Timeline period - 1700
1694 - John Gibson Beats the Drum
On 16th February 1694 Sir John Gibson, Lieutenant Governor of Portsmouth, was tasked to raise a new Regiment of Infantry. Gibson had served for many years with the Dutch army under the Prince of Orange, later King William III of England and Scotland. Gibson's pay as Colonel of his new Regiment was set at twelve shillings per day, but he also drew a further eight shillings as Captain of the senior company of the Regiment. His expenses were calculated at one shilling and threepence per day for each of the six servants to whom he was entitled. In the same year, William III instructed a Board of General Officers to decide upon the seniority of the infantry regiments of the line, and Gibson's Regiment was ranked 28th. The History of the Gloucestershire Regiment had begun.
"These are to authorize you by Beat of Drum or otherwise to raise Volunteers for a Regiment of ffoot under your Command, which is to Consist of Thirteen Companys of Sixty privat Soldiers, Three Serjeants, Three Corporals and Two Drummers in each Company - to be muster'd in that behalf, and when the whole Number of Non Commission Officers and Soldiers shall be fully or near Compleated in each Company, then they are to be sent under the Command of a Commission Officer, One Compy. to Winchester, Two to Chichester, Two to Southampton, One to Midhurst, One to Arundel, One to Alton, Two to Farnham, One to petersfield, One to Rumsey, and One to Havant, Fareham and Tichfeild appointed for the Rendezvouse of the Said Regiment And all Magistrates, Justices of the Peace, Constables and other Our officers whom it may concern, are hereby required to be assisting to you, and in Providing Quarters, Impressing Carriages and otherwise as there shall be occasion. And the officers to be Carefull that the soldiers behave themselves Civilly and Duly Pay their Landlords. And you are also to appoint such person or Persons as you shall think fitt to Receive Arms for Our Said Regimt. out of the Stores of our Ordnance.
Given at our Court at Whitehall, this 5th Day of March, 1693/4."
Picture: Officer of Gibson's Regiment. Original watercolour in the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum.
1697 - The Newfoundland Expedition
In February 1697 the King appointed Colonel John Gibson to lead an expedition to Newfoundland. This mission was rendered necessary by the headway that the French had made in that colony. Gibson's command included his own Regiment an artillery train under Colonel Michael Richards, with instructions to protect the interests of the British colonists. They arrived in June, only to discover that they were too late. The settlers had been all but wiped out by the French and their Indian allies, with 224 survivors being removed from the colony in a French ship. The settlement had been entirely destroyed.
Gibson's men set about rebuilding, fortifying the harbour and constructing a new fort. Most of Gibson's men left for England on 7th October but two companies were left behind as a garrison, to endure the terrible winter that followed. 214 men out of 300 in those two companies died in that winter leaving around sixty men under Lieutenant Lilburne to garrison the colony through the following winter and beyond.
Picture: Micmac Indians
1698 - Disbandment, Survival and Resurrection
The Treaty of Ryswick of 20th September 1697 brought to an end the indecisive War of the Grand Alliance, and, as a result, the army was voted in Parliament to be reduced to a strength of 10,000 men, Many of the recently raised British regiments were disbanded the following year, Gibson's Regiment among them.
"The Warrant for the establishment of half-pay to officers of the eight regiments of Foot, lately disbanded. Whereas our regiments of Foot commanded by our right, trusty, and entirely beloved cousin and counsellor Charles Duke of Bolton, our trusty and well beloved Colonel Richard Coot, Colonel Thomas Brudenell, Colonel Thomas Saunderson, Major-General Thomas Erle, Colonel John Gibson, Colonel William Northcote, and Colonel Thomas Farrington together with independent companies commanded by Colonel Rouse and Captain J. Pitt have been lately disbanded. And we being graciously pleased to allow half-pay to the officers of our said regiments and companies for their support until they have been fully paid off and cleared and be otherwise provided for. Our will and pleasure is, &c., that you pay unto the Officers of our said Regiments the respective allowance mentioned in the list and establishment hereunto annexed being the half-pay of themselves and their servants respectively, to commence from 1st day of April next and to be paid unto them by monthly or quarterly payments upon certificates from our Commissionary General of the Muster of their being alive and qualified as afore mentioned."
Given at our Court at Kensington, 16th March 1697-8, in the tenth of our reign.
By His Majesty's command,
To our right trusty and right well beloved cousin and counsellor,
Richard, Earl of Ranelagh,
Paymaster-General of the Forces."
Only the remnants of the Newfoundland garrison left there by Colonel Gibson in 1697 remained on active service, until the Regiment was re-raised in 1702.
Picture: The Treaty of Ryswick
1705 - Forcing the Lines of Brabant
The Regiment first raised in 1694 by John Gibson was sold by him in 1704 to Colonel Sampson De Lalo, a Huguenot exile in England. De Lalo's Regiment was still in England when the Duke of Marlborough won his great victory at Blenheim, but arrived in Flanders in time to take part in forcing of the Lines of Brabant. The lines were over seventy miles long, reaching from Antwerp to Namur. Their purpose was to sufficiently delay any assault to give enough time to concentrate a large army that would overwhelm any would-be attackers. De Lalo's Regiment was one of seven in Ferguson's Brigade which opened the campaign against the Lines with an assault on the fortress town of Huy, which quickly fell on 11th July 1705. Once this had been achieved, the penetration of the Lines could begin proper, and on the night of 17th/18th Ferguson's Brigade was on the right flank of the army. De Lalo's Regiment took the village of Neer Hespen and rushed to cross the River Gheete before storming and breaking through the fortified Lines in front of them. Pioneers quickly laid pontoons across the river enabling the Allied cavalry, with Marlborough at their head, to charge and sweep the French before them.
Picture: The Fortress of Huy
1706 - Annus Mirabilis
Of the four great battles fought by the Duke of Marlborough in the War of the Spanish Succession, (Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet) De Lalo's Regiment was present at only one of them - the greatest of them all, Ramillies, 1706.
"Marlborough cannot be robbed of the laurels of Ramillies. The Schellenberg, his detractors said, had been won by the Margrave. Blenheim was the conception and the achievement of Prince Eugene. But neither of these explanations covered the amazing events of May 23. Here the world saw Marlborough alone, without a council of war, achieving a military masterpiece seldom equalled and never surpassed. This was his victory, and his alone. Ramillies belongs to that rare class of battles fought between equal forces of the highest quality wherein decisive victory at comparatively small loss is gained through the manoeuvres of the commander-in-chief. It will rank for ever with Rossbach and Austerlitz as an example of what a general can do with men."
Winston S. Churchill, "Marlborough: His Life & Times", 1937.
Picture: John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough
1707 - Defeat at the Battle of Almanza
After returning to England, De Lalo's Regiment gained a new Colonel, Viscount Mordaunt. Mordaunt's Regiment set sail for Lisbon, then to Alicante, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dalzell. The Allied army of Portuguese, British, German, Dutch and French Huguenot troops under the command of the Earl of Galway marched to resounding defeat at the hands of the Franco-Spanish army under the command of the Duke of Berwick. Galway's army was about 15,000 men strong, Berwick's, 25,000. Mordaunt's Regiment lost around 300 men of the 532 who stood in its ranks at the outset of the battle.
The Battle of Almanza
Down by a crystal river side,
I fell a weeping;
To see my brother soldier dear,
Upon the ground lie bleeding.
It was from the Castle of Vino,
We marched on Easter Sunday;
And the battle of Almanza,
Was fought on Easter Monday.
Full twenty miles we marched that day
Without one drop of water;
Till we poor souls were almost spent,
Before the bloody slaughter.
Over the plain we marched along,
All in the line of battle;
To the beat of drums and colours fly
And thundering cannons' rattle.
Brave Gallaway, our General,
Cried, ' Fight on ! while you may;
Fight on! brave-hearted Englishmen,
You're one to five this day.'
'Hold back ! nor make the first attack
'Tis what they do desire:
But when you see my sword I draw,
Let each platoon give fire.'
We had not marched some paces three,
Before the small shot flew like thunder
Hoping that we should get the day,
And likewise all the plunder.
But the Dutch fell on with sword in hand
And that was their desire;
Thirty-five squadrons of Portuguese,
They ran and never gave fire.
The Duke of Berwick, as I have been told
He gave it out in orders,
That if the army should be broke,
To give the English quarters.
'Be kind unto my countrymen,
For that is my desire;
With the Portuguese do as you please,
For they will soon retire.'
Now to conclude and make an end
Of this my dismal story
One hundred thousand fighting men
Have died for England's glory.
Let no brave soldier be dismayed
For losing of a battle;
We have more forces coming on
Will make Jack Frenchman rattle.
Logan [A Pedlar's Pack of Ballads and Songs, 1869], p. 82, from a broadside of about 1760.
Picture: The Battle of Almanza
1719 - The Raid on Vigo
After having survived the swingeing cuts in the army establishment following the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Gibson's regiment of 1694, now under the command of Colonel William Barrell, was selected to take part in the expedition against Spain in 1719. Spain was in open support of James Stuart, Pretender to the British Crown, and the attack on the Galician coast of north-western Spain was intended to wreck Spanish plans to land an invading army in Scotland. The original target of the British force under Viscount Cobham was Corunna, but this was later switched to Vigo and the surrounding area.
Seven Spanish ships were seized in Vigo harbour, and the British infantry was landed, led by their grenadiers. Vigo swiftly fell after being surrounded on 1st October, the troops finding plenty of wine to quench their thirsts, and when the Citadel fell. a vast cache of arms and ammunition was captured. More arms were captured when General Wade with 1,000 men took the nearby town of Pont a Vedia in the middle of the month. A total of 10,300 barrels of gunpowder, 13,000 muskets, at least 114 pieces of ordnance and a multitude of other stores fell into British hands.
Spain sued for peace, and the brief war came to an end.
Picture: Viscount Cobham
1725 - "The men are very good..."
Regiments were subject to inspections from time-to-time to ensure that all was in order and to rectify any problems that might have arisen. On 25th July 1725 Barrell's Regiment was reported on after an inspection by Major-General Thomas Pearce while they were stationed at Limerick in Ireland.
"In obedience to your Excellency's Commands I have viewed the above Regiment. The men are very good and the Regiment is well disciplined, performing their exercises and firing extremely well, the clothing and accoutrements are very good delivered to the men the 18th of July; their Arms are bad.
"I can't but Observe to your Excellency the particular care this Regiment have taken to show themselves complete, notwithstanding what they have suffered from death and desertion. The men are regularly cleared and no complaints made either against the Officers or from ye inhabitants; this Regiment have no Camp equipage.
(signed) THO. PEARCE"
picture: Ireland in the early 18th Century
1730 - Appointment of a New Colonel
Barrell's Regiment had been sent to Ireland in 1720, where it was to remain for the next twenty-two years. In 1730 a new Colonel was appointed to replace William Barrell.
Nicholas Price was a Brigadier, struggling to maintain his way of life on a Colonel's half-pay. He appealed to the king to grant him the colonelcy of a Regiment which would be a very profitable business, pointing out his past services, and the injustices he had suffered.
"Brigadier Price pretentions, he was in ye army before the revolution turned out Tirconel was Lt.Col. in '94, Col. 1704, Brigadier in 1709, had the Honr to comd the forces in Spain when they were orded to separate from ye Germans, that ye said service was very expensive being obliged to keep a table and live as a Comdr in Chief, wh. expenses have not yett discharged, notwithstanding of wh. I have had no justice done me, in any reigne but much less in ye present having younger officers made Brigadrs on ye fresh establishment that have no Interest in ye Country."
The correspondence continued after Price had been promoted to Major General, and his request for a colonelcy was finally granted.
"Whitehall, 25th Aug., 1730. - My Lord, His Majesty having thought fit to order a Commission for Brigadier William Barrell, who hath now a Regiment of Foot in Ireland, to be Colonel of A Regiment of Foot in the Island of Minorca, in the room of Colonel Robert Handasyd, I am commanded by His Majesty to acquaint your Grace therewith, asnd to desire that you will be pleased to give direction for making out a Commission for Major-General Nicholas Price, who is now on the British Establishment of Half-pay as a Reduced Colonel of Foot, to be Colonel of the Regiment of Foot in Ireland, in the room of said Brigadier William Barrell.
"I am, with the greatest truth and respect,
"Your Grace's most obedient and most humble servant,
"His Grace the Duke of Dorset."
Picture: Nicholas Price's letter of appeal.
1742 - Bragg's Regiment and the 28th Foot
In 1734 Philip Bragg became Colonel of the Regiment which had been first raised in 1694 by John Gibson. Bragg was to command the Regiment for twenty-five years, until his death in 1759. In 1742 the British Army adopted a new, and initially very unpopular, numbering system for its regiments, which were no longer to be officially known by the names of their colonels. Bragg's Regiment became the 28th Foot, its red coats keeping the yellow facings of old. Many regiments, particularly the "Royal" regiments with blue facings to their coats, acquired fancier titles as well as numbers, which didn't always go down too well with colonels of less privileged, but just as proud, regiments. This in turn led to the regimental tradition of a drill command reputedly issued by one of Bragg's successors in the next century:
Neither King's nor Queen's, nor Royal Marines,
But 28th, Old Braggs: Brass before and Brass behind,
Never feared a foe of any kind;
Picture: Soldier of the 28th Foot, c. 1742.
1744 - The 28th Regiment of Foot in Flanders
from "Historical Records of the Twenty Eighth North Gloucestershire Regiment" by Lieutenant-Colonel F. Brodigan. London, 1884:-
"The regiment was with Marshal Wallace's army in this year in Flanders, and served in the campaign under Field Marshal Wade. The army was encamped near Brussels, and afterwards behind the Scheldt. But the enemy having so great a superiority of numbers, no offensive movement was made until a body of French troops was despatched to oppose Prince Charles of Lorraine in Alsace, when the Allies crossed the river. No engagement, however, ensued, and after penetrating the French territory as far as Lisle [Lille], the allied army returned to Flanders for winter quarters. One incident occurred that proved fighting was quite as genial to the soldiers in Flanders as swearing. An officer of Bragg's regiment was sent out with a foraging party of one man from each tent, when, by his ignorance of the language and topography of the country, he found himself close under the guns of Lisle, [Lille] and to an outpost of the enemy employed in reconnoitring. The outpost, consisting of a captain and 80 men, learnt from the natives that Bragg's men were without arms, and marauding, and sent a non-commissioned officer with 12 men to intercept them. This party, seeing a few men without arms, fired, and endeavoured to make prisoners of them. But Bragg's officer, with his reserve, who were posted outside the garden and village out of sight of the enemy, sustained the attack, killing one and making another prisoner, and bringing off two of their adversaries' firelocks."
1745 - Fontenoy and Lord George Sackville
The Battle of Fontenoy of 11th May 1745 is most often remembered in British history for the meeting on the battlefield of the British and French Guards and the elegant exchanges (which were later embroidered by Voltaire, no less) between Lord Charles Hay of the 1st Foot Guards and his opposite number, the Comte d'Auterroche.
Whatever the truth of that particular incident is, the fact remains that all the British infantry fought remarkably well that day, only for the allied army, commanded by the Duke of Cumberland, to lose the battle to the French under Marshal de Saxe. The 28th Foot were there, led by their Lieutenant-Colonel Lord George Sackville, a good friend of Colonel Bragg.
Sackville was wounded and briefly taken prisoner, to be released after having his wounds dressed and enjoying French hospitality.
Sackville's later career was to be one fraught with disgrace and ignominy. Bragg left him in his will his entire fortune of 17,000 pounds sterling, and the Duke of Cumberland, (later to acquire the sobriquet of "Butcher" during the Jacobite Rising of 1745) thought Sackville courageous and well suited to a career in soldiering. Yet at the battle of Minden in 1759, as commander of the British and German cavalry, he repeatedly disobeyed orders to send his men forward, thus denying the Allies a decisive victory. He was cashiered as "...unfit to serve his Majesty in any military capacity whatsoever."
His later political career as Lord Germain fared no better and he bears a large responsibility as Secretary of State for the American Department in the disastrous prosecution of the war during the American Revolution.
Picture: Lord George Sackville