3rd Foot

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Origin and History

The unit was initially raised in 1572 as the "Thomas Morgan's Company". It served in Holland with the Dutch against Spain.

In 1665, the English troops of the British brigade serving in Holland returned to England after refusing to swear allegiance to the States-General. The repatriated English soldiers formed a new regiment known as the “4th (The Holland Maritime) Regiment” counting 6 companies of 100 men each.

In 1665 and 1666, the regiment served against the Dutch in the fleet. On 13 June 1665, it took part in the Battle of Lowestoft. It was augmented to 10 companies.

In 1667, a company of the regiment was transferred to the Barbados Regiment and a new company immediately raised to replace it. At the end of the year, the regiment was reduced to 10 companies of 60 men each.

By 1668 the regiment was known as the “4th (The Holland) Regiment”.

In 1688-1689 its name was "4th The Lord High Admiral's Regiment". Then, in 1689, it became the “Prince George of Denmark's Regiment”. From then until 1751, the regiment took the name of its successive colonels.

During the Franco-Dutch War (1672–78), the regiment contributed detachments and companies to serve on the fleet. In 1677, an eleventh company was raised. In 1678, the regiment was augmented to 20 companies of 100 privates each. The second battalion (8 coys) was sent to Flanders where, on 14 and 15 August, it took part in the Battle of Saint-Denis.

In 1679, the second battalion was disbanded.

In 1680, the regiment took part in an expedition against Tangier.

In 1688-1689 its name was "4th The Lord High Admiral's Regiment". Then, in 1689, it became the “Prince George of Denmark's Regiment”. From then until 1751, the regiment took the name of its successive colonels.

At the beginning of the Nine Years' War (1688–97), in 1689, the regiment was sent to the Low Countries where, on August 25, it took part in the Battle of Walcourt. It then took its winter-quarters in Bruges. In 1690, the regiment returned to England and, on July 10, it was present at the Battle of Beachy Head. In 1692, it returned to Flanders. On August 3, it fought in the Battle of Steenkerque. At the end of the year, it took its winter-quarters in Ghent. On July 29, the regiment took part in the Battle of Landen; in 1695, in the siege and capture of Namur. At the end of 1697, the regiment returned to England.

In 1702, at the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession, the regiment took part in the expedition against Cádiz and, on October 23, in the Battle of Vigo Bay. In 1703, it joined the Duke of Marlborough in Flanders and took part in the sieges of Huy and Limbourg. In 1704,, it accompanied Marlborough in his famous march to the Danube, taking part in the Battle of the Schellenberg and in the Battle of Blenheim. It then escorted French prisoners taken at Blenheim from Mainz to the Dutch Republic. In 1705, the regiment took part in the forcing of the French Lines at Helixem and Neer-Hespen; in 1706, in the Battle of Ramillies; in 1708, in the Battle of Oudenarde and in the sieges and capture of Lille and Ghent; in 1709, in the siege of Tournai and in the sanguinary Battle of Malplaquet; in 1710, in the forcing of the French Lines at Pont-à-Vendin and in the sieges of Douai, Béthune, Aire and Saint-Venant; in 1711, in the storming of a redoubt at Arleux in the capture of the Castle of Chanterin, in a surprise attack on a camp near Douai, in the forcing of the French Lines at Arleux and in the siege of Bouchain. In 1712, the regiment initially encamped near Ghent before being placed in garrison at Nieuport. In 1713, the regiment remained in Flanders during the period of negotiations for the Peace of Utrecht.

In 1714, the regiment re-embarked for England, arriving in London on 23 August. At the beginning of September, it proceeded to Berwick and then to Scotland where it was reduced to 10 companies of 40 men each.

During a certain period there were two colonels named Howard in the British army and thus two regiment known by this name. To differentiate them they were designated by their distinctive colour: “Buff Howard” and “Green Howard”.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British infantry, the regiment was designated as the “3rd Regiment of Foot” but its nickname remained “The Buffs”. As per a resolution of September 20 1756, a second battalion was exceptionally added to the regiment. Two years later, in 1758, this second battalion was made a distinct regiment as the 61st Regiment of Foot.

During the Seven Years's War, the regiment was commanded by:

  • since August 21 1749 until May 13 1763: Sir George Howard

Service during the War

In September 1757, the regiment, which was stationed on the Isle of Wight, embarked aboard the fleet and took part in the unsuccessful and wasteful raid on Rochefort.

In November 1758, the regiment was under orders for foreign service in the West Indies as part of major-general Peregrine Hopson force destined to the expedition against Martinique and Guadeloupe. On November 12, it was aboard the convoy who sailed from Spithead for the Leeward Islands.

On January 3 1759, the convoy reached Carlisle Bay in Barbados. On January 13, the whole British force sailed for Martinique Island. On January 16, the British infantry landed near Fort Royal. On January 17, the grenadiers of the regiment joined those of the other units and together dislodged a French force entrenched near the British camp. Unable to make any significant progress, Hopson re-embarked. The expeditionary force then redirected its efforts against Guadeloupe Island. On January 23, the British fleet bombarded and almost completely destroyed the town of Basse-Terre. On January 24, the regiment was landed and occupied the town. From then on, it actively took part in the numerous actions which led to the conquest of the island which finally capitulated on May 1. On June 25, Barrington sailed for Great Britain with the remnant of the regiment along with [[61st Foot] and 64th Foot, under convoy of the Roebuck (44).

In May and June 1761, a detachment of the regiment reinforced the expedition besieging the French island of Belle-Isle who finally surrendered.

In July 1762, the regiment was part of the British reinforcements sent from Belle-Isle to Portugal to assist the Portuguese army against a Spanish invasion. Colonel Howard was absent and his lieutenant-colonel on a sick leave. Major John Biddulph had to assume command. At the end of August, the regiment operated in the region of Coimbra. It was later engaged in the Alvito, Alentejo and Estremadura.

In 1763, the regiment was sent to Minorca to occupy the island restored by France after the peace.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1756 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier
3rd Foot Grenadier Mitre Cap - Source: Digby Smith and rf-figuren
British mitre with: a buff front edged white embroidered with white floral twigs and with the regimental badge (green dragon with a red tongue, standing on a green ground) 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 green bottom strip with yellow stripes; red back; a buff headband edged white probably wearing the the Roman numeral III in the middle part behind; a white pompom with red and buff inner threads
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined buff and laced white (white lace with 3 thin lines dark blue/red/buff on each side) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only) fastened with a pewter button
Lapels buff laced white (same lace as above) with 7 pewter buttons and 6 white buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets horizontal pockets laced white (same lace as above)
Cuffs buff slashed cuffs laced white (same lace as above) with 4 pewter buttons and 4 white buttonholes (same lace as above) on the sleeve above each cuff
Turnbacks buff
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 buff
Waistbelt buff
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard black
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Troopers were armed with a “Brown Bess” muskets, a bayonet and a sword.

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

The drum body was buff with a green dragon surmounted by a crown and with the number of the regiment under the dragon.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (a green dragon surmounted by a scroll bearing the motto Veteri Frondescet Honore). The regiment number "III" in roman gold numerals in the upper left corner.

Regimental Colour: Buff field with its centre decorated with the regimental badge (same as above). The Union in the upper left corner with the regiment number "III" in roman gold numerals in its centre. A crown with a rose in the three other corners. During the period when the regiment counted two battalions (September 1756 to 1758), the colours of first battalions had one flame and those of the second two flames descending from the upper left corner of the flag towards its centre.

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

References

This article is mainly a condensed and abridged version of the following book which is in the public domain:

  • Cannon, Richard: Historical record of the Third Regiment of Foot, or the Buffs [microform] : formerly designated the Holland Regiment, containing an account of its origin in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and of its subsequent services to 1838, London

Aylor, Ron, British Regimental Drums and Colours


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

Kirby, Mike, The British Contingent - Uniform Information, Seven Years War Association Journal, Vol. XII No. 3

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth

O'Hara, Danny, Eighteenth Century Wargaming Resources On-Line

Peter, The Buffs

Wikipedia - The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment)

N.B.: the section Service during the War is mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.