The Battle of Steinkirk 1692
Early in 1692 Fitzhardinge’s Dragoons went to Flanders and fought their first full-scale battle against the French.
Fitzhardinge’s crossed to Flanders in the first weeks of 1692, the only Dragoons in the large expeditionary force. The Scottish campaign had only provided skirmishing work, and the regiment had yet to meet well-disciplined troops in full battle.
Thus it was that Fitzhardinge rode into battle against the French for the first time in their long history.
Riding with the Horse Grenadiers and Eppinger’s Dutch Dragoons, Lieutenant-Colonel Hawley led his regiment across the rough country, obstructed by hedges and dykes, towards the furious battle.
When the hard going slowed them down he gave the order to dismount and led his troops forward into the heavy fire on foot. Officers and men fell, but, fighting from hedge to hedge, the dragoons went steadily forward, assailed an enemy position and charged with their bayonets screwed into the muzzles of their muskets. Colonel Hawley was killed leading the assault; a grenade he was throwing exploded in his hand. Captain Henry Gasshion fell at the head of his troop, and a hundred and thirty dragoons were killed or wounded.
The battle of Steinkirk was a resounding defeat for the Grand Alliance. The brunt of the fighting had been borne by the English.
In all 3 officers and 57 other ranks of Fitzhardinge’s were killed, and 3 officers and 67 men were wounded, 89 horses were lost, 37 of them were killed outright.
It was a harsh baptism of fire for a regiment scarcely seven years old.