Royal Horse Guards

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Royal Horse Guards

Origin and History

Member of the Royal Horse Guards of the British Army, in 1758 - Source: Wikipedia Commons

The regiment was raised in 1661 for the Earl of Oxford and named the "Royal Regiment of Horse". Quite unusually, the regiment had a blue uniform. For this reason, it was nicknamed “The Blues”.

In 1690, when William III arrived in England with his own blue clad cavalry regiment, the regiment became known as "The Oxford Blues" to differentiate it from this Dutch regiment.

The regiment had precedence over all line cavalry regiments but was not part of the Guard.

On July 1 1751, when a Royal warrant reorganised the British army, the regiment remained unnumbered.

At the beginning of the Seven Years' War, the regiment exceptionally counted 3 squadrons rather than the usual 2 squadrons of other British heavy cavalry regiments. In 1758, before its transfer to Germany, its cavalrymen each received a cuirasse and an iron skull-cap. The Royal Horse Guards always rode black horses.

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


Service during the War

In the summer of 1758, the regiment was 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.

During the first half of 1759, the regiment formed part of the Allied Army of Ferdinand of Brunswick. It was attached to Mostyn's Division in the first line of the cavalry right wing. On April 13, the regiment took part in the Battle of Bergen where it formed part of the first column under the command of the Hereditary Prince of Brunswick. In June, the regiment was still part of the Allied Main Army under the command of Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. On August 1, the regiment was present at the Battle of Minden where it was deployed in the first line of the right hand column under Lord George Sackville. This cavalry corps did not take part in the battle despite several orders requesting its intervention. Lord Sackville was later court-martialed and lost his command.

On July 31 1760, the regiment fought in the Battle of Warburg where it was deployed in the first line of Granby's cavalry. Granby charged and broke the French cavalry right wing then wheeled and hit the French infantry in the flank, winning the day for the Allies.

In 1762, the regiment was once more part of Granby's Corps. On September 21, it was at the Combat of Amöneburg when, late in the afternoon, the British corps came to the relief of the Hanoverians guarding the bridge and repulsed several French attacks, saving the day for the Allies.

To do: more details on the campaigns from 1760 to 1762

Uniform

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Frédéric Aubert
Uniform in 1758
Headgear black tricorne laced yellow with a black cockade

N.B.: for combat, the tricorne was reinforced with an iron skull-cap

Neckstock white
Coat blue
Collar none
Shoulder strap blue (maybe with red piping) fastened with a small brass button
Lapels red with brass buttons
Pockets n/a
Cuffs red with brass buttons
Turnbacks red
Waistcoat red (a painting of lord Granby suggests that the waistcoat might have been buff for campaigning)
Breeches red with white knee covers (a painting of lord Granby suggests that the breeches might have been buff for campaigning)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt n/a
Cartridge Box n/a
Scabbard n/a
Bayonet scabbard n/a
Footgear black boots
Horse Furniture
Saddlecloth red with rounded corners decorated with the golden king's cipher surrounded by a blue garter bearing the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense and surmounted by a golden crown; bordered with a wide yellow/blue/yellow braid
Housings red with pointed corners decorated with the golden king's cipher surrounded by a blue garter bearing the motto Honni soit qui mal y pense; bordered with a wide yellow/blue/yellow braid
Blanket roll blue and red


Troopers were armed with a sword, a pair of pistols, a musket and a bayonet.

Officers

As per the regulation of 1751, the officers wore the same uniform with the following exceptions:

  • a narrow gold lace at the bindings and buttonholes
  • a crimson silk sash worn over the left shoulder
  • crimson and gold sword knot
  • housings and holster caps laced gold

NCOs

no information available yet

Musicians

Buglers rode grey horses.

Colours

Standards were made of damask. The Royal Horse Guards carried a unique design of standard.

Regimental Standard (as per Funcken): crimson field, fringed gold with central decoration consisting of the arms of the house of Hanover surrounded by a blue garter carrying the motto “Honi soit qui mal y pense”. This central scene was flanked by a golden lion rampant (near the pole) and a white unicorn. Under the central scene: a yellow scroll carrying the motto “Dieu et mon droit”. Above the central scene: a golden crown flanked by the letter “G” and “R”.

Squadron Standard – Source: PMPdeL

References

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

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

Mills, T. F., Land Forces of Britain the Empire and Commonwealth (an excellent website which unfortunately does not seem to be online anymore)

Wikipedia

  • John Manners, Marquess of Granby
  • Royal Horse Guards
  • File:Royal Horse Guards uniform (1758).png

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