REGIMENT OF LIGHT DRAGOONS;
CONTAINING AN ACCOUNT OF
THE FORMATION OF THE REGIMENT
AND OF ITS
ILLU STRA TED WITH PLATES
JOHN W PARKER, WEST STRAND.
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The institution of entire regiments of Light Cavalry, as part of the standing army of Great Britain, in the spring of 1759, was attended with such signal success, that, after the formation of the two splendid corps of Eliott and Burgoyne, which were numbered the Fifteenth and Sixteenth, King George II. was induced to carry the plan to a still greater extent, and to augment the Light Dragoon establishment with five additional regiments, which were numbered the Seventeenth, Eighteenth, Nineteenth, Twentieth, and Twenty-first Light Dragoons. The first of these additional corps was raised in Scotland by Lord
Aberdour; it never consisted of more than two troops, and was disbanded at the termination of the seven years' war, in 1763. The second was embodied in Hertfordshire, under the superintendence of Lieut.-Colonel John Hale, from the Forty seventh Foot, an officer who had served with credit in Europe and America, and who was the bearer of the public despatches announcing the victory at Quebec on the 13th of September, 1759, and the fall of the brave Major-General JAMES WOLFE, a name which will be ever recorded among the heroes of the British army.
This corps was numbered the EIGHTEENTH Light Dragoons; but after the reduction of Lord Aberdour's regiment it obtained rank as Seventeenth, and, now bears the title of the "SEVENTEENTH LANCERS." Its first rendezvous was at Watford and Rickmansworth, and it consisted of four troops. The first troop was raised by Captain Franklin Kirby, from Lientenant (sic) in the Fifth Foot; the second by Captain Samuel Birch, from Lieutenant in the Eleventh Dragoons; the third by Captain Martin Basil*, from Lieutenant in Eliott's
* Captain BASIL exchanged to the Fifteenth Light Dragoons5, and was killed at Emsdorf on the 16th of July, 1760.
Light Horse; and the fourth by Captain Edward Lascelles, from Cornet in the Royal Horse Guards.
Of this corps, Lieut.-Colonel JOHN HALE, whose merits had procured for him the favour of his sovereign, was appointed Lieut.-Colonel Commandant, by commission dated the 7th of November, I 759; and purposing that his regiment should consist of men of decided character, who would emulate the glorious example of the heroic WOLFE, whose gallant conduct the Colonel had witnessed, he procured His Majesty's authority for his regiment to bear on its standards and appointments the "Death's Head," with the motto, "Or Glory," which it has continued to bear to the present time.
The zeal of the officers, with the popular feeling of interest, which existed in England at this period, and particularly in London and the southern counties, in favour of light cavalry, occasioned the regiment to be speedily completed with men and horses, and, in the beginning of December, it marched to Warwick and Stratford upon Avon, and soon afterwards to Coventry, where it was augmented to six troops.
In January, 1760, the following officers were 1760 holding commissions in the regiment-
Lieut.-Colonel Commandant, JOHN HALE
Major, JOHN BLAQUIERE
Captains Lieutenants Cornets.
Franklin Kirby Thomas Lea Rob. Archdall
Samuel Birch William Green - Bishopp
Martin Basil Joseph Hall - Stopford
Edward Lascelles - Wallop Henry Crofton
John Burton - Cope Jos. Moxham
Samuel Townehend Y. Peyton Daniel Brown
Adjutant, Richard Westbury, -~Surgeon, John Francis.
Ten months after the authority for its formation was issued, the regiment was directed to march to Berwick, and place itself under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief in North Britain; it arrived in Scotland in October, and was stationed in that part of the United Kingdom during the following three years.
In the spring of 1761 the regiment sent a draft of fifty men and horses to Germany, to serve under Lieut.-General the Marquis of Granby, and the
Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick; and in 1762 hostilities were terminated by the treaty of Fontainbleau
The restoration of peace was followed, in 1763, by reductions in the military establishment of the kingdom; but this was one of the corps selected to be retained in the service, and Lient.-Colonel Commandant John Hale was promoted to the colonelcy of the regiment by commission dated the 27th of April, 1763.
From Scotland the regiment embarked, in 1764, for Ireland, where it was stationed during the succeeding eleven years.
The following particulars respecting the clothing and guidons of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, are extracted from His Majesty's warrant, dated the 19th December, 1768.
COATS, -scarlet, with half-lappels; lined with white; white collar and cuffs; white metal buttons, and the button holes ornamented with white braid.
WAISTCOATS AND BREECHE5, -white.
HELMETS, ornamented with white metal and a scarlet horse-hair crest.
BOOTS, -reaching to the knee.
CLOAKS, -scarlet, with white capes.
HORSE FURNITURE, -of white cloth; the holster caps and housings having a border of white lace with a black edge; XVII, L. D. to be embroidered upon the housings, upon a scarlet ground, within a wreath of roses and thistles; the king's cipher; with the crown over it, and XVII, L. D. underneath, to be embroidered on the holster caps; the officers to have a silver tassel on their holster caps, and at each corner of their housings.
OFFICERS, -to be distinguished by silver lace or embroidery; silver epaulettes; and crimson silk sashes worn round their waists,
QUARTER MASTERS, -to have no lace or embroidery on their coats; to have silver epaulettes, and crimson sashes.
SERJEANTS, -to be distinguished by narrow silver lace, and crimson and white sashes.
TRUMPETERS, -to wear hats with white feathers; white coats faced with scarlet, and ornamented with white lace with a black edge; red waistcoats and breeches.
GUIDONS, -the first, or King's,
guidon to be of crimson silk; in the centre the rose and thistle conjoined,
and crown over them, and His Majesty's motto, Dieu et mon Droit,
underneath; the white horse in a compartment in the first and fourth
corners; and XVII, L. D. on a white ground, in a compartment in the
second and third corners: the second and third guidons to be of white silk;
in the centre the "DEATH'S HEAD" on a crimson ground, within a wreath of
roses and thistles on the same stalk, and the motto " Or Glory,"
underneath; the white horse on a red ground, in the first and fourth compartments;
and the rose and thistle conjoined, upon a red ground, in the second
and third compartments; the third guidon to be distinguished by a
figure 3,on a circular red ground, underneath the motto.
Colonel John Hale, having been appointed Governor of Limerick, was succeeded in the colonelcy of the regiment by Colonel George Preston, from the lieut.-colonelcy of the Scots Greys, by commission dated the 2nd of November, 1770.
While the SEVENTEENTH were in Ireland, they had the reputation of being a well-disciplined and
an efficient corps, and on the breaking out of hostilities, in 1775, between Great Britain and her North American colonies, the high character of the regiment occasioned it to be the first cavalry corps selected to proceed across the Atlantic. It embarked from Ireland towards the end of March, and landed at Boston on the 24th of May.
Soon after the regiment arrived at Boston, the American troops attempted to establish themselves on Bunker's Hill, but were driven from thence, after a sharp engagement, on the 17th of June. During the action a party of the SEVENTEENTH volunteered to proceed dismounted with the reinforcement sent from Boston to support the troops engaged.
Notwithstanding their defeat at Bunker's Hill,
the American troops crowded round Boston in such numbers, and constructed such extensive works, that the British were kept in a state of blockade on the land side, and were so distressed for fresh provisions, that live cattle, vegetables, and even fuel, were sent from England for their use. These supplies proved insufficient, and the troops endured much distress. In the mean time the Americans, possessing every necessary article in abundance, began to act with vigour, raising batteries and opening a cannonade on the place.
In March, 1776, the King's troops evacuated Boston and sailed to Halifax. The SEVENTEENTH landed at Halifax, and remained in Nova Scotia about two months; in the early part of June they again embarked, and, sailing towards New York, landed on Staten Island in the beginning of July. At this place the army was reinforced with troops from Great Britain, also with a body of Hessians; and the SEVENTEENTH, commanded by Lieut.-Colonel Samuel Birch, were attached to the Highland Brigade under Brigadier-General Sir William Erskine.
On the 22nd of August a landing was effected on Long Island; on the 25th the American piquets were surprised by detachments of the SEVEN-
TEENTH under Captain Oliver de Lancey; and at nine o'clock on the evening of the 26th the regiment led the van of the army from Flatland across the country to seize on a pass in the heights extending along the middle of the island. Arriving within half a mile of the pass, an American patrole was captured, and Lieut-General Clinton learning that the enemy had not taken possession of the pass, it was immediately occupied. Passing the heights at day-break, the regiment moved towards Bedford, where it arrived about half-past eight o'clock, and immediately attacked a large body of Americans, who were quitting the woody heights to join their army in the fortified lines at Brooklyn; some desultory fighting took place, in which the SEVENTEENTH evinced great gallantry;- Lieutenant William Loftus particularly distinguishing himself, -and the Americans were driven back with severe loss: General Sulivan, two brigadier-generals, and ten field officers being among the prisoners. The SEVENTEENTH routed the American cavalry at the village of Jamaica, and at the close of the action Lieut.-General Clinton and Brigadier-General Sir William Erskine thanked the officers and men of the regiment for their gallant conduct. General Sir William Howe
stated in his public despatch, "The behaviour of both officers and soldiers, British and Hessians, was highly to their honour. More determined courage and steadiness in troops have never been experienced, or a greater ardour to distingtuish themselves."
On the night of the 29th of August the Americans abandoned their works,
and crossed the East-river to New York. Long Island having thus been
reduced, with little loss, the SEVENTEENTH embarked from thence, and, Crossing
the river, took part in forcing the enemy to evacuate New York: the regiment
was also engaged in the action at Pelham-manor on the 18th of October.
Advancing up the country the regiment joined the army on the 20th of October, and on the 28th it was one of the corps engaged in forcing the passage of the Brunx River, and in chasing the Americans to their entrenchments at the entrance of White Plains. The regiment had one man and five horses killed; Lieutenant William Loftus, four rank and file, and three horses wounded.
The Americans withdrew from their lines, when the British retired to undertake the siege of Fort Washington, and at the storming of the lines and redoubts near the fort, on the 16th of
November, the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons supported the infantry, and had one man wounded.
One troop of the regiment formed part of the force under Lieut.-General Clinton, which sailed from New York on the 1st of December, landed on Rhode Island on the 8th, and overpowering the American troops, reduced the island to submission to the British Government. This troop remained on Rhode Island during the succeeding twelve months under Major-General Earl Percy, and afterwards under Major-General Prescott. Five troops of the regiment were stationed, during the winter, at New York and other places in the vicinity of that city.
The Americans having formed extensive magazines at Danbury and other places on the borders of Connecticut, a detachment of the SEVENTEENTH formed part of the force sent from New York, under Major-General Tryon, to destroy the stores. Sailing from New York in transports, the troops arrived, on the evening of the 25th of April, 1777, off Norwalk, landed without opposition, and commenced their march at ten o'clock that night for Danbury, where they arrived about two in the afternoon of the following day. On their approach the American soldiers fled, and as no carriages
could be procured to bring off the stores, they were destroyed by fire; the flames communicating to the town, it was also consumed. On the following morning the British commenced their march back to their shipping, but had to fight their way through troops assembled to oppose them. They overthrew one body of Americans at Ridgefield, routed another party at the Hill of Campo, and afterwards embarked without molestation for New York.
In June the army took the field, and endeavoured to draw the American forces under General Washington from their strong position in the mountains in the Jerseys, but without success. The British General afterwards embarked with the greater part of his army on an expedition against the populous and wealthy city of Philadelphia, taking with him the Sixteenth Light Dragoons, and leaving five troops of the SEVENTEENTH at New York, and one troop at Rhode Island.
From New York one troop of the SEVENTEENTH embarked, dismounted, in the early part
of October, with the expedition against Forts Montgomery and Clinton. Having landed at Stoney-point, on the 6th of October, the troop of
the SEVENTEENTH formed part of the column under Major-General Vaughan, which captured
one of the forts by storm on the same evening; the other fort was abandoned by the Americans.
After returning from this enterprise the troop rejoined the regiment at New York, and during the winter the SEVENTEENTH embarked for Pennsylvania, and were stationed at Philadelphia under General Sir William Howe.
In the spring of 1778 a succession of detachments ranged the country for many miles round
Philadelphia, and opened communications for bringing in supplies of provision, in which service the SEVENTEENTH were actively employed.
The American troops were encamped in Valley Forge, and Captain Lord Cathcart, of the SEVENTEENTH, being sent out with twenty-five men to reconnoitre the enemy's position in the direction of White-marsh, ascertained that a patrole of ten American soldiers had taken possession of a house on the road leading to that place. The men of the SEVENTEENTH surrounded the house, and his lordship summoned the Americans to surrender; but they had barricaded the door and windows, and refused to obey the summons. A few men of the SEVENTEENTH dis-
mounted, sent some shots through the door, and approached the house to try the effect of cold steel, when the Americans begged for quarter, and were taken prisoners to Philadeiphia. This excursion of twenty-eight miles was performed without a halt.
On the evening of the 3rd of May a small detachment of the regiment left Philadelphia to co-operate with the troops destined to drive nine hundred Americans, under Brigadier-General Lacy, from. their post at Crooked Billet. The Americans retreated, but were overtaken, attacked, and one hundred and fifty men killed, wounded, and taken prisoners; their baggage was also captured, and sold for the benefit of the troops employed in this service.
Three thousand Americans, under the Marquis de la Fayette, took post on Barren Hill, seven miles in advance of General Washington's camp, and a detachment of the regiment formed part of the force sent against this portion of the American army. On the morning of the 21st of May, as the British approached, the Marquis de la Fayette made a precipitate retreat; but his rear was overtaken by the dragoons, and some execution done.
The French monarch having acknowledged the independence of the revolted British provinces, and concluded a treaty with them, the nature of the war became so far changed that the evaenation of Philadelphia took place, and the army proceeded to New York. In the march from Philadelphia, through the Jerseys, the SEVENTEENTH were actively employed, and performed much severe and harassing duty; the route lying through woods, over rivers, and along difficult roads, with the enemy hovering on the flanks and rear, occasioned the services of the light cavalry to be much required. On the 28th of June, as the last brigade descended from the heights of Freehold, in New Jersey, the enemy appeared in the rear and on both flanks, and some sharp fighting took place; when the SEVENTEENTH, being with the advance guard, were ordered from the front to take part in the engagement. The enemy was repulsed; the army resumed its march, and one troop of the regiment, being in advance, took part in putting to flight a body of Americans. Having crossed the channel to Sandy Hook, the army embarked from thence for New York.
Soon after their return from Philadelphia the strength of the. SEVENTEENTH was increased by
the receipt of many effective men and all the serviceable horses from the Sixteenth Light Dragoons, which corps was ordered to return to Great Britain; the horses were many of them American, as the Sixteenth had only eighty English horses left.
From New York the regiment was sent to the east end of Long Island, where it remained during
the winter; and in the spring of 1779 it was ordered to take up a position in advance of the lines in front of New York.
The SEVENTEENTH was the only British cavalry regiment in America, and no other corps was sent out; there were, however, several independent troops of provincial cavalry in the British service, also a corps, partly cavalry and partly infantry, commanded by Captain Lord Cathcart of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, who held the rank of' Colonel in the provincials, and also another corps, or "legion," as it was more frequently called, under Colonel Banastre Tarleton. This legion had usually a select party of the SEVENTEENTH attached to it, who wore their own uniform, and became celebrated for their excellent conduct on the out-post duty, also for their daring spirit of enterprise when employed on detached services. While serving remotely from the head~quarters,
their own uniform became worn out, and they were offered the dress of the legion; but they were proud
of their regiment, and they preferred patching up their old clothing to preserve the distinction*.
The post occupied by the regiment in front of New York was held for the purpose of clearing the country of tbe hostile parties, and keeping the roads clear to enable the supplies of the army to be brought in, and skirmishes occurred almost daily.
Serjeant THOMAS TUCKER, of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, traversing the country with twelve men, came suddenly upon a small American fort, when he leapt into it and made the garrison prisoners. TUCKER accompanied the regiment from England as a volunteer; he evinced signal bravery on all occasions, and was rewarded, on the 10th of April, 1779, with a commission of cornet in the regiment: he proved an efficient officer.
In the winter, when the French fleet and land forces, after having been repulsed at Rhode Island and Savannah, withdrew from the American coast, General Sir Henry Clinton fitted out an expedition
*This anecdote of the corps was related hy His Majesty King William IV., who, when Prince William Henry reviewed the regiment while it was stationed at New York and, in 1833, related at his own table some particulars respecting its services in America.
against South Carolina, where the mildness of the climate, the richness of the country, its vicinity to Georgia, and its distance from the position occupied by the American army under General Washington, pointed out the advantage and facility of conquest. A detachment of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, attached to Tarleton's legion, formed part of the force employed on this enterprise. The fleet sailed towards the end of December, but was dispersed by strong gales of wind, and the tempestuous weather occasioned the death of nearly all the horses. The transports in which the
SEVENTEENTH and Tarleton's legion were embarked, took refluge from the tempest in the harbour of Tybee, an island near the coast of Georgia, from whence the officers and soldiers proceeded in boats to the island of Port Royal, where a number of horses of an inferior description were procured.
The SEVENTEENTH and Tarleton's legion were quartered at Beaufort, from whence they proceeded to join Brigadier-General Patterson, who was proceeding from Savannah, with a body of infantry, to reinforce the expedition under Sir Henry Clinton, who had undertaken the siege of Charlestown. The inhabitants of the country through which the detachment had to travel
having heard of the loss of the cavalry horses at sea, many of them equipped themselves as cavaliers, to confine the British to the line of march, and prevent them collecting horses in the country. Some of these cavaliers insulted the front of the column, but were overthrown by a charge of the dragoons, and the SEVENTEENTH took some prisoners and a number of horses, without any loss on their part; but in the neighbourhood of Rantol's bridge the Americans captured an officer and several foot soldiers.
After a march of twelve days through a country intersected with rivers, rendered difficult by heavy rains, and infested with enemies, the SEVENTEENTH arrived on the banks of the Ashley river with a large quantity of forage and some horses, which they had collected on the march: the cavalry of the detachment halted at Quarter House, but the infantry joined the army before Charlestown.
On the 12th of April, 1780, the men of the SEVENTEENTH advanced, with other troops, to cut off the communications of the garrison of Charlestown with the adjacent country; they halted that night at Goosecreek, and on the evening of the following day they moved silently towards one of
the enemy's posts of communication
on Cooper's river,-several corps co-operating in the movement. At three
o'clock on the following morning the advanced guard of dragoons and mounted
infantry approached Monk's Corner, and charging and routing the enemy's
guard on the main road, dashed forward into the American cavalry camp.
The enemy was surprised, all who made resistance were speedily cut down;
favoured by darkness, General Huger, Colonels Washington and Jamieson,
and seven others, took refuge in some swampy grounds near the camp; and
one hundred and fifty dragoons and hussars, four hundred horses and fifty
waggons loaded with arms, ammunition, and clothing, were captured.
The enemy's infantry at Biggin's bridge were routed by a charge with the
bayonet; the boats at Bonneau's ferry were also seized, and the American
army in Charlestown was closely invested.
On the 6th of May Lieut.-Colonel Tarleton advanced at the head of a patrole of one hundred and fifty men of the SEVENTEENTH and dragoons of the legion, to gain inteirigence, when he was overtaken by a loyal American, who informed him that a strong body of the enemy's cavalry had taken a British foraging party, of an officer and
seventeen mounted light infantry, prisoners, and was moving towards Lenew's ferry. Stimulated by this news, the pa trole quickened its pace, and arrived at three in the afternoon in the presence of the enemy's videts. The SEVENTEENTH instantly charged the American out-guard, which was routed, and pursued upon the main body; the enemy was surprised; five officers and thirty-six soldiers were cut down; seven officers and sixty dragoons were made prisoners, and Colonels White, Washington, and Jamieson, with some other officers and a few so1diers, escaped by swimming across the river, but many were drowned in the attempt.
The foraging party, captured by the Americans in the morning, was rescued as the ferry-boat was pushing off to convey the men across the river.
In this enterprise the British had only two men and four horses killed; the patrole joined the troops under Lieut.-General Earl Cornwallis on the same evening, but upwards of twenty horses died of fatigue.
Charlestown surrendered to the British arms on the 12th of May. Soon after this event the SEVENTEENTH were attached to the troops under Lieut.-General Earl Cornwallis, and marched up
the north-east bank of the Santee river in pursuit of a body of Americans under Colonel Burford, who was retreating to North Carolina. Lord Cornwallis halted at Georgetown, from whence forty of the SEVENTEENTH, one hundred and thirty of Tarleton's legion, a hundred mounted infantry, and a three-pounder, followed the Americans by forced marches. After travelling one hundred and five miles in fifty-four hours, the detachment approached Wacsaw, on the confines of South Carolina, at three o'clock in the afternoon of the 29th of May, and the advance-guard, overtaking the enemy's rear, took a serjeant and four American light dragoons prisoners. Three hundred and eighty American infantry, a detachment of cavalry, and two six-pounders, formed for battle in an open wood; the British, though not half so numerous, (many men and the only gun with the detachment being unable to keep up,) moved forward in three columns to charge their opponents; the men of the SEVENTEENTH being in the centre column under Captain Talbot. The Americans remained steady until the British were within ten yards, and then fired a volley, which produced little effect; and before the smoke cleared away, their ranks were broken, and the British were cutting
them down with a terrible carnage. In a few minutes the conflict had ceased; one hundred
Americans lay dead on the spot, two hundred were made prisoners, and three colours, two guns, and a number of waggons containing stores and baggage, were captured by the British, who had only five officers and soldiers killed, and twelve wounded; Lieutenant Matthew Pateshall, of the SEVENTEENTH, being among the wounded.
Thus South Carolina was cleared of the enemy's troops, and, in a few days after this exploit, the detachment joined Earl Cornwallis at Camden, a town situate on the east side of the Wateree river.
In the mean time General Sir Henry Clinton had returned to New York, and had left orders for the SEVENTEENTH to follow; the detachment, accordingly; embarked from South Carolina, leaving the sick and a few men attached to Tarleton's legion behind, and joined the regiment at New York, where it had remained under General Knyphausen.
The Americans made great efforts to regain possession of South Carolina; but their army of six thousand men, under General Gates, was routed at Camden by two thousand British, under Earl Cornwallis, on the 16th of August. The
men of the SEVENTEENTH attached to Tarleton's legion shared in the conflict. "The cavalry completed the route with their usual promptitude and gallantry, and after great exertions during the action, continued the pursuit to Hanginrock, twenty-two miles from the place where the action commenced, during which many of the enemy were slain, and many prisoners taken, with one hundred and fifty waggons, and all the baggage and camp equipage. On the morning of the 17th Colonel Tarleton was again despatched in pursuit, and on the 18th surprised seven hundred men, killing one hundred and fifty on the spot, and taking three hundred prisoners, three cannon, and forty-four waggons*."
During the winter reinforcements were sent from New York to South Carolina, including a detachment of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, which landed in December, and joined Earl Corn-
wallis's camp on the 6th of January, 1781.
The SEVENTEENTH were afterwards attached to the troops under Colonel Tarleton, who was directed to force the Americans under General
* Earl Cornwallis's despatch.
Morgan to pass the Broad river. The British overtook their opponents on the 17th of January, at a place called Cowpens; the Seventh Royal Fusiliers, the infantry of the legion, and a corps of light infantry, with a troop of cavalry on each flank, commenced the action, and soon forced the enemy to give way; but being too eager in the pursuit to preserve sufficient order, Morgan's corps faced about and gave them a heavy fire; this produced great confusion and serious loss, including two guns. The cavalry of the legion quitted the field, excepting about fourteen men, who joined forty of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, and, at the head of this little band of heroes, Colonel Tarleton made a desperate charge on the whole of the American cavalry, and drove them back on their infantry, recapturing his baggage, and cutting to pieces the detachment of the enemy which had taken possession of it. He afterwards retired to Hamilton's ford.
Cornet Thomas Patterson of the regiment was killed on this occassion*, and Lieutenant Henry
*During the action the American Colonel Washington called out, "Where is now the boasting Tarleton?" CORNET PATTERSON of the SEVENTEENTH was riding up to attack him, and was shot by Washington's orderly Trumpeter. Annecdote by Lieut.-General Sir Evan Lloyd, who served with the regiment in America.
Nettles wounded; several private soldiers and troop horses were also killed and wounded.
When Earl Cornwallis advanced into North Carolina, the SEVENTEENTH were left in South Carolina, under the command of Lord Rawdon, and had to perform duties which called forth the intelligence, activity, and bravery of the officers and soldiers. The occupation of posts distant from each other gave the light cavalry left in the province full employment in keeping up the communications. Many of the inhabitants were hostile to the royal cause; they performed their duties of allegiance with reluctance, and broke their engagements at the first opportunity: the troops of the Congress also made incursions into the province. These circumstances occasioned the duties of the detachment to be particularly harassing; the men and horses were exhausted by constant motion along bad roads, and reduced in numbers by continual skirmishes. While employed in these duties instances of individual gallantry and devotion to the interests of the service were numerous. On one occasion, when Private McMULLINS was carrying a despatch to the Commander-in-Chief, he was beset by four militia men; he shot one, disabled another with
his sword, and brought the other two prisoners to headquarters *.
On another occasion a despatch of great importance had to be forwarded to Lord Rawdon, through a country infested by the enemy, and Corporal O'LAVERY, of the SEVENTEENTH, being a man of known courage and experience, was selected to accompany the bearer of the despatch. They had not proceeded far before they were attacked and both severely wounded. The bearer of the despatch died on the road; the corporal snatched the paper from the dying man, and rode on until he fell from loss of blood, when, to conceal the important secret from the Americans, should he fall into their hands, he thrust the paper into his wound. He was found, on the following day, with sufficient life to point to the fatal depository of the secret. The surgeon declared the wound itself not to be mortal, but rendered so by the insertion of the despatch. Corporal O'LAVERY was a native of the county of Down, where a monument, the gratitude of his countryman and commander, LORD RAWDON, records his fame.
The services of the British troops in the
*Statement of Lieut.-General Sir Evan Lloyd.
Carolinas, are spoken of in the ‘Annual Register' of 1781, in the following terms: -"It is impossible to do justice to the spirit, prudence, and invincible fortitude displayed by the commanders, officers; and soldiers during these dreadful campaigns in the Carolinas. They had not only to contend with men, and those by no means deficient in bravery or enterprise, but they encountered and. surmounted difficulties and fatigues from climate and country that would appear insuperable in theory, and incredible in relation. During renewed successions of forced marches, under a burning sun, and in seasons inimical to man, they were frequently, when sinking under excessive fatigue, not only destitute of comforts, but even of necessaries that seemed essential to existence. During the greatest part of the time they were destitute of bread, and the
country afforded no vegetables; salt failed; and their only resource was water and the cattle found in the woods. It is a melancholy consideration,that such talent, bravery, and military virtue should have been exercised in vain."
During the summer of this year an attack of the enemy on New York was apprehended, and General Sir Henry Clinton, in a letter to Lord
Cornwallis, dated the 11th of June, 1781, requested that some of the troops, and, among others, the remaining officers and men of the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons, should be sent back to.New York.
Lieut.- General George Preston was removed on the 18th of April, 1782, to the Scots Greys, and was succeeded in the colonelcy of the SEVENTEENTH by General the Honourable Thomas Gage, from the Twenty-second Foot.
His Majesty having been induced to concede the independence of the United States, the war was terminated by a treaty of peace, and in 1783 the SEVENTEENTH Light Dragoons embarked from New York, and returned to Ireland, where the Tegiment was stationed during the succeeding eleveh years.
In 1784 the colour of the clothing was changed from scarlet to blue.