The First Foot Guards

We are a Revolutionary War reenactment group based in Boston MA,
accurately portraying the royal household regiment that is now known as
The Grenadier Guards



This Date in History: March

Graeme Marsden's collection 
of significant dates in American and European history,
organized by Month and by Day.

Most references are from the 18th century, and there is a preference for military occurrences, especially those of The First Foot Guards.

Check out 'What happened on this day?'





1 March
The Welsh celebrate Saint David's Day on March 1. Historically they wear a leek in their hats (Henry VIII so ordered the Yeomen warders of the Tower of London), although now it's more common to see a daffodil (thanks to Prime Minister David Lloyd George). It is likely to have been chosen because daffodils are in full bloom in Wales by St David's Day, and (to some) are more beautiful than the odoriferous leek. We may never know the ancient origin of the selection of the leek as a national symbol. It may have been selected because green and white were favored colors of the Welsh archers (being worn by them in the 1300s to distinguish their martial attire; probably by the Welsh archers at the Battle of Crecy.) The Welsh Guards continues a tradition that the youngest recruit has to eat a large raw leek. This is accompanied by the cheers and exultations of his comrades.

The countries of the United Kingdom are represented by badges which are plants: The shamrock for Ireland, the thistle for Scotland, the leek (or daffodil) for Wales, and the Tudor (combined red and white) rose for England. As such they have been used repeatedly on coinage and postage stamps.

1 March 1642
York (now in Maine) became the first incorporated American city.

1 March 1692
Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne and Tituba were arrested for the supposed practice of witchcraft in Salem MA.

1 March 1776
French minister Charles Gravier advised his Spanish counterpart to support the American rebels against the English.

1 March 1780
Pennsylvania became the first US state to abolish slavery.

1 March 1808
In France, Napoleon created an imperial nobility.

1 March 1815
Napoleon landed at Cannes, returning from exile on Elba with a force of 1,500 men, and marched on Paris.



3 March 1802
Beethoven's 'Moonlight Sonata' was published.

3 March 1820
Maine entered the Union as a free state to counteract the impending entrance of Missouri as slave state.

3 March 1931
'The Star-Spangled Banner' was adopted as the US national anthem.


4 March 1681
King Charles II granted a Royal Charter to William Penn, entitling Penn to establish a colony in North America.


5 March 1461
King Henry VI of England was deposed. He was succeeded by Edward IV.

5 March 1770
British troops killed five civilians when they fired into a riotous crowd of demonstrators in Boston. Writing to sympathizers the next day, Sam Adams called the incident 'The Massacre'. In time this became known as the 'Boston Massacre'.

5 March 1811
War against France 1803-1814
Battle of Barrosa
In memoriam for those officers who died in battle:
Ensign William Henry Commerell, First Foot Guards
Ensign Gervase Anthony Eyre, First Foot Guards

5 March 1850
English engineer Robert Stephenson's remarkable tubular railroad bridge was opened, linking the island of Anglesey with mainland Wales. It is still in use.


8 March 1702
Upon the death of her brother-in-law, King William III of Orange, Queen Anne took over the English throne on 8 March 1702, at the age of 37. The daughter of James II, Anne came to power during a two-year-old dispute between England and France concerning who should be king of Spain. Two months into her reign, the dispute turned into open warfare. The War of Spanish Succession (known in America as Queen Anne's War) was won by England. The Duke of Marlborough gained much fame, and the victories established England as a major European power.

On the domestic front, Anne's greatest accomplishment was the unification of England and Scotland through the 1707 Act of Union, which dissolved both the English and Scottish Parliaments and established a new united Parliament of the newly created Great Britain. Upon the act of Union, the national flag changed, becoming the recognizable 'Union Jack' that is today borne as a bumper sticker by Crown Forces reenactors. The flag was further augmented in 1801 to the form in which it is currently used (although it was different under the Hanoverians). The Royal Coat of Arms had previously quartered the fleurs-de-lys of France. With this change, the French quartering was dropped, and the Scots Royal arms (the rampant lion within a tressure) were incorporated. The supporters (either side of the shield) were changed to the currently-used lion (England) and unicorn (Scotland). The lion and unicorn adorn the gable end of the old state House in Boston. They were restored after being toppled during the Revolution.

The First Foot Guards, which was originally an English regiment, became in 1707 a British regiment.

Anne ruled until her death in 1714. Although both contemporaries and historians have regarded her as a woman of

limited ability, the period of her rule saw important cultural achievements in England as well as a major expansion of the country's international power by trade and war. The First Foot Guards received many battle honors in wars of this reign under the illustrious Duke of Marlborough.

"To the gentleman in the velvet waistcoat" A Jacobite toast, referring to the death of King William III.
William III on died on 8 March 1702, from pneumonia he contracted after being thrown from his horse after it stumbled on a molehill. The accession of the childless Anne revived the hopes of the 'Old Pretender', James Edward Stewart.

8 March 1814
War against France 1803-1814
Storming of Bergen Op Zoom
In memoriam for the officers who died in battle:
Lieutenant Colonel the Hon. James Macdonald, First Foot Guards
Lieutenant Colonel George Clifton, First Foot Guards
Captain John Bulteel, First Foot Guards


9 March 1074
Pope Gregory VII excommunicated all married priests.

9 March 1796
French army commander Napoleon Bonaparte married Josephine de Beauharnais.

9 March 1831
The French Foreign Legion was founded in Algeria. Its headquarters moved to France in 1962.


11 March 1682
The Royal Chelsea Hospital for soldiers was founded by Charles II. This is a palatial residence situated on the River Thames in Chelsea (next to the Army Museum). The Chelsea Pensioners are a common sight in London. They wear old style long red coats with military buttons.

11 March 1702
The first successful English daily newspaper, the Daily Courant, was published in London (until 1735).


12 March 1609
Bermuda became a British colony.


13 March 1781
Astronomer William Herschel discovered a new planet, which he named "Georgium Sidus" (the Georgian Planet), in honor of King George III. Today we know it as the planet Uranus, the third largest (by diameter) in the solar system.

13 March 1881
Tsar Alexander II of Russia died after a bomb was thrown at him in St Petersburg.

13 March 1894
The first public striptease act was performed in Paris.


14 March 1492
Queen Isabella of Castile ordered the expulsion of 150,000 Jews from Spain, unless they accepted Christian baptism. In 1492 the Spanish monarch defeated the Moors and Jews had been allowed under their more benign rule.

14 March 1629
A Royal charter was granted to the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

14 March 1743
The first American town meeting was held at Faneuil Hall.

14 March 1757

British Admiral John Byng was executed by a firing squad of Marines on board HMS Monarch in Portsmouth harbor, for "neglect of duty": actually his failure to relieve Minorca from the French fleet. His unwarranted death affected the actions of many subsequent naval officers. To this day, he is considered a political martyr. The French put it sardonically: "Les anglais tuent de temps à temps un amiral pour encourager les autres" (From time to time the English execute an admiral in order to encourage the others.)

His grave and monument at Southill in Bedfordshire bears this inscription:
" To the Perpetual Disgrace of Public Justice, the Hon. John Byng, Esq., Admiral of the Blue, fell a Martyr to Political Persecution, March 14th, in the year MDCCLVII; when Bravery and Loyalty were insufficient Securities for the Life and Honour of a Naval Officer."

14 March 1794
Although cotton was a valuable commodity that grew well in the American South, it had one major drawback: the seeds had to be removed from the cotton fibers by hand. Eli Whitney was a brilliant mechanical engineer who decided to invent a machine to perform that difficult task. Within a few days, he had produced a sketch of his design, and ten days later, he constructed a crude working model. Once he had perfected the machine, he filed for a patent, which he received on 14 March 1794. He set up a company to manufacture and market the invention, which he called a cotton gin. As a commercial venture, it was a failure. Because the machine was fairly simple, other manufacturers easily pirated the design. Whitney's company folded in 1797.

The cotton gin itself, however, spread rapidly throughout the South, with enormous implications. Once the cleaning process was mechanized, cotton became an extremely profitable crop. The cotton boom that followed not only brought great prosperity to the South, but also created a huge demand for slaves to pick the crop on the

gigantic cotton plantations that rapidly emerged. Thus, the cotton gin revitalized both the Southern economy and the institution of slavery, which had been dying out economically. In this sense, the invention of the cotton gin has been seen as a major, although consequential cause of the Civil War.

In historical terms of clothing, cotton was an expensive commodity until the use of the gin had become widespread. Linen and wool were widely used, including a combination of both, linsey-woolsey.


14 March 1837
Wheatstone & Cooke sent the first British telegraph message


15 March 1781
The Battle of Guildford Courthouse NC
Bringing both halves of the American army back together, General Greene began a long game of cat and mouse, gradually luring the British northward away from their supply line. The two sides finally clashed at Guilford Courthouse. Although the British emerged victorious, they lost nearly a quarter of their men in the battle. As a result, Cornwallis decided to leave the Carolinas and take control of Virginia.

15 March 1781
First American War 1776-1783
Battle of Guildford Court House
In memoriam for those officers who died in battle:
Lieutenant Colonel the Hon. James Stuart, First Foot Guards
Captain John Goodricke, First Foot Guards
Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Collins, First Foot Guards, 4th June 1781


16 March 1660
On the Restoration of the monarchy, the Long Parliament of England was dissolved, after sitting for 20 years.

16 March 1802
The US Military Academy was established at West Point, New York State by Gen Sylvanus Thayer of Braintree, MA.


17 March 1757
French forces attacked Fort William Henry and were driven off after burning a few buildings and several Lake Champlain vessels.

17 March 1776
The end of the Siege of Boston (Evacuation Day).
For almost a year (since 19 April 1775) the siege of Boston remained a stalemate. When General Knox brought heavy cannon from Fort Ticonderoga the tide quickly turned in the Americans' favor, and Boston was reclaimed in a bloodless surrender. The British forces and many Tories departed for Halifax NS.



18 March 1662
The first public bus service began operating, in Paris.

18 March 1834
The Tolpuddle Martyrs. In a savage sentence against unionizing farm workers, six laborers from Tolpuddle, Dorset, were sentenced to transportation to Australia. This was an action of a repressive government against fledgling 'combinations' (trades unions).

18 March 1891
First telephone link between London & Paris was inaugurated.



19 March 721 BC
The first-ever recorded solar eclipse was seen from Babylon.

19 March 1628
The New England Company was formed in Massachusetts Bay.


20 March 1602
By the start of the 17th century, trade with Asia played a major and growing role in the economic life of the Netherlands. But sharp competition among the small independent companies involved in the trade was reducing the profits. So, in 1602 a number of those independent trading companies joined to form a coalition called the

Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or VOC). The Company received a charter from the Dutch government that granted them a trade monopoly in all waters between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan, along with the power to conclude treaties with native princes, to build forts, maintain armed forces, and perform all administrative functions in the settlements they established. In addition to protecting Dutch trade in the Indian Ocean, the Company's military forces were called on to assist in the Dutch war of independence from Spain.

For most of the 17th century the Company prospered, and served as the military and political instrument of the powerful Dutch commercial empire in the East Indies. Establishing its headquarters in Batavia (now Jakarta) in 1619, the Dutch East India Company subdued local rulers and drove the British and Portuguese from Indonesia, Malaya, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Conquering Java and then the outer islands of the Indonesian archipelago, the Company took control of the fabulously lucrative Spice Islands trade.

By the 18th century, the Dutch East India Company was less a commercial shipping enterprise and more a territorial organization developing the agricultural resources of the Indonesian islands.

Poor administration due to corruption brought the Company into serious debt towards the end of the century, and in 1799, the Dutch government revoked the Company's charter and took over its possessions and debts.

The effects of the Company's enormous power could be seen long after its 200-year operation ended. The colony it established at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652 remained Dutch until conquered by England in 1814, with Dutch (Boer) influence continuing in South Africa to this day. And Indonesia remained a Dutch colony for more than 150 years after the demise of the company that originally established its headquarters in Batavia.

The success of the VOC resulted in the founding of British East India Company, which had considerable influence over events in the American Colonies.

20 March 1806
The foundation stone of Dartmoor Prison was laid. The prison exists today. A bleak structure in the middle of a desolate moor (The countryside is the appropriate setting of The Hound of the Baskervilles.)

20 March 1815
Napoleon returned to Paris from banishment on the island of Elba to begin his last 100 days of power that ended with defeat and exile.

20 March 1852
Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was published.


21 March 1556
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, was burned at the stake as a heretic under 'Bloody Mary' (Queen Mary I). Cranmer was archbishop during Henry VIII's reign, but when Mary I took power, she forced Cranmer to convert to Catholicism. Cranmer wrote a recantation of Protestantism, but she did not believe him. Shortly before his execution, he repudiated his own weakness by saying "forasmuch as my hand hath offended, writing contrary to my heart, therefore my hand shall first be punished; for when I come to the fire it shall first be burned." And Archbishop Cranmer did hold his hand in the fire until it was burnt to a cinder, frequently saying: "This unworthy right hand."

21 March 1804
When Napoleon took power in France the country's legal system was anything but systematic. Rather, it was a confusing hodge-podge of church law, feudal law, Roman law, customary law, and royal law, with an overlay of modern rulings from the revolutionary government that had preceded Napoleon's consulate. In one of the most historically significant reforms of his rule, Napoleon sought to make French law uniform and rational through the introduction of the French Civil Code, enacted on this day.

The first major revision and reorganization of laws since the Roman era, the Civil Code was renamed the Code of Napoleon in 1807. Although it was primarily concerned with matters relating to property and families, those are the areas of law that most greatly affected citizens' lives. With its stress on equality, and its guarantee of trial by jury and freedom of speech and worship, the Code of Napoleon protected the basic freedoms won during the French revolution. But by spelling out a careful system of contractual laws to ensure the rights of private property, and by banning workers' organizations, it rejected the more radical Revolutionary tendencies. Still in place in France, the Code of Napoleon served as a model for the civil codes introduced throughout continental Europe and Latin America.



22 March 1622
Algonquian Indians led by Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey, massacred settlers around Jamestown, Virginia.
This was the first major massacre of European colonists by Native Americans, and left 347 settlers dead: more than 30% of the Jamestown population.

22 March 1775
Relations between Great Britain and her colonies in America became greatly strained over several issues, particularly various taxes that the mother country required Americans to pay. These taxes were widely resented in the colonies, where Americans considered it unfair to be required to pay taxes to a government in which they had no representation. Although attempts were made to reach a compromise, King George III favored a hard line in dealing with the colonies.

22 March 1775
Edmund Burke MP addressed the House of Commons with a speech urging a more conciliatory policy towards the American colonies. Although he acknowledged that the taxes and other colonial policies had a legitimate basis in law, he said that by clinging to narrow legalism, England would only antagonize the Americans. Instead he urged that "claims of circumstance, utility, and moral principle should be considered," rather than just laws and precedents, and that Great Britain should show more respect for the Americans' claims and needs. His well-reasoned argument and graceful rhetoric have made the speech famous, although it proved fruitless. British policy towards the American colonies continued to be inflexible, and the outright revolt that Burke had sought to prevent came less than a year and a half later, with the American Declaration of Independence.

22 March 1824
The British parliament voted to buy 38 pictures at a cost of £57,000, to establish the national collection that is now housed in the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London. If you're interested in the prominent people in Britain's history, (as opposed to seeing art) you should visit the adjacent National Portrait Gallery. Art is arranged in chronological order, and gives the visitor an interesting perspective.

22 March 1895
First public showing of film on screen, in Paris by the Lumière brothers.


23 March 1775
Patrick Henry, US revolutionary and lawyer, delivered a moving speech for arming the Virginia militia against the
English in Richmond, Virginia. During his speech he said, "I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death."

23 March 1757
During the Seven Years War, the long-standing Anglo-French conflict broke out again in India, and following the French victory at Calcutta in 1756, an army led by Clive and Watson stormed the stronghold of Chandernagore (23 March 1757) and defeated pro-French Indian forces at Plassey (23 June 1757). From 1758 to 1760 Britain was involved in a long dispute with local leaders who were partly supported by France and Holland. After defeating the Dutch in 1759, the British went on to conquer the important French stronghold of Pondichéry and also fought off a French offensive at Madras (1758-59). With the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763, the British became absolute rulers of the Indian sub-continent. The French were left with only the bases of Pondichéry and Chandernagore and a few insignificant trading posts.

23 March 1765
The British parliament passed the Stamp Act, imposing a tax on all publications and official documents in America.


24 March 1401
Tamerlane the Great captured Damascus in Syria.

24 March 1603
The crowns of England and Scotland were united when King James VI of Scotland succeeded to the English throne (as James I).

"I will that a king succeed me, and who but my kinsman the King of Scots."
Elizabeth I on her deathbed named James VI of Scotland as her successor.


25 March (Old Style)
Lady Day in Britain. The first day of the year until 1753, when the Gregorian calendar was adopted in England, when Lady Day became 6 April. Today, Britain's tax year still starts on this date - the old "new year's day".

Lady Day was one of the four Quarter Days on which rents became due in Britain (Lady Day, Midsummer's Day, Michaelmas Day, Christmas Day).

25 March 1306
Robert I 'the Bruce' was crowned King of Scots.

25 March 1609
English explorer Henry Hudson set off from Amsterdam, on behalf of the Dutch East India Company, in search of the Northwest Passage.

25 March 1807
Twenty years after the start of the abolitionists' campaign, Parliament passed a bill making it illegal
for any English vessel to participate in the slave trade. The vote was an overwhelming 283 in favor to 16 against. In that same year the United States Congress enacted a law prohibiting the importation of slaves.

Although slavery was abolished within England in 1772, it was still allowed in the British colonies, as was the slave trade. The continued slave trade was not only accepted, but considered essential to the power and prosperity of the British Empire. British slave-merchants made fortunes carrying slaves from Africa to the British colonies in North America and the Caribbean, and many of England's industries, notably textiles and sugar refining, depended on raw materials produced by slave labor on colonial plantations. Still, there were opponents, and in 1787, they launched a nationwide campaign to seek the abolition of the slave trade.

Regarded as the first public humanitarian campaign in history, the fight for abolition of the slave trade was also among the most successful. In addition to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) who started the campaign, and some Anglican supporters, the advocates of abolition included a former slave ship captain and an ex-slave. Distributing leaflets describing the actual conditions on slave ships, the abolitionists revealed the true horror of the trade and enlightened the British public to the fact that slaves were human beings, who did not deserve to be treated as mere property. Coupling their publicity campaign with a nationwide petition-signing drive and a boycott of West Indian slave-grown sugar, the abolitionists managed to sway the English public and bring the issue before Parliament.

The main leader of the abolitionist movement, William Wilberforce, is commemorated by a statue atop an enormous column in the port of Hull in England.

25 March 1843
A pedestrian tunnel was opened beneath the Thames in London, linking Wapping with Rotherhithe.


26 March 1646
English Civil War: Victory for the Parliamentary forces at the Battle of Stow-on-the-Wold.


27 March 1794
The United States Navy was formed.

27 March 1802
Treaty of Amiens was signed by Britain, France, Spain, and the Netherlands – the "Peace of Amiens," as it was known, brought a temporary peace of 14 months during the Napoleonic Wars. One of its most important cultural effects was that travel and correspondence across the English Channel became possible again.


29 March 1461
In the wars of the Roses over 28,000 people were killed in the Battle of Towton, Yorkshire. The Lancastrians under Henry VI were defeated.

29 March 1827
Composer Ludwig van Beethoven was buried in Vienna amidst a crowd of over 10,000 mourners.


30 March 1282
The "Sicilian Vespers", a massacre of the French in Sicily, began.

30 March 1775
The British parliament passed an act forbidding its North American colonies to trade with any other country than Britain.

30 March 1842
Ether was first used as an anaesthetic during surgery, by US doctor Crawford Long.

"The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it. 'Knife' and 'pain' are two words in surgery that must live forever in the consciousness of the patient." 
Dr Alfred Velpeau of the Paris Faculty of Medicine was an old-school physician who was unimpressed.


31 March 1778
In the course of his third voyage of exploration to the Pacific, Captain James Cook entered a large bay on the
western coast of a huge island in what is now British Columbia. Finding that the bay formed a good natural harbor, he anchored his vessels, HMS Resolution and HMS Discovery, in a cove there and sent some sailors to search for fresh water. He named the bay King George's Sound.

A few aboriginal people approached his vessels in canoes and cried out, "Itchem nutka, itchem nutka!" meaning, "Go around!" Not realizing that they were directing his ships to another, more sheltered cove, Cook assumed they were telling him the name of the area. He therefore changed King George Sound to Nootka Sound, the name it goes by today.

Captain Cook and his men spent an entire month in Nootka Sound, re-supplying their boats, and making observations about the new area and the natives, both of which they found congenial. Aboard Cook's ship was a 21-year-old midshipman named George Vancouver. Fourteen years later, as leader of another voyage of exploration, Captain Vancouver returned to the area and circumnavigated and mapped the huge island. It now bears his name.

While other European navigators had reached the Pacific coast of Canada before Cook's 1778 visit, it was that visit, and Vancouver's subsequent mapping expedition that brought the area into the realm of Britain's expanding colonial empire.

31 March 1889
The Eiffel Tower, built for the Universal Exhibition, was inaugurated.


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