Central India, 1857-58
The 8th King’s Royal Irish Hussars were dispatched to India in great haste on the outbreak of the Mutiny in 1857.
They arrived in India on 16 December 1857 and were involved in the siege and assault on Kotah on 30 March 1858 and the ensuing pursuit that ended in the recapture of the rebels’ guns.
On 17 June a squadron of the 8th under Captain Heneage played a brilliant part in the battle of Gwalior when they were ordered two to three hundred rebel horsemen.
Crashing into the enemy at full gallop they routed them and found themselves in the rebels’ camp outside the fort of Gwalior. They cleared the camp of the enemy and took possession of three guns, but finding themselves under fire from the guns in the fort and on both flanks, they pressed on and came upon a mixed force of infantry and horsemen trying to escape into the fort.
The rebels turned to make a stand but the 8th charged again, passing right through them and capturing two more guns.
It was at this stage that the Rani of Jhansi, dressed as a man and the rebel’s best and bravest leader, was cut down by a Hussar.
The squadron was awarded four Victoria Crosses to be elected by the men, who chose:
On the 5th of September, a squadron was attached to Col Robertson’s flying column when it caught 800 Sepoys encamped near Beejapore, and attacked from both sides.
Only ‘D’ Troop took part from the 8th and, when both his officers had been disabled, Troop Sergeant Major Champion was himself wounded by a bullet. He stayed with his troop and showed great keenness in the pursuit, even shooting several of the rebels with his pistol.
He had been commended for his actions at Gwalior, and so on this occasion, Sergeant Major Champion was awarded the Victoria Cross.
In its time in India, the 8th had gone through two hot-weather campaigns, ‘H.Q.’ Troop had shifted camp 300 times and marched over 3000 miles with some of the other Troops marching close to 4000 miles.
Why not read what it was like during this time in the words of Troop Sergeant Major William Dawn.
Reaching Meerut in February 1861, there was an epidemic of cholera in which the regiment lost two officers and thirty-one men. The title of the regiment was simplified in 1861 to the 8th (The King’s Royal Irish) Hussars.
The Indian Mutiny Medal. The Indian Mutiny Medal was a campaign medal approved in August 1858, for the issue to officers and men of British and Indian units who served in operations in suppression of the Indian Mutiny.