Madras European Cavalry

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Hierarchical Path: Seven Years War (Main Page) >> Armies >> British Army >> Madras European Cavalry

Origin and History

In September 1746, after the capitulation of Madras to a French force, the Government of the East India Company on the Coast of Coromandel immediately began to raise troops, including European cavalry.

The European cavalry never rose above the strength of a squadron, and were not maintained for more than a few years. They were found very useful and efficient, but too expensive. With the exception of a few horse hired from time to time, there were no Native Cavalry in service of the Government of Madras at this period. Native cavalry were not raised until 1784.

In January 1748, the Government of Madras (present-day Chennai) resolved to raise a small body of European Cavalry and authorised the purchase of 100 horses. The duty of forming and disciplining this troop of horse was entrusted to Lieutenant James Kilpatrick, who had served in the cavalry in England. In August and September, this body of cavalry served under Admiral Boscawen during the siege of Pondicherry (present-day Puducherry).

In October 1748, the establishment of the Madras European Cavalry was fixed at 118 officers and men:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 captain-lieutenant
  • 2 lieutenants
  • 2 cornets
  • 5 sergeants
  • 5 corporals
  • 1 quartermaster
  • 1 trumpeter
  • 100 privates

By December 1749, the number of men of the cavalry troop had fallen to 30.

In December 1752, the establishment of the troop of cavalry was revised. It now consisted of:

  • 1 lieutenant
  • 2 sergeants
  • 2 corporals
  • 1 drummer
  • 30 troopers

The Madras European Cavalry in existence at the end of 1752 appears to have been reduced some time before 1758.

Service during the War

In August 1758, an order was issued directing the formation of a troop of cavalry consisting of:

  • 1 captain-lieutenant
  • 1 lieutenant and quartermaster
  • 1 farrier
  • 1 sergeant
  • 3 corporals
  • 1 drummer
  • 30 privates

From December 1758 to February 1759, this troop of the Madras European Cavalry served in the garrison of Fort St. George during the Siege of Madras.

In October 1759, orders were issued directing that the Madras European Cavalry should be augmented to 100 privates by drafts from the Madras European Infantry, and that two troops of 50 privates each should be formed. However, these is no indication that this order was carried out.

On January 22, 1760, a body of 80 men of the Madras European Cavalry was present at the Battle of Wandewash. This body included about 45 men of Captain De Beck's troops of foreign deserters, so the troop of English Cavalry did not exceed 40 men.

From 1761 to 1763, there appear to have been two troops of horse, and one troop of foreign hussars, which averaged about 60 men each. Each of the troops of horse was officered by:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 first lieutenant
  • 1 second lieutenant
  • 1 cornet
  • 1 quartermaster

The hussars were officered by:

  • 1 captain
  • 1 lieutenant
  • 1 cornet

About the end of 1761, a troop of cavalry arrived from England, but not being required at Madras, it was sent on to Bengal early in 1762.


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This article contains texts from the following sources, which are now in the public domain:

  • Anon. The History of the Madras Army, Vol. 1, 1801, pp. 6, 24, 37, 106, 138, 171