Friday, 2 December 2011

Thomas Erle's regiments

Students of the British army of the late 17th and early 18th centuries will know that in those days regiments were usually single battalion organizations. That means that the strength of a regiment matches that of a battalion: somewhere between 600 and 800 men divided into about a dozen companies.

There were, of course, exceptions. Most prominent are the regiments of foot guards. These regiments had a larger number of companies, with a somewhat larger establishment, and could, probably therefor, spawn several battalions to serve somewhere.

(Here I explicitly void using the phrasing 'split into several battalions'. From literature it seems that the battalion was foremost an ad-hoc tactical formation. The concept of a battalion as a permanent administrative entity was something for the future. Thus, a regiment of foot guards, say the Coldstreams with 14 companies, could be divided into two battalions in the field or for manoeuvres. But this does not apply that something existed as a 1st and 2nd Battalion.)

One famous general of the Nine Years' War and War of the Spanish Succession was Thomas Erle. In the spring of 1689, when the English army was increased in size, Erle was given a colonelcy of one of the newly raised regiments. It was quite exceptional that he would obtain the colonelcy of yet another regiment in January 1691, namely the regiment of the late Francis Luttrell (the future Green Howards of North Yorkshire). This regiment was raised in November 1688, immediately after the Dutch invasion and in support of William III.

(Erle's first regiment served in Ireland until 1691, and was in garrison in Plymouth(?) afterwards. It also took part in the abortive action against Brest in 1694. His second regiment, Luttrell's, was in Plymouth until 1692 when it proceeded to Flanders for the rest of the war.)

Now is becomes a little tricky how these regiments were related to each other. Some sources state that Erle's first regiment was sometimes known as the 2nd Battalion of his (larger) regiment (because is was junior to his second regiment). Probably this is a modern day interpretation (imposing modern concepts on the past).

From the Calendar of State Papers Domestic a few things become (more or less) clear:
1. Commissions in the regiment of Erle do not differentiate between one of the two regiments. So it seems that both regiments were combined as a new regiment, or that is was treated as one.
2. There is no reference to a 1st or 2nd battalion. However, there is sometimes reference to 'his other regiment'.

A few snippets:
On 22 March 1692 we find
  John Pitt, clerk, to be chaplain of the Irish battalion belonging to Col. Thomas Earle's regiment of foot.
and on 12 April 1692, related to the weak garrison of Plymouth
There now are only ten companies of Colonel Earle's regiment in garrison at Plymouth, which by reason of the great drafts for his other regiment lately gone to Flanders, which was recruited out of this, are very weak, and most of them newly raised men.
Finally, on 28 April 1694, probably in preparation of the Camaret Bay operation
Whereas the following several battalions and regiments of foot are to encamp near Portsmouth, viz.: one battalion detached out of our first, second, and Dutch regiments of foot guards; thirteen companies of Colonel Earle's regiment, Lord Cutts' whole regiment, and Colonel Venner's whole regiment; the said battalions and regiments [...]
This last quote illustrates, in my opinion, that Erle's regiment was larger than the usual 13 companies to a regiment. In the yearly estimates for the army presented to Parliament both regiments/battalions of Erle are listed separately, however. One with the additional 'formerly Luttrell's', and the other with 'from Ireland'.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Campement de L'Armee de Sa Maiesté Le Roy de La Grande Bretagne A Houndslaucheats

While on army summer camps, the Wilhelmshöher Kriegskarten at the Marburg Digital Archives contains a nice print of the army at Hounslow Heath in the summer of 1687. The title is in French. The original appears to be huge: 2.5 meters by 71 centimeters! Now, that would make a nice decoration in ones office!

Details on the regiments will be for a future post, and let several screenshots be sufficient for now. Above one sees the complete print. Two regiments of horse are shown below. On the left the future 3rd Dragoon Guards, and on the right The Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Horse. This regiment was decimated at Steenkerke in 1692 and disbanded afterward.

Some foot: a battalion of Guards.

And the epicenter of the camp: the King's quarters. 

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Glorious Revolution

Today, some 323 years ago England was invaded by a sizable Dutch Army. Within several weeks the English army had dissolved itself and the Dutch troops under William III of Orange entered London by late December. It can be argued that by this event England lost its innocence as bystander and was forced to enter the European arena of dynastic struggle. Instead of putting forward theories and humble thoughts, let a nice plate mark this occasion (found at the digital archive at Marburg)

A Description of the camp on Black-Heath, July 1697

A nice print found at EEBO, depicting seven regiments of foot of the English army at camp at Black-Heath in July 1697. The camp was formed to counter any possible French thread from the other side of the Channel. It was broken up by the end of July.

The accompanying text gives details on how the camp was set up: distance between soldiers' and lieutenants' tents 15 paces, between captains and lieutenants 20 paces, etc. Furthermore details on the exercise of muskets (still matchlock judging from the text) and pikes. Sutlers (derived from Dutch zoetelaars) were in the rear at 40 paces.

The regiments are neatly ordered by their relative seniority: the most senior on the flanks and the most junior in the middle. From left to right the regiments are identified as follows, with their rank in camp in square brackets:

[1] The King's Battalion ~~ formed from the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards. Its commander, lieutenant colonel Withers, was commander in chief of the camp.
[3] Tidcomb's Regiment ~~ raised in 1685, the future 14th Regiment of Foot.
[5] Coote's Regiment ~~ raised in 1689, and disbanded in 1698.
[7] Farrington's Regiment ~~ raised in 1694, and disbanded in 1698. Re-raised in 1702 and became became the future 29th Foot.
[6] Northcote's Regiment ~~ raised in 1694 and disbanded in 1698.
[4] Sir Henry Bellasis's Regiment ~~ raised in 1689 and became the future 22nd Foot.
[2] Major General's Steuart's Regiment ~~ raised in 1685 and became the future 9th Regiment of Foot. Note that this regiment is dubbed as Fusiliers.

A neat ordering by the book!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Skulking in Holes and Corners ~ by Jamel Ostwald

A new blog has been added for the pleasure, entertainment and interest of early modern warfare specialist and enthusiasts. This blog, named Skulking in Holes and Corners is maintained by Jamel Ostwald, who is known for his work on Ramillies and decisive battles and Vauban.


Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Royal Scots ~~ some thoughts

Everybody knows The Royal Scots, the first regiment of the line, known in earlier times as the Royal Regiment of Foot and nicknamed Pontius Pilatus' bodyguard. Most sources state, correctly, that the regiment was raised in 1633 for French service as Hepburn's Regiment of Foot. The same sources mention, again correctly, that the regiment was raised by a warrant from the Privy Council of Scotland, by authority of the king. Because of this latter aspect, they claim that the regiment was raised for the Scots Establishment (and/or that it was a regiment of the British Army, a royal regiment, etc.). And that because it was a British regiment, it could be recalled by Charles II in 1661 after the Restoration.

These latter qualifications of the regiment are perhaps not fully correct.

First of all, in 1633 there was no such thing as a Scots Establishment. The whole idea of a British Army was still something for the future as well.
Secondly, all regiments for foreign service were raised under a warrant issued by the Privy Council. This way the government had, at least on paper, a little bit of control on recruitment for foreign states (on the numbers and for whom they were recruiting).
Furthermore, at the time of the Restoration the regiment was part of the French Army and its colonel owed his loyalty to the French king. It was the regimental colonel who had a contract with France, not the king of Scotland.

Looking at these considerations the following can be concluded:

Upon the raising of Hepburn's regiment in 1633, its status and position differed not much from that of other (Scots) regiments in foreign service as all were raised by a warrant that allowed recruiting. It was certainly not part of the Scots Establishment or British Army as these did not exist at that time.
The fact that the regiment survived to see the Restoration in 1660-61, that it was placed on the English Establishment and that it would eventually become the first regiment of foot, had more to do with coincidence and luck, than with anything else. That the Restoration proved be a test for the colonel's loyalty (at that time the (future) Earl of Dumbarton, who had to manage the egos of both Charles or Louis, next to looking after his own interests) (and flexibility of his loyalty), it does not imply that the regiment was a British one hired out to France. Next to this, the (positive) attitude of Charles II towards Roman Catholics (Dumbarton was Roman Catholic) at the Restoration was no doubt helpful as well. But this is different from assuming that the regiment was British and henceforth could be recalled by Charles II at will.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Digital Microfilms at the National Archives

The National Archives made a huge lot of their microfilms available digitally: digital microfilm!

Of particular interest is WO 65. Here you will find army lists covering the period between 1754 and 1885.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Irish troop of horse grenadiers

Following the succession of James II the English throne in February 1685, the army in Ireland was to see some very drastic reforms and reorganisations. One of these reforms was the purge of Protestants from the Irish army, and filling the places with Catholics. Another was the disbandment of troop of life guards on the Irish Establishment, probably related to the aforementioned purge of Protestants.

This troop of life guards was raised in 1662 and contained a troop of horse grenadiers in 1685. As said, this troop of life guards was disbanded (in July 1685), but from the Calendar of State Papers Domestic : James II it becomes clear that the horse grenadiers were retained.

Initially it was without a captain, but on 4 November 1685 Laurence Dempsey was appointed as captain of this troop of horse grenadiers. He was succeeded on 1 March 1686 by John Salkeld. Salkeld was replaced on 30 June 1686 by Pierce (Butler), 2nd Viscount Ikerrin.

It is, however, not sure if the correct Viscount Ikerrin is considered. Though the CSPD : James II explicitly mention Pierce, Viscount Ikerrin as captain there are some caveats. First, this 2nd Viscount Ikerrin seem to have adhered to the established church, which seems to contradict the purge of Protestants in favour of Catholics. Secondly, some sources indicate that the 2nd Viscount had deceased already by 1680!

Thus, it may very well be that James (Butler), 3rd Viscount Ikerrin became the captain of the troop of grenadiers in 1686.

The fate of the troop after 1688 is unsure. In James' Irish army of 1689 we find a troop of horse grenadiers, attached to the two troops of life guards. This troop was commanded by a Colonel Butler, of which no more information could be established. Because of this Butler, there might be some continuity between the pre-1688 and post-1688 troop of horse grenadiers.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Irish Guards ~~ some corrections and additions

In an earlier post on the Irish Guards of the Stuarts, I wrote that the regiment consisted in 1688 of two battalions. This is, probably, not correct.

The Calendar of State Papers Domestic : James II, 1687-89 state for 25 September 1688 that
The King to the Earl of Tyrconnell, Lord Deputy of Ireland. Warrant to give orders to one battalion of the regiment of guards, Col. Butler's Regiment of Dragoons, Lord Forbes's Regiment of Foot and one other regiment of foot to march immediately to the seaside and embark for Chester or Liverpool; and to provide ships and other vessels necessary to transport them with all diligence and speed possible.

seems to indicate the strength of the Irish foot guards allowed the formation of more than one battalion from the regiment. However, those same Calendar of State Papers give information regarding commissions, and raising of new units, as well. And looking at those, how scanty they are, no evidence can be found that the foot guards in Ireland ever consisted of more than 13 companies (one King's company, 11 other companies and a company of grenadiers).

Finally the list of officers in the regiment on 7 March 1685, when they received fresh commissions from James II:
Capt. Oliver Long, captain of the King's company; Francis Jordan, lieutenant; Arthur Ussher, ensign;
Earl of Arran, colonel and captain; Sir John Dillon, captain lieutenant; Thomas Stanley, ensign;
Sir Charles Feilding, lieut.colonel and captain; William Gilbert, lieutenant; Roger Feilding, ensign;
Major Rupert Billingsley, major and captain; George Stockton, lieutenant; Charles Povey, ensign;
Capt. Rich. Farley, captain; John Farley, lieutenant; John Caulfield, ensign;
Capt. John Baskervile, captain; Joseph Stopford, lieutenant; Robert Margettson, ensign;
Capt. John Margettson, captain; John Bucknall, lieutenant; Edward Wybrantz, ensign;
Capt. Richard Morris, captain; Thomas Kitson, lieutenant; William Moore, ensign;
Capt. Edward Forth, captain; Henry Pagett, lieutenant; William Flower, ensign;
Capt. Nicholas Sankey, captain; Edward Wolfe, lieutenant; Gustavus Fleetwood, ensign;
Capt. Thomas Flower, captain; Charles Beverly, lieutenant; George Withers, ensign;
Capt. Robert Forbes, captain; Robert Poyntz, lieutenant; James Buck, ensign.
Company of grenadiers: Capt. Francis Chantrell, captain; William Norwood, Bernhard Tessin, lieutenants.

A list of the regiment in the second half of 1688 will be posted in the near future.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Scots Guards: early history

The more famous and prestigious regiments of any army are often those belonging to the household of the sovereign. In France we find the Maison militaire du roi de France, and in the British isles we have the troops of Life Guards and regiments of Foot Guards. Of the latter, our focus will be on the Scots Guards, and in particular to its early origins.

According to the regimental history by major general Sir Frederick Maurice (History of the Scots Guards) the regiment originates from a regiment founded in 1642 for the Scottish expedition to Ireland. This regiment, raised by the Archibald, 1st Marquis of Argyll (the 8th Earl of Argyll and father of the 9th Earl; the latter became known for his revolt against James II in 1685. Both shared the unfortunate fate of being executed.), would be formed into a regiment of foot guards after its return from Ireland in 1649. As such it served Charles II at Worcester.

However, a nice article titled The Myth of the Founding of the Scots Guards in 1642 by David Stevenson (appeared in The Scottish Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 161, Part 1 (April 1977)) puts this old origin into perspective.

One main error made by Maurice, according to Stevenson, is that Argyll (i.e. the Campbells) was in fact hostile to Charles I and the Scots privy council. Thus it seems unlikely that Charles I would commission Argyll to raised a regiment of guards for his protection! That Argyll received a commission is beyond doubt, but his regiment was just as any other of the Scottish regiments intended for Ireland.

The second misunderstanding relates to the supposed transformation of the 1642 regiment into a lifeguard of foot in 1650 (after its return from Ireland). As Stevenson argues, this lifeguard was indeed formed in 1649 as Irish companies and designed to be a lifeguard of foot in 1650. However, this new regiment did not descend from the Argyll regiment of 1642. Though few men may have served in both regiments, the 1649 Irish Companies were formed from the many Scots that had fled from Ireland in 1648 and 1649.

Furthermore, Stevenson states that
the guard was intended to be formed not of men loyal to the king but of men the suspicious kirk party could trust not to sympathise with Charles II

Thus, this 1650 lifeguard of foot had everything to do with internal Scots politics, and much less with loyalty to and love for the person of Charles II. It is unlikely that the foot guards raised in the early 1660s are to be considered successor to the lifeguard of foot of 1650.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Book: Bloodline. the origins and development of the regular formations of the British Army

Due to the summer season yet another book review. This time Bloodline, on the origins of the regular regiments and corps of the British Army. It was written by Iain Gordon, founder of Method Publishing and author of several other books on the British armed forces.

At first sight, and compared to the books by Goff Lumley and Gerry Murphy, this book looks not bad at all and may stand the test of trial.

This is partly due to the fact that the book's title does not pretend the books covers anything from the origin of the (modern) of the British Army in 1661 until present day. As such, it is pretty obvious to the reader that this book is intended for those interested in tracing, within limits, the forebears of the present day regiments and corps of the British Army. Nothing more, nothing less.

The regiments and corps are presented in the almost obligatory order of precedence. For each regiment and corps the author give basic lineage information (no full dates nor colonels (except present day)), battle honours, badges and overview of alliances, regimental marches. A nice addition is the inclusion of contact details of the regiments and corps, and regimental museums. So anyone interested in contacting a regiment directly has ample means.

The presentation and layout of the book's content is compact and clear, and the short narratives provide sufficient information to give the reader a basic understanding. A chronological list of battle honours gives this book some additional value.

No good news without bad news, but fortunately I can be brief on this. A very bad first it that this book has no list of references (except for the contact details of the regiments and corps). For me this means this book is not suited very much as a start for further reading into the subject of British regimental lineages. Simply because the author does not guide me into any direction. Secondly, the post-Restoration period is treated too briefly in the narratives in my opinion. This seems to be a recurring thing with many authors. Thirdly, Gordon gives sometimes wrong and strange bits of information in the already short notes on regiments. For example, under the Grenadier Guards, he mentions a Cromwellion invasion of the Netherlands. Elsewhere he states the Scots, or Green Brigade was in Dutch service (later he places them correctly in Swedish service).

Gives the books (limited) scope to present day regiments and their ancestors, it would be unfair of me to make a remark on the neglect of disbanded regiments of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The final verdict for this book will be a 7/7.5 out of 10.
Positive: not pretentious regarding the scope of the work, clear and compact information, address/internet details of regiments and corps added value.
Negative: no references given, sloppiness regarding information in notes and narratives resulting in strange and wrong details.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Book: The genealogy of the Regiments of the British Army, volume 1: the cavalry

The book subject of this post is titled The Genealogy of the Regiments of the British Army : Cavalry, and is written by Anthony Baker. It was published in 1999 by The Military Press, and available in both paperback and hardcover editions. This book is the first in a series on the genealogy of the British Regiments.

Looking at the title and the year of publication (1999) one might think that this will be a great book, correcting mistakes and omissions made by earlier writers and presenting some new information. The format is impressive (A4) with several fold-out tables.

However, this book is a bit of a disappointment unfortunately.

First of all, there is no list of references used by the author! With such a complicated area, and so many contradicting sources I think this is unforgivable. This way a reader is not able to check details, of consult sources for further research.

The fold-out tables have been mentioned, and at a glance they look like a nice addition. However, the tabels' composition and contents is a bit uneven. The past 350 years have been divided in strange chunks. In particular, the periods 'before 1691' and '1691-1750' are at least a little odd. Why 1691, and not 1697 (because of army reductions) or 1714 (again because of reductions, and succession of the Hanoverians)?

A positive point is that Baker didn't cut on space for presenting regiments. For example, the Royal Dragoons get four pages, until their amalgamation in 1968. Information details service of the regiment, nicknames, battle honors, mottos, music, etc. I have not enough knowledge of most of those subject to comment. However, an important omission is the absence of a succession of regimental colonels! Why spending so much space on service details, honours and clothing, but not on regimental colonels, as the latter were and are an important part of the regiment and its history. In the few instances that a colonel is mentioned, he seldom uses the full name of the colonel. The index on named regiments therefore contains a reference to the Duke of Albemarle, and to Albemarle. The latter refers to a regiment commended by the 2nd Duke of Albemarle, the son of the 1st Duke who was of course George Monck. Suffice to say this is rather sloppy.

Furthermore Baker introduces a number of ghost regiments: the 9th - 14th Regiments of Dragoons, raised apparently in 1697 and disbanded in 1713. He probably copied this from someone. These regiments didn't exist. First of all, in 1697 the army was subject to reductions so it is hardly likely that six regiments would have been formed. Secondly, regiments were in general not known by a number in those days, but by the name of their colonel or some honorary name; only the troops of horse guards were numbered as were the regiments of foot guards on occasion. As a third point one can find no reference of these regiments in contemporary accounts.

To summarize, I would rate this book a 6 out of 10. The book contains many details other than regimental lineage, and Baker can be praised for that part. However, on the lineage part itself Baker has been really sloppy and inconsistent. This makes me also doubt the correctness of the non-lineage details. The lack of a literature list is not helping much in a positive way as well.

All in all, a book that may appeal the novice, and will be of some value regarding the non-lineage details. But it should be consulted with care.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Book: Ancestry and Amalgamations in the British Army 1660-2008

About a year ago an earlier book by Goff Lumley was discussed on this blog. As the author really liked that book, given the limited scope and the presentation of regimental information by means of badges, he was happy to see a new book had hit the shelves: Ancestry and Amalgamations in the British Army 1660 - 2008. The hardcover edition is published by Partizan Press, the paperback edition by the Military Library Research Service Ltd.

However, though the book may be nice one way or another, the review given at is certainly too much praise.

First of all, the book has a strong tendency in interpreting the past with the knowledge of the present time. The present day regiments are taken as starting point, and predecessors are dealt with under that header. Though not terribly bad, a more chronological treatment might have given the reader a better understanding of the growth and life of the British Army.

Secondly, Lumley does not address disbanded regiments of the late 17th and early 18th centuries. That is common with such works, unfortunately. By omitting the regiments that played such an important role in the Nine Years' War and the War of the Spanish Succession, and in bringing the British Army to maturity, the picture of the British Army is incomplete.

As a third point of comment Lumley seems to have been sloppy on a number of details (probably copied mistakes from others). For example, the lineage of the 3rd Regiment of Foot is not correct: the four English regiments in Dutch service did not merge in 1648, and were strictly speaking not disbanded in 1665. Another example is the ranking of the 1st Regiment of Dragoons as 1st as early as 1674! What was to become the Royal Regiment of Dragoons in 1683 was surviving in 1674 in Tangier as horse. And it was in 1674 probably by no means sure that this regiment would survive Tangier, or that it would become dragoons.

A further remark is the lack of a proper introduction. The introduction given informs the reader about the greatness of regiments (the cameraderie, the espirit the corps) and how welcome this book is. It does not tell anything about the origin of the British Army, except that it started in 1660/61. As to dates, the author only gives the year for mergers/amalgamations. Since more detailed information on dates is known, it is a pity Lumley did not put that in.

Finally it should be remarked that the author could have done better with respect to names of colonels. It should be praised that he included the names of colonels of regiments prior to 1751 (a thing often omitted by other authors), but it would have been better had he given full names and titles. As they are presented now it will only confuse people. Also, Lumley exhibits too much an insular English-only attitude towards the history of the British Army, an attitude witnessed by too many other authors of books on the British Army.

To summarize, the book is somewhat a disappointment. With respect to badges, the book is full with pictures of badges which is indeed nice. With respect to (new) information the book is not so new and seems more like a repetition of facts, including some mistakes, compiled in other books. As a positive point the facts on amalgamations after say the 1750 seem to be ok, and Lumley's use of badges to show merges and regimental history is nice.

Those with some interest in the British Army would certainly like the book, and would be easily overwhelmed by it. However, for the more serious student of military history and the British Army the book does not present new information or new insights.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Höchstädt and Blindheim

While en route to another destination in Germany, the author made a short stop at Höchstädt and Blindheim. These places are of course known for the (second) battle of Höchstädt fought on 13 August 1704 between French/Bavarian and English/Dutch/Imperial forces. In the English speaking world this battle is commonly referred to as the battle of Blenheim (Blindheim), as the English troops were mostly committed around that vilage.

In Höchstädt is a nice Heimatmuseum (image above). This museum has several dioramas with tin figures showing several episodes of the battle. One diorama shows the surrounding (Einkesselung) of the village of Blindheim, occupied by large part of the French army, by English troops. Below two images of this diorama.

Another diorama depicts the action towards to the north near the village of Lutzingen. A third diorama shows the battle near Höchstädt fought in 1800 between French and Austrian forces. Though this was a very minor engagement, it was heralded in France and by Napoleon as revenge for the defeat suffered in 1704.

After Höchstädt the village of Blindheim was visited. Near the church there is a monument commemorating the battle. The last image is taken from a lookout tower outside of Blindheim enabling to survey the battlefield. The picture was taken towards the east, with Blindheim on the far right.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

William III and the European balance of power

In the Dutch history magazine Historisch Nieuwsblad as very nice article on William III and his role in establishing the balance of power in Europe by contesting the ambitions of Louis XIV of France: De grote bruggenbouwer

Written in a very pleasant style by Luc Panhuysen, who earlier wrote a book on the Disasteryear 1672. It is in Dutch only, unfortunately. A real pity for the non-Dutch readers, as this article puts several things of the period into a broader (European) perspective.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Treaty of Utrecht 1713

Last week, on April 11th, it was 298 years ago that the Treaty of Utrecht was signed, marking the official end of the War of Spanish Succession. The treaty provided in the division of the Spanish empire between the Habsburg and Bourbon contestants, England gained some new possessions like Gibraltar and Newfoundland, and the United Provinces were happy enough with the right to garrison several towns in the Austrian Netherlands (formerly Spanish), the so-called barrier towns.

The war between France and the Holy Roman Empire would continue for an extra year, however. This war was ended by signing of the treaty of Rastatt and the treaty of Baden.

Apparently, this event will be given a lot of attention in Utrecht in 2013: Vrede van Utrecht in 2013. Looking at that website it looks more like a cultural event and somehow the organiser came up with the "Utrecht principles".

It is hard to find a reference to the War of the Spanish Succession, and it is a pity that the organisers did not put more effort in the historical context. Now it is presented as if the Treaty of Utrecht

brought an end to a series of devastating wars that had claimed many millions of lives over a period of almost two centuries. This was the first time that peace had been achieved through diplomacy and dialogue.

(quoted from the website)

In my opinion the historical knowledge of the organisers is insufficient, certainly given the very immodest and pretentious presentation on the events in 2013. Possibly it is simply another excuse to organise a festival, and are they using some hollow sounding, but easily accepted, phrases to attract a large audience and give it some self-importance and self-justification.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Dixmuide and Deinze 1695

In early July 1695 the (2nd) siege of Namur started. This time the confederate forces under William III were the besiegers, and the French under the Duc de Boufflers were those under siege.

When all this took place, a French army under the Duc de Villeroi proceeded to Flanders with some 80,000 men. The capture of Nieuport failed, but Villeroi was successful in capturing the towns of Dixmuide and Deinze. Both within a few days, and without much resistance from the side of the garrisons. After this Villeroi proceeded towards Brussels, which he subjected to a destructive, and senseless, bombardment.

Despite agreements regarding the exchange of prisoners of war (or a subjective interpretation of them), the prisoners from Dixmuide and Deinze were moved to France. In reaction to this, the Duc de Boufflers was kept as prisoner (hostage) by William when the fortress of Namur surrendered late August 1695. He was exchanged later that year for the Dixmuide and Deinze prisoners.

As expected, William III was 'not amused' by the quick and easy surrender of the garrisons. The commander of the Dixmuide garrison, Johan Anton Ellenberg (also spelled as Ellenberger or Elnberger), who served in the Danish army and commanded a Danish regiments in English pay, was therefor sentenced to death in November. Other regimental commanders were cashiered or temporarily suspended for their part in the quick surrender.

The garrisons consisted of British, Dutch, Danish and German regiments. Literature is, however, a bit unclear on the non-British components; d'Auvergne seems to be most clear and informative. This resulted in the following overview of regiments.

William Lloyd's Regiment of Dragoons; Lloyd was no in Dixmuide
Richard Brewer's Foot (future 12th Foot); Brewer was suspended
Sir James Leslie's Foot (future 15th Foot); Leslie was cashiered
Lord Lorne's Foot (disbanded 1698); Lord Lorne was not present in Dixmuide
Sir Charles Graham's Foot (Of the Scots Brigade); Graham was cashiered
Regiment Auer (Dutch regiment in English pay); Auer was cashiered
Regiment Soutelande or Regiment Saint Amant (Dutch regiment; at present unknown which one was part of the garrison)
Regiment Ellenberg (a battalion detached from the Danish Prinds Christians (later Carls) Regiment, in English pay); Ellenberg was executed
Regiment Holle (a regiment from Brunswick in Dutch pay)

Francis Fergus O'Farrell's Foot (future 21st Foot); O'Farrell was cashiered
Regiment Scheltinga (Dutch regiment); Scheltinga was suspended

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Prussian troops in Anglo-Dutch pay 1709

Here a list of Prussian troops that were (partially) in pay of the Maritime Powers in 1709. We see the original corps of 1702, the Alte Korps of 1706, for which the Maritime Powers provided subsistence (i.e. bread and fodder, consuming large parts of annual budgets), and the Neues Korps that was in pay of the Maritime Powers from 1709 on, similar to the 1702 corps.

The list is taken from the work Die alte Armee von 1655 bis 1740 written by Curt Jany and part of the larger series Urkundliche Beiträge und Forschungen zur Geschichte des Preußischen Heeres published in the early 1900s.It can be found at the reknown!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Prints from the Anne S.K. Brown Collection

A collection of nice prints, drawings and watercolors at the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection, part of the Brown University: Link!

For example, this nice hand colored print from the battle of Ramillies of 23 May 1706:

Thursday, 3 March 2011

War of the Spanish Succession website

A very nice and visual website dedicated to the War of the Spanish Succession, more in particular to the conflict as fought in Catalonia, with lots and loads of nice pictures.
Link found at but would not harm to repeat it here. It is Spanish language only, but it should not be too much of a problem to get a basic impression and understanding.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

English intervention in Catalonia

Thanks to Rampjaar, who pointed me at the following publication:

God save Catalonia

See also this link for more details (which points to the blog). It is good to have more publications on this somewhat forgotten theater of the War of the Spanish Succession.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

John Childs on the invasion of 1688

Though the thought that the Glorious Revolution was de facto an invasion of one state by an army of another state becomes more generally accepted, the idea that it was glorious, and above all for safeguarding Protestantism in England is not entirely weeded out.

However, already in 1680 John Childs, the chronicler of the British army between 1660 and 1702, writes in the last chapter of his book The Army, James II, and the Glorious Revolution
William did not gamble with the whole of his political and military future in both the United Provinces and Europe to rescue the protestant religion in England out of philanthropic considerations.

Monday, 31 January 2011

Charles II -- the power and the passion

Staying on the more cultural side, a very nice movie, actually miniserie, just ended: Charles II: the power and the passion. The author was at first sceptical about it, as his latest experience with historical drama was The Tudors, about Henry VIII and his wives. This latter drama seems to more about pretty actors and actresses saying one-liners at a steady rate and being constantly angry or upset for some silly reason.

No, the author was happily and pleasantly surprised by the historical drama subject of this blog on king Charles II. The movie starts about 1658 in Spanish Flanders were Charles II is having his court in exile. Following his restoration, general Monck is portrayed really convincingly as being instrumental in this, we see a young king enjoying being king. He is of course married to Catherine of Braganza, but most time is spend with his mistresses (Barbara Palmer (born Villiers), Nell Gwyn, Louise de Kérouaille, etc.). Also the several, often ambitious, young men around him are present: Buckingham, York (future James II), Danby, Shaftesbury, Arlington, etc etc.

Besides the more frivolous part of court life, the viewer gets a decent portion of post restoration history. The 2nd Anglo-Dutch War is mentioned, including the Dutch raid on the Medway, the plague and great fire of London. Later the intrigues with Louis XIV enter the screen: the Treaty of Dover. The final part of the series is mostly devoted to Charles' struggle with Parliament, mostly related to who is to succeed him: the Catholic James or poor pretty Monmouth. The latter is depicted very well as the spoiled first-born son of a king, who has everything except a claim to his father's crown. John Churchill (future Marlborough) is also in scene, in bed with Barbara Palmer whose one time lover he was; like many of the other male characters in the drama.

Towards the end Charles is a tired old man, but still a friendly one spending time with his wife, mistresses and numerous children.

William III of Orange enters the scene also twice, but failed to convince somehow. He looked more like a rowdy Frisian farmer's son than the cunning, though brittle and sickly, diplomat and statesman. Few years before Charles dies he warns William to prepare for the throne of England. This because Charles knowns already his brother James will not be king long. At least in the motion picture ...

Recommended! Be sure to get the original 4 hour BBC version. The US release is shorter, and omits some important historical parts. Only drawback is that the number of characters is large, and look similar because of the huge wigs popular in that period. So a little knowledge on who-was-who will help.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Queen Mary II

By this time of the year some 316 years ago, Queen Mary II of England was terribly ill because of smallpox. She died January 8, 1695 [New Style] (December 28, 1694 [Old Style]) aged only 32. Her husband, William III of Orange said he was "now going to be the miserablest creature on earth".

For her funeral on March 5, 1695, Henry Purcell wrote the very moving and impressive Music for the Funeral of Queen Mary. The first part, staring with a march and ending with a canzona, is here

The second part, with the beautiful Thou knowest, Lord, the secrets of our hearts, followed by a march:

It is by the Choir of Clare College. Simply close the door, turn up the volume, close your eyes, and drift back in memories. To yesterday, last year, or even the cold winter of 1694/95.