In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Conversion to Light Dragoons 1776
The 14th Dragoons had been raised in 1715 and fought in both Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745. From 1747 they spent the next 48 years in Ireland, from which they became known as an Irish regiment. During this period the dragoons had introduced troops of light cavalry into some regiments and in 1759 four whole regiments were raised as light dragoons, the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th. The 14th was the second dragoon regiment to be converted, in 1776, from dragoons to light dragoons. The 12th had been converted in 1768. The men and horses were expected to be smaller, between 5ft 5.5ins and 5ft 9ins for the men, and 14.3 and 15.1 hands for the horses, of 'the nag or hunter kind'. The training was harder for light dragoons; they were taught to fight mounted and dismounted, fire from the saddle, skirmish, reconnoitre and generally use their initiative.
The War against Revolutionary France 1793-1802

Bokstel, 15 Sep 1794

One squadron of the 14th Light Dragons was sent to Ostend in June 1794, in a force commanded by the Earl of Moira, to provide reinforcements for the Duke of York. The 14th were brigaded with the 1st Dragoon Guards and 8th Light Dragoons, under Colonel Vyse. Their first battle occurred when Bokstel was overrun by the French and they were sent, with nine other light dragoon squadrons and ten battalions to recapture this position on the Dommel River in Holland. General Ralph Abercromby was in command of this detachment, and he soon realised that he was too under-manned to confront Pichegru's large army. He decided to withdraw but not before sustaining casualties. Ninety men were lost, including two of the 14th.

Tuyl, Geldermalsen and the Retreat, Jan 1795

That winter was particularly harsh and the men were poorly clothed and fed, so they were reduced to plundering towns and villages to stay alive. The 14th were, however, able to put up a fight in December when the French threatened the British flank, having crossed the frozen rivers of the Maas and Waal. They and 5 other squadrons drove the enemy back. On 4th Jan the enemy attacked Tuyl and routed the Dutch but British infantry this time put the French to flight, supported by the 14th and 8th Light Dragoons. There was further action at Geldermalsen on the same day, 4 Jan 1795, in which the the French were driven back along the Waal. The Revolutionaries were reinforced later and able the push the British and their allies from their line which stretched from Arnhem to Reenan. The Duke of York was no longer present but his deputy, Hanoverian General Walmoden ordered a general retreat which was one of the worst disasters in British military history. The men of the 14th suffered like all the others, of starvation and sickness so that most of them died. The rest were absorbed into the 8th Light Dragoons.

West Indies 1795
14th Light Dragoons
Toussaint L'Ouverture
The 14th Light Dragoons were one of the cavalry regiments sent out to St Domingo in 1795 to take advantage of the trouble France was having with some of the native inhabitants of that island (Haiti and the Dominican Republic). They sailed from Bristol in early 1795 and landed in Jamaica. They had to wait some weeks before they were taken to St Domingo in July and were mounted on horses brought in from South America. Their duties were to man outposts and patrol as well as they could through cactus country. They were required to operate on foot much of the time as the country was unsuitable for horses. Yellow fever reduced the regiments to a bare minimum of effective troops so that when a serious action took place at Le Mirebalais in June 1797 a brigade consisting of the 14th, 18th and 21st Light Dragoons numbered a mere 400 men. There were only two men wounded in this battle but the enemy, led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, were routed and pursued, although unsuccessfully. The situation was complicated and impossible for the British to control so they agreed terms with Toussaint and left the island under his administration. When the 14th arrived back in England in Oct 1797 they had only 25 men left out of the 400 that had sailed out to Hispaniola. About a 100 men opted to stay in the West Indies, either voluntarily or not, meaning that almost 300 men had died of tropical disease within the two year posting.
The Duchess of York's Regiment 1798
14th Light Dragoons
Frederike, Duchess of York
On 26 July 1798 the regiment was re-titled 14th or Duchess of York's Own Light Dragoons. This was an odd time to confer the title on the regiment as by this time the Duke and Duchess of York had separated, in 1794. The 14th had escorted the young Frederike Charlotte Ulrike Katharina, Princess Royal of Prussia to London in 1791. The couple had already married, on 29 Sep 1791 at Charlottenburg Palace in Prussia, where she was born in 1767. She came to England in November 1791 and they were married again at Buckingham House. The couple had a difficult marriage, there being no children after two miscarriages, and were soon to separate. She lived in virtual seclusion at Oatlands Park, Weybridge with many dogs and other animals. This way of life was not unknown to her as her mother had spent more than 70 years under house arrest in a Prussian castle after trying to elope with a lover. The Duchess of York died at Oatlands on 6 Aug 1820. The regiment adopted the Prussian Eagle as its badge in 1798 and changed the facings of the uniforms from yellow to orange, the colour of the livery of the King of Prussia. The Duchess was a patroness and did not have the title of Colonel-in-Chief.
Peninsula War 1808-1814

Porto, 12 May 1809

Two squadrons of the 14th were part of Murray's Division sent to cross the Duoro at Avintas, 3 miles up from Oporto. They charged the retreating French but were fired on by the rearguard. They could only ride three abreast up the road and suffered heavy casualties from sharpshooters. General Stewart Led the charge and the officers in command of the squadrons were the Hon Charles Butler, and Major Felton Hervey-Bathurst who later commanded the 14th for much of the campaign. He was badly injured in this action and lost his right arm. Captain Peter Hawker was also wounded, as well as two other officers and 19 men. Twelve were killed.

Combat of Salinas, 27 July 1809

The British cavalry regiments were organised into three brigades so that the 14th was with the 16th LD in Stapleton Cotton's light brigade. Wellesley was in command of the army and he met up with Cuesta's Spanish to confront the French under Marshal Victor. But the Spanish were unreliable and Wellesley had the added problem of no transport wagons and very little money to pay his hungry men. On 26 July the Spanish turned and fled from the French but were saved by British troops who halted the French pursuit. The next day Wellesley took up a position with his right wing on the town of Talavera, protected by the river Tagus, and his left on the heights of the Cerro de Medellin. The 14th were with Mackenzie's division and Anson's cavalry brigade six miles forward at Cazalegas. They halted in a wood behind Casa de Salinas. The 14th were sent across the Alberche river under cover of smoke from a burning camp. They spread out on a wide front to deal with enemy skirmishers. However the leading French Division had already crossed this river and attacked the 87th and 88th Irish regiments who fell back. Wellesley was observing this battle and was lucky to escape back to Talavera. The 14th were recalled and spent all day on the 27th engaged with the enemy. Their casualties were surprisingly light, two men wounded and 9 horses killed. The infantry casualties amounted to 450 Killed or wounded.

Talavera, 28 July 1809

The French did not rest that night but continued to press the British and Spanish. The 14th were exhausted and hungry but there was little for them to do when the fighting began on 28 July because Wellesley was fighting a defensive battle. In fact they did not mount up until midday. The French were now reinforced by the army of King Joseph and Marshal Jourdan. Joseph unwisely launched a full-scale attack on the British left and centre but it ended in stalemate. A second attempt by the French caused Sherbrooke's division to advance too far leaving a gap in the line. The French, trying to force their way through were counter-attacked by the 48th Regiment and were flung back in disorder.

It was now time for the 14th and 16th Light Dragoons to charge the enemy, which they did with great success, led by Cotton, against Lapisse's Division. They routed the French but could not pursue because of the poor state of their horses. Twenty-one horses were killed in the charge. Human losses were 3 men killed, 5 officers and six men wounded. Among the wounded was the CO, Col Samuel Hawker, who had to be sent back to England. This was a battle that caused great suffering for the wounded men, who were caught in a the burning dry grass. 12,000 were killed or wounded. The French had vastly outnumbered the British but were soundly beaten and now realised that the British soldier was, in future, to be treated with a great deal of caution. Many wounded men had to be left behind as Wellesley quickly moved his starving army away to avoid the danger of Soult's army in his rear. The army took itself back to Portugal and the 14th wintered north of Lisbon, brigaded with the newly arrived 1st Dragoons.

Villa de Puerco, 11 July 1810

This was a small battle that involved only the 14th Light Dragons, and only one squadron. The Light division had been sent by Viscount Wellington, as he was then titled, to harass Massena's Army of Portugal as it laid siege to Ciudad Rodrigo. Cotton's light cavalry were part of this division, and at one point the divisional commander General Craufurd gave orders to the 14th which proved disastrous. Craufurd was being restrained by Wellington which put him in a very bad mood so that his judgement was clouded. Two squadrons of the 14th were sent on a wild goose chase and the third, under Captain Thomas Brotherton (later General Sir Thomas), was ordered to attack some French infantry. This happened to be the 61st Regiment, one of the best in Massena's army. In Brotherton's book A Hawk at War: A Hawk at War: The Peninsular War reminiscences of General Sir Thomas Brotherton he relates the incident:

'[The 61st Regiment] was lying down, concealed in some high-standing corn, and only rose up when my squadron came within pistol-shot of it, and was beautifully steady. We charged it most gallantly, but they fired a deadly volley into us, and half my men fell killed or wounded. Colonel Talbot had put himself at the head of the squadron along with me. Poor fellow, he fell pierced by eight balls, literally on the enemy's bayonets. The moment the square had fired into and so sadly crippled us, it moved off to join its support close by, and we were so shattered as not to be able to follow. So steady and cool was this little square, that though my horse fell, with the wounded, within two yards of their ranks, not a man moved out to bayonet me.'

As well as Talbot, 12 other men were killed, including a warrant officer. The wounded numbered 23. Lt-Col Neil Talbot was in command of the regiment after Colonel Sam Hawker had been badly injured at Talavera a year earlier. He was described as 'a noble-looking fellow...singular and eccentric, particularly in his dress'. When he was killed he was wearing 'nankeen pantaloons'. (Nankeen is a cotton fabric of a yellowish colour said to have been first made in Nanking, China. Pantaloons was the word used for tight-fitting breeches and hose combined.) Under a flag of truce Talbot's body was recovered and buried in the glacis against the walls of Fort Conception with full military honours. Unfortunately the fort was blown up by British sappers and the body was last seen flying through the air.

Sobral, 14 Oct 1810

After Busaco, at which the 14th were deployed but not employed, the British were obliged to take up positions behind the lines of Torres Vedras in Portugal. The 14th were placed at an outpost near Sobral which happened to be where Massena's army ended up after pursuing the British. The regiment were thus in a more alert state than most other units, not least because of frequent visits by Wellington who was keeping an eye of Massena. Junot's army was also there and his advance guard attacked the 71st HLI on 14 Oct 1810. Brotherton described how the 71st, the Rifles, the 14th Light Dragoons and the French were intermixed in hand-to-hand fighting. He gave his horse over to a wounded fellow officer and requisitioned another from a private. Unfortunately the private was the orderly of General Sir Denis Pack who rode up to Brotherton in the middle of the fracas and remonstrated with him so that apologies had to be made and the horse returned. It was not until 5 Mar 1811 that Massena marched his hungry army away from Sobral.

Pursuit of the French, March 1811

The 14th were in the advance guard of the British column which set off on 8 Mar to follow Massena. The line of pursuit was littered with terrible scenes of carnage. The Portuguese and French had inflicted torture, death and destruction on each other so that the horrified British soldiers were in no mood for codes of behaviour when they caught up with their enemy. There was an action at Venta de Serra where a squadron charged French cavalry and captured 14 men and their horses. The information gained from these men was of enormous help to Wellington. Another skirmish took place at Machados on 10 March. On 12 March the task of advance guard was taken over by the Royals and German Hussars. However, at Redinha the 14th and 16th made an attack in conjunction with light infantry against Marshal Ney, and with the help of two more divisions coming up managed to force Ney's retreat. At Foz d'Arouce there was a battle on 15 March against two French divisions that had been stranded on the wrong side of the river. The 14th had no casualties from this encounter.

Fuentes d'Onor, 3-4 May 1811

When Massena's French troops moved to relieve Almeida, Wellington planned to block them at Fuentes d'Onor. His position extended over five miles between the village of Fuentes d'Onor on the right and Fort Conception on the left, with the Dos Casas river in front and the Turones and Coa rivers behind. The French advanced on the 3rd May and the picquets of the 14th were forced back by artillery fire as Massena directed his attack towards Fuentes d'Onor. Captain Brotherton's squadron was sent to scout ahead of the 7th Division whose task was to prevent the French from crossing the Dos Casas. This squadron was involved in a 'sharp skirmish'. The attack on the village turned into the fiercest possible struggle that last until the morning of the 4th May. There was a pause in the fighting to remove the wounded who, with the dead, were lying in heaps blocking the streets. The British and French soldiers worked side by side in an atmosphere of cordiality at this time.

5 May 1811

The fighting began again on 5 May with the French cavalry riding around the village to attack Wellington's right flank. The 7th Division was still in place there, with Brotherton's squadron of the 14th, and more cavalry and horse artillery was sent there to reinforce them. Infantry divisions were also sent to the right. It was at this part of the battle that the 14th showed their mettle and truly earned the battle honour. It started badly when the regiment, less Brotherton's squadron, trotted forward at Nave d'Aver in time to see the Portuguese retreating from a French cavalry brigade. They formed the squadrons in line and showed a bold front but were forced back, hacking a slashing for their lives, onto the 7th division who let fly a volley that stopped the enemy cavalry in their tracks. The French cavalry leader, Montbrun then ordered his whole division to make a general charge. This was met by only two regiments, the Royal Dragoons and the 14th. Fortunately the leading French squadrons were out of control and could be counter-charged. A fantastic melee ensued and the horse artillery battery was swallowed up amongst the enemy horsemen.

Ramsay's Gallop, 5 May 1811

14th Light Dragoons
Ramsay's Gallop
This Troop of horse artillery was commanded by Captain Norman Ramsay. He formed his gunners into line ahead of the two guns and galloped hell for leather to crash through the French cavalry. This was an extraordinary occurrence even in the middle of a pitched battle and must have given heart to those that witnessed it. Captain Brotherton then seized the moment and led his men towards the pursuing French. In his book, Brotherton insists that he saved Ramsay's battery, although the popular view is that Ramsay's Troops saved themselves. The Royals and 14th were taken in hand by the Adjutant-General Stewart who led them in a charge against the enemy cavalry. The French were overwhelmed and Brigadier-General Lamotte was captured. Following this fight these regiments were pulled back behind the infantry to rest and reform. The Light Division and the 7th were now effectively cut off and Wellington pulled the 7th back to the main line of battle, covered by the Light and cavalry divisions. The cavalry and infantry had to work well together to enable the movement of the infantry across the river Turones. The 14th and Royals were pushed to the limit to ensure a safe movement of men.

Captain Knipe's Charge, 5 May 1811

A battery of French Horse Artillery entered the fray and unlimbered 200 yards from the Royals and 14th. When they opened fire there was little that could be done, but Captain Knipe's time had come. Only the night before, according to Brotherton, he had been in a heated argument about charging guns from the front. Knipe insisted that it was a good tactic but was alone in his view. Now was the moment for him to prove his point. He led his squadron to where he could cover the retirement of the others and, form a distance of 100 yards charged with his men against he French guns. Ironically and tragically, Knipe himself was mortally wounded but the guns were silenced. The squadron was rallied and brought back by Lieutenant John Townsend who later commanded the regiment. As Knipe lay dying he was able to see that he had, in this case, been proved right.

At about this time the CO of the 14th, Lt-Col Hervey-Bathurst, sustained a painful injury. A cannon ball hit his horse on the flank and went through it. But the ball had first hit his sabretache which contained a thick book. This slowed the progress of the ball through the horse so that instead of coming out the other side and taking the Colonel's leg off, it merely hit the leg hard enough to make it swell up alarmingly. The dead horse fell heavily on the injured leg but he was released and spent the rest of the battle under a tree.

The battle dragged on for a few more days, until 8 May. There was one more act of heroism for the 14th. The 5th had ended with the retirement of the infantry in square formations, and the tired troopers were called upon to rescue some skirmishers from the Guards brigade. The French hussars were attacked and 25 of them taken prisoner. Most of the Guardsmen were released. Little occurred during the last 3 days and on the 8th May Massena withdrew. The cavalry had well proved their worth in this battle, and for all the action that had involved the 14th their casualties were relatively light. Captain Knipe and 4 men had been killed along with 6 horses. The CO, Lt-Col Hervey and five officers were wounded, along with 13 sergeants and 28 men (plus 3 men missing).

Carpio, 25 Sep 1811

A huge convoy of supplies was making its way to the French occupied Ciudad Rodrigo with a vast escort that Wellington felt was too strong to challenge. But he concentrated his forces near the fortress anyway. He posted cavalry on the Azava, and the 14th LD had their HQ at Espeja with advanced posts at Carpio and Marialva. The convoy arrived on 24 Sep and proceeded into Ciudad Rodrigo. But the escort advanced towards Espeja causing the outpost at Carpio to withdraw. Eight squadrons of French cavalry followed the 14th and 16th LD and when they split up the two British regiments felt confident enough to attack four of the squadrons. As the French lancers and hussars emerged from a wood they were charged and scattered. Light infantry came up, and as the French rallied they were fired on. The two light dragoon regiments made a controlled charge which broke the French squadrons. They were pursued for two miles beyond the wood, cutting down ten men and captured 30. Amongst the prisoners was a Chef d'Escadron, an Irishman, who was shot as a traitor by an Irish trooper in the 16th. An officer and two men of the 14th were wounded in this skirmish. Further fighting took place on that day when the 14th had to evacuate their positions. They made charges against hussars and lancers at Carpio, El Boden, Aldea Ponte and Espeja. During the fighting Lt-Col Hervey-Bathurst was about to receive a sword cut from a French officer. But his opponent noticed that the Colonel had an arm missing (from the Battle of Porto). Instead of following through with the cut the Frenchman saluted him and rode off.

The Lancers of Berg at Espeja, 26 Sep 1811

The 14th were briefly brigaded under Count Arentschild of the German Hussars. On 26 Sep the Count ordered Colonel Hervey to make a charge against the Lancers of Berg. As the extended line of light dragoons advanced the lancers remained static and lowered their points. This was a mistake because it is easy enough to deflect the lance-point with a sword unless the lancer is charging towards you. British cavalry were trained never to receive a charge in a standing position, but to always charge back. The lancers suffered 60 casualties in this fight.

Salamanca, 22 July 1812

The armies of Wellington and Marmont were manoeuvring around each other near the river Tormes, with Wellington anxious to cover the town of Salamanca and the road to Ciudad Rodrigo. At dawn on 22 July 1812 both commanders headed for the twin hills of Los Arapiles and secured one hill each. They then waited for one another to make a mistake. Fortunately it was Marmont who allowed a gap to open in his line when he sent his leading division off to cut off what he thought was Wellington's retreating army. The Duke immediately sent Edward Packenham's Third Division into the attack. The 14th LD were part of this division, brigaded with the 1st German Hussars and D'Urban's Portuguese Horse, all under Count Arentschild. The approach of this division was not observed by the French because hills divided the two armies. The first contact was a charge by the Portuguese cavalry supported by the 14th, surprising the leading French battalion. The French cavalry were sent around the division's right flank so the German Hussars were lined up ready to attack them. They charged the French and broke their first line but were driven back in disorder. At that point the 14th arrived to support them, and the two units charged again, with the 14th in the lead and the Portuguese in support. This attack was highly successful and the French cavalry were scattered.
14th Light Dragoons
Regimental Medal

A British infantry brigade under General Wallace was the next to attack and the Irishmen of the 88th were allowed to run headlong into the enemy after they saw their CO shot down. The rest of Wellington's army then went into action and the French, although they mounted a counter-attack, were forced back to the Tormes and retreated across the ford at Alba. Marmont had been wounded and the enemy withdrawal was handled well by General Clausel. The French casualties were about 15,000 and the allies had 6,000. The 14th LD lost 4 men killed and 7 wounded.

Blasco Sancho, 26 July 1812

The cavalry pursued the enemy after the victory at Salamanca, and by 26 July this pursuit was still ongoing. A patrol led by Corporal William Hanley caught up with a troop of French dragoons at Blasco Sancho. At first they captured 3 dragoons near a hacienda but there were more inside preparing for a night's sleep. There was only one entrance which Hanley quickly secured. He ordered his men to fire into the courtyard beyond and a French-speaking hussar informed the occupants that the thatched roof would be set alight if they did not surrender. Twenty-seven of them came out one at a time to be searched and disarmed. They were put on horses without stirrups and all set off back to HQ. On the way, a French colonel passed them and assumed that the British and Germans were the prisoners of the French. He facetiously said, "Good day Englishman." and slapped Hanley on the shoulder, at which the corporal grabbed the officer's sword and told him that he was now a prisoner of war. His orderly and two baggage mules were also seized. Wellington was impressed enough to send their CO, Hervey-Bathurst a monetary reward to be given out to the members of the patrol. The officers of the regiment also had a silver medal made to give to Hanley and presented it at a full dress parade.

Retreat from Burgos 1812

Wellington entered Madrid in triumph on 12 Aug 1812 and stayed in the city for the rest of the month but the 14th LD were detailed to watch the pass at Escurial across the Guadarama. They remained in bivouac there, with a screen of outposts, until late October when Wellington's retreat from the failed siege of Burgos began. Rowland Hill's division had been covering Madrid from the south and Arentschild's brigade formed their rearguard all the way to San Christoval near Salamanca, marching by way of Arevalo and Alba de Tormes, closely followed by the French with whom they had frequent skirmishes. There was a rendezvous with the main army of Wellington, and the 14th continued to cover the withdrawal to Ciudad Rodrigo which was reached on 18 Nov. The task of the light dragoons was chiefly rounding up British stragglers but on the 16th Nov the rearguard was attacked by French lancers who drove back the German hussars. Infantry light companies and a battery of horse artillery checked the lancers, and the 14th then charged them, led by Lt-Col Sir Felton Bathurst-Hervey, the 14th were outnumbered by the lancers but they captured several prisoners at the cost of only one man wounded and two horses killed. Hervey's orderly went missing after saving the Colonel's life, either captured or killed.

Captain Mille's Squadron, 12 June 1813

Wellington's army was better equipped and manned in 1813 and it was their turn to chase the retreating French. The 14th made their way through Salamanca which had been abandoned by the enemy. At Burgos General Reille still held a strong position that was attacked by the British cavalry and the Light Division. The French pulled back across the bridge at Villa de Buniel. Captain Thomas Mille's squadron charged the enemy at this point, supported by horse artillery. They captured some prisoners and a gun but lost one man and a horse killed, and one man and 5 horses wounded. The French then destroyed the fortress at Burgos with explosives, inadvertently killing 120 of their own men.

Vittoria, 21 June 1813

Wellington split his army into 4 columns at Vittoria with no particular instructions for the cavalry so that they were allowed to take opportunities as they arose. The 14th were in Victor Alten's brigade with the hussars of the King's German Legion, accompanying Hill's division. The division crossed the Zadorra at Puebla de Arganzon, securing the Pass, and the 14th stayed in position astride the road to Vittoria. After the infantry battled for the heights there was a fierce action at the village of Subijana de Alava. The regiment were in the thick of the fighting and the French were forced back on Vittoria. The 14th and Germans followed up and eventually became mixed up with the Household cavalry and Ponsonby's brigade. The battle had started at 10am and by early afternoon it was clear that the French were beaten. They made brave last stands at Arinez and on the high ground between Armentia and Ali, but by 6 o'clock the enemy retreated and had to abandon their baggage and guns.

The Emperor's Chambermaids

14th Light Dragoons
King Joseph's Carriage
The King of Spain was Napoleon's brother Joseph. It was his idea to put up a fight at Vittoria despite good tactical reasons not to. Amongst all the coaches and wagons that were blocking the road to the French border in the general panic, was Joseph's royal carriage. To avoid capture by the 13th and 14th Light dragoons he abandoned the vehicle and escaped on horseback. There was a scramble for the valuable objects like the King's baton but they were mostly recovered and handed over to General HQ. One item that no-one seemed to want was the silver chamber-pot which was part of the travelling equipment; le pot de voiture, together with it's linen napkin. These were retained by the 14th Light Dragoons and became part of the valued silverware of the regiment. Because the carriage and its regular fittings were a gift from Napoleon, the pot was named 'the Emperor' and the 14th were known as the Emperor's Chambermaids. Ever since, the chamber-pot has been, on special occasions, filled with champagne and passed around the mess table.

The Pyrenees 1813

14th Light Dragoons
In the Pyrenees
Rowland Hill's regiments were ordered to secure the Pass of Maya in July, which they did, and the 14th were part of the force holding the outpost line. They were brigaded with the 13th Light Dragoons and generally referred to as the Ragged brigade because of their worn out uniforms. On 25th July Soult sent Reille's division to attack Maya and it was defended by the infantry. There was little ammunition and rocks were thrown at the French. The 14th were employed evacuating casualties, carried uncomfortably across their saddles. The passes in the Pyrenees were in fact temporarily abandoned until the tables were turned against the French at Sorauren on 30 July, in which the 14th were in action at Arestegui. The Pass at Maya was again secured, in August, and guarded by the 14th, but it was a harsh environment high in the mountains, becoming steadily worse with the approach of winter.

Nivelle, Nov 1813

They were relieved to come down from the mountains in November and face the French under Soult along the Nivelle. The enemy managed to come around the rear of the British position and attack their baggage wagons. The regiment could see their baggage being captured but were powerless to come to the aid of the Troop detailed to guard it. The Troop Sergeant was given the job because it was generally acknowledged that he lacked the stomach for a fight. But as they watched they saw him fighting ferociously to the death against superior numbers. The baggage was lost although it was the officers that suffered more that the other ranks, but the regimental records, along with the paymaster's books were taken. The fate of the women and children accompanying the baggage is not known.

Capt Brotherton at Hasparren, 13 Dec 1813

The 13th and 14th were engaged against the enemy at Hasparren on the same day as the Rowland Hill's men were fighting it out in the desperate battle of St Pierre. One squadron, under Captain Brotherton had distinguished itself already at Hasparren on 11 Dec when they captured a convoy of corn, and on the 13th were ordered by Sir Hussey Vivian, the new brigade commander to act as a 'sort of forlorn hope' as Brotherton put it in his memoirs. The enemy cavalry were posted behind a narrow bridge at the entrance to Hasparren village. Brotherton, his orderly, and Lieutenant Southwell charged at the head of the squadron but there was only room on the bridge for one at a time. The orderly was mortally wounded and Southwell had his horse shot so Brotherton was surrounded and fighting alone. He was 'belabored with cuts and thrusts from all sides', but saved from being hacked to pieces by a buffalo hide cuirass of his own invention, and his beloved mare, Fatima who helped with all four hooves. He was wounded in the neck, thigh, side and bottom and in the end managed to remember enough French to say, "Je me rends." He was tied up and taken to the rear. He survived an unpleasant incarceration and recovered from his wounds, later in life reaching the rank of Major-General and being appointed Inspector General of Cavalry.

St Palais, 17 Feb 1814

The wet weather made life miserable for the 13th and 14th LD during January and February 1814. The outflanking movement known as the Passage of the Gaves was carried out by Beresford's and Rowland Hill's corps. Hill's men assembled behind the Joyeuse with the Light Dragoons sent along the St Palais Road. The French were driven back to St Palais and across the Bidouse to Sauveterre and on 17 Feb the cavalry of both sides were required to stand and take their chance as artillery exchanged fire in the vicinity of St Palais. The following day Hills's corps concentrated between the Gave de Mauleon and the Gave d'Oleron. Soult's army was now at Orthes, and Wellington sent his army across the Gave d'Oleron on 24 Feb. The 14th crossed at a ford at Villenave and bivouacked in icy and snowy conditions, desperately cold and hungry. The next day they rode for an hour and came to the Gave de Pau where thousands of French troops were on both sides of the river near Orthes.

Orthes, 27 Feb 1814

14th Light Dragoons
Battle of Orthes
Soult was in a strong position on 27 Feb when Wellington's opening attack against the French at Orthes failed. The 13th and 14th were sent up-river to look for a way over the river. They found it at Souars and their crossing enabled Hill to turn the French left and threaten Soult's line of retreat to St Sever. The Light Dragoons rode as hard as their starved horses would let them, to reach the bridge of Soult de Navailles. When they got there they found the French artillery posted on the heights across the river and came under heavy fire. They had to be withdrawn from this after suffering several casualties, the 13th having 2 killed and 10 wounded while the 14th had 2 men wounded. They spent the following day in pursuit of the retreating French, riding about 20 miles and taking prisoners.

Aire, March 1814

The Napoleonic War was drawing to a close and towns like Bordeaux were declaring for the monarchy. But Soult's army was still active and the 14th had several skirmishes with French cavalry whilst carrying out the task of reconnaissance and protection. Generally the incessant rain and thick mud prevented cavalry action but the 14th brought Hill important information on the position of the enemy before Aire. The infantry were brought up and the French were driven off towards Tarbes, abandoning valuable stores and ammunition. At Garlin the Light Dragoons fought against cavalry that came out of Conches.

Officers Captured, March 1814

Pau was reported to be ready to support the return of the Bourbons, and General Fane went there to offer support. He was escorted by the 14th and an infantry battalion, and when Fane withdrew he left a squadron of the 14th in the town under the command of Captain John Townsend. But on 8 March Soult sent cavalry there to arrest the mayor and councillors of Pau. They failed in that task but managed to capture Townsend and four of his men. Two days later the 14th fought against superior numbers of enemy cavalry at Garlin. The regiment carried out two charges in which Captain Babington was wounded and captured.

Tarbes, 20 March 1814

There was more fighting at Vic-de-Bigorre on 19 March and at midnight the Light Dragoons were joined by the Royals and 3rd Dragoon Guards to form a cavalry division under General Fane. At daybreak they forded the Adour and proceeded to Tarbes. The cavalry tried to head off the retreating French to force a battle but the country was flooded and this proved impossible. The French rearguard, however, put up a strong fight at Tarbes on 20 March. The Allied Infantry had a short but fierce battle, causing the enemy to fall back in a disorderly fashion.

Toulouse, 10 April 1814

The battle of Toulouse was Soult's last great effort to keep Napoleon on his imperial throne. It was a well fortified city and proved a tough fight for the infantry. Fane's division was in Hill's corps which was concentrated on St Cyprien, but it was Beresford's corps that forced Soult finally to abandon Toulouse. The cavalry were not idle, spending the day in action on the banks of the Garonne. They worked in close contact with the 13th LD so it is surprising that they did not receive the battle honour TOULOUSE as did the 13th. When it was known that Napoleon had abdicated The Duke of Wellington entered the city in triumph on 12 April, the Light Dragoons riding behind him.

Bayonne, April 1814

The French garrison of Bayonne made a sortie on 13 April and the Light Dragoons were sent there while Rowland Hill's corps chased after Soult. However, they were not needed there and were diverted to Mont-de- Marsan. They remained there until their embarkation could be organised. This finally happened in May and the 14th LD sailed for England, 561 strong. They had lost 654 men, killed or disabled, in the Peninsula War and had earned themselves a greatly enhanced reputation as a tough fighting unit.

New Orleans 1814-15
The 14th did not have a very long stay in England to recover from the rigours of the Peninsula War. They landed in Dover on 17 July 1814 and were inspected by the Duke of York on Hounslow Heath a few days later. On 31 Aug two troops sailed from Portsmouth to cross the Atlantic, and two more from Plymouth on 10 Oct. They were united in Jamaica in November under the command of Lt-Col Baker but set off separately for New Orleans in December. It is unclear why the 14th were sent on this failed mission to fight against Americans when they spent more time in boats than on land, and, it seems, little time spent on horseback. The expedition started badly with soldiers and sailors being packed in boats for days on end in cold wet weather. The Americans were commanded well by General Jackson who later became president, and the British were poorly led until Sir Edward Pakenham arrived.

A land attack by the Americans was foiled thanks to the 95th Rifles but gunfire from two American ships caused problems for the British. However Pakenham organised the artillery so that that one of the ships, the Carolina, was sunk. At one point a boat full of men of the 14th was captured by the enemy so that 37 men became prisoners. An assault on the American entrenchments took place on 8 Jan 1815 but after strenuous efforts the greater part of the attack failed and the army had to withdraw. Pakenham was killed in this battle, and other generals were wounded. General Lambert now took command and organised the building of a passage to move the men across the swamp and marsh back to the River Mississippi. This passage took 8 days to complete but it did not prevent some men falling into the marsh and being swallowed up as their horrified comrades looked on. The fleet should have sailed home after this but the capture of Fort Bowyer was carried out and the return home was delayed until the middle of March. General Lambert's despatches praised the regiment:

'The conduct of the two squadrons of the 14th Light Dragoons, latterly commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Baker, previously by Major Milles, has been the admiration of everyone, by the cheerfulness with which they have performed all descriptions of service.'

Service in England 1815-1830
14th Light Dragoons
Hounslow Heath 1822
The regiment arrived back in England in mid-May after a 7 week voyage. They were too late to join the army that went to face Napoleon's return from Elba and thus missed the battle of Waterloo. In 1816 the 14th consisted of 530 all ranks, and were posted to Ireland for 3 years. In 1819 they sailed to Liverpool and marched to Canterbury.Their duty in England was as police to apprehend smugglers on the coast from Yarmouth to Deal. They were especially busy in Romney Marsh in 1820 but it was an unhealthy area and they suffered greatly from 'ague and similar complaints'. In 1821 they were relieved to be posted to Brighton with detachments at Hastings, Arundel and Eastbourne. During this period a school was set up for the 110 children of the married men in the regiment. This was not officially sanctioned but paid for by the regiment. This posting lasted a year and they were then moved to Coventry, Dorchester and Exeter, and in 1825 were back in Ireland.
The Bristol Riots 1831
The 14th returned to England in 1829 after 3 years in Ireland. The Reform Bill was in process at the time and there was agitation and the threat of riots in industrial areas. The regiment was posted to areas such as Leeds, Birmingham and Coventry. The army carried out the work of police where and when unrest developed into a riot. In October 1831 the worst of the rioting erupted in Bristol. The recorder of Bristol was Sir Charles Wetherall MP, an opponent of the Reform Bill. A mob threatened him when he held sessions and attacked the Mansion House on 29 Oct. The cavalry units available to call upon were under Colonel Brereton and consisted of a troop of the 14th LD and a troop of the 3rd Dragoon Guards. The 14th were commanded by Captain Musgrave and the 3rd DG by Capt Warrington. While Warrington was charming the crowd with his easy-going manner, Musgrave was becoming more incensed after being pelted with bricks, and, having issued warnings, shot a man. This calmed the mob temporarily but Col Brereton, following complaints about 'the bloody blues' (the 14th LD wore blue jackets at that time), thought it best to withdraw both troops of cavalry. This was a mistake.

14th Light Dragoons
Bristol Riots
With the removal of any form of riot control the mob went mad and broke into the Mansion House and the Jail. Sir Charles Wetherall escaped over the roof-tops as buildings were set on fire and dangerous prisoners released from jail. People were killed, houses ransacked and looting was rife. On Sunday the bishop's palace was burned down. The danger did not subside until the next intervention of the military. Major Mackworth, ADC to the Commander-in-Chief arrived at the same time as another troop of the 14th LD under Major William Beckwith. There was also a battalion of the 52nd Light Infantry. Mackworth and Beckwith collect the 3 troops of cavalry and charged the rioters with drawn swords, something that Colonel Brereton had forbidden. The charges were made at the trot, against a hail of missiles. Four civilians were killed and 86 wounded by sword cuts or horses hooves, but the rioters were quelled. The 3rd DG then went through the city, mopping up, while Beckwith and the 14th cleared the wharves.

Order was thus restored but there were consequences. Colonel Brereton was court-martialled and so mortified at having inadvertently made matters worse that he shot himself. Capt Warrington was blamed for not being tough enough, and Capt Musgrave of the 14th was censured for being too tough. Beckwith was praised for his handling of the rioters and his career enhanced as a result. He reached the rank of General and became Colonel of the 14th many years later. The 3rd Dragoon Guards are the regiment most remembered, unfavourably, in this affair, and are featured in the best known print of the riots.

The next ten years saw more unrest in various parts of Britain, and the 14th were employed as an aid to the civil power. In April 1832 when they were stationed at Gloucester they were called out to deal with a fire at a Lunatic Asylum and were rewarded by the insurance company to the tune of 40 pounds to be shared out amongst the 350 men of the regiment. Between 1833 and 1836 they were in Ireland suppressing riots connected with the elections, and similar duties in Scotland in 1837. Their efforts at Dalkeith were highly praised by Maj-Gen Lord Greenock, commander of North Britain. He wrote that the 14th was, 'for all the purposes of Light Cavalry service, the most efficient corps in the British Army'. They were stationed at Hampton Court in 1839 and extinguished another fire at Bushey Farm. Royal escort duty was performed in 1832 and again in 1839 when Prince Albert arrived for his marriage to Victoria. They also escorted the royal couple from Buckingham Palace to Colnbrook on 10 Feb 1840.
Embarkation for India 1841
When the regiment was ordered to prepare for embarkation to India they had to double their strength. The officers were increased from 27 to 47, the most significant being a new second-in-command, Lt-Col William Havelock. The rest of the regiment was made up of 55 sergeants, 40 corporals, 12 trumpeters, 8 farriers and 627 men. Many of these men were expected to be drafted in when they reached India. The 4th Light Dragoons were returning to Britain and handed over their horses and 100 men who had elected to stay in India. The voyage from Gravesend to Bombay took over 4 months in over-crowded ships. They were then stationed at Kirkee near Poona, 50 miles south east of Bombay.
March to Ambala 1845
The first action seen by the 14th was when 2 squadrons were sent 100 miles south to Kholapur to fight against Mahrattas in 1843. They remained there until 1844, taking part in the attacks on enemy strongholds. In the following year, when the First Sikh War broke out, the regiment was marched north from Kirkee to Ambala, 850 miles away, at the edge of the Himalayas. This epic march started in Nov 1845 and took 3 months including long halts at various towns. During this time the regiment lost an officer and 17 men who died of cholera. Lieutenant Herbert Gall caught the disease and was lucky to survive being presumed dead, and was prepared for burial. An orderly saw his lips move and he was revived with champagne. Other less fortunate men were buried prematurely. By the time they reached Ambala the First Sikh War was finishing at Sobraon.
Second Sikh War 1848-9

The Lahore Squadron 1848

After the First Sikh War of 1845-6 a Council of Regency was set up consisting of 4 British officials and 4 Sikh chiefs. They organised a combined force of British and Sikh units to settle trouble in Multan where the semi-independent governor, Mulraj, had killed two British officials. In this force was one squadron of the 14th LD based at Lahore. They were commanded by Major John King and had 4 officers and 91 men. However, the Sikhs, still bitter at their defeat in 1846, defected to the other side and were pursued by Major King's squadron. They had to build rafts to cross the river Ravi to join the 7th Irregular Cavalry and 73rd Native Infantry. In the pursuit the Sikhs were defeated and 60 prisoners taken. They destroyed enemy forts and later returned to Lahore.

Kela Dedar Singh

By the time the Second Sikh War started the 14th LD was commanded by William Havelock. They were part of a covering force sent across the Sutlej to guard against a Sikh advance on Lahore. This force also included the 3rd LD, 8th Native Cavalry, 12th Irregular Cavalry, 3 Troops of Horse Artillery and a light field battery. When they were joined at Kela Dedar Singh by some infantry brigades the command of the covering force was taken over by Sir Colin Campbell. The Commander-in-Chief was General Sir Hugh Gough, busy assembling his army in Ferozepore.

Ramnuggur, 22 Nov 1848

The main Sikh army lay at Ramnuggur on the Chenab river which ran through its positions giving an opportunity for an attack. Campbell advanced towards the enemy but the Sikhs withdrew across the river leaving outposts and some guns. The covering force camped about 8 miles from Ramnuggur and waited for Gough's army. The cavalry was organised into two brigades; the 14th and 3rd LD together with two Native cavalry regiments, all commanded by Brigadier White. The cavalry division was under the command of General Cureton, and this was ordered forward on the night of 21 Nov 1848.

14th Light Dragoons
Ramnuggur 1848
The Chenab consists of a very wide sandy bed, over which the the river winds its way in numerous streams of varying width and depth. The sandy approaches to the river are soft, and quicksands presented a danger for cavalry and artillery. On 22 Nov the 3rd LD was sent forward with horse artillery to force back Sikh cavalry. One of the guns became stuck and had to be abandoned. This was in danger of being captured so the 14th LD were ordered to save it. The order came as music to Havelock's ears. He had been champing at the bit to see some action and he had worked himself up into a high state of agitation. There are comparisons to be made with the Light Brigade at Balaklava who were also impatient to charge the enemy. The impetuous Havelock was desperate to earn his golden spurs and led his men, like the Light Brigade, in the wrong direction. They headed straight towards the strongest part of the Sikh army, at the gallop. The 14th were supported by the 5th Native Cavalry and were formed in column of troops.

General Cureton was a highly respected cavalry leader who had begun his military career as a private in the 14th LD, and his son Augustus was an officer of the 14th, sadly killed at Chillianwallah. He saw Havelock's mistake and rode off to redirect him, but, like Lewis Nolan at Balaklava, he was shot dead in the process. The regiment carried on under a heavy fire from infantry and guns. They reached the top of a steep bank down to the river and formed into line of squadrons. The ground at the bottom of the bank proved to be very soft and they were unable to move fast. But they were mounted on strong Arab horses and could not be stopped. The Sikhs were driven back in confusion and Havelock rallied the men of his regiment and the Native Cavalry. At this point he should have brought them back but his blood was up and the advance was sounded by the trumpeter, followed by the charge call.

The battle that ensued was more desperate than the first charge, and more tragic. The Sikhs were driven back but not without a strong fight. Havelock was brought to the ground and his devoted soldiers rallied round him to prevent his being hacked to death. But this was a forelorn hope because after the battle his lacerated body was found, surrounded by dead troopers of the 14th. Command was taken over by Major Doherty who led the regiment out of the action. The numbers killed were; Sergeant John Harwood, a corporal and 12 men along with 37 horses. The wounded were; 5 officers, 4 sergeants and 18 privates. One of the wounded was Captain Herbert Gall who captured a Sikh standard. In the process he had his hand severed almost completely. The adjutant, Captain Richard Apthorp had to call him back into line as Gall and some of his troopers had broken away to seize their prize. The adjutant was very diligent, for he also found time to praise the swordsmanship of Cornet William D'Urban Blyth who skilfully killed several Sikhs. "You are dismissed from any further sword-drill, Cornet Blyth!" he shouted. Unlike the charge at Balaclava, the action of the 14th was successful in terms of undermining the morale of the Sikhs. From then on they held the British in high regard on the battlefield and were more reluctant to challenge them.

Chillianwallah, 13 Jan 1849

Having covered themselves in glory at Ramnuggur, the 14th were to experience the opposite effect at Chillianwallah in January 1849. Sir Hugh Gough managed to turn the Sikh flank and force them off the Chenab. They went up as far as Chillianwallah where a pitched battle took place in which the 24th Foot suffered heavy casualties. The experience of the cavalry was much less heroic. Unfortunately the 14th were in the second cavalry brigade with the 9th Lancers and the 1st and 6th Bengal Native Cavalry. The brigade commander was an elderly officer named Pope who previously had only experienced command of a squadron. Some parts of the field were covered in thick jungle which made things difficult but the real problem was Pope himself, who made bad decisions. His brigade was on the right flank and he brought his regiments into line without scouts in front and a reserve behind. His men were masking the artillery and fire from the infantry, and they drifted too far to the left. Major King suggested that Brigadier Pope give the order for Threes - Right, but instead the old soldier shouted "Threes - about!" The squadrons in the centre wheeled to the rear and the others followed. This was seen by the Sikhs as a sign of weakness and their cavalry charged. They drove the Native Cavalry off the field, and the 14th and 9th Lancers had to put enough distance between themselves and the Sikhs to turn, form up and charge back. But their movements gave the impression that they were retreating.

Their counter-attack turned the tide and the enemy were stopped. They killed many Sikhs but lost Cornet Augustus Cureton, son of General Cureton, and Private George Tookey whose letters home have survived to tell us so much about a soldier's life in India. Two more men died of wounds and another 12 were wounded as well as one officer. The cavalry gained an unfavourable reputation from this battle and were unfairly accused of running away. The 14thLD were very bitter about what happened and for many years after their soldiers were taunted by thoughtless men from other units shouting "Threes about".

Gujerat, 21 Feb 1849

Both the Sikhs and the British/Indian force were reinforced after Chillianwallah. The 14th LD were now in the first Brigade under Brigadier Lockwood. With them were the 1st Bengal Light Cavalry and detachments of the 11th and 18th Irregular Cavalry. The 1st and 2nd Cavalry brigades were on the right of the line and were the object of the Sikh cavalry attack. The enemy had been reinforced by Afghans and it was they who made up the cavalry threatening the British right flank. The horse artillery helped to foil the Afghans' efforts and the infantry advanced on the Sikhs with steadiness and discipline which won the day. The Sikhs broke and fled in the early afternoon but the battle was so spread out that the Afghan cavalry continued to manoeuvre around the 14th LD and the Indian units. This may have been a tactic to prevent the pursuit of the retreating Sikh infantry but to many it appeared that they were unaware that the battle was over.

When they did ride off the British/Indian cavalry pursued. The 14th showed no mercy as they caught up with their enemy, trying to wipe away the stain on their honour after Chillianwallah. Large numbers of Sikhs and Afghans were cut down. Corporal William Pain fought and killed a horseman carrying a red silk standard. The Sikhs had thrown down their weapons so it would have been honourable to spare their lives but this was not the case for many on the British side. One exception was Captain Scudamore who spared the life of a man he thought was unarmed. But the Sikh was concealing a weapon which he used to shoot the captain in the back. Fortunately Scudamore survived and went on to become CO of the regiment in 1861. The pursuit continued for 15 miles, until dark, but then continued the next day and beyond. The Sikhs surrendered on 8 March at Rawalpindi but the Afghans had still to be dealt with. However there was no more fighting and the Afghans retreated through the Khyber Pass.

Persia 1857
Herat is a region of Afghanistan, right up in the northwest corner of the country. On it's western border is Iran (Persia) and to the north is Turkmenistan, part of the Russian empire. In 1852 Persia invaded and annexed Herat, causing trouble with Britain who were keen to prevent any incursion into Afghan territory. The Persians initially withdrew but invaded again after relations between Britain and Persia deteriorated, so a military force was sent to the Persian Gulf. The objective was the capture of Bushire and the island of Kharak, war on Persia being declared on 1 Nov 1856. The expedition was led by Major-General Sir James Outram who had two divisions. The 14th LD were with Jacob's Horse in the second division under Henry Havelock, brother of William who was killed at Ramnuggur. The regiment had a strength of 614 rank and file, and 25 officers. They sailed from Bombay, reaching Bushire at the beginning of February. The first division routed the Persians at Kush-ab and a fortified camp was established at Bushire. A detachment of 4,000 men was sent to the Euphrates delta which included a troop of the 14th under Captain Prettejohn. The transports became grounded in the Shat-el-Arab and rafts had to be built to disembark the men and horses.

At Mohamra they found the Persian army drawn up and the Naval warships opened fire. This had the effect of deterring the enemy who turned and fled. They were not pursued but a small force of 300 men was sent up the Karun river in steamboats. They landed at Ahwaz and met with 10,000 Persians. They had better fortune than Leonidas and his 300 Spartans did at Thermopylae, although less glorious, because the Persians again retreated. There was a signing of a Peace Treaty in Paris and the expedition sailed back to India. The 14th landed at Bombay on 15 May 1857. Although there were many deaths from dysentry in the two divisions, the 14th came back intact except for the loss of 22 horses.

The Indian Mutiny 1857-8

Aurangabad, June 1857

The 14th were split up into detachments around the Bombay Presidency but 5 Troops formed part of a column sent to secure the road to Agra. They were diverted to Aurangabad where the native troops had mutinied. They managed to rescue the women and children there and had to confront an entrenchment which had been prepared by two cavalry regiments, an infantry regiment and a field battery. They were called upon to surrender which they did except for the 1st Hyderabad Cavalry. This unit took off when threatened by the whole column and the 14th tried to pursue but their horses were too tired. Over the next few days some rebels were caught and executed.

Mandsaur, 21-22 Oct 1857

The monsoon slowed down operations until October. A column known as the Malwa Field Force was assembled under Brigadier C S Stuart to march against Feroz Shah at Madasaur.
14th Light Dragoons
The 14th in India 1858
It was made up of 5 Troops of the 14th together with 4 companies of the 86th RIR, the 3rd Hyderabad Cavalry and the 25th Native Infantry and two field batteries. The mutineers were cavalry from the Gwalior State Forces and 15,000 others. The Field Force crossed the Chambal river and engaged with the rebels on 21 Oct. The 14th and Hyderabad cavalry saw action when they halted the advance of Feroz Shah's men. The next day the whole force was sent against the rebels who vastly outnumbered them. The 14th charged boldly into the enemy line and captured all of their guns. These were turned on the rebels by the 25th NI. More cavalry charges followed and enemy standards were captured. The rebels retreated to Fort Dhar and defended it against a siege until 31 Oct when they abandoned it to the British/Indian force. A quantity of treasure was found which was distributed, and about 70 mutineers were caught and shot. Brigadier Stuart intended to bypass Feroz Shah's stronghold of Mandasaur to reach Neemuch 50 miles further on. But sorties were made from the stronghold to stop their progress. The 14th and Hyderabad cavalry made several charges to push back the rebels and these turned into hand-to-hand struggles. The regiment sustained casualties in these confrontations, including the death of Lt Leonard Redmayne, but both Manasaur and Neemuch were captured.

The Central India Field Force 1858

The regiment were next selected for General Sir Hugh Rose's Field Force operating in Central India. They were split into two brigades, the 1st to march from Mhow through Jhansi to Kalpi with the object of preventing rebels from Gwalior attacking the rear of Sir Colin Campbell's army across the Jumna. Two Troops of the 14th were attached to this brigade and they set out on 16 Jan 1858 by way of Bhopal and Bhilsa, and came before the fortress of Rahatgarh. The artillery pounded the walls while a relieving force, sent by the Rajah of Banpore, was dealt with. The garrison at Rahatgarh was large but not prepared to withstand Hugh Roses's attack, so they decamped and fled. The next objective was the relief of Saugor, 20 miles away. This was accomplished and many women and children saved. The Fort of Garhakota was the next stronghold to fall. The defenders did not put up much resistance and were pursued by the 14th LD. Two Troops under Captains Robert Brown and Arthur Need chased them for 25 miles and killed about 100.

Chanderi, March 1858

Sir Hugh Rose's 2nd brigade, containing the bulk of the regiment had left Mhow and reached Goona at the end of February. On 5 March they arrived at the fortified town of Chanderi defended by a large force of rebels. The Irishmen of the 86th regiment stormed the place and evicted the garrison. The 14th gave chase but it was difficult country for cavalry and they had to abandon the idea. Rose then marched to Jhansi through the pass of Marhat held by the Rajah of Banpur. A squadron of the 14th under Major Scudamore, with some infantry and guns made a diversionary movement against this pass while Rose put in the real attack in the Muddenpore Pass held by the Rajah of Shahgarh. These attacks were completely successful.

Jhansi, March-April 1858

The regiment was reunited when the two brigades met at Jhansi but were organised in two wings, commanded by Major Scudamore and Major Herbert Gall. The CO of the regiment, Colonel Charles Steuart was now in command of the 2nd Brigade while the 1st Brigade was, confusingly, commanded by Charles Stuart of the Bombay Army. The fortress was under the control of the Rani of Jhansi. She called for the assistance of Tantia Topi who arrived on 31 March with 20,000 men which would have unnerved most commanders but Sir Hugh kept a cool head and stealthily withdrew selected sections of his besieging army, amounting to a 10th of his 12,000 force, so as to give the defenders of Jhansi the impression that the city was still surrounded. Elephants were used to bring guns quietly away from the besieging batteries. On hearing that a large enemy force was crossing the river Betwa 8 miles away he sent Brigadier Stuart with 250 men including a Troop of the 14thLD under Lieut James Giles. With the other 950 men he had to confront the main part of Tantia Topi's army numbering 11,000. In Rose's small force were 3 Troops of the 14th, under Captains Need, Prettejohn and McMahon.

Battle on the Betwa, 1 April 1858

On 1 April the army of Tantia Topi advanced. Rose ordered the infantry of the 3rd Bombay European Regiment and the 24th Native Infantry to lie down and fire on the advancing enemy. The cavalry on each flank moved to where they could enfilade the rebels' line. The enemy left were charged by Need's Troop while Prettejohn led the two Troops on the right. The men of the 14th and the Hyderabad Cavalry cut their way into the mass of rebels in a great show of determination and bravery. The enemy were stunned at their audacity, and were fired on by the artillery and infantry so that they became completely demoralised.
14th Light Dragoons
Lieutenant Leith VC
The army of Tantia Topi was soon in retreat, an amazing triumph for such a small force of men who had been angered by stories of how women and children had been butchered at Cawnpore and other places. They killed 2,000 rebels, and many more drowned in the Betwa. There was action also for the other 250 men sent down river. Lieutenant Giles led a charge over very bad ground and sustained some casualties.

James Leith VC

The regiment earned its first VC in this battle. Captain Arthur Need galloped after some rebels up a rocky height but his horse stopped and would not be moved. He was surrounded by a crowd of Mahrattas who cut at him with tulwars. They slashed at his bridle, saddle and clothes but his injuries were not serious. At this point Lieutenant James Leith rode to his rescue and together they were able to fight their way out. The battle of the Betwa cost the regiment 5 men and 11 horses killed, 25 men and 16 horses injured.

The Capture of Jhansi, 3 April 1858

14th Light Dragoons
Rani of Jhansi
While the battle against the relieving army of Tantia Topi was going on, another small battle was taking place at a gate to the city from which it was anticipated that a sortie would appear. Major Herbert Gall with a squadron of the 14th was sent to make a feint attack to deter any attempt to force a fight on two fronts. The same squadron made another feint attack on 3 April which had the effect of dividing the enemy so that the breach could be stormed. This was a hotly disputed battle due to the small number of British/Indians fighting against large numbers of the Rani's men. However, the city was captured and many of the defenders fled. Most were caught and killed but the Rani herself escaped on horseback with an escort of picked men, and managed to evade capture to fight another day.

Lohari Fort, 1 May 1858

After Jhansi, the next objective of the Central India Field Force was Kalpi, but the advanced guard, commanded by Herbert Gall, on arriving at Pooch, learned that Tantia Topi had formed a strong defensive position at Kunch, 14 miles ahead. This barred the way to Kalpi as Sir Hugh could see when he caught up with Gall. He decided to attack the position but first he sent Gall and the 14th to capture Lohari Fort while the rest of the field force took a well-earned rest. This was an unusual job for cavalry but they were dismounted for the task and were able to achieve the objective with the loss of one man killed and 5 officers and 15 men wounded. Gall himself was one of the wounded.

Kunch, 7 May 1858

When The Field Force marched the 14 miles to Kunch, The cavalry was sent forward to reconnoitre while the 2nd Brigade prepared to attack. The 1st Brigade was sent around to the enemy flank and the 2nd made a holding attack which met with strong resistance. The 14th LD was ordered forward with the Hyderabad Cavalry in support. A soldier of the 71st HLI wrote about the cavalry action:

'Sir H.R. Ordered up the 14th Cavalry and the Hyderabads of the 1st Brigade. The enemy's cavalry being under cover, as soon as they saw ours coming down, prepared to meet them. At it they went, their sabres gleaming in the sun. It was a fine sight to see, the ground being broken in front of our cavalry (and holes dug by the enemy) wavered for a moment, as it were, but then being past the broken ground their charge was irresistible, the enemy did not wait a moment longer but to the right-about they went, and off, and our fellows after them, cutting and slashing. Then came the order for us to enter, and we entered double quick, but stand they would not, they saw the day was lost. All of the enemy who had horses to mount got away, but those who had none were cut up. The cavalry and artillery went off in pursuit, the infantry being exhausted was ordered to halt.'

The exhaustion was due to extreme heat and lack of water. Many men died of heatstroke and Sir Hugh Rose himself had to have medical treatment. The 14th lost 7 men; 5 killed in action and 2 from the heat. One officer and 17 men were wounded as well as many horses being stabbed with bayonets. The heat and the violent exertion caused 150 men to be brought to a state of semi-consciousness. The rebels under Tantia Topi's command had been defeated and were in no fit state to take advantage of the Field Force's incapacity.

Kalpi, 22 May 1858

The men were allowed 24 hours to recover before marching towards Kalpi. Herbert Gall's recce revealed that the enemy were entrenched along the Kalpi road.
14th Light Dragoons
Pursuing Rebels
Sir Hugh, using similar tactics to those employed at Kunch, ordered the 2nd brigade to advance along the road while he took the 1st Brigade to the right to join up with Colonel Maxwell so that a flanking movement could be made against the enemy left. They were positioned before Kalpi on 18 May, and on 22 May the rebels, commanded by Tantia Topi, the Rani, the Nawab of Banda and Rao Sahib decided to attack the British/Indian force. They at first made their attack on Rose's left but that was a feint which Rose realised and therefore did not take measures to reinforce that flank. His judgement was correct because the real attack came on his right. The battle was fierce, and hard for the British troops who suffered so much from the heat, but eventually the rebels retreated. The role of the 14th and the Hyderabad Cavalry was to pursue the defeated enemy which they did for 7 miles along the road back to Jhansi. They made several charges and captured 3 guns. The artillery stayed with the cavalry throughout the pursuit and were able to cover the cavalry charges. The effort required, in intense heat, to bring up guns, unlimber and fire them pushed the gunners to the limit.

Morar, 16 June 1858

The Maharaja of Gwalior, Jayajirao Scindhia, was loyal to the British so he was obliged to flee when the rebels arrived at the fortress. The Field Force marched towards Gwalior upon hearing from Lt-Col Gall's reconnaissance that that was where the enemy were heading. Three miles from Gwalior was the Morar cantonment, a large permanent camp for quartering troops. Hugh Rose realised that his men badly needed shelter from the merciless sun, and was determined to push them hard to evict the rebels from Morar. On 16 June they attacked, and the infantry had a hard job to force the rebels out of the nullahs which provided natural cover, and the 14th were again employed in charging and pursuing the fleeing. The infantry reached the barracks and were able to take shelter and collapse on a bed. They were so exhausted that it was almost impossible to rouse them. The 71st Highland Light Infantry could only be turned out by a piper playing a reel.

Gwalior, 17-20 June 1858

The Field Force linked up with a column from the Rajputana Field Force and an action was fought at Kotah-ki-Serai, south of Gwalior on 17 June. A squadron of the 14th took part in this and the fight continued up to the walls of the fortress. During the struggles that took place in the surrounding country, the Rani of Jhansi was killed, by a private from the 8th Hussars. Further fighting continued until 20 June in which the squadron of the 14th distinguished itself by its steadiness under fire from 'shot and shell'. They captured guns and cut down many rebels. The rebel army retreated once more and Tantia Topi managed to evade capture. The Maharaja returned and was escorted back into his palace by the 14th LD and 8th Hussars.
14th Light Dragoons

Ranode, 17 Dec 1858

Tantia Topi was the object of a widespread hunt and eventually caught on 7 April 1859. The 14th were kept busy with this and had several engagements, of which Ranode was typical. Captain Prettejohn's squadron accompanied a 500-strong mounted column of all arms from Gwalior, to intercept Feroz Shah (the infantry were on camels). They met him on the Scind River at Ranode and found his large force drawn up with a frontage of almost a mile. The column was ordered, by its commander, Sir Robert Napier, to attack the centre straight away. This was led by Captain Prettejohn and was successful to the extent that the whole enemy force lost heart and retreated. There was the usual pursuit after the battle, which went on for 12 miles. This was despite the captain and 13 of his men being wounded.

Return to England, 1860
The regiment had spent much of 1858 based at Gwalior and Jhansi, but were ordered home in 1859. They went to Bombay in March but the embarkation was postponed until Feb 1860. They sailed home with a strength of 13 officers and 391 rank and file, with 19 women and 39 children. Two hundred men had opted to stay in India and transferred to other regiments. The ship arrived in Dublin in June 1860, the men having been absent from their homeland for 19 years, and continued to Newbridge. The losses in the Central India campaign had been 72 rank and file, and one officer.
Honi soit qui mal y pense
Regimental Marches
Royal Sussex

King of Prussia

The Emperor's Chambermaids
The Ramnugger Boys
The Hawks
Colonels in Chief
1776 - 1992
Commanding Officers
1776 - 1992
1776 - 1861
1776 - 1992
1776 - 1992
1751 - 1992
1776 - 1992
Musicians and Band
1776 - 1992
Battle Honours of the 14th
Peninsula War 1808-14


Second Sikh War 1848-9


Persian war 1856-7


Indian Mutiny 1857-8


South African War 1899-1902


World War One 1914-18


Predecessor Unit
14th Dragoons
1776 14th Light Dragoons
1798 14th Duchess of York's Own Light Dragoons
1830 14th King's Light Dragoons
Successor Units
1861 14th The King's Hussars
1922 14th/20th King's Hussars
1992 The King's Royal Hussars
14th/20th Hussars Museum
Museum of Lancashire
Stanley Street
tel: 01772 534075
Suggested Reading
Historical Record of the 14th (King's) Hussars from A. D. 1715 to A. D. 1900
by Colonel Henry Blackburne Hamilton. 1901

Historical Record of the 14th (King's) Hussars from 1900-1922
by Colonel Henry Blackburne Hamilton. 1901

The Puggrie Wallahs
by Henry B Hamilton (Leonaur)

A King's Hussar: Being the Military Memoirs for Twenty-five Years of a Troop-sergeant-major of the 14th (King's) Hussars
by Edwin Mole ( 1897 )

The Emperor's Chambermaids The Story of the 14th/20th King's Hussars
by Lt-Col L B Oatts DSO (Ward Lock 1973)

The Hawks, A Short History of the 14th/20th King's Hussars
by Bryan Perrett (Picton 1984)

Scraps from my Sabretache, personal adventures while in the 14th (King's) Light Dragoons
by George Carter Stent 1882

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