Origin of Cavalry Squadrons & ranks of commanders

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by StumpyHussar, Apr 14, 2008.

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  1. Been recently reading a book based on letters from three 15th Hussar officers in the Pennisula war (book at home will quote tiltle later). In it the officers constantly refer to their troops never Sqn's. Also the big troop oraganisations are commanded by Cpt's and the regiment by a Major.

    I've looked for this online but still have not found any explanation as to what the freddy on this was. I've found Regimental breakdowns with number of troops laid out and passing references to Sqns but again the two do not seem to be linked as they are now. The regiment does have a Colonel (honary?) but no Lt Col commanding.

    Any clues???

    Small and confused
  2. I'll take a rough guess until I can get to my refernce books. In the Cav tactics manual it states Sqns in formation to carry out an attack, so I'm guessing the tp is an admin formation and they get grouped together for an attack. Verdette duties etc seemed to be carried out at tp level.
    Colonel would be normal for a Regtl commander as the cav regt exist as a singular entity, unlike an infantry regt that is broken down into btn groups and therefore needing subunit commanders.
  3. Stumpy read any book by Allan Mallinson and all will be explained.
  4. Not sure about the Cav, but in days gone by the basic unit was the Company or Squadron of about 100 or so men. It was commanded by a Captain which means no more than 'Boss' (as in the Captain of a ship regardless of actual rank or 'Captains of industry' etc).

    The Captain would have had a helper who was his lieutenant.

    When companies worked together as an army all the captains were commanded by a Captain General (same as the Inspector General is in charge of all the inspectors etc).

    The general would have had a helper (the lieutenant again)

    However when companies were formed into regiments this organisation would be commanded by a colonel who again had a lieutenant colonel as a helper.

    The senior captain (and there might have been a dozen of them) was then known as the 'major' captain
  5. Further back (in the English Civil Wars) a Captain raised or led a Troop of Horse. In the Parliamentarian Army these were grouped together into Regiments under a suitable Colonel, on a permanent basis. A squadron was more of a tactical grouping, usually of around 100 blokes, depending on how many men each Troop had; could have been two troops, may have been three.

    It was the same in the Foot; a brigade would be a grouping of around 1000-1500 men, made up of however many regiments (could be from 100-1000 by 1644) it took to get that number.

    What is described above sounds like a hang-over of that system.
  6. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    As somebody who will be attending the LD Association Weekend this year, I have read and enjoyed his history of the Light Dragoons several times over.

    Was in a bookshop at the weekend and discovered he has now written a whole series of "Sharpe on horseback" novels, which will be on my wish list when I have finished the complete Flashman.
  7. Currently reading 'The Pocket Hercules' by M.J. Trow, its got a few pages in there dealing with cavalry formations, troops, squadrons et all but I can`t be arrsed to find the correct pages at the moment. Based on the 'Morris Papers' concerning the career of Captain Morris of the 17th Lancers who charged with the Light Brigade at Balaclava. Its a very good read and gives a good illustration of cavalry at the time. Not much help to your question but I was so impressed with the book I thought I`d mention it :D
  8. Off topic I know Stumpy Hussar were you in Athlone Bks Sennelarger 73/4 ish.. While Fred N was RSM
  9. The Mathew Hervey novels by Mallinson are brilliant. Well researched and written, they are far superior to Sharpe.
  10. Just for Info: Taken from Barney White Spunners excellent tome covering the HCAV regimental History "Horse Guards" Macmillan 2006

    ISBN 978-1-4050-5574-1


    Attached Files:

  11. Okay thanks for your replies people. The book I was reading was 'Charging Against Napoleon' by Eric HUnt, a story of 3 officers of the 18th Hussars through the Pennisula and into Southern France. A good book but a little dry and it covers well the regiments very bad behaviour/press at the end of battle of Vitoria. (I class it as a bog book great for reading in 15 min chunks (or spurts/dribbles!))

    The impression is that I'm going to have to read a bit more to get to the bottom of this. I'm so glad that one of you didn't just post a link to a website that I couldn't find and make me look a a complete d1ckswab. That copy of the HCav formation and Tpr C Hunts info though does seem to bear out that in the Pennisula the Sqn was not a recognised unit for admin prurposes and was indeed commanded by Captains.

    Not heard of Allan Mallinson at all but will be on the lookout next time I pop over to Hay on Wye so thanks for that.
  12. No sorry chum I didn't get there till 78 and straight into NI training. Given your avatar how were you involved at that time?
  13. Troop was also the name given to the equivalent of a battery in the RHA, this changed in 1859 when Battery was adopted instead of Company and Troop. The rank of the OC changed from Capt (actually 1st Capt) to Major in 1871. This was at the time of the first of Caldwell's reforms that abolished commission by purchase in cav and inf. I think it was about this time that Troops in cav regts were renamed Sqns and their OCs became majors. The infantry retained capts as OCs of most coys until 1914 when the 8 rifle coy bn reorged into 4 rifle coys all commanded by majors (before this there had been some majors as OC).