In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Raising of the Regiment 1685
The 5th Dragoon Guards was raised in the reign of James II in response to the threat to the monarch posed by the Monmouth Rebellion. There were six troops raised as follows:

Lichfield Troop. Charles, Earl of Shrewsbury
Kingston upon Thames Troop. Francis, Lord Brudenel
Chester Troop. Sir Thomas Grosvenor
Bridgenorth Troop. Roger Pope Esq.
Bristol Troop. Mr Francis Spalding
London Troop. The Hon John D'Arcy

These Troops were raised but not employed in the war against the Duke of Monmouth. However James was a keen military man and retained his newly raised regiments. The Troops were formed into a regiment of cuirassiers, ranked, at first, as 7th Horse, on 29th July 1685, with the Earl of Shrewsbury as Colonel and the Hon John D'Arcy as lieutenant-colonel. They were reviewed at Hounslow in that year and then marched to Warwickshire.

King James began to ensure that his army was led by Roman Catholic officers, so the Protestant Earl of Shrewsbury resigned his colonelcy to join William Prince of Orange in Holland. There followed two Catholic Colonels in quick succession but this did not guarantee religious correctness amongst the officers and men. After James fled the country and William became the new Protestant monarch, the regiment was given John Coy as its colonel and was named Coy's Horse for the next 8 years. From 1687 they were ranked as 6th Horse.

Battle of the Boyne 1st July 1690
The regiment went to Ireland in August 1689 with Marshal Duke Schomberg, campaigning against James's Catholic forces at Carrickfergus, Newry and Dundalk. In 1690 King William took over the command of the army at the battle of the Boyne where Coy's Horse were on the right wing. They were part of a column which forded the river at Slane Bridge and fought a regiment of Irish dragoons. They killed about 70 of the enemy and proceeded through cornfields and ditches until the enemy retreated towards Duleck. The British cavalry pursued the Irish and French troops causing the enemy to suffer heavy casualties. They attended the siege of Limerick, and in the winter joined an incursion into Kerry. Coy's and another regiment were in the vanguard and had contact with the enemy at Brewsterfield. They routed 160 enemy dragoons and went on to further action at Tralee.
Flanders 1694-1698
King William took his army to Flanders in 1694 to campaign against Louis XIV. They were part of the covering army at the siege of Namur and afterwards camped between Ghent and Bruges. A detachment of the regiment formed part of an ambush near Enghien which defeated a force of French cavalry during the relief of the siege of Aeth. Whilst serving in this campaign they had a change of colonel and became Arran's Horse in July 1697.
Marlborough's Campaign
After the Peace of Ryswick Arran's Horse came home and were posted to Ireland in 1700. They were destined to spend most of the 18th century there, but first there was a further period of campaigning in the Low Countries. Three Troops of the regiment, numbering 57 men per Troop, were detached for this war and sent to serve in The Duke of Marlborough's army in 1702, and in 1703 became Cadogan's Horse. The other three Troops of the regiment had remained in Ireland, but in April 1704 they came over to join their comrades for the Duke's march to the Danube. The reunited regiment arrived at Donauworth to take part in the storming of the Schellenberg on 2nd July 1704. In this battle they were exposed to enemy artillery and lost many horses. They also suffered several wounded including General Cadogan, and Major Robert Napier who later roes to Lt-General and became their colonel in 1717. The next battle was at Blenheim which was a great allied victory and Cadogan's Horse were fortunate to be part Marlborough's triumph. One officer, Lt Groubere was killed but the other casualties are not recorded.

Helixem 18th July 1705

Helixem 1705
The regiment had a better opportunity for glory at Helixem the following year. Marlborough took his army back to the Netherlands to force the lengthy lines of fortification built by the French. The area chosen was around Helixem and Neer-Hespen. The heavy cavalry were ordered forward by Marlborough but were met by Bavarian Cavalry. Initially the Bavarians proved too strong a match and at one point the Duke of Marlborough was seen to be fighting for his life, cut off from his men. This spurred the regiment to renew their efforts and they charged in with great bravery. In the struggle they captured four Bavarian standards from the elite unit they were up against, and the retreat began. The enemy cavalry fled to the rear of their lines causing many casualties amongst their own infantry. For Cadogan's Horse this was their finest hour of the century. Marlborough singled them out for praise: "Never men fought better!... They acquitted themselves with a bravery surpassing all that could be expected of them."

Wynendale 1708

The regiment fought again, with distinction, at Ramillies in 1706, and at Oudenarde in 1708 they were held in reserve but not sent in to action. Later in that year they were part of the covering army in the siege of Lille. The siege army waited to be supplied by a convoy of 600 wagons from Ostend escorted by a force under General Webb. When intelligence reached Marlborough that Webb's convoy was about to be attacked he sent Cadogan's Cuirassiers to give them aid. They arrived in time to help the escort as they were attacked in a wood at Wynendale. The impetus of their attack drove the French off and the convoy was saved. The French tried to divert Marlborough and Eugene from their siege by attacking Brussels. The regiment was sent as part of a force to harass the enemy and 1708 ended successfully with the retreat of the French from Brussels and the surrender of Lille on 9th Dec.

Malplaquet 11th Sep 1709

In the summer of 1709 Tournay was besieged on 27th June and the regiment was part of the force sent against the city. They were then sent to capture Mons but Marshal Villiers confronted Marlborough's army at Malplaquet. The French were in a good position covered by thick woods, and they had constructed effective barriers with fallen trees and entrenchments. Marlborough himself led the British and Prussian cavalry against the gendarmes who were routed but they then had to contend with the French household cavalry who drove the allies back in disorder. With a supreme effort the regiments rallied and fought back in a fierce struggle. In the end the French retreated and another great victory was achieved.

Arleux, 4th-5th Aug 1711

The French 'Ne Plus Ultra' fortifications stretched in a formidable line to cover their frontier and Marlborough decided to force his way through, with the help of Cadogan's Cuirassiers. The fort at Arleux was tricked into being abandoned and the enemy were induced to withdraw their garrison from Arras and Cambrai. Meanwhile the Duke assembled troops secretly near Douay, and these included two Troops of Cadogan's. On the night of the 4th Aug this force crept through at the causeway of Arleux. The French commander, Marshal Villiers was astounded when he heard that the British cavalry had penetrated his lines, and rushed to the area with the royal household cavalry which was surrounded and captured. Villiers himself managed to escape. The regiment remained on the continent until early 1714 when it embarked for Ireland. The colonel was now George Kellum who had been their lieutenant-colonel since 1704.

Ireland and Regimental Titles
During the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland the supporters of the Stuart dynasty in Ireland agitated against their Hanoverian overlords so that the regiments of horse stationed there were kept busy. In 1717 they were titled 2nd Irish Horse which was their ranking on the Irish establishment, but in 1746 the Blues were taken out of the line cavalry and three regiments of Horse were changed to Dragoon Guards. At that point our regiment was the 2nd Horse in the English ranking instead of 6th. They remained 2nd Horse until 1st April 1788 when the last 3 regiments of Horse were re-named Dragoon Guards.
Regimental Strength in 1788
In 1788 the newly styled 5th Dragoon Guards had a strength established at one colonel, one lieutenant-colonel, one major, 3 captains, 6 lieutenants, 6 cornets, one adjutant, one chaplain, one surgeon, 6 Troop quartermasters, 6 sergeants, 12 corporals, 6 trumpeters, 114 mounted privates and 6 dismounted privates. They were ordered to change their uniforms from green to yellow facings and the officers to have silver instead of gold lace. This unpopular order was rescinded in March 1800 when they were allowed to resume wearing green (with gold lace).
French Revolutionary Wars

Beaumont 26th April 1794

On 18th and 19th Sep 1793 the 5th Dragoon Guards embarked at Dublin for Flanders at the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars.  Their first engagement was at Premont on 17th April 1794 but they were not called upon to charge the enemy.  They were then part of the covering force during the siege of Landrécies.  On the morning of 26th April the allies faced 30,000 French troops under René Chapuis at Beaumont, also referred to as Coteau.  The British cavalry were sent against the enemy’s left flank which turned to receive them.  The regiment charged with great spirit and caused the French to fall back after a sharp fight.  They captured Chapuis and many cannons, and pursued the enemy as far as Cambrai. Nine men and 23 horses were killed, one officer, one QM and 8 men were wounded, and 4 men and 23 horses went missing. The 5th Dragoon Guards were awarded the battle honour BEAUMONT retrospectively in 1909. 

Tournay 10th May 1794

After the surrender of Landrecies the Allies took up position in front of Tournay. The French attacked and General Harcourt was sent with 16 squadrons of British cavalry and 2 squadrons of Austrian cavalry to charge the enemy. This they did with such determination that the enemy immediately retreated. The result was a complete defeat for the French and the capture of 13 cannons and 400 prisoners. Another attempt was made with a larger force of French on 17th May, which was again repulsed, but the 5th DG were not so involved. However, the tide turned against the allies so that the superior French forces pushed them back into Germany and they left for England in November 1795.

The Irish Rebellion 1796 - 1798

Arklow 9th June 1798

The regiment were sent back to Ireland in Oct 1796 where republicans, encouraged by the events in France, had taken up arms against the hated English.
Battle of Arklow
The first event of importance was the arrival of a French fleet in Bantry Bay on 24th Dec 1796 but a storm caused the landing to be foiled. The regiment made a forced march to counter this threat but were not needed. In 1798, however, open rebellion broke out and the 5th DG were on duty in Dublin. One squadron under brevet Lt-Col Sherlock was detached to Wicklow and Wexford. On 9th June the town of Arklow as attacked by 27,000 Catholics. They were a mob that had committed outrages throughout the area, lynching and burning Protestants. 5,000 of them were armed with firearms, the rest with pikes, and they possessed artillery. The military were made up of 1,360 infantry, militia and fencibles, and 125 cavalry (the 5DG squadron and Yeomanry). The onrush of rebels forced the cavalry back but the 5th DG made a determined charge which halted the mob's progress, and the fire from the infantry drove them back to some ditches from where they fired on the troops. Eventually the rebels came into the open and charged the soldiers but were met by close range artillery and musket fire. The slaughter was terrible and they retreated in confusion towards Gorey.

Ballycarnen June 1798

The same squadron, under Lt-Col Sherlock were instrumental in relieving the loyalists of Ballycarnen, with the aid of a small force of militia. The dragoon guards advanced against a barricade of carts formed across the road but were unable to make any impression on this defence. More infantry arrived later and with their help the rebels were routed and the dragoon guards were able to pursue them and cut them down.

Vinegar Hill 21st June 1798

The squadron were again engaged at Gorey where they had to charge the rebels once more. The more famous action at Vinegar Hill saw them in action against insurgents who had murdered many Protestants. They made a charge and again caused the rebels to flee so that many were killed or captured. A subsidiary action followed this at White Hills where a sharp contest took place and the rebels were scattered.

Prosperous June 1798

Another detachment of the 5th DG was operating in County Kildare and had several skirmishes with insurgents. A patrol commanded by Captain Pack encountered 100 rebels at Prosperous. They were mounted and armed but the dragoon guards attacked them so that the rebels fell back with the shock of the assault. Twenty were killed and 8 horse captured.

Ballinamuck 8th Sep 1798

The French decided to bring aid to the flagging rebellion and sent a 1,000 strong force under a General Humbert. They landed at Killala on 22nd Aug and the 5th Dragoon Guards, under Captain William Ponsonby, marched from Dublin to join up with The Marquis of Cornwallis's troops. The action at Ballinamuck on 8th Sep was fought against a combined army of French and Catholic Irish rebels. The result of the conflict was the surrender of the French and the dispersal of the rebels.

5th Dragoon Guards' Badge
The Green Horse
Vestigia nulla restorsum
We do not retreat
Regimental Anniversary
Salamanca Day
Regimental Marches
The Gay Cavalier
Soldier's chorus from Gounod's Faust
Colonels in Chief
1685 - 1922
Commanding Officers
1685 - 1922
1685 - 1922
1685 - 1922
1685 - 1922
Band and Drumhorses
1685 - 1922
1685 - 1922
Principal Campaigns and Battles
1701 - 1715 War of Spanish Succession
1793 - 1802 French Revolutionary Wars
1808 - 1814 Peninsular War
1854 - 1855 Crimean War
1899 - 1902 South African War
1914 - 1918 The Great War
Predecessor Units
Shrewsbury's Horse (7th Horse)
(1685 - 1687)
Langdale's Horse
Hamilton's Horse
(1687 - 1688)
Coy's Horse
(1688 - 1691)
6th Horse
(1691 - 1697)
Arran's Horse
(1697 - 1703)
(1703 - 1712)
Kellum's Horse
(1712 - 1717)
Napier's Horse
(1717 - 1740)
Neville's Horse
(1740 - 1744)
Cobham's Horse
(1744 - 1745)
Wentworth's Horse
(1745 - 1746)
2nd Irish Horse
(1746 - 1788)
5th Dragoon Guards
(1788 - 1804)
The 5th (Princess Charlotte of Wales's) Dragoon Guards
(1804 -)
Successor Units
5th/6th Dragoons
(1922 - 1927)
5th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
(1927 - 1935)
5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
(1935 - )
Suggested Reading
The Story of a Regiment of Horse (5th Princess of Wales's Dragoon Guards) 1685-1922 (2 vols) Blackwood 1924 Historical Record of the 5th Dragoon Guards. the Fifth, Or Princess Charlotte of Wales's Regiment of Dragoon Guards (1839)
The Story of a Regiment of Horse (5th Princess of Wales's Dragoon Guards) 1685-1922 (2 vols)
by R L Pomeroy (Blackwood 1924)
Tracks in Europe
by C J Boardman (privately printed - Home HQ 1980)
The Story of the Fifth Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards
by R Evans (London 1951)
Change and Challenge: 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards 1928-1978
by C Blacker and H Woods (privately printed 1978)
Regimental Museum
The Cheshire Military Museum
The Castle
tel: 01244 327617
Open April-October 11am - 5pm (Sunday 2pm - 5.30pm)

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by Stephen Luscombe