2nd (Royal North British) Regiment of Dragoons

The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle was signed on October 7th, 1748, and the Greys returned to England, and were stationed at Leicester, Coventry, and Warwick. By the usual mean and miserable policy, or want of any policy, the Regiment was at once reduced to 285 officers and men! (In time of peace, always take care not to be prepared for war.) In December, 1749, the Regiment went into quarters in Kent, and was employed on revenue duty on the coast. In 1750 they were in Sussex and Devon, and in 1751 in Dorsetshire. The Regiment marched into Lancashire in the spring of 1753; with detached troops in Somersetshire, where it was stationed during the following year; and in the spring of 1755 proceeded to Northampton and other towns in that part of the kingdom. Complications now coming to a point about British and French possessions in North America, the Regiment’s establishment was made up to 357 of all ranks, and very soon a light troop was added, in the same way as light companies had been added to regiments of infantry.

In the summer of 1755 the Greys occupied quarters in Herefordshire and in the winter months were dispersed in cantonments in Kent. In the next spring they marched into Surrey, and afterwards into Dorsetshire, and in June encamped with several other corps near Blandford.

In April, 1757, they went into cantonments in Essex, staying there four months, and then going into Suffolk. In October four troops proceeded to Newmarket.

An expedition was now made ready for a descent on the coast of France, and the “light troop,” commanded by Captain Francis Lindsay, was ordered on this service.

The following is from the “Weekly Journal,” 23 May, 1758:—

“The nine troops of Hussars (Light Dragoons) belonging to the nine regiments of cavalry, are now preparing to go upon this expedition. The flower[Pg 42] of these Hussars is the troop commanded by Captain Lindsay, quartered at Maidenhead, where they have been practising the Prussian exercise, and for some days have been digging large trenches and leaping over them, also leaping high hedges with broad ditches on the other side. Their Captain on Saturday last, swam with his horse over the Thames and back again; and the whole troop were yesterday to swim the river.”

On June 5th, 1758, the Brigade landed on the coast of France about nine miles from St. Malo, and on the 7th set fire to the shipping in St. Malo.

The troops having succeeded in this, now came home again.

In August the Greys light troop formed part of another expedition which captured Cherbourg. After returning to England the light troop was quartered in towns on the coast of Sussex.

The Greys were among the troops sent to Germany under the command of Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick in the year 1758, at which time the Duke of Argyle commanded the Regiment. These troops landed at Embden on the 20th of July and were headed by the Duke of Marlborough and the Lord George Sackville.

Still did their gallantry and good conduct preserve to them the high opinion which the Regiment had so justly merited in every conflict to which its squadrons were exposed.

The following notes are from a volume (belonging to the Regiment) lettered outside

“Regimental Orders, 1759.”

Inside:—

“Copied from an old Regimental Order Book in possession of R. B. Wardlaw Ramsay, Esqre., of Whitehill, Laeswale.

“Piershill Barracks.

“Edinburgh

“1873.

“Tule, 8 January 1759

“Weaver 12 January

“Wever 19 January

“The Major recommends it to the commanding officers of Troops, that before they clear their men, they will stop from each man for a pair of new shoes to carry into the field with them, as he apprehends those they have will be wore out before that time.

[Pg 43]

“Wever, 22nd January

“A stiver to be stopped from each man for having his hatt cocked, which the Major hopes the men wont be against paying as it is for their own advantage.

“Wever, 25 January

“The Troops to send the Bread waggons for their Hatts and Gloves on Monday next, and no man to presume to alter the Cock, otherwise it will be done over again, and he be obliged to pay every time it is not in shape.

“Tule, 6 January

“George. Farrier of Captain Douglas’s Troop to be sent to Head Quarters to cock all the New Hats.

“The men not to dispose of their old Hats, as they will serve for the Nosebags.

“Wever 27           January

“Engern                 21           March    1759

“Neider Meiser   22           “

“Ober Velner       24           “

“Rangershausen 26           “

“Hanven                27           ”              Tuesday

(Buff caps sold here)

“Herschfeld          28           “

“Grebenan           29           “

“Affhausen           30           “

“Ofhausen            1              April,      Sunday

”              4              “

”              5              “

”              6              “

”              7              “

”              8              ”              Sunday

”              9              “

“Richlos                 10           “

“Heldenbergen   12           “

(13th fighting.)

“Wendroken Camp            14           “

“Waryenburn      15           April       1759

“Bergesernesde 17           April “

“Neidierbessingen             18           “

(19th fighting.)

“Alsfelt 20           “

“Gabersdorff       22           ”              Sunday[Pg 44]

“Neidzuren           27           Friday

“Neiderzueren    29           April       1759

“Steinhausen       17           May

“Beringbrocet     19           “

“Beren Broick      21           “

“Gronenberg       26           “

“Werle Camp       7              June.

”              9              “

“It is Lord George Sackville’s orders that for the future, the officers and men of the Cavalry carry their swords upright, with the hilt resting on the Right Pistol, that the Regiment march by Sub-Divisions, and the officers strictly keep their posts. These to be standing orders for the whole British cavalry for the future.

“Toest Camp        11           June

“Aurnchte Camp                 13           “

“Brink Camp        15           “

“Overhagen Camp             19           “

“Ritberg Camp    22           “

“Marienvelt Camp             30           “

“Disson Camp      3              July

“Osneburg Camp                8              “

“Stoltzenaw         15           “

“Hilbs Camp         31           “

“Petershagen Camp          23           “

“From the “London Gazette,” Saturday, September 6th, 1760.

“Hague, Septr. 1st.

“By the last letters from Prince Ferdinand’s Army, which are of the 28th past, we have received information that the French under Marshall Broglio, left their camp upon the Dymel in the night between the 21st and 22nd, marching off by their right, and that the Hereditary Prince crossed that river on the 22nd at the head of 12,000 men, in order to gain the left flank of the enemy. That the advanced troops of that corps came up with their rearguard near Zierenberg; and that, after the light troops on each side had been engaged with different success, the Hereditary Prince arrived in person with the Greys and Iniskilling Dragoons, supported by the English Grenadiers, and put an end to the affair in a quarter of an hour, by forcing the enemy to a precipitate flight with great loss.”

[Pg 45]

The “London Gazette,” Saturday, September 13th, to Tuesday, September 16th, 1760.

“Prince Ferdinand’s Head Quarters at Buhne, Sept. 9.

“On the 5th past, a very considerable body of the enemy, amounting to 20,000 men and upwards, attempted to make a general forage in the neighbourhood of Geismar; But Prince Ferdinand, having received previous intelligence of their design, crossed the Dymel early in the morning of that day, and went in person with a corps of troops to oppose them; and though His Serene Highness was much inferior in number to the French, yet he took his precautions so well, by occupying some advantageous heights, and placing artillery there, that he rendered the enemy’s attempt totally ineffectual, notwithstanding a large portion of their Army was in motion to cover the foragers.

“On the morning of that day likewise, the Hereditary Prince (upon intelligence that the volunteers of Clermont and Dauphiné, consisting each, when compleat, of 600 Horse and 600 foot, were cantoned at Zierenberg; and, from the very small distance of the French camp at Dierenberg, thought themselves in perfect security) went from his camp at Warbourg to Maltzberg, which is not much more than a league from Zierenberg, without seeing any of their Posts, or meeting any of their Patroles. This made His Serene Highness resolve on an attempt to surprise them; for which purpose he ordered five Battalions, a Detachment of 150 Highlanders under the command of Captain McLeon, and eight squadrons of Dragoons to be ready to march at eight at night.

“They left their tents standing, and passed the Dymel near Warbourg; Maxwell’s Battalion of Grenadiers, the Detachment of Highlanders, and Kingsley’s Regiment, forming the Head of the Column. These were followed by two other Battalions of Grenadiers and by Block’s Regiment. The eight squadrons of Dragoons were Block’s, the Greys, and Iniskillings. At the village of Witzen, about a league on the other side of the Dymel, we found all the light troops, which were under Major Bulow’s command, and whose destination was to turn the town of Zierenberg, and to take post between it and Durenberg, in order to intercept whoever should attempt passing to the enemy’s Camp. At the entrance of a large wood, near Maltzberg, the Greys and Iniskillings were posted. At Maltzberg, a Battalion of Grenadiers. The other Battalion of Grenadiers, the regiment of Block, and Block’s Dragoons, were posted at proper distances between Maltzberg and Zierenberg to cover us, in case we had been repulsed and pursued. At a mill, about two English miles from the town and within sight of the fires of the enemy’s grand guards, Maxwell’s Grenadiers took one Road, Kingsley’s Regiment and the Detachment of Highlanders another. When we came within less than half a mile of the Town the vedettes of their grand guards challenged us, but did not push forward to[Pg 46] reconnoitre us. Our men marched in the most profound silence. In a few minutes we saw the fires of their piquets, which they had posted close to the Town. The noise of our trampling over gardens gave them the alarm, and they began to fire; upon which our Grenadiers, who had marched with unloaded firelocks (as had been agreed on), ran on towards the town, pushed the Piquets, and having killed the guard at the gate, rushed into the Town, and drove everything before them. Never was a more compleat surprize. The attack was so sudden, that the enemy had not time to get together in any numbers, but began to fire at us from the windows; upon which our men rushed into the houses, and for some time made a severe use of their Bayonets. They afterwards loaded and killed a great many of the enemy, who had mounted their horses. It was about two in the morning when we got into the Town, and about three the Prince ordered the Retreat, after we had taken M. de Norman, Brigadier, who commanded the volunteers of Dauphiné, and M. de Comeiras, Colonel of those of Clermont, with about 40 more officers and 300 private men. The number of killed and wounded is very considerable, from an ill-judged resistance of those who were in the houses; but in justice to our men, it must be said that they gave quarter to all who asked it; and there are several noble instances of their refusing to take money from their prisoners, who offered them their purses. General Griffin, who went into the Town at the head of Kingsley’s Regiment, received a thrust in the breast with a Bayonet (as it is supposed from one of our own people) upon hearing him talk French to a soldier whom he had seized, and who would not quit his firelock, but the wound is a very slight one. What makes this affair the more satisfactory is that it has not cost us ten men, which is wonderful in a night attack, where we might have expected to have lost more by our own mistaking friends for foes.

“The behaviour of the Officers and the bravery of the Troops upon this occasion deserve the greatest commendation. Lord George Lennox was a volunteer in this expedition, and had his horse wounded under him by a shot from a window. With our prisoners we brought off two pieces of cannon, and had we had time to search the houses the number of our prisoners would have been doubled; but as day was coming on, and we might have been cut off from Warburg, we returned the same way we came, and arrived there at eight in the morning of the 6th without being at all molested.”

In 1763 a treaty of peace was signed, and as early as February, 1763, the Greys quitted Germany, and marching through Holland, embarked at Williamstadt in North Brabant, landed at Gravesend, and proceeded to Hereford. Soon the light troop, which had remained in England, was disbanded, but 8 men per troop were now equipped as Light Dragoons. The establishment was reduced to 213 men![Pg 47] In November the Regiment marched to Scotland, and were stationed at Dalkeith and Musselburgh; but soon returned South, and in 1764 were stationed at Manchester and Warrington. In April, 1765, they marched to Worcester and Pershore. In 1766 they went to Sussex.

At this date “Drummers,” who had been on the establishment from the foundation of the Corps, were ordered to be replaced by “Trumpeters.”

In May, 1767, the Regiment marched to Canterbury, and in the winter of 1768 it was in winter cantonments in Lincoln and Boston.

In 1769 they went to Scotland, returning the next year to Warwick, Lichfield and Stratford-upon-Avon.

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