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The Battle of Dettingen

The Battle of Dettingen

The battle was fought in 1743 by the  11th Regiment of Foot. The Regiment was serving with a small British Army of 37,000 men, plus 13,000 allies, that marched from Flanders to the Rhine/Main valley near Frankfurt. Here they were pitted against a larger French army, commanded by Duc de Noailles consisting of over 60,000 men.

The British and their Austrian and Hanoverian allies, personally commanded by King George II, were cut off by the French. In the battle to escape from the trap, what was described as the 'Magnificent Infantry', withstood two charges of the elite French Guard Cavalry and inflicted ruinous casualties on the noble horsemen, as at Agincourt.

The King dismounted, and is reported to have said: 'Now, my boys, for the honour of England, fire low and behave well. The French will soon run'. The galling fire of the British infantry drove French cavalry and infantry into a disordered retreat.

The British infantry then advanced to meet their French counterparts, who, after the ebb and flow of battle, withdrew in confusion, suffering further heavy casualties. The complete defeat of the French allowed the Allies to regain a sound position. Afterwards the French commander remarked on the poor tactics of the Allied Army but on the 'splendid discipline and fire power of the British infantry'.

This was the last occasion on which a reigning British monarch commanded his Army in battle, though for many years following, junior members of the Royal Family continued to serve as apprentices and then command formations or armies on campaign.