"The town of Coldstream, because the General did it the honour to make it place of his residence for some time, hath given title to a small company of men whom God made the instruments of great things; and the poor, yet honest as ever corrupt nature produced into the world, by the no dishonourable name of the Coldstreamers".
Thus spake Thomas Grumble in 1671 when referring to Her Present Majesty's 2nd Regiment of Foot Guards, which had been formed in 1650 under the command of Colonel George Monck by amalgamating five companies each from the foot regiments of Colonels Fenwick and Hazelrigg.
Oliver Cromwell, in whose army Monck served, died in 1658 and it was then that he moved his headquarters to Coldstream from whence on New Year's Day 1659, he led the march with his men to help in the restoration of Charles II in May of that year.
On February 14th 1671, Cromwell's new model army was disbanded with the notable exception of Monck's regiment of Coldstreamers, which was commanded to take up its arms immediately as the Lord General's Regiment of Foot Guards. Thus were the Coldstream Guards officially born.
Brief actions in Tangier and in North America culminated in Flanders where the regiment fought the French under Marlborough especially distinguishing itself at Walcourt 1698, Landen 1693 and Namur 1695. The Guards again fought valiantly in the last two of Marlborough's great quartet of battles at Oudenarde and Malplaquet suffering severe losses at the last named.
The Eighteenth Century saw garrison duties alternating with action in the 7 Years War against the French at Dettingen and Fontenoy and the North American Rebels. After the American colonists won their independence there was a short outbreak of peace before the French became uppity again with the outbreak of what became known as the French revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, which were to last over 25 years.
Again the Coldstreamers were in the forefront of action: at Lincelles in Flanders, then at the battle of Aboukir Bay (1801). In 1809 the battalion went to the Peninsula with Wellington and distinguished themselves at Talavera (1810), Barrosa and Fuetes D'Onord (1811), Salamanca (1812), and Victoria (1913). Naturally the Coldstreamers were at Waterloo in 1815 where they performed prodigies of valour in the defence of Hougemont Farm.
The 19th Century saw the great expansion of the British Empire and there were a series of small colonial campaigns. The one major campaign was the Crimean War (1854-6). The forcing of the Alma River was followed by what was called The Soldiers Battle - Inkerman (1855) fought in heavy snow and mist. The Guards fought in small isolated groups until the constant Russian attacks were defeated and they retreated in disorder.
There was no further active service until Egypt in 1892 where the Arabs had risen under Arabi Pasha. At the battle of Tel-el-Kebir the rebellion was smashed with the Coldstreamers finally clearing the enemy defences in fine style.
In 1899 the Boer War broke out, fuelled by the intransigence of President Krugar and the Coldstreamers sailed for South Africa to form part of 1st Guards Division and saw action at the defence of Kimberley, the Modder.