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  • Writer's pictureSi Biggs

The Battle off St. Estevan - Grenadiers March

Unit/ Formation: Marine Regiments

Location: Spain

Period/ Conflict:

Year: 1706

Date/s: 15 January 1706

The Marines had a considerable share in the Victory of St. Estevan. Colonel Wills and his Regiment and other English and Dutch troops, was attacked with a great superior force by the advanced guard of the French Army.

Wills who was posted on high ground, repulsed his assailants, who were driven to the plain below in great confusion. The following day reinforcements came up under Lieutenant General Conyngham, who assumed command.

The same day the French, who were commanded by the Chevalier D’Asfeldt, returned to the attack in still greater strength, having been also reinforced. However, again they suffered a most signal defeat, though the British had to mourn the loss of General Conyngham, who fell mortally wounded. St. Estevan was perhaps the most complete British Victory in the War.

Marines Caps and the Grenadiers March.

An extract from the record of “George the First’s Army,” giving the official account of the battle of St. Estevan, in 1707, when Colonel Sir Charles Wills was in command of his Marine regiment, the First, states :-

“Six companies of Marines were ordered to march up the hill in six columns, and to beat the Grenadiers’ March, when in sight of the enemy. These orders were so well executed that at the same moment as our Dragoons entered the plain, killing the enemy’s advanced sentinel, our infantry showed themselves and beat the ‘Grenadiers, March’ upon the hills.

The enemy being unused to the uniforms of the Marines, mistook the six companies of Will’s Marines for six companies of the Grenadiers, as the marines wore Grenadiers caps, and knowing there was only one company of Grenadiers in each British foot regiment, they naturally thought that there was a regiment of foot to every company of Grenadiers, and that we had six regiments in the background ready to attack them.

Brigadier Wills had laid his trap for them.” Referring to “The Grenadiers’ March” it is stated in a curious old book called “Granger’s Wonderful Museum,” published in 1808, that “Thomas Marshall, aged 106 years, of Plymouth, a Drummer,” died in 1755, and that he “had been ninety years in the Service, and was the first man to beat ‘The Grenadiers’ March.”

This famous March, by the way, was for many years the air to which the Royal Marines marched past. In a letter from the late Captain Portlock Dadson, R.M.L.I., he speaks of the Corps as he knew it as a young man, “when ‘The British Grenadiers’ was our Quick Step on all occasions.” (Author Unknown)

Read more:

The Grenadiers March - Military Music Blog

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