George Howe, 3rd Viscount Howe - Ticonderoga Campaign Reforms

Ticonderoga Campaign Reforms

In 1758, in preparation for the attack on the French fort at Ticonderoga, which controlled access from Lake George to Lake Champlain, Lord Howe set about reforming General James Abercrombie's army for warfare in North America. He used his own 55th Regiment as an example for the rest of the army to follow. Howe had uniforms cut short, so that they came just to the men's waists, and all lace was removed from the coats as well. The cumbersome tricorn hats worn by the soldiers were cut down to brims of 2.5 inches (6.4 cm), resembling derby hats. Infantrymen were issued leggings made of wool, in place of their linen and hemp canvas gaiters. Excess uniforms and equipment were done away with. The men's hair was cut short, Dr. Richard Huck wrote; "we are an army of round heads." Officers were not immune to his changes either, and he made himself an example of this, cutting his hair short. He washed his own clothes, and took very little baggage into the field.

His changes did not only affect the uniforms of the army but its tactics as well. In the fall of 1757, Lord Howe had accompanied the famous ranger Major Robert Rogers on a scouting expedition. In the spring he again met with Rogers to discuss warfare and tactics in the North American theater. He began instructing the troops in Abercrombie's army in the manner of marching, forming, and fighting in the woods. One observer stated that Lord Howe had trained his 55th Regiment so well that they were as "dexterious as rangers."

Many historians have credited Lord Howe with the creation of light infantry, and have called the 55th Regiment as light infantry regiment, however that was not the case. While Lord Loudoun contemplated creating light infantry companies in each redcoat battalion, the idea was scrapped when Colonel Thomas Gage proposed to raise a regiment of Light Armed Foot, that became Gage's 80th Regiment. They wore brown uniforms, instead of red and were the first British light infantry regiment. At the Siege of Louisbourg, General Jeffery Amherst ordered his regiments to create light infantry companies. Those companies were then placed into a light infantry battalion under the command of Colonel George Scott of the 40th Regiment. The following year, as Commander-in-chief in North America, Amherst ordered each regiment in North America to create a light infantry company.

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