Bengal Horse Artillery
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The Bengal Horse Artillery were considered one of the elite regiments of the army.
- 1800 raised as the Experimental Brigade of Bengal Horse Artillery
- 1809 2nd and 3rd Troops of Bengal Horse Artillery formed
- 1817 first three Native Troops formed
- 1826 reorganisation of Bengal Horse Artillery into Brigades
- 1861 absorbed into the Royal Artillery
- 1803-05 2nd Maratha War
- 1814-16 Gurkha War
- 1817 Siege of Hattress during the Pindari Campaign
- 1823-26 1st Burma War
- 1842 Retreat from Kabul to Gandamak during the 1st Afghan War
Field Artillery With The Other Arms Its Employment, Illustrated From Military History, And Its RE-Armament With Quick-Firing Guns Discussed by Sir Edward Sinclair May can be viewed on Archive.org. It briefly mentions the formation in 1800 of the “experimental brigade”.
The first troop of the Bengal Horse Artillery was raised in 1800 to accompany the expedition against Napoleon in Egypt that year. The Troop's part in the retreat from Kabul is described:
- It was during this retreat that all the guns were lost, mainly due to lack of feed for the horses, which rendered them unable to drag the guns of the Battery through the deep snow and rugged mountain passes. One by one the guns were spiked and abandoned. The Captain, two officers and 102 NCO's and men were killed in the retreat, with in one case an entire gun crew perishing rather than desert their charge! 
At amalagamation 1st Troop, 1st Brigade became F Battery (Sphinx) Royal Horse Artillery.
The 2nd Troop Bengal Horse Artillery was formed on the 4th of August 1809 in Acra (Agra?). Ian Paterson's site (see References, below) states the majority of the other ranks were European and that the Battery were all mounted to ensure greater manoeuvrability, both unusual during this period. At amalagamation 1st Troop, 2nd Brigade became K (Hondeghem) Battery Royal Horse Artillery.
The Bengal Rocket Troop was raised on 13 September 1816 as a camel mounted unit under the command of Captain (later General) William Samsen Whish. The troop carried a total of 912 six pound rockets, either in buckets on camels, or horse drawn trolleys. It switched back to horses in 1817. It was re-titled 2nd Troop, 2nd Brigade Bengal Horse Artillery in 1826 (see Wikipedia for more details).
Another battery was formed as 3rd Troop (later renamed 1st Troop, 3rd Brigade) around 1809. It is now part of L (Néry) Battery RHA (see the L Battery Old Comrades Association for more details).
- See Bengal Army
- The British Indian military repository, Volume 2 by Samuel Parlby (Google Books). Situation 1822
In his memoir Forty One Years in India, Lord Roberts described his first encounter with the Bengal Horse Artillery in 1852. The text contains a description of the regiment's uniform.
From Cawnpore I went to Meerut, and there came across, for the first time, the far-famed Bengal Horse Artillery, and made the acquaintance of a set of officers who more than realized my expectations regarding the wearers of the much-coveted jacket, association with whom created in me a fixed resolve to leave no stone unturned in the endeavour
to become a horse gunner. Like the Cavalry and Infantry of the East India Company's service, the Artillery suffered somewhat from the employment of many of its best officers on the staff and in civil appointments ; the officers selected were not seconded or replaced in their regiments. This was the case in a less degree, no doubt, in the Horse Artillery than in the other branches, for its esprit was great, and officers were proud to belong to this corps d'elite. It certainly was a splendid service; the men were
the pick of those recruited by the East India Company, they were of magnificent physique, and their uniform was singularly handsome. The jacket was much the same as that now worn by the Royal Horse Artillery, but instead of the busby they had a brass helmet covered in front with leopard skin, surmounted by a long red plume,which drooped over the back like that of a French Cuirassier. This, with white buckskin breeches and long boots, completed a uniform which was one of the most picturesque and effective I have ever seen on a parade-ground.
|Bengal Horse Artillery||Royal Horse Artillery|
|1st troop, 1st brigade||became||2nd Brigade, A Battery|
|2nd troop, 1st brigade||2nd Brigade, B Battery|
|3rd troop, 1st brigade||2nd Brigade, C Battery|
|4th troop, 1st brigade||2nd Brigade, D Battery|
|5th troop, 1st brigade||2nd Brigade, E Battery|
|1st troop, 2nd brigade||5th Brigade, A Battery|
|2nd troop, 2nd brigade||5th Brigade, B Battery|
|3rd troop, 2nd brigade||5th Brigade, C Battery|
|4th troop, 2nd brigade||5th Brigade, D Battery|
|1st troop, 3rd brigade||2nd Brigade, F Battery|
|2nd troop, 3rd brigade||2nd Brigade, G Battery|
|3rd troop, 3rd brigade||5th Brigade, E Battery|
|4th troop, 3rd brigade||5th Brigade, F Battery|
- N.W. Bancroft [Nathaniel Washington] "joined the Bengal Horse Artillery as a boy recruit at the age of 9 in 1833 and served through some of the most turbulent years of British rule in India. In 1885 he published his memoirs, From Recruit to Staff Sergeant, telling of the campaigns of his career. He gives particular emphasis on the Sikh wars that culminated in the three Sutlej battles, which he describes in gory detail. His account of the actions of the artillery in the Sikh battles match with accuracy to the official accounts, giving a reliable illustration of the tactics of that time. Bancroft gives a tactile description of the sights and sounds of the battlefield, as they were seen and heard from the men on the ground". A 1979 reprint of this book is available at the British Library, UIN: BLL01010107383 . A recent reprint is available with a changed title. Also see below for a Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research article.
- Two photographs: Bengal Horse Artillery, 1860 The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
- British Napoleonic Artillery 1793-1815 (1): Field Artillery by Chris Henry, page 9 mentions the establishment of the Bengal Horse Artillery.
- Images from Brown University Library Digital Repository.
- Segt. Saml. Shaw B.H.A. 1840 pen and ink sketch.
- Bengal Horse Artillery, H.E.I.C.S., 1845 Original gouache drawing signed and dated 1889 by J. C(harlton).
- Bengal Horse Artillery officer and troops, c. 1845 watercolour.
- 1846. Bengal Horse Artillery. Trooper 1903, artist Charles Lyall (CL).
- 1846. Bengal Horse Artillery officer 1903, artist Charles Lyall (CL).
- Bengal Horse Artillery 1850 One of a collection of 4 watercolours signed by L.E.G.
- "Nathaniel Washington Bancroft" by Kenneth E. Curtis. Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research Volume 61, no 247, Autumn 1983 page 142-159. Read online for free on the website Jstor.org, subject to registration with Jstor.org, and restrictions apply. For more details about Jstor, and the restrictions, see the page Miscellaneous tips. Alternatively you may be able to log in with a Library card.
Historical books online
- Memoir of the Services of the Bengal Artillery: from the Formation of the Corps to the Present Time, with Some Account of its Internal Organization by Captain E. Buckle (1852) Archive.org mentions the establishment of the Bengal Horse Artillery and service in Egypt in 1801 from page 230
- First impressions and studies from nature in Hindostan; embracing an outline of the voyage to Calcutta, and five years residence in Bengal and the Doáb, from MDCCCXXXI to MDCCCXXXVI by Thomas Bacon, Lieut. Of the Bengal Horse Artillery 1837 Archive.org Volume I, Volume II. Also available on Hathi Trust Digital Library A and B, where the illustration pages can be rotated.
- On the topography of Meerutt, and the principal diseases which prevailed in the 1st Brigade of Horse Artillery at that place by John Murray, M.D., Assistant Surgeon, 1st Brigade Horse Artillery 1839 published Calcutta. British Library Digital Collection.
- Eight months' campaign against the Bengal Sepoy Army during the mutiny of 1857 by Colonel George Bourchier, Bengal Horse Artillery 1858 Google Books
- History of the Siege of Delhi by An Officer who served there. [William Wotherspoon Ireland, MD] 1861 Archive.org. He was Assistant Surgeon, attached to the Bengal Horse Artillery. He was wounded and retired a few years later.
- The History of the Royal and Indian Artillery in the Mutiny of 1857 by Julian RJ Jocelyn 1915 is available in a reprint edition, which in turn is available online on the Ancestry owned pay website fold3 (located in World War II/Military Books/India).
- A Sketch of the History of ‘F’ Battery Royal Horse Artillery by Major-General F. W. Stubbs and Major A. S. Tyndale-Biscoe, R.H.A. c 1905 is available in a reprint edition, which in turn is available online on the Ancestry owned pay website fold3 (located in World War II/Military Books/Britain).
- Gil the Gunner; or The Youngest Officer in the East by George Manville Fenn 1892 Archive.org. A boys’ adventure story set in the period of the Indian Mutiny
- Draw swords! : In the Horse Artillery by George Manville Fenn 1898. Archive.org. An adventure story for younger readers about a young officer in the Bengal Horse Artillery, with 8 illustrations.
- Ian Paterson's Artillery Regiments That Served With The 7th Armoured Division desertrats.org.uk. Scroll down to the section on F Battery (Sphinx) Royal Horse Artillery.
- Roberts, Field Marshal Frederick Lord, Forty One Years in India: From subaltern to commander-in-chief Volume 1 1897, p12
- United Service Magazine 1861 Part III, p607
- From Recruit to Staff Sergeant sikhbookshelf.com
- Bancroft of the Bengal Horse Artillery Leonaur Books
- History of the Royal and Indian Artillery in the Mutiny of 1857 by Julian RJ Jocelyn. Naval & Military Press reprint edition.
- Sketch of the History of ‘F’ Battery Royal Horse Artillery by Major-General F. W. Stubbs and Major A. S. Tyndale-Biscoe, R.H.A. c 1905 Naval & Military Press reprint edition.