In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Regimental History
The 11th Hussars started out as a heavy dragoon regiment, converting fully to light dragoons after 68 years and to hussars after a further 58 years. Dragoons were, in the previous century, mounted infantry who were able to travel quickly and fight on foot but they had become cavalry in their own right by the time the 11th was raised.

When George I became king in 1714 he established the Protestant Hanoverian monarchy that was to last 124 years. But it did not appease the Catholic supporters of James Edward Stuart, son of James II. These Jacobites, as they were called, had the support of the French and many Scots who had opposed the 1707 Union with England.

With trouble brewing in the north, George I raised 8 regiments of foot and 13 of dragoons. One of these dragoon regiments was raised by General Sir Philip Honywood on 22nd July 1715, recruiting in Essex and based in Colchester. In September of that year the First Jacobite Rebellion began even though James, the Old Pretender had not yet landed in Scotland.

The Battle of Preston
The rebels were poorly led by Lord Kenmure and 'General' Forster but managed to take over several English towns, including Preston. Honeywood's Dragoons were part of the English army sent to fight the Jacobites putting the two month old regiment into it's first action. Unfortunately it was a situation that required infantry rather than cavalry. The rebels had set up barricades in the streets of Preston and 50 dismounted men of the regiment helped storm Wigan avenue.

General Honywood himself was wounded in this battle, as well as Major Humphrey Bland and 5 privates. The next day saw the surrender of the 1500 strong Jacobite army. Lord Kenmure and several other noblemen were executed but Forster escaped from the Tower of London. The Old Pretender eventually landed in Scotland in December but had to flee two months later.

The size of the regiment in peacetime fell to 207 but raised to 552 when war threatened in 1727. As this abated, numbers fell to 309. The new recruits were led by battle-hardened NCOs, one of whom was Sergeant Donald McBane reputed to be the finest swordsman in the British Army. At the time of Preston he was in his fifties and even at the age of 63 he was earning money from gentlemen who paid to watch swordfights.
Second Jacobite Rebellion
After 30 years of peace the regiment, now called Kerr's Dragoons after it's second Colonel General Lord Mark Kerr were required in 1745 to help fight a new Jacobite uprising led by the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II. The rebels reached as far as Derby but had to retrace their steps, pursued by an English army of 30,000 led by the Duke of Cumberland. One troop of Kerr's Dragoons took part in the battle of Clifton Muir, the last battle fought on English soil but this was a victory for the Scots. It wasn't until April 13th 1746 that things came to a final and bloody conclusion, at Culloden.
Battle of Culloden
The Jacobites had very little cavalry so were left no option but to make wild infantry charges that were not effective against the disciplined red lines of the English. Cumberland's cavalry charged from both wings to crush the rebels in the middle. Kerr's Dragoons were then ordered to pursue the fleeing Scotsmen showing 'no quarter'. This was in infamous event in English history and must have been day of hard decisions for the regiment's commanding officer, Lt Col the Earl of Ancram who was described as being 'a chivalrous and compassionate man'. In the course of the pursuit they caught Lord Balmerino who was later executed. Their casualties were three men killed, three wounded and 20 horses wounded.
11th Dragoons Dress
In 1751 the regiment was called by it's number instead of by it's Colonel's name and was, for the next 30 years the 11th Dragoons. Their uniform was depicted in detail for the first time by the artist David Morier. They had red coats with skirts tied back and facings, waistcoat and breeches all in buff. Their black tricorn hats were edged with silver lace. The sword hung from a waistbelt worn under the coat and a buff leather pouch holding the carbine ammunition hung on the right hip from a broad buff strap slung over the left shoulder. The embroidered shabraque or saddlecloth had a pointed corner bordered with green and white lace and the numerals XI and royal cypher sewn in white. The carbine was supported, muzzle upwards in a leather holder in front of the rider's right knee.
Light Troop
The mid 18th century experiences of continental warfare had taught the British the value of light cavalry so in 1856 it was decided that eleven of the dragoon regiments should convert one if their troops to become a Light Troop of 60 men. They wore a similar red coat but were recognisable from the odd stlye of headwear which was a tough leather cap with upturned red 'peak' decorated with a crown and cypher. The carbine was fixed to a brown leather strap slung over the left shoulder and a Morier painting shows a private firing his carbine at the gallop. The 11th Light Troop fought well at St Malo and Cherbourg in 1758. Unfortunately some of the men looted wine vaults in Cherbourg and became very drunk. In a second St Malo raid their commander, Capt William Lindsay, and 20 men were killed in a Dunkirk style retreat. The Light Troops lasted until 1783 by which time the whole regiment became light.
In 1760 the 11th were involved in the Seven years War, fighting the French. They were allied to Frederick the Great's Prussia and at the battle of Warburg were commended for their bravery. This victory gave the regiment it's first battle honour.
1715 - 1783
1715 - 1783
1715 - 1783
Successor Units
11th Light Dragoons
1783 - 1840
11th Hussars
1840 - 1969
The Royal Hussars
1969 - 1992
King's Royal Hussars
1992 -

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by Stephen Luscombe