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The King’s Own Regulars


SIR, The Ministry have boasted much of their regular, their disciplined troops, which they fancied capable of beating all the irregulars in the world.

One would wonder how men of any attention to what has passed, could deceive themselves into such an opinion, when so many FACTS, within the memory of men not very old, evince the contrary.

The following Yanky song gives us a pretty little collection of those facts. I wish to see it printed for the encouragement of our militia. For though it is not safe for men too much to despise their enemies, it is of use that they should have a good opinion (if it is a just opinion) of themselves, when compared to those they are to fight with.

There are three other instances of regulars beaten by irregulars in our time; but these being of foreign troops, were probably not thought fit for the song writer’s present purpose. It may not however be amiss to mention them here.

The first was at Genoa, in the war before last. Twenty battalions of Imperialists were in possession of that place, and exasperating the inhabitants by their insolence, particularly by caning some who refused to assist the soldiery in removing the cannon; a mob rose suddenly upon them, drove them out of the gates, and defended the place against them with such spirit, that they never were able to get in again.

The second was at Madrid about ten years since, when the King of Spain offended the people by a too rigorous execution of some trifling edicts relative to cloaks and hats. They demanded the dismission of his Minister, Count de Squilache. The King refused, and assembled the guards with all the regulars near the city, to defend the Count. The people rose, attacked the troops, cut them to pieces, and drove the Minister out of the kingdom.

The third happened this last summer, when a fine regular army of Spaniards, well appointed, attempted to invade Africa. The militia of that country beat them out of it almost as soon as they entered it, and with a prodigious slaughter.

If we search for the cause of this superior bravery in the people of a country, compared with what are called regular troops, it may perhaps be found in these particulars; that the men who compose an European regular army, are generally such as have neither property or families to fight for, and who have no principle either of honor, religion, public spirit, regard for liberty, or love of country, to animate them. They are therefore only pressed on to fight by their officers, and had rather be any where else than in a battle. Discipline only gives the officers the power of actuating them; and superior discipline may make them superior to other troops of the same kind not so well disciplined. Thus discipline serves to supply in some degree the defect of principle. But men equally armed, and animated by principle, tho’ without discipline, are always superior to them when only equal in numbers; and when principle and discipline are united on the same side, as in our present militia, treble the number of mere unprincipled mercenaries, such as the regular armies commonly consist of, are in my opinion no match for such a militia.

Let us however not be presumptuously careless in our military operations, but mix caution with our courage, and take every prudent measure to guard against the attempts of our enemies; it being as advantageous to defeat their designs as their forces.

The KING’S own REGULARS, and their TRIUMPH over the IRREGULARS. A new SONG.

To the tune of An old Courtier of the Queen’s, and the Queen’s old Courtier. Which is a kind of recitativo, like the chaunting of the prose psalms in cathedrals.

Since you all will have singing, and won’t be said nay, I cannot refuse, when you so beg and pray; So, I’ll sing you a song, — as a body may say, ‘Tis of the King’s Regulars, who ne’er run away.

O the old Soldiers of the King, and the King’s own Regulars.

At Prestonpans we met with some Rebels one day, We marshall’d our selves all in comely array; Our hearts were all stout, and bid our legs stay, But our feet were wrong-headed, and took us away.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

At Falkirk we resolv’d to be braver, And recover some credit by better behaviour: We would not acknowledge feet had done us any favour, So feet swore they would stand, but —— legs ran however.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

No troops perform better than we at reviews, We march and we wheel, and whatever you chuse, George would see how we fight, and we never refuse, There we all fight with courage — you may see’t in the news.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

To Mohongahela with fifes and with drums, We march’d in fine order, with cannon and bombs, That great expedition cost infinite sums; But a few irregulars cut us all into crumbs.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

It was not fair to shoot at us from behind trees, If they had stood open, as they ought, before our great guns, we should have beat ’em with ease, They may fight with one another that way if they please, But it is not regular to stand, and fight with such rascals as these.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

At Fort George and Oswego, to our great reputation, We shew’d our vast skill in fortification; The French fir’d three guns; of the fourth they had no occasion; For we gave up those forts — not thro’ fear, but — mere persuasion.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

To Ticonderoga we went in a passion, Swearing to be revenged on the whole French nation; But we soon turn’d tail, without hesitation, Because they fought behind trees, — which is not the regular fashion.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

Lord Loudun, he was a regular General, they say; With a great regular army he went his way, Against Louisburgh, to make it his prey, But return’d — without seeing it, — for he did not feel bold that day.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

Grown proud at reviews, great George had no rest, Each Grandsire, he had heard, a rebellion supprest. He wish’d a rebellion, look’d round and saw none, So resolv’d a rebellion to make — of his own,

With the old Soldiers, &c.;

The Yankees he bravely pitch’d on, because he thought they wou’d’n’t fight, And so he sent us over to take away their right; But lest they should spoil our review-clothes, he cry’d braver and louder; For God’s sake, brother Kings, don’t sell the cowards — any powder!

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

Our General with his council of war did advise How at Lexington we might the Yankees surprise; We march’d — and remarch’d — all surpris’d — at being beat; And so our wise General’s plan of surprise — was complete.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

For fifteen miles they follow’d and pelted us, we scarce had time to pull a trigger. But did you ever know a retreat perform’d with more vigour? For we did it in two hours, which sav’d us from perdition; ‘Twas not in going out, but in returning, consisted our EXPEDITION.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

Says our General, “We were forc’d to take to our arms in our own defence,” (For arms read legs, and it will be both truth and sense) Lord Percy (says he) I must say something of him in civility, And that is — “I can never enough praise him for his great — agility.”

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

Of their firing from behind fences he makes a great pother, Every fence has two sides, they made use of one, and we only forgot to use the other; That we turn’d our backs and ran away so fast, don’t let that disgrace us; ‘Twas only to make good what Sandwich said, that the Yankees — could not face us.

O the old Soldiers, &c.;

As they could not get before us, how could they look us in the face? We took care they shouldn’t, by scampering away apace. That they had not much to brag of, is a very plain case; For if they beat us in the fight, we beat them — in the race.

O the old Soldiers of the King, and the King’s own Regulars.

November 27, 1775; Pennsylvania Evening Post, March 30, 1776

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