Human Flower Project
The Battle of Minden
On August 1, 1759, a group of outnumbered British and Hanoverian soldiers defeated the French army, and till today, a Chicagoan pays tribute with roses.
An intriguing article published yesterday reports the appearance of six red roses at the British consulate in Chicago, August 1st.
The flowers, which have been arriving on this day each year since 1967, are addressed to the “The Suffolk Regiment, Lancashire Fusiliers, Royal Welch Fusiliers, Kings Own Scottish Borderers, Royal Hampshire Regiment, Yorkshire Light Infantry,” those British forces that repulsed a much larger French Army at the Battle of Minden, in 1759.
Why roses? “When the British Infantry were first advancing they passed through some German gardens and the soldiers plucked roses and stuck them in their coats. Minden Day was thereafter celebrated annually in all battalions of the KOYLI on 1st August, when the White Rose of Yorkshire was worn by all ranks in their caps.”
Soldiers of the Light Infantry on Minden Day, August 1
Photo: Light Infantry
We’ve found other references to the Minden Rose. While the Light Infantry wears the white, other brigades favor different colors. The Royal Anglian Regiment celebrates August 1 with red and yellow roses. The Royal Hampshire Regiment wears red.
Curiously, a company of the non-military variety sells as the Minden Rose Celeste: “Open cupped flowers of soft rose pink.” Celeste, by the way, is French.
In any case, the French general on that summer’s day in 1759, having “watched the ruin of the flower of his Army, is said to have declared he had seen ... what had never before been seen and which was impossible of belief, a single column of infantry break through three lines of cavalry, and four brigades of infantry, ranked in order of battle, and tumble them to ruin.”
It’s safe to say, the British consulate in Chicago has never seen anything like this enduring rose tribute either. The flower donor remains a mystery.