Prince Maurice's Dragoones - A Short History

Recruitment

The regiment was originally raised by Colonel James Ussher as Prince Maurice’s Dragoones in early September 1642 in the southern midlands.  The majority of its officers, including its Lieutenant-Colonel, Henry Washington, came from Leicestershire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, counties from where they raised the regiment’s men.  It is possible that the regiment was ready in time to join Sir John Byron’s force and therefore took part in the combat at Powick Bridge.

The regiment, now with a strength of some 400 men, joined the King’s forces just prior to the Battle of Edgehill where they took post on the extreme right wing of the King’s army.  According to Sir Richard Bulstrode’s contemporary account the regiment fought under the orders of Lieutenant-Colonel Washington and not Ussher at Edgehill:

In the first place, it was resolved, that Washington, with his Regiment of Dragoones, should descend the Hill, and possess some Inclosures and Briars on the right Hand of our Army.

The regiment carried out a classic dragoon action, efficiently clearing the hedges and driving in a body of commanded musketeers from Colonel Denzil Holles’, and Thomas Ballard’s regiments of foot.  Having successfully secured the right wing for Prince Rupert to launch his sweeping cavalry assault, Washington kept his men well in hand and was able to support both the royalist foot, and Rupert’s cavalry when the Prince belatedly rallied his troopers.  Washington’s men suffered few casualties with only a single Captain, Francis Gawdye, wounded in the thigh.  The regiment remained with the King’s army in its advance on London in November.  While there is no specific record of it having fought at the Battle of Brentford it is interesting to note that if it was at Brentford then Washington could have called at his home in Isleworth, only half a mile from Brentford.

On the 6th December, Washington led a detachment of the regiment at the storming of Marlborough where they supported Sir William Pennyman’s Regiment of Foot in the assault on the north-western side of the town.  On the 9th of December, the full regiment, back under Colonel Ussher, entered winter quarters in the village of Burford in the Cotswolds alongside Sir John Byron’s Regiment of Horse.  On the 2nd February 1643 the whole regiment left Burford to participate in the storming of Cirencester where its Major, Hutchinson, was wounded.

Next, the regiment moved north with Prince Rupert into the West Midlands, first storming Birmingham and then, on 20th April, leading the assault on Litchfield Close.  It was here that Colonel Ussher was killed, leading the assault on the breach and his place at the head of the regiment was taken by Washington, who chose as his Lieutenant-Colonel, Henry Huddleston of Sawston in Cambridgeshire.  Shortly after this a detachment of Washington’s Dragoones participated in the raid lead by Prince Rupert which resulted in the Battle of Chalgrove of 18th June 1643.

 

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