7th (Queen's Own) Hussars

"Kitty (Kirkpatrick) finally found the love, support and stability that had always eluded her in the person of a nephew of Sir John Kenaway, the dashing Captain James Winslowe Phillips of the 7th Hussars. They married on 27th November, 1829. At that time, the 7th Hussars had a reputation not dissimilar to today's SAS and is described by at least one source as 'Lord Anglesey's crack regiment'."
William Dalrymple White Mughals

The history of the 7th Hussars begins, in common with the majority of cavalry regiments, in 1688. The origins lie in Scotland, where independent "troops of horse" were raised in support of the Protestant monarch William III and his wife Mary to oppose the Catholic supporters of Mary's father, James II.

One such troop was raised (and financed) by the Earl of Annandale, a second by Lord Belhaven and a third by William, Laird of Blair, whilst a number of wealthy individuals also contributed to the Protestant army. William III sent an experienced professional soldier, Maj. Gen. Mackay, to Scotland to lead his supporters there.

Roman Catholic troops led by Viscount Dundee captured the Laird of Blair in Perth, and after two months of imprisonment the Laird died. Dundee's forces were subsequently confronted by Mackay's army at Killicrankie in 1689. In 1690, the independent "troops of horse" were organised into a Regiment with Richard Cunningham (occasionally mistakenly referred to a "Robert Cunningham") as (honorary) Colonel and Lt. Col. William Forbes in practical command. In accordance with the custom at the time, the Regiment was named after their Colonel as Cunningham's Regiment of Dragoons. The Regiment moved into quarters in Edinburgh. Shortly thereafter, the Colonelcy of the Regiment passed to Richard Cardcross.

Very soon the Regiment embarked to join William's army in the Netherlands for the Nine Years War (1688-97), where they were brigaded with Essex's Dragoons (later 4th) and Wynne's Dragoons (later 5th) under Brigadier Wynne. Their first significant engagement was in June 1695, at which time Brigadier Wynne was killed. They were then significantly involved in the Siege of Namur.

In 1696, Colonelcy of the Regiment passed to William, Lord Jedburgh. On the conclusion of the war, Jedburgh's Dragoons returned to Scotland in 1698. Queen Anne ascended to the throne in 1702, and the Regiment remained in Scotland to suppress any Roman Catholic resistance to her rule. At that time, the Regiment's establishment was 6 troops, each with about 30 mounted troopers.

In 1711, with William Kerr as Colonel, the Regiment shipped to Holland to join Marlborough's army which had previously fought the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). The war being nearly over, the Regiment saw little action and was ordered to travel to Ireland dismounted, the horses being passed to the 1st (Royal) Dragoons whose horses had previously been sold in Spain.

1714 saw the Regiment, then unmounted, reduced to a small cadre and many soldiers transferred to other regiments, most notably the Royals and the Scots Greys.

The ascension of George I to the throne in 1715, however, once again stirred opposition amongst Roman Catholics, and the Regiment was re-formed with an establishment of about 240 officers and men in 6 troops. In this respect, 2 troops of the "youngest" (least experienced) officers and men were received from the Royals and 3 troops from Portmore's Dragoons (later the Scots Greys). Recruiting was also encouraged by "the beat of the drum".

In 1715, Kerr's Dragoons crossed the Bristol Channel and marched to Yorkshire where the King granted them the title Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales Own Royal Regiment of Dragoons. When the Earl of Mar orchestrated a Roman Catholic rebellion in Scotland (the First Jacobite Rebellion), the Princess of Wales' Dragoons marched north. In Scotland, the Regiment fought at Sheriffmuir, where Col. Kerr had two horses killed under him. With the rebellion suppressed, the Regiment returned to England in 1716.

The Regiment was involved in domestic policing duties for the next twenty-six years. On the death of George I in 1727, the Princess of Wales (as the wife of George II) became Queen, and the name of the Regiment changed to the Queen's Own Regiment of Dragoons. 1727 saw the Regiment on coast watch on the southern coast.

In 1741, William Kerr, who had commanded the Regiment for over thirty years, died. Shortly thereafter, the Regiment shipped to the Netherlands to fight the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48) in the army commanded by George II himself. A significant engagement was fought at Dettingen, where the Regiment lost 14 officers and men and 22 horses killed, with 17 officers and men and 13 horses injured. The campaign of 1744 saw many skirmishes but no major engagements. In 1745, battles were fought at Tournay and Fontenoy, where the Queen's Own suffered significant losses. Early in 1746 the Regiment received 102 men and 156 horses from England. A major battle was fought at Roucoux and the Regiment was in constant action until the declaration of peace in 1748.

Royal Warrants of 1751 allocated numbers (based on seniority) to cavalry regiments and also specified uniforms and equipment for a number of regiments, and the Queen's Own were designated Seventh with scarlet jackets with white facings, white breeches, black tricornered hats with a white band and black cockade. The horse decoration was white.

In 1755, a number of Dragoon regiments, including the Queen's Own, were augmented by an addition troop of "light dragoons" mounted on smaller horses and equipped with minimal accessories. These "light troops" had an establishment of 100 officers and men. The "light troops" from nine regiments were detached as a brigade in 1758 for a raid on the French coast under command of Colonel Eliott. The raid, against the port of St. Maloes, was successfully accomplished and a second raid, this time against Cherbourg, was organised under command of Lt. Gen. Bligh.

In 1760 the whole Regiment shipped to Germany to join the allied forces of the Seven Years War (1754-63), a war which was to have significant outcomes for the future British Empire. A major battle was fought at Warburg. At this time the Regiment were brigaded with the Scots Greys and the 11th Dragoons and the brigade was involved in constant skirmishing. On the declaration of peace in 1763, the Regiment returned to England.

In 1766, orders were received that the bob-tailed horses were to be replaced with long (natural) tailed horses, and the kettle-drummers were to be replaced with trumpeters. Lighter footwear was also issued. For the next thirty the Regiment travelled constantly throughout England and Scotland, often on coast-watch duty combating smuggling.

In 1779, the "light troop" from the Regiment, together with those of other regiments, was detached to form the 21st Light Dragoons.

Major changes occurred throughout the Army in 1783, and the Regiment was re-designated as "light dragoons" with radical changes to the uniform and equipment which included the issue of helmets to replace the tricornered hats, lighter pattern saddles and equipment and smaller carbines. The scarlet jacket was replaced by a blue uniform for all light dragoon regiments, augmented with different colour facings and white thread cord.

As a consequence of the French Revolution (1789), war was declared by France and in 1793 the Regiment shipped to the Netherlands to join the army of the Duke of York. They were immediately engaged with the French at Lannoy and, later, the Siege of Landrecies and then the Battle of Tournay where, on each occasion, the Regiment received conspicuous praise from the Duke, with one soldier of the foot guards commenting in his diary: "Our British light cavalry which were with us (the 7th, 15th and 16th) performed wonders of valour, charging the enemy with unexampled courage whenever they approached."

The French Revolutionary government introduced conscription in France and as a consequence the French army outnumbered the allies by almost three to one. Hostilities drew to a close in 1795 (with no real resolution of the problems) and the Regiment returned to England.

1799 saw the Regiment back in the Netherlands, again in the army of the Duke of York against the French. They were immediately committed to heavy fighting in Lord Paget's cavalry brigade. Shortly thereafter. the "Grand old Duke of York" - of nursery rhyme fame - withdrew his army and the Regiment returned to England.

1800 saw the Regiment stationed at Windsor providing a Royal Escort, and thereafter they spent some years in the Home Counties. It was at this time that Lord Paget, Marquis of Anglesey, was appointed Colonel of the Regiment, an appointment that was to have significant outcomes and which lasted forty years, until 1842. (Lord Paget was to lose his right leg at Waterloo.)

1807 saw the Regiment designated one of the first regiments of "hussars" by Royal Warrant, the title being 7th, or Queen's Own, Regiment of Hussars. The elaborate uniform was introduced to conform with European examples, and some changes were made to weaponry.

The Peninsular War (1807-14) saw the Regiment shipped to Portugal under the practical command of Col. (later Maj. Gen.) Richard Vivian. The establishment at this time was 800 officers and men and 677 horses, sub-divided into 8 troops. Arriving at Corunna, the horses were slung overboard to swim ashore, the common practice where no wharves were available.

General Sir John Moore's army of 23,000 was opposed by 300,000 (conscripted) French troops, and they immediately began harassing the French lines of communication. When the main French force turned its attention to the British, the Regiment covered the retreat to Corunna with frequent cavalry charges. Sadly, only 250 horses survived the constant skirmishing and the majority of these were killed rather than being surrendered to the French as the British Army embarked for England in 1809.

Tragedy struck on 22nd January, when a troop ship (The Despatch) was wrecked on the English coast and 60 officers and men and 44 horses from the regiment were drowned.

With the French Army committed to the disastrous invasion of Russia, and Wellington's subsequent success in Spain, the Regiment returned to the Peninsular in 1811, where they joined the pursuit of the French into France. Major engagements were fought at Sault de Navailles, Toulouse and Orthes. Napoleon abdicated in 1814, and the Regiment returned to England.

The years 1815 to 1850 were years of political unrest in England and 1815 saw the Regiment policing riots in London consequent upon the introduction of the Corn Laws.

The sudden resurgence of Napoleon in 1815 saw the Regiment shipped back to France. On 16th June they fought at Quartre Bras. In covering the subsequent retreat, the Regiment twice charged French lancers, suffering severe casualties until saved by a charge of the heavily armed 1st Life Guards. On the 18th June, in muddy conditions following heavy rain, the Battle of Waterloo was fought. At Waterloo, the Regiment made a number of memorable charges, sustaining losses of 56 men and 84 horses killed, and 6 officers and 93 other ranks, and 116 horses, wounded.

After the defeat of Napoleon, the Regiment remained in France, returning to England in 1818. There followed various posting in England, Ireland and Scotland for aperiod of twenty years.

In 1830, orders were given for all cavalry regiments (with the exception of The Blues) to wear scarlet jackets. New uniforms were therefore issued. (This order was rescinded in 1841, when hussar regiments were ordered to revert to blue uniforms!)

On the Canadian revolt of 1838, the Regiment shipped to Montreal. After the defeat of the Canadian "patriots", Upper and Lower Canada were united as a British colony. They remained four years in Canada, then then served in England from 1842 to 1857.

On the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny (1857), the Regiment (620 officers and men without horses as mounts would be acquired later) shipped to India, a voyage lasting three months. The Regiment was immediately in action and was prominent at the Siege of Lucknow. Later, at Musa Bagh, a Victoria Cross was awarded to Cornet William Bankes (who later died of his wounds). Shortly thereafter a second VC was awarded to Major Charles Fraser for bravery at the Rapki River. With the Mutiny suppressed, the 7th Hussars remained in India on garrison duty for a further twelve years, until 1870. They were stationed first at Umballa, and subsequently at Peshawar on the North West Frontier. Returning to England they sailed through the Suez Canal, which had been completed in 1869.

In 1881, two troops from the Regiment were sent on the brief and disastrous expedition to South Africa, where the British were soundly defeated by the Boers at Mujaba Hill. The two troops from the 7th Hussars took no part in the fighting and returned to England after one year.

In common with many other regiments, the Seventh provided 2 officers and 44 men for the Egyptian Expedition of 1884.

The Regiment returned to India for ten years from 1886 to 1896. 21 officers, 587 other ranks, 50 women and 47 children embarked on the Euphrates, again without horses which would be acquired in India. The ten years in India was largely uneventful, apart from success on the polo field.

With trouble brewing in South Africa, the Regiment shipped from India to the Natal State in 1896. They took over horses from the 3rd Dragoon Guards. Regular patrols were maintained in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to counter threats of insurrection by Matabele warriors and significant engagements were fought around Bulawayo in 1897.

The Regiment returned to England in 1898, where they remained for three years. A number of officers requested, and were granted, temporary attachment to other regiments involved in the fighting in South Africa. In 1901 the Regiment in its entirety was sent to South Africa and their first engagement with the Boers occurred in January 1902. Thereafter, the Regiment was involved in constant skirmishing until peace was declared in May. They returned to England in 1905.