Sunday, 14 June 2009

A Mystery to Answer a Mystery, For Ralphus

In several previous posts our benevolent Host, Ralphus, has asked about the English Expeditionary Force that fought under Turenne's command in French service in the Palatine campaign in 1674. He has even located, and provided, links and illustrations for a few specific regiments. I was intrigued enough to devote some time to this and, frankly, have gone about as far as I can go. I am hoping that regular readers and contributors Dan Schorr or Dur Ecu can possibly resolve some of the conflicting information and even fill in some gaps (standards and uniforms would be great guys!).

In order to not drive casual readers "mad" with a mountain of minutia, I have re-activated an old blog of mine, Sir William's World of Wargaming, here, to provide the sources and full detail. Basically, here's our mystery and problem:

We Know that the regiment which would become the Royal Scots, then known as Douglas' or Dumbarton's Regiment, was in France (and had been since 1633 as Hepburn's or Hebron's). We also know that the Duke of Monmouth was there with his regiment. And we know that John Churchill went there with the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment and ended up commanding what became known as Churchill's Regiment. We also know that there was a Royal Anglais regiment in French service. And we know that at least some portion of the 1st and 2nd Guards were there as well (at least in 1672). My, we do "know" a lot, don't we?

Here are some of the problems or mysteries:

Charles II had negotiated a "gentleman's agreement" with Louis XIV in 1672 to take all of the expeditionary force temporarily into French service and, in effect, to be the "paymaster". By 1674 Charles was under intense pressure from both the people and Parliament to withdraw the English forces from Louis (a Catholic monarch), and to provide support to the Dutch United Provinces (which were Protestant). As a compromise, Charles agreed to withdraw support and funding (which he actually wasn't paying himself anyways) from the troops in French Service and to allow the Dutch to actively recruit, train and equip "English" regiments for service in their army (this actually included English, Scots and Irish). To demonstrate his willingness to satisfy Parliament, Charles also officially withdrew the Guards and the Irish in French service.

However, Charles again reached an agreement with Louis to establish and fund a "new" Royal Anglais Regiment, the core of which was made up of 50 men each from 3 companies of the Guards, and volunteers from other returning regiments. Charles also allowed them, somewhat discreetly, to continue recruiting in England. Susane even notes that there are two accepted dates for the formation of a "Regiment de Royal Anglais", with Churchill as the Colonel of the "new" regiment.

So, here's where we are at: Not counting the Regiment de Royal Irlandais (almost wiped out and the survivors were incorporated into the Maritime Regiment), Susane lists 6 "English" regiments in French service beginning in 1672, some of multiple battalions, Douglas (or Dumbarton's), Hamilton's, Monmouth's, Churchill's, Carlisle's, and the Royal Anglais. Even though Susane credits Carlisle's with service in all of the same battles and campaigns as the others, I can find no other map, OoB or letter confirming that, so they might have been incorporated into another regiment or served garrison duty. According to Wolesely's "Life of John Churchill", after 1674 only Monmouth's Horse, Douglas, Hamilton, Churchill and Monmouth's Foot were left and were formed in two brigades of multiple battalions. Wolesely also notes that Monmouth's Foot was commanded in the field by a colonel N. Littleton.

We also have three very good maps or illustrations of the French positions and Order of Battle near Strasbourg in late September 1674 and at the Battle of Enzheim on October 4, 1674, all taken from the Marburg Digital Archive. The two most detailed of these clearly show a total of 7 "English" battalions present, with slightly different brigade structures. Monmouth's regiment is shown with 3 battalions, Hamilton's with 2, and both Douglas and Churchill with 1 each.

There are also numerous personal letters from Churchill, Turenne, Littleton, Hamilton, Vauban, Tilliers and others that support the deployment and numbers shown on these illustrations. Now, here is but one of our "mysteries", one of the maps shows the Maritime Regiment, which Churchill was still commanding, not receiving his appointment from Louis until the late winter of 1674. So, can we assume that the other references to "Churchill's Regiment" were also to the Maritime Regiment? I am inclined to think that we can, but I've been wrong before.

And with regard to the Royal Anglais regiment, we have a description of uniforms of gray coats with blue facings. Is this the "old" regiment established in 1671 or the "new" regiment under Churchill in late 1674 or 1675? And what of the "volunteers" from the Guards? Were they immediately issued new uniforms? And to further complicate matters, Churchill returned to England in 1678 and was placed in commend of the 3rd Foot, "Churchill's Regiment", which fought through the WSS. Were these the returning expatriates or an entirely new regiment? Would their notorious black standards have migrated with them from France? Their pre-1707 regimental colour bears a striking resemblance to a foreign unit in French service, even to having Louis' "Sun King" emblem at the center of the cross.

So, mystery upon mystery, without many clear answers. And aren't you glad this was the "short" version without all the sources, citations and maps that I placed here? If you can add to this, with sources, please do! I would like to paint the 7 battalions of the English Expeditionary Force for Turenne's Palatinate Campaign, or at least some of them (right now I can do Douglas and the Maritime Regiment with confidence). And I think Ralphus really, really wants some answers ;-)



Anonymous said...

I recommend you look at:

John Childs "The Army of Charles II" Appendix D - The English Brigade in the French service

Also the Martitime Regiment was not part of the English Brigade in French Service. Sometimes assumptions are dangerous. Churchill was a Captain in the Maritime Regiment, but served in and was later Lieutenant Colonel of so-called 2nd battalion of the Royal English or Skelton's. According to Childs, This battalion was drawn entirely from the standing regiments in England, i.e. drafts and officer volunteers. Some of these came from the Maritime regiment, but it is doubtful that they retained their yellow coats and colours.


Sir William the Aged said...


I appreciate the reference and will see if my local library can obtain a copy for me (Google Books only has an abridged preview available). However, I do have some pretty sound reasons for my assumption.

Wolesely, citing a report from Charles II to Parliament, specifically notes the 550 men of the Duke of York's Regiment as already being in France in 1674, and Winston Churchill, quoting a letter from John Churchill to the Duke of Monmouth, shows John Churchill relating specific losses to Monmouth's Regiment and making reference to "his own regiment's" losses following the Battle of Enzheim.

Also, Susane in his "Histoire" notes "Churchill's Regiment" entering French service in April of1671 (citation 996), a year prior to "Monmouth's Regiment" in February of 1672 (citation 998) and certainly prior to Louis' and Tellier's confirmation of Churchill as Colonel of the Royal Anglais in 1674.

Obviously assumptions can be dangerous, but so can conflicting sources. I certainly will have to do more research on this before reaching a conclusion.