15th Light Horse
Origin and History
The regiment was created on March 10 1759 when King George II ordered Colonel George Augustus Eliott to raise a regiment of light dragoons. Eliot was seconded by the Earl of Pembroke as lieutenant-colonel. The unit was originally designated as the “15th Light Dragoons” although it was more commonly known as the “Eliott's Light Horse”.
The regiment counted 6 troops in 3 squadrons and consisted of 18 sergeants, 18 corporals, 12 drummers, 6 oboists and 360 troopers. They rode light dragoon horses standing 15 hands, of various shades of brown.
By the end of 1759, the regiment was already at full strength. It was soon ordered to add 1 cornet, 1 sergeant, 1 corporal, and 43 troopers to each troop for a total strength of 684 NCOs and troopers.
During the Seven Years' War, the regiment was commanded by:
- since 1759: Colonel George Augustus Eliott
In 1766, the regiment was renumbered the “1st (or King's) Regiment of Light Dragoons” but changed back to its original number in 1769.
Service during the War
As of May 30 1759, the regiment was stationed in England and counted 3 squadrons for a total of 300 men.
On June 10 1760, only a few months after its creation, the regiment was among the second British contingent sent to reinforce the Allied army of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. It embarked at Gravesend, under command Lieutenant-colonel the Earl of Pembroke. On June 21, the regiment disembarked at Bremen. As the Earl of Pembroke assumed the charge of adjutant-general, effective command of the regiment passed to Major William Erskine. On July 15, after a long march, the regiment arrived at Treysa where it made a junction with the Allied army. On July 16, the regiment took part in the engagement of Emsdorf where it charged the French and captured a complete battalion. In this engagement, the regiment suffered heavy casualties: Captain-lieutenant Basil, Cornet Burt, 2 sergeants, 71 troopers and 116 horses killed; Cornet Parkyns, Cornet Fulford, 1 sergeant, 47 troopers, and 52 horses wounded. On July 20, Ferdinand of Brunswick issued a general order which referred to the action at Emsdorf saying:
- “...His Serene Highness, therefore, gives his best thanks to these brave troops, and particularly to Eliott's regiment. His Serene Highness the Prince could not enough commend to the Duke, the bravery, good conduct, and good countenance, with which this regiment fought...”
For its conduct in this action, the regiment was awarded its first battle honour.
On July 16 1761, the regiment took part in the Battle of Vellinghausen.
Early in 1763, the regiment returned to England. It was reviewed in Hyde Park by King George III.
To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1762
The descriptions in this section are based on:
- David Morier's painting depicting two troopers and a hornist of the 15th Light Dragoons reproduced in David Blackmore's "British Cavalry in the Mid-18th Century"
- Brian Fosten's uniform plate
- Malcolm McGregor and John Mollo: "Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63", 1977, Blanford Press-Poole, Dorset, plates 152 and 153
- Alix Baker: "AB8/1 Drummer, 15th Light Dragoons (or Eliott's Light Horse), 1760", Alix Baker, Hortus House, Old Coach Road, Bulford, Salisbury, Wiltshire
|Headgear||black boiled leather jockey cap with enameled turned-up front plate edged white; silver crest decorated with a crowned GR cypher in white; silver rosettes on the helmet; red plume; deep green turban round the base of the helmet; white tassels.|
|Coat||short double breasted red lined white with silver buttons and double white lace for the buttonholes; a hollow diamond of lace at the lower seam at the back of the coat, where the left and right tails are joined
|Waistcoat||white with very narrow white buttonholes|
|Breeches||white with white knee covers|
Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols and a musket. The musket was hung over the left shoulder with a buff belt.
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
- a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
- crimson and silver striped sword knot
- deep green housings and holster caps laced silver
Sergeants were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the lapels, cuffs and pockets; a silver aiguillette; a deep green worsted sash about their waist.
Corporals were distinguished by a narrow silver lace on the cuffs and shoulder strap; white silk aiguillette.
The hornist rode a grey horse. He wore a deep green coat with white lapels, cuffs and collar, double red lace for the buttonholes (some sources show no lace for the buttons on the lapels), in pairs as for the troopers, and what appears to be a single red lace on each side of the collar, three white chevrons of lace, pointed downwards, on the sleeve above each cuff. A hollow diamond of red lace at the lower seam at the back of the coat. Red epaulettes with red fringe (or red with white fringe according to some sources). Hornist wore the same cap as the troopers. Red waistcoats and breeches (white breeches as per Funcken).
Drummers wore a mitre cap similar to the grenadier mitre cap but with a lower crown and the tassel hanging behind. Deep green front decorated with a trophy of guidons and drums; little frontal red flap with the White Horse and the the motto “Nec aspera terrent”; red backing, deep green headband with a drum and the initials of the regiment (LD) in the middle part behind. They wore deep green coats with hanging sleeves, heavily laced, with no lapels, a red collar and white turnbacks. The edges of the coat front and the collar have a white lace edging. The sleeves have pointed cuffs in red, with 5 chevrons, pointing up, consisting of bands of white lace with red lace in the center. The coat has swallow's nests, red with white lace, white epaulettes with fringes and a border of red lace or piping. On each side of the front of the coat, there are two vertical bands of the same white-red-white lace, from the shoulder seams to the hem of the coat tails. Between the inner band of lace and the edge of the coat, there are seven horizontal bands of the same white-red-white lace.
The drums were of brass with a deep green forepart carrying the initials of the regiment (LD) in silver characters on a crimson ground within a wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk.
We have not found any primary source describing the colours of this regiment. Several part of our description are assumptions based on the colours of the regiments of dragoons.
The guidons were made of silk, fringed in silver and embroidered with 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 initials of the regiment (LD) in silver characters on a deep green ground.
Regimental Guidon: deep green field with its centre decorated with the King's Crest of the lion within the garter and with a crown over. In the first and fourth corners the White Horse in a red compartment. In the second and third corners: the initials of the regiment (XV LD) in silver characters on a red ground within a wreath of roses and thistles.
15th the King's Hussars Regiment Museum
Aubert, Frédéric: Yahoo Group Les guerres de l'époque moderne Message No. 505
Blackmore, David: British Cavalry in the Mid-18th Century, Partizan Press, 2008 (reproduction of David Morier's painting depicting two troopers and a hornist of the 15th Light Dragoons)
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
Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online any more)
Mollo, John and Malcolm McGregor: Uniforms of the Seven Years War 1756-63, Blanford Press-Poole, Dorset, 1977 (illustrations 152 and 153)
Reid, Stuart: Frederick the Greats Allies 1756-63, Osprey
Reid, Stuart: King George's army (3), Osprey
Wikipedia - 15th The King's Hussars
Woods, James: Armies and uniforms of the Seven Years War, vol. 1
Yahoo Groups - Lace Wars Message No. 11901, 11913, 11918
Yahoo Groups - SYW Message No. 332, 333, 334, 1113
Andrew J. Francis and Ibrahim90 for their researches on this unit.
TheBaron for the information on uniforms.