The Battle of Minden was a decisive engagement during the Seven Years War, fought on 1 August 1759. An Anglo-German army under the overall command of Field Marshal Ferdinand of Brunswick defeated a French army commanded by Marshal of France, Marquis de Contades. The 25th Regiment (Edinburgh) of Foot, as the King’s Own Scottish Borderers were then called, took part in the decisive action of the battle alongside five other regiments of British Infantry and two from the Hanoverian infantry.
The 25th and the rest of the infantry were ordered to take a minor objective, but owing to a misunderstanding, advanced on the main body of the French Army. Seeing this, Prince Ferdinand, the German commander of the Allied Forces, ordered the German battalions to support the left flank and the cavalry to advance along the high ground on the right as a protection to the flank. The cavalry commander, Lord George Sackville, declined to accept orders from the Prince and the cavalry remained spectators of the infantry battle.
Seeing the advance of such a small force the French sent their cavalry 10,000 strong, to the charge. The British infantry halted and by close range, well aimed, disciplined volleys, broke up the attack. The enemy cavalry reformed on six separate occasions and returned to the charge. Only on one occasion did a squadron succeed in penetrating the front rank and they were almost annihilated by the second rank. Finally, all the French cavalry squadrons were sent flying in disorder.
The British infantry continued their advance and suffered heavily under the cross fire of sixty-six guns and musketry from the enemy infantry. The French threw in two brigades to stem the tide, but they were quickly broken. Finally, in desperation a large body of their Saxon allies were sent to counter-attack, but they fared no better than their French predecessors and the whole enemy line broke in panic. The enemy lost 7,000 men to our 2,800 of which 1,500 were lost by the British infantry battalions.
Visiting the scene of the battle afterwards Prince Ferdinand remarked “It was here that the British infantry won immortal glory”.
‘MINDEN’ was the second Battle Honour awarded to 25th Regiment (Edinburgh) of Foot and the battle is celebrated on the 1 August every year.
The Minden Rose
It is said that on the advance to the battle, the men plucked roses growing in an orchard to decorate their hats. The King’s Own Scottish Borderers and the five other ‘Minden’ Regiments were granted the privilege of wearing a rose in their headdress on Minden Day, a tradition officially confirmed in 1935, and carried on by 1 SCOTS.