51st Foot

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> 51st Foot

Origin and History

The first regiment known as "51st Regiment of Foot" was raised in North America in 1755 by colonel Pepperrel. It counted about 1,000 men.

This regiment was disbanded on December 22 1756.

In March 1756, a new regiment originally ranking as "53rd" was raised in Leeds.

In 1757, when the original "50th" and "51st" regiments of foot were disbanded. The "53rd" officially became the "51st Regiment of Foot".

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

  • from 1755 to December 22 1756: colonel Pepperell (this was the initial North American regiment)
  • from March 1756: colonel Napier (this was the new English regiment)
  • 1758: colonel Brudenell

Service during the War

In 1755, the initial regiment joined Shirley's expedition against Fort Niagara. The expedition departed from Albany and slowly advanced towards Fort Niagara along the Mohawk River. By mid September, Shirley realised that Fort Niagara was too strongly defended and abandoned his project. He retreated to New England, leaving the regiment behind to garrison Fort Ontario on the opposite bank from Fort Oswego.

In 1756, while wintering at Fort Ontario, the regiment suffered heavy losses. Early in the Summer, Shirley replenished the ranks of the regiment. This same regiment ended its career as garrison at Fort Oswego. In August, it was besieged at Fort Ontario by a French expeditionary force led by the marquis de Montcalm. On August 13, colonel Mercer, commanding at Fort Oswego, ordered the regiment to abandon Fort Ontario and to unite with his own force at Fort Oswego, which they did immediately. On August 14, when Oswego surrendered, the entire regiment became prisoner of war and was brought back to Montréal. Thus ended the career of the North American regiment known as 51st.

In September 1757, a new regiment raised in Leeds was stationed on the Isle of Wight and embarked on the fleet for the aborted raid on Rochefort.

In the Spring of 1758, the regiment embarked aboard a British squadron who captured Emden in March. The regiment assumed garrison duty in Emden until the arrival of the British contingent on August 3. On August 5, the regiment, having been replaced at Emden by 400 Invalids, joined the British contingent at Loro (probably Leer in Ostfriesland). This contingent arrived at Coesfeld on August 17 after marching through a very heavy rain. During this campaign, the grenadiers of the regiment were converged with those of the 12th, 20th, 23rd and 25th to form Maxwell's Grenadiers Battalion.

In June 1759, the regiment was part of the main Allied army under the command of the duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. The grenadiers of the regiment were attached to Maxwell Grenadier Battalion. On August 1, the regiment took part in the battle of Minden where it was deployed in the centre of the the second line of the 3rd column from the right under major-general Waldegrave. Misinterpreting orders, Waldegrave advanced with extraordinary bravery straight upon the cavalry deployed on the left of the French centre. The first line of French cavalry (11 sqns) charged Waldegrave first line but was thrown back. The second line of French cavalry was equally repulsed though with more difficulty. Now the French reserve, consisting of the Gendarmerie de France and the Carabiniers, attempted a third attack upon the 9 brave battalions. It charged and broke through the first line of Allied infantry. However, the second line received them with a deadly fire and forced them to retire. The astonishing attack of the British infantry had virtually gained the day.

On July 10 1760, the regiment was with the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick at the combat of Corbach. Along with other British regiments, it covered the retreat of the defeated Allied army. On October 16 of the same year, at the battle of Clostercamp, the regiment was in the fourth division under Howard which was kept in reserve.

In July 1761, the regiment was in Howard's Corps and, on July 16, took part to the battle of Vellinghausen.

Uniform

North American Regiment (1755-1756)

Privates

Uniform in 1755- Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier British mitre with: a red front embroidered with the King's cypher with 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 red headband probably wearing the number 51 in the middle part behind
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined brick red and laced white (simple white braid) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only)
Lapels brick red 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 brick red 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 the cuff
Turnbacks brick red
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
Waistbelt white
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:

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

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command. However, officers of grenadiers wore a more decorated mitre than the privates.

Officers were usually armed with a spontoon. However, in action, some carried a musket rather than the usual spontoon.

Musicians

The body of the drums was painted red, with the King's cypher and crown, and the number of the regiment underneath.

English Regiment

The uniform depicted hereafter belongs to the regiment raised in England in 1756.

Privates

Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white and a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier British mitre with: a gosling green front embroidered with the King's cypher with 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 gosling green headband probably wearing the number 51 in the middle part behind
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined gosling green and laced white (unknown pattern) with 3 pewter buttons and 3 white buttonholes (same lace as above) under the lapel
Collar none
Shoulder Straps brick red (left shoulder only)
Lapels gosling green 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 gosling green 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 the cuff
Turnbacks gosling green
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
Waistbelt white
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:

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

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command. However, officers of grenadiers wore a more decorated mitre than the privates.

Officers were usually armed with a spontoon. However, in action, some carried a musket rather than the usual spontoon.

Musicians

The body of the drums was painted gosling green, with the King's cypher and crown, and the number of the regiment underneath.

Colours

North American Regiment

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

Regimental Colour: White field with red cross, Union in the upper left canton, centre decorated with a rose wreath around the regiment number "LI" in gold Roman numerals.

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

English Regiment

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

Regimental Colour: Gosling green field, Union in the upper left canton, centre decorated with a rose wreath around the regiment number "LI" in gold Roman numerals.

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

References

Aylor, Ron, British Regimental Drums and Colours

Fortescue, J. W., A History of the British Army Vol. II, MacMillan, London, 1899

George II, The Royal Clothing Warrant, 1751

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