A History of the British Cavalry 1816-1919, by The Marquess of Anglesey, Volume 3: 1872-1898

A History of the British Cavalry 1816-1919, by The Marquess of Anglesey, Volume 3: 1872-1898

Published by Pen and Sword in 2004, 478 pages. Hardback with Dust Jacket (N8070)

Brand New Book

From the front inside fly leaf: Ironically the nearer the mounted branch of the army approached the day of its extinction, the more professional became its officers, its men, its arms and equipment. This aspect of the British cavalry in the 1870s, 1880s and 1890s is well brought out-in this the third and central volume of Lord Anglesey's definitive eight-volume history.

It covers the high noon of the British Empire, beginning with the Zulu war of 1879 and ending with Kitchener's River War nineteen years later. Between those two conflicts came the second Afghan War and the catastrophe of Maiwand; the First Boer War of 1881; Wolseley's Egyptian campaign of 1882; which ended in the occupation of Cairo and his Nile campaign of 1884-1885, which failed to rescue Gordon from Khartoum. Also described in some detail is the cavalry's part in the neglected but highly interesting campaigns against Osman Digna in the Eastern Sudan.

Not the least absorbing aspects of these 'small wars' brought out in this book are the increasing use in them of mounted infantry and the slowly dawning realisation that the rapidly improving fire­power of small arms was making traditional cavalry practices obsolescent.

Lord Anglesey peppers his fast-moving accounts of the numerous engagements with short biographical sketches of many of the leading cavalrymen of the day: such men as Colonel Burnaby of the Blues whose ebullient, eccentric career was cut short at Abu Klea; Valentine Baker Pasha, convicted of assaulting a young lady in a railway carriage; Herbert Stewart who was Wolseley's right hand man, and the up and corning leaders such as Evelyn Wood, Redvers Buller, the young Douglas Haig and 'Wully' Robertson.

Readers of this volume will also find a compelling picture of what social life in the mounted branch was really like during the final decades of the Queen Victoria's reign. This is based upon evi­dence culled from a wide range of sources, includ­ing a number of hitherto unpublished letters and diaries as well as upon a large number of Government Blue Books and other reports.

The effects upon cavalry officers of Cardwell's abolition of purchased commissions and upon the rank and file of his introduction of short service are fully explored. So too are the problems connected with keeping up the Empire's military strength over­seas, especially in India, under the system of volun­tary enlistment and in the face of parliamentary parsi­mony.

Lord Anglesey demonstrates that there was a great deal more to the British cavalry than its alleged role in war of lending tone to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl....