Wednesday 5 July 2023

Infantry Flags of the British/Hanoverian Légion Britannique - speculative version

As my Légion Britannique flags have been popping up here and there (used by people who have had the sheets emailed to them by me) and there has consequently been more interest I thought I'd make the infantry flags more easily available here on the blog. We know that the Légion used British style flags but have no images of them so I created my version based on British flag regulations of the Seven Years War. There is also a sheet of dragoon guidons, but it is too big a file to be put on the blog, so if anyone wants that they will still have to contact me so I can email it to them.

The Légion Britannique was raised for service in the Hanoverian Army in 1760. It was paid for by the British government and carried flags of British pattern, although its officers were Hanoverian. It consisted of 5 battalions, each of 4 infantry companies and a dragoon squadron; the strength of each battalion was intended to be 500 infantry and 101 dragoons.

As the Légion was raised from deserters, foreigners and sometimes prisoners of war, its quality can be imagined, and losses from desertion and capture were many. Despite its inauspicious make up, units of the Légion were capable of distinguished service, as with the 3rd battalion which fought well in the defence of Hamm in 1761 and the 2nd battalion which was overcome at the defence of Meppen only after a fierce resistance. French prisoners taken at Warburg in July 1760 were later enlisted in the Légion's light companies. Near the end of the war the Légion was taken into Prussian service, which cannot have pleased many of its troops!

And here is the dragoon guidon sheet, in very low resolution; the actual sheet is nearly 4 MBs and too big to post here. If anyone would like a copy, please let me have an email address via the Contact Form (don't put your email address in the comments as you really don't want it to be picked up by bots and to be spammed!).

Sunday 2 July 2023

The '45: Flag of unknown Jacobite regiment but possibly of Kilmarnock's Footguards or Duke of Perth's Regiment

Captured Jacobite flag - regiment unknown but possibly of Lord Kilmarnock's Foot Guards or Earl of Perth's Regiment. Attribution is very speculative.

No.7 on the list of captured Jacobite flags says: "On a staff a white silk colours with the Stewart's Arms, God Save King". Any reconstruction based on that very short description is bound to be somewhat imaginative!

I have done two slightly different versions. Version one is based on Angus McBride's illustration in the Military Illustrated article on the Jacobite Army from July 1991 by Stuart Reid. At that time Reid suggested the flag perhaps belonged to Kilmarnock's Footguards. Version two with the different motto is based on the description in Stuart Reid's new book Like Troops of Hungry Wolves; The Battle of Culloden 16 April 1746 (this is a bit unfair to wolves but no doubt these are the mythical variety, not real wolves). In the new volume Reid suggests the flag may have belonged to the Duke of Perth's regiment; both attributions are highly speculative but we currently have nothing better.

Lord Kilmarnock's Footguards began as his Horseguards, when they were raised after Prestonpans by William Boyd, 4th Earl of Kilmarnock. Cavalry were always in low numbers in the Jacobite army and during the invasion of England the Horseguards temporarily incorporated Strathallan's Horse. In February 1746 the Horseguards' horses were given to the newly arrived Fitzjames Horse (one squadron of which, about 130 strong but without their horses, had evaded the English fleet and arrived in Scotland. The rest of the regiment had been captured) and Kilmarnock's men became Footguards. Recruiting was always difficult, it seems. At Culloden the Footguards, by then only about 50 strong at the most, were involved towards the end of the fight - they were originally in the second line near the right flank - and Kilmarnock surrendered to the English. (Reid, in his account from 1991, claims that the Footguards did not live up to their name and fled without firing a shot. Kilmarnock was subsequently executed on Tower Hill.) In his most recent book Reid questions the likelihood of such an elaborate flag being made as late as February or early March 1746 and suggests that instead the flag may have been made for the Duke of Perth's regiment. See below.

The Duke of Perth's regiment was assembled by James Drummond, 3rd Earl of Perth. The first 160 men fought very well at Prestonpans. After that battle they took in many redcoats but most of them signed up only to desert afterwards. Many of the Duke of Perth's men were not volunteers and coercion was common; Christopher Duffy tells a tale of four under-gardeners at Drummond Castle who were told that if they did not sign up "they were to be turned out of the Duke's service". When they refused they were inveigled by a stratagem into joining the regiment against their will. For the invasion of England the regiment incorporated part of the Strathbogie regiment and made up to an impressive 750 men. At the time of the battle of Falkirk the regiment was involved in the abortive siege of Stirling Castle but subsequently served at Culloden where it held the far left of the front line, having originally been in the second line. By then they were probably only around 200 strong.