|In the autumn
of 1641 Ireland rose in rebellion against the Scottish
settlers who for some time past had been colonizing Ulster. No
standing army then existed, and to deal with this situation
King Charles I sanctioned the raising of ten Scottish
regiments for service in Ireland to be paid for by the English
The King had intended to go himself to Ireland 1642 to direct the operations against the rebels, and on 16th Marth, 1642, he issued at Westminster a Commission* addressed to Archibald, 1st Marquess of Argyll, authorizing him to raise a Royal Regiment of
1,500 men to be “led into our Realm of Ireland”.
This Regiment was intended by the King to be his Royal
Guard, and from this date the history of the Scots Guards begins.
Argyll already possessed a Regiment of foot which he had raised for his own use in 1639. This regiment he at once transferred to the Royal Service, and as “Argyle’s Regiment” it sailed for Ireland within the month. A politician rather than a soldier, Argyll appointed his kinsman,* Sir Duncan Campbell of Auchinbreck, to command his Regiment for him. This custom of Colonel of the Regiment and Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding was universal at this time and exists in the Regiment to the present day. For six long and ill-paid years Argyll’s Regiment protected the Scottish colonists in Ulster from the onslaughts of the native Irish, only returning to Scotland once, between April 1645 and June 1646, when it fought for its Colonel against Montrose at Kilsyth. Meanwhile in England and Scotland the Civil War raged, and in January, 1649, King Charles I was executed in London. In this year Argyll’s Regiment, much diminished in strength and known now as the “Irish Companies,” returned to Scotland, where in the following year, 1650, it welcomed King Charles II on his arrival from France.
One of the King’s first acts was to take the 1650 Irish Companies as his “Lyfe Guard of Foot” and to appoint Argyll’s son, Lord Lorne, to be its second Colonel. At Falkland Palace in Fife on 22nd July the Regiment was presented with new Colours. On this same day Cromwell crossed the Tweed with a large army and advanced on Edinburgh. On 3rd September the Scots and English armies met at Dunbar. In the Scots Army were four companies of the “Lyfe Guard of Foot” and in Cromwell’s Army was Monck’s Regiment, now the Coldstream Guards. Despite a gallant stand by the Scottish Foot Guards, the Scots Army was badly defeated and forced to retire to Stirling. On New Year’s Day King Charles II was 1651 crowned at Scone with his “Lyfe Guard of Foot” on duty in the Palace. In August they accompanied their King on his invasion of England, and on 3rd September suffered with him the disastrous defeat of the Battle of Worcester. King Charles escaped to France, but his Regiment was scattered, Scotland fell into the hands of Cromwell, and the Scottish Army ceased to exist. The Commission from Argyll to Auchinbreck is kept at Regimental Headquarters.
In May, 1660, King Charles II
landed at Dover 1660 and was restored to his throne. His first
need was for an army; and to this end he raised at once a
Regiment of Guards in England partly from those who had shared
his exile. This Regiment was later called the First Regiment
of Guards and is now known as the Grenadier Guards.
|1685 ACCESSION OF KING JAMES II|
Regiment of Foot Guards was 1686 brought on to the
establishment of the English
Army for the first time, and by a ruling King William eight years later took precedence within the Foot Guards from that date despite their seniority by length of service. Recently armed with the new Dutch muskets and bayonets, the Regiment now consisted of fourteen companies, including a Grenadier company.
In April seven of these companies, described for the first time as a battalion, sailed from Leith to Gravesend and marched to Hounslow Heath, where they were quartered beside the other two regiments of Foot Guards. They became known to the English as the Scotch or Scots Guards and, so legend has it, to the other Guards regiments as “The Kiddies.” After a winter in the south the Battalion returned to Scotland.
In 1688 the whole Regiment was called to England, where, true to its Protestant principles, it went over to William of Orange following the flight ofJames II.
|1689 ACCESSION OF KING WILLIAM III AND QUEEN MARY II|
War with France involved the 1st Battalion 1691 in the Low Countries for the first time. Under Marlborough it distinguished itself at Walcourt, and in 1691 was joined in Belgium by the 2nd Battalion. Together they took part in the Battles of Steenkirk, 1692, and Landen, 1693, hard fighting which established the credit of the British soldier on the Continent.*
It was during this campaign that King William granted to Captains in the Regiment the double rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and to Lieutenants the double rank of Captain, thus giving them precedence within the Army.
The 1st Battalion won the Regiment’s first 1695 battle honour* at the Siege of Namur, where the Guards Brigade particularly distinguished itself.
Fortescue records “. . . the post of greatest danger was made over, as their reputation demanded, to the Brigade of Guards. On this occasion the Guards surpassed themselves alike by the coolness of their valour and by the ardour of their attack. They marched under heavy fire up to the French palisades, thrust their muskets between them, poured in one terrible volley, the first shot they had yet fired and charged forthwith. In spite of a stout resistance, they swept the French out of the first work, pursued them into the second, swept them out of that and, gathering impetus with success, drove them from stronghold to stronghold.”
A Diary by an officer of the Regiment during this campaign is displayed at Regimental Headquarters.
1702 ACCESSION OF QUEEN ANNE
of the Regiment was raised to
1704 eighteen companies, one of which was appointed as a Highland Company, “for the security of the
Highlands and the adjacent country against thefts and depredations . . .“ . This company, which was clothed as Highianders and armed with broadswords, targets, guns, pistols and dirks, existed for ten years and was finally disbanded in London in 1714.,
Discontent in Scotland kept the Regiment on garrison duty at home during these years, and thus prevented them sharing with the English Guards Regiments the glory of a part in Marlborough’s four great battles of the War of the Spanish Succession.
1707 THE UNION OF ENGLAND AND SCOTLAND
|At about this
time the Regiment began to wear the badge of the Order of the
Thistle, which had been instituted in 1687, and their coat
facings were altered from white to blue.The 1st Battalion was
ordered to Spain in 1709, where it took part in the Battles of
Saragossa, where seventy-two Spanish Colours and twenty-two
cannon were captured, and of Briheuga, where the whole British
force was surrounded and after a gallant defence, forced to
Queen Anne changed the name of the Regiment to Third Regiment of Foot Guards and laid down the designs of the sixteen badges which today form those of the three battalions and of the first thirteen companies. In February the 2nd Battalion was ordered from Edinburgh to London, and from that date until 1911 no part of the Regiment, with the exception of the Highland Company which remained until 1714, did duty in its native land.
1714 ACCESSION OF KING GEORGE I
The Jacobite Rebellion. The Regiment was in England and played
no active part.
|1727 ACCESSION OF KING GEORGE II|
|THE WAR OF THE
The 1st Battalion took part in the Battle of 1743 Dettingen, the Regiment’s second battle honour, when an army under the Earl of Stair defeated a far larger force of the French. King George II himself was present, the last British Sovereign actually to have taken part in a battle.
The Battalion was also present at the Battle 1745 of Fontenoy, where, though it fought most gallantly, the battle was lost by incompetent allies. Of the regiments who fought at Fontenoy, the muster rolls of Guards alone showed no soldiers as “missing, save those fallen in action.” According to one account, they “remained the whole day without once falling into confusion, swept away the French Guards to whom they were opposed, advanced right into the middle of the French camp and, when left unsupported, undismayed retired in perfect order”. The second major Jacobite Rebellion caused the 1st Battalion to be withdrawn hurriedly from Flanders into England, where it was deployed with the 2nd Battalion in the defence of London. Apart from a detachment from the 1st Battalion mounted on horses to pursue Prince Charles to Carlisle, neither battalion saw any action.
After the danger of the Jacobite revolt had passed, the 2nd Battalion returned to Flanders in the Duke of Cumberland’s Army and was present at the defeat of Lauffeld in 1747. Peace came in 1748.
THE SEVEN YEARS WAR
For the first two years the Regiment was engaged in home defence against French invasion threats and in 1758 took part in the elder Pitt’s amphibious campaign on the French coast the 1st Battalion being present at Cancalle Bay, the capture of Cherbourg and the evacuation of St. Cast.
The danger of invasion being past, the 2nd Battalion was included in the Guards Brigade sent to Germany for service under the Marquess
ACCESSION OF KING GEORGE III
Battalion continued to serve in 1761 Germany until the peace
of 1763. It took part in the Battles of Vellinghausen (1761)
and Wilhelmsthal and the action at the Bruck Muhle (both
Throughout the eighteenth century the Regiment was frequently called out in London in aid of the Civil Power, for in those days there were no Police, and the Brigade of Guards was the only force available for the suppression of riots.
In the early days of this reign the Regiment was a favourite target of the mob, as it was then fashionable for the opposition to abuse all things Scottish. This was apparent in the Wilkes Riots of 1768, after which the Regiment was specially commended by the King for its zeal and good behaviour in “so disagreeable a service”.
The Regiment began to wear its buttons 1774 grouped in threes instead of in pairs as Previously.
The Declaration of Independence by the 1776 American Colonists caused the dispatch across the Atlantic of a composite Battalion of Foot Guards, which included a detachment of the Regiment. This Battalion served for the next six years in America and took part in the Battles of Brandy Wine Creek, 1777, and Guildford Courthouse, 1781, in which latter victory it particularly distinguished itself. It returned after the capitulation of Yorktown in 1782. No battle honours have ever been awarded for this civil war, but that is not to say that this Battalion did not earn many honours during its American service.
At home the Gordon Riots caused the Regiment to provide a picquet to guard the Bank of England, a duty which the Foot Guards continued to find until 1973.
|THE WARS OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION 1789|
Revolution sparked off a quarter of a century of
almost continous war. Active operations began against France
in 1793. The 1st Battalion took part in the Siege of Valenciennes
between May and July. In August at the Battle of Lincelles it earned honourable mention for its coolness, steady fire and gallant bayonet charge when the Guards Brigade, unsupported, attacked and routed 5,000 French and gained a battle honour for the Regiment.
It was at this time that a Light Company was added to each battalion for skirmishing duties. These companies wore a green plume in their hats and paraded on the left flank of their battalions. The Grenadier companies, who paraded on the right flank, wore a fur cap with a white plume on the left side.
Grenades were not often used after the middle of the eighteenth century, and these companies were thereafter used for storming parties and for other special tasks. They were invariably composed of the tallest and smartest men. The Centre companies of battalions of this time wore cocked hats, which in 1801 were changed to “coal scuttles” and after Waterloo to shakos. They wore plumes or feathers of red and white. The Flank Companies of today are the direct descendants of these Grenadier and Light Companies.
Four companies of the Regiment formed part 1798 of a small expedition to Ostend, and in the following year the 1st Battalion with the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards landed off the Helder and caused the surrender of thirty-two vessels of the DutchFleet (A 241). Actions at Alkmaar and Egmont-Op-Zee followed before their return home.
The 1st Battalion took part in the expedition 1800 to Vigo in Spain, and subsequently sailed on to Egypt, then occupied by the French, where it took part in the assault landing at Aboukir Bay and in the Battle of Alexandria (A 264). For its part in this conquest of Egypt, the Regiment bears on its Colours the Sphinx, superscribed “Egypt.”
The 1st Battalion served in Hanover in 1805, and at the bombardment of Copenhagen under Lord Cathcart in 1807, which resulted in the surrender of the Danish Fleet.