This famous British cavalry unit traces its origins back to 1678, three independent troops of Scots dragoons being raised at that time, which were amalgamated in 1881, forming the Royal Regiment of Scots Dragoons. They were numbered as the 4th Regiment of Dragoons in 1694, by which time they were already riding grey horses. They were renamed the Royal North British Dragoons in 1707, "North British" being seen as a replacement terminology for "Scotland" The regiment was already being referred to as the Scots Greys by then, regardless of official nomenclature!
The Regiment was renumbered the 2nd Dragoons in 1713, as part of an arrangement unifying the English and Scottish armies. They took part in the War of the Spanish Succession extensively, fighting at the battles of Schellenberg (1704), Blenheim (1704), Elixheim (1705), Ramillies (1706), Oudenarde (1708), and Malplaquet (1709).
The regiment returned to Scotland and participated in the suppression of the First Jacobite Rebellion, and then remained on home duty policing Scotland until the War of the Austrian succession. They fought at Dettingen (1743), capturing the standard of the Maison du Roi in the process! They also participated in the battles of Fontenoy (1745), Rocoux (1746), and Lauffeld (1747), all British defeats. With the end of the War, the Greys returned to home duty.
They fought in Europe again during the Seven years war, including the battles of Bergen (1759), Minden (1759), Warburg (1760), Villinghausen (1761), and Wilhelmsthal (1762). With the end of the Seven Years War in 1763, the 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons returned to home service. It took no part in the American Revolutionary War.
During the French Revolutionary Wars, the regiment served only in the campaign of 1793 - 1794 in Flanders, fighting at the Battle of Tournai (1794) before returning home. It then took no further part in the Revolutionary or Napoleonic Wars... until 1815. At the Battle of Waterloo, as part of the Union Brigade, the Scots Greys of course took place in one of the most famous cavalry charges in history, capturing an Eagle of the 45th Ligne in the process.
The mottos of the Regiment included "Second to None", a reference to their numbering, and the fact that it turned out that they were in fact the oldest regiment of British Dragoons, despite being assigned the second place when the English and Scottish armies were united to form the British army.
The unit returned home yet again until the Crimean war, where it participated in the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at the battle of Balaclava (1854), which was rather more successful than the ill fated Charge of the Light Brigade! The Greys returned home again in 1857. In 1877, the regiment was re-titled as the 2nd Dragoons (Royal Scots Greys). The regiment next fought as a whole in the 2nd Boer War (1899), by then wearing khaki (ugh!). They underwent their final name change in 1971, when they were amalgamated with the 3rd Carabiniers (Prince of Wales Dragoon Guards) to form the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys).
Aside from the grey horses (which are perhaps a bit dark as painted here), the other unique thing about the appearance of the regiment was their headgear. In the earlier years, the regiment wore a miter cap much like that of the Grenadiers of the time. It is said that distinction was conferred by Queen Anne after the Battle of Ramillies (1706), but this has never been fully confirmed.
The change to a bearskin cap started in 1768. By the Napoleonic Wars, the cap had a red cloth patch on the back bearing the white horse of Hanover upon it.
The cords on the bearskin were yellow at the time of Waterloo, although it seems the regiment wore their oilskin covers over the bearskins that day... not that I am going to paint them that way!
"Scotland Forever!" This shot is certainly reminiscent of Lady Butler's famous painting of the Greys charge at Waterloo, isn't it? The animation of these 28mm Old Glory figures adds to that impression.
Like other British cavalry units of the Napoleonic Wars, the horse furniture was natural leather. In later years, the Greys had the nicknames of "The Bird Catchers" (from their capture of the 45e Ligne's Eagle), and the rather odd "Bubbly Jocks", evidently a Scots term for male turkeys!
You will note the still missing standard. However, I am happy to announce that the wayward flags have at last turned up, There will thus be a reprise of the three Dragoon regiments I painted in August before too long, in order to show off said flags at last!