Well, we’re heading for the end of September and it’s time to reveal my completed 10th Nappy Cavalry regiment; the Royal Horse Guards with figures by Revell. I’ve said in other posts that these figures, the first in the project by Revell, are very delicately sculpted and that this certainly makes for a challenge for the painter. The extra care and effort may be worth it, I think, as this is a fine set of figures. The poses of both horses and riders are varied though maybe lacking a little of the same ‘joie de vivre’ as the hussars by Waterloo 1815. I’m glad that I chose to depict the Blues, but am now seriously tempted to have a go sometime (though possibly next year) at their sister regiments, the 1st and 2nd Life Guards. Now – on with the pics and the biography!
Biography: The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) [Great Britain]
Founded in August 1650 in Newcastle upon Tyne by Sir Arthur Haselrig on the orders of Oliver Cromwell as the ‘Regiment of Cuirassiers’, it was also known as the London lobsters! Charles II, on his return to England after the Restoration, transferred this former New Model Army regiment of horse formally into a Royal regiment. Although nominally ‘royal’, the regiment didn’t actually achieve the same full privileges as the other household regiments, the Life Guards, until 1820. The Earl of Oxford was its first colonel and it is thought that the regiment’s signature blue uniform dates right back to this time as the Earl of Oxford’s troop, and indeed it was first nicknamed “the Oxford Blues”. As a royal regiment, the officer class was made up of only the very wealthiest of the country’s nobility.
Initially deployed outside of the capital, the regiment was often used in policing and escort duties or in suppressing rebellion, most notably in the battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In 1689, after the Prince of Orange came to the throne, The Blues were part of the allied army that defeated the French at Walcourt, near Charleroi, where they successfully charged the best French infantry. They would most memorably return to action in the same Flanders region against the French 126 years later, at the battle of Waterloo.
The regiment featured in a number of important battles of the 18th century including the Battle of Dettingen, where a British monarch led his troops into battle for the last time. At the defeat at Fontenoy, the Blues suffered particularly badly from cannon fire though their performance throughout still won them praise. In the 7 Years War, they were present in the notable battle of Minden, and also took part in the victorious charge at Warburg where the British force routed a French one three times their number. Similarly successful actions occurred during the French Revolutionary Wars.
After the Napoleonic wars commenced, The Royal Horse Guards were only embarked late in the Peninsular Campaign but distinguished themselves in the Battle of Vitoria, a victory which marked the end of French occupation of Spain.
During the 100 Days campaign, the regiment were in Lord Uxbridge’s Cavalry corps as part of Lord Somerset’s Household Brigade of heavy cavalry. On the day of the battle of Waterloo, The Blues drew up in the reserve second line behind the Life Guards. Their commander, Lt Col Hill, was wounded in the clash with the Delort’s cuirassiers whilst another senior officer, Major Packe, was run through and fell dead off his horse. Their total day’s losses amounted to 99 casualties (46%) out of the two troops taking part, but they had played a crucial part in the final victory by soundly defeating the French Cuirassiers and d’Erlon’s infantry. It should also be noted that the actual Colonel of the regiment at this time was none other than the Duke of Wellington himself!
Notable Battle Honours: Sedgemoor, Culloden, Flanders, Dettingen, Fontenoy, Warburg, Beaumont, Peninsula, Waterloo.