The excellence of this Regiment made it the first selected cavalry corps to be sent to America. It left Ireland in 1775, and landed in Boston just before the Battle of Bunker Hill. A small party joined the reinforcements in that fight, and we find that detachments were present in most of the important engagements throughout the war. The Regiment returned to Ireland in 1783.
After the British retreat from Philadelphia in 1778, the 16th Light Dragoons, the only other English cavalry regiment present during the war, transferred its effective men and horses to the 17th, and returned to England. The combined Regiment was popularly known at this time as the "Queen's Dragoons." Its Headquarters was at Hempstead, Long Island, from 1778 to 1783, but patrols and detachments were constantly on the lines about New York City, and with "Tarleton's Legion" in the South. The men were a model of discipline for other cavalry troops raised by the British in America during the war.
Their uniform may be described as: helmets of brass, with red horsehair crest, falling to the shoulder, front plates painted black with the badge and motto of regiment: a death's head, and a scroll beneath with the words "or glory" in white metal. A red silk turban was wound around the base of the cap. Coats and cloaks of red cloth faced and lined with white. Buckskin breeches and black top boots with tinned spurs. Buttons were of pewter for the enlisted men, and of silver for officers, all marked with the regimental number.
The detachment with the British Legion in the South wore white sheepskin around their helmets, in place of the red silk turban, and though offered the dress of that corps (green jackets faced with black) when their own was badly worn, they preferred to retain and patch their red coats.
Spatterdashes or short leggings were worn when dismounted, and coarse white linen frocks for stable duty and service in the South during the very hot weather.
[Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County, By Henry Onderdonk Jr., pp. 189-90; Inspection return, May 30, 1769, British War Office.]