Thursday, 19 July 2012

Marine regiments and their use

Two regiments of marines were raised in January 1690. One was commanded by Arthur Herbert, the Earl of Torrington, and the other by Thomas Herbert, the Earl of Pembroke. Both regiments consisted of 15 companies with about 100 men in each company.

The Calendar of State Papers Domestic: William and Mary, 1689-90 give some nice background information on how these two big regiments should be employed, both at sea and on land. From the text it is not entirely clear if this way of working is to be implemented during the Winter season only, or round the year as well.

A first interesting detail is the division of each regiment into three battalions of 500 men each, with each battalion having a distinct purpose.The first battalion is to be on board of ships, or be quartered as close a possible to enable speedy embarkation. The second battalion should be employed at shipyards, and the third should be put in
garrisons or quarters of refreshment within the country, where they are to attend only to military discipline, and exercise as soldiers.
Another interesting detail is the annual rotation of battalions doing the various duties. Thus, in a few years time the regiment on a whole is (expected to be) experienced in duties both at sea and on land. Drafts from these two regiments should bring knowledge into the rest of the armed forces:
it being one of the chief ends of this establishment that these regiments may prove "nurseries" whence the several necessities of their Majesties' service may be abundantly supplied.
A last observation is that the regiments should be trained and equipped as grenadiers. With the remarks that hand grenades have had good effect at sea, but also on land against horses.
for it is apparent that hand grenades would be of admirable effect, on many occasions at sea, and it is visible how useful they would be as to other purposes, particularly against the approaches of the horse in the country of an enemy.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Regiment Brandenburg / Lehndorff

In many stories on the invasion of England by the Prince of Orange in November 1688, and the ensuing campaign in Ireland, one will see ample reference to a Brandenburg regiment part of the Dutch forces. This regiment was not an auxiliary, or subsidy, regiment, as is sometimes thought, but a regiment of the Dutch standing army.

This regiment was raised in 1673 by Ahasverus von Lehndorff, a nobleman from eastern Prussia, for Dutch service. This regiment was probably composed of Poles. Lehndorff quitted Dutch service in 1676, and his regiment was afterwards commanded by a son of the Elector of Brandenburg. From which time we read about a Regiment Brandenburg in Dutch service. The employment of subsidy troops from Brandenburg during the Nine Years' War and the War of the Spanish Succession may very well be confusing.

A biography on this Ahasverus von Lehndorff is found at Google Books: Der Oberburggraf Ahasverus von Lehndorff. Judging from the table of contents, he had a varied military career, serving the king of Poland, the king of Denmark, and, course, Brandenburg and the Dutch Republic.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Equipping the artillery train for Flanders in 1702

The Journals of the House of Commons are an important source of information for those looking for numbers and financial matters. War needed to be paid, and paid by someone, and the list with annual estimates for the armed forces are very useful.

Volume 13 of this journal gives us some insight in the genesis of the train of artillery that was being prepared for service in Flanders in early 1702. Everything, from the number of sakers, fourteen of them, to the number of horse shoe nails, 18000, is listed. The estimated cost for everything is listed as well (£9 for the nails, £3,075 for the sakers). A list of spare parts for the army carried by the train is given as well. Taken along were, amongst other items, 3000 snaphance muskets, 1000 long pikes and 400000 flints. The total cost for all equipment was a little over £34,806! The officers and men required an additional £10,630 12 0 per year, and the cost for horses amounted to £16,000 for half a year.

Material needed by the mortars (glue-kettels, 2 reams of paper, amongst a few dozen other items).
All in all this list gives a fascinating overview of the amount of stuff needed by a (not so big) train of artillery 300 years ago. It also illustrates the technical nature of the ordnance (lots and lots of tools and nails). I have found no list of stuff that was carried (officially) by, say, a regiment of foot to compare with, unfortunately.

This volume of the Journals of the House of Commons is found at Google Books, with said overview found on pages 690 - 695.