The regiment was raised at the 10th Dragoons on 23 July 1715 in the reign of King George I. Brigadier-General Humphrey Gore, a staunch Protestant was ordered to raise the regiment to face the threat of a Jacobite Rebellion. They fought at Falkirk and later in the Seven Years War, at Warburg. In 1783 they became the 10th Light Dragoons, patronised by the Prince of Wales who was appointed Colonel of the regiment, and who acceded as King George IV on 1820. It was during his colonelcy that the regiment became hussars.
In 1804, with the threat of invasion by Napoleon, the strength of the 10th Light Dragoons was increased to ten Troops and stationed on the south coast of England. The Prince of Wales was keen to take part in any actions undertaken by his regiment but was forbidden to go on active service. When the invasion threat diminished in September 1805 the 10th were stood down and sent to Essex, having their HQ at Romford. The Prince started to transform his regiment into hussars as early as 1803. Clothing Regulations of 22 April 1803 for the 10th Light Dragoons stated that every 4 years they were to receive 1 pelisse, 1 dress jacket, 1 hussar cap and a sash every 8 years. The other light dragoon regiments began clothing as hussars in 1805. So the 7th and 15th were next to be transformed and the 18th some time later. Actually the Warrant for the conversion to hussars was not published until 18 April 1811 giving official sanction for all four regiments to adopt hussar uniform, but backdated to 25 Dec 1807. The men of these four regiments were issued with pelisses, barrel sashes, fur caps, leather breeches and Hessian boots. Their carbines were swapped for lighter versions and they were ordered to grow moustaches.
The First Hussar Brigade
The first important parade in their new uniform was on 3 July 1807, inspected by the Duke of York. Soon after this they were brigaded with the 7th, 15th, and two Troops of Horse Artillery, this hussar brigade was commanded by Major-General Lord Henry Paget (later Earl of Uxbridge). The whole brigade was inspected, again by the Duke of York, on 5 Oct on Rushmore Heath. The following summer the 10th marched to Brighton and on 12 Aug there was a review in the presence of the Prince of Wales on Newmarket Hill.
The Peninsula 1808 - 1814
The regiment was warned for foreign service in May 1807 and each of its eight Troops was increased to 80 rank and file. Under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel George Leigh the regiment marched from Brighton to Portsmouth. The brigade was now commanded by Brigadier-General John Slade who had served as an officer in the 10th from 1780 to 1798. Despite the fact that he was a totally useless commander, it seems that the Prince of Wales held him in high regard because, as the regiment embarked for the Peninsula, the Prince arrived at Portsmouth to see them off and presented Slade with his own sword, and his jacket and pelisse.
The regiment arrived at the port of Corunna on 10 Nov 1808. It took them 3 days to disembark, swimming the horses ashore, and they then had to wait at St Lucia 10 days for the rest of the division. The cavalry were 2000 strong, part of Sir John Moore’s army of 25,000. Knowing that the French had 200,000 men, the advance was cautious. The Hussar Brigade left Corunna (La Coruña) on 22 Nov to join up with Moore’s army somewhere near Toro. They marched via Lugo, Villa Franca, Astorga and Benevente. Zamora was reached on 8 Dec where they were cheered by the inhabitants, and the next day went on to Toro. The most distant part of Spain that they reached was Tordesillas. Moore’s army and Sir David Baird’s force linked up at Mayorga on 20 Dec. The only course of action was to retreat but before that it was decided to attack Soult’s two infantry divisions and two cavalry brigades in the valley of the Carrion River.
Sahagun, 21 Dec 1808
The hussars were to capture the village of Sahagun which lay on the River Cea, north of Mayorga. They left at midnight on 21 Dec and on reaching the area near their objective, split into two. The 15th Hussars under Lord Henry Paget was to wait on the south side while the 10th Hussars under General Slade were ordered to approach from the other side, attack the French Picquet at the bridge at 6.30am and force the enemy cavalry towards Paget’s hussars. It was a cold night, very dark and sleeting. On reaching the bridge, later than Paget had ordered, they found the picquet gone and the village empty of the enemy. Meanwhile the 15th Hussars saw the French dragoons drawn up and waiting for them on their side of Sahagun. They charged and were completely successful in defeating the enemy who remained stationary with carbines ready. French losses were 20 killed and a large number of prisoners; 2 lieutenant-colonels, 11 other officers and 154 men. The 10th joined in the pursuit of the remainder. That day and night the brigade stayed in the convent near the village and then returned to Mayorga where they were informed of the decision to retreat back to Corunna.
Mayorga, 26 Dec 1808
Seeing the enemy cavalry drawn up on the brow of the rising ground, threatening their line of retreat, Lord Paget ordered Colonel Leigh to attack with two squadrons of the 10th. The hussars were formed up in two lines and rode up the hill. They stopped at the top to rest the horses, but came under fire and were obliged to go on the offensive straight away. They made a spirited charge and overwhelmed the enemy horsemen. The French lost many killed and 90 prisoners and horses were taken.
Benevente, 29 Dec 1808
Sadly the captured horses had to be killed so that the retreat could be as rapid as possible.
The hussar brigade arrived at Benevente on 27 Dec after crossing the River Esla and destroying the bridge at Castro Gonzalo. It had rained all day and the subsequent frost made the roads impassable. They rested until 29 Dec when 600 of the French Imperial Guard cavalry waded across the river. The 18th Hussars picquets guarding the river retired until they were supported by the 3rd Hussars of the King’s German Legion. They made a charge against the French which had some degree of success but soon had to retreat through the town where pandemonium broke out. Meanwhile, the 10th Hussars were formed up behind some houses and made a surprise charge. This encouraged the picquets and KGL to make a fresh attack and the combined hussar offensive, supported by the 7th Hussars forced the French cavalry into the river. It is said that Napoleon himself was watching this action, dismayed to see his elite Guard cavalry overthrown. Fifty-five of them were killed, 70 wounded and 70 more taken prisoner. There was a pursuit over the plain and a French officer was seen making his way to another part of the river. Two men of the 10th set off to catch him and he was wounded in the struggle. They discovered that their new prisoner was General Lefèvre-Desnouettes. He was later sent back to England where he was treated respectfully. He lived at Cheltenham and Malvern but in May 1812 he escaped back to France. The hussar who captured him was Private Levi Grisdall who was promoted to sergeant for his work. Sir John Moore praised the units that took part and credit was given to Lord Henry Paget and Brigadier-General Charles Stewart, later the Marquess of Londonderry.
Retreat to Corunna, Jan 1809
Sir John Moore’s army faced a terrible journey through mountainous terraine in the middle of winter. The French army of 7,000 under Marshal Soult pursued them relentlessly and the rearguard of Moore’s army took every opportunity to keep the enemy at a safe distance. The Hussar Brigade played a major part in these actions but was also required to go ahead and secure crossings like the bridge of Robardo so that the army’s movement could be covered and the bridge destroyed when all had crossed. The march was particularly difficult on the 7th and 8th Jan as it poured with rain the whole time and the cavalry had to move at the same slow pace as the infantry. The bulk of the army finally reached Corunna on 11 Jan 1809, having retained all their guns and Colours. The casualties in the 10th Hussars were one officer, Captain Frederick Derby and 17 men died of fatigue. The ships had not arrived to take the men home so Moore prepared the infantry for battle. On 14 Jan the transports arrived and the cavalry made preparations for embarkation. Only 30 horses were allowed for each regiment and the rest had to be destroyed. The battle began on 16 Jan and after four hours of fighting the infantry were successful in forcing the French back. This permitted the embarkation which was completed by 18 Jan. Sadly Sir John Moore was hit by a cannonball and died after 3 hours.
Stationed at Brighton
The 10th Hussars were stationed in Brighton from May 1810 to May 1812, during which time the Prince of Wales became Prince Regent, in Feb 1811. The regiment then had the word ‘Royal’ added to its title. The Prince held lavish parties and dinners at the Pavilion, and the officers, nearly all from aristocratic families were entertained there almost constantly during the summer months. It was the period of the dandy and the uniforms were at their fashionable height. Later they were stationed at Hounslow with detachments at Hampton Court and Windsor. There was a grand review on Hounslow Heath on 17 Aug 1812 where the Hussar Brigade of the 10th 15th and 18th Hussars were paraded before Queen Charlotte. But in Nov 1812 the regiment was ordered to prepare for more active service in the Peninsula.
The Luddite Riots 1813
The regiment consisted of ten Troops in 1812, only six of which were to be sent to the Peninsula. The other four, under Major the Hon Frederick Howard set off on 11 Dec, marching to York to establish the depot. They recruited men and purchased horses but in early 1813 they were employed on active service in Yorkshire suppressing riots led by ‘General’ Ned Ludd, protesting at the mechanisation of the textile industry. The unrest was also caused by poverty and hunger, and mobs roamed the country burning houses and factories, famously led by men wearing women’s clothes. Huge numbers of soldiers were brought in to deal with the rioters who, in many cases were using weapons taken from raided armouries. Cavalry were especially useful for riot control. The regimental history tells us that the 10th Hussars kept the peace at the public hanging of 14 of the ringleaders. Later in 1813 the depot was moved to Brighton.
Peninsula War 1813-14
On 24 Jan 1813 the six Troops designated for overseas service were ordered to proceed to Portsmouth. They embarked at the end of the month and set sail for Lisbon. They were commanded by Major G J Robarts as the CO, Colonel Quentin, was sick and unable to join them until some months later. They disembarked on 16 Feb and in April linked up with Wellington’s army in Spain. Their first action was after crossing the River Esla on 31 May when the cavalry surprised a French picquet and captured an officer and 30 men at Perdrices.
On 2 June the Tenth were leading the advance guard pursuing the French army who were now in retreat. At Morales del Toro the the regiment found themselves confronted by two lines of the French 16th Dragoons who had been ordered to give battle. Major Robarts led the Tenth in a charge with a squadron of the 18th in support and the 15th in reserve. The charge was so fast and effective that they broke the first line and attacked the second. The dragoons in the second line were less prepared than the first so were quickly dispersed. The Hussars Brigade then pursued them for several miles. They captured 2 officers and 202 men and horses. The Tenth lost an officer, Lt John Cottin, and Private Rogers. Four horses were killed and Captain J R L Lloyd was severely wounded and captured. Three others were captured and 10 horses were missing. Wellington was full of praise for the Tenth and wrote, ‘..this gallant affair, which reflects great credit upon Major Robarts and the 10th Hussars and upon Colonel Grant under whose directions they acted.’ Captain Surman was sure that the 16th French Dragoons were the same regiment that had been defeated at Sahagun in 1808, but demoted from the Garde Imperiale because of that defeat.
Battle of Vittoria, 21 June 1813
On 12 June the town of Burgos was captured which involved the Hussars to the extent that they helped drive the French back into the town. But Burgos was abandoned by the enemy during the night, after blowing up the castle. There followed a memorable march northeast across the Cantabrian Mountains to reach the River Ebro and for the army to ensure the occupation of Santander as a port. Savagetta was reached on 19 June and the French, with King Joseph Bonaparte’s baggage train, could only make slow progress towards the Pyrenees. Joseph ordered Marshal Jourdan to position his troops with the right wing on the River Zadora and the left wing on the Puebla mountains. Both Joseph and Jourdan lacked the respect of the army they commanded. Wellington divided his army into four parts, the Right Centre Column commanded by himself contained 4 brigades of cavalry, one of which was Portuguese. The Hussar brigade was the 2nd under Colquohon Grant. The Right Column under Sir Rowland Hill was the first into action followed by the Left Column under Sir Thomas Graham. The Centre columns came into action after the outnumbered French began to retreat. Wellington saw that the hill in front of Arinez had been abandoned by the enemy and ordered the cavalry to occupy it. The Tenth went in support but then the Hussar Brigade were directed to the left of the town of Vitoria and in the pursuit entered the town at full gallop. They veered to the right and came out onto the Pampeluna road. It was here that they caught up with wagons full of King Joseph’s treasure.
The vast haul of Joseph’s acquisitions captured by Wellington’s allied army is what is best remembered about the battle of Vittoria. The scramble to get hold of the treasures caused a breakdown of discipline amongst the soldiers. Wellington was appalled at the sight of British soldiers more concerned with booty than military glory, and may have prompted his comment that they were the ‘scum of the earth’. He was scornful of the 18th Hussars, but if the regimental history is accurate the 10th Hussars enhanced their reputation by avoiding the temptations of the free-for-all. One squadron under Captain Henry Wyndham and the Marquis of Worcester charged the cavalry guarding the baggage and dispersed them. As they were securing the prisoners, more French cavalry were forming up ready to attack, but two squadrons of the regiment held their ground. Enemy infantry approached and fired at them causing casualties in killed and wounded. These were dispersed and the captured wagons remained in British hands. Captain Wyndham’s squadron continued the pursuit and according to the diary of Dr Jenks, surgeon of the 10th, they overtook Joseph’s carriage and fired into it as the occupants were making their escape by other means. The whole regiment was then engaged in pursuing the French until dark, when they bivouacked by the Pampeluna road. The casualties were 4 men killed, 8 horses killed, one sergeant, one trumpeter, two corporals, 6 privates and 7 horses wounded.
Battles of the Pyrenees
The regiment were given a month’s rest at Olite until 27 July, during which time, on 25 July Lt-Colonel Quentin came out from England to resume command. The French were now under the control of Marshal Soult and their retreat was halted. There was a battle at Maya in which the Hussar Brigade supported the right flank. One Troop under Captain B Harding went forward and in the ensuing skirmish Harding was shot in the groin and Private Altride was taken prisoner. Three horses were wounded. At the battle of Sauroren on 28 July the tenth were forced back by enemy cavalry and were saved by the 18th Hussars who were armed with a better type of carbine.
Between battles, the hussars were employed in reconnoitring and outpost duties. On 30 July Colonel Quentin took two squadrons across the mountain ridge into the next valley while the remaining squadron under Henry Wyndham was at Illurdos. Quentin’s men attacked the left flank of the enemy commanded by General Foy in the opening moves of the second battle of Sauroren which was victorious, and caused the French to retreat once more. The two squadrons advanced to the Pass of Roncesvalles and operated in the high mountains until 1 Aug when the battles for the Pyrenees were brought to a conclusion. Wellington’s despatches were sent home to England entrusted to Lieutenant Henry Somerset, Marquis of Worcester. A patrol on 7 Aug ran into trouble with one man taken prisoner and another wounded. And there was bad news for the regiment when they were told that a ship carrying new clothing and 300 pistols had been captured by the French.
During September both armies rested and Wellington’s officers took the opportunity to go fox-hunting with two packs of hounds that had been kept at St Jean de Luz. They were chasing a fox that crossed the Bidassoa and entered the enemy encampment. The sight of 200 British officers galloping towards them alarmed the French but the master of the hounds held a white flag of truce and they were allowed to retrieve the dogs. Another incident which brought both armies together was the public execution by firing squad of a French officer and several men, at the insistence of Marshal Soult, ‘for acts of robbery committed by them, with every sort of atrocity, on the farmers and peasantry of the country.’
Pampeluna, 18 Oct 1813
On 18 Oct, while the regiment was resting at Navarre, three Troops of the Tenth were sent to French-occupied Pampeluna, under siege by Wellington’s army. They were ordered to patrol the approaches to the town to assist in the blockade. When the garrison surrendered, the Regimental Sergeant-Major and others were sent in to the arsenal to select 70 French carbines for the use of the 10th Hussars. The regiment remained in the neighbourhood of Pampeluna until December so that they took no part in the Battle of Nivelle on 10 Nov. On 12 Dec they received 500 new carbines from England and returned the old ones to store in Pampeluna.
Orthes, 27 Feb 1814
The regiment left Pampeluna on 16 Dec and crossed the Bidassoa into France, and, after crossing the Nive were stationed at Ocuraye, employed on outpost duty until 9 Jan 1814. When the army advanced on 15 Feb the Tenth, in the vanguard, covered the right Division and dislodged the enemy from Hellette. On 25 Feb they forded the river Gave de Pau at Salvatierra. Soult deployed his army at Orthes and the battle took place on 27 Feb. The 10th Hussars were in Stapleton Cotton’s Cavalry Division brigaded with the 7th and 15th Hussars under Lord Edward Somerset. The 7th saw the most action in this battle, and the 10th suffered only one man and horse severely wounded by a shell. They were, however, in the advanced guard in the pursuit of the defeated enemy. On 28 Feb, two Troops led by Lt-Col Charles Palmer were well ahead and came in contact with French cavalry. A Troop under Captain Harding charged at them, killing several, and with the help of F Troop, taking 34 prisoners and securing 8 horses. Lt-Col Quentin came up with the other two squadrons and pursued the rest of the enemy rear guard across the river Adour. In this fight Captain Harding and 5 privates were severely wounded, 4 horses killed and 8 wounded.
Outpost Duty, March - April 1814
The regiment crossed the Adour on 29 Feb, having to ford the river as the bridge at St Sever was destroyed. They were reinforced on 22 March when a new squadron under Captain Joseph Smyth arrived from England.This comprised six officers, a QM and Troop Sergeant Major, 15 NCOs, two trumpeters and 146 men with 162 horses. Also amongst this draft of men was Assistant Surgeon George Jenks who kept a diary for the rest of the campaign to which the regimental history frequently refers. As the French retreated towards Toulouse, the Tenth were very busy with outpost duty and skirmishing. They were organised by Lt-Colonel Palmer, second in command of the regiment and who had missed much of the action in the early part of 1813 due to being recalled to England. He is described as ‘a most enterprising officer and an admirable horseman.’ On 3 April the regiment reached the Garonne after a fatiguing night march through incessant rain. They, along with part of the army crossed the river on a pontoon bridge and drove in the enemy patrols. But the next day the flooded river made any more crossing impossible so the army was split on the two banks. They had to wait 3 days until the water level subsided and the bridge at Croix d’Orade had been secured by the 18th Hussars. Fortunately Marshal Soult did not take advantage of this precarious situation.
Battle of Toulouse, 10 April 1814
On 8 April the regiment skirmished with enemy piquets and Lt Charles Wyndham was wounded, along with a private and two horses. At the town of Toulouse, the French had time to prepare defences, and redoubts for their artillery. Wellington’s army deployed on the east side of Toulouse on 10 April with the Hussar Brigade on the right of the line. Liddell’s history of the Tenth then says, ‘but in the early part of the afternoon [the Brigade] was suddenly called upon to move in front of the Third and Fourth Divisions, under Marshal Beresford, who was ordered to the left of the position. To effect this it was necessary to traverse a narrow swampy plain, within range of the artillery of the French redoubts, bounded on the other side of the River Ers, a small impassable stream. This the hussars crossed by the only bridge left undestroyed, and ran the gauntlet of the enemy’s fire. Having reached the other bank, they drove Berton’s cavalry before them.’ In this action the regiment lost an officer and 4 men killed, and an officer and 6 men wounded. The horse casualties were 15 killed, 6 wounded and one missing. The battle lasted many hours and it is unfortunate that thousands of men lost their lives unnecessarily because Napoleon had abdicated only a few days before, the news reaching Toulouse on 12 April. The French army vacated the city so that Wellington and his army were received as liberators by a cheering and celebrating crowd.
The Return to Britain, June - July 1814
The British infantry embarked at Bordeaux but the cavalry were ordered to march north through France and embark at Boulogne. However, they were stationed at Villandrique until the end of May, this period of time being needed to ensure that the horses were in good condition for the march north. Although 39 horses of the regiment were cast and sold at Toulouse on 20th May, and the following week the dismounted men marched for Bordeaux with Lt-Col Palmer. The rest of the regiment rode from Villandrique on 2 June. They went via Montauban to Cahors and crossed the Dordogne in boats. From there they went through Limoges, Orleans, Etampes, Neufchâtel, Abbeville, Montreuil and reached Boulogne on 11 July. The history does not mention Paris as being visited on this route. The march went smoothly with no trouble billeting the men, and no confrontation with hostile troops. At Boulogne 21 horses were handed to the French and the regiment sailed to Dover on 15 and 16 July, and marched to Brighton, arriving on 24 July.
The Return to Britain, June - July 1814
Postings in England, July 1814 - April 1815
The 10th Hussars depot had been in Brighton since May 1813 and provided a guard of honour of 100 men for the visit of Emperor Alexander of Russia and King Frederick William III of Prussia who arrived via Portsmouth. When the active service Troops returned in July 1814 they heard that the regiment was to be reduced from twelve Troops to a peacetime establishment of eight. On 12 Sep they left Brighton and marched to winter quarters in Essex. They were split between Romford, Hornchurch and Ilford. On 6 Mar 1815 three squadrons marched to London to help keep the peace during the Corn Bill riots.
The Colonel Quentin Dispute 1814
Throughout the period of Lt-Col George Quentin’s command of the regiment there was friction between him and the other officers. He was a very experienced cavalry officer, having served 7 years in the Hanoverian Garde du Corps before joining the 10th Hussars as a cornet in 1794, at the age of 34. He served in both Peninsula campaigns and commanded the regiment from 1811 to 1822. But after the regiment returned to England in July 1814, most of the officers drafted a letter of complaint, known as the ‘Round Robin’ to their Colonel, the Prince Regent. Lt-Col Charles Palmer was the second-in-command and had a very bad relationship with Quentin, at times they were not on speaking terms. However, it was Major Robarts who organised the round robin and asked Palmer to add his signature. Palmer was not prepared to do this and in fact the whole business of the ‘mutiny’ was botched. The outcome of it all was that the Prince Regent became very angry, the CO’s position was undermined, and all the signatories to the round robin were kicked out of the regiment.
Quentin’s Court Marshal, Oct 1814
The dispute had to be settled in a court marshal, held at Horse Guards, presided by General Richard Vyse and consisting of 4 lieutenant-generals and 9 major-generals as well as the Judge Advocate General. Lt-Col Palmer conducted the prosecution. There were four charges against Colonel Quentin:
Failure to make the proper and timely arrangements to ensure the success of the regiment. Citing the foraging operations in the Macaye valley on 10 Jan 1814 in which some men and horses were taken prisoner.
On 28 Feb 1814 during the pursuit of the French rearguard after Orthes he ‘did not make such effectual attempts as he ought to have done, by his presence, and his own personal exertions and example, to cooperate with, or support the advanced divisions of the 10th Hussars under his command.’
On 10 April 1814 during the battle of Toulouse he displayed cowardice.
General neglect of duty by allowing a relaxed state of discipline to exist in the regiment under his command by which the reputation of the regiment suffered in the opinion of the Commander of the Forces, and of the Lieutenant-General commanding the Cavalry.
This last charge mentions the opinions of the Duke of Wellington and Lord Combermere, the cavalry commander. Combermere said that at one time he intended to ask to have Lt-Col Quentin relieved as unfit to command a regiment of light cavalry on active service. Instead he ordered Lord Somerset, the brigade commander to assemble the officers of the 10th Hussars and read out a letter from the Adjutant-General. In the letter it says:
‘I am commanded by my Lord Wellington to take this occasion of mentioning that the complaints against the 10th Hussars are so general and so extremely discreditable to the regiment and prejudicial to the interests of the army, it is requisite you should immediately adopt measures to re-establish that discipline which is necessary to good order, but which has been allowed to relax to an unpardonable degree under the command of Lt-Colonel Quentin.’
Several officers were brought in as witnesses, two of them not helping their cause by wearing ‘coloured clothes’, and Henry FitzClarence speaking in an imperious tone. Sir Stapleton Cotton stated that the officers were well disposed and zealous in their duty and Lord Edward Somerset conceded that there was a ‘want of activity’ on the part of Col Quentin. In his defence, Quentin said that his health was not good when he joined the regiment in Spain as he was suffering from a second attack of ‘broken blood-vessel’. He also said that upon joining the regiment he had reduced the amount of flogging inflicted on the men and insisted that these punishments would not have been needed if the Troop officers conducted their rounds more diligently to ensure that drunkenness and bad behaviour were not getting out of hand.
The trial ended on 31 Oct and re-convened on 8 Nov 1814 for the verdict. For the first charge he was found partly guilty for which the sentence was a reprimand. For the second and third charges he was found not guilty, but guilty for the fourth charge. The court considered, however, that the censure of the Duke of Wellington in Spain had been ‘adequate to the degree of blame which attached to him’ and passed no further sentence. They added a rider to their findings to the effect that they could not ‘conclude these proceedings without expressing their regret, that there appears to have existed such a want of co-operation among the officers of the regiment as to render the duties of the commanding officer much more arduous than they otherwise would have been.’
The Elegant Extracts
The Prince Regent was relieved that his protegé, Colonel Quentin had survived the judicial process and was keen to punish the officers who had accused him. For the most part these officers were from the British nobility and included the two FitzClarence brothers who were the Prince’s nephews. So instead of having them cashiered he removed them to other cavalry regiments. On 9 Nov 1814, the day after the verdict was announced, the Adjutant-General went to Romford where the regiment was drawn up to receive him. The 26 officers who had signed the round robin, as well as Lt-Col Palmer (who had not actually signed the letter), were asked to move forward and replace their swords in their scabbards. He then told them that they were no longer in the 10th Hussars and that the Prince had allocated other regiments for them. One officer, Augustus Bulkeley, in a fit of temper, broke his sword and threw it down. This was a special regimental sword given to him and the others by the Prince. Later they would all be ordered to give up these swords.
The officers retired to their mess to express their anger and frustration. They pledged to retire from the army, although the FitzClarences dissented and were spurned by their comrades. To add to the officers’ mortification, the other ranks were celebrating with loud cheers and the ‘illumination’ of their barracks. Those officers who had been kicked out of the regiment were known as the Elegant Extracts. They were replaced by other cavalry officers who were equally aristocratic, and who were also Elegant Extracts as they had been extracted from other regiments. Colonel George Quentin remained in command. Lt-Col Palmer was an MP for Bath and took the opportunity to speak in parliament on the matter. He called Quentin a blockhead, a coward and a liar, claiming parliamentary privilege. George Tierney MP, who had attended the trial also spoke in strong defence of the ‘able and zealous’ extracted officers, and that the men of the regiment deserved a great deal of punishment.
The Waterloo Campaign, June 1815
Embarkation, 16 - 17 April 1815
On their return from the Peninsula, the 10th Hussars, like the rest of the army had been reduced in strength, in their case, from 12 to 8 Troops. But the news of Napoleon’s escape from Elba reached England in early March 1815, so on 6 April the regiment was ordered to recruit another two Troops. Three squadrons were ordered to prepare for active service in Flanders, leaving one Troop at a depot in Brighton. The first detachment embarked and landed at Ostend on 16 April, the second on the 18th. The regiment then marched to Bruges on 20 April and on 2 May split into two wings which were quartered at Oultre and Voorde for several weeks. Wellington’s army was distributed over a large area from Charleroi to Tournai so that they could be supplied with food and forage without depleting local resources.
There were seven brigades of cavalry all under the command of the Earl of Uxbridge. The 6th (Hussar) Brigade was commanded by Major-General Sir Hussey Vivian and consisted of three regiments:
10th Hussars - 390 strong - CO Colonel Quentin
18th Hussars - 396 strong - CO Lt-Col Hon H Murray
1st Hussars of the King’s German Legion - 493 strong - CO Lt-Col von Wissell.
The time was spent in drills and exercises but social life was not forgotten. Races and entertainments were held, and the officers paid frequent visits to Brussels.
Quatre Bras, 16 June 1815
On 14 June Napoleon was in personal command of his army on the banks of the Sambre and the next day was in possession of Charleroi. That evening the army began moving towards the Forest of Soignies, the 10th received its orders at midnight, and the officers who had attended the Duchess of Richmond’s ball changed out of their dress uniforms and joined their men on the march south to Nivelles. There was no time to rest so the next day was spent marching to Quatre Bras. The French fought two battles on 16 June, at Ligny they fought the Prussians, and at Quatre Bras Marshal Ney fought the British/Allied army. The 10th arrived too late for the battle, which mostly involved the infantry, and bivouacked in the area. Early on the 17th, two patrols were sent out, one under Captain John Grey and the other under Captain Charles Wood. Both patrols discovered that the Prussians had retreated towards Wavre and both claimed to have been the first to convey this information to Wellington.
Wellington’s army fell back towards Waterloo as they were pursued by Ney’s cavalry. The 6th Hussar Brigade presented a front to the enemy to protect the army’s left flank but Wellington ordered them to continue with their retreat, and they were divided into three columns, Vandeleur’s and Vivian’s brigades forming the left column to cross the bridge over the Genappe at Thuy. Being hard pressed by large numbers of French cavalry, Vivian ordered the Horse Artillery to fire on them. The hussars’ retreat was covered by skirmishers but there was a setback when Vivian discovered that Vandeleur’s brigade had retired instead of offering support. The 18th were then ordered to charge the enemy but as they formed up to do so a terrific thunderstorm broke over the field and rain fell in torrents. The ground soon became saturated and the cavalry action had to be called off. The bridge at Thuy was choked with men and horses so there was a frustrating delay before the brigade could cross. First across were men of the 10th who dismounted and took up firing positions to cover the rest of the brigade. The King’s German Legion were last over and most of them opted to find somewhere to ford the river lower down. The French came up as the last men were on the bridge, but the firing from the dismounted men on the other bank deterred them and forced them back.
Positioned on the Left of the Line
The night of the 17th/18th June 1815 is well known for being extremely wet, so that the men had to mount up with wet clothes and march through boggy ground. The 6th Brigade was placed on the extreme left of the whole army. Vivian requested the 10th to supply a reconnaissance party which was ordered to locate the advance parties of the Prussians, This party, under Major Thomas Taylor, reached as far as Ohain, and met with a Prussian patrol and discovered that General Bülow was at St Lambert. Back at the battlefield, the French began their advance, and Hougoumont came under attack at 11.30am. Vandeleur’s brigade of Light Dragoons were on the right of Vivian’s regiments, and they, together with the 10th Hussars were positioned to confront the French troops. Meanwhile the heavy cavalry were sent in to charge against enemy cavalry and infantry. Ponsonby’s Union Brigade found themselves in difficulties when they were charged by Lancers and Chasseurs, so the 12th and 16th Light Dragoons of Vandeleur’s Brigade dashed through a column of French infantry to attack the left flank of the Lancers and forced them to withdraw.
Removal of the Brigade to the Centre
The 10th and 18th Hussars who for several hours had withstood the French artillery barrage were ordered to move to the right along a hollow way but did not go into action at this stage. During the late afternoon, Vivian’s Brigade moved further to the right. As they took up a new position Colonel Quentin was wounded in the ankle, and his place taken by Lord Robert Manners.
The brigade were drawn up behind infantry units of Brunswick and Nassau which were wavering. The Nassau troops fell back so that they were almost touching the heads of the 10th’s horses. Due to strong encouragement and persuasion these German soldiers were discouraged from further retreat. Vivian then ordered the KGL forward to link up with the Hanoverians and other German allies.This gave heart to the faltering men of Nassau and a forward movement took place. The 10th followed in support but were unable to attack as cavalry should, so were vulnerable to enemy musketry. They sustained many injuries including three officers.
With the approach of the Prussian army under Blücher the left flank of the allied army was more protected which had allowed Vivian’s brigades to move towards the centre. And now that the French attacks were weakening, Wellington felt that it was time to send in those cavalry regiments that had not yet been employed fully. The brigade cantered forward with the 10th Hussars leading. As they passed Vandeleur’s Light Dragoons and Maitland’s brigade of Guards, they were cheered on. Vivian saw masses of French troops on the left of La Belle Alliance and decided to concentrate the attack there. The 10th were ordered to incline to the right and the 18th and KGL to support them. The squadrons formed line and charged in echelon so that the right squadron under Major the Hon Frederick Howard, were first in action. The force of their charge pushed the French back and sent them off in all directions so that as the other squadrons came up they pursued fleeing troops. Vivian, having seen how the Scots Greys had charged too far, earlier in the day, called a halt and rally. The 18th were then sent in to attack the Chasseurs and Grenadiers à Cheval. But first they thwarted a movement of French artillery and captured their guns.
The Tenth, having been ordered to halt, came under attack from cuirassiers. Howard’s squadron bore the brunt of the attack but could not be supported by the other two squadrons as they failed to hear the order to halt and carried on with their pursuit under the command of Lt-Col Manners. Vivian caught up with Howard who, it seems, had beaten off the cuirassiers, and ordered the squadron to charge a square formed by the Grenadiers of the Guard. This was a forlorn hope as the French Grenadiers were seasoned troops and well able to fend off the attack with a wall of bayonets. It was supposed to be a coordinated attack together with a unit of infantry but the infantry commander declined to cooperate. According to Captain Taylor, Howard consulted with him about the proposed attack and Taylor advised against it. ‘Major Howard said that having been ordered to attack he thought it a ticklish thing not to do it, and gave the order accordingly.’ Major Howard was killed in this action, shot through the mouth and having his head beaten with a rifle butt. With two other officers wounded (Lieuts Arnold and Bacon), and another killed (George Gunning), the squadron was extricated by Cornet William Hamilton. There is no mention of whether Captain Taylor took part. Even though the attack failed, the enemy square was forced to fall back as part of a general retreat.
Final Charge of the 10th
Meanwhile the two pursuing squadrons continued to a point southeast of Hougoumont, driving back cuirassiers. They then came upon the enemy infantry in retreat and recognised men of the Imperial Guard in their tall bearskins who covered the retreat by forming a defensive position. They fired on the squadrons, so Manners halted the men at a distance of 40 paces, formed the men into line and sounded the charge. The impact of the 10th against the French defence was too great and the veterans of the Imperial Guard were forced to give way. Vandeleur saw what was happening and brought his brigade to support the right flank of Vivien’s men. The infantry of Adam’s Brigade, on the left of the Tenth, made great progress and were soon led by Wellington himself to put the final nail in the French Army’s coffin. Napoleon quit the field and his army was in full retreat. Adams’s men were halted at La Belle Alliance, Vandeleur’s Brigade bivouacked at the woods of Cellois. But Vivien’s Brigade were led some distance further, to Hilaincourt.
Casualties of the Battle of Waterloo
The 10th Hussars lost the following; Killed - 2 officers, 21 men and 51 horses. Wounded - 6 officers, one Troop Quartermaster, one Trumpeter, 38 rank-and-file, and 35 horses. The officers killed were Major the Hon Frederick Howard and Lieut George Gunning. Howard, second son of the Earl of Carlisle, was a relative of Lord Byron who wrote of his death in the poem ‘Childe Harold’. On the morning after the battle a party of six men under Lieut Slayter-Smith was sent back to Waterloo to look for wounded and bury the dead. They found Major Howard’s body and buried him beneath two trees near where he fell, however, his family paid to have the body brought back to England.
Eye Witness Accounts
On 19 June 1815, Lieut William Cartwright (later General) wrote to his father:
‘My Dear Father, Although I have seen many battles in my life, I assure you they were a complete farce to one for this last three days….Our cavalry behaved so finely that everyone when they saw us were quite thunderstruck. Poor Gunning is killed…I wonder we were not all killed. I have lost all my baggage, and therefore intend taking Gunning’s, and you will pay Mr Gunning, I have no doubt. Thank God, I have been lucky enough to escape. I commanded a Troop on this occasion. We charged four or five times our numbers - the men in armour - but we made a pretty hole in them; there are not above six officers left with the regiment. I command a squadron now. We have been fighting since the 16th.’
Three days after Waterloo, Lieut Cartwright wrote to his mother:
‘…our commandant of brigade, Sir Hussey Vivian, ordered us to form column right in front; this brought me, as I was commanding the right Troop, in front. We then went on, and the enemy formed squares—we did not mind this, but deployed as steady as if we were at a field day. It was just here that poor Gunning was killed. We then moved on and came to the charge. The squares of course made a desperate resistance, but our valour soon extinguished their squares. Their cavalry then came down with Lancers, armour &c., enough to frighten us, but we charged them, though twice our number, and quite panic struck them; some ran off, others were tumbling off their horses, others attempted to defend themselves, and so on. We however gave a pretty fair account of them. After this they brought on more cavalry, but we played them the same trick. We took an immense number of prisoners, cannon &c.,&c., and flatter ourselves we were the means of saving the day.’
Lieutenant William Lindsay, a cornet of the 10th Hussars wrote this to his mother on 19 June:
'My Dearest Mother,—We have just had the happiness of giving the French the most complete drubbing they ever got, having beaten them on the heights of Waterloo, destroyed nearly their whole army, taking nearly an hundred pieces of cannon. They drove in a piquet of the Tenth on which I happened to be at ten o’clock, and a charge of the Tenth on the 18th decided the fate of the day. Nearly the whole of their officers have been killed or wounded, and, thank God, I escaped without the least accident.’
In Sir Hussey Vivian’s Orders posted the day after the battle, the following praise was given:
‘Major-General Sir Hussey Vivian begs to express in the strongest possible terms to the brigade he has the honour and pleasure to command, the infinite admiration with which he beheld the conduct of the regiments composing it in the memorable and glorious battle of yesterday. The attacks of the 10th and 18th Hussars were made with that spirit that ensured success, and the second attack of the 10th Hussars, on a square of infantry, was a proof of what discipline and valour can accomplish.’
The Capture of General Lauriston
The wounded men of the 10th Hussars were taken to Brussels and well cared for after Waterloo. Vivien’s Brigade stayed at Merbe St Marie for two days then on 22 June moved to Le Cateau. By 25 June they were at Mattiquies in the Somme valley. From there a recce party was sent out under the command of Lt Slayter-Smith to gain information on the movements of the defeated French army. At some distance from the town of Nesle he apprehended a coach which, after questioning, revealed the occupant to be General Jacques Lauriston. He had been a long-time friend of Napoleon, and his artillery general, but since the Emperor’s capture and imprisonment, he had been appointed ADC to King Louis XVIII. He demanded to be allowed to continue on his journey to his house at Vaux, but Slayter-Smith arrested him and took him first to Vivien, and then to Wellington. On reaching the Duke’s quarters at one on the morning, he was puzzled to find no guard on the place and the Duke in conversation with a Frenchman. When the Frenchman heard the name Lauriston he became greatly alarmed and dodged out of the room to avoid being seen by him. After an hour of animated conversation between Wellington and Lauriston, Slayter-Smith was ordered to take the the prisoner to King Louis. Although he had been working on behalf of the Bourbons throughout the hundred days, Lauriston’s loyalty was questionable, so Slayter-Smith’s original decision to arrest him was right.
Occupation of Paris
After Paris capitulated on 4 July the inhabitants became aware that Napoleon had not in fact been victorious after all, and was fleeing to Rochefort. During the occupation of the capital, the 10th Hussars were quartered at Puteaux and Neuilly-sur-Seine. On 24 July there was a grand review at St Denis where the allied armies numbering around 200,000 paraded before various Kings and Emperors. The French spectators watched in mournful silence. Horse races were organised and Captain Bacon of the 10th introduced four-in-hand stagecoach teams. But there was still bad feeling between the French military and the allies, and between supporters of Napoleon and those of the King, so that quarrels and duels were a daily occurrence. The regiment moved to Beauvais on 30 July and remained there until September when they marched to Poix, Grandvilliers, Abbeville, Pont de Remys and Boulogne. From there they handed over most of their horses to regiments remaining in France, and marched to Calais.
Storm in the Channel, Jan 1816
The first shipment of the 10th Hussars left Calais on 4 Jan 1816, on the ‘Resolution’. This contained the headquarters of the regiment and 37 horses. They ran into a terrible storm that caused them to spend two days and nights at sea. They narrowly escaped being wrecked on the Goodwin Sands and all the horses were lost. The history says they were washed overboard but does not explain why they were kept on deck. The remainder of the regiment sailed a few days later without trouble, landing at Dover and Ramsgate, from where they marched to Brighton on 11 Jan.
Policing Operations 1816 - 22
While stationed in Brighton in 1816-17 the regiment acted as police to suppress smuggling between Chichester and Winchelsea, and later at Worthing and Hastings. In Sep 1818 they were stationed at Bristol and Weymouth and given revenue duty in Hampshire and Dorset. They were ordered to march to Scotland in May 1819 to assist the civil power in Glasgow and Paisley. On 5 April 1820 there was a skirmish at Kilsyth where Lieutenant Ellis Hodgson and nine men of the regiment, with an equal number of local men of the Kilsyth Yeomanry, defeated an armed band of trouble-makers, taking them all prisoner. Hodgson and Sergeant Saxelby were wounded in the fight. In May 1820 they were ordered south again and head-quartered at Richmond, Surrey, and in 1821 returned to Brighton where they were put on anti-smuggling duty once more in Sussex.
On 5 June 1822 the regiment, having been ordered to Ireland, marched to Bristol where they embarked on 13 June for Waterford. They were split up, stationed at the following places: HQ and two Troops at Cahir, one Troop at New Ross, one at Fethard, one at Carrick-on-Suir, and one at Clogheen. This was the first time that the regiment had been posted to Ireland as they had always been on the English establishment whereas prior to the union of Britain and Ireland in 1800, the army had been separated between the Irish and English establishments ruled by their own commander-in-chief.
In May 1823 the regiment moved to Dublin and a detachment was posted to Newbridge. Their headquarters was at Portobello Barracks in Dublin, the first time they had been in that city. It was here that the phrase ‘The Tenth Don’t Dance’ originated. Apart from the occasional short posting to Scotland or the north of England, the officers of the regiment had been accustomed to the delights of London or Brighton society which attracted the ‘right’ sort of ladies. Dublin, on the other hand, was unfairly regarded as provincial. The story is told that, at a ball given by the Lord Mayor of Dublin to which the officers were invited, these gentlemen gave out the excuse that the Tenth did not dance, to avoid introductions. There may have been a small foundation for this sobriquet; perhaps one officer was overheard saying this, but it stuck and became regimental folklore. The regimental history also suggests that it was during their stay in Dublin that the nickname ‘China Tenth’ was born because the regiment was regarded as precious. But I think it more likely that China was a corruption or mis-hearing of Shiny or Shiner.
The Colonel’s Duel 1824
Whilst in Dublin, in August 1823, the Tenth were issued with 335 pistols to replace unserviceable weapons, providing evidence that the hussars were armed with pistols as well as carbines and swords. In March 1824, Colonel Sir George Quentin retired and was replaced by Henry Wyndham who had distinguished himself as an captain with the Tenth from 1809 to 1813. In May 1824 the regiment were visited by their Colonel, the Marquess of Londonderry, who was ill-advisedly involved in a judgement against Cornet William Battier on a matter of discipline. Battier felt aggrieved and challenged Londonderry to a duel. This took place, with Sir Henry Hardinge acting as the Marquess’s second. Battier fired first and missed, and Londonderry fired in the air. The Marquess was censured by the Duke of York, and Wellington wrote to him, criticising his actions. Battier was gazetted out of the service.
Return to England 1825
On 17 July 1824 the regiment left Dublin and moved their headquarters to Ballinrobe, with detachments at Athlone, Gort and Loughrea. Then in the spring of 1825 they marched to Waterford for the return to England. They embarked on 12 ships on 27 April and set sail for Bristol, but contrary winds hampered their progress so that it was not until 11 May that all the ships arrived. The suffering of the horses must have been great because 13 were lost on the voyage. They stayed in Bristol for 2 months during which time they were employed in controlling the Stroudwater Riots caused by protesting weavers. There was more police work in 1826 when they were on revenue duty in Truro and Devonport. But in March 1826 they were sent east towards Norwich and Ipswich but at Sherbourne they were redirected north to Nottingham and further, to Manchester in aid of the civil power to quell disturbances in Lancashire.
Portugal 1827 - 28
In 1826 Portugal came under threat from Spain and sought the help of the British government. Assistance was granted and a force of 5,000 under Sir William Clinton was sent to Lisbon which included a Cavalry Brigade of the 10th Hussars and 12th Lancers. Two squadrons of the Tenth, having marched from Nottingham, were ordered for active service and embarked at Portsmouth on 3 Jan 1827. They reached Lisbon a week later and after a review on the Campo de Frieras set off inland on 1 Feb to Coimbra. The sight of the British army was enough to discourage the Spanish and they soon offered a declaration of friendly disposition towards the Portuguese. But just to make sure, the British remained in the Peninsula until the spring of 1828, the cavalry being employed in escort and convoy duty. The Infanta Regent was escorted in August by a Troop under the command of Capt the Hon R Watson. The Infante Dom Miguel returned to Portugal from England, and the army paraded to receive him in Feb 1828. This was the regiment’s last task before embarking for England on 11 March.
The regiment was stationed at Brighton from March 1828 to May 1829, their last posting there for 40 years. On 27 May 1829 there was a grand review in Hyde Park involving all the troops in or near London. This was in honour of the Duke of Orleans, later Louis Philippe of France and attended by the Duke of Wellington and all the leading figures of the day. On this occasion the Colonel of the regiment, the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry assumed command of the Tenth and afterwards entertained the Duke of Orleans at a grand banquet at his London residence, Holdernesse House in Park Lane. The accompanying cartoon was drawn by William Heath to caricature the Colonel’s wife, The Marchioness, who took it upon herself to dress in hussar uniform and ride with the regiment. The history of the 10th Hussars by Liddell does not mention the Marchioness’s ride on this occasion but does say that she took part in a parade in Phoenix Park, Dublin in May 1824. Liddell says: ‘A picture of this review is now in the Officers’ Mess, representing Lord and Lady Londonderry, both in the uniform of the Tenth, the latter wearing a busby on her head, although the regiment appears with shakos.’ A footnote states that Colonel Liddell, himself, purchased the painting in Dublin in 1863.
Northern Posting, April 1830
In April 1830 the regiment marched from Hounslow to Leeds where their HQ was established for service in Yorkshire and Lancashire. Whilst there they were given the news that King George IV had died on 26 June 1830. George had been Colonel Commandant of the 10th Light Dragoons and Hussars from 1793 to 1820 and was their patron for most of his life. This had laid the foundation for the special position held by the 10th in the army and the high regard they were afforded by all. When George’s brother William acceded the throne he ordered that the four regiments of hussars be dressed exactly alike and that their pelisses should be red instead of blue. It was also decreed that moustaches be worn by the Household Cavalry and the Hussars only, and abolished in all other regiments.
From June 1831 the regiment were posted back to Ireland and the history tells us that in Jan 1834 the number of rank-and-file in the regiment was reduced to 274. The number of officers was 21, plus Paymaster, Quartermaster, Surgeon, Assistant Surgeon and Vet. In April 1835 the regiment moved to Scotland, stationed at Glasgow and Hamilton, then in May the next year marched back to England. In Jan 1838 the establishment was increased to 335 rank-and-file (the same number of officers as before), three horses were added to each Troop bringing the total number of horses to 271. They were in Hounslow in 1838 and were on duty for the Coronation of Queen Victoria in June 1838. They lined the streets from Waterloo Place through Pall Mall East and Charing Cross to Northumberland House. The regimental band was positioned north of the Duke of York’s Column.
Riot Control 1839
The Tenth marched to the west country in April 1839, based firstly at Dorchester. Detachments were sent to Frome and Clifton in aid of the civil power. Captain Sir James Baird’s Troop escorted Chartist prisoners from Trowbridge to Devizes Jail. Other Troops were sent to Chepstow, Newport and Cardiff to help restore order. Newport proved to be the most serious point of trouble. D Troop under Captain Lyster Kaye and Lieut W Cavendish was involved in a pitched battle with the mob and many were shot. On 24 Mar 1840 the whole regiment were sent from Dorchester to Fordington to extinguish a serious fire. They succeeded and received a vote of thanks by the inhabitants.
Irish Troubles 1841
After a year in the West Midlands and Northamptonshire there was more service in Ireland from May 1841 where they were dispersed between Belfast, Dundalk and Newry. It was in 1841 that Daniel O’Connell became the first Catholic Mayor of Dublin. He was campaigning for the repeal of the Act of Union of Britain and Ireland with his ‘monster meetings’. Matters were not helped when O’Connell was imprisoned, and an election at Carlow caused disturbances which required the presence of a squadron of the Tenth to assist with 4 Troops of the 6th Dragoon Guards, a squadron of 12th Lancers, a Troop of Horse Artillery and the 98th Regiment. In August 1842 they moved to the south of Ireland and established the HQ at Ballincollig with 2 Troops at Cork. But then in April 1843 they were moved to Cahir in Tipperary from where they were kept busy with aiding the civil power. A move to Newbridge lasted until May 1845 when they went to Dublin before sailing back to England in June. Detachments then served in York, Newcastle and Bradford.
Mobilisation for Service in India 1846
The 10th Hussars were given orders to serve in India in March 1846, bringing about a huge change in the lives of the officers and men. They faced a posting in Kirkee that was to last them 8 years, followed by a further two years in the Crimea. The horses had to given over to other regiments, including the officer’s chargers. Only one Troop was allowed to keep their mounts, so that they could form a depot in Kent, marching from Yorkshire for ten days. On 2 April the rest of the regiment travelled by train from York to Canterbury. While there they had to recruit enough men to increase the strength from six to nine Troops so that 8 Troops could go on service and one depot Troop stay in Canterbury. April was a busy month not only in recruiting, but organising draughts of experienced men and NCOs from other regiments. There was also the exit of men unfit for foreign service and those who purchased their discharge. The number of officers was increased from 26 to 46.
Journey to Kirkee, India, May 1846
The regiment sailed from Gravesend on 8 May on three troopships, via the Cape of Good Hope. The first ship arrived at Bombay on 21 Aug and the whole regiment had been disembarked by 26 Aug. A large chest full of mess silver and cutlery was missing and never recovered. On 29 Aug, not wishing to expose the men to the unhealthy atmosphere in Bombay, the regiment was conveyed in boats to Panwell where they had to camp until transport wagons could be organised. This was a swampy and unhealthy place, the cause of much sickness. Despite a hasty departure from Panwell at the end of August the numbers of sick men increased because of the Monsoon season. It was not until they reached the Khandalla Ghât which was 2,500 feet higher than the coastal plain, that the men’s spirits revived in the cooler, dryer atmosphere. Unfortunately a new outbreak of sickness occurred, this time, cholera, which killed two men while they were camped at Karlee. On reaching Kirkee on 7 September 1846 one more man died of the disease but the illness abated after that.
The cavalry station at Kirkee was well established, having been the home of the 4th Light Dragoons from 1821 to 1841, and the 14th Light Dragoons from 1841 to 1846. It was situated about 120 miles from Bombay and 4 miles from Poona. The Regimental History by Liddell describes it:
‘The cantonment of Kirkee as laid out very much after the same manner as would be an encampment under canvas, but it naturally extended over a greater area and was on a much larger scale. The lines in which the horses were all picketed in the open without any shelter were in front. Then came the troop lines, with married soldiers’ quarters on either flank. In rear of the troop lines, and between them and the first line of officers’ bungalows, was the general foot parade-ground, which served also as a cricket ground. Then came the subalterns’ and captains’ and the field officers’ lines in succession. The cantonment was intersected and traversed by excellent macadamised roads, along which were planted trees already grown to a considerable size. These, besides adding greatly to the beauty of the place, were valuable for their grateful shade. The mess-house, centrally situated in the field-officers’ lines, was a large separate building, provided with detached mess sergeants’ quarters and other necessary outbuildings. The Tenth purchased the mess property from the 14th Light Dragoons just as it stood. The only change subsequently made in it was the addition to the mess-house of a large room for a second billiard table, which was also used as a library. The cantonment was thus found by the regiment on its arrival at Kirkee completely provided with all the requisite accommodation, mess-house and officers’ quarters all ready for use and immediate occupation, and the lines beautifully laid out and ornamented.’
Seven Months Without Horses, Sep 1846 - April 1847
The regiment had marched on foot the whole 120 miles from Bombay and found themselves without horses on arrival at the cantonment. A small detachment of the regiment had been sent ahead some months earlier to purchase horses but had been unsuccessful because of the Monsoon season. Normally cavalry regiments arriving in India took over the horses of a regiment that had completed their tour of duty and were returning to the UK, but the 14th LD who had been stationed in Kirkee prior to the arrival of the 10th had been moved to Bengal, horses and all. Because of this the 10th were without horses for seven months. Time was taken up training the new recruits, and those officers who had recently joined from infantry regiments. There was also a keen interest in cricket, each Troop having its own team. The CO initially was Colonel John Vandeleur who had joined the Tenth in 1838 as a lieutenant-colonel. Once the regiment was settled in he relinquished command and returned to England in 1847. He was succeeded by Lt-Col Henry Bonham.
Regiments were regularly inspected by a General officer, and the Tenth’s first inspection parade in India , on 16 Jan, was on foot. The first intake of horses was around 15 April when they received 150 Arabs and 50 Cape horses. The latter type were preferred because they were bigger, and suited the tall size of the men, but the Arabs proved to have a higher level of endurance. Six weeks later the horses had been broken in after much hard work under the supervision of Riding-Master Lt Theodore Wirgman, and on 11 June 1847 were paraded for inspection. Later that year a riding school was built so that training could be carried out in all weathers. The horses were still kept in their lines without cover but were protected from the rain with a thick felt blanket. The Arab horses were very spirited and sometimes kicked and bit the men, but in time became very popular.
Activities in Kirkee
The period of 1846 to 1854 was a peaceful period in India, apart from the Second Sikh War of 1848-9 in which the Tenth took no part. To keep themselves busy the regiment organised cricket matches, tennis games, horse races, pig-sticking and large-game shooting in the Western Ghâts. As well as these sporting activities a theatre was established and talented actors found amongst the hussars. The quality of the performances was so good that it attracted audiences from among the fashionable society in Poona. The mess house was also adapted for social occasions and the annual 10th Hussars Ball held there was an important date in the social calendar.
Cholera Outbreaks 1850 & 1852
At that time in India there was always a danger of cholera occurring at the beginning of the monsoon season. Up until 1850 the regiment had, apart from the first year, experienced little in the way of this disease and in two of the years they escaped cholera altogether. But in 1850 the monsoon was late, causing a virulent outbreak that took the medical staff by surprise. During the course of one night several men were admitted to the hospital and died before 7am. The number of cases increased so that the staff had to work day and night. The surgeon Dr Malcolm Ross and assistant surgeon Dr T Fraser worked tirelessly and were able to curtail the spread of the disease. The regimental history does not put a number to the deaths, although when another outbreak took place in September 1852 it is recorded that 6 men died of the disease including a very popular and respected Troop Sergeant Major called Haynes.
The Crimean War 1854 - 1856
After the destruction of the Turkish fleet at Sinope there was a high expectation of war against Russia, and the Tenth felt that they were well placed to be ordered to go to the Black Sea. The announcement of war being declared came on 24 March but the news did not reach the regiment until 8 May. In July they were warned to make themselves ready for mobilisation. This news was relayed to the regiment when Colonel Parlby, the CO, galloped onto the cricket pitch with a piece of paper in his hand. There was great excitement at the prospect of action but shortly afterwards, to their intense disappointment, they were told to stand down for the time being. Their hopes were not entirely dashed as they still lived in expectation of being called up at some point. The Battle of Balaklava on 25 Oct 1854 saw heavy casualties inflicted on the Light Brigade. When this news reached India the 10th Hussars and the 12th Lancers were ordered, on 11 Dec, to hold themselves in readiness.
Mobilisation, Dec 1854
Lieutenant-Colonel William Parlby immediately sought permission from the authorities in Bombay to purchase more horses so that the whole regiment could be mounted, and to ensure a supply of remounts in the Crimea. This purchase of horses and the time taken to find ships to transport the regiment delayed departure. They were divided into two wings; the first (right wing) departed from Kirkee on 28 Dec under the command of Lt-Col J Wilkie. This comprised 354 privates, 18 sergeants, 13 corporals, 4 farriers, 2 trumpeters, a cornet, 4 lieutenants, 2 captains, and 420 horses. The left wing of the regiment followed them on 12 Jan 1855. This was commanded by the CO, Lt-Col Parlby who took 254 privates with 318 horses. The HQ staff went with this wing, as well as 25 sergeants, 14 corporals, 4 farriers, and 7 trumpeters. Lieutenant D R Gill was left at Kirkee with a depot comprised of the sick and men considered unfit for active service. This group, along with families, did not remain in India, they sailed back to England via the Cape of Good Hope.
Voyage to Egypt Jan - Feb 1855
The ships transporting men and horses were especially adapted for the animals and in most cases were unable to move under their own steam, being jury-rigged, so had to be towed by steamers. They sailed across the Arabian Sea to Aden then up the Red Sea to Suez. One ship, the Jessica, with 102 horses on board was hampered by a heavy deck-load of hay and was nearly caste adrift by the towing steamer when they were caught in a storm. On other ships the horses were troublesome, kicking and biting each other. Some got loose and were uncontrollable so that they had to be shot and dumped overboard. The ships landed at Suez between 10 Feb and 23 Feb. The regiment then had to march west to Cairo on the Nile. There was no fresh water at Suez so it had to be brought from the Nile while they were in camp at Suez and during the four-day march. One Troop was still at sea on the ‘Earl Grey’ and did not reach Suez until 13 March. A sad story is told of a horse that came loose at Bombay and leapt off the ship into the sea. Instead of heading for the shore the horse swam towards open water. Private Nutt jumped in and managed to bring the horse back, but his brave action caused him to contract a chest disease and he died shortly afterwards.
Delayed in Cairo
The 10th were detained in Cairo for 6 weeks owing to the lack of ships available to transport them to the Black Sea. There was also the shortage of forage for the horses in the Crimea and the fact that the Siege of Sebastopol was not suitable for cavalry action. The men stayed at Abbasiyah Cavalry Barracks while the married officers and their families stayed at the Shepheard’s Hotel, paid for by Said Pasha the Viceroy of Egypt. He supplied the officers at the barracks with everything they needed in their mess. The officers and wives were also transported down the Nile for a special full dress lunch at his residence near the Barrage. They were also invited to a lunch at the residence of Hamil Pasha, son of the previous Viceroy, Abbas Pasha. He allowed the officers to inspect his thorough-bred mares, a rare privilege as infidels or strangers were not normally permitted to look upon the brood mares of Arab horse owners. The visit was reciprocated so that the regimental Arab horses were visited many times by Egyptian VIPs. The regiment also provided entertainment for the local population with field days, reviews and band recitals.
Alexandria 7 -10 April 1855
Their journey to the Crimea recommenced on 26 March, vacating the barracks for the 12th Lancers who were on their way from India. The stores and baggage were transported by boat but the regiment marched the 165 miles from Cairo to Alexandria. Whereas the desert march from Suez to Cairo was carried out at night, this march was in daylight, between dawn and 10am. It was an arduous journey, ending when they reached Alexandria, after a particularly difficult leg of the journey, at noon on 7 April. Embarkation began on 8 April; Colonel Wilkie taking D and H Troops on the SS Etna. Colonel Parlby took the remainder of the regiment and sailed on the Himalaya on 10 April. The Etna arrived at Balaklava on 14 April and the Himalaya on the 15th. Disembarkation lasted until the afternoon of 17 April so that the whole of the 10th Hussars (almost) was now in the Crimea. Their journey from Kirkee had taken 109 days.
On landing in the Crimea, Lieut-Col Parlby was appointed to command the Cavalry Division during the temporary absence of General James Yorke Scarlett. The 10th were initially allocated a camping area where the land formed a shallow basin. This was declared unsuitable by the regimental surgeon, but the tents had already been set up. It was not until a heavy rainfall flooded the camp that efforts were made to find another site for the camp. The new site was 200 feet higher on a turf covered slope overlooking the other camps. The tents, however, were made of Indian cotton so that when wet they became too heavy to be carried up the steep slope to the new campsite. They had to be thoroughly dry before the move could be made. The arrival of the regiment in the Crimea was met with great enthusiasm by the troops that had been there since September 1854. The Arab horses were in far better condition than the depleted horses that had survived the fighting and the Russian winter, and the men’s uniforms and equipment were smart compared with the troops who had campaigned there for 7 months. The regiment had been given permission by Col Parlby to grow beards, and allow their belts and gloves to become buff instead of having to whiten them with pipeclay. This helped them to feel less alienated from the rest of the army.
Reconnaissance 19 April 1855
The 10th Hussars no longer had any doubts about their usefulness and ability to contribute to the war effort once they saw the poor state of the British cavalry after it had come through the harsh Crimean winter. There were barely enough horses left to mount a squadron out of the whole Light Brigade They did not have to wait long to prepare themselves for action, because on the 18th April, the day after the regiment had completed disembarkation there was a report of an impending Russian advance towards the River Tchernaya. The 10th were mounted up and ready at 3.30am, remaining ready until daybreak. But it was a false alarm and they were stood down. On the following day a reconnaissance in force was sent out to establish the strength of the Russians on the Tchernaya. This force consisted of Turkish, French and British troops. The British provided the 10th Hussars, 2 squadrons of heavy cavalry and 3 guns of the RHA. The force spread out across the plain with the right flank towards Kamara and the left towards Tchorgoun. Cossacks could be seen on the heights but were dispersed with RHA rockets. On the other side of the river were four Russian guns but the enemy were not present in strength. The regiment ended the day without the action they had hoped for.
Outpost Duty, April - May 1855
The Tenth were soon joined by the 12th Lancers recently arrived from India, and the work of outpost duty and outlying piquets fell heavily on them but this arduous work was soon to be relieved after a review on 24 May to celebrate Queen Victoria’s birthday. After returning to camp the regiment was called out, with the 12th Lancers, Royal Marines and 2 Troops of RHA, during the night. They were to be part of another multinational force that advanced towards the Tchernaya. Apart from two Troops of the Tenth being sent forward to flush out any hidden enemy posts, the regiment spent several hours inactive at Kamara. Meanwhile French and Sardinian troops had established a camp and defences on the river. This was a welcome sight to the Tenth as it meant less outpost duty on the Tchernaya.
The Regiment Separated, 18 - 24 June
On 18 June the regiment was split in two and a wing of 240 men under Col Wilkie linked up with Sardinian troops. They set up camp not far from the Sardinians and the enemy outposts, but twice had to move to a different position, finishing up on the Woronzow Road. In a reconnaissance there was contact with the enemy and shots exchanged before they returned to camp on 22 June exhausted after 4 days hard patrol work. On 23 June the other wing of the Tenth under Col Parlby were ordered to move their camp from Karani to the Varnootka Valley. The two wings of the regiment were brought together for this relocation but that evening before the camp could be struck a terrible storm broke and rain fell in torrents. The next day was dry and the new camp set up at Varnootka.
Cholera Outbreak, 24 June - 15 July 1855
This move appeared to be a great improvement on the Karani camp. It was on an elevated and dry plateau that sloped gently, surrounded by impressive scenery of wooded hills and streams. From this position there was more chance of active employment, and spirits were improved as a result of the regiment being re-united. But disaster struck almost immediately. Captain Charles Bowles, a popular officer who seemed to be in good health, became ill in the night and died the next day from cholera. Many others became sick with the disease and within days there were several deaths. The Vet, Thomas Siddell died on 30 June and a few days later Farrier Jones and Private Lawler died. On top of this another form of sickness occurred which proved less fatal but caused great concern. After 5 July the camp was moved back to Karani and the cholera decreased in severity, one of the last deaths being the well respected paymaster’s clerk, Sgt-Major Davis. The total deaths in Varnootka were two officers and 9 other ranks. Some more men died after the move back to Karani but by the middle of July the epidemic had disappeared.
The allied line established on the banks of the Tchernaya came under attack from the Russians on 16 Aug in their attempt to raise the siege of Sebastopol. The Russians numbered 58,000, pitted against 18,000 French, 9,000 Sardinians and 10,000 Turks. The British units were held in reserve although some of the RHA were actively employed. General Scarlett who had returned to command the cavalry at the end of July was keen to attack when the opportunity presented itself. The British and French cavalry was 6,000 strong at this point, two heavy cavalry regiments having recently arrived from England. Both the French and the British officers were eager to use them, and there is little doubt, in retrospect, that they would have smashed the enemy if ordered to attack. But General Pelissier would not allow it and a great chance was missed. The most activity carried out by the cavalry was when a squadron of the Tenth under Captain J Walrond Clarke supported a battery of French horse artillery.
Kertch, Sep 1855
In May 1855 an expedition of British and French troops, together with naval ships captured the port of Kertch on the eastern tip of the Crimea Peninsula. Sir George Brown, commander of the force, occupied the town but needed cavalry to establish control further inland. On 3 Sep a squadron of 10th Hussars and another of Chasseurs d’Afrique embarked at Balaklava and arrived at Fort St Paul’s near Kertch. Patrols were sent out, and kept on the alert by the constant presence of cossacks. Two weeks later the squadrons went out in force in response to reports of large bodies of cossacks plundering near two villages, Koss Serai Min and Seit Ali. The two villages were 6.5 miles apart and 15 miles from Kertch. The 10th squadron consisted of two Troops, one commanded by Captain the Hon Frederick Fitz-Clarence, grandson of King William IV, and the other Troop was commanded by Captain J Walrond Clarke. Each Troop was to go to one of the two villages and link up with a Troop of Chasseurs.
Unfortunately, both Troops of the French squadron were at Koss Serai Min, and were met by Fitz-Clarence. He sent a message to Clarke who was at Seit Ali ordering him to come to Koss Serai Min that night. The message was conveyed by a Tartar villager who took it straight to the cossack camp. Clarke’s Troop arrived at Seit Ali after dark, and finding no French cavalry, decided to remain there overnight with the horses saddled. Next morning another message from Fitz-Clarence summoned them to Koss. On the way there, they were confronted by a force of cossacks and Clarke charged his Troop at them. Such was the determination of this action that the cossacks retreated. A pursuit continued during which some cossacks were captured. After two miles they entered a gorge but on the other end they found a large force of the enemy, around 300, and were forced to retreat themselves. Some men dismounted and took up positions to fire their carbines to cover the retreat. Prisoners were released and the Troop continued towards Koss. However, another large force of cossacks stood in their way. These opened fire on Clarke’s men, but with little effect so the Troop charged at these stationary cossacks and cut their way through them. They were able to gallop off to join up with Fitz-Clarence’s Troop and the Chasseurs. The casualties were two privates killed and one wounded. But the list of missing was much greater; the Troop Sergeant-Major, the Farrier and 13 privates, with their horses. Fitz-Clarence and the Chasseurs, meanwhile, were also engaged against two regiments of cossacks so the situation was perilous. On linking up with Clarke’s men, they made a fighting withdrawal to Kertch.
Prisoners of the Cossacks
The 15 men missing after the fighting at Seit Ali were now prisoners of the enemy. Three of them were badly wounded, Farrier Sergeant Parsons, Privates Boys and Bolter. They had to be left behind and, hopefully, cared for in the village. Troop Sergeant-Major Finch was treated as an officer because his uniform was gold-corded. He and the remaining eleven privates were marched on foot to Kaffa where they were taken before a General who was a Pole. He treated the prisoners kindly and spoke English. After a few days they were marched by stages to Odessa during which they were given money to provide for themselves, 10 kopeks each, 20 for TSM Finch. This must have been a long journey because they reached Odessa on 5 Jan 1856. The weather was bitterly cold but they were comfortably lodged in a house. In Odessa they were met by an Englishman named Hunt who, with his wife, provided blankets, clothing and tea. The winter months did not bring any hope of an end to the war but at the beginning of April a treaty had been signed and prisoners were released. The men held at Odessa were sent to Ismid where the 10th Hussars had been quartered since 19 Nov 1855 along with the 8th Hussars and 17th Lancers. TSM Finch was subsequently awarded the Legion d’Honor.
End of the Crimean War, 1856
The announcement of the signing of a Peace Treaty came on 2 April 1856. The Hussar Brigade was broken up on 21 April in preparation for embarkation. These preparations included handing over their beloved Arab horses to the Turkish government. The regiment sailed back to England on three ships, the 'Trent' on 23 May 1856, the 'Brenda' on 5 June and the 'Hindustan' on 7 June. They disembarked at Portsmouth and, splitting into three detachments, went on to Birmingham, Coventry and Brecon. The depot, which had been at Maidstone marched to the West Midlands and was split between Coventry and regimental HQ in Birmingham. All ranks who served in the Crimea were given the two usual medals with a clasp for SEBASTOPOL, and that battle honour (spelt SEVASTOPOL) was added to WATERLOO and PENINSULA.
Transfer of Officers and Men 1856
The return home, as welcome as it was to many of the hussars, meant the partial break-up of the regiment. They were reduced in size from 9 Troops to 6. Two officers went on half pay, one of whom was the regimental hero, Captain Walrond Clarke of Seit Ali fame. Nine of the officers were transferred to the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) who had been converted to light dragoons and had served in the Crimea. The Carabiniers also received 50 privates and NCOs from the 10th, but the regiment benefited in the receipt of 207 horses from that regiment having had to relinquish their mounts before embarkation. The 10th also lost 32 men who were discharged, another 100 were invalided, and 24 joined the Cape Mounted Rifles or 7th Hussars. The 6DG had been mobilised for service in India 3 months after returning to England. This was 10 months before the outbreak of the Mutiny, so the 9 officers of the 10th, having missed out on much of the fighting in the Crimea, were to take part in the terrible struggles in India. Two of the lieutenants were killed at Gungaree, Captain Rosser was badly wounded at Delhi. There was a further reduction to the 10th Hussars in the early months of 1857 but when news of the Indian Mutiny reached the authorities recruiting had to be stepped up so that by 1858 there were an extra 410 men in the regiment. They were stationed in the West Midlands up until Oct 1857 when they were moved to Sheffield, and in June 1858 they marched to Aldershot.
Commanding Officer Valentine Baker 1860- 73
Valentine Baker joined the 10th Hussars as a cornet on 1 Aug 1848 and after 11 years was promoted to lieutenant-colonel on 31 Mar 1860 taking over command from Colonel John Wilkie. He was promoted to full colonel on 30 Mar 1865. During his time in command he introduced new methods of drill and transportation as well as sports like steeplechases. On 11 July 1860 exercises were carried out to test the viability of transporting cavalry by train, in this case from Islington to Willesden. In 1861 there was a reduction in strength so that there were now 600 men and 400 horses. At the end of August 1861 they marched north to York. It was here that Colonel Baker insisted that the drill movements be speeded up and new manoeuvres be introduced. On 16 April 1863 the Prince of Wales was appointed Colonel of the regiment which added greatly to the prestige of the 10th. There was a good relationship between The Prince and Colonel Baker which enabled Baker to bring pressure to bear on the authorities to implement changes, one of which was the reorganisation of the regiment into 4 squadrons instead of 8 Troops. This was for administrative as well as tactical purposes. Soon after the appointment of the Prince, the regiment moved to Ireland where they posted 2 squadrons to Newbridge and the rest of the regiment to Dublin.
In June 1864 they were brought together at Curragh Camp and Baker was granted permission to train his regiment using the non-pivot system instead of the drill laid down in the 224 pages of Cavalry Regulations. He had observed the cavalry in Austria using this system and returned to the regiment to train his officers and men. All ranks found it easier to learn than the old method as there were fewer movements. The details of this drill are not clear but the main difference was that the ranks were ‘told off’ by fours instead of threes. This was based on the old dragoon idea of one man holding the horses while the other two dismounted to fight. The drill was for parade purposes and not very helpful for combat situations. Cavalry at that time was stuck in a mindset whereby the charge was their main function. But the development of more sophisticated guns and firearms meant that impressive displays of heroics were outdated. Reconnaissance, patrolling, outposts and escorting convoys of wagons, although regarded as menial, were actually a better use of mounted men. Other regiments like the 13th Hussars adopted the non-pivot drill movements and the authorities at first indulged the commanders who had ‘progressive’ ideas, but they put a stop to it in 1868. It was not until the 1870s that the drill was officially adopted.
The Fenian Rising 1867
Irish Rebublicanism caused problems for the British army in 1865 when the American Civil War ended and a large number of Irishmen who had been ‘driven across the ocean to seek a means of living’ arrived back in Ireland bringing arms and ammunition with them with an idea that they could drive the English out and claim Ireland as an independent country. The Phoenix Conspiracy was a secret society that came to the attention of the British in 1858. It was led by James Stephens who operated from Paris, organising agitators to recruit Republican Irishmen in Britain and abroad. British regiments in Ireland were infiltrated with the intention of persuading Irish soldiers to the Fenian cause. In the 10th Hussars a soldier named John Boyle O’Reilly managed to fool his officers by making himself popular with the men and showing promise as a future commander. But he was apprehended and transported to Australia from where he eventually escaped and found his way to America. The long-threatened rising took place on 5 March 1867 but it failed due to the effective intelligence network set up by the British. A flying column commanded by Valentine Baker was formed at Thurles in Tipperary. This included 100 men of the 10th Hussars but there was little for them to do in the way of fighting but much laborious security work in snowy weather and hard night marches.
In May 1868, having served 5 years in Ireland, the regiment sailed back to England to be stationed at Aldershot. A year later they moved to Brighton and Shorncliffe. In the autumn of 1871 the 10th moved to Colchester and on 2 Aug 1872 six Troops and the regimental HQ marched from there to Blandford, commanded by Valentine Baker, to take part in Autumn manoeuvres near Salisbury, involving many regiments serving in the UK. The strength of the 10th Hussars was 19 officers, 434 other ranks, and 409 horses. During the whole period of his command, Col Baker had paid particular attention to the training of his men in detached duties and in these autumn exercises the regiment came in for special praise for their outpost and scouting operations. Another aspect of Baker’s influence was the quality of the horses in the 10th Hussars. Selection was made on the basis of breeding rather than size and imposing appearance. The wisdom of this policy was proved by the way the Tenth horses, which many had criticised as being too small and slight, kept their strength and durability for many successive days without any deterioration. These manoeuvres lasted until 12 Sep, culminating in a grand parade of 30,000 soldiers ‘..probably so striking a military spectacle has never been seen in England’.
Mobilisation for India 1872-73
The orders for the 10th to prepare for the voyage to India came on 18 Nov 1872. A few weeks later, the depot Troop proceeded to Canterbury under the command of Captain William Chaine. This amounted to 66 other ranks, 8 women and 22 children. When the 20th Hussars returned from India the horses of the 10th were handed over to them at Colchester. A farewell dinner was given at Willis’s Rooms on 7 Jan 1873, hosted by the officers of the 7th Hussars. There was a strong connection between the two regiments as they had been brigaded together many times, so that the 10th and the 7th were often spoken of as ‘The Seventeenth’. On 9 Jan the regiment travelled by train to Portsmouth and embarked on the ‘Jumna’ which sailed on the 10 Jan. The voyage went via Malta, Egypt and the Suez Canal. A short stop was made at Aden, and Bombay was reached on 11 Feb 1873.
Kotwal Ahmed Hossain
The regiment was now commanded by Lt-Col Molyneux as Colonel Baker had opted to go on half-pay. From Bombay they went by train to Deolali where they stopped for 5 days. They then proceeded to Agra with 4 rest camps on the way. At Agra they took over the camp equipment and native establishment of the 20th Hussars who had been in India for 15 years. The most important acquisition was Ahmed Hossain, the Kotwal. He was responsible for all the Indian personnel working for the regiment; servants, syces, grass cutters, bheesties etc. He had performed this function for the 14th Hussars for 7 years, for the 20th Hussars for 15 years, and was to spend 11 years with the 10th. When the 10th left India in 1882 the officers gave him a handsome sword of honour with gold belt which was presented to him at a parade of the whole regiment. The final destination of the regiment was Muttra, 36 miles from Agra, which was reached on 1 Mar 1873. There they received the horses that had been left by the 20th Hussars, and it was felt by everyone that the 20th had the best out of the exchange. The horses were of much poorer quality than those of the 10th that were handed over in England, but these were replaced over time with better breeds.
The Muttra Cantonment 1873 -
The station at Muttra had only one cavalry regiment posted there at any one time. The grass was good for forage and there was a large drill ground. It was originally chosen as a cavalry station ‘to exercise a moral effect on the Maharajah of Bhurtpore’. The cantonments were on the right bank of the River Jumna, lower down from the city of Muttra. It was a healthy place, and hunting and shooting was a common pastime for all ranks. A pack of fox-hounds was sent out from England in 1873 to hunt jackals. Pig-sticking was practiced in the jungles nearby and black buck were shot as well as black partridge, duck and snipe in the lakes. Polo played a major part of life there, for officers and NCOs. In the evenings there were concerts and theatre productions. Notable performers were Corporals Moon and Leonard. The commanding officers, Molyneux, and Lord Kerr were instrumental in making improvements to the station, by planting trees and building brick walls to replace the dry mud walls. The regiment was inspected by the commander of the division on 7 April 1873, and on 6 November the regiment attended a Durbar at Agra held by the Viceroy. In 1875 some of the men were trained in the use of artillery. Two brass 6-pounder guns, already in the cantonment were put to use for training and practice under the supervision of a Royal Artillery sergeant. Troop horses were harnessed to transport the guns, and the artillery section of the regiment was soon established, and commended in an inspection made by Major-General Hardinge in 1877.
On 18 Nov 1875 the regiment moved temporarily to a camp at Jeyt to avoid cholera which had broken out in the city of Muttra. There had already been one death in the regiment as a result of this disease; Shoeing Smith Beck died in May. The Prince of Wales made a tour of India in 1875-6 and the Tenth marched to Delhi to take part in the celebrations to welcome him. The regiment, with a strength of 311 mounted men, set off on 4 Dec and marched to Delhi, arriving on the 11th. They were encamped in the old cantonments a mile to the north of the Delhi Ridge. There was a large scale exercise on 20 Dec in which the Tenth were brigaded with the 4th Bengal Cavalry, the 10th Bengal Lancers and the 2nd Multan Horse. The manoeuvres were over very rough country of boulders and ditches. Lieutenant Edward Cunard was injured when he fell from his horse, breaking his collar bone. It was not until 11 Jan 1876 that the Prince arrived in Delhi, and the regiment lined the road that led up to the Durbar tent. A squadron of 114 men was selected to act as personal escort to His Royal Highness. They accompanied the royal entourage to Agra, Futtehpore Sikri and Gwalior where the Prince visited the Maharajah Scindia. On 4 Feb the Prince went by rail to Bhurtpore and Jeypore, and the next day went on a hunt, where he shot his first tiger. On 8 Feb the officers of the 10th Hussars acted as escort to the Prince on his trip to the station at Agra. They were presented with a special silver medal inscribed to each officer, to commemorate the Royal Tour.
Empress Of India Proclamation 1 Jan 1877
The regiment returned to Muttra on 11 Feb 1876 but had to go to Delhi again in December for a ceremony to proclaim Queen Victoria as Empress of India. This took place on 1 Jan 1877. The Queen did not come to India for this ceremony, her new title was proclaimed by the Viceroy. A commemorative silver medal was struck for the occasion and one was given to the 10th Hussars. It was awarded to Regimental Sergeant Major Thomas Stuart. The regiment also received a silver trumpet with banner and sling which was used at the 1911 Durbar. For this occasion the 10th stayed in Delhi from 22 Dec 1876 to 8 Jan 1877, during which time there were sports on 3 Jan and a review on 4 Jan. The regiment arrived back in Muttra on 15 Jan.
On 15 Nov 1877 the regiment were ordered to leave Muttra, to be stationed at Rawalpindi. They marched via Delhi, Kurnal, Umballa, Jullundur, Amritsar, Lahore and Jhelum. The river Beas had to be crossed by boats during which the baggage camels caused some problems. They arrived at Rawalpindi on 15 Jan 1878. It was a large cantonment and one of the most advanced posts of the Punjab. The garrison consisted of one British cavalry regiment and one Indian Cavalry Regiment, 2 British infantry battalions and 2 Indian regiments. Also there were 3 Artillery batteries. The climate was very cold in winter with a short hot summer. For those wishing to escape the heat there was a hill station, Murree, 6,000 feet high only a few hours away. There was a General Inspection by Maj-Gen Frederick Maude VC on 15 Feb.
The 2nd Afghan War was sparked by Amir Sher Ali’s refusal to allow Sir Neville Chamberlain’s envoy party to get further than the Afghan fort of Ali Masjid in the Khyber Pass in September 1878. The British threatened to invade the country and prepared the Kurram Valley Field Force which contained one squadron of the 10th Hussars. The cavalry brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General Hugh Gough VC, consisting of the squadron of the 10th as well as 3 regiments of Indian cavalry. The squadron contained 96 men, commanded by Captain Williams-Bulkeley and three other officers. They arrived at Kohat on 14 Oct, and on 6 Nov marched on to Thull. The Amir had been given until 20 Nov to apologise for refusing the envoy’s entry into the country so when the deadline expired hostilities commenced. Major-General Roberts, in command of the Field Force, advanced towards the Kurram River with the 10th Hussars as advanced guard. They were the first troops to enter Afghan territory but to do so they had to cross the river which was a swollen torrent. Some men were swept away but saved, so no casualties occurred at that time. On 25 Nov they took part in the capture of the Kurram Fort, and on 2 Dec the storming of Peiwar Kotal took place after the infantry had overcome a steep climb. All the cavalry could do was provide support.
While Captain Bulkeley’s squadron was engaged with the Kurram Force, the remainder of the 10th Hussars was ordered to join the Peshawar Valley Field Force, commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir Sam Browne, and on 28 Oct 1878 marched from Rawalpindi to Muthra Thana. Having met up with the Force they were brigaded with the Guides Cavalry and the 11th Bengal Lancers. On the commencement of hostilities in 21 Nov 1878 they approached Ali Masjid Fort in the Khyber Pass. Two infantry brigades made their way around to the other side, one to take up a position looking down on the fort, and the other to position themselves to cut off the enemy’s likely line of retreat. One detachment of the Tenth, consisting of 40 men commanded by Lieutenant Allsopp, escorted the RHA which replied to the Afghan artillery at noon on 21 Nov and continued a bombardment all afternoon. The attack on the fort reached a climax at about 3.30pm but General Sam Browne had no way of knowing if the infantry brigades had established their positions, so the advance on the front of the fort was halted. As night fell there was a lull in the fighting, and the next day it became clear that the Afghans had abandoned the fort. The cavalry brigade moved forward and bivouacked under Ali Masjid, by the Khyber River and the next day made a further move to Dhaka where they stayed a week. The limit of the Force’s advance was Bassawul reached in early December, then they marched to Jellalabad which had been evacuated, and pitched camp outside the city walls.Their participation in the action at Ali Masjid earned the regiment a battle honour.
Matun Fort, Jan 1879
On Christmas eve Captain Bulkeley’s squadron marched from Kurram to Hazir Pir through the Durwazza Pass. At the end of December they were reinforced from the regiment by 10 men and 19 horses. On 2 Jan 1879 they went on to Gaga Maidan and formed the advanced guard for an expedition into the Khost Valley. They arrived at Matun Fort on 6 Jan and set up camp, but the next day 1,500 tribesmen came down and surrounded the site. The squadron, together with a squadron of the 5th Punjab Cavalry were sent out to deal with this threat and the enemy retreated into the hills. On 8 Jan half the squadron, B Troop, were ordered on an extended reconnaissance. That same evening the camp came under fire and the other half of the squadron, E Troop, mounted up and dispersed the attackers. Camp was struck on 13 Jan and, leaving a garrison in the fort, the Force, which included 200 men of the 72nd Highlanders, continued through the Khost Valley as far as Deghan and Sabri. On 29 Jan they returned to Matun Fort which was now under siege. The tribesmen were beaten off and it was decided to abandon the fort, after burning the grain store and removing valuable items. The cavalry covered the retirement of the Force from the area, but the tribesmen, numbering 5,000, seeing the cavalry left to themselves, rushed down from the heights and advanced towards them. Half the squadron dismounted and fired their carbines causing heavy casualties among the enemy. The sight of the hussars calmly dismounting unnerved the Afghans and they began to pull back. Soon they were in full retreat and the cavalry caught up with the main Force. On reaching Hazir Pir on 31 Jan the squadron was ordered to return to the regiment which was now at Jellalabad. Major-General Roberts published this order:-
‘The squadron of the 10th Hussars has been ordered to join its regimental headquarters at Jellalabad. In wishing it goodbye General Roberts desires to express his deep regret at losing so fine a body of men from his command, and to record his high appreciation of the assistance they have afforded him. The Major-General congratulates Major Bulkeley, the officers, non-commissioned officers, and men on the excellent state of discipline of the squadron. No soldiers could have behaved more steadily in quarters or done better service in the field. The regret and admiration the Major-General feels are shared in by all ranks of the Kurram Column.’
Detached Duty Jan - Feb 1879
The Peshawar Valley Field Force was now based at Jellalabad and detachments were sent out as part of small columns of mixed Indian and British troops. On 11 Jan 1879 a detachment of 25 men under Lieutenant E T Rose marched to Ali Boghan with Brigadier-General Jenkins’ column to take part in the capture of some Sayeds who were drumming up support from the tribes north of the Kabul river. The Mohmund tribes who inhabited a region north of the river were threatening the lines of communication so another force under Brigadier-General Sir Herbert Macpherson VC set out on 7 Feb. This contained D Troop of the 10th, commanded by Captain Thomas St Quintin. They crossed the Kabul River at 4.30am apparently without incurring casualties. At midday the force caught up with the rearguard of the enemy as they retreated, and dismounted skirmishers fired at the tribesmen. Two weeks later, on 21 Feb, F Troop spent four days in the Lughman Valley with Brigadier-General Jenkins’ force. The three officers accompanying the Troop were ill fated; they were Captain Montagu Slade who was killed 5 years later at El Teb, Lieutenant Lord Ogilvy who was killed in 1900 at Diamond Hill, and Sub Lieutenant Harford who drowned in the Kabul river 5 weeks later.
Disaster on the Kabul River 31 Mar 1879
One of the worst days in the history of the 10th Hussars was 31 Mar 1879, when 47 men were drowned in the icy water of the Kabul river. They were in Captain Robert Spottiswoode’s squadron which was ordered to combine with a squadron of the 11th Bengal Lancers and cross the river to position themselves at the rear of the enemy. The two squadrons were commanded by Major Edward Wood who became CO of the 10th in 1881. They assembled at 9.30pm and went to a place selected by staff officers which was considered dangerous but possible to ford the river. The Kabul river was about 200 yards wide at this point. The Bengal Lancers went over first, following a S shaped route through the water. The 10th were ordered to stick close to the lancers and not deviate from the route across. The night was dark and the water moving at 6 mph. At the end of the lancers’ line were two pack mules and these were the first casualties, being swept silently away. This made it difficult for the men of the 10th to maintain contact with the lancers and they lost their way. With horses and men being sucked under, and heavy equipment pulling them down, the whole tragedy was played out in silence. The ford was at the head of rapids so the sound of rushing water would have muffled any cry for help.
Their ammunition pouches had 30 rounds and haversacks contained a day’s rations. Some men did manage to discard their burdens and find the bank, but fingers were numbed from the icy waters, so buckles were difficult to unfasten, whilst at the same time trying to save their horses. Only five men found the opposite bank. It seems that some were stuck in sand or gravel. Lt Charles Greenwood pulled himself onto a sandbank but became aware of Private Goddard 30 yards away stuck in deep gravel. He plunged into the water and tried to help him out but it was too difficult. Luckily Sub-Lt Charles Grenfell also heard the shouts and reached them so that together they pulled Goddard to safety. One officer, Lieut Hon James Pearse Napier, son of Lord Napier of Magdala, was saved by Private Crowley who reached the bank after a valiant effort to save his horse, and went back in the water. Napier, who inherited the title 3rd Baron Napier in 1921, later presented Crowley with a gold watch.
Two men of the rearguard returned to camp to report what had happened. The regiment had struck camp and were preparing to march to Futtehabad. When asked by Lord Kerr why they had returned they said, ‘We don’t know how it happened, but we were riding down the bank in the rear of the column. We were talking and watching the squadron filing across the ford in half sections, when suddenly they all turned their horses to the right, galloped downstream into the darkness and disappeared without a sound.’ There was also the surprising arrival of wet riderless horses in the camp. A search party was sent, with elephants, but nothing could be discovered in the darkness. At daybreak they found 19 bodies. The only officer casualty was Sub-Lieutenant Harford whose body was found by villagers a mile downstream. Some bodies were recovered at Dakka, 60 miles away. The casualties were, Harford, Sergeants Fred Green and Ian Batten, Lance Sgt H S Hayes, Farrier R Gillham, Cpl C Skinner, LCpl T Kemble, and 40 privates. Fourteen horses were drowned. The recovered bodies were taken back to Jellalabad and buried in one communal grave in the cemetery. As to Captain Spottiswoode whose squadron it was that was now all but wiped out, he was saved by his strong and capable charger which was able to swim to the far bank. Major Wood, the commander of this catastrophic expedition, must have crossed the river with the 11th Lancers because, unaware of the full extent of the tragedy, he carried on with them, along with the survivors of the 10th, to his objective, but the enemy had fled into the mountains.
Battle of Futtehabad, 2 April 1879
The rest of the regiment, under the command of Lord Ralph Kerr left the camp at Jellalabad on the same night as the disaster at the Kabul River, 31 March. The 10th consisted of the 1st and 3rd Squadrons, and the headquarters, proceeding to Futtehabad where they encamped. There, a force assembled consisting of the 10th Hussars, C Battery RHA, the Guides Cavalry, 1st Bn 17th Regiment of Foot, and the 45th Sikhs, the whole brigade was commanded by Brigadier-General Charles Gough. The area of their operations was south of the river. The next day a recce patrol of 30 men under Lt E T Rose headed towards Gandamuk, but was fired on by a large force of Afghans. They were forced to retire but were able to send back a message to say that the enemy were gathering in large numbers on the plateau southeast of Futtehabad. So leaving F Troop to guard the camp, the brigade set off in the direction of Lookhai.
The tribesmen were located on the crest of a ridge of hills, busily building stone sangers to provide themselves with cover. These hills were at the southern end of a plateau on which the brigade advanced. There were nullahs on either side which would later provide the enemy with a means of attacking the flanks. The Afghans consisted of around 5,000 men of the Kughiani tribe, and those armed with muskets opened fire on the brigade. The RHA, now escorted by Lt Rose’s Troop, fired on the enemy position from a range of 1,000 yards. Their first shell landed in the middle of a mass of men causing them to retreat beyond the crest. But the tribesmen were now moving along the nullahs and firing on the RHA and the Hussars causing casualties. Gough ordered a withdrawal and the infantry was sent forward. While the 17th Foot and 45th Sikhs attacked the enemy in the left nullah, the 10th and the Guides cavalry attacked the right. In this attack Major Battye of the Guides was killed. The Afghans, for the most part held their ground and proved to be formidable opponents. The cavalry galloped up to the enemy sangers and managed to capture them. Some men of the 10th dismounted to fire on the enemy who were vacating their defences.
The pursuit of the Kughianis lasted all afternoon. One group gathered on a conical shaped hill which was attacked by B Troop led by Lieutenant Ralph Fisher-Childe and Captain Manners Wood. The officers and most of the men dismounted and advanced up the hill in skirmishing order. When they came near the enemy defences a tribesman fired at Captain Wood, but having missed, he jumped out and hacked at Wood’s head with a large knife. This knocked the officer to the ground and sliced through his helmet. Lieutenant Fisher, who was close behind, rushed at the Afghan and brought him down with a blow to the head with the butt of a carbine. The men fired two volleys which dispersed the tribesmen. The hussars returned to their horses and made their way back to camp at Futtehabad. The regiment had 7 men wounded at the end of the day's action. One horse had been killed, one was missing and 11 were wounded.
After the action at Futtehabad, Sam Browne’s Force carried on with the advance into Afghanistan. On 14 April the regiment camped at Safeyd Sung. The weather was becoming very hot and the men suffered with inflammation of the eyes from the dry wind and dust. They stayed there for two weeks but sickness and typhoid fever prompted them to move camp to Gandamuk. Early in May 1879 the new Amir, Yacub Khan, having succeeded his father Sher Ali, declared his desire for peace. Yacub Khan came out of Kabul on 24 May and was met by Sir Louis Cavagnari who was escorted by a squadron of the 10th and a squadron of Guides cavalry. A procession of senior officers and Afghan VIPs made its way to Gandamuk and two days later the treaty was signed. At this ceremony there was an exchange of gifts which included handing over horses to the Afghans. Officers of the 10th were required to donate their own chargers. Major Edward Wood gave up his Arab, Captain Bulkeley gave his grey Waler, and Captain St Quintin gave two chargers, a grey Arab and a bay Waler.
The second great disaster of this war occurred on the march back to base in India. This time the cause was cholera which brought about the deaths of 38 men of the 10th Hussars within the space of a few days. They left Gandamuk on 1 June and reached Jellalabad on the 3rd. The temperature was very high in the daytime but cool at night. They moved on to Ali Boghan where, on the evening of the 4th two men died of the disease. In the course of the next two days 22 more men died. Morale nose-dived when they saw their friends looking well in the morning but dead by the evening. By the time the regiment reached Ali Masjid 38 men had died. They could not be sure that the cholera had finished its work until they reached the plains of India. They arrived at Rawalpindi on 18 June. The regimental history pays tribute to the commanding officer: ‘Everything was done that could be done to improve matters, and the example set by the Colonel, Lord Ralph Kerr, will always be cherished in the Tenth.’ As well as the 38 men who died on the march there were 16 others who died of disease during the 7-month Afghan campaign. General Sam Browne was full of praise for the 10th Hussars in his report:
‘…the high reputation which the conscientious performance of their duties by every man of that fine regiment, the 10th Prince of Wales’s Own Royal Hussars, has earned for it. The regiment is one that any service in the world would be proud of.’
The 2nd Afghan War is divided by historians into two parts; the first part began in Nov 1878 and ended with the Treaty of Gandamuk in May 1879. The second part was sparked off by the massacre of the British envoy, Sir Louis Cavagnari and his staff on 3 Sep 1879, in Kabul. A punitive campaign was organised under the command of Sir Frederick Roberts, but the 10th Hussars were not required to join it due to reduced numbers, having lost more than 100 men, and continued sickness. However, four officers and five NCOs volunteered their services and went back into Afghanistan with the Kabul Field Force. They were Maj Boyce Combe, Capt John Brabazon, Lt Ralph Fisher, Lt Richard Wilson, Sgt John Gibbard, Cpl W Brown, Cpl W Smith, Cpl W Byatt and Private John George. The experience gained by them in the previous campaign proved invaluable, and their knowledge of signalling particularly useful. Byatt and Smith were part of a recce party headed towards Safeyd Sung which found a heliograph station left intact by the Peshawar Valley Field Force, and which they operated so that communication between Peshawar and Kabul could be restored after the telegraph wires had been cut.
Rawalpindi and Mian Mir
The summers of 1879 and1880 were marred by sickness while they were stationed at Rawalpindi. The war continued until October 1880 and during that time there was a constant flow of transport animals passing through, many of which died on the road. This caused the place to be unhealthy, and married men and their families were moved to a separate camp. In October 1880 the 10th were ordered to move to Mian Mir. The strength of the regiment was 18 officers and 363 other ranks. The four-week march was arduous and hampered by lack of healthy camels. They had to cross the rivers Jhelum and Chenab, and camped several days at Shaddera near Lahore. While there, Lord Kerr’s servant, Private Orris died from a snake bite. On 28 Oct they marched into camp at Mian Mir, posted next to the 15th Hussars who had served in the second phase of the Afghan War. A brigade was formed of these two regiment plus the Central India Horse and 3rd Bengal Cavalry. But this was only a short term organisation for a Viceregal Durbar on the 29th Oct. In November, they were ordered to re-locate again, to Lucknow. This journey was made by rail, completed by 21 Nov 1880.
The Lucknow Cantonment, Nov 1880 - Jan 1884
The military cantonment at Lucknow was 3 miles to the east of the city. It was a great relief to the men and camp followers to be stationed in such a pleasant and healthy environment. The layout of the camp included good roads, shady trees, and bungalows with flower gardens. The 10th were located near the ruined Dilkusha Palace that had been occupied by Sir Colin Campbell after he finally captured the city in 1858. There was a racecourse which was used for cavalry drill and the surrounding country provided space for manoeuvres. The horses used by the 10th were Australian Walers although the officers rode Arabs. Polo and cricket were the main sports, but hunting was in short supply so that they had to travel further afield to shoot black buck and waterfowl, and as far as Cawnpore for pig-sticking. There was a large European population at Lucknow during the cooler months so that a good social life was enjoyed. The highlight was a ball held by the regiment on 31 Jan 1881 at the Chutter Munzil Palace, attracting people from all parts of India. The entertainment was lavish, the building lit with electricity, and large blocks of ice use to cool the drinks. For the rest of the time, concerts and plays were performed by the men. Their stay in India came to an end when, in June 1883 when they were ordered to prepare for a return to England. Horses were sold and volunteers were sought by other regiments serving in India, resulting in 59 men opting to transfer. Travel arrangements were disrupted, however and it was not until January 1884, after another ball at the Chutter Munzil, that they left Lucknow, partly by train, to Bombay and embarking, finally, on the Jumna, on 6 Feb 1884.
The Jumna was the same transport that had brought the regiment to India 11 years earlier. As it approached Aden the ship was signalled to call in at the port for orders. There, they were ordered to stop at Suakin on the Red Sea for active service in the Sudan in aid of the Egyptian forces commanded by their former CO Valentine Baker. This news was greeting with loud and prolonged cheering by the men. Camp equipment was loaded onto the ship and coaling was carried out by the hussars, the first time that a cavalry regiment had performed this dirty task. The ship sailed once more, on 15 Feb, and everyone was busy with preparations and training. Officers’ saddlery was brought out of the hold, but the men had neither saddles or bridles so their usefulness as cavalry was in question. Mooring was difficult as Suakin was not designed to cope with large ships. On 18 Feb, once the ship was positioned, the regiment was visited by Valentine Baker who boarded the Jumna amid great cheering from the men.
Disembarkation at Suakin
The problem of the regiment’s lack of horses and saddlery was solved by Baker Pasha’s handing over 300 horses from his 3 regiments of Egyptian Gendarmerie. On 19 Feb the men disembarked at daylight, and marched to their campsite west of Suakin to pitch their Indian tents. They were introduced to their horses but dismayed at the unsatisfactory saddles and bridles. The lack of holsters for their carbines, tethering ropes or nose-bags was dealt with after much work, using ropes from the ship, and saddlers adapting shoe-cases. On 20 Feb the regiment held a mounted parade but there was still work to be done to ensure that the equipment was suitable for the coming campaign.
The principal aim of the campaign was the relief of the garrison at Tokar which was threatened by fanatical Mahdists led by Osman Digna. Already the other garrison, Sinkat, had been captured by the enemy. Tokar was 50 miles south of Suakin and could best be reached by transporting the troops by ship to Trinkitat further down the coast. On 23 Feb the Tenth were ordered to embark on two ships, horses and men, for a four-hour voyage. The Jumna remained at Suakin with families and sick men on board. The British force was commanded by General Sir Gerald Graham and included two highland regiments, the Black Watch and Cameron Highlanders, the 60th Rifles, the York and Lancasters, and the Royal Irish Fusiliers. The cavalry consisted of the 10th and 19th Hussars with their brigade commanded by Sir Herbert Stewart. The intervention of the British followed the defeat of Valentine Baker’s 4,000 Egyptian troops. This force had been roundly defeated at the first battle of El Teb in 4 Feb, only 3 weeks before. Baker had lost 2,500 men killed, and much of his ordnance.
The force marched towards Fort Baker on 28 Feb and after a rain-soaked night continued towards El Teb the next morning. The infantry were formed into a large square which moved over ground still scattered with the bodies of Baker’s Egyptian Gendarmerie. Because of the dry atmosphere the dead soldiers were well preserved. The cavalry passed over the ground where the bodies were more concentrated and came under sporadic fire. On reaching the sand hills where the Mahdists were entrenched the 10th moved towards the rear of the infantry square to await the attack. Whilst doing this there were casualties from rifle fire, and the enemy artillery fired into the middle of the square where General Baker received a severe shrapnel wound to the face. The Mahdists now came out of their position and rushed towards the infantry. Hundreds of them were shot before they could get within 150 yards of the infantry.
The Cavalry was sent forward, the 10th Hussars in front, to capture prisoners and drive in some cattle. The 19th Hussars were attacked on their left flank so the brigade was brought back as the infantry wheeled round to outflank the enemy. Large numbers of Arabs were in the bushes which had to be dispersed by charging them repeatedly. The enemy fought with great courage, rushing out to stab riders and hamstring their horses. Major Montagu Slade was in the act of wheeling his squadron from the flank when he was surrounded and killed. Lieutenant F H Probyn of the 9th Bengal Lancers, attached to the 10th, was also killed. Other casualties were Sergeant J Cox, Privates J Brinsley, J Douglas and F Stride killed, and several wounded. However, the enemy were successfully scattered and the infantry overran their position so that men and horses could gain access to the wells of El Teb. The 19th Hussars lost one officer and 5 men killed. In the evening search parties were sent out to retrieve the bodies. Captain Slade of the RA, serving in the Egyptian army, was one of the searchers that found his brother, Montagu, with 7 spear wounds and his horse hamstrung to the bone. The total losses to the British force at this second battle of El Teb, were 28 killed, two missing, and 142 wounded. Osman Digna’s Mahdists lost 2,500. The artillery and ammunition lost in the first battle was recovered.
Bandsman Frank Hayes at El Teb
There were many individual acts of bravery on the part of the men of the 10th in the battle of El Teb. The most famous at the time was that of Private Frank Hayes, a musician in the 10th Hussars band. He was a successful boxer and put his skill to use when he found that his horse shied away from the Arabs’ spears. He dismounted and charged into a group of them using his fists. It is not known if he sustained serious injuries or managed to grab a spear or sword to use against his opponents, but he was able to remount and carry on on horseback. He was afterwards thanked personally by General Sir Gerald Graham and in 1885 was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal by the Queen at Windsor. He became a public hero and a poem was written and published in Punch which poured great Praise on Valentine Baker the former Colonel of the Tenth, as well as giving a colourful interpretation of the deeds of ‘Trooper’ Hayes:
He had slashed his way to fortune, when scattered, unhorsed, alone,
And in saving the life of a comrade he managed to guard his own.
The General spoke out bravely, as ever a soldier can,
“The army’s proud of your valour, the regiment’s proud of it’s man.”
Then at the end of the poem Hayes asks a favour of the General:
“…If I’ve done aught to deserve it” — then the General smiled, “Of course.”
“Give back to the Tenth their Colonel, the man on the old white horse.”
Relief of Tokar, 1 Mar 1884
The night of the 29th March was spent huddled around fires, as the temperature dropped dramatically and they had no warm clothing or blankets. In the morning the dead were buried and the men fell in for the march to Tokar. The Black Watch remained to guard the position at El Teb, and bury the Arab dead, while the rest of the infantry moved as a square, with the 10th Hussars partly out in front and partly guarding the flanks. Finding Tokar was not easy in the featureless flat landscape but when the 10th scouts sighted the mud walls of the town they were fired on, and exchanged shots with Arabs who ran out of the town. When the infantry square came close, the civil authorities and released men of the Egyptian garrison came out to greet the relieving force. It was now clear that none of the enemy tribesmen were left on Tokar, and to make sure of this General Graham and his staff rode around the streets escorted by the regiment. The troops pitched camp 1 kilometre from the town and the next day, 2 March, the two squadrons of the 10th reconnoitred the area where an enemy camp was reported to be. This was at Dubbah, 3 miles away but the place was deserted. However they found a large quantity of abandoned guns, rifles and ammunition that had been captured from Baker’s Egyptian army. The guns were dragged back to Tokar and the rifles and ammunition were destroyed.
Tamai, 13 Mar 1884
The objective of the campaign had been achieved and everyone assumed that it was all over, to such an extent that the force returned to Suakin, and wives and families embarked on the Serapis for England. But by 10 March reports were received that Osman Digna had raised another army at Tamai, at the foot of some hills a few miles inland. Nine miles from Suakin was the site of a zareba, a defensive position built by Baker’s Egyptians. The Black Watch were sent there to ensure that the defences were in good order and hold the position, to be joined later by the rest of the infantry. The cavalry proceeded to the zareba on 12 March and after a few hours the whole force advanced until scouts discovered the enemy position. The Mahdists could be seen on a ridge and the 9-pounders that accompanied the British troops opened fire. The infantry were ordered to bivouac 1 kilometre from the enemy with a defensive zareba constructed around them. The cavalry retired to Baker’s zareba for the night so that the horses could be watered.
On 13 March the cavalry rejoined the force and the infantry were organised in their two brigades. The 2nd Brigade under Brigadier-General Davis went first and the bulk of the cavalry followed in three lines with one squadron out front. The Dervish army were in a nullah, poised to attack. A large group of them climbed over the edge of the nullah and rushed towards the 2nd Brigade square. The Black Watch, forming the front face of the square was ordered to charge their attackers, but this opened the square and another group of Arabs poured in causing the square to withdraw. The cavalry were then ordered to charge the enemy position to create a diversion but the defensive position was too strong and Lieutenant Allsopp’s squadron dismounted to fire at the enemy from an enfiladed position. The 1st Brigade under Redvers Buller came up and fired down into the Mahdists in the nullah. This, combined with artillery fire checked the enemy’s attack. Buller’s brigade then descended into the nullah and drove the Arabs back to the other side and scaled the heights there.
Beyond these hills was Osman’s camp and the 3 villages of Tamai. The Mahdists, having been defeated, the camp and villages were searched for weapons and prisoners. Bags of money were found, along with their standards and highly prized articles that showed how confident Osman Digna was of defeating the British. Osman’s army had lost two to three thousand men while the British had 70 killed and over 100 wounded. The casualties in the 10th were minimal, having two men slightly wounded. The force rested in their zarebas after the battle, and next day a mopping up operation dealt with pockets of resistance. The cavalry combed the surrounding hills to root out groups of Dervishes. They were armed with spears captured from the enemy, a recommendation of Brigadier-General Herbert Stewart, commander of the mounted troops. The Dervishes had a tactic of lying on the ground and stabbing upwards to hamstring the horses, and the hussars’ swords were sometimes found to be too short.
Tamanieb, 27 Mar 1884
The Mahdists were still active, and this time based at Tamanieb. On 21 Mar the Tenth prepared an ambush to detain a convoy on its way to Osman Digna but they waited in vain. On 25 Mar the whole division left Suakin and marched to a zareba prepared earlier where the regiment spent a nervous night with their weapons ready. The next day the whole force advanced, with the cavalry scouting on the flanks, scaling heights to view the surrounding area. When the enemy was finally located, there was an exchange of fire but their position was unassailable so the cavalry fell back. A new zareba was built as it was decided to attack the enemy on the following day. The 10th and 19th Hussars led the advance on 27 Mar and held their position under fire from the enemy up in the hills until the infantry came up. Artillery was brought into play which dispersed the Mahdists who, it transpired, were not very numerous. There was a stream in front of the hills and it was to this that the mounted troops took their horses for a well earned drink. These Arab horses that had been supplied by the Egyptian Gendarmerie had proved their worth, having covered 40 mils of rough country with very little water.
Voyage Home, April 1884
The war in the Sudan had come to an end and the regiment was ordered to embark for England on 28 Mar. They sailed on the Jumna on the 29th and passed through the Suez Canal. The Jumna was predominantly a sailing ship which meant that she was vulnerable to adverse wind conditions. This was the case in the Mediterranean and the Bay of Biscay so the voyage lasted more than 3 weeks. They arrived at Portsmouth on 21 April, greeted by relatives and many former officers and men of the 10th. This was a special and memorable day as the regiment had been abroad for 12 years. The strength of the regiment was 15 officers and 294 other ranks. On 22nd, after an inspection by Prince Edward of Saxe-Weimar, they went by train to Shorncliffe Camp in Kent.
In September 1884 the regiment received orders to provide a detachment to serve in the Sudan once more. This was to be part of the Gordon Relief Expedition commanded by Garnet Wolseley. His plan was to send half his force by boat up the Nile, and the other half, 2,400 men, were to ride camels in a short cut across the desert. The Tenth’s detachment consisted of Brevet Lt-Colonel John Brabazon, Lt Hon George Bryan, TSM Turner, 2 sergeants, 3 corporals, one trumpeter, and 38 privates. They travelled first to Aldershot where the Camel Corps was assembled, and on 25 Sep 1884 sailed from Portsmouth. The Earl of Airlie also went out as brigade major to Sir Herbert Stewart, and Captain Wilson was attached to the staff of Brig-Gen Ewart operating in East Sudan. The Camel Corps were engaged at the Battle of Abu Klea where Brig-Gen Sir Herbert Stewart was killed and the Earl of Airlie was wounded. Four men of the 10th lost their lives in this campaign; Corporal Hawkins and Privates Evans, Milner and Dengate. The detachment returned to the regiment at Aldershot on 24 July 1885. On 26 Nov TSM Turner was presented with a medal from Queen Victoria at Windsor for distinguished conduct in the field.
The regiment moved from Shorncliffe to Aldershot at the end of June 1885. They marched using two routes; four Troops went via Cranbrook, Tunbridge Wells, Horsham and Godalming, and the other four via Ashford, Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Reigate and Guildford. Once settled into South Camp, they were joined by HRH Prince Albert Victor as a new subaltern. On 14 July 1886 the 10th spent 3 days on exercise in the area of Frensham, Haslemere and Liphook. In September they provided detachments for ceremonial duty at Hampton Court and Kensington, and in November 127 NCOs and men took part in the Lord Mayor’s Procession. It was during the year 1886 that permission was granted for the 10th to have a Nordenfelt machine-gun as part of its equipment. This was the idea of the CO Colonel Liddell, author of the regimental history that forms the basis of this shortened version. The gun was such a success that it was adopted by six other cavalry regiments. A further move was made in 1887 when, on 31 March they marched to barracks in Hounslow. This was the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and on 21 June they lined the streets up Constitution Hill and Piccadilly. They also provided 25 of their best horses for the Indian Officers who took part in the procession. The 25th June was spent by the regiment in the company of Prince Wilhelm, the future Kaiser. He took part in a mock charge with the regiment, inspected them, made a speech and had lunch with the officers. He later gifted them a portrait of himself in the uniform of the Hussars of the Guard. On 9 July 1887 the British Army paraded 48,000 men in Long Valley near Aldershot in the presence of the Queen. The 10th was one of the nine cavalry regiments present. In April 1888 the regiment marched north to be based in York. In May their establishment was reduced to 24 officers, 2 WOs, 443 NCOs and men, and 290 horses.
The Anglo-Boer War 1899 - 1902
The Voyage to South Africa
In 1891 the 10th were posted to Ireland and stationed near Cahir. A flavour of life in the regiment can be found in the cartoons of T P Chapman in 1894. The following year saw the death of Prince Albert Victor at Sandringham. A short spell in England was spent in Aldershot and Canterbury before the outbreak of war in South Africa in October 1899. On 4 Nov the regiment sailed from Birkenhead in two cattle transports, the SS Ismore and the SS Columbia; A Squadron and a Troop of B Squadron sailed on the ill-fated Ismore together with 63rd Battery RA and 52 officers and men of the Army Medical Corps. An eye-witness account of the voyage and shipwreck by Private A J Montgomery claims that there were 334 horses on board, of which only 22 survived the shipwreck on 3 Dec. The voyage was blighted from the start because of a storm that delayed sailing for one day. The sea was still rough at the start of the voyage causing the horses great suffering, and despite great care being given the horses then were struck by an epidemic of ‘strangles’. The men fared better but the food was almost inedible, being salted meat and ships biscuit after the fresh meat was found to be rotten and the bread depleted. Also the canteen’s stock of cigarettes and sweets was sold out after a week at sea. The poor diet meant that illness was commonplace.
The Wreck of the Ismore, 3 Dec 1899
The Captain of the Ismore was ordered to stay 50 miles away from the shore but 150 miles from Cape Town he sailed too close to Paternoster Point and struck a rock at 2.30am on 3 December.
The soldiers were ordered on deck and behaved with great coolness in the pitch dark. They were allowed below decks a few men at a time to fill their haversacks with kit, and the lifeboats were lowered. Some of the horses were brought up and had to be thrown overboard in the hope that they would swim ashore, but many of them swam out to sea. There was a danger of the boilers exploding if seawater reached them so the crew worked hard to seal all the doors up. The lifeboats filled with water and had to be baled out. The sea was very rough but men were loaded onto the boats with some saddles and their weapons. Rowing ashore was hazardous but dawn was breaking so they could see where they were going. Fortunately they were able to reach the mainland although many thought it was only an island. On reaching a beach those that were fit enough were ordered to row back to bring off more men and retrieve whatever they could. They were able to save some of the horses but they were badly injured from the rocks. The ship broke up and sank In the course of the morning so that the RA guns and most of the equipment, stores and ammunition was lost. The men had developed a close relationship with their horses so it was particularly sad that 300 of them were drowned inside the ship as it went down.
By 8am most of the troops were on dry land. Major Harvey Alexander, commanding the 10th on the Ismore, was the last to leave the ship. They spent 3 days in the area with little food and no water, and no shelter from the bitterly cold nights. Some locals from a village 3 miles away offered them some help and were able to lend them ox wagons to carry saddles and kit. There was also a well where they were able to drink and fill water-bottles. Major Alexander then led them on a 12 mile march over thick sand to St Helena Bay where they boarded the SS Columbia to take them to Cape Town.
Operations in Jan 1900
The Ismore detachment reached Cape Town on 6 Dec 1899 and entrained for Stellenbosch where they were given Argentine remounts which needed to be broken in. Meanwhile the rest of the 10th had been active against the Boers on two occasions and had one man killed and two wounded. The regiment were reunited at Arundel on 19 Dec and engaged on operations under General French, protecting a front of 40 miles. There were many fights with the enemy and on 4 Jan Major Charles Harvey was killed near Colesberg while leading his squadron in a dismounted action. On 5 Jan a small party on recce patrol led by Lieutenant Sir John Milbanke came under attack. Despite being badly wounded in the pelvis, Lt Milbanke saved Corporal Barclay’s life when he went back to pick him up under heavy fire. For this he was awarded the VC.
Relief of Kimberley, 11 - 15 Feb
On 4 Feb the 10th went by rail to Rensburg where Lord Roberts’ Army was assembled.
They were brigaded with the 12th Lancers and the Household Cavalry. This was Broadwood’s 1st Brigade in General French’s Cavalry Division. On 12 Feb the famous cavalry ride really began, from Ramdam in the Free State, kick-started by Roberts’ fear that Kimberley would surrender sooner rather than later, as a result of the Boer bombardment of the town. Cecil Rhodes was threatening to take matters into his own hands by overruling the military commander and surrender the town to the Boers. French’s Division consisted of 8 regiments of British cavalry, colonial units, mounted infantry and 7 batteries of RHA. They had retained their baggage column despite Kitchener’s efforts to remove regimental transport wagons and centralise the commissariat. The baggage slowed them down but having crossed the Riet River on 15 Feb they dashed forward. Scouts reported a large force of Boers holding two ridges at Abon Dam north of the Modder River. The Division was ordered to gallop through the gap between the ridges, but first they had to cross the Modder. French wheeled two of his brigades towards the Boer position to allow the 1st Brigade to cross at Klip Drift. The other two brigades fooled the enemy into thinking that the Division was crossing at Klipkraal Drift, but they wheeled left and all crossed speedily at Klip Drift.
Final Stage of the Relief
The massed gallop through the gap in the ridges was made under heavy fire from both sides but the conditions were hot and dry so that a huge dust cloud obscured the cavalry from view. The success of this move opened the way for French’s mounted troops to relieve Kimberley but it took a heavy toll on the horses. Thomas Pakenham, in his 1993 book The Boer War (illustrated edition), wrote:
‘French’s instructions (thanks to Rhodes) were simply to ride like the wind to save Kimberley. But this was Britain’s only large mobile force in South Africa, a unique instrument for hunting down a mobile enemy and their not-so-mobile siege guns. Instead, the 5,000 had to expend themselves in a magnificent, but quite unnecessary, dash to self-destruction. For the extraordinary fact was that the mere effort of galloping a few miles killed hundreds of horses, not just because many were still unacclimatised, but through the heavy-handedness of their riders. Trained cavalry mounts were impossible to replace. Now the division was virtually destroyed as an effective fighting force.’
The Race for the Kopje, 17 Feb 1900
The four day ride was made over a distance of 120 miles and in the heat of the southern hemisphere summer.
Kimberley was relieved on 15 & 16 Feb and in the early hours of the 17th the cavalry was ordered to cut off Cronje’s escape along the Modder towards Bloemfontein. Out of his original strength of 5,000 French only had about 1,000 mounted men and horses fit enough to fight. The 10th Hussars had many expert horsemen amongst the officers and men so there was little ‘heavy-handedness’ in their squadrons. They with the 12th Lancers, Household Cavalry and two batteries RHA set out at 3am. They covered 20 miles in the dark to arrive at a ridge overlooking the Modder. A Boer convoy was crossing but had to give up after the RHA shelled them. Then a party of Boers made a dash for a kopje that would have given them a commanding position. The 10th Hussars were immediately ordered to race them to the top and A Squadron commanded by Major Hughes-Onslow, making a supreme effort, reached the summit first and fired on their opponents.
Paardeberg, 18 - 27 Feb 1900
The part played by A Squadron in denying the Boers Access to the Kopje forced Cronje to take refuge in the bends of the Modder River at Paardeberg Drift. General Broadwood’s cavalry brigade, which included the 10th Hussars, followed the Boer army along the Modder and were in a poor state due to having little in the way of provisions. The battle of Paardeberg was badly managed by Kitchener who committed the infantry to suicidal frontal assaults on the Boer trenches. The Boer commander Christiaan de Wet made efforts to relieve Cronje and it was the job of the cavalry to frustrate de Wet’s efforts. De Wet’s withdrawal from the fight and the actions of the Canadian contingent finally forced Cronje to surrender on 27 Feb. The British casualties, especially among the Yorkshires, the West Ridings and the Seaforths, were far higher than the Boers thanks to Kitchener’s lack of concern for his soldiers’ lives. The 10th lost 2 men killed and 10 wounded, and gained the battle honour PAARDEBERG.
The Brigade moved to Osfontein and the regiment fought at the battles of Poplar Grove on 7 Mar and Driefontein on 10 Mar. The advance to Bloemfontein, capital of the Free State, was made with little water and half rations. On the night of 12/13 March a squadron of mounted sappers was sent to destroy the railway line near Ferrera Spruit north of Bloemfontein to prevent the escape of the Boer rolling stock. Sergeant Henry Engleheart of the 10th accompanied them, and the work was carried out while the sergeant covered them. Under his leadership they had to dash into a spruit in single file to get through a large party of Boers who were fortunately too shocked to fire at them. They then had to cross 4 more spruits that were behind enemy lines. At the last stream Sapper Webb’s horse failed to get up the bank and Engleheart went back for him. Together, after much effort, they hauled the horse out under heavy fire. Henry Engleheart was awarded the VC and later went on to be the regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.
Sannah’s Post, 31 Mar 1900
The British were now in control of Bloemfontein but threatened by a Boer army of 5,500 under general Olivier. Broadwood’s brigade, having the best horses, was sent off to Thaba ‘Nchu to keep an eye on Olivier's force. The brigade consisted of 130 Household Cavalry, 160 Tenth Hussars, 800 Mounted Infantry and Q and U Batteries RHA (299 gunners). Meanwhile Christiaan de Wet’s commando of 1,500 burghers planned an attack on Sannah’s Post, the waterworks supplying water to Bloemfontein. De Wet’s intelligence informed him that there were only 200 soldiers guarding the post and he set up an ambush of 350 men at Koorn Spruit to fire on the soldiers who were going to be driven there by the bulk of his force. But Broadwood’s brigade had begun to move in the direction of Bloemfontein because of Olivier’s increasing proximity. As they approached Sannah’s Post they were shelled by long range Boer artillery, prompting Broadwood to send his convoy forward. The brigade had 92 wagons including British refugees including women and children. This convoy was escorted by U Battery and some unmounted men of the 10th Hussars and Household cavalry leading sick horses. They were all sent on to the drift at Koorn Spruit where as each wagon crossed over the drivers and occupants were quietly captured by the Boers. The troopers were disarmed and prevented from sending back a warning to the rest of the brigade. However, the hussars in charge of the regimental ammunition wagons, with a highly explosive load, behaved with great coolness and extricated themselves from the chaos. For their bravery, Privates MacMillan and Tharrat were later awarded the DCM.
Q Battery under Major Phipps Hornby became aware of the situation when one of the gunners from the captured U Battery escaped and galloped back to him, “We are all prisoners! The Boers are there!” he shouted, pointing to the crossing point. The major ordered his subdivisions to wheel left. Colonel Dawson commanded his Roberts’ Horse, “Files about. Gallop!” defying the Boers' order to surrender. They charged on and came under heavy fire so that they sustained the loss of 79 men, 52 of whom were captured. Q Battery had to abandon 6 of its guns and 4 guns were man-handled to the shelter of the tin sheds as nearly all their horses had been killed or disabled. Phipps Hornby and his men were all recommended for the VC. The Mounted Infantry, meanwhile were fending off the main part of de Wet’s force, and the Household Cavalry and 10th Hussars were somewhere between Koorn Spruit and Sannah’s Post. An officer of the 10th was sent off to Bloemfontein while the rest of the regiment was ordered to work their way around the rear of the enemy in the spruit to effect a turning movement but, even though they were reinforced by 600 MI from Bloemfontein they were unable to do anything in the face of well concealed Boers who had an easy target as the cavalry tried to negotiate the steep banks of the spruit a mile or so south of the fatal drift. In his History of the Boer War, Sir Frederick Maurice says:
‘No one seems to have been specifically placed by Broadwood in command of the various units detailed for the turning movement. Though Lieutenant-Colonel Fisher, 10th Hussars, was the senior officer…he did not take charge…probably because he was unaware of his responsibility.’
Broadwood had no choice but to retreat. They were fired on as they did so and more prisoners were taken. There had been little help from Bloemfontein apart from the mounted infantry. Major-General Sir Henry Colvile was sent out with the 9th Infantry Division but, according to The Marquess of Anglesey’s History of the British Cavalry (Vol 4) his incompetence and pig-headedness prevented his men from reaching the scene of the battle. Not only did he halt his men for an hour but the next day he forbade the evacuation of 87 wounded cavalrymen at the tin sheds because he said that the cavalry were not his concern. Luckily Smith-Dorrien defied Colvile’s order and rescued the wounded in the face of enemy fire aimed at stretcher parties and ambulances. The casualties over all were 30 killed, 113 wounded and 428 taken prisoner. The 10th lost 3 killed, 5 wounded and 28 taken prisoner. Some of the prisoners, including two officers, were sick men in the ambulance wagon. The consequences of this Boer victory were that Bloemfontein was deprived of water apart from a few wells and this brought about many cases of typhoid fever. The effect on Boer morale meant that recruitment to their cause was easier and they were encouraged to step up their guerrilla tactics.
Welkom and Zand River, May 1900
At the battle of Welkom Farm on 4 May the 10th were in the saddle continuously from 6.45am until dark. Broadwood’s Brigade was leading Ian Hamilton’s force intending to secure crossings south of Winburg. Two Boer groups were moving towards each other to encircle the cavalry so a squadron of the Blues was sent to race the enemy to secure a ridge. They were supported by the 12th Lancers. These two regiments suffered the most casualties in this successful action. Six days later on 10 May the battle at Zand River involved all of French’s Cavalry Division. There was a charge of sorts made by the 8th Hussars which resulted in a few Boer casualties. Broadwood’s brigade, with the 10th playing a prominent part, captured 5 wagons and 28 prisoners. The brigade covered a distance of around 30 miles and lost 224 horses. Ian Hamilton was disappointed in their performance but the poor state of their horses prevented them from doing what cavalry was supposed to do. One officer of the 6th Dragoons wrote in his diary of 11 May:
‘We advanced again as day was dawning, French’s orders being that the enemy were in full retreat and the cavalry must pursue. A genial smile spread over everyone’s countenance at the word “pursue”, for, alas! who had a horse that could raise more than a trot? No wonder that we were losing our horses wholesale, from want of food and water, with 18 - 20 stone on their backs, saddled from morning to night and perhaps all night, and then on again next day!’
In June, Roberts’ army was nearing Pretoria, the capital of Transvaal. Louis Botha’s force of Transvaal Boers numbering 5,000 were in a strong position near Diamond Hill, to the east of the capital. Roberts deployed his army to remove the threat, the cavalry being divided in two, General French approaching the Boer right flank and Ian Hamilton’s brigades, commanded by Broadwood and Gordon, attacking the left. French’s cavalry did not achieve their objective, which was to turn the enemy flank, but there was some success on the left flank. Broadwood’s Brigade was by now reduced from 1,800 troopers to 120 of the 12th Lancers, 200 of the 10th Hussars and only 63 of the Household Cavalry composite regiment. They were accompanied by Q Battery RHA which Hamilton pushed forward too far. The Boers attacked, trying to neutralise Q Battery and capture their guns. Broadwood then ordered the 12th Lancers to go to their aid, but they were scattered about, patrolling. Only around 50 could be mustered, together with 11 officers and 10 men of the 10th Hussars. The Earl of Airlie commanded this group; he was still not fully recovered from a wound that he received at Welkom on 4 May, and his roan horse had been shot earlier in the morning. Airlie had previously served for 22 years in the 10th and become CO of the 12th Lancers in December 1897. As the battery were threatened from all sides he asked, “Which direction are we to charge?” They then set off as energetically as their poor horses could manage and were able to scatter the Boers. Twelve were captured but they rode on and on until Lieutenant Greenly pointed out that they had gone far enough. Airlie agreed and ordered them to turn around. As they walked their horses back in open order the Boers opened fire on them and they began to trot, but Lord Airlie, being conspicuously mounted on a grey, took a bullet in the back which pierced his heart, killing him immediately. The charge, however, was a success and they had saved the guns.
A second charge by the Household Cavalry managed to disperse the enemy but it went on for nearly a mile and finished 21 horses. The horse casualties were heavy. The four brigades of the Cavalry Division started the battle with nearly 3,000, of which 21 were killed, 55 wounded, and 600 either died of exhaustion or were rendered useless.
Relief of Hore’s Laager, 16 Aug 1900
The regiment was engaged in continuous marching and frequent actions in the Transvaal, crossing back into the Orange Free State on 29 June. On 3 July the men who had been taken prisoner at Sannah’s Post at the end of March were released from prison in Pretoria and 18 privates and NCOs of the 10th were reunited with their comrades. In August the regiment was temporarily taken off the pursuit of Christiaan de Wet to join a flying column that was sent to the relief of a post known as Hore’s Laager on Elands River. This was garrisoned by Australians and Rhodesians, commanded by a British officer, Lt-Col Charles Hore. They were besieged by Koos de la Rey whose bombardment killed many animals. The defenders spent 12 days cooped up with hundreds of rotting carcasses until the relief came on 16 Aug. The 10th were, since 3 Aug, under the command of Harvey Alexander who replaced Colonel Fisher. They returned to looking for de Wet until 26 Sep when they reached Rustenburg.
The Big Drive
In October the Household Cavalry left the brigade and returned to England, replaced by the 8th Hussars. While they were based at Rustenburg they were engaged in mopping up operations, rounding up isolated parties of Boers, searching farms and destroying crops. On 20 Dec they went by train to Natal Spruit and on 12 Jan 1901 took part in their first drive, starting at Halfontein. This was an enveloping movement designed to force the Boers towards the borders of Zululand and Swaziland. The area they were in became flooded from heavy rain during February and early March which prevented supplies from reaching them. There was grazing for the horses but the men existed on mealie meal until they were able to capture livestock. By the time they reached Glencoe on 12 April they had rounded up 50 Prisoners, 4,000 cattle, 15,000 sheep, 583 horses and 100 wagons. Not long after this they were involved in another drive from Pretoria through eastern Transvaal to Middleburg which they reached on 16 July.
Operations Until the End of the War
The brigade was split up in July so that the 10th were taken to Cape Colony to pursue Gideon Scheepers and his commando.
From 4 Aug B squadron under Lord Bentinck operated away from the regiment for 10 months, protecting the construction of blockhouses. They had great success killing and capturing Boers in the Aberdeen, Murraysburg, Carnarvon and Colebar areas. A and C Squadrons, meanwhile, suffered casualties at Blavians Kloof where they were confronted by a superior force of Boers. They also had trouble on their way to Uniondale when, on 19 Aug, they were ambushed by overwhelming numbers near Avontuur. They were forced to retreat to a strategic position until they could be reinforced by the 12th Lancers. Uniondale was captured on 21 Aug and the pursuit of the charismatic young Scheepers continued. He was finally captured on 11 Oct by A Squadron led by Captain Eustace Shearman. The rest of the war was spent in frequent skirmishes and rounding up prisoners. The war ended on 24 June 1902 and the squadrons were reunited at Malmesbury. They had been marching and fighting continuously for 2 years and 7 months. The casualty list included: Killed in Action; One officer and 27 men. Died of disease; One officer and 50 men. The battle honours awarded were; SOUTH AFRICA 1899-1902, PAARDEBERG and RELIEF OF KIMBERLEY.