Lord Drogheda's Blues
Their links with Monasterevin.
(The 18th Hussars)
By Barry Walsh
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There is a surprisingly long military tradition in the Monasterevan area. This essay is primarily concerned with the cavalry regiment patronised by the1st Marquis of Drogheda, Lord Henry Moore.
The British Army between 1600 and 1815 depended on a system of patronage for the raising and maintaining of regiments. Under this system a noble patron undertook to raise and equip a regiment. In the case of cavalry this meant providing the troopers, their equipment and uniform. Horses were paid for out of government funds and generally were sourced in Ireland.
Dr. Geraldine Carville’s book [i] notes that Lord Henry Moore had served as a Coronet (junior officer responsible for carrying a cavalry pennant or guidon) with the 12th Dragoons in 1744.
This led to my research on his other military enterprises after the Drogheda title passed to him.
Lord Drogheda was responsible for law enforcement in various districts of Munster, and for Ordnance and Artillery held in the Leinster region. On the subject of law enforcement Lord Drogheda employed a number of liveried wardens around Monasterevan to keep the peace. The livery was apparently blue. Lord Drogheda was also a good friend to Sir Robert Peele, and one wonders to what extent the well know "Peeler" was inspired by these wardens. A good idea of these men’s duties can be found in F. Glenn Thompson’s book [ii].
Lord Drogheda would also have been responsible for some of the expenses and provisioning of the Monasterevan Yeoman Cavalry and Infantry who were active in 1798. However these were raised under parliamentary provision so received government money as well as the support of the Yeoman "middle class" of the day. The cavalry seem to have inherited the nickname "the Drogheda Blues" from the regular army's 18th Light Dragoons. From this we may infer that the Marquis provided a uniform in his livery colours. Yeoman cavalry units of the1798 period were uniformed in blue or red. Once again F. Glenn Thompson’s book[iii] gives a good example of what this corps would have looked like. However in place of the buff facings shown in his excellent illustration the Monasterevin cavalry would have had white facings. This cavalry unit was probably quartered in the barracks beside the Grand Canal. They trained in the "Barrack Field" (Mr. Baggot’s Field) behind the Hulk.
Lord Drogheda's Blues
My primary source for information on the 18th Hussar’s is the following article. It is taken from p214 of The Regiment (December 30th 1899) and refers to the second regiment to bear the title.
The 18th Hussars
Titles: 18th Hussars 1858-1899
Uniform: Blue 1858-1899
Facings: Blue 1858-1899
Badge: Royal Cypher an Crown
The present regiment was raised at Leeds. The first !8th Dragoons is now the 17th Lancers. The second 18th Dragoons was raised in Ireland by Lord Drogheda in 1759 as the 19th Light Dragoons; it became the 18th in 1763 and served in Holland in 1799, during the Peninsula War in 1813, and was also present at Quatre Bras and at Waterloo in 1815; it’s uniform was scarlet with white facings; it was disbanded in 1822 as the 18th (King’s Irish) Hussars, it’s uniform at that time being blue with white facings. The present 18th Hussars have been permitted to carry the honours Peninsula and Waterloo borne by the old 18th Hussars also the motto " pro Rege, pro Lege, pro Patria Canamae", viz We strive for Sovereign, Law, and Country.
From the same publication:
p420 The 10th and 18th Light Dragoons were changed in 1807 to Hussars, being now the oldest of that branch in the British Army.
The British Army museum in Chelsea houses the William Sidebourne model, showing the battlefield of Waterloo. Questionnaires were sent out to insure accuracy. One respondent was (Lt. Col?) Murray of Wimbledon. He described the disposition of the 18th at the Battle.
The RUC museum has as part of its collection a silver snuff box made from the hoof of an 18th Hussars officer’s horse which was at Waterloo.
From the web a more complete listing of the regiments titles and honors can be compiled.
1858 18th Regiment of (Light) Dragoons
1861 18th Hussars
1903 18th (Princess of Wale’s Own) Hussars
1905 18th (Victoria Mary’s Princess of Wale’s Own) Hussars
1910 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Hussars
1919 18th (Queen Mary’s Own) Royal Hussars
1921 18th Royal Hussars (Queen Mary’s Own)
1922 Amalgamated with 13th Hussars to form 13th/18th Hussars
Peninsula, Waterloo, Defence of Ladysmith, South Africa 1899-1902.
The Great War: Mons, Le Chateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, La Basée 1914, Messine 1914, Aemeniéres 1914, Ypres 1914-15, Gravenstafel, St.Julien, Frezenberg, Bellewarde, Somme 1916-18, Flers-Courcelette, Arras 1917, Scarpe 1917, Cambrai 1917-18, St. Quentin, Rosiéres, Amiens, Albert 1918, Hidenburg Line, Pursuit to Mons, France & Flanders 14-18.
The 13th/18th Hussars also fought through the Second World War and today operate Scimitar CVR(T)s in the reconnaissance role. After the most recent reorganisation of the British Army the 18th Hussars have been subsumed into the Light Dragoons regiment.
From these and other sources we can propose a timeline for the early history of the regiment.
1744 Charles Moore is a Coronet in the 12th Dragoons
1758 Charles Moore becomes 6th Earl of Drogheda.
1759 Lord Drogheda raises the 19th Light Dragoons. Where is unclear, however at this time Lord Drogheda would have been the active Colonel of his regiment and hence the administrative core of the regiment would have been wherever he was. This would have included Monasterevan, his townhouse in Dublin and anywhere he traveled on official business to do with his many official offices.
1759 23rd February: "Lord Drogheda's Light Horse" set out from Dublin to combat the French Admiral, Francois Thurot's, force of 1500+ soldiers and sailors who had captured the town of Carrickfergus in a diversionary raid during the Seven Years War [iv]. The French withdrew but were captured after a naval action in Belfast Lough
1763 The regiment is renumbered the 18th Light Dragoons. At this time troops were not housed in a barracks, rather the were billeted in private houses at the owners expense. A program of building barracks in England was not commenced until the 1780’s. It was fiercely opposed in parliament, and probably did not begin to extend to Ireland until the late 1790’s. It is likely that the barracks beside the Grand Canal (later a malt house) was built in this period to house cavalry for the security of the canal.
It is fair to assume that the regiment as a whole was never based in the town. It is more likely that, from time to time, up to a squadron would have been in the area.
1792 18th Light Dragoon are in action in Tipperary.
1798 The regiment is probably barracked in England. Once again where is unclear. Likely areas would be Bath, where the Moores had a house. Hereford where Lord Charles’ wife had lands and Yorkshire which had later connections with regiments bearing the title.
1799 Some 218 troops of the 18th land in Holland on August 27th.
1807 They are renamed 18th Hussars and given a Prussian style uniforms.
1809 A recruit dies of a broken neck after being tossed in a blanket by his comrades for refusing to spend his bounty for enlisting on drink.
1813-14 The 18th Hussars serve in the Peninsula. The Duke of Wellington bans all promotion within the regiment for incidences of looting after the Battle of Vitoria. One entire squadron is lost at the same battle. During this time one or two troops would have remained in England providing replacements.
1815 The 18th Hussars fight at Quatre Bras. The following day they are held in reserve during the battle of Waterloo. Their strength is 447 men in three troops. Officer commanding: Lt.-Col Hon. Henry Murry.
1821 The regiment is disbanded. Charles Moore having held the colonelcy for 62 years, the longest in the British Army.
Appendix A Organisation
A Light Cavalry Regiment was a multi-mission unit, used for reconnaissance, screening, mounted picket or outpost and of course attack. The usual establishment of a light Dragoon regiment was about six to ten "troops", organised into squadrons each of two troops for manoeuvre on the battlefield. Two troops were always left behind to act as a depot from which losses on campaign were replaced. Total strength was about 450 men all ranks.
Commissioned Officers in order of seniority:
Non-commissioned Officers and other ranks:
Between 1650 and 1800 it was common to refer to regiment by their Colonel’s name ie. Lord Drogheda’s regiment or Lord Drogheda’s Light Horse.
Although the regiment changed in name from Light Dragoons to Hussars in 1807 no change in organisation or tactics resulted. The only change was cosmetic.
Appendix B Uniform
1759 ~ 1790
We know that the regiment was nicknamed Drogheda’s Blues. Based on uniform details of the 5th Light Dragoons4[v] around 1760. I can propose the following. A short blue coat with white facings, white shoulder straps, lace and lining. White waistcoat with blue or white collar and white cloth buttons and white lining. White linen breeches; knee-high boots with stiff cuffs and buckled on spurs. In place of the 5th’s black enamelled helmet the 18th may have had the normal cocked hat (bicorn). The cockade being either of white or royal blue. Equipment would have been in tan leather. Officers provided their own uniform and equipment, which was of a finer quality than the ordinary trooper. The straight bladed thrusting sword was their primary weapon. Troopers carried carbines, officers a pair of horse pistols.
1790 ~ 1807
Light Dragoon regiments had a more standardised appearance during this period. Based on this and later details I can be more firm in proposing the following uniform. A sleeveless scarlet jacket worn over a sleeved scarlet waistcoat or underjacket was worn up to 1796. After this they were replaced with a one piece jacket. The jacket would have had white facings, collar, cuffs, turnbacks and shoulder straps. All areas had white piping. Cross belts would have been white with pewter or silver buckles. Breeches were probably buff or whitened leather. Boots were black with cuffs just below the knee. Steel spurs were also worn when in the saddle. Officers would have had silver lace and buttons with epaulets on both shoulders. Officers also wore a scarlet sash about the waist. The Tarleton helmet was the common headdress of light cavalry at this time. The colour of the turban is an open question but may have been white or blue. Judging from later practice the plume would have been white over red.
In 1796 new standard patterns were issued by the British Army for offensive equipment. This was very slow to come into use but by about 1800 the regiment would definitely have been using the 1796 light cavalry sabre, a particularly effective weapon for delivering the six classic slashing sword cuts. The scalp wounds reported by the insurgents of ‘98 testify to its use by light and yeomanry cavalry. Other arms carried were the Eliott Light Cavalry Carbine and the 1796 pattern light cavalry pistol, both flint-lock weapons.
The Monasterevan Yeomanry Cavalry would have had a very similar uniform and identical equipment. In their case it is more likely that the jacket was blue
In 1807 the 18th were re-titled Hussars, though they retained the classification Light Dragoons. The chief difference was the adoption of the Hussar uniform after the style of Prussian cavalry. The Hussar uniform was very distinctive[vi]. They wore a blue laced jacket over which a blue laced pelisse was draped over the shoulder or in cold weather, worn as a coat. Officers had scarlet lining other rank dark.
All facings and lace was white for troopers and silver for Officers. Cuffs were white with a great deal of lace work running up the forearm. The 18th having a distinctive trefoil knotwork.
Grey cloth pantaloons with leather inner leg and ankles were worn, troopers and NCO’s had a thick scarlet strip running from the waist to ankle.
Head gear was the fur cap or "Busbie" of dark beaver pelt. The cloth bag was of Royal Blue and the wool plume was white over red. Yellow lines and yellow metal chin scales completed the distinctive item.
Hussar boots were worn with gold tassels. A chain or leather strap running under the boot held the pantaloons down.
A single white cross-belt was worn from left to right, Officer having a silver whistle and black cartridge box attached to it. Buckles were brass. A second, waist belt, held the sabretache, a covered notebook. Troopers had plain black leather while officers had elaborately ornamented covers.
Officers wore crimson silk cord sashes with gold woven barrels and tassels. Troopers had blue sashes the same colour as the coat with white barrels and tassels.
A note on colours.
The sourcing of cloth and other materials was haphazard during this period. Troopers only received replacement clothing every two years. Officers bought their uniform privately from tailors who owned the uniform pattern in a franchise arrangement. As a result no one shade of blue can be identified as the "Drogheda Blue" mentioned in the text. However various battle scenes and illustrations show the 18th Hussars in the Napoleonic period to be in a dark blue close to navy blue. Oxford blue or a slightly darker and greyer blue than Garda uniforms comes closest to the blue described.
I have proposed that the 18th started with a blue uniform however it may have been scarlet as this was more common for Light Dragoon regiments raised in 1759.
It is a testament to the continuity of heritage in Monasterevan that the blue and white continue in use today in football and athletic strips around the district.
The Author invites corrections, queries, and especially new information.
©2004 Barry Walsh
1.0 Hand-written notes 1998
1.1 Transferred to Electronic Media 2003
1.2 Prepared for web publication 2004. Added information on actions at Carrickfergus.
[i] Dr. G Carville, Monasterevan: A Parish and it’s People. p. 58. [ii] F. Glenn Thompson, The Uniforms of 1798-1803. pp. 56-57. [iii] F. Glenn Thompson, The Uniforms of 1798-1803. pp. 30-31. [iv] Guy Farrish, The French are Coming! Ireland Invaded!, Miniture Wargames No.246 November 2003 [v] D.S.V. & B.K. Fosten, The Thin Red Line p12. [vi] D.S.V. & B.K. Fosten, The Thin Red Line p52.