Author's note



The Century begins, slap bang, in the world of Jane Austen.

There is some repetition in these pages. Whilst I apologise for that, I have tried to make each regiment's history self-contained.

Many things surprised me during my research. I had thought, for example, that the various regiments had a base or depot at a specific location, but this was not the case. Although there were some exceptions (the Household Cavalry, for example), most regiments were constantly on the move and the only time a base or 'depot' was established was when the main body of a regiment was sent overseas.

Purpose-built barracks, such as the Cavalry Barracks in Canterbury, were available in some cities around the British Isles and Ireland, but very often a regiment would be billeted on the local population. Can one imagine the logistic arrangements required for the accommodation of some 600 officers and men plus their horses?

Constant changes, too, occurred with uniforms and equipment, these changes being effected by Royal Warrant. Similarly, the patrons, or 'Colonels' of regiments changed frequently and, in the early years, the change of Colonel effectively changed the title of a regiment.

Another relevant fact is that the establishments of the regiments were constantly changing, depending on politics. In troubled times, recruiting was intense, but in times of peace many soldiers were dismissed or retired on half pay . . . “Officers and men were caste upon the streets or drifted into outlawry in the countryside.” (Churchill A History of the English Speaking Peoples Vol.3)

I have been surprised, too, during my research (which includes many eye-witness accounts) by the obvious professionalism of the officers and men who served in the British cavalry of the Nineteenth Century - surprisingly few 'Ruperts' amongst the officers, who were generally incredibly brave and conscientious, and outstanding bravery and dedication demonstrated by the NCOs and men. Many of the eye-witness accounts, such as the story of Captain Robert Gillespie who travelled by land (at his own expense) through French occupied Europe and then through Turkey, Iran and what is now Pakistan in 1806 to join his regiment in India, are more remarkable than any fiction.

I have endeavoured to list references and credits towards the end of the website, but people searching for specific individuals might benefit from the following archival sites:

The National Archives [Kew]

AND, of course, constructive criticism is welcome.

Ross Barnett, January 2018
(The author was commissioned from Mons Officer Cadet School in 1967 and served in the Royal Engineers from 1967 to 1971)