63rd Foot

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Origin and History

The unit was originally raised as per a resolution of September 20 1756 as a second battalion of the 8th Foot. However, this second battalion was detached from its parent regiment on June 15 1758 to form the “63rd Regiment of Foot”.

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

  • since June 15 1758: David Watson
  • from October 12 1760 to September 5 1764: sir William Boothby

Service during the War

The new regiment spent most of 1758 in the west of England, spending much time in Plymouth. In November, it 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 of this campaign. On March 1, when Barrington resumed his offensive, the regiment along with a detachment of artillery was left to hold the fort of Basse-Terre under lieutenant-colonel Peter Desbrisay. The regiment suffered a number of attacks while garrisoning the citadel of Basse-Terre. During one attack, Desbrisay was killed. The island finally capitulated on May 1 and Crump was installed as governor. The regiment along with the 4th Foot and 65th Foot was left with him to garrison the island.

On May 8 1760, the 68th Foot, which had been sent from Great Britain as reinforcements, landed at Basse-Terre. The 200 men of the 68th Foot destined to be drafted into the 63rd Foot immediately did so, the regiment being quartered in Fort Royal at Basse-Terre. In June, the regiment relieved the 4th Foot who was garrisoning Petitbourg.

In mid November 1761, the 100th Campbell's Highlanders arrived at Guadeloupe along with drafts of the 102nd Queen's Royal Volunteers and an independent company. All of which, along with the 4 independent companies arrived previously at the end of 1760, were ordered to be reduced and drafted into the 3 regiments of the garrison (4th Foot, 63rd Foot, and 65th Foot).

The regiment remained on Guadeloupe Island until 1763 when the island was returned to France by the Treaty of Paris.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: rf-figuren from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Musketeer black tricorne laced white with a black cockade (left side)
Grenadier British mitre with: a deep green front edged white and embroidered with white scroll work and the King's cypher surmounted by a crown (yellow with red cushions, white pearls and ermine headband); a small red front flap with the white horse of Hanover surmounted by the motto "Nec aspera terrent"; red back; a deep green headband edged white probably wearing the number 63 in the middle part behind
Neckstock white
Coat brick red lined buff and laced and edged white (white braid with green and white diagonal stripes) with 3 white buttonholes under the lapels (same lace as above)
Collar none
Shoulder Straps red and fastened with a white button (left shoulder)
Lapels deep 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 deep green (slashed in the British pattern) 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 buff (lining being specified as buff this lining was changed to linen while garrisoning Guadeloupe)
Waistcoat brick red laced white (same lace as above)
Breeches brick red
Gaiters white with black buttons
brown, grey or black during campaigns (thread or linen stockings while garrisoning Guadeloupe)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt white
Waistbelt white
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
  • an 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

According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:

The drummers of the regiment were clothed in deep green, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with red, and laced in such manner as the colonel shall think fit for distinction sake, the lace, however, was of the colours of that on the soldiers' coats.
The front or fore part of the drums was painted deep green, with the king's cypher and crown, and the number “LXIII” under it. The rims were red.

Colours

King's Colour: Union with its centre decorated with a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "LXIII" in gold Roman numerals on crimson.

Regimental Colour: deep green field; centre device consisting of a rose and thistle wreath around the regiment number "LXIII" in gold Roman numerals on crimson. The Union in the upper left corner.

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

References

Anonymous, Particular description of the several descents on the coast of France last war; with an entertaining account of the islands of Guadeloupe, Dominique, etc., E. & C. Dilly, London, 1770, pp. 70-73

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

Lawson, Cecil C. P., A History of the Uniforms of the British Army - from the Beginnings to 1760, vol. II, p. 90-103

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately seems to have disappeared from the web)

Museum of the Manchester Regiment - 63rd Regiment of Foot

Wikipedia 63rd Foot

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