Dutch Blue Guards

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The Dutch Guards (Dutch: Hollandsche Gardes), nicknames the Blue Guards (Dutch: Blauwe Garde) in the late 17th century, was an elite infantry unit of the army of the United Provinces of the Netherlands.

Origin[1][edit]

In 1573, a Company of Foot Guards was raised. In 1599, a guard regiment, called His Highness' Guard Regiment of Foot, or the Regiment Nassau, was raised. A second guard regiment, the Regiment of Foot Guards, was raised in 1643, into which the Company of Foot Guards was incorporated. When Prince Willem III became Stadtholder, the Regiment of Foot Guards lost its guard status and became a line regiment; the Company of Foot Guards was transferred to a new guard regiment raised in 1672, named His Highness' Guard Regiment of Foot. This regiment lost all its commanders in the battle of Seneffe (August 11, 1674); the commander of the Regiment Nassau, Major-general Van Solms, amalgated both regiments into one guard regiment, the Nassau Regiment becoming the 1st battalion, and His Highness' Guard Regiment of Foot becoming the 2nd battalion.

The regiment was renamed His Majesty's Guard Regiment of Foot in 1689. From 1688 to 1699 it served as William III of Orange's Guards regiment. Under King William III, the regiment served in England as his personal guard. During this time, it was also known as the "Blue Guards", because of the Nassau blue coats with yellow/orange cuffs and lining. After Willem III died in 1702, the regiment was renamed the Dutch Guards. The uniform became dark blue with poppy red lining and cuffs; white metal buttons on the coat, and white lace loops; waistcoat and breeches became white. This uniform was worn throughout the 18th century.

Campaigns and battles[edit]

Notable campaigns where they fought included the Nine Years' War (1688–97), where they distinguished themselves at the battle of the Boyne, battle of Fleurus and the siege of Limerick (1690). After the death of William III in 1702, the regiment went back to the Netherlands and during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1712) was the backbone of the Dutch army. In this war the Dutch army was the second largest in Europe.[citation needed] In particular, the Dutch pioneered the development of platoon fire, which allowed infantry formations to fire continuously - giving the Dutch an advantage in firepower over armies not using the platoon fire system. It was part of the Allied armies under the command of John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, a British general. The Dutch Guards distinguished itself in the battles of Malplaquet and Oudenaarde. The Blue Guards were not present at the Allied victory of Blenheim, but greatly distinguished themselves at the Battle of Ramillies, under the command of Colonel Wertmuller, storming two French held villages on the Allied left. They also fought bravely and suffered heavy losses at Malplaquet, fighting under the command of the Prince of Orange on the Allied left flank.

During the War of the Austrian Succession, it took part in the campaign in Germany in 1743, the battles of Fontenoy, Rocoux, the defense of Brussels and the defense of Bergen op Zoom. After the war, the Republic maintained a policy of strict neutrality. The Guards came into action once again during the campaigns of 1793 and 1794 against the armies of Revolutionary France.

The end of the Dutch Guards[edit]

After the Dutch Republic had been invaded by the French troops in 1795 and the Stadtholderate had come to an end, the Republic was reformed and became the Batavian Republic. The Dutch Guards and other guard units, as representatives of the Ancien Régime, were disbanded that same year.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Marc Geerdink-Schaftenaar, "For Orange and the States. The Army of the Dutch Republic, 1713-1772" part 1: Infantry. 2018 Helion and Company.