Officers on horseback

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Officers on horseback

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 30 Jan 2015 11:09

Stupid question but what was the requirement for infantry officers and horses by the outbreak of rebellion in Egypt? Were all officers expected to ride horses during campaign or would it have been a case as to whether an officer could afford one or not?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby zerostate » 31 Jan 2015 00:44

No. The CO and 2IC were always mounted, and I would have expected the adjutant, the MO, and maybe the QM |(as they were later), to be mounted also (but not sure in your year). Other officers were were not usually mounted.

Chris

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby mike snook » 31 Jan 2015 02:07

The OC (not really called the 'CO' at this time, though this was about the time of the informal transition), the wing commanders, (2 x majors) and the adjutant had government horses (or more accurately allowances for them). Nobody else did, because they were not officially mounted officers. In practice all the company commanders would also have had privately owned horses for use on the line of march, and gadding about the countryside, but not in battle, when their place on was foot in accordance with the infantry drill. No such thing as a '2IC' either Chris. You mean the senior major!

All officers could afford horses.

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Mike
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby zerostate » 31 Jan 2015 02:48

I did mean the senior major. Thanks Mike!

When you say all company commanders, were the horses shipped at government expense or personal, or bought in theater? I ask because I honestly don't know (I'm more interested in home service) so this is new to me.

Chris

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby mike snook » 31 Jan 2015 23:53

Hi Chris

Horses would generally be bought in theatre (certainly In India and South Africa). The correspondence of officers with their families is typically full of news about them buying or selling horses. It was possible to ship horses, of course, by the regiment, for landing on a hostile shore; eg. the intervention in Egypt, Crimea. But they are fragile things: all very well for the government to bear the loss of officially sanctioned horses, but it wouldn't make much sense for officially dismounted officers (ie all except the ones listed above) to risk losing a horse for which they would not be entitled to compensation. Hence they bought horses on arrival.

Some horses were much loved and were exceptions to the rule: Sir Harry Smith's horse 'Aliwal', for example, which he rode in India and as Governor of the Cape, and eventually brought home with him after he was fired from South Africa. I understand that it was not unknown for Aliwal to be brought into the dining room at Smith's when he was entertaining and for it to be toasted by the guests. But then Sir Harry was 'different'. I think he shot Aliwal (who he obviously adored) himself. Men were men in those days!

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby zerostate » 01 Feb 2015 01:44

Thank you very much Mike... I thought 'in theatre' would be the general option, but didn't know for sure... And I love the colour you have added.

Thanks,
Chris.

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby Josh&Historyland » 01 Feb 2015 13:44

Must have been hard to do. Smith as you say must have adored the creature, but that is what a man who loved his horse would do, if it was in pain, did Aliwal contract a disease?

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby mike snook » 01 Feb 2015 15:59

I think he was just getting too old Josh and also I seem to remember they were 'downsizing' at home and it was choice of putting the horse out to grass with somebody else, or calling it a day for the poor old beast. The horse I mean, not Sir H!

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby Josh&Historyland » 01 Feb 2015 18:28

Putting Sir H out to grass! Disaster, one of the few proficient general officers the army had between 1820 & 50! (In Allan Mallinson's books, which I recollect feature a vignette of Smith, his protagonist makes it a point of honour to put his horses down, one must assume it was that way for Sir Harry)

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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby Atheling » 02 Feb 2015 09:56

mike snook wrote:The OC (not really called the 'CO' at this time, though this was about the time of the informal transition), the wing commanders, (2 x majors) and the adjutant had government horses (or more accurately allowances for them). Nobody else did, because they were not officially mounted officers. In practice all the company commanders would also have had privately owned horses for use on the line of march, and gadding about the countryside, but not in battle, when their place on was foot in accordance with the infantry drill. No such thing as a '2IC' either Chris. You mean the senior major!

All officers could afford horses.

Regards

Mike


Hopefully this is not OT!

The info provided very useful for my Sudan project as I'll be depicting more than one or two officers marching. It's interesting to note that the 'lower' officer ranks dismounted for combat as this will certainly enhance the drama on the basing.

A good and perhaps, at least to me, interesting question- mind, I have just got up after rather a late night (no port and cigars- just plain old blogging!).

Darrell.
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby grumpy » 02 Feb 2015 12:27

Interesting: quote

In practice all the company commanders would also have had privately owned horses for use on the line of march, and gadding about the countryside, but not in battle, when their place on was foot in accordance with the infantry drill.

I wonder when the transition to company commanders being officially mounted began. It was certainly the case when the BEF went to war in 1914. I understood the logic to include improved vision in addition to mobility but one might expect this requirement to exist before 1914. Perhaps the double-company? Whereas I have a long list of War Establishments going well back, I was not that fussed about horses!
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby grumpy » 03 Feb 2015 12:28

Further to the matter of which officers of infantry were officially horsed, "Scarlet into Khaki" tells me that the 1898-ish unit company commanders were not provided with a government nag.

Strong suggestion then that the four-company change of 1913/14 brought the change about.
I will ask on the GWF.
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby grumpy » 03 Feb 2015 13:03

Quote:

No such thing as a '2IC' either Chris. You mean the senior major!

Army Order 126 of 1896, quoting a Royal warrant, abolished "senior major" and created "2IC", which became an appointment carrying extra pay. As it was an appointment it was possible to be 2IC whilst junior to others.

Clearly this did not play well because AO 154 of 1906 reversed the decision.

By 1914 the Pay warrant has Senior major of infantry drawing an extra 1/- per day.

However AO 472 of 1914 decreed that the New Army battalions would have a 2IC by selection .............

Clearly a MAJOR bone of contention.
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 03 Feb 2015 14:12

Thanks everyone for the fantastic replies. Mike as ever your posts make excellent reading.

One question though, you say all officers could afford horses. If an officer was from a humble background or had been promoted from the ranks would he be able to afford a horse? Also if a regiment was on campaign and had to march from point A to point B and then fight a battle are you saying that whilst marching all the officers would ride a horse but in battle they wouldn't aside from the CO and his second in command?

Thanks in advance :-)
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Re: Officers on horseback

Postby grumpy » 03 Feb 2015 15:02

It is far from simple. The 1871 War establishment has one Lt Col and two majors officially mounted, for example.
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