Hodson’s Horse 1857-1922,
by Major F. G. Cardew
The The division of the corps into three regiments was formally approved in the following
General Order by His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, dated Allahabad, the 26th August
"With the sanction of the Right Honourable & Governor-General, the Commander-in-Chief directs
the formation of the Corps of Irregular Cavalry (Hodson's), commanded by Major H. D. Daly,
into 3 Regiments of 6 Troops each, of the usual strength. "The Governor-General has further
been pleased to decide that such of the Ressaldars of the aforesaid regiment as obtained that
rank for enrolling Ressalahs, shall retain their rank, although they may be in excess of the
established proportion of that grade allowed to a regiment of irregular cavalry.
“The Commander-in-Chief is pleased to make the following appointments to these regiments :
" 1st Regiment of Hodson's Horse”.
Brevet-Major C. H. Barchard of the 25th Regiment Native Infantry to be second-in-command.
Lieutenant S. G. Warde of the 11th Regiment Native
Infantry to be Adjutant.
“2nd Regiment of Hodson's Horse.”
Brevet-Major H. A. Sarel, Her Majesty's 17th Light Dragoons, to be second-in-command."
A fortnight later appeared the following order (dated 9th September 1858):
" 3rd Regiment of Hodson's Horse.”
Brevet-Major Sir H. M. Havelock, Bart., of Her Majesty's 18th Foot to be second-in-command."
We must now return to the active services of Hodson's Horse subsequent to the lamented death
of their founder. In the week which passed between that event and the final occupation of
Lucknow the regiment was not employed in the actual attack on the city, but it formed part of a
cavalry brigade under Brigadier-General Campbell which made an attempt to cut off the
retreating rebel forces. The operations, however, were muddled and abortive, and the brigade
returned to Lucknow without having achieved much success.
Immediately after the final capture of Lucknow the following force was detailed to garrison that
place, with Major-General Sir Hope Grant in command:
Horse Artillery. Two troops.
Field Artillery. Two battalions.
Garrison Artillery. Four batteries.
Engineers. One company.
Pioneers. Three companies.
Cavalry. 2nd Dragoon Guards, 1st Sikh Cavalry, Hodson's Horse, Lahore Light Horse.
Infantry. 20th and 23rd Fusiliers, 38th and 53rd Foot,90th Light Infantry, 97th Foot, 1st
Madras Fusiliers, 27th Madras Native Infantry.
On the 11th April a portion of this force, including a squadron of Hodson's Horse under
Lieutenant Lawford, and strengthened by the 7th Hussars and the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade,
marched under General Hope Grant's personal command to attack a body of rebels under the
notorious Maulvi of Faizabad at the village of Ban. The column met with little or no opposition,
and having passed through Bari to Muhammadabad and so to Ramnagar and Bitauli, all of which
places were evacuated by the rebels as the British approached, Sir Hope Grant led his force
back on to the Cawnpore and Lucknow road, where he had one or two unimportant skirmishes in
the early part of May. On the 24th April, Grant submitted a despatch describing these
operations, in which Lieutenant Lawford was favorably mentioned. After a fortnight or so of
inaction the column again moved against the bands of rebel troops, who continued to hinder the
pacification of Oudh and to threaten the safety of the Grand Trunk road. At length, on Sunday,
the 13th June, a considerable force of the enemy, reckoned at 15,000 in number, was brought to
bay in a very strong position at Nawabganj, eighteen miles from Lucknow on the Faizabad road.
Hope Grant had left his baggage at Chinhat under a separate column and reached Nawabganj by a
night march with the following force:
Horse Artillery. One troop.
Field Artillery. Two light batteries.
Cavalry. 2nd Dragoon Guards (two squadrons), 7th Hussars, Hodson's Horse, 1st Sikh Cavalry
(one squadron), Mounted Police (one troop).
Infantry. 2nd and 3rd Battalions Rifle Brigade, 5thPunjab Rifles.
Engineers and Sappers (detachments).
The rebel position lay along a nullah which crossed the Lucknow road at right angles about four
miles from Nawabganj. The road traversed the nulIah by an old stone bridge, but some two miles
higher up was a ford which led on to the right of the enemy's line, and it was against this point
that Sir Hope Grant directed his attack. . The difficult march across country for twelve miles
from Chinhat was accomplished successfully, and the advanced guard arrived within a quarter of
a mile of the nullah about half an hour before daybreak on the morning of the 13th June. After a
short rest the passage of the nullah was forced as soon as it was light, the enemy being
completely surprised. They did not, however, yield without a gallant struggle. Whilst Sir Hope
Grant was directing the attack against the main position, a large body of the enemy moved round
the British right, expecting to find a baggage convoy to be attacked. They were met by Hodson's
Horse, a squadron of Police Horse and the 2nd Rifle Brigade, afterwards supported by Major
Carleton's battery of artillery, and were held in check despite the most desperate efforts to
break the resistance of the British force. Their attack having been successfully repulsed,
Lieutenant Mecham and Lieutenant the Honorable J. Fraser were detached with a hundred of
Hodson's Horse to attack the enemy's left, while Major Daly charged them in front. In this
maneuver Lieutenant Mecham was severely wounded while gallantly leading his men, but the enemy
were forced to retire, their retreat being hastened by the fire of Major Carleton's guns.
The attack against the enemy's main position had meanwhile been successfully pushed home under
the Major-General's personal direction. But a final effort was made by the rebels before
abandoning the field. A very large body of Ghazis with two guns advanced against Hodson's
Horse and a section of Major Carleton's battery on the British right. The onslaught of the
fanatics, led by standard bearers, was not to be checked by the small body of troops before
them; but Sir Hope Grant, seeing the danger in time, brought up the rest of the battery and the
7th Hussars, and at length the enemy finally retreated, having lost nine guns and six hundred men
Sir Hope Grant, in his despatch describing the action, mentioned the following officers: “Major
Daly, to whom I am greatly indebted for his excellent conduct in the field, and for the good
information he brought me.”. . . "Lieutenant and Adjutant Baker, Hodson's Horse, is particularly
mentioned by Major Daly for his gallantry.” . . . “Lieutenant Mecham, Hodson's Horse, who was
severely wounded in leading his squadron to the charge.” . . . “I would now report the good and
gallant conduct of Ressaldar Man Singh and Jemadar Hussain Ali, both of Hodson's Horse; the
former came to the assistance of Lieutenant Baker, and was severely wounded; the latter
dismounted and, sword in hand, cut up some gunners who remained with their guns.”
The losses of the regiment in this action amounted to three men killed, two British and two Indian
officers and nineteen non-commissioned officers and men wounded. There were also eleven horses
killed and twenty wounded.
Hodson's Horse continued to form part of Sir Hope Grant's force during the rest of the Oudh
campaign, but for three months or so after the battle of Nawabganj it had no serious engagement
with the enemy. A detachment accompanied Brigadier Horsford's column against Sultanpur
(afterwards reinforced by Hope Grant in person), and was present at the passage of the Gumti
and the occupation of Sultanpur on the 25th August; but the rebel force dispersed without
offering any considerable resistance, and the only casualty in the detachment was the loss of one
man and four horses drowned in crossing the river. Major Daly was mentioned in Sir Hope
Grant's despatch (G.O.C.C., dated 9th November 1858), and the General also brought
"particularly to notice the great assistance rendered by the Punjab Rifles and Major Daly's
corps in swimming across the artillery and 7th Hussars' horses."
The date of the last-mentioned affair brings us to the time when, as already described, Hodson's
Horse was, on Major Daly's advice, divided into three separate regiments, with Daly himself in
command of the whole. At this point therefore the narrative common to both the 1st and the 2nd
regiments, afterwards the Ninth and Tenth Bengal Cavalry, properly speaking comes to an end.
But during the guerilla warfare which continued in Oudh for some months longer detachments
from the three several units of the corps were so intermingled that it will be best to complete
the story of these operations before proceeding to deal with the separate records of the 1st and
To return therefore to the movements of Sir Hope Grant's force in the autumn of 1858, we find
a detachment of seventy sabres from the 2nd Hodson's Horse, under Lieutenant C. M.
MacGregor, taking part in an action near Dariabad on 18th September, when one sowar was
killed and eighteen of all ranks were wounded. Major Hume, commanding the column, mentioned in
terms of high praise the gallantry of Lieutenant MacGregor, who was himself severely wounded,
as well as the conduct of Ressaidar Mirza Ahmad Beg, 4th Troop, who" behaved most gallantly,
and led his men well after Lieutenant MacGregor was wounded" (G.O.C.C., 19th December 1858).
The native officer thus referred to was promoted to risaldar for his fine behavior on this
On 20th October seventy-six sabres of the 1st Regiment, under Lieutenant C. H. Palliser, formed
part of a column under Brigadier-General Horsford which attacked a considerable body of rebel
sepoys known as the Nasirabad Brigade, upwards of 4000 strong with six guns, at Daudpur on
the Sultanpur Lucknow road. The rebels did not await the attack of the British, but evacuated
their position in confusion as soon as they found their flanks threatened by General Horsford's
cavalry. They were vigorously pursued by the 7th Hussars, Hodson's Horse, and two Royal Horse
Artillery guns, and lost very heavily, while the casualties in the British force were only seven
wounded, among whom were a native officer and one man of Hodson's Horse. Lieutenant Palliser
was favourably mentioned by Brigadier Horsford in the latter's report on the operations (G.G.
O., 1858, No. 513, p. 1671).
Again on 27th October the headquarters of the corps (which had now been rejoined by
Lieutenant Palliser and his detachment) were present with Sir Hope Grant's column in an action
at Dohlpur. Here the rebels had occupied a strong position on broken ground near a small
tributary of the Gumti, named the Khandu. The enemy made but small show of resistance, but
during the difficult work of clearing the jungle-clad ravines and nullahs of lurking fugitives,
Lieutenant Palliser was shot by a sepoy concealed in the thicket, and would probably have been
killed but for the timely intervention of a Pathan sowar who accompanied him, and who, springing
from his horse, cut the sepoy down. Jemadar Man Singh, an officer of Gurkha birth, was also
among the wounded on this day.
During October and November detachments of Hodson's Horse took part in various other
skirmishes and small engagements, as for instance near Nawabganj on 10th October, at Jabrauli,
south of Lucknow (25th October), where Lieutenant Mitford was severely wounded and earned a
special mention in despatches by his gallantry, at the fort of Kuali, near Mahora (23rd
November), at Jagdispur (30th November) and elsewhere.
Meanwhile the combined movements of the Commander-in-Chief and Sir Hope Grant to drive the
rebel forces entirely out of Oudh were steadily progressing. At the end of November Sir Hope
Grant crossed the Ghaghra, having in his column the headquarters and the 1st and 2nd Regiments
of Hodson's Horse, and on the same day (25th November) engaged and routed a large force of
the enemy under the rajah of Gonda and Mehndi Husain, taking four of their guns and inflicting
on them considerable loss. Gonda was then occupied, and the combined movement northward and
westward was continued until the scattered forces of the rebels were hemmed in by the British
columns at Muhamdi, Shahjahanpur, Pilibhit, etc.
The pacification of Oudh was now almost complete. In the remaining operations a detachment of
the regiment was included in a small column under Colonel Christie of the 80th Foot, which had a
smart and successful skirmish with a rebel force at Basantpur on the 23rd December. The
detachment suffered in this affair the loss of one risaldar (Ghulam Muhammad Khan) killed, one
naib-risaldar and three men wounded, four horses killed and two wounded. On the 4th January
1859 the headquarters took part in a small skirmish near Kamdakot in the Bahraich district; and
after an interval of three months the headquarters and a wing of the 1st Regiment were present
on the 31st March in an action under Brigadier Horsford near the Jarwa Pass on the Nepal
frontier. On this occasion a mixed detachment, including thirty sabres of the 1st Hodson's Horse,
was pushed forward from Tulsipur to meet a reported inroad by the rebels. News was
afterwards received that the enemy were in greater strength than had been anticipated.
Brigadier Horsford therefore hastened on with the remainder of Hodson's Horse, and, arriving at
a critical moment, turned a threatened reverse into a success. The enemy were compelled to
retreat precipitately, and were driven back with considerable loss over the Jarwa Pass. The
casualties in the corps were one man and one horse killed, nine men and seven horses wounded.
Lieut.-Colonel Daly, C.B., was mentioned in Brigadier Horsford's despatch, and Dafadar Changan
Singh was recommended for the 1st Class Order of Merit by Lieut.-Colonel Gordon, 1st Sikh
Infantry, commanding the advanced party. This honor was awarded in G.G.O. 577 of 1859.
Finally, in the month of May 1859, the 1st Hodson's Horse took part in two small affairs on the
Oudh frontiers, the first being on the edge of the Nanpara jungle on the 2nd May, and the other,
in which a detachment of fifty sowars under Lieutenant S. G. Warde was engaged, at the village
of Lalpur, which had been raided by one of the few bands of rebels still in arms. The enemy were
driven out of the village and dispersed with some loss, the only casualty in the detachment being
one Bowar wounded.
Meanwhile detachments of the 3rd Regiment had been present at two sharp skirmishes in April,
namely, at Gonda on the 13th under Lieutenant Mecham, and at the fort of Bungaon on the 27th of
the same month, where a troop was commanded by Risaldar Fateh Singh.
On the 20th January orders had been issued for the 1st Regiment to proceed to Faizabad, and
the headquarters now marched to that place, and in June 1859 they there took up quarters in
cantonments for the first time since the formation of the regiment.
Some three months later they were again ordered to take the field and joined a column under
Colonel Brett, 54th Foot, for operations in the trans-Ghagra districts. But the regiment was
never actively engaged, and it finally returned to its quarters at Faizabad on the 4th January
Similarly the 2nd Regiment received orders to take up quarters at Gonda, where it arrived on
25th May 1859, and there it remained for the next twelve months, with an interval of some weeks
in the cold weather, during which it was employed with a column of observation under
BrigadierGeneral Holdich, C.B., on the Nepal frontier.
So ended the active services of Hodson's Horse during the Mutiny, which bitter struggle had
been the occasion of its formation, and in the progress of which the regiment, no less than its
daring leader, had earned well-merited distinction. In the course of the campaign, in addition to
the repeated recognition accorded in various despatches to Captain Hodson, and to the brevet-
majority bestowed on him just before his death, two officers, the brothers Charles and Hugh
Gough, won the Victoria Cross, and Lieutenant R. C. W. Mitford was recommended for the same
decoration; Captain Charles Gough received a brevet-majority, and it was notified that
Lieutenant C. H. Palliser would receive a brevet majority on his substantive promotion to the rank
of captain; fourteen Indian officers and twenty five non-commissioned officers and men won the
Order of Merit.
The casualties among British officers amounted to three killed and nine wounded; among Indian
officers three were killed and seven wounded.
Both the 1st and 2nd Regiments were subsequently permitted to bear on their appointments the
names "Delhi" and "Lucknow."