Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A Retraction of Earlier Posted Material (Long Post)

In the interest of maintaining the integrity of the material posted on this blog, and of providing its readers with the most accurate information possible, I would like to retract certain statements and conclusions that I posted earlier relating to the Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment (The Admiral's Regiment) and in general to the British Expeditionary Force under Charles II that served in France.

After exchanging several e-mails with both Dan Schorr and Curt Johnson, as well as with some members of the French "jeu de Histoiré" Forum, and acquiring my own copies of John Child's "The Army of Charles II" and C.T. Atkinson's "Marlborough and the Rise of the British Army", it is apparent that there is at least enough conflicting information out there, both published and on the web, to prevent me from reaching the conclusions that I did. Here are but some of the major conflicts and problems:

1. Several sources, from "The LIfe of John Churchill" by Field-Marshal, Viscount Wolesely, to Susane's “Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française”, to the official web site of The Royal Marines and the RA Museum at Portsmouth, to conflicting exhibits (one German and one French) within the same sub-section of the Marburg Digital Archive; all describe either (a) John Churchill, (b) John Churchill's Regiment, (c) The Admiral's Maritime Regiment, or (d) some combination of all three, as being present during Turenne's Rhineland Campaign in the fall of 1674.

2. Both John Childs (in his appendix A-The Regiments and appendix D-The English Brigade in the Service of France) and C.T. Atkinson in his "Marlborough and the Rise of the British Army" (also used as a source by Childs), state that the "British Brigade" committed to France included the following: Douglas' Scottish Regiment (later the Royal Scots), which had actually been in and out of French service for many years and under different names, an Irish infantry regiment of 16 companies under the command of Sir George Hamilton, an English regiment of half this strength under the command of Lord Roscommon, and a regiment of horse under the command of Sir Harry Jones. To this establishment was added, in the spring of 1672, a "Royal English Regiment" under the command of the Duke of Monmouth consisting of 16 companies totaling 2,000 men (per Childs and Dalton, Atkinson credits them with 12 companies totaling 2,400 men), drawn from both new recruits and from drafts from the existing "standing" regiments of Charles II. There is no verifiable evidence that John Churchill was present with that regiment when it arrived in Arnheim in June of 1672 or when it marched out of garrison. There is reasonably well-documented evidence that John Churchill was, in fact, still serving with his patron, James, on board ship at the Battle of Solebay in 1672 and could not have been with the army in France.

3. There is detailed (to a degree) documentation that John Churchill's Company of the Admiral's Maritime Regiment received its embarkation orders for France sometime after the Fleet arrived in home port on September 11, 1672. These orders were to travel to France to become a single company of Sir Bevil Skelton's Regiment (8 companies of 100 men each) drafted from the "standing regiments" of the army. It is documented by Childs, Atkinson and Dalton that at least 3 of the companies of this new regiment were drawn from the Guards, 2 from the King's and one from the Coldstream, and that the other 5 companies were drawn from the "other standing regiments of the army". Unfortunately, with the exception of Churchill's Company, none of the other companies are specifically named. We do have a list of the Captain's of the Regiment and their "parent" regiments (per Dalton and Childs), but we also have an acknowledgment that some of these Captains may have been volunteer adventurer's and that their presence does not automatically denote their parent Regiment's company being present. Much like the "breveted" positions held by British officers in Colonial service and service in the BEF during WWI, all officers retained their permanent rank and postings in their respective parent regiments and are documented as such.

4. Upon its creation the new battalion was to become the 2nd battalion of Monmouth's Royal English Regiment. However, upon arrival in France, it was decided that the new Regiment would become the 1st battalion of the Royal English in seniority, since the new battalion was commanded by a Guards officer (Skelton) and contained 3 companies of Guardsmen, it would take the place of seniority over the existing battalion (both Childs and Atkinson describe this as creating a great deal of tension within the Brigade and with the Duke of Monmouth).

5. In early 1674, under pressure from the people and the House of Commons to end his support for a Catholic Monarchy, Charles II agreed to cease support for the Brigade in France and to recall the Guardsmen and Guards officers serving there. As a result, Sir Bevil Skelton, Sir Thomas Daniell and Edward Sackville were recalled to England with their respective companies of the King's and Coldstream Guards.

6. Due to his service at the Siege of Maastricht, several favourable mentions of his service in dispatches from both Turenne and Feversham, and a personal request from Charles II, John Churchill (at the age of 24) was granted a commission in French Service as Lieutenant-Colonel of a "new" Royal English Regiment, or "Churchill's Regiment" (called after the Colonel as was the custom at the time), in April of 1674. This "new" regiment was to consist of the remainder of the other 5 companies of Skelton's original battalion plus the newly arrived battalion originally under the command of the Earl of Peterborough (numbers are not given for this battalion). The Earl of Peterborough resigned over this issue and the French commission of John Churchill is still in the archives of the War Office, signed by Louis XIV and countersigned by Tellier. There is a comment by Wolesely (but unconfirmed by either Childs or Atkinson) that to bring Churchill's Regiment up to strength, drafts of 50 men each from the 3 returning Guard companies were also added to the regiment.

7. The only conflicting report that cannot be attributed to personal motives, scholarly differences, family heritage, etc., is contained in an official report to Parliament by Charles II at the time of the recall that there were "550 men of the Duke of York's Regiment" in service in France. The only "standing regiment" known at that time as The Duke of York's Regiment was the Admiral's Maritime Regiment. If you allow for volunteer officers, this figure could account for the 5 companies over which Churchill assumed command; or not. Charles II was not always completely honest and forthcoming in his dealings with Parliament and there does not appear to be any definitive record of specific troop drafts or deployments.

So, what have we concluded? Damned little with any certainty. Based on a combination of the items above, I feel that the Royal Marines (who trace their lineage to the Admiral's Maritime Regiment) ARE justified in citing the presence of at least some of their number at the battle of Enzheim (or Entzheim in some sources), based on Churchill's Company being part of the original draft of Skelton's Regiment.

There is no record in any English source that I have found, nor that Dan or Curt have made me aware of, to indicate the actual uniform worn by Churchill's Regiment, but it would seem unlikely, as the regiment was commissioned by Louis and that only a minority of Churchill's Regiment consisted of members of his original Company, that they would have worn their distinctive yellow coats.

Curt has indicated that there is a French source, "Histoire des quatre dernieres campagnes du Maréchal de Turenne, en 1672, 1673, 1674 & 1675", Paris: Chez le Chevalier de Beaurain, 1782, by Philippe Henri Grimoard and the Chavlier de Beaurain, that might shed some light on the question of uniforms, specific companies or troops involved, colours carried, etc. However, this book is extremely rare, is not available in the US through Inter Library Loan programs, and Curt is only sure of a copy in the Library of Congress, which he will not be able to access until the end of the summer. For those with "deep pockets" who may wish to pursue this on their own, I did find a copy currently offered for sale by the Librairie Ancienne Les Trois Islets for only €2,300! I have asked my French acquaintances to see if they can locate a copy in French archives and pursue this research, but have not received a positive response as of yet.

Of the available maps and orders of battle available on the Marburg Digital Archive, I feel that the most accurate is probably Document 30, "Les glorieuses conquestes de Louis le Grand roy de France et de Navarre", Blatt 92. Paris 1698, by Sebastion Beaulieu. The biggest differences between this document and others in the Marburg collection are that (a) there are 4 "named" British regiments (split into 7 tactical formations by Turenne) that match the 4 named regiments supported by Childs and Atkinson (Monmouth, Hamilton, Douglas and Churchill), and (b) the approximate positions of the named formations correspond to descriptions of the battle, letters from Churchill to Monmouth after the action, and both Turenne's and Feversham's dispatches following the battle. Unfortunately, there are no indications of the approximate strengths of these formations except for one source that I have seen crediting Churchill with approximately 500 men under his direct command. It is known from his letters to Monmouth that he went into battle with 22 officers of which 11 were wounded or killed. As their ranks ranged from Major to Ensign, this could indicate the presence of 5 companies of 100 men each. Let me emphasize "could".

So, if you wish to use my uniform plate to paint the Admiral's Maritime Regiment (which does contain all verified and correct information), feel free to do so, but be aware that you may be challenged at some point as to its authenticity in a European setting. Much the same can be said for Ralphus' source citing the uniforms of the Royal English Regiment as being gray faced with blue. Does this refer to Monmouth's Regiment in 1672, Skelton's in 1672, Churchill's in 1674, or all? I have been unable to find a definitive source that would answer that question, perhaps the French source cited by Curt will finally answer this, but for now, proceed based upon your own conclusions.

I beg your indulgence for the lengthy post, I know that some do not appreciate them, but I only want to put forth information on this blog that is as accurate as I can verify.



Ralphus said...

Interesting stuff Bill. The reference to the uniform of the Royal English Regiment is on about page 74 of Lawson in the Appendix on contemporary descriptions of Infantry regiments

Sir William the Aged said...

I was aware of the source of the reference Ralphus, my problem with it is that the specific citation (Lawson, p.80) is for Monmouth's Regiment and is attributed to the London Gazette, October 28th, 1679, after the regiment had returned from France. So, were these the uniforms worn by Monmouth's battalion in the Rhineland, or of Skelton's battalion (which became the 1st battalion in France), or of Churchill's later "Royal English" commissioned by Louis in March of 1674, or none of the above?

I actually have no problem with the authenticity of Lawson's citation, only with its applicability to any other period in the Regiment's history. The specific citation is dated a full 5 years after the Rhineland Campaign under Turenne and a year after the return of the Regiment to England. As uniforms were usually replaced annually and almost certainly would have been after returning from extended campaigning in France and Germany (when contemporary English, German and Dutch accounts only describe their uniforms as being "in tatters"), were these a "new" uniform for Monmouth's Regiment (or the Royal English Regiment), issued upon their return?

In fact, the only citations provided by Lawson in this appendix that relate to the time period of Turenne's campaign are to the 1st and 2nd Guards in 1669. All other citations are dated 1679 or later, fine for the era of the Grand Alliance but not necessarily for the Franco-Dutch War or Turenne's campaign.


That Colonial Reenactor Guy said...

Very intersting, indeed.
Please keep up thr good work. You have one of the best blogs on the web!