8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot


8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot

The 8th (The King's) Regiment of Foot was a regiment of the British Army.

History

The regiment was formed as the Princess Anne of Denmark's Regiment of Foot in 1685, eventually becoming the 8th (King's) Regiment of Foot in 1751.

It took part in the Siege of Carrickfergus in Ireland in 1689 and in the Battle of the Boyne the following year. Further actions, while under the command of John Churchill (later 1st Duke of Marlborough) took place that year involving the regiment during the sieges of Limerick, Cork and Kinsale.

War of the Spanish Succession

For the next ten years the regiment was assigned to garrison duties in England, Ireland and the Netherlands. The regiment was renamed The Queen's Regiment in 1702, due to the accession of Princess Anne to the throne of Great Britain, though it was also known after its Colonel, John Richmond Webb. In that same year, the regiment fought a courageous rearguard action at Nijmegen, against French forces led by the Duke of Burgundy. They later took part in the Siege of Venlo, in which the regiment assisted in the capture of Fort St. Michael. They took part in further sieges that year, at Roermond and Stevensweert, as well as the grenadier company taking part in the Siege of Liege. In that same year, the regiment took part in the capture of Huy and Limbourg.

The regiment also helped in capturing the immense fortress of Schellenberg in 1704. That same year, they were involved in the famous Battle of Blenheim. During the initial phase of the battle, the regiment captured two watermills. The battle was truly brutal, raging on for over seven hours. The French and their Allies were defeated, their armies completely shattered by this tremendous victory, under the leadership of the Duke of Marlborough.

In 1705, the regiment was once again involved in an action, being involved in the recapture of Huy, a town they had fought in only a few years before. They took part in further battles at Neerwinden, Neer-Hespen and at a bridge at Elixem. The following year saw the regiment take part in the Battle of Ramillies. The regiment took part in the initial feint attack on the left of the French lines, led by Lord Orkney, which was orchestrated to draw forces from the right and center of the French lines, though they were soon taking part in other actions during the battle.

That same year, the regiment took part in the Siege of Menin, having significant involvement in the eventual capture of one of the most formidable fortresses in all of Europe. The regiment took part in the Battle of Oudenarde, with the regiment having a particularly successful engagement, in the process of the battle, the regiment captured a number of colours from Swiss battalions in the pay of the French. For the remainder of 1708, the regiment took part in the sieges of Ghent, Bruges and Lillie.

The following year the regiment again saw further siege action, taking part in the Siege of Tournai. The fortress surrendered a few months later. That same year the regiment saw action at the bloodiest battle of the war at Malplaquet, which saw many thousands of casualties for the British and her allies, as well as the French. The regiment itself suffered a number of casualties, including its commanding officer Lieutenant-Colonel Louis de Ramsey, who died during the battle. In 1710 the regiment took part in a number of sieges, at Douai, Béthune, Aire and St. Venant.

Jacobite Rebellions

In 1715 the regiment, now back in Britain, was to take part in a number of battles in its own country, due to unrest growing amongst supporters, in England and Scotland, of the pretender to the throne, Prince Stuart. The regiment fought in the Battle of Sheriffmuir, suffering heavy casualties when they, along with the rest of the line, were charged by a mass of Highlanders while the Government forces had been re-forming the front-line. It was a bloody battle, the rebels and Argyll's men intermingling, fighting hand-to-hand, as if a medieval battle was taking place. Over 100 of the regiment's men had been killed and over a dozen wounded. They withdrew to Stirling along with the rest of the left wing of the Duke of Argyll's army.

The regiment was given a new name the following year, becoming the King's Regiment of Foot with the White Horse of Hanover (symbol of the Royal Household) as its badge; it remains the cap badge of the present-day King's Regiment. In doing this, King George I effectively recognised the loyalty of the regiment to the Crown.

In 1745, Prince Charles Edward (popularly known as Bonnie Prince Charlie) landed in Scotland in an attempt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. The regiment was not involved in the efforts against him until the following year when they took part in the Battle of Falkirk. The regiment was part of the left wing of the front line of the army, under the command of Lieutenant-General Henry Hawley. After a failed attack by dragoons of Hawley's army, the Highlanders loyal to Prince Charles charged the Government forces, compelling the left wing of the army to withdraw while the right wing held. The rebels and Government armies both withdrew from the battlefield by night-time. The regiment later fought in the Battle of Culloden. It was a fierce battle as soon as the impetuous Highlanders charged, brutal hand-to-hand fighting ensuing once they got past the first volley by Hawley's forces. The King's had been providing cross-fire support, firing across the front-line and into the Highlanders, doing this duty with much success. The regiment sustained just one casualty who had been badly wounded.

War of the Austrian Succession

In 1743 the regiment fought at the Battle of Dettingen. The regiment fought in an extremely composed manner, fighting with much discipline and bravery against the French forces, seeing much action during the battle. Despite the British and their allies being outnumbered by over 18,000, they were victorious. The regiment won a battle honour for its involvement in the battle.

The following year the regiment took part in the Battle of Fontenoy. The regiment, due to its seniority, was in the first line of the center of the Duke of Cumberland's Allied army. The center advanced, despite having no support from the right flank due to some allied regiments refusing to fight. The left flank itself was making little progress itself, with this in mind, along with the fact that overwhelming French forces were now counter-attacking, the center was forced to withdraw. The regiment suffered over 150 casualties in the battle, the British and their allies had been defeated.

In 1746 the King's Regiment took part in the Battle of Roucoux and the Battle of Lauffeld the following year, in which four British regiments, including the King's, were charged with re-taking the village of Val, which was held by French troops. Fierce fighting ensued in the avenues of Val, the British troops at one point fighting the French with bayonet, which subsequently cleared the village of the enemy. The village was soon lost, then re-taken by British forces. The battle was a defeat for Britain and the allies, their forces withdrawing in the face of overwhelming French numbers.

even Years War

In 1751 the regiment became the 8th (King's) Regiment of Foot when the regiments of the British Army were numbered in accordance to the date of their creation, thus signifying the precedence of a regiment. In 1756 the Seven Years' War broke out, it was the first true world war. That same year the regiment was increased in size and divided into the 1st and 2nd battalions. In 1757 the regiment was part of an expedition which swiftly captured the small territory of Ile d'Aix, an island off France. However, the island was soon abandoned. In 1758 the 2nd Bn itself became a regiment, the 63rd Regiment of Foot.

In 1760 the regiment was deployed to the continent, its grenadier company taking part in the Battle of Warburg. The same company was also involved in the Battle of Kloster Kampen. The regiment took part in actions at Kirch-Denkern and Paderborn. In 1762, the regiment took part in the French defeat at Battle of Wilhelmsthal and the capture of Cassel, which the King's helped in capturing some months later.

American Revolutionary War

In 1768 the regiment was posted to Canada for garrison duties following Pontiac's Rebellion. They were stationed in the forts of the Great Lakes: Ft Niagara, Ft Detroit, and Michimilimacinac being some of the largest of these very isolated posts. As their posting was almost complete the American eastern colonies began demonstrating more and more vigorously, moving from voicing their concerns of self determination and taxation from abroad to eventually outright rebellion. American Generals Montgomery and Arnold invaded Canada, capturing St Jean, Montreal, and Chambley and besieging the city of Quebec throughout the winter then attempting to storm the city in December resulting in the death of Montgomery. Reinforcements from Britain raised the siege with the breakup of the ice and the ragged and largely starving rebel forces were driven out the area.

During the King's first time in North America, an officer of the regiment, Lieutenant John Caldwell, was instrumental in fostering relations between the British and Native Americans. He reportedly married a native woman and become the Chief of the Ojibway tribe, adopting a traditional native name, 'The Runner'. The regiment had another officer adept at negotiations with the native tribe; Colonel Arent Schuyler de Peyster was of a prominent New York family of Dutch origin and a friend of the poet Robert Burns.

In 1776 the regiment took part in the Battle of Cedars during which a British force, under the command of Captain George Forster, attacked the fort at Cedars held by 400 American rebels. When they arrived at the fort on 18 May, Captain Forster parlayed with the American commander to surrender; the American said that he would but only on condition that he and his men be allowed to retire to Montreal which was still held by the Americans, Forster refused, no doubt aware that they would bolster the defence of the Americans there. The British attacked the following day and the fort surrendered shortly afterwards.

Almost a week later the regiment was involved in a successful action that repulsed an American attempt to counter-attack at Cedars by crossing the St. Lawrence River from Montreal. Forster, however, was waiting for the attack, dispatching men to, what he presumed, was the three most likeliest landing locations. The Americans, 700 strong and under the command of General Benedict Arnold, approached the left landing point which was repulsed by fire from Native Americans. The Americans then proceeded to the centre but were again repulsed by fire, this time from the King's. The Americans then made their way to the right point but, as before, were repulsed by strong fire, this time from Canadian volunteers. General Arnold and his men subsequently retreated back to Montreal.

In late July 1777 detachment of the regiment took part in the Siege of Fort Stanwix while under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Barry St. Leger, also commanding the 34th Regiment of Foot. The force, consisting of at its very highest 1600 men, comprised British(100 8th, 100 34th) Canadian (65-100), German (350), Loyalist (400) and Native American troops (700). In early August the rebels of Tryon County dispatched a force to reinforce the besieged Stanwix defenders but a Native American force and the King's Royal Regiment of New York under the command of Chief Joseph Brant, ambushed the Americans successfully, inflicting over 400 rebel deaths. The fort itself was heavily defended and newly repaired and prepared for a siege. The besiegers on the other hand were too few in number and the guns and mortars brought along too light to make any real damage. During the time the ambush was taking place, a sortie by from the forts defenders swept out unopposed capturing much of the Loyalist and Indian camp and supplies. A few weeks later the siege collapsed with the disappearance of the dis-spirited native allies.

The regiment took part in further actions at Vincennes and the Battle of Newton (Elmira, New York) in 1779, as well as the Mohawk Valley in 1780 and Kentucky in 1782. Captain Henry Bird of the 8th Regiment led a British and Native American siege of Fort Laurens in 1779. In 1780, he led an invasion of Kentucky, capturing two "stations" (fortified settlements) and returning to Detroit with 300 prisoners.

French Revolutionary War

The regiment left Canada in 1785, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel de Peyster. The 8th King's, by its return to Britain had, astonishingly, spent 76 of its 100 years abroad. In 1789, the regiment was deployed to garrison the island of Jersey due to fears of invasion by France, who at that time, was embroiled in revolution.

In 1793, revolutionary France declared war on Great Britain. The King's were part of an expeditionary force sent to the Netherlands in 1793, under the command of Prince Frederick, Duke of York. In 1794, the regiment was involved in the Siege of Nijmegen, when French forces were besieging that town. The allied attack proceeded at night-time. The force reached their objective fairly quietly. The force leapt into the French earthworks, with hand-to-hand fighting ensuing. However, despite this successful action, the town of Nijmegen soon had to be evacuated. By early 1795 the Duke of York had decided to withdraw all British forces from the Netherlands.

In 1799 the King's were deployed to the island of Minorca, which had been captured by British forces the previous year. In 1801 the King's took part in the British expedition to Egypt, which was under the command of General Sir Ralph Abercromby, landing at Abukir Bay. The King's were involved in the successfully capture of Rosetta, which was 65 miles to the west of Alexandria, and the capture of a fort located in Romani. By September, the whole of Egypt had been captured, the campaign had been a complete success.

Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812

The regiment was posted to Gibraltar for garrison duties, thence to Britain in 1803. Brief service on the continent followed before it was dispatched to Copenhagen in 1807, besieged by forces under Sir Arthur Wellesley.

In 1808 the 1st Bn King's deployed to Canada, just as their predecessors had done before them. However, just a year later, the regiment was part of an expeditionary force charged with the capture of Martinique. The regiment took part in a number of actions during their time on the small island, sustaining some casualties. The island was soon captured by the expeditionary force but not returned to France until 1815. When war broke out between Britain and the US in 1812, the 1 Bn King's were stationed in Quebec and the 2nd Bn in Nova Scotia.

In February 1813, the regiment fought at Ogdensberg. To reach their destination, the regiment had traversed across the frozen St Lawrence River. That same month in extremely cold and difficult weather the 2nd Bn marched 350 miles from New Brunswick to Quebec City (soon followed by the 104th Regt) without loss of life.

In April 1813, the King's Grenadier Company attempted, with assistance from Native Indians and elements of the Grengarry Light Infantry, Royal Newfoundland Regt and the Incorporated Militia of Upper Canada, to repulse an American attack on York (present-day Toronto). The Grenadier Company after repeatedly bayonetting the attackers on the shoreline suffered extremely heavy casualties including their commander Capt Neil MacNiel.The defenders were overcome and the town captured. The explosion of Fort York's Grand Magazine by the departing troops resulted in the death of the American commander General Pike.

Garrisoning Ft George at Newark (present day Niagara-on-the-Lake)in May 1813 with companies of the Glengarries and Runcheys Company of Coloured Men, the King's were the major unit which attempted with the bayonet to hold off the invading American amphibious landing. Outnumbered four to one these units successfully delayed and orderly retreated after a very fierce action.

Less than two weeks later the regiment with the 49th, were involved in an attack on the American army, which was camped at Stoney Creek. The British forces, numbering just 700 men, attacked over 3,000 Americans in the dead of night. As the Americans had suffered a number of casualties, including two American Brigadiers captured, the British commander Colonel John Harvey concerned the Americans might notice he had only a small force decided to withdraw. Soon afterwards, the Americans broke camp and retreated to Forty Mile Creek where they then proceeded to Fort George.

In July, the regiment took part in the Battle of Chippewa Battle of Chippewa in which the British commander General Phineas Riall reportedly mistook his opponents as militia and was forced from the field for the first time by a professional American Army. That same month the regiment took part in the bloodiest battle ever to be fought in Canada, Lundy's Lane. The British, Canadian and Native soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant-General Gordon Drummond, engaged the American forces, fierce fighting ensuing, with the British and Americans both losing over 800 men.

The following month, the King's took part in the action at Snake Hill during the siege of Fort Erie.

After the capture of Fort Niagara the 1st Battalion were sent back to their old post once again to recover from the previous campaign. With almost 800 casualties the 1st Bn stayed here until requesting to be releaved in the spring.

The 2nd Battalion stationed in Quebec were far from idle, for as well as sending reinforcements to the 1st Bn were also involved in the unsuccessful battles of Sackets Harbour and Plattsburg and garrisoning the numerous Quebec Forts and towns.

The King's Regiment received the battle honour 'Niagara' for the contributions of both Battalions.

Indian Mutiny and Second Afghan War

After the end of the war against the US to the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny, the King's were deployed on a variety of duties to Bermuda, Canada, Cephalonia, Corfu, Gibraltar, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta and Zante. In 1846 the regiment made its way to Bombay, India, seeing service in much of the country. In 1857 the Indian Mutiny began, first at Meerut, though it soon spread to other areas. The King's reacted swiftly, its commander Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hartley ordering two of its companies to capture the important fort of Phillour, in which they did so, capturing it without any casualties being incurred on either side.

The regiment in Jullundur for a further several weeks. After which, the regiment was attached to an army preparing to besiege Delhi. Due to a shortage of troops, largely due to cholera and other diseases, it took a further seven weeks until enough British and Loyal troop reinforcements could commence operations against the mutineers. The regiment's first proper engagement came about in July, when they were charged with the capture of an outpost in gardens just outside Delhi which they did successfully capture. However, due to lack of ammunition the King's had to withdraw from a counter-attack by rebels.

Just one week later, two companies from the regiment were charged with the defence of another position, holding out against heavy attacks from the rebels for an astonishing seven hours until reinforcements arrived, who duly drove the rebels away.

In September the King's took part in the capture of Ludlow Castle, which was in close proximity to the Kashmir gate in the northern walls of Delhi. The King's took part in some fierce fighting, sustaining many casualties in the process. The city fell after further actions on the 20 September. The regiment also took part in the second Relief of Lucknow in November, seeing much action until withdrawing, after the evacuation of civilians, on the 22nd. The regiment also took part in the Battle of Cawnpore later that month which lasted into early December. The King's regiment later left India in 1860.

The 1st battalion of the regiment was garrisoned in Malta, then stationed back in India in the latter part of the 1860s, staying there until 1878, when they were deployed to Aden, now part of Yemen, then back to the UK. The 2nd Bn, which was raised in 1857, was also stationed in India, beginning in 1877. It had a far more eventful time stationed there, compared to the 1st King's, for the following year the Second Afghan War began. The 2nd King's fought at the Battle of Peiwar Kotal and in September of that year, the King's, along with other regiments, who were now encamped in the position of Ali Keyl, drove a large number of Afghan warriors, numbering in their thousands, away from the camp.

In 1881 they were renamed The King's (Liverpool Regiment) and, in 1921, The King's Regiment (Liverpool).


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