert Ross, James Leslie, Lieutenant and Ajutant Francis Mekins, Ensigns Edmund Wroth, Samuel Baker, 9 sergeants, 1 drummer and 97 rank and file, wounded. At the end of October, when Vice-Admiral Saunders left with his fleet for Great Britain, the regiment, whose ranks had been replenished to about 550 men by drafts from the 62nd Foot and 69th Foot, remained as garrison in Québec along with 9 other battalions. The mourning worn for the loss of General Wolfe at the Heights of Abraham was perpetuated in the black background to the silver rose of the collar dogs worn by the regiment for many years.

On April 28 1760, at the defeat of Sainte-Foy, the regiment was in Burton's Brigade on the right wing. The regiment then took part in the defence of Québec until the arrival of an amphibious relief force on May 17. In June, a detachment of the regiment took part in the three pronged attack against Montréal which surrendered on September 8. The entire regiment then formed part of the garrison of Montréal.

In the spring of 1761, the regiment proceeded up Lake Champlain in boats, marched from the shore of the lake to Albany, and sailed down the Hudson River to New York. In June, it was encamped on Staten Island. In October, it sailed for Barbadoes where an expedition was assembling under Major-General Monckton for an attack on the French island of Martinique. On December 24, the regiment arrived in Carlisle Bay in Barbadoes.

In January and February 1762, the regiment took part in the siege of Fort Royal and in the conquest of Martinique Island. Then from March to August, it participated in the siege and capture of Havanna. The regiment was stationed at Havanna for eleven months, suffering heavy losses from sickness.

In 1763, after the signature of the Treaty of Paris, the regiment embarked for New York, from whence it proceeded by Albany and Lake Champlain to Canada where it was stationed until 1768.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier
15th Foot Grenadier Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
British mitre with: a yellow front edged white embroidered with white floral twigs and with the white King's cipher surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small red front flap edged white with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent" in white and with a white bottom strip; red back; a yellow headband edged white probably wearing the number 15 in the middle part behind; a white pompom with yellow inner threads
Neck stock white
Coat brick red lined yellow and laced white (white braid bordered with thin yellow braids dotted in blue) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
Collar none
Shoulder Straps red (left shoulder)
Lapels yellow laced white (same lace as above), each with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white (same lace as above) with a vertical extension
Cuffs yellow (slashed in the British pattern) laced white (same lace as above)
Turnbacks yellow
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above)
Breeches brick red
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (black after 1759)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white (natural leather as per some authors)
Waistbelt white (natural leather as per some authors)
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with with a "Brown Bess" muskets, a bayonet and a sword. They also carried a dark brown haversack with a metal canteen on the left hip.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences

  • silver gorget around the neck
  • a silver aiguilette on the right shoulder
  • silver lace instead of normal lace
  • a crimson sash

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command; however, officers of the grenadier company wore a more decorated mitre cap.

Officers generally carried a spontoon, however, in battle some carried muskets instead.

Musicians

Drummers and fifers wore a reversed coat with swallows nest and lace in white.

The drum pattern were red hoops and white drum cords over a yellow drum. The drum barrel was decorated with the silver king's cypher surmounted by a crown and with the number of the regiment under the cypher.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose wreath around the regiment number "XV" in gold Roman numerals.

Regimental Colour: Yellow field with its centre decorated with wreath of roses and thistles around the regiment number "XV" in gold Roman numerals. The Union in the upper left corner

King's Colour - Source: PMPdeL
Regimental Colour - Source: PMPdeL

References

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 Fifteenth or The Yorkshire East Riding Regiment of Foot, London: Parker, Furnivall and Parker, 1848

Other sources

Aylor, Ron: British Regimental Drums and Colours

Boscawen, Hugh: The Capture of Louisbourg, 1758, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 2011

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

May R. and G. A. Embleton: Wolfe's Army, Osprey Publishing, London, 1974

Mills, T. F.: Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website who has unfortunately disappeared from the web)

Ricketts, Campbell: Prince of Wales's Own Regiment of Yorkshire

Wikipedia - East Yorkshire Regiment