Uniform and Equipment, June 1643
Uniform and equipment-wise we have a good idea of the general state of the regiment in mid-1643. On 16th June the Royalist Ordnance Papers list the issue of muskets and powder bags to Captain Henry Colthorpe’s troop of Washington’s Dragoones just prior to their departure for Chalgrove. There is a slightly later record of the issue of powder, match and ball. As the regiment was part of the King’s Oxford forces at this time, it is likely it received part of Thomas Bushell’s issue of:
Souldiers Cassocks, Breeches, Stockings and Capps
According to the memoirs of Anthony A Wood, these suits were all either red or blue when issued in July 1643, with most of the blue going to regiments raised in the West. As Washington’s was a Midlands raised regiment it is most likely to have received red.
By July 1643 the regiment formed part of the King’s forces before Bristol where they highly distinguished themselves during the siege and storming. Mustering a full 7 troops, they first took Clifton Church which provided Prince Rupert with an excellent observation post just outside the City walls. Then, forming part of Wentworth’s tertio for the actual assault, Colonel Washington lead the regiment in for the successful storming of their assigned breach in the outside walls (later called Washington’s breach), then provided the cutting edge into the inner defence work, Fort Essex, and then into Bristol Cathedral itself in the heart of the city. From here they poured a destructive fire into:
... a Little Worck & a hows where the Enemy had a peece of canon and beat then from it
The surrounding Parliamentarians soon surrendered. After Bristol they moved with the King’s army to the siege of Gloucester where they took their turn in the rain sodden trenches. Here they are again recorded in the Royalist Ordnance Papers as being issued powder, match and ball.
With the failure of the siege of Gloucester they did not remain with the King’s field army but entered the Banbury garrison in early September 1643 where they were to remain until January 1644, when they were moved to the Evesham garrison. With the coming of the 1644 campaign season the regiment is next recorded in Mercurius Aulicus as being with Prince Rupert on 25th May at the storming of Stockport on his northern march to relieve York. It is probable, but not definite, that they fought at the Battle of Marston Moor. As Washington’s probably carried white flags, while there is no specific mention of Washington’s at Marston Moor, there were definitely royalist dragoons at the battle and there is no other obvious candidate for the dragoon standard captured there which was described in A Full Relation of the Late Victory thus:
A white Coronet of dragoones with a blew and white fringe in the midst of whereof is painted a roundhead face, and on its top the letter P. (which is conceived to signifie a Puritan) with a sword in a hand reaching from a cloud, with this mott, FIAT IUSTITIA. (Let Justice be Done)
It can be noted that during the previous year, just after Essex had relieved Gloucester, his men had captured two dragoon standards which are also provisionally linked to Washington’s Dragoones. Both were white with blue and white fringe; the first had a plain white field except for the canton with the cross of St. George and the second also had a white field with a red stream blazant from the top corner to the middle. Interestingly, both follow the Foote’s pattern of company identification and are square in dimensions, as was the colour captured at Marston Moor.
After Marston there is no specific information on the regiment’s location until we find them fighting at the Battle of Montgomery in Wales on 18th September 1644 in Lord Byron’s forces. Most of his force were regiments that had fought at Marston Moor and then been placed into garrison at Shrewsbury and Chester to recover their strength. Washington’s men appear to have suffered very severe loss at this royalist defeat and to have subsequently gone into garrison in Chester (where they may have already been after Marston Moor, being drawn out for Montgomery).
What is certain is that on 18th January 1645 they fought at the Battle of Christleton just outside of Chester alongside Prince Rupert’s Bluecoat Regiment of Foot (a regiment alongside who they seem to have often fought given how often they fought under Rupert’s command). This, unfortunately, proved to be another expensive defeat. The much depleted regiment marched out of the Chester garrison on 13th March under the command of Prince Maurice and subsequently fought under Rupert in the short campaign that culminated in the victory over Colonel Edward Massey’s forces at the Battle of Ledbury on 22nd April 1645. After this last victory the regiment remained in Worcester for the remainder of the war, stoutly defending the city during its two month siege at the end. Colonel Washington surrendered Worcester on 23rd July 1645 when his regiment marched out to its final reduction, thereby making it the longest extant royalist regiment in the First Civil War, it having first been raised back in September 1642.
The Name of the Regiment
According to the contemporary records, the title of the regiment formed by Colonel Ussher in September 1642 and surrendered by Washington in July 1645 varied. When originally formed it was known as both Colonel James Ussher’s Regiment of Dragoones and Prince Maurice’s Regiment of Dragoones. At the date of Colonel Ussher’s death at Litchfield in April 1643 it was clearly referred to as Colonel Ushers Regiment (Jeffery Glasier’s account). After this, with Henry Washington in place, it is only known as Colonel Henry Washington’s Regiment of Dragoones (Royalist Ordnance Papers). It is interesting to note though that even before April 1643 Washington was referred to as its commander, even though he was only its Lieutenant-Colonel. In Richard Bulstrode’s contemporary account of Edgehill he clearly refers to Washington, ... his Regiment of Dragoones, and again at the storming of Marlborough in December 1642. There would seem to be little doubt the Henry Washington was the dominant figure in the regiment.