Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics

British Artillery Companies and the Men Who Led Them – 1793 to 1815

By Steve Brown

This series aims to shine a light on those colonels, lieutenant-colonels, majors (and occasionally even captains) who commanded the British Army’s most professional arm in the period 1793 to 1815 – the artillery regiments. I have chosen to cover the entire period from 1793 until 1815 (and beyond, until 1819 in some cases) as this is the generally accepted range of the ‘Napoleonic Wars’. This name is, of course, a misnomer, since Napoleon was a mere junior officer at the start of it all.

Officers of the Royal Regiment of Artillery were a patient lot; they needed be. Promotion was a long, slow shuffle forward, unencumbered by the purchase prospects of infantry and cavalry officers. Take, for example, the career of Vaughan Lloyd, Colonel Commandant of the RHA in 1801; born in Wales in 1736, 2nd Lieutenant at age 20, 1st Lieutenant at age 23, Captain at 38, Major at 46, Lieutenant-Colonel at 57, Major-General at 62, Colonel Commandant at 65, Lieutenant-General at 69, General at 78; dead aged 81. This career path was far from unique; remember that infantryman Wellesley was (largely thanks to purchase) a Lieutenant-Colonel at age 23 and a Major-General at 35!

The flip side to all this was that a career in the Royal Artillery was a job for life; it weeded out the unprofessional and the flighty. Captains commanding batteries (brigades, companies or troops) usually had 20 years solid experience when appointed – and virtually all of it spent within the confines of a relatively small and stable group of like-minded officers, with vastly experienced mentors.

Formal battle honours are not shown; the Royal Regiment of Artillery refers to ‘Ubique’ (‘Everywhere’) as its battle honour. A Regimental Order (published in 1833) stated that the word ‘Ubique’ was to be substituted in lieu of all other terms of distinction, throughout the whole regiment.

I have steered away from adding information about regimental nicknames, mottos, badges, goats etc. as this information is widely available from a number of other sources;  the books by Chichester & Burges-Short, Sutcliffe and McKenna as excellent examples.

For brevity I have generally started biographies from the point that the individual reached field officer rank, usually major; although I have deliberately added biographies for better-known Waterloo battery commanders who subsequently went on to higher rank.

 

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2012, last updated December 2016

 

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