The Battle of Minden, which took place during the Seven Year’s War of 1756-63, was the first time that infantry were able to successfully engage and defeat Cavalry.
The Battle itself took place on 1st August 1759 north west of the town of Minden. The Allied armies (Commanded by Ferdinand Duke of Brunswick) formed up on Minden Heath in order to oppose the French. The aim was to prevent the French from securing Hanover by bringing them to battle. The main body, with the 37th Foot in the first line was ready by 7am.
Ferdinand sent a message to his Generals to ‘advance with drums beating’. This they took as the order to advance and even though they were facing massed squadrons of Cavalry they continued causing the French to rapidly retreat.
Twelve squadrons of cavalry now swept down on the infantry who held their fire until the horses were within ten paces. The ground was left strewn with men and horses but still the British advanced.
When more horsemen hurled themselves at the beleaguered Regiments the three in the van ‘stood like a brass wall’. The French cavalry were truly beaten. A third charge was despatched in similar fashion and the French were driven from the battlefield.
This astonishing achievement put ‘Minden’ on the Colours of six Regiments and the outcome was of double significance. Firstly, if the French had been allowed to capture Hanover, they would have been in a stronger position to exercise pressure on Britain’s efforts to occupy the American Colonies. Secondly, the battle took the pressure off the Prussians and thereby eliminated the French threat in the west.
The pistols were supposedly carried at the Battle of Minden.