British Royal Regiment of Artillery

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> British Royal Regiment of Artillery

Origin and History

As in other European countries, the first artillery units of the English armies were made of hired professionals: engineers, artillerymen, blacksmiths, etc. These units had no permanent status, they were created when war broke out and disbanded in peacetime.

On May 26 1716, a Royal Warrant issued by George I created the first two companies of field artillery (100 men each) of the English army. These companies were formed at Woolwich.

On April 1 1722, two additional companies were raised. Furthermore, independent artillery companies based at Gibraltar and Minorca were incorporated to the unit which became known as the “Royal Regiment of Artillery” and placed under the command of colonel Albert Borgard. Promotion in the regiment was by seniority.

In 1741, the Royal Military Academy, a school to train artillery officers and engineers, was established in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich. The same year, a regimental staff was created. The gun carriage were painted a light blue gray.

Before 1744, 4 additional companies were raised, for a total 8 companies. In 1744, a cadet company was added to the regiment.

In each company, officers, NCOs and privates were ranked as follows:

  • captain-lieutenant
  • lieutenant
  • second lieutenant
  • lieutenant fire worker
  • cadet
  • sergeant
  • bombardier
  • gunner
  • matross
  • drummer.

By 1754, the regiment counted 10 companies, excluding the cadet company, deployed as follows:

  • Woolwich or Greenwich (5 coys)
  • Perth (1 coy)
  • Gibralter (1 coy)
  • Minorca (1 coy)
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia (1 coy)
  • St. Johns', Newfoundland (1 coy)

From 1755, new companies were regularly added to the regiment.

In 1756, captain Phillips raised a company of 229 miners among miners of Cornwall and Newcastle upon Tyne for the defence of Fort St. Philip in Minorca. However, it could not reach the place before the capture of the island by the French. The miners were then sent to various companies as needs arose.

By 1757, the regiment counted 24 companies. On August 1, the regiment was divided into 2 battalions, plus 1 cadet company.

In 1759, a third battalion was raised.

In 1760, a second company of miner was raised for the specific task of dismantling the fortifications of Louisbourg.

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

  • in 1751: colonel Belford
  • in 1762: colonel Pattison

In 1762, an artillery band was formed at Minden in Germany.

By 1763, the regiment totalled 46 companies.

Service during the War

The regiment saw service in every campaign of the war. For example, 8 companies served in America during this war. In this section, only a few examples of its services are depicted.

In the Spring of 1754, a detachment of the regiment (6 officers, 12 cadets and 54 men), under command of captain-lieutenant Hislop, accompanied the 39th Aldercron's Foot to India.

In January 1755, a detachment of the regiment (6 officers and 60 men), under command of captain-lieutenant Hind sailed from Great Britain with Braddock's force destined to the expedition against Fort Duquesne in North America.

On June 23 1757, a detachment of 50 men of the regiment took part in the battle of Plassey.

In May 1758, 3 companies of the regiment were sent to the Isle of Wight. They then took part in an expedition against the French Coasts from June 1 to July 1. A few days later in North America, on July 8, the 4th and 17th coys of the regiment fought in the disastrous battle of Carillon. At daybreak on July 9, the British army re-embarked and retreated to the head of the lake where it reoccupied the camp it had left a few days before. In the summer of the same year, 2 coys were among the first British contingent (6,000 men) sent to reinforce the Allied army of Ferdinand of Brunswick in Germany. The contingent embarked at Gravesend on July 19, disembarked at Emden on August 3 and arrived at Coesfeld on August 17, after marching through a very heavy rain.

In 1759, 2 light batteries (9 x 6-pdr guns) and 1 heavy battery (10 x 12-pdr guns) served in Germany with the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, these detachments took part in the battle of Minden where the heavy brigade formed part of the 2nd column under major Haase, a light brigade was attached to the first line of the 3rd column and the other light brigade was attached to the first line of the 7th column. These brigades were renowned for their clean guns and their efficiency of fire. The same year in North America, a detachment of the regiment took part in the expedition against Québec who finally surrendered on September 18. At the end of October, when vice-admiral Saunders left with his fleet for Great Britain, about 430 men of the regiment remained as garrison in Québec along with 10 infantry battalions.

On July 31 1760, a detachment of the regiment took part in the battle of Warburg where it galloped forward with the cavalry.

In 1761, 3 companies of the regiment took part in the expedition against Belle-Isle.

In 1762, 8 companies of the regiment, under the command of colonel Pattison, formed part of the British expeditionary force sent to contain the Spanish invasion of Portugal.

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1751 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Matross and gunner black tricorne edged with a narrow gold lace with a black cockade (left side)
Pioneer and miner fusilier style hat
Neckstock white
Coat blue woollen coat lined scarlet and laced and edged yellow (plain yellow worsted braid); 3 yellow buttons and 3 yellow buttonholes under the lapels (same lace as above) at the waist; 3 yellow laces at the small of the back
Collar scarlet collar tabs edged yellow (same lace as above), each fastened with a yellow button
Shoulder Straps blue epaulette edged yellow and fastened with a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels scarlet half-lapels edged and laced yellow (same lace as above) with 8 yellow buttons (arranged 2-2-2-2) and 8 yellow looping around the buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets vertical pockets edged yellow with 6 yellow laces (same lace as above) in a chevron pattern, each with a yellow button
Cuffs scarlet (slashed in the British pattern) edged yellow (same lace as above) with 6 yellow buttons and 6 yellow buttonholes (same lace as above) in a chevron pattern on the sleeve above each the cuff
Turnbacks scarlet
Waistcoat blue edged yellow with 12 yellow buttons (arranged by pair) and 12 yellow buttonholes (same lace as above) with horizontal pockets edged yellow, each with 6 yellow buttons and 6 yellow buttonholes (same lace as above)
Breeches blue
Gaiters black with black buttons (white for parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard none
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


N.B.: from 1758, the yellow lace on the waistcoat was discontinued.

Fusiliers were armed with a musket and a brass-hilted sword. They also carried a dark brown haversack.

Gunners carried linstocks.

Officers

Royal Regiment of Artillery Officer in 1760 - Source: R. J. Macdonald, The History of the dress of the royal regiment of artillery 1645-1897 from the collection of Dr Marco Pagan

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

  • gold lace instead of normal lace
  • red waistcoat
  • red breeches
  • soft-topped jockey boots

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command but with a gold lace.

Officers of this regiment never carried spontoons. Instead, they carried fusils in the field. In the 1760s, the sword gradually replaced the fusil.

NCOs

Sergeants had a broad gold lace on their tricorne and gold looping around the buttonholes of their coat and waistcoat. They also wore a gold worsted shoulder-knot, corporals two yellow worsted knots, and bombardiers one.

Until 1754, all NCOs carried halberds. From 1754, only sergeants retained the halberd, the corporals and bombardiers were equipped with carbines.

Musicians

According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:

The drummers of the regiment wore the royal livery. They were clothed in red, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with blue, and laced with the royal lace (golden braid with two thin purple central stripes).

The front or fore part of the drums was painted blue, with the arms of Great Britain. The rims were red.

Colours

The various detachments of the regiment did not carry colours. Their guns played the role of colours.

References

Aylor, Ron; British Regimental Drums and Colours

Field, Jason and Brian Wilson: The Royal Artillery, Detachment II - Uniform Research & other important data, The Seven Years War, Inc.

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

Holmes, Richard; Redcoat, Harper Collins, London, 2001

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

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

Mollo, John; Uniforms of the Seven Years War, 1756 – 63; Blandford Colour Series

Partridge, Mike; The Royal Regiment of Artillery, Seven Years War Association Journal, Vol. XII No. 3

Reid, Stuart; King George's Army 1740-93, Vol. 3; Osprey Publishing

Reid, Stuart; Quebec 1759 – The battle that won Canada; Osprey Publishing

Wikipedia Royal Artillery

Acknowledgement

Andy Francis for his research on this unit.