Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
In 1661, Charles II married the Portuguese Catherine of Braganza, and as part of her dowry England gained the ports of Tangier and Bombay. These were to give Charles's army it's first experience of colonial warfare, as the first overseas garrisons of the English Army were formed. The Portuguese were not in the least reluctant to part with Tangier. The Anchorage was unsafe for shipping and round the massive fortifications on the landward side roamed the savage Moors who never missed an opportunity to harass the garrison.
As soon as Charles and Catherine's marriage treaty had been signed, Admiral Edward Montague, Earl of Sandwich, was sent to take possession of Tangier until the arrival of an English garrison. Tangier controlled entry into the Mediterranean and was the principle commercial centre on the North West coast of Africa, with a large European population. Charles rightly called it a jewel of immense value in the royal diadem. Sandwich found the Portuguese garrison under constant attack from fanatical Moorish tribes, under their powerful leader Gayland. The Portuguese asked for his assistance, and he put 300 men ashore. It proved a masterstroke, as Pepys reported: "Now the Spaniards' designs of hindering our getting the place are frustrated."
Garrison & Governor
On 6 September 1661, King Charles appointed Henry Morduant, second Earl of Peterborough, as governor and captain-general of all the forces in Tangier, with orders to raise one regiment of foot and a troop of 100 horse. On 21 October 1661, 100 men, destined to become the nucleus of the Tangier Horse were paraded on St. Georges Fields, Southwark. Three additional regiments from the Dunkirk garrison were also placed under Peterborough's command.
The army was mustered on Putney Heath and set sail for Tangier on 15 January 1662. The Earl of Peterborough arrived in Tangier with a force of 500 horse and 2000 foot. They took with them the wives of two or three hundred of the soldiers - the first time that wives had officially accompanied an English army to an overseas garrison. Peterborough was the governor as well as the commander of the garrison. From the sea, the white walled city, with its red tiled roofs gleaming in the African sun, looked deceptively attractive. However, as soon as Peterborough landed he found the town derelict, with accommodation for only one-third of his troops, and under constant attacks from some 17,000 Berber rebels. Peterborough had to quarter some of his troops on the Portuguese inhabitants, already indignant at having to hand over their city. They were even more angry at the behaviour of the English soldiers, who they accused of looting their houses and taking public liberties with their wives and daughters. Peterborough invited the Portuguese to enrol as soldiers, but they refused and left Tangier, carrying off everything of value, including doors and windows! A decaying fort named York Castle was hastily fitted out for the governor and his headquarters staff, and almost immediately became the focus of attack by a Moorish force under its leader, Gayland.
The second commander and governor was the Lord Andrew Rutherford, a distinguished Scottish soldier, previously the governor of Dunkirk. He was created Earl of Teviot "to hearten him for his new post." He was a professional soldier, chiefly responsible for the evacuation of Dunkirk, from which town he brought 400 soldiers who reinforced the Tangier Regiment. These were mostly Irishmen and he reorganized his troops into separate English and Irish regiments. Many people in England felt apprehension that a Roman Catholic should command so many Catholic soldiers. When he arrived he found the garrison demoralised by the constant attacks and the fortifications in urgent need of repair. Under his energetic leadership a line of stone redoubts was constructed beyond the town walls, which were strengthened with a number of forts. Teviot also started to build a much needed breakwater or mole, to provide an all-weather harbour for ships. King Charles offered Sir Christopher Wren a commission "to survey and direct the works of the mole and fortifications of the citadel and town," but Wren turned it down because of ill health.
Truces were agreed with Gayland, but he proved a most treacherous enemy. In one sortie, the heavily outnumbered English troops were ambushed and lost 19 officers and 400 men killed, with Teviot among them, dying at the head of his men. To add to the garrison's problems, illness broke out, stores and provisions were low and costly, and the troops received no pay for several months.
The replacement governor (during this governor's rule, it appears the regiment was not under his direct command, but that of Col. Northwood), John Belasyse was a prominent Catholic, who according to Pepys, accepted the post only for the profit it brought. Unable to take the Oath of Conformity in 1667, he was forced to resign his governorship.
His successor, General the Earl of Middleton, had been wounded fighting for Charles at the battle of Worcester. At the restoration he was rewarded with an earldom and made commander-in-chief in Scotland. When he arrived in Tangier in October 1668, he found it had ceased to be a purely military outpost. Jewish and European settlers had arrived from Morocco, Spain, France and the United Provinces, and a small but turbulent civilian population now added to the difficulties faced by the governor. Shocked by the constant drain on funds and manpower, the Tangier Committee was determined to establish the colony's prosperity through a civil government, instead of military commanders. On 4 June 1668 Tangier was declared a free city by charter, with a mayor and corporation to govern instead of the army. One of Middleton's most important duties was to settle the inevitable disputes and disturbances which arose between the civil authorities and the army.
His attempts to improve local standards of living by growing food rather than importing it failed. The mole remained uncompleted and broken by storms; and the soldiers could not pay the merchants because, as usual, their pay was in arrears. Middleton's urgent requests for more artificers to rebuild the mole, and more troops to face the ferocious Emperor of Morocco's Moorish armies, remained unanswered. Small wonder that Middleton took to drink and died in 1675, falling from his horse in a drunken stupor. Yet his soldiers loved him as a commander, and his officers had perfect trust in his generalship.
Middleton was followed as Governor by the second Earl of Inchiquin, who had been colonel of the Queen's Regiment since 5 March 1674, and who would end his career as Governor of Jamaica. He is so long absent from his post that most of his duties fall on his deputy, Sir Palmes Fairborne, seemingly the only attractive personality in a succession of idle and often corrupt administrators.
Fairborn is a professional soldier and no courtier, who arrived in Tangier as a captain in Lord Peterborough's Foot Regiment and became its commanding officer, in 1667. He lives in Tangier and has never sought advancement beyond that of commanding the garrison. His whole life is embittered by the system, which leaves promotion to the whim or favour of a secretary of state. The constant arrears of pay often pushes him to the verge of poverty, while anxiety on behalf of his wife and seven children has led him to use every means in his power to gain some addition to his income. This includes trying to buy the favour of the current secretary of state, with presents he can ill afford.
He is responsible for erecting new forts on the perimeter and for strengthening the town walls in order to withstand the Moorish attacks. But conditions have become so bad and morale so low that he has had to take disciplinary measures within the garrison against such offences as sleeping on sentry duty, theft from comrades and drunkenness on parade. On one occasion he was faced with a mass refusal to obey orders, until he ordered two soldiers to be marched out of the ranks and publicly shot. "Rape, adultery, fornication and dissolute lasciviousness must be punished at discretion, according to the quality of the offence," ran his orders.
Tangiers in the game
At Christmas 1675 the son of the Bey of Tunis, Abdul Mustafa, was killed in a duel at Windsor, by the hand of the Viscount Blackheath for the loss of honour of his wife. As a result unrest broke out in Tangiers, with locals attacking the troops. On instigation of the Duke of York several courtiers were send with an armed force to Tangiers. This included the Viscount of Blackheath who died at sea after recovering the dead body of Charles FitzCharles, nicknamed Don Carlos, one of the illegitimate sons of the King. Also involved where Owen Langland and Robert Dummond (Earl of Carrington).