Saturday, 27 June 2009

William III's Dutch Blue Guard Regiment

For our friend "Motorway" over on the "Anno Domini 1672" blog (and because it will be a great unit to paint for my figure review) may I present my plate for the "Blue Guard" of William III, or, if you prefer, the "Gardes te Voet" or "de Blauwe Garde".

William brought to England with him his regiment of Dutch Guards, who took over the duties of guarding St. James Palace. They arrived with a strength of 2,000 men divided into twenty-five companies, three of which were Grenadiers. They were taken on to the strength of the army and appear in the Great Wardrobe Accounts under the title of the 3rd Foot Guards, the Scots Guards at that time being still on the Scottish establishment. This was important, as it meant that England actually paid the total cost of the Regiment, as an official English Guard Regiment included in the Great Wardrobe Accounts.

The uniform in 1691, as shown in a drawing of that date in the Dutch War Office Library is a dark blue coat with orange-yellow cuffs, waistcoat, breeches and stockings, orange being the colour reserved for Dutch Guards. Their equipment is a bandolier, musket and brass-hilted sword carried in a shoulder belt. The officers wore orange sashes.

Their colours are described in the Wardrobe Accounts, September 1691, as "6 colours of orange silk both sides painted alike with St. George's cross, star and garter and other trophies of war £72; 6 pairs of tassels of silk with gold cawles and fringe; the ensign staves with broad gilt heads and brass nails." Another entry describes the tassels as being orange and gold.

The regiment served at the Boyne, 1690, Steinkirk, 1692, Neerwinden, 1693, where it captured some of the enemy's cavalry standards, and the campaigns of 1694-5 and 6, including Namur. The Regiment returned to Holland in 1699 and, after William III's death in 1702, the regiment changed to blue coats with red cuffs and lining and white stockings (per wagner) or red stockings per the current reenactment group.

Apparently Robert Hall's CD (available from Dan Schorr) depicts William's Dutch Guards in Blue with yellow cuffs and lining, but this Mr. Hall admits this could represent orange faded to yellow, as orange dye was unstable at this period in time. In a thread on TMP, Robert Hall cites the reconstructions of the uniforms of 1688 done in Armamentaria #23, which is said to be based on drawings there as well as contemporary English descriptions of the "yellow guards". Per the same source, Hall also shows the Grenadiers in bearskins, and apparently so does the recent Osprey on the Boyne, even though most other depictions of Dutch Grenadiers show the more common "protestant" soft cap with stiffened front plate.

As usual, feel free to download for personal use and please, if you have any feedback or suggested changes (with sources), let me know.



Motorway said...

Thank you!!

Sir William the Aged said...

You are more than welcome Mijn Vriend. Many thanks to you for the inspiring blog and all of the great ideas that I've gotten from it, not the least of which is to include the Blue Guards in my painting schedule now.