|REGIMENTAL SERJEANT MAJOR
|4th European Light Cavalry
(Late Bengal Horse Artillery)
Please note: Michael Doolan’s Sutlej medal for Sobraon with engraved naming (Believed to be a replacement for his
original Sutlej medal lost during the Indian Mutiny, Named to Sergt. Michael Doolan, 2nd Troop, 2nd
Brigade Horse Art.) was sold as part of lot #64 of the 25 November 1992 Glendining’s auction. I have been searching
for this medal for some time in order to reunite it with his Indian Mutiny medal. I will gladly pay above market price
for this medal or for Michael Doolan’s Punjab medal.
Michael Doolan was a native of Dunkearn (Dunkerrin), Roscrea, County
Tipperary, Ireland. On the 13th of June 1837, he attested at Liverpool, England
for unlimited service in the Honorable East India Company's Artillery. He was
then described as being age 24, five feet seven inches tall, with black hair and
blue eyes. His complexion was described as sallow and his face as oval shaped.
His previous occupation was stated to have been as a laborer.
Michael joined the EIC Recruit Depot at Brompton Barracks, Chatham, on 26
June 1837 and was allocated to the Bengal Artillery. He embarked for India
aboard the EIC Transport “Cornwall” on 8 August 1837, disembarking at Calcutta
on 17 December 1837.
Upon arrival at Calcutta, Michael was assigned regimental number 506 and posted
as a Gunner in the 1st Troop, 3rd Brigade, Bengal Horse Artillery. In 1847 he is
shown on the muster roll for the Bengal Artillery as then serving with the 2nd
Troop, 2nd Brigade, Bengal Horse Artillery.
The Bengal Horse Artillery was an elite unit within the parent corps of the
Bengal Artillery. Nicknamed the “Red Men”, they manned the lightest of guns.
Unlike the horse artillery in the Madras and Bombay armies, the gunners of the
Bengal Horse Artillery rode on the back of the teams of horses pulling the guns
with only sergeants being separately mounted. Trained to always move at the
gallop, they were at the forefront in the battles in which they fought
For the Sutlej campaign of 1845-46, Michael appears on the medal roll as a Sergeant in the 2nd Troop, 2nd Brigade
Bengal Horse Artillery, receiving a no clasp Sutlej medal with the Sobraon reverse. His Sutlej medal was sold as part of
Lot 64 in the Glendining’s Auction of 25 November 1992.
On the medal roll for the Punjab campaign, Michael again appears as a Sergeant in the in 2nd Troop, 2nd Brigade, BHA,
and is shown having received a Punjab medal with clasp for Goojerat. He is listed on the medal roll as Sgt. Michael Doolim,
but this was corrected in pencil to Doolan. However, as Michael’s Punjab medal, like his Sutlej medal, has become
separated for his Mutiny medal, it is unknown which spelling was actually used in the naming on his Punjab medal.
Michael Doolan transferred to the Bengal Town Major’s List (later called the Bengal Unattached List) as a Sergeant on
the 11th of April 1849. The Town Major’s List was largely composed of senior soldiers such as Sergeants, Warrant
Officers, Honorary Lieutenants and officers with only local rank. The function of the men on the Town Major’s List was
to operate the so-called support services such as the Commissariat Department, Ordinance Department, etc. No records
have been located which identify Michael’s duties while serving on the Town Major’s List.
On the 6th of February 1857, at Cawnpore, India, Michael Doolan married Sarah Hall, who was described as a European
widow. Michael is shown in the parish marriage records as a Quarter Master Sergeant, then serving with the 1st Irregular
Cavalry, also known as Skinner’s Horse making it a safe assumption that Michael was no longer attached to the Town
Major’s List at the time of his marriage.
Within three month after Michael’s marriage to Sarah, their world was to be turned upside down when the Indian Mutiny
erupted on 10 May 1857 at the military cantonment at Meerut. During the Mutiny Michael served as a Staff Sergeant
with the Lahore Light Horse. In March of 1858 Michael took part in the final reduction of the city of Lucknow but it
is not known with what unit he was then serving. Transferring before the end of hostilities to the 4th European Light
Cavalry as Regimental Sergeant Major, Michael received the Indian Mutiny medal with clasp for Lucknow named to that
Michael was admitted to pension on 29 1859, as the hostilities of the Indian Mutiny were winding down. At the time of
his admission to pension, he was still serving as the Regimental Sergeant Major of the 4th Light Cavalry. Pursuant to
Governmental General Order 673, Michael received a pension from the East India Company of 2s 6d per day, subsequently
raised to 2s 9d per day, payable to him in the UK. In his pension record his conduct was listed as “Excellent”, his trade as
“laborer “and his intended place of residence as Dunkearn (Dunkerrin), Roscrea.
In May of 1860, pursuant to an act of the House of Commons, in the Home Accounts of the Government of India, additional
pensions were awarded to certain named individuals for services performed during the Indian Mutiny. In addition to his
military pension, for his exemplary services during the Indian Mutiny, Michael Doolan was granted an honorary pension
of 27£ 7s 6d per annun.
Irish census records for 1896 reflect Army pensioner Michael Doolan living in Dublin. At that time, Michael would have
been 83 years old. No other records concerning Michael Doolan have so far come to light.
[India Office Records: L/MIL/9/31 Artillery Recruits 1831-38; L/MTL/l0/22 Bengal European Soldiers 1793-1839;
L/MIL/l0/181 Bengal Musters 1859;L/MIL/5/70, pg. 362 Sutlej medal roll; L/MIL/7/72 f43v Punjab medal roll; Irish
Records Index, 1500-1920, Film 101021, Section 4]