BRITISH MILITARY UNITS IN NORTH AMERICA & SUPPORT ARMS
There are several caveats required in reading this data below.Primarily my purpose is to show the breadth of English (and then later British) support required to nourish the colonies in North America.Since British North America (BNA) is limited by time to colonial assumption of sovereignty by a variety of legal means there are also limits to this data. British military support in BNA continued after my primary focus.
Although I have taken the War of 1812 (1812-1816) as an approximate boundary of interest I have extended that for specific unit involvements in areas of parochial concerns: the American Fenian Raids into Canada, and French/English civil unrest in Québec and the remarkable flow of troops into the Caribbean. I have chosen to use the geographical definition of North America, which includes the Caribbean and Central America. I have further broadened the foregoing definition to include South America, since the Europeans felt that America was all one. I hope to capture some of the peripheral costs of empire and the temptation of other nations to attack Britain indirectly. By including the Spanish, Americans and French in parallel descriptions I hope to enable a better understanding of context and degree of commitment.
The data below are no doubt in error of detail, but this is not intended to portray unit histories; rather this is to enable a global appreciation of colonial costs and to fit our own family members into context. Notwithstanding the foregoing, I have made every attempt for accuracy. By seeking opposing forces at this site, the reader ought to be able to compare specific opposing units for any given battle in BNA. By such an examination the reader might gain an appreciation of capability, equipment, weaponry, leadership, etc. The primary focus of interest is the 1775-1781 Revolution. The following chart (see Piers Macksey, The War for America, Harvard, 1964) is revealing.
(*The table's 1777 figures do not include the British-hired Germans.)
The English Army
The word "regiment" was used in Henry VIII's time to describe one of the three mediaeval-type battles into which armies were still divided (in 1544, these were typically 13,000 to 16,000 strong). Each of these would mass its pike men and billmen together in groups to form one to three large blocks. Commanders typically would place wings of archers on the flanks of the blocks of their central pikemen and billmen. (Cavalry would often be held in the rear to be able to deploy quickly to fill holes, or exploit an enemy's weakness. At first the troops returned home after inspection, unless an invasion threat caused them to be kept mobilized—Henry VIII kept 120,000 men on foot for a whole summer. From 1573, however, "Trained Bands" appeared, picked men from the general muster retained for drill, costs being paid by the city or county concerned. This reform was perhaps connected with the increasing use of firearms and pikes, both requiring considerable training (the bow, of course, required even more training, but this had normally been acquired by its exponents during their own time).
"Regiment" still had a very vague meaning in the mid-16th Century—all the troops operating in the Netherlands, 6,000+, forming one "regiment"—but by the latter part of Elizabeth's reign, regiments had stabilised. The were fairly then definite organizations, commanded by a colonel. Regiments could then be found to have ten companies, but in Ireland were often smaller with only five. The organisational issue was (and remains) the 'span of control'. How many people can one man control in complex manoeuvers and hostile situations?
English infantry companies varied with from 100 to 400 men in strength, 150 men in a company appeared to be the standard in the 1590s. Some further company-size examples are: in 1558—150 armoured pike men, 150 unarmoured pike men, 100 arquebusiers; in 1596—50 pike men, 12 musketeers, 36 caliver men; in 1599—30 pike men, ten short weapons, 30 muskets, 30 calivers; in 1600—20 pikes, ten halberds, six sword and buckler, 12 muskets with rests, 12 bastard (light) muskets, 40 calivers.
"Men-at-Arms" with heavy lance, full armour, and often barded (armoured) horse, were still used in the first half of the century, but were few in number, though of high quality. In 1544, Henry VIII had 75 "Gentlemen Pensioners" or Household cavalry, and 121 Men-at-Arms. Individual noblemen would also serve in full plate. The appearance of such troops would be much the same in any army, though Englishmen might wear rounded Greenwich armour. Much more numerous were the "demi-lances" with corselet only, or three-quarter armour, open burgonet, and unbarded horse. These men carried a lighter lance, and later pistols, and formed the main English heavy cavalry up to the end of the century.
According to Sir Roger Williams, in the late 16th Century, demi-lances formed a fifth of the English cavalry, the rest being light horse, but the proportions in the militia were nearer 1:3. The characteristic English light cavalry were those variously referred to as "Javelins" "Prickers" "Northern spears" or "Border Horse". They also were armed with lance and one pistol, sometimes carrying a round or oval shield as well, and wore an open helmet, mail shirt or jack (corselet for the wealthier individuals), leather breeches, and boots. Such cavalry were supplied by several English counties, but the best came from the raiders of the Scottish border - called reivers, who were reputed to spear salmon from the saddle! Nearly all English light horse were of this type, though by 1586 the Government were also trying to raise "petronels"—unarmoured cavalry with firearms.
The British Army
By the 1750s the army had 49 regiments, a few foot regiments of the line had two battalions, but most consisted of a single battalion with nine line companies and one grenadier company, for a typical battalion strength of about 800 officers and men. By 1763 and the end of the Seven Year's War the army had expanded to 100,000 men in 125 regiments. Grenadiers survived the demise of the hand grenade and came to be regarded as the army's elite shock troops. On active service, grenadier companies were usually detached from their parent regiments and formed into composite battalions. During the Seven Years' War many regiments also raised a light infantry company, and these became a permanent part of the regimental structure in the early 1770's. Thus British infantry regiments deployed in the American Revolutionary period generally consisted of eight line companies, one grenadier company and one light infantry company.
George III had a political problem at the end of the Seven Year's War: how to deal with the national debt of £146,000,000 without causing massive unemploymennt by reducing the large army. The solution turned on a logical relationship: America had been the source of the war and it should garrison a number of regiments, as could troublesome Ireland. In 1763, the army was reduced to: 70 line regiments; three guard regiments; the specialist artillery and engineer regiments; plus the household cavalry and 21 cavalry regiments. The infantry regiments were reduced to 500 men and 20 regiments were garrisoned in the Americas (including the Caribbean). In an unsurprising show of self-interest parliament decided that the colonies could pay for their regiments. The colonial army costs included pay, upkeep, maintenance, garrisoning, and equipping.
During the American Revolution the army was expanded with an additional 36 infantry regiments and five more cavalry regiments. These new regiments were all disbanded at the end of the war - except the 23rd regiment of Dragoons, which had deployed to India in 1782 and was disbanded in 1821. The regimental manpower establishment was increased from the peacetime limit of 500 to 1,000 - although this was seldom maintained due to casualties and reinforcement difficulties. Curiously, in 1777, Lieutenant General Sir William Howe's army of 32,000 men in America included additional women. By May 1777 there were 23,101 men, 2,776 women and 1,904 children on ration strength, in addition to the Germans.
In 1793, at the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars, the British army strength had fallen and the army was badly prepared. Of 30 cavalry regiments the 19th was in India and the 20th was in Jamaica and the rest spread in Ireland and Britain. Cavalry regimental establishment was generally maintained at 285 all ranks with exceptions for the Household regiments and those overseas. Those latter units were often stronger, owing to the cachet of a 'smart regiment', or the attention to wartime duties. In 1793, the British government accepted an offer by Francis Humberston-Mackenzie (later Lord Seaforth) to raise an additional infantry battalion. As the first embodied during the Napoleonic war, this would be numbered the 78th, the original Mackenzie regiment having been re-numbered the 72nd. The new battalion had one company of grenadiers, one of light infantry, and eight line companies.
The British infantry of this period was noted for its steadiness and excellent fire discipline. The standard infantry weapon was the Brown Bess musket (officially the Long Land Pattern Musket and later in the century the Short Land Pattern Musket), perhaps the finest weapon of its type ever produced. With it, a well-trained soldier could load and fire three rounds per minute. In 1793, the Coldstream and Third Guards regiments numbered 1,184 and the First 1,845 all ranks. The 77 line regiments numbered 499 all ranks on establishment, with minor exceptions. The 36th and 52nd regiments had 1,132 men each, and the overseas units' strength varied.
The artillery was more widely spread than either the cavalry, or infantry. Nineteen foot artillery companies were in Great Britain, one company was in Scotland, five companies were in Gibraltar, eight companies were in British North America, seven companies were in the West Indies and the two independent companies were in India. Seven of the Invalid Artillery companies were in England, one was in Scotland and two companies were in the Channel Islands. The two troops of Horse Artillery were forming in Great Britain during January and February 1793.
The following table shows English and British regiments, which deployed to BNA. (I have used the geographical definition to include the wider context of the Americas.) The American Revolution (1775-1783) represented the high-point, however, there were significant numbers in the area during the Seven Years' War (1755-1763), and the War of 1812 (1812-1815). This is generally the same period as that shown for French and Spanish units. In the same vein I have shown separately British mercenary units deployed in the BNA. My extended BNA definition deliberately includes the Caribbean. Europeans planted sugarcane widely in the Caribbean (also known as the Antilles, or West Indies) and sugar became a world economic product. In 1700, each Briton used 4 pounds of sugar per year: in 1963, personal consumption had increased to 110 pounds of sugar per year. The Europeans fought with each other and the Carib natives to control the source of this wealth.
Outline regimental lineages and histories are shown, with commanders. I have reviewed the 1,000 different names and units; I have focused on those militia, volunteer, fencible, and foreign units, which were deployed into the area. (A few additional British units are shown for family reasons.) The units are organised numerically based on the 1751 seniority enumeration. This list was extended as required as regiments were deleted or added: confusingly this led to multiple regiments with the same number title, albeit at different times. (There are seven regimental titles for the 100th Regiment, some being name changes for the same unit.) I have shown major British regiments for the period, although I have not included some short-lived units. Regimental service is separated into Theatres or Wars by periods. Their dates are separated by commas and their battles are separated by semicolons within the same theatre or war. I have shown military Caribbean deployments because the British had to defend government policy and were often deliberately distracted from some primary objective to reduce British strength at the key point. (This was particularly so during the Seven Years' War and the later American Revolution.)
There is some confusion about regimental names, because of reorganisations and the early naming after commanders. I am sure of errors as various people have made interpretations and translations over the years. Perhaps the general breadth of British commitment in North America can be read from this account and that which details the forts they built. (The British were quite happy, however, to trade Canada for a French Caribbean sugar island - the French weren't.) I have abbreviated some military terms in the table for: battalion (bn); company (coy); detachment (det); and regiment (regt).
1 For basic army development, organisation, and unit identifcation see Regiments http://www.regiments.org/regiments/uk/inf, http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/organization/c_britarmy1793b.html, and http://www.lib.mq.edu.au/digital/seringapatam/regiments.html#19th, and Fred Anderson, Crucible of War, Brenton C Kemmer, Redcoats, Yankees and Allies, Harv Hilowitz, Revolutionary War Chronology & Almanac 1754-1783, Michael Barthorp, The Jacobite Rebellions 1689-1745, Stuart Reid, 18th Century Highlanders, Peter Harrington, Culloden 1746 the Highland Clans' Last Charge, Robin May, Wolfe's Army, Geoffrey Wooten, Waterloo 1815 the Birth of Modern Europe, David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing; and John K. Robertson and Don Hagist, Biographies of Crown Forces Generals Commanding Troop Units at, http://www.revwar75.com/crown/bio.htm, David G Chandler, The Oxford History of the British Army, at http://books.google.com/books?id=ZOgs8WpJI9AC&dq=british+army+development+and+history&pg=PP1&ots=AaE7aO1pX4&source=citation&sig=pw4kpc9V-aDrwtugOJDNsLLChok&hl=en&prev=http://www.google.com/search?q=British+Army+development+and+history&sourceid=navclient-ff&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGGL,GGGL:2006-34,GGGL:en&sa=X&oi=print&ct=result&cd=1&cad=bottom-3results; http://www.regiments.org/regiments/europe/ie-regts/690dillonh.htm.
4 See Regiments, at http://regiments.org for background on numbers of British regiments and their organisation in various time-frames; The First Foot Guards, at http://footguards.tripod.com/01ABOUT/01_order_o_battle.htm; Orders of Battle, British & French Regular Regiments in North America, Seven Years War, 1755-1763, at http://orbat.com/site/history/historical/uk/ukregtsusa1757.html.
6 Regimental history sources include: http://regiments.org/regiments/index.htm, http://orbat.com/site/index.html, http://www.albuhera.co.uk/fyop.htm, http://www.therooms.ca/museum/mnotes10.asp, http://britishbattles.com/battle-of-Louisbourg.htm, http://www.ballindalloch-press.com/55th/WestIndies.html, http://www.fifedrum.org/crfd/images/D47.htm, http://www.militaryheritage.com/Québec1.htm, http://www.historycentral.com/1812/, http://www.btinternet.com/~james.mckay/royal1st.htm, http://earlyamerica.com/review/winter96/scott.html, http://www.americanrevolution.com/SiteMap.htm, http://www.hillsdale.edu/personal/stewart/war/Abroad/1759-Québec-Town.htm, http://web.ukonline.co.uk/ewh.bryan/Cheshire-2.htm, http://www.blupete.com/Hist/Gloss/RegimentsLouisbourg1758.htm, http://www.reenact.com/bghistory.html, http://www.americanrevolution.com/WilliamHowe.htm, http://www.warof1812.ca/lang.htm, For regiments in the Seven Years' War see http://www.warof1812.ca/charts/7warchtf.htm, the Seven Years' War Website, http://www.britishempire.co.uk/forces/armyunits/britishcavalry/17thltdragoons1759.htm, http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/Canada/can_infantry.htm, http://www.revwar75.com/crown/index.htm, http://www.army.mod.uk/ddli/history_/index.htm, http://www.army.mod.uk/royalscots/, http://www.townshipsheritage.com/Eng/Hist/Military/rangers.htmlhttp://www.napoleonicminiatureswargame.com/Chippawa.html, http://www.napoleonguide.com/windies.htm, http://www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/1661to1966/martinique/martinique.html, http://www.theamericanrevolution.org/prerev.asp, http://www.electricscotland.com/history/scotreg/macleod/1777.htm, http://www.graham.day.dsl.pipex.com/na64.htm, http://orbat.com/site/history/index.html, http://www.royalfuzileers.com/regiment.html, http://www.nps.gov/cowp/Timeline.htm, http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/amh/AMH-06.htm, http://www.replications.com/17LD/17hist.htm, http://www.thewardrobe.org.uk/regimental_timeline.php?regiment=none&start_year=1744&end_year=1870&offset=0&submit2=submit&pag_offset=0, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_Forces_in_the_American_Revolutionary_War, http://37.1911encyclopedia.org/S/ST/ST_LUCIA.htm, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/%7Ecrossroads/regiments/regiments-infantry.html, http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/%7Ecrossroads/regiments/, http://www.blupete.com/Hist/Gloss/RegimentsLouisbourg1758.htm, http://www.electricscotland.com/history/scotreg/argyle.htm, http://www.sar.org/ohssar/revolutionary_war_alphabetical_listhtm, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/continental/timelin2.html, http://www3.sympatico.ca/dis.general/40th.htm, http://library.thinkquest.org/22916/ex1813.html, http://www.ordersofbattle.darkscape.net/site/warpath/regts/dcli.htm, http://www.royalprovincial.com/history/battles/larrep1.shtml, http://www.ixregiment.org.uk/earhist2.htm, http://www.napoleonicminiatureswargame.com/lundyslaneob.html, http://www.napoleonicminiatureswargame.com/chippawaob.html, http://www.militaryheritage.com/charts/7warchtb.htm, http://www.revwar75.com/crown/index.htm, http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/obli/ox_43rdfoottl.htm, http://www.army.mod.uk/qlr/history.htm, http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:amf_lmuPaAgJ:www.fifedrum.org/crfd/images/D15F.htm+15th+foot&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=2, http://olivetreegenealogy.com/loy/muster/15reg.shtml, http://44thregiment.itgo.com/history.html, http://lareine.homestead.com/history.html, http://www.lightinfantry.org.uk/regiments/ksli/shrop_53foottl.htm, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Thousand_Islands, http://www.fort-ticonderoga.org/history/bibliographies/1759Campaign.htm, http://www.militaryheritage.com/charts/7warchtf.htm, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/16724/16724-h/16724-h.htm, http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/ppet/bushyrun/page1.asp?secid=31, http://www.patriotresource.com/battles/Québec/page1.html, http://www.nyhistory.net/~drums/kingsmen.htm; and Stuart Reid British Redcoat, 1740-93.
7 Harv Hilowitz, Revolutionary War Chronology & Almanac, 1754-1783, estimates that during the American Revolution 1776-1781. an additional 50,000 sailors and marines from the British Caribbean and Atlantic fleets were used to support the army.
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