The History of Johnson's Company of Foote.

It was never the intention of this site to give a full blown account of the Kings Lifeguard, our intention was to really act as focus for our own company and its participation and eventual demise in the Civil War. However as our main site is currently inactive I have lifted some info from the Website of our Friends in the American English Civil War Association as a temprorary measure. My thanks go to Bob Giglio their CO who has done some terrific research and really set the standard as centre for rescources on our fine Regiment. Here is the first page that really sets the scene for our regiments first action at Edgehill. You can get the full account at www.ecwsa.org

The King's Life Guard of Foote
being the regimental & reconstructed history of
King Charles I's own regiment in the English Civil War.


Edgehill


The regiment certainly distinguished itself at this first major battle of the Civil War, where it fought in Sir Nicholas Byron's tertio (the other regiment of the tertio was the Lord General's Regiment of Foot). After being involved in a firefight and push of pike with the Parliament regiments that opposed them, they were eventually charged by Sir Phillip Stapleton's horse, as well as other horse units. Edmund Ludlow, who belonged to the Earl of Essex's Lifeguard of Horse (a strong troop of cuirassiers), describes an encounter with the King's Lifeguard of Foot:

"The enemy's body of foot, wherein the King's standard was, came on within musket shot of us; upon which we observing no horse to encounter withal, charged them with some loss from their pikes, though very little from their shot; but no being able to break them we retreated to our former station..."

The next onslaught was better coordinated, where the Earl of Essex ordered both Lord Robartes and Sir William Constable's regiments of foot, supported by Sir Phillip Stapleton's and Sir William Balfour's cavalry, to renew the attack on Sir Nicholas Byron's tertia. Edmund Ludlow continues about the encounter:

"The Earl of Essex ordered two regiments of foot to attack that body, where the King's standard was, which they did, but could not break them..."

It seems that the attack was pressed forward three times, finally forcing the musketeers of Byron's tertia to take shelter amongst their pikes, which were presumed in a formation to receive horse from their front, as Ludlow reports:

"...who did it so home, thrice together, that they forced all the Musketeers, of two of their left Regiments, to run and shroud themselves within their Pikes, not daring to shoot a shot..."

Even though the musketeers were forced back onto the pikes for protection, and being vigorously attacked by two regiments of foot and cavalry, the Life Guard and Lord General's regiments of foot would not break, until, as Ludlow relates:

"...until Sir William Balfour at the head of a party of horse charged them in the rear, and we marching down to take them in the flank, they broke and ran away towards the hill..."

Byron's tertia was hotly engaged at this time. Fighting in their midst was Sir Edmund Verney, Knight Marshal and the King's Standard Bearer, who carried the Banner Royal. According to Sir Edward Sydenham, he "...killed two with his own hands; whereof one had killed poor Jason [his servant] and broke the point of his standard at push of pike before he fell..." His hand that held the Banner Royal was cut off, which being found after the battle, was only identified by his signet ring.

It was also during this phase of the action that the Earl of Lindsey, who had been fighting on foot at the head of his own regiment with a pike, fell mortally wounded, and his son went to his assistance, as reported from an account of the battle by King James II, that Lord Willoughby:

"...hastened from the head of the Guards to his assistance and found him lying in the front of his own regiment with one leg broken by a musket shot. now this happening at the point of time when they received the charge of the enemy's horse, so that it was impossible to carry him off, he stood undauntedly with his half pike in his hand bestriding his father, and in that posture wounded one of their Captains in the face, and almost pushed him off his horse, but his own men at the same time giving back, he was left engaged in the midst of the Enemy, choosing rather to be taken with his father, that so he might be in a condition of rendering him what service was in his power, than to save himself by leaving him in that distress."

It is unclear whether the Life Guard was actually routed, but they were certainly sufficiently disordered to be unfit for further action that day. Ludlow reported that he saw "about threescore lie within the compass of threescore yards upon the ground whereon that brigade fought in which the King's standard was..." However, these casualties were obviously equally divided between the Life Guard and the Lord General's Regiment.

However, among the casualties, as well as Lord Willoughby who was taken prisoner while "piously endeavoring the rescue of his father," the Earl of Lindsey, who had been shot in the thigh and "encompassed by the enemy," were a number of other officers. Lieutenant-Colonel Sir William Vavasour and Captain Sir Henry were also captured, while Major Leighton was wounded. Soon after the battle the Earl of Lindsey died (he who had distinguished himself in Queen Elizabeth's wars in the Low Countries), and his son and Colonel of the Life Guard, was then made the next Earl of Lindsey.

The Royal Banner was gallantly rescued by Captain John Smith, of Lord Grandison's Horse. The Life Guard also lost its colours for a brief moment during the final engagement, but these were recovered by Sir Robert Walsh. Though broken for the day, the Life Guard was not destroyed. In managing to recover its colours, and more importantly the Banner Royal, the regiment regained its high morale it became noted for, and being so highly regarded that it was one of the main regiments held in reserve, which was a testament of its reliability.

Regardless of casualties, the Life Guard of Foot was still one of the strongest in the King's Army, with only six of the nineteen other Royalist regiments at slightly higher strength. This is based on the pay warrants of November 16th, 1642, which show that the Lifeguard was to receive £238 16s for a week's pay, having about 670 men at that time.

The regiment then took part in the advance on London, in November 1642, but was not heavily engaged at either the storming of Brentford or at the engagement at Turnham Green. On 9th December, the regiment went into winter quarters, being one of the four regiments chosen by the Royalist Council of War to garrison the Royalist capital, Oxford.

 

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