Friday, December 19, 2014

Hugh Frasers Dragoons

Originally a dragoon regiment, by the end of its career, the troopers had become hardened enough (and perhaps with sturdier nags) to become traditional cavalry.  Its recruiting area under Hugh Fraser of Kynneries is unknown. All of its senior officers where veterans from the continent.

Arriving in England in May, by the siege of York it was well provisioned and with an impressive compliment of troopers.  Serving with Leven through Northumberland and County Durham it acquitted itself well at the Battle of Corbridge.  When Montrose, before his Highland adventures, attacked Morpeth castle, Fraser and Wheldons Horse pushed the royalist back.

At Marston Moor, they deployed on the allied left, pushing forward to take control of the Sike Beck, a ditch perpendicular to the main deployment. As both forces began to deploy, some of Ruperts' cavalry pushed forward into contact with Frasers Dragoons. They held and prevailed, with the royalist troopers fleeing to York.  

As Cromwell advanced, the dragoons cleared the ditch in front of the main body of horse, allowing the allied line to charge unimpeded.  After briefly resting, the regiment moved forward again in support of the calvalry.

Newcastles' Whitecoats had positioned themselves within the enclosures at White Sikes Close, determined to sell themselves dearly.  Both Cromwell and Leslies Horse had been unable to make an impression, so Fraser's dragoons were moved up.

Firing into the hedgehog of pikes, a gap was made, which their mounted colleaques exploited, breaking then routing the Whitecoats, cementing the allied victory at Marston Moor.

Over the following months, throughout the winter, it crossed and recrossed the Pennines, serving at the siege of Carlisle.

By summer, Montroses' success in Scotland led it being recalled by Leslie to move north.  On September 13th, it was engaged at Philiphaugh, ending Montrose's advance.  However, as the north was still in arms, it moved north with Middletons cavalry.  By October, it received permission to become a regiment of horse and returned to England.

By now, the long campaign and lack of supply/pay began to take its toll.  It continually levied retribution on the area's it was quartered in - running what amounted to little more than extortion on the locals.  Relations soured not only with the local populace but with the constabulary and with the Parliamentary army - who demanded the miscreants be tried under their jurisdiction.  The Scottish officers refused, having held their own court martials.

By the spring of 1647 the regiment left England to be disbanded at Kelso.  Fraser received a commission in the "New Model" army, but although it had an excellent reputation, in England it was forever associated with the depredations of the original.

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Well his name might sound like something the cat coughed up, but Edward Furgols work has proved to be a fantastic resource for this project.

"The Regimental History of the Covenanting Armies; 1639-1651", published by John Donald (ISBN 0 85976 194 0) was built out from Furgols Ph.D thesis at the University of Edinburgh.

I can't state enough how useful this book is.  All the regiments would have been just a never-ending roll of grey figures without this.  His accounts gave the blog some substance, and also a bit of color!

From lumps of lead to hard drinking, hard shagging, hard fighting soldiers!

I've heard he took some criticism from Stuart Reid but then he gets plenty to!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dalhousie's Horse

William, 1st Earl of Dalhousie, raised the regiment mainly from East Lothian in 1643.  Moving south in the Spring, it was at York where the defenders on a sally, broke out and attacked the horse lines of the regiment.  At Martson Moor, it was in the Fairfax's second line, but routed when it broke and Ruperts Cavalry pushed victoriously through.

After the battle, they joined the siege of Newcastle before moving north to join Argyll around Aberdeen.  However, by the early spring they had returned south, serving at the siege of Carlisle.  Again it was attacked by a party making a sortie from the city, receiving the worst of it. 

After Carlisle fell, they moved south to Hereford but were recalled to join Leslie as he moved to confront Montrose.  Engaged at Philiphaugh, they stayed in Scotland but by Christmas were in a sorry state with only one in three troopers having mounts.

Back in England for 1646, the regiment saw little action.  As with other regiments, idleness resulted in indiscipline.  By 1647 it had a reputation for adultery and fornication.  One soldier was charged by fathering a bastard, with his accuser, Margrett Elder saying she had been tied against her will to a post.  However, on further questioning both admitted it had been consensual, resulting in both doing public penance (whether she was still tied to the post wasn't mentioned). 

Disbanded in 1647, one troop was incorporated in Sir Mungo Murrays' "New Model" regiment of horse. 

I wasn't sure how this regiment would turn out - was skeptical right up to the last moment - but when I put the lances in their hands they really looked the business. Might be worthwhile increasing the size to 18….