British Royal Horse Artillery
created its horse artillery arm in 1793 as a means of giving
valuable heavy-gun support to its cavalry.
use of fast-moving cannons had been successfully used by
the British East India Company in India, and also by the
armies of Frederick the Great.
its artillerymen all riding into battle - on horses, wagons
or limbers - the Royal Horse Artillery was able to keep
up with the troopers it was meant to support.
began with seven troops of five guns - initially six pounders,
but later with some nine-pounder guns - and a 5.5 inch howitzer.
troop was split into three divisions of two guns and then
down to one-gun subdivisions. Each subdivision had its own
horses, ammunition wagons, gunners and support troops.
complete troop of six-pounders would total some 168 officers
and men, plus some 182 horses, while 200 men and 194 horses
were needed for a nine-pounder troop.
on campaign a troop - which usually had an alphabetical
listing from A to I - would be known by the name of its
commander. Two of the more famous being Captain Cavalie
Mercer's G Troop, courtesy of the commander's memoirs, and
William Ramsay's H Troop. Ramsay won fame at Fuentes de
Onoro when he managed to stage a breakthrough with his division
out of encircling French cavalry. He was killed at Waterloo.
Royal Horse Artillery wore light cavalry uniforms of blue
with gold lace and red facings. Their overalls were grey
with a red stripe and on their heads they wore the distinctive
Tarleton helmets. If needed, they carried 1796 light-cavalry
1806 the number of RHA troops was increased to 12 and eight
units fought at Waterloo - including Captain Whinyates'
2nd Rocket Troop, which had five six-pounder subdivisions
and a rocket subdivision at the battle.
Horse Artillery troops rode hard into battle and usually
split into two-gun divisions. They would not place the guns
side-by-side - in order to lessen the damage from any enfilade
fire - but placed one diagonally behind the other.
each gun had its own stockpile of ammunition - roundshot,
shell and cannister - reserves were kept on a wagon some
100 metres to the rear. When that was used a replacement
wagon was brought up from the troop's park.
RHA was one of the most-used British units in the Napoleonic
Wars collecting 19 battle honours and won much acclaim for
its courage and skill under heavy enemy fire. Throughout
the Napoleonic Wars it never lost one gun to the enemy despite
its proximity to the enemy.
major British invention was the Congreve Rocket, which would
shoot a barrage of 12-pounder explosives in the general
(hopefully) direction of the enemy.
accuracy was not a major success with the rockets and although
they did see action in Spain and Portugal, as well as in
Germany, they were not viewed as being particularly useful.