Minden Day

I never thought to see a single line of infantry break through three lines of cavalry...
1st August

On 1 August 1759 the Battle of Minden was fought during the Seven Years’ War, when Great Britain was allied with Prussia against France and Austria. The Lancashire Fusiliers were one of the six regiments which made up two brigades who went into battle.

Minden Day

On 1 August 1759 the Battle of Minden was fought during theSeven Years’ War, when Great Britain was allied with Prussia against France andAustria.

Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, the Allied Army Commander,split his force and thus enticed the French Commander, Marshal Contades, withhis superior forces, from the impregnable position before Minden. He thenconcentrated quickly and placed the British infantry with some Battalions ofHanoverians on the right of his line. The French out-numbered the Allies byover 10,000, were stronger in artillery and had 10,000 cavalry.

The six British Regiments were deployed in two Brigades:

12th Foot (now the Royal Anglian Regiment), 37th Foot (nowpart of the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment) and 23rd Foot (Royal WelchFusiliers) were in the leading Brigade under Maj Gen Waldegrave.

The 20th Foot (later the Lancashire Fusiliers), 51st Foot(now the Rifles), 25th Foot (King’s Own Scottish Borderers) were in the secondBrigade under Maj Gen Kingsley (former Colonel of the 20th), with theHanoverians on their left. The 20th were on the right of Kingsley’s Brigadewhich overlapped the leading Brigade on both flanks.

As a result of a misunderstanding, the infantry advancedwith drums beating towards the massed enemy cavalry. During the advance theywere subjected to devastating artillery fire but, closing up their ranks, theyrepulsed at point blank range a cavalry charge. A second line of cavalry wasdestroyed by controlled volleys.

Marshal Contades then deployed four Brigades of Saxoninfantry with more artillery on the right flank of the two British Brigades.They were also thrown back in confusion by the British. A final attack by afresh body of French cavalry broke through the right of the leading Brigade butfoundered before the fire of the 20th.

This was the final turning point of the battle, and but forthe failure of the Allied cavalry under Lord George Sackville to exploit thevictory, the French Army would have been annihilated.

Contades bitterly remarked: ‘I never thought to see a singleline of infantry break through three lines of cavalry ranked in order ofbattle, and tumble them to ruin’.

The price of victory was high and the 20th Foot lost 304 menand 17 officers killed or wounded. As a result, Prince Ferdinand issued thefollowing orders:

“Kingsley’s Regiment of the British Line, from its severeloss, will cease to do duty”. Minden 2 August 1759’

“Kingsley’s Regiment at its own request, will resume itsportion of duty in the line”. Minden 2 August 1759’

Tradition has it that the British infantry wore in theirhats, roses which they plucked on their way to battle and this is thebackground to the Regiment’s custom of wearing red and yellow roses in theirhats and decorating the drums with them on Minden Day.