In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Origins of the Regiment in 1642
The official date of the raising of the regiment is 1660 but the origins can be traced back to 1642 when Charles I authorised Archibald Campbell, 8th Earl and 1st Marquess of Argyll, to raise a regiment of Royal Guards which would accompany nine other Scottish regiments. This force was raised to fight Irish rebels who were up in arms against the Protestant settlers who had colonised the six Counties of Ulster. The campaign lasted 7 years and the remnants of the depleted Scottish army merged into one unit referred to as The Irish Companies
Lyfe Guard of Foot 1650
After the execution of Charles I the Royalists had strong support in Scotland and the future Charles II was welcomed and crowned at Scone. The Irish Companies were re-named The King's Lyfe Guard of Foot in 1650 at Falkland Palace in Fife. Under this title they fought the Parliamentary army at Dunbar on 3rd September 1650, where they found themselves opposite General Monck's Coldstream Guards. They were defeated by Cromwell's army and were reduced to two companies. Charles unwisely invaded England at the head of a Scottish army but was again defeated at Worcester in 1651, also on 3rd September. The Lyfe Guard of Foot, along with the rest of the Scottish army ceased to exist.
Re-raising the Companies 1660
When Charles II was restored to his throne in 1660, companies of Scottish Foot Guards were re-raised to garrison Edinburgh, Dumbarton and Stirling Castles. Expanding first to six, then to thirteen companies by 1666, the regiment fought against the Covenanters at Rullion Green in 1666 and at Bothwell Brig in 1679. It is ironic to think how Argyll, their original Colonel, would have viewed them fighting his beloved Presbyterian diehards.

As early as 1666, Charles II was making enquiries about bringing the Scots Guards to London in anticipation of a Dutch invasion. The regiment was said to 'correspond in all things to the King's Foot Guards' and that they were in need of a physician and that the men claim tenpence a day. It was also said that the men were not inferior in social status to those of the Life Guards. It is not known how many companies the regiment had at this stage. At the beginning perhaps two or three, but in 1674, two more companies of 100 men each were added, and a third in 1677.

Charles II died in 1685 and the country was again split under James II. Monmouth's Rebellion was crushed at Sedgemoor on 7th July 1685, but the Catholic King James remained unpopular. By now the Regiment had 14 companies and in 1686 two battalions were formed, one of which was brought south. King James had set up a training camp on Hownslow Heath and the Scots Guards joined the other two Guards regiments for the first time. They were to be brigaded with the 1st and Coldstream Guards, but being the news boys, they were called The Kiddies.

When William of Orange landed in England on 5th November 1688, the Scots Guards were deeply divided. Some officers chose to do their duty and serve their unpopular King but others sided with William. The situation resolved itself when James fled. Under King William the regiment was given, in 1691, the same rank privileges as the other two Guards regiments whereby a Guards Captain would be equal to a Lieutenant-Colonel in the army.

War of the League of Augsburg 1689-1697
The 2nd Battalion was sent to Flanders in 1689 to take part in this war. They were brigaded with 1st Battalion First Guards and 2nd Battalion Dutch Guards. The army was commanded by John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough. Their first battle was at Walcourt in 1689. Soon after that the 1st battalion was sent out, brigaded with 2nd First Guards and 1st Coldstream Guards. The next battle was Steenkirk on 3rd August 1692. The army was led by William because at this time Marlborough was imprisoned in the Tower. The British were deprived of victory because of the lack of support from their Dutch allies.

The Battle of Landen 1693

Another battle that ended in defeat but great honour for the Guards was Landen on 29th July 1693. Both Guards Brigades were involved. They were defending the village of Neerwinden with the Royal Scots, 7th Fusiliers and some Hanoverians. This force endured a sustained attack from 26 French battalions. Ammunition was running very low after a whole day's fighting so they were forced to withdraw under cover of a cavalry action. The British casualties numbered 4,000.

Namur 1695

In this battle, on 30th August 1695, the grenadier companies from each battalion were put together and captured part of the Fortress of Namur. The rest of the Guards stormed the outer defences with great bravery. It was a victory for William and his British/Dutch force and a battle honour was finally granted to the Guards regiments as late as 1910.

Highland Company 1704-1714
In 1704 it was decided that the regiment should have a Highland Company 'for the security of the Highlands and the adjacent country against threats and depredations'. They wore Highland dress and carried weapons to match. But after ten years the company was disbanded.
War of the Spanish Succession 1704-1714

Brihuega 1710

The Scots Guards did not go with Marlborough on his famous Blenheim campaign but the 2nd Battalion joined an expedition to Spain in 1710. Although the battles of Almenara and Saragossa were successful, the British were outnumbered and surrounded at Brihuega, in Castile, in December 1710. Casualties amounted to 600 and many of the regiment remained as prisoners there for two years.

Third Regiment of Guards
In 1712 the regiment was renamed 3rd Guards and both battalions were based in London. They were now a fully fledged Household regiment. In 1719 a detachment of the 3rd Guards returned to Spain with other Guards detachments to carry out a punitive raid on the port of Vigo, a base used by the Jacobites.
War of the Austrian Succession 1740-1748
The Emperor Charles VI of Austria died in 1740 and a dispute arose as to who should inherit the Holy Roman Empire. Princess Maria Theresa, Charles's daughter, was the obvious choice and she was backed by George II who, as Elector of Hanover, was pledged to support her. The counter claim was made by the Elector of Bavaria who was backed by France, Spain, Prussia and Saxony.

The Earl of Stair was chosen to lead the Pragmatic Army which included a British force of 16,000. He was a veteran of Marlborough's wars and 74 years old. He led the hungry and ragged army east and stopped on the River Main near Frankfurt to fight the French, but was prevented from doing so by the Austrian commander and King George who made himself unpopular by breezing into camp to inspect them and take over command.

The Guards brigade was made up of the 1st Battalions of all three Guards regiments. The irony of this campaign was that the Guards earned a battle honour for Dettingen in which they played little part, and earned nothing for the battle of Fontenoy where they fought with great bravery and distinction.

Dettingen 1743

A week after the King arrived, it was clear that the army was starving so a retreat was made northwest to Hanau to obtain forage. Their route led them into a trap laid by the French commander, de Noailles and his nephew the Comte de Grammont. On 27th June 1743 the Pragmatic Army was squeezed between the river and wooded hills. The French artillery placed the other side of the Main were able to bombard them, and their way ahead was blocked by Grammont who was well protected by a stream and marshy ground. Fortunately for the Allies, Grammont moved in and came unstuck when the British and Hanoverian infantry cut them down with a withering volley. They were forced to retreat across the Main and the French and Swiss Guard soon followed when the British cavalry charged them.

The Guards were kept in reserve with the protection of the King in mind. This was not a happy situation for them because the Allies had won the day in spite of George II not because of him. When he was urged to send the cavalry in pursuit of the fleeing Frenchmen The King said, 'I am not at war with France!' He also refused to bring the wounded along with the army to Hanau. They were left to the mercy of the French.

Fontenoy 1745

The Earl of Stair resigned his command after Dettingen. He was replaced by George Wade but the King meddled again and sent his son the Duke of Cumberland to take over. The French by now were laying siege to Tournai under the leadership of Marshal Saxe. Cumberland headed for Maulbray to force a battle. The Dutch were to assault the French outposts to the west of Fontenoy while Richard Ingoldsby's brigade were required to go through the woods on the right, but that was a failure which left the French artillery free to fire on the infantry from their redoubts.

The infantry were led by an able commander John Ligonier and it was their courage that caused Saxe the most trouble. The Three Guards battalions were at the forefront of the advance on the French centre. The lack of effort by the Dutch and Ingoldsby's brigade meant that they suffered great losses from both sides during the advance. They held their fire until they were halted in front of the massed French battalions, then opened fire with devastating effect. But the weight of numbers was against them and the infantry retreated. The Guards set a fine example of orderly withdrawl and proved themselves to be the best. Lord Crauford said of them, 'You have gained as much honour, in covering so great a retreat, as if you had won a battle.' The Scots Guards lost half their number, the remainder returned to Britain to confront the Jacobite Rebellion.

The Jacobite Rebellion 1745
The March to Finchley
It would be wrong to regard the Jacobite rebellion as a war between Scotland and England. The first rising, in 1715, was a reaction to the Act of Union in 1707 but things had settled down in the 30 years since then. Glasgow was prospering after the opening up of trade with the English colonies, and generally the Union had benefited Scotland. The rebellion this time was mostly aggravated by religion and clan rivalry. There were clans like the Campbells that sided with the English monarchs and Highland clans like the MacGregors that regarded the Georgian kings as very anti-Scottish.

The Catholic Jacobites were encouraged by the French, of course, and had as their figurehead Charles Edward Stuart, grandson of James II, aka Bonnie Prince Charlie or the Young Pretender. French support was half-hearted but the threat to England was real enough, especially after the Scottish victory at Prestonpans. The Guards battalions that were still in London were prepared to defend the capital. The Grenadiers of each battalion formed a scratch force to meet the approaching Jacobite army.

The rest of the Guards were brought home from Flanders but the threat faded and the Duke of Cumberland set off north on his punitive mission. The army was mostly cavalry who were able to move faster, but mounted infantry were assembled and the Guards contributed 400 men. They were involved in the relief of Carlisle and returned home. They did not take part in the battle of Culloden on 16th April 1746.

Seven Years War 1756-63

Amphibious Raids 1758

The Scots Guards were not involved in the war until 1758 when they were part of the raids on the French coast. Cherbourg was captured in a surprise attack, and pillaged. The Guards Brigade consisted of a battalion from each regiment. In September they took part in a less successful raid on St Malo, when the rearguard, containing the Grenadier Companies of all three regiments was cut off by superior French forces. The casualties numbered 800 and the same number were taken prisoner.

Wilhelmstahl 1762

The Guards Brigade was sent out to Germany in 1760 under the command of General Julius Caesar of the Coldstream Guards. The second battalion of each regiment made up the brigade and was later augmented by a fourth battalion consisting of the Grenadier Companies. At Wilhelmstahl on 24th June 1762, the Scots Guards formed the left of the line and prevented the French from outflanking the army, contributing to an allied victory.

Amöneberg 1762

They were in action again at the attempt to capture Melsungen in August, and fought a fierce battle at the castle of Amöneberg on 21st September 1762. They relieved the Hanoverians who had been engaged in a pointless fire-fight for six hours with the French, standing the other side of a bridge. The Hanoverians lost 290 men. Granby brought in the Guards who carried on with the exchange of fire. The 3rd Guards lost 60 men by the end of the day. The Marquess of Granby praised them: 'The Guards marched down to relieve the Hanoverians with the utmost Spirit and Order.'

The War of American Independence 1775-83
A composite battalion of Guards took five months to sail to North America in 1776. The 3rd Guards provided 300 men for this battalion. They captured New York which they were later required to garrison for two years. They also fought at Brandywine on 11th Sept 1777, the capture of Fort Washington and successfully defended Germantown on 4th October. They were at Freehold Courthouse, New Jersey on 28th June 1778 and Young's House, New York on Christmas Day 1778.

Catawba River 1781

The Guards were part of Lord Cornwallis's army in pursuit of the Americans under Nathaniel Greene. The colonists' rearguard was commanded by General William Lee Davidson who had to divide his men between Beattie's and Cowan's Ford. The British chose to cross the swollen Catawba River at Cowan's on 1st February 1781 but found themselves chest deep and vulnerable to firing from the other bank. Fortunately for them, they managed to shoot Davidson and effectively demoralise the Americans who retreated.

Guildford Courthouse 1781

In an effort to speed up the pursuit of Greene's army in North Carolina, Lord Cornwallis destroyed his own supply wagons, which if left behind would have fallen into enemy hands. But he failed to catch up and fell back on Guildford Courthouse. His force of around 2,300 men were tired from their 200 mile march and hungry from lack of supplies. The enemy numbered around 4,200. During the battle, the British were being squeezed from both sides and Cornwallis ruthlessly ordered the artillery to fire on the mass of fighting soldiers. This had the effect of driving off the Americans but at some cost to his own men. It was counted a victory for the British but their losses were great. The Guards battalion lost 37 killed, 157 wounded and 22 missing.

Yorktown 1781

By the time of the final battle at Yorktown the Guards battalion was reduced to 500 men. The 8,000 British were trapped and besieged for two months by 17,000 American and French troops. Eventually a peace settlement was concluded and the entire garrison marched out on 19th October 1781, while their band played 'The World Turned Upside Down'. They were required to march along a road lined with American troops and lay down their arms.

Gordon Riots
Gordon Riots
Gordon Riots
The Catholic Relief Act of 1778 in Parliament led to serious trouble on the streets of London. Lord George Gordon stirred up the mob who went on the rampage shouting 'No Popery'. Newgate Prison was burned down and the Bank of England attacked. The Scots Guards along with other Household troops were called upon to dispel crowds with force. The result was that 300 people were killed and key buildings were guarded for a long time afterwards. A nightly picquet was provided for the Bank of England which lasted until 1973.
French Revolutionary Wars 1793-1802
The French Revolution sparked off a European war that ended the 30 years of peace since the Seven Years War. As with all long periods of peace, the British army had been reduced to an almost useless level. But the Guards' strength was comparatively healthy, as always, so they were the obvious choice for the coming campaign. The Guards brigade was made up of four battalions, the first battalion from each regiment plus a fourth battalion of flank companies.

Lincelles 1793

The ill-equipped expedition sailed for Holland in coal barges and fared badly under their various allied commanders who quarrelled amongst each other. The Dutch troops led by the Prince of Orange had been driven from the hilltop village of Lincelles near Dunkirk, which was now fortified and defended by 5,000 Frenchmen. The British, under Major-General Lake, had only 1,100 men of the Guards Brigade. On the evening of 18th August 1793 they bravely climbed up the hill against artillery and musket fire and against all odds managed to storm the barricades. Two officers distinguished themselves, Lord Rollo and Ensign John Campbell of Schawfield, who placed the King's Colour on one of the French redoubts. All the Guards regiments earned a battle honour.

Ostend 1798

The Light Companies of the Scots Guards that had been formed in 1793 were part of a raiding force against Ostend. But they were quickly surrounded and taken prisoner.

The Irish Rebellion 1798

The War of American Independence and the French Revolution inspired the rebellion of disaffected groups, mostly the United Irishmen whose leading light was Wolfe Tone. They sought the help of Revolutionary France which responded with a series of naval expeditions that failed. The rebellion broke out in May 1798 and was mainly in the north and in Wexford. The British government sent Major General Lake and an army of 15,000. The 1st Battalion of the Scots Guards was part of the Guards Brigade. The battles of Vinegar Hill and New Ross were the main military engagements, but the whole episode is littered with stories of terrible atrocities.

Expedition to the Helder 1799

Two Guards Brigades took part in a failed operation in 1799 to force the French out of occupied Holland. It was a combined British/Russian expedition but there was lack of co-operation from the allies. The first Brigade was made up of grenadier companies from all the regiments plus the 3rd Battalion First Guards. The second Brigade contained the 1st Battalion Scots Guards. Under the command of Sir Ralph Abercrombie, they landed, after a five day delay due to bad weather, on 27th August. They took up positions along the Zupe Canal but had to pull back and wait for the Russians. When the allies arrived they marched on Bergen to fight the French and Dutch on 19th Sept. They did achieve success at Alkmaar, Egmont-op-Zee, Beverwyk and Haarlem but they then had to withdraw at the end of 1799.

Aboukir Bay 1801

Aboukir Bay
Aboukir Bay
The invasion of Egypt was a well planned amphibious landing at a beach ten miles east of Alexandria. Sir Ralph Abercrombie took his troops to Turkey to practice the landing drill and then sailed to Aboukir Bay. He made a personal reconnaissance of the area and spent the night of the 8th March forming up the boats in three lines. There were three brigades and the Guards were in the middle. The Guards brigade consisting of the 1st battalions of the Coldstream and Scots Guards, was commanded by Major General Ludlow of the 1st Guards. When dawn broke the flotilla moved slowly towards the shore. They kept their composure and showed no sign of panic when the guns of the French Fort opened fire, sinking at least two boats. When they beached the boats, there was a charge of cavalry and a barrage of musket fire but they were driven off and a bridgehead established.

Alexandria 1801

Abercromie's army marched on Alexandria and reached the French lines in front of the city. The enemy made a direct assault on the British but were stopped by the sustained fire from the infantry. They then tried to outflank the redcoats but were prevented by the Scots Guards who suffered 186 casualties. The French withdrew into the city and the British besieged them for three months during which time Sir Ralph Abercrombie died of a gangrenous thigh wound. On the 27th June 1801, Alexandria was captured and Napoleon's army went back to France. The Scots Guards were granted the Battle Honour of EGYPT and bore the Sphinx on their Colours from 6th July 1802 onwards.

The Threat of Invasion 1803-4
Although the Amiens peace agreement had been signed on 25th March 1802 (and Egypt signed over to France again), Napoleon declared war in May 1803. The Grand Army of 160,000 men lay in wait the other side of the Channel but the Royal Navy prevented the French barges from leaving port. The Guards were organised into three brigades for the defence of London. By 1804 arrangements were made for the removal of the Royal Family and Prime Minister to Worcester and Dartford. Regiments of Volunteers and Yeomanry were raised, Martello towers built, and beacons were prepared to relay the news of a French landing. But it all calmed down by 1805 and the threat of Napoleon's arrival faded.
Hanover and Copenhagen 1805-7
Heartened by Nelson's victory at Trafalgar in 1805, Britain started to to take the offensive. The 1st Guards Brigade made up of the First Guards, occupied Sicily in 1805 and in the same year the 2nd Brigade made up of the 1st battalions of the Coldstream and Scots Guards took part in General Lord Cathcart's expedition to Hanover which had been in French hands since 1803. Although Sir Arthur Wellesley commanded a brigade on this foray it was an abortive mission and the Guards returned home. But in 1807 the 2nd Brigade had more success when Copenhagen was raided and the Danish fleet removed before the French could get to it.
The Peninsula War 1808-14
Napoleon crossed the Pyrenees in February 1808, placing his brother Joseph on the throne in place of the Spanish King. He invaded Portugal as well but was prevented from taking their fleet because, for the second time, The Royal Navy got there first. Britain's initial involvement ended badly with the winter retreat to Corunna and the death of their commander Sir John Moore. The 1st Guards were part of that unfortunate army but the Scots Guards did not arrive in the Peninsula until April 1809.

Talavera 1809

The 1st Battalion Scots Guards were in Sherbrooke's First Division. On arrival in Portugal they completed the successful crossing of the Douro in May. Then the army, led by Sir Arthur Wellesley marched into Spain, joined up with the Spanish under General Cuesta and faced the French at Talavera on the 28th July 1809. The 1st Division was in the centre of the British line. The 20,000 British/Spanish force faced 46,000 French under King Joseph and Baron Sebastiani. The advancing French were halted by a fierce volley from the Guards and began to pull back. The Guards charged and were in danger of being surrounded but were helped by the 48th Foot. By the end of the day the French withdrew to Madrid. The battle was inconclusive but three years later, the Scots Guards were granted the battle honour TALAVERA. The regiment lost 300 men out of 1,000. Wellesley had to leave quickly and withdraw behind the defensive lines of Torres Vedras. The wounded were left in the care of the Spanish but they handed them over to the French. The march back to Portugal was a trial for the British because the Spanish refused to provide them with promised food. The relations between Britain and Spain suffered as a result.

Walcheren 1809
While the 1st battalion were fighting at Talavera, the flank companies of the 2nd battalion were sent on the tragic expedition to Walcheren, an island at the mouth of the Scheldt estuary in Holland. The object of the expedition was to prevent the French from establishing a base at the port of Flushing (Vlissingen). The huge British force of 40,000 was led by Lord Chatham who would have been well advised to take plenty of doctors and medicine with him, but didn't. The island of Walcheren was very flat and when the tide went out, the stench of rotting animal matter was a cause of great concern. As soldiers stared to succumb to fever the cause was thought to be the smell. Mosquitoes were also a great problem. The area was very unhealthy, even the locals were pale and listless, and by September there were 8,000 men hospitalised in very cramped conditions. They suffered initially from uncontrollable shivering and then a high temperature. The epidemic was a mixture of malaria and typhoid and caused the abdomen to swell. There were 4,000 deaths from the disease while actual combat caused only 100 to die. The effects of the illness were long-lasting and most of the men suffered permanent impairment of their health.

The Light and Grenadier Companies of the Scots Guards numbered 130 men at the beginning. They were to suffer more than most units because only 40 returned, and nearly all of them developed a fever later. It seems that men from fenland country had more immunity, while those from dry mountainous districts proved more prone to the disease.

The Peninsula War 1808-14

Barrosa 1811

In March 1810 a further Guards Brigade was sent to the Peninsula. This was composed of 6 companies from the 2nd battalion 1st Guards and three companies each from the 2nd battalions of the Coldstream and Scots Guards. The Brigade was commanded by Major-General W T Dilkes of the Scots Guards. They arrived at Cadiz to find themselves under siege for two and a half years. The French army under Marshal Soult kept the garrison of Cadiz boxed in until he detached 20,000 men to go to Badajoz. The British and Spanish sent a force of 15,000 up the coast to attack their rear but on 5th March, after the Spanish commander had returned to Cadiz, the British commander, Maj-General Thomas Graham and his division of 4,000 were left to fight 7,000 Frenchmen. The British had been marching for a day and night but managed to defeat the French in a short but bloody battle in which the Guards lost a third of their number. The battle honour BARROSA was awarded to the regiment. After the battle in March 1811, Graham's men returned to Cadiz but could not leave until late summer in 1812.

Fuentes d'Onoro 1811

The 2nd Guards brigade saw little action after Talavera, until May 1811 when they earned another battle honour at Fuentes d'Onoro. Wellington's army was besieging Almeida, and Massena led a relieving force which confronted the British around the village of Fuentes d'Onoro. Most of the fighting took place in the village where the French cavalry came unstuck and suffered many casualties. But Wellington left his right wing exposed to attack.

The Scots Guards were on the right of the line. Lieutent-Colonel Hill and 100 of the regiment were cut off and captured, but a more successful action took place under Lieut-Col Guise when an assault by French Light troops was repulsed. After a few days, Massena withdrew and had to face Napoleon's fury at his defeat.

Salamanca 1812

Wellington broke with the rules of war when he moved to attack Cuidad Rodrigo in January when the army was expected to be in winter Quarters. The terrible siege of Badajoz followed in April and Salamanca was captured in July after a 40 minute battle. This gave the regiment another battle honour without loss of life. The army then captured Madrid on 12th August.

The siege of Cadiz was lifted when news reached Soult of Wellington's success. This enabled the Guards brigade to finally leave there and make a forced march north to join the main army at Cuidad Rodrigo. There were now two Guards brigades under General Graham who had led the British at Barrosa. The Scots and Coldstream Guards formed the 2nd Brigade commanded by Major-General the Hon E Stopford, Scots Guards.

San Sebastian 1813

After a winter break, the army was in good shape and Wellington commanded 80,000 men of whom 47,000 were British. The Allies now outnumbered the French two to one so the end seemed in sight. The army was divided into two column and headed north in May. Burgos was abandoned by the French and a great victory was won at Vittoria on 21st June. But before Wellington could pursue them over the Pyrenees he had to deal with San Sebastian.

The task of storming the fortified coastal town of San Sebastian was given to Lieut-Gen Thomas Graham who had commanded the Guards at Cadiz. The siege took 9 weeks from 12th July to 8th Sept and resulted in heavy casualties. A party of 200 Guards volunteers suffered the loss of 160 men. The first storming of a breach took place on 25th July and failed, but on 31st August the attack succeeded and the town was taken. The French still occupied the castle which was not surrendered until 8th September. Much of the horror of Badajoz was repeated at San Sebastian and this time the looting, raping and killing lasted a week.

Adour 1814

The Guards Brigades were involved with the crossings of various hazardous rivers. These were the Bidossa 7th Oct 1813, the Nivelle 10th Nov 1813, the Nive 9th Dec 1813 and the Adour 23rd Feb 1814.

The 2nd Guards Brigade distinguished themselves on this last operation when 6 companies of the Scots Guards and two of the Coldstream crossed the river before dark and held a precarious bridgehead all night, until relieved the next morning. The operation is also of interest because this assault force used a new rocket battery against the French which proved very effective.

Bayonne 1814

The Guards were not involved in the battle of Toulouse but Bayonne proved to be a final and tragic chapter in the Peninsula War for them. The French commander of Bayonne, Thourenot made a sortie from the town with 6,000 men and was met by both Guards Brigades. This was a confused battle in the dark on the night of the 10th April 1814 (5 days after Napoleon had abdicated), and 506 men from the Guards were lost. These men lie in a special Guards cemetery which still exists today.

The Waterloo Campaign

Quatre Bras 1815

The 2nd battalion represented the regiment for this campaign. They were commanded by Lt-Colonel Francis Hepburn and together with the 2nd battalion Coldstream Guards formed the 2nd Guards brigade under General Sir John Byng, a former Scots Guards officer.

After marching all day and most of the night they arrived at Quatre Bras at around 1800hrs on 16th June. Most of the work had been done by the 1st Guards in clearing Bossu Wood. The Light Companies of the Coldstream and Scots Guards went into action, commanded by Lt-Col James Macdonnell of the Coldstream Guards. The Light Company of the Scots Guards was commanded by Lt-Col Dashwood. They pursued the enemy but were attacked by French cavalry so had to form a square. They managed to continue their progress in this formation whilst being bombarded by artillery. Amazingly there was no loss of life, only seven men wounded.

In his account of the campaign, Matthew Clay of the Scots Guards tells of the awful night of the 16th/17th spent sleeping in the open with dying and wounded men calling out for help and water. He crawled to a pond in the dark and filled a kettle to bring to his friends. On the way he found many of the wounded to be lying in an uncomfortable position and was able to help them. In the morning, on returning to the pond he found the water was red with blood.

Waterloo 1815

Just before dusk on 17th June the Guards were ordered to secure the Chateau of Hougoumont and this task was given to the Light Companies of all three regiments. They managed it just in time, as the French had the same idea. The rain had been coming down hard for several hours by the time they took up positions inside the hedge that surrounded the orchard. They spent a wet and uncomfortable night in the open, having had no food all day.

In the morning they were given an ounce of bread and a pig was slaughtered and distributed. Matthew Clay received a part of the head which he did not have time to cook properly, so spent the rest of the day with it in his haversack. There was a fierce firefight between the Light Companies and enemy skirmishers as the Guards made their way towards the enclosure of farm buildings around the Chateau. Lt-Col Dashwood was wounded but Macdonnell, commanding the detachment, was organising the defence of the buildings and barricading the gates.

The North Gate was left open for as long as possible to allow more men into the compound. But before it could be properly barricaded, it was stormed by some determined French troops. A dozen of them gained entrance but were killed. The gates were closed with heroic effort by men of both Coldstream and Scots Guards under Macdonnell's leadership. The Scots Guards in this group were;

Sergeant Fraser
Sergeant Brice MacGregor
Sergeant Alston
Private Lister

Concerted attacks were made on the Chateau by a large force led by Jerome Bonaparte. The battalion companies of the Coldstream Guards counter-attacked at 1230 hrs, and reinforced the defenders. At 1300 hrs another attack was repulsed with the help of the battalion companies of Scots Guards under Lt-Col Home. Up until then, the 1st Guards had been defending the orchard outside Hougoumont, but the Scots Guards now took over this role. The whole of the 2nd Guards brigade was now defending Hougoumont under the command of Lt-Col Hepburn.

Fire damaged some of the buildings and many wounded men were burned. The defenders kept the attackers at bay with accurate musket fire through windows and holes in the wall. The battle lasted for eight hours until a final counter-attack by the King's German Legion drove them off.

The regimental casualty figures were:
Killed: 3 officers, 2 sergeants, 37 other ranks
Wounded: 9 officers (1 mortally), 10 sergeants, 178 other ranks
There were 4 officers on staff duty of whom 3 were killed.

Portugal 1827
During the Long Peace from 1815 to 1854, the regiment remained in Britain except for a brief tour of duty in Portugal. King John VI of Portugal had gone to Brazil during the Peninsula War, leaving the army to be commanded by the British. After the war he was reluctant to come home and political unrest took hold. When John died in 1826 a war of succession broke out between his two sons, Pedro and Miguel. A British force was sent to restore order and the 2nd battalion Scots Guards was part of the force.
The Crimean War 1854-56

The Battle of the Alma 1854

The Alma
The Guards Brigade was in the 1st Division with the Highland Brigade, divisional commander being the Duke of Cambridge. Brigadier General Bentinck commanded the three Guards battalions, the Scots Guards fielded their 1st battalion.

Having established a base at Varna on the west side of the Black Sea, The allied army of British, French and Turkish troops sailed across to the Crimea and landed at Calamita Bay on the 14th September, thirty miles north of Sevastopol. They marched south and encountered the Russians entrenched on the south bank of the River Alma. The British were to attack from the front while the French and Turkish regiments were to come in from the right.

The Light Division stormed the Greater Redoubt first, gaining initial success but were forced back. Then the Guards and Highlanders crossed the river. The Grenadiers and Coldstream reached the other side first and took time to form straight ranks. The Scots Guards, who were in the centre, came out of the river and went up the hill without delay. Unfortunately they were thrown into disarray by the men of the Welsh Fusiliers coming down. The Redoubt was protected by the Kazan regiment who saw that the Scots Guards were in a shambles and made a fierce massed bayonet charge which forced them back.

The Colour party became detached from the main body. They found themselves surrounded by vastly superior numbers of the enemy. Great heroism was displayed by the men of this group who stood firm throughout and afterwards the Queen's Colour was found to have 23 bullet holes, the pole being shot through. The regiment lost more men than the other two Guards regiments, 11 officers and 149 men. Such was the bravery of the men in this battle that four VCs were awarded to men of the Scots Guards, two of whom were in the Colour party which was made up of the following:

Lieutenant Robert Lindsay (Carried Queen's Colour)(VC)
Lieutenant Arthur Thistlewayte (Carried Regimental Colour)
Sergeant James McKechnie (VC)
Sergeant N Lane (Killed)
Sergeant W Brice
Sergeant Angus McLeod (Killed)

Inkerman 1854

The Battle of Inkerman occurred during the siege of Sevastopol. The taking of this city was the main objective of the Allies and to this end they intended to establish the harbour of Balaclava, south of Sevastopol, as a means of supplying the army. So attacking from the south side of the city made the most sense. The Guards were entrenched in positions on the heights overlooking Inkerman valley at Kit Spur and Sandbag Battery.

On the night of 5th November the Russians attacked the positions and captured some trenches. The Scots Guards charged them three times, engaging in hand-to-hand fighting in foggy conditions. A huge number of Russian reinforcements arrived on the scene to make matters worse. The Guards were helped, first by Cathcart's Fourth Division and then French troops arrived and they were able to force the Russians back. The Guards suffered heavy casualties, this time the Scots Guards had fewer deaths than the Grenadiers and Coldstream. Out of the whole 1st battalion nine officers and 168 men were killed.

Captain Lindsay who earned such honour for the regiment at the Alma wrote his memoirs in later life, as Lord Wantage VC. He said of this battle: 'Few battles have been fought in which the personal influence of the company officers had so much to do. No divisional, brigade or even regimental order was given. The men, headed by their officers, fought in companies or half companies.'

The Siege of Sevastopol 1854-55

The siege lasted about a year and saw many changes of personnel and many new ways of waging war devised. New recruits were shipped out to replace the numerous dead and injured. The most memorable aspect of that time was the terrible winter of suffering for the British Troops living out in the open during the coldest weather they had ever encountered. Their troubles were made worse by disease, the lack of supplies, and very low morale. Spring saw the arrival of ships with clothing, food and horses. The siege ended in September 1855 but the regiment did not return to London until the following Spring. They had to endure another winter but this time they had huts instead of tents and trenches. The horrors of this war caused outrage back home and changes had to be made to all aspects of the military.

Canada 1861
Another long period of peace caused the Guards to be kept at home until the crisis in Egypt in 1882. But the 2nd battalion were sent to Canada along with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in 1861 for two years. Their brief was to protect the border while the American Civil War continued. They were not required to go into action.
Corps of Drums and Musicians
No-one provokes me with impunity
The Kiddies
The Jocks
1660 - 1881
1660 - 1881
Commanding Officers
1830 - 1881
1660 - 1881
Battle Honours
War of the League of Augsburg 1689-97
NAMUR 1695

War of Austrian Succession 1740-48

French Revolutionary Wars 1793-1802

Peninsular War 1808-14

Hundred Days 1815

Crimean War 1854-5

1660 Scottish Regiment of Foot Guards
1712 3rd Foot Guards
1831 Scots Fusilier Guards
1877 Scots Guards
Further Reading
A History of the Foot Guards to 1856
by Major H L Aubrey-Fletcher (1927)

Fighting With The Guards
by Keith Bryant (1958)

The Scots Guards 1642-1914
(2 vols) by Major General Sir F Maurice (Chatto & Windus 1934)

The Scottish Regiments 1633-1996
by Patrick Mileham (Spellmount 1996)

The Scottish Regiments
by Diana M Henderson (Harper Collins 1993)

The Scots Guards
by Anthony Goodinge (Leo Cooper 1969)

The Story of The Guards
by Julian Paget (Michael Joseph 1979)

Uniforms of the Foot Guards from 1661 to the present day
by Brian Fosten and William Y Carman (The Pompadour Gallery 1995)

British Infantry Uniforms Since 1660
by Michael Barthorp and Pierre Turner (Blandford Press 1982)

Index to British Military Costume Prints 1500-1914
(Compiled and Published by the Army Museums Ogilby Trust 1972)

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