In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

The Raising of the Regiment

At the beginning of the 18th century, standing armies were generally regarded as undesirable so wholesale disdandment of regiments always followed a war as they did in 1712 after a series of stunning victories had brought the War of the Spanish Succession to a close. Queen Anne's death, however, and the introduction of the Hanoverian monarchy caused unrest amongst the supporters of the Stuart dynasty who called themselves Jacobites. Richard Munden was one of many officers who found themselves out of a job with the disdandments. The threat of a Jacobite uprising gave him hope that his services would be needed again and it was not long before his name was put forward to the Duke of Marlborough on a list entitled Persons recommended to be officers in the newly raised Regiments :-

'Lt.-Colonel Munden has spent a good part of his Estate in the service, and had the honour to command the Battalion of Guards at Schellenberg. He says he has some sort of promise from your Grace last year at Harwich. The Earl of Orkney recommends him as having very good friends to assist him to raise a Regiment.'

There were 10 other names that were chosen with Munden's to raise eleven regiments of Dragoons. The order sent to him on 23rd July 1715 from His Majesty King George I started:

'Whereas We have thought fitt that a Regiment of Dragoons be forthwith Raised under your Command for Our Service which is to consist of six Troops, of One Serjeant, Two Corporals, One Drummer, One Hautbois, and Thirty private Dragoons including the Widdows Men in Each Troop, These are to Authorize You by beat of Drumm or otherwise to raise So many Volunteers as shall be Wanting to Compleat the said Regimt. to the above Numbers.'

A hautbois was a musician and 'Widdows Men' refers to non-existant men whose pay went into a fund to support the widows of deceased officers.

The first action that involved Munden's Dragoons occured on 12th November 1715. The battle of Preston in Lancashire was the main event of the First Jacobite Rebellion. The Highlanders came south and occupied the town, putting up barricades in the roads leading to Wigan and Lancaster. Munden's men were part of the force directed against the Lancaster road barricade which they attacked from the rear. The houses on either side of the road were occupied by rebels who fired down on the dragoons, wounding four men and 12 horses. The houses were set alight, but the fight was a stalemate until the arrival of General Carpenter the following day with 3 regiments of Dragoons. The rebels surrendered on the 14th.

Ireland 1718-42
In October 1718 Munden's Dragoons were ordered to Ireland to replace a disbanded regiment of dragoons. They received strict instructions to recruit only in the UK, not Ireland. But this order was circumvented by sending Irishmen over to Scotland, dressing them as Scotsmen and returning them to Ireland as recruits. Thus the 13th Dragoons became an Irish regiment. They were quartered in different places, for instance, in 1725 three Troops were at Sligo, 1 at Cavan, 1 at Belturbet and 1 at Colooney. The following year 3 Troops were in Dublin, one and a half Troops at Longford, and one and a half Troops at Athlone. In fact there was a standing order that soldiers should not be allowed to stay in one place longer than 2 years. In 1742 the regiment returned to England but by 1745 they were quartered in scattered locations in Scotland. It is clear from the way they were split up that no training was carried out to prepare them for organised manoeuvre on the field of battle.
The Jacobite Rebellion of 1745
The Second Jacobite Rebellion was raised in 1745. The English army in Scotland, along with Scottish troops loyal to the crown, was commanded by Sir John Cope at this stage. On receipt of news of the rebellion they left Edinburgh in mid-August and marched to Inverness. The cavalry consisted of Gardiner's Dragoons (the 13th) and Hamilton's Dragoons (the 14th) and fortunately were required to stay at Edinburgh and Stirling. The army, meanwhile went on and reached Aberdeen on 11th September, then they embarked for Dunbar. Bonnie Prince Charlie's highlanders had reached Edinburgh and taken possession of it, but there is no clear idea of why the dragoon regiments did nothing to defend Edinburgh. An inspection of the cavalry by Brigadier Fowkes on 16th Sep revealed that the horses had sore backs and the men were suffering from swollen legs and lack of sleep. Col Gardiner suggested that the dragoon regiments retire to Leith to recuperate. But Lieth was not suitable and they carried on to Musselburgh where they linked up with Sir John Cope's army.
Battle of Prestonpans
On 21st September 1745 the highlanders came out to meet the redcoats at Prestonpans, a seaside village a few miles east of Edinburgh. Cope was well positioned but his troops were not well disciplined. His infantry were in the centre with Gardiner's Dragoons on the right and Hamilton's Dragoons on the left. They had to change position as the rebels moved around to their flank on the west side. Cope had artillery but no trained gunners. The battle had still not started when night fell and the armies spent a restless night laying on their arms. Before dawn the highlanders attacked in 5 columns and were not repelled by musket fire. Lt-Col Shugbrough Whitney of Gardiner's Dragoons was ordered to march his squadron out and attack the rebels, but the enemy opened fire and the dragoons could not be persuaded to advance. They then turned and ran away. Col Gardiner's Squadron was ordered to charge the rebels that had over-run the guns, but his men behaved no better than the others, and retreated.

Both Whitney and Gardiner were wounded but Gardiner was fatally wounded and died a few hours later after he had been taken to the minister's house at Tranent. Attempts were made by the officers to prevent the troopers from fleeing and a scratch squadron was formed to face the enemy but they were unable to stand their ground. The whole army was now in flight and continued on to Lauder, then stopped at Coldstream. Musselburgh where they linked up with Sir John Cope's army.

Falkirk, 17th Jan 1746
From Coldstream on the border, the army went to Berwick and then to Newcastle to link up with British troops under Lieut-General Hawley. The 13th had lost their Colonel at Prestonpans and were doomed to lose another at Falkirk. Their new Colonel was Francis Ligonier, brother of the famous Sir John Ligonier. Francis had been the commanding officer of the 7th Dragoon Guards from 1737 and led them at Dettingen where he was wounded. He relinquished command of that regiment in June 1745 and was appointed Colonel of the 13th Dragoons on 1st Oct 1745.

The Jacobites had laid siege to Stirling Castle, aided by French artillery, but were forced to divert most of their army to deal with Hawley's redcoats at Falkirk. The battle was conducted during a dark and stormy night. This time the dragoon regiments (now three of them) did manage to attack the enemy but soon lost their nerve and retired. Ligonier's (13th) and Cobham's Dragoons (10th) retired in good order but Hamilton's (14th) panicked and caused infantry formations to scatter and fire at them in the confusion. Most of the infantry ran away but two regiments stood their ground.

Francis Ligonier was in command of the cavalry brigade but he had been suffering from pleurisy for 3 days, causing the doctors to bleed him and blister him. But he led the charge against the enemy, and tried to rally the dragoons to support the remaining infantry. His exertions in appalling weather caused him to finally collapse and he was taken, with the retreating army, to Linlithgow where he died on the 25th Jan. The CO of the 13th, Lt-Col Shogbrough Whitney, who had been wounded at Prestonpans, also died at Falkirk. The highlanders did not pursue the redcoats but withdrew northwards.

Return to Ireland 1749
The 13th did not take part in the battle of Culloden in April 1746 but were part of the redcoat hunt for rebels in the aftermath. With the end of hostilities in Europe, also, there was a large influx of British troops to England and the regiment were sent back to Ireland in early 1749 and reduced in strength. The size of the regiment is not known at this stage , but in 1763 the establishment of Irish dragoon regiments was as follows: 3 field officers, 3 captains, 3 lieutenants, 6 cornets, 1 chaplain, 1 adjutant, 1 surgeon, 6 quartermasters, 6 sergeants, 12 corporals, 6 hautboys, 6 drummers and 120 privates. In all 174 men. The regiment was divided into 6 Troops of 20 men per Troop. Quartermasters were the equivalent of Warrant Officers at that time. In 1767 it was recorded that there were 4 Englishmen in the regiment, 10 Scotsmen and the rest were Irish Protestants. Also in that year trumpeters, mounted on grey horses, had replaced hautboys (or hautbois).
Riot in Cork, 10 Sep 1781
In the autumn of 1781 the 13th were stationed in Cork to keep watch for an expected French invasion. On 9th Sep 1781 a soldier was murdered by some civilians causing a serious military riot on the following night. Soldiers went on the rampage in reprisal and were only calmed by the effort of an officer who called out the guard. But the bad feeling lingered on and for some years afterwards the civil population took their revenge by capturing soldiers and either killing them or cutting their hamstrings to cripple them.
Conversion to Light Dragoons 1778
It is generally accepted that the 13th became light Dragoons in 1783 but the process of conversion from Dragoons to light dragoons actually started around 1777. The Army List of 1778 enters the regiment as the 13th Light Dragoons and in an inspection report of that year there is mention of the light dragoon helmets worn by the men. However, the red uniforms with green facings continued until 1783 when blue uniforms with buff facings were adopted.
13th Dragoons Badge
The Green Dragoons
The Evergreens
The Great Runaway Prestopans
Viret in Aeternum
It flourishes forever
Recruiting Area
1715 - 1778
Lieutenant Colonels
1715 - 1778
1715 - 1778
1715 - 1778
Principal Campaigns and Battles
1715 Jacobite Rising
1745 Jacobite Rising
Successor Units
13th Light Dragoons
(1778 - 1861)
13th Hussars
(1861 - 1922)
13th/18th Hussars
(1922 - 1992)
The Light Dragoons
(1992 - )
Suggested Reading
History of the XIII Hussars
by C R B Barrett

Light Dragoons
by Allan Mallinson

Historical Record of the Thirteenth Regiment of Light Dragoons
(London: Parker: 1842)

Regimental Museum
Cannon Hall Museum

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by Stephen Luscombe