The Royal Waggoners (1794) In 1793, France invaded the Low Countries and declared war on Britain. France was bankrupt and her army intended to live off the land during their campaign. The British Army, on the other hand, had The Duke of Marlborough who established a system in the early 1700s whereby payment to agents in a theatre of war provided supplies and transport. However, failure to supply these essentials which was what sometimes happened was as much to do with inexperience as with insufficient funding and a lack of understanding of the problem.
The Army Commissaries had a major role in the provision of transport and supplies in the field but they were controlled by the Treasury who had little understanding of the military requirements or indeed the particular conditions in the different theatres of operation. Regiments had their own baggage train, either hired or acquired, but these generally carried the officers' baggage and messing arrangements. On 7th March 1794, the first uniformed Transport Corps "The Royal Waggoners" was raised with men from the prisons of England. No attempt was made to recruit men who were familiar with horses. As a result, their reputation was not enhanced when they joined the Duke of York's expeditionary force against the French. In early 1795,
The Duke of York withdrew his force because his supply and transport arrangements had broken down and the Royal Waggoners was abolished. Sir James Craig, the Chief of Staff, said of the Royal Waggoners 'a greater set of scoundrels never disgraced an army. I believe it to be true that half of them, if not taken from the hulks, have visited them - they have committed every species of villainy and treat their horses badly'. Being dressed in blue the Royal Waggoners earned an evil reputation and were known as the Newgate Blues, Newgate being a particularly unsavoury prison in London