Monday, 23 March 2009

Royal English Regiment

I've been trying to find out what I can about this regiment commanded by the Duke of Monmouth, (albeit in absence a lot of the time as was the custom), during the Franco-Dutch wars. Also known as Regiment Royal Anglais. Raised in February 1672 it was part of the 6,000 men Charles promised Louis XIV at part of the Treaty of Dover 1670. Initially 1,664 strong 'The Duke of Monmouth is to have a regiment of 24 companies, each company of 100 foot' . (There was also a Royal Irish regiment, under the Earl of Roscommon, that lost so many of its 1,664 men that is was disbanded in '72 and the remnants became Hamilton's Irish regiment). There was a sizeable input from the Guards regiment with men draughted in from that regiment. On 23 August the Regiment arrived at Lille for operations against the Dutch. The commissaire commented that their officers were in the 'best state possible'. The end of the month saw them garrisoning Oudenaarde with the Picardie regiment. Some of the regiment - 3 out of 8 companies of the 2nd battalion returned to England in 1674 but between this date and the close of hostilities in 78 the regiment fought alongside Douglas's regiment - the largest and most senior regiment of the Brigade - Douglas' regiment of 3,432 men in 33 companies.
On the uniform front CCP Lawson states that in the London Gazette of 28th October 1679 it was described as grey coats faced blue - the grenadiers having red loops. It grew to be pretty large - 2400 men in three battalions (the second battalion commanded by Lieutenant-colonel Sir Bevil Skelton) and during its life several understrength regiments including Churchill's (May 1675) were incorporated into it. Churchill was considered for Lieutenant-colonel but he was not really interested - being more interested in courting Sarah Jennings at the time. Louvois stated 'he would give more service to a rich and faded mistress than to a monarch who did not want to have dishonourable and dishonoured carpet knights in his armies'.
The rank-and-file must have been pretty poor - a description of 14 soldiers captured by the Dutch states 'They are so poor that not one in ten has a penny, so that the burden is greater to this town than all our own poor, which the town has desired me to pray your help in' (letter from Thomas Langley to the Secretary of State). John Childs states that the regiment was poorly equipped and badly treated by their masters the French especially after 1674 when the English withdrew from the French side. Monmouth is said to have been considerate in looking after the soldiers of his regiment made infirm and so on and and he also encouraged the regiment's captains to recruit for their own companies. Several luminaries of James II's army like Kirke, and Trelawney were learning their trade in this regiment.
Anyone having any more information please let me know.

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