Saturday, 24 October 2009

Order of Battle 1672

There's always brilliant research and interesting pieces on the Rampjaar blog - in English and Dutch - on there at the moment is a list of all the regiments and ships engaged in the war against Holland - well worth a look.


Jonathan said...

Excellent resource, thank you. For complete lists of the British regiments that saw service during the period see J.C. Childs' 'Army of Charles II', which is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in the period.

Sir William the Aged said...


You are right about Childs' being the preeminent authority on the subject, but even with Childs, one must exercise caution.

Part of the reason for this is Charles relationship with his mostly-Protestant Parliament and his "gentleman's agreement" with Louis regarding the regiments raised for service in France. The regiments were raised in England, Ireland and Scotland but were to be put under French authority and payroll, while still allowed to recruit in their home countries. This did not sit well with Parliament, who objected both to the methods used for recruitment and to the fact that their troops were being used by a Catholic monarch to fight a Protestant nation. This came to a head in April of 1674 when Parliament forced the recall of the "original" English Brigade (and specifically Guard Regiment members) and banned further recruitment (even though it continued in many cases with a 'wink and a nod').

The other part that adds to confusion and errors is that regiments at that time were administrative bodies, not tactical formations in most cases, and were known (usually) by the Colonel's name. Once many of the original English recruits arrived on the Continent, they found their regiments disbanded and were absorbed into existing regiments. This happened with Roscommon, Vaughan, Lockhart and Peterborough (as Childs points out), but the future adventures of those troops were often under different names according to whose source you use.

This becomes even more confusing the longer the "regiment" served with the French. By Turenne's Rhineland campaign, if you consult French sources like Susanne or OoB's and maps from the Marburg Digital Archive (French and Imperial), you find the English tactical formations referred to under a variety of names, and even the number of formations differ because one source will try and depict every Colonel's presence (even if they only mustered 200 men and were amalgamated by Turenne with another under-strength unit) while another will only depict the actual tactical "units" deployed and assign a name, which may or may not be accurate or agree with other sources.

You can check the archives here for the articles on the Battle of Enzheim that I wrote and to which both Dan Schorr and Curt Johnson contributed material. Based on all of the sources listed above, plus Childs and Belaubre, we still had to agree to disagree somewhat on the specific makeup or origin of some of the English forces present. And as far as uniforms or flags go, good luck. Almost all contemporary letters, dispatches and diaries of the period describe the English as being dressed "in tatters" with no mention of flags or standards.

Just in the case of Churchill's Regiment, he originally took over what had been Sir Bevil Skelton's battalion of the Royal English after the 1674 recall of the Guards companies present and their officers, but "volunteers" from the recalled troops were allowed to remain. He also absorbed Peterborough's understrength battalion upon its arrival in depot, and then was commisioned by Louis to command the "new" Royal English Regiment (which caused Peterborough to resign and return to England). He then also received "recruits" from other regiments, new recruits from the UK and even recruits from among prisoners. Never the less, by Enzheim, some estimates have Churchill only commanding 500 to 600 effective troops.

Unfortunately, until Professor Peabody invents that "wayback machine", we may never have a truly accurate picture of the English portion of the French OoB's from 1672 to 1678, but we can keep looking and try ;-)