'Nemo me impune lacessit'
(None shall provoke me with impunity)

Lord Orkney's Regiment of Foote  

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"Sobriety itself is here a bar to success. I see the greatest rakes are the best recruiters."

-Lt. John Blackader

"So that if your Worship pleases to cast up the whole Sum, viz. Canting, Lying, Impudence, Pimping, Bullying, Swearing, Drinking, and a Halbard, you will find the Sum Total amount to a Recruiting Sergeant."

-Sergeant Kite

Historical Quotes and other details of the Regiment

Donald McBane served in Lord Orkney's Regiment during the Wars of the Spanish Succession and published a book about his experiences . Published in 1727, its a pretty rare book, but The Royal Scots have reproduced it on their site here. Very interesting accounts of daily life and battles.

John Molesworth, later to become Viscount Molesworth on the death of his brother in 1720, volunteered in 1702 to Queen Anne and eventually received a commission in Orkneys. Carrying the regimental colours at the Battle of Blenheim he carried on steadfastly until, on the eve of the battle of Ramillies in 1706, he rescued the Duke of Marlborough from the French by mounting him on his horse after Marlborough, being run down by the French cavalry, had his own killed from under him. For this act he was appointed aid-de-camp to the Duke. After a long, active and successful service in Orkneys and with Marlborough he was appointed a Colonel in 1710 and gained his own regiment which saw service in Spain under the Duke of Argyle. Although he was wounded in the battle of Preston in 1715 he carried on, devoted to study and research between warfare. He died in 1758 after a long and active service to the crown.

The First/Royals (Orkneys) from 1702 to 1711. 

While a detachment took part in the expeditions to Cadiz and Vigo, the regiment itself fought in the splendid operation in the Low Countries in 1702 and 1703. Marlborough himself became its Colonel in 1704. The fine strategic march on the Danube, that most brilliant conception of the great captain's genius, brought the First Guards with the forces, to Danauwerth and to the foot of the lofty fortified heights of Schellenberg, where the French and Bavarians, under D'Arco, were posted in a position of colossal strength. Fifty grenadiers of the First Guards under Captain Mordaunt, an impetuous son of a famous father, the great Earl of Peterborough celebrated in our military annuls, led the way as a forlorn hope, and in the terrific fire of grape, 40 of them fell dead or wounded. A withering hail met the advancing Guards, with Orkney's and Ingoldsby's regiments, and D'Arco, perceiving that the line wavered ordered a sally. The First Guards stood like a rock to receive the downward charge for a few moments almost alone, but help coming, a furious onslaught was made, and the enemy fled to his lines. Happily some Baden troops made a diversion, and very soon the Englishmen, with an impetuous rush, poured over the entrenchments and drove the enemy in panic from his works. At the decisive victory at Blenheim 6 weeks later (August 13th) the Guards again fought with the greatest intrepidity in the attack on the village palisades. Dormer, in command was killed; Mordaunt lost an arm; others were seriously wounded. (Excerpt from the Navy and Army Gazette November 20th 1896 by Leyland)

 The First/Royals (Orkneys) at Donauwerth

"...at the Schellenberg, commanding Donauwerth, which preceded Blenheim, the Royals, at a frightful cost of life, helped to storm the entrenchments of the French and Bavarians on a hill top; and when, in spite of all their desperate efforts to oust the foe from his terribly strong position, the scales of battle seemed to be against them, the Scots Greys impatiently flung themselves from their saddles, and stormed up the hillside to the succour of their hard-pressed countrymen, with whom they presently shook hands on the abandoned ramparts of the enemy." Curiously enough the Schellenberg had once before (in 1632) been similarly stormed by "Hepburn's Scots", who were the lineal ancestors, i.e, ante-cessores, of the Royals.

At Ramillies, which followed two years after Blenheim, the Royals again contributed to a most complete and crushing victory over their old friends the French, under Marshal Villeroi, an immense number of prisoners with guns, standards, and colours being captured. The regiment was posted on the right, and with several other British, Dutch and German corps was employed in making a feint on the French left, while Marlborough himself at the head of his shining cavalry, made a dash for and crumpled up the centre and right. The Royals were passive and impatient spectators of the fight for about an hour; but at length their time came, and with a cheer they dashed forward on the foe. The heroes of the Schellenberg and Blenheim fought like men resolved to die rather than lose their reputation; and the French, Spanish and Bavarians were speedily overthrown and driven headlong from the field with a terrible slaughter. (Excerpt from The Glories and Traditions of the British Army. (Naval and Army illustrated Feb 26th 1897). The First Royal Scots or Lothian Regiment by Chas Lowe)


The following words are from an actual regimental recruiting poster. The person who saved it must have been amused at the presumption of sheer stupidity of the masses. Well, at least it shows that government spin doctors were alive and well in the Eighteenth century...

Her Majesty's First/Royal Regiment of Foot Guards

The greatest opportunity ever known for YOUNG SCOTCHMEN to raise themselves and Families. Your Duty is a constant Pleasure, being only to attend and Guard her Majesty's Person at the Palace, and to the Theatres, Opera-houses, Masquerades and Reviews of different Regiments. Under no restraint off duty, no roll-calling, dress as you please, follow any profession. Pay is 10d a day and 4s Subsistence a week & 15s a year Queen's Bounty, a Room to yourself and 5 pints of choice Beer or good Cyder every day. So great an Opportunity as this cannot be supposed to last long; therefore, before it is too late, let all handsome young Men whose Hearts beat at the Sound of the Drum, and are above mean Employments, inquire after the Party commanded by Captain Smyth.

And now some words from a recruiting song...from 'The Recruiting Sergeant'

Our 'prentice Tom may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel Master's Shoes,
For now he's free to sing and play
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.

We all shall lead more happy lives
By getting rid of brats and wives
That scold and bawl both night and day -
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.

Courage, boys, 'tis one to ten,
But we return all gentlemen
All gentlemen as well as they,
Over the hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away...

 

Life for a lower class British soldier was hard, but even by modern standards a lot better than the lives some of the men had led before they joined the army. Many men are recorded as having their first meal for many days after joining, starvation and poverty always being one of the main reasons for joining. If the pressmen did not get you and you were one of those rare volunteers, you usually joined for the following reasons: to see the world, to make your fortune, to run away from debt/pregnant mistresses/crime and so on. From what the Duke of Wellington said of his men a hundred years later it seems that nothing had changed by 1815. Many stole and looted on a regular basis. Even though it was discouraged, men often married and the few lucky ones were able to take their wives with them on campaign. Children would grow up with their homes literally 'on the move' and would often prove tougher than their farming counterparts. The women too were no wallflowers (they had to survive after all), marching with the men (even when pregnant), nursing the sick and wounded, washing and repairing clothes and providing other basic comforts. Some actively looted the corpses of the battlefield dead with their children for clothing and money, usually while trying to track down their missing husbands. Leaguer Ladies (whores) if caught were whipped, with many of them following a particular regiment around in the hope that a soldier would marry them to take them out of the poverty trap.

The officers by contrast tried to carry on with their gentry lifestyle, even while in the field. Usually purchasing their commissions (volunteers were rare: called gentlemen volunteers, they would attach themselves to a regiment as they could not afford to purchase a commission, so waited till one came available) they would carry out their duties, usually having no prior experience of warfare. When a unit became stationed in a town (usually in the winter) their wives and family would make an appearance from home and attend dinner parties and officer's gatherings held in large rented accommodation. Unlike their men they ate well, whored when they could and drank barrels of wine and beer. Even their officer's uniform would have a gentleman's touch, with high quality wool, dyed with an expensive red and  glowing with embroidery where possible (before the 1742 regs banned this). A surviving officer's grenadier's hat is covered in gold embroidery and spangles - on a sunny day he must have made a glittering and tempting target for the French!

Learn more about British redcoats by visiting the 'Join the British Army!' web site, where you can learn about discipline, pay and marriage.

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