Fort Klock Historic Restoration

The Redcoats

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Photo taken at the Interrupted Harvest, October 1999

A History of the First Foot Guards

Photo submitted by G. Cunningham

In 1656, King Charles II, while in exile after the execution of his father, raised a regiment from his loyal exiles at Bruges, in Flanders. It was called "The Royal Regiment of Guards". On the King's return to his throne in 1660, he disbanded the old Parliamentarian Army and commissioned another Regiment of twelve companies for his personal protection. The first of which was called the King's Company. In 1664, the Royal Regiment of Guards was recalled from Flanders and merged with the King's Company to form the "King's Regiment of Foot Guards." By 1665 the Regiment had become the "First Regiment of Foot Guards," which it remained until 1815, when the title was changed to "The First Regiment or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards."

The Regiment has fought in almost every major campaign of the British Army since that time. During the 17th Century it served in Morocco and in the naval wars against the Dutch and later played a distinguished part in the Wars of the Spanish Succession under the Duke of Marlborough, being present at his brilliant victories of Blenheim, Ramillies, Oudenarde, and Malplaquet. During the American Revolution, the Regiment formed part of the force, which occupied New York after the battle of Long Island in September, 1776. It was prominent in the Battle of White Plains in October of that year. In 1777, the Regiment fought in Pennsylvania, and played an important part in the British victory at Brandywine. In 1779, the Regiment was sent on an expedition to the South, and in February of 1781 it crossed the Catawba River in the van of the British force under heavy fire. Later that year, the Regiment fought at the Battle of Guilford Court House, in which the British army defeated a rebel force more than three times its size. Unfortunately, the Guards were part of the army that was trapped and forced to surrender at Yorktown in September of 1781.

In 1815, the word "Grenadier" was added to the title of the Regiment, as a result of bravery shown at the battle of Waterloo. It is the only Regiment in the British Army to have earned its title directly as a result of the part it played in action. As the Grenadier Guards, the Regiment is still part of the British Army to this day.

Information submitted by Glenn Cunningham.

Copyright 1999, Glenn Cunningham (article and lower photo).

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