|COLONEL ROLAND RICHARDSON
|19TH Hussars (late Bengal Cavalry)
Roland (also spelled Rowland) Richardson was the son of John Richardson of Hampstead, a solicitor, and his wife Elizabeth.
Born on the 14th of March, 1822, Roland was baptized at St. John’s on the 9th of May of that year. Roland was the brother
of Henry Cockburn Richardson of the India Civil Service and uncle of Herbert Lance Richardson of the Bengal Army.
Educated by Mr. Clery at Selkirk, Roland received the usual mathematical and classical education. Nominated a direct cadet
for the Bengal Cavalry, on the 6th of March, 1839, Roland sailed to Fort William, Calcutta on board the Malcolm. Parbury’s
Oriental Herald and Colonial Intelligencer records:
The undermentioned gentlemen are admitted to the service, in conformity with their appointment by the Hon. the Court of
Directors, as cadets of cavalry and infantry, on this establishment. The Cadets are promoted to the rank of Cornet and
Ensign, respectively, leaving the dates of their commissions for future adjustments:-
Cavalry.- Messrs. Roland Richardson, William Alexander, and Alfred Wrench, date of arrival at Fort William, 3rd August,
1839. Posted to the 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry which was then stationed at Kurnaul, Roland’s seniority date was ultimately
adjusted to the 26th of March, 1839, the date he sailed from England for India. The 3rd Light Cavalry was a distinguished
regiment that had been granted an extra Jemadar as a reward for its services at Delhi and an honorary standard bearing
the legend “Lake and Victory”. Roland’s posting to the 3rd Light Cavalry would ultimately place him at the center of one
of the most historic events of the Victorian era.
Roland was promoted Major in January of
1862, given the local rank of
Lieutenant-Colonel in India in March of 1866,
and promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in January
of 1868. He retired on the 1st of April,
1869, and as was customary was promoted
Honorary Colonel the same day.
Roland continued to be shown in the Army
Lists as a Colonel (Retired) though 1890.
Upon his retirement from the Army, Roland
returned to Kirklands, his residence in
Colonel Roland Richardson, late H.M. 19th
Hussars, died on August 25, 1890, at age 68.
He is buried in the parish cemetery in
Ancrum. Having never married, he left no issue.
Colonel Richardson’s medals are accompanied by two original letters. Roland’s original letters to his father, written during
his military career in India, are in the Manuscript Collection of the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh.
Roland served with his regiment in the Sutlej campaign of 1845 and 1846. Taking part in the actions at Buddiwal, Aliwal and
Sobraon, he was awarded the medal with the Aliwal reverse and the clasp for Sobraon. Roland was promoted to Lieutenant
on the 1st of January, 1846.
Roland was given a brevet promotion to Captain in March of 1846 and promoted Captain in September of that year. In March
of the 1855 he was one of the few HEIC officers to take part in the Eastern Campaign in the Crimea. Employed under Her
Majesty’s Government with the Turkish Contingent, he was granted the local rank in Turkey of Major and appointed first to
command a regiment, and subsequently a brigade, of cavalry under General Vivian. At the conclusion of his service with the
Turkish Contingent in May of 1856, Roland received a brevet promotion to Major and was awarded the Turkish Crimea medal
and the 4th Class Order of the Medjidie.
In May of 1857 Roland was stationed with the 3rd Light Cavalry at the large military cantonment in Meerut. On the 9th of
May, 85 sowars of the 3rd Light Cavalry were court martialed for refusing to load the new Enfield rifle due to a rumour that
the cartridges were greased with animal fat. The following day the remaining troopers of the 3rd Light Cavalry rose in open
mutiny. Joined by the sepoys of the 11th Bengal Native Infantry and the mob from the bazaar, the men of the 3rd Light
Cavalry roamed throughout the city brutally murdering any Europeans they came across. After freeing the court-martialed
troopers from the jail and having raided the treasury, the native troops marched off towards Delhi. Following the rising at
Meerut native regiments all across were soon in open mutiny.
Roland was destined to survive the rising of the 3rd Light Cavalry at Meerut and with his regiment for all practical purposes
no longer in existence, he was soon ordered to be attached to H.M. 6th Dragoon Guards, also stationed at Meerut. Taking
part with the Carabiniers in the battle of Hindun River and in the first major British victory of the Mutiny at Badli-ke-Serai,
Roland also participated in the siege and reduction of the walled city of Delhi in September of 1857, the turning point in the
British campaign to regain control of India. For his service during the Mutiny, Roland received the Indian Mutiny medal with
clasp for Delhi.
Due to the shortage of cavalry caused by the mutiny of virtually all of the Bengal native cavalry regiments, in June of 1858
five new Bengal European cavalry regiments were raised. The 1st Bengal European Light Cavalry was quartered at Allahabad
and was officered by surviving officers from the by then disbanded 1st and 3rd Bengal Light Cavalry. It was to the Right
Wing of this newly raised regiment that Roland was posted as the Mutiny began to wind down. The Crown having taken over
the government of India in November of 1858, the 1st Bengal European Light Cavalry was soon redesigned H.M. 19th Light
Dragoons and in 1859 was made available for General Service, i.e., service outside of India. Within months, the name of the
regiment was changed to H.M. 19th Hussars.