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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Yeomanry - Peterloo massacre - Mounted horses and more !!

For sure, have heard of ‘Waterloo’ – ever heard of Peterloo – specifically the massacre !

 India is a proud  democracy – the self-rule and freedom was made possible by  many martyrs who gave us our today dating back to the Indian rebellion of 1857 – soon after the British Raj formed the modern Madras Police as part of its reforms.   The history of Police would date back to 1659 when Pedda Naik was engaged by the British to Guard the town of Madraspatanam with the assistance of peons. In 1859, a new Act marked the beginning of Modern Madras Police. The Act was also the forerunner for the Police Commission set up by the Government of India in 1906. In 1919, Diwan Bahadur Parankusam Naidu was appointed as Commissioner of Police - the first Indian to occupy the post.

Modern police departments offer their officers a wide array of ways to cruise around town. There are cops riding in Jeeps, Innovas, Hyundai cars, Bullets, Suzuki and various other vehicles – and in Chennai city they are also astride horses.  The horse units over the World are attractive, ceremonial protection for the Head of States, used in patrols, crowd control and more. Mounted police are police who patrol on horseback (equestrians) or camelback. Globally, they serve in metropolitan areas where their day-to-day function may be ceremonial, employed in crowd control because of their mobile mass and height advantage and increasingly for crime prevention and high visibility policing roles. The added height and visibility that the horses give their riders allow officers to observe a wider area.  In the UK, mounted police are most often seen at football matches, similarly at Chepauk stadium in Chennai.  By some account, Police horses were first used in London in 1760, when Sir John Fielding, the Bow Street magistrate, developed a plan to introduce mounted units in order to deal with highwaymen. Wearing red waistcoats, blue coats and trousers, the Bow Street Horse Patrol gave protection on all major roads within 20 miles of Charing Cross.

Chennai has the famous ‘Mounted battalion’ on good looking horses – and it is a treat to watch the small group canter by. Every morning they are seen on the picturesque Marina beach and on holidays when huge crowds descend on the shore – their contribution is immense. There are some women too in the battalion.  The cantering horse with police cop on top commands respect from people and crowds heed to the warning of the mounted battalion to keep away from the waters.  They love their job and their horses too.According to historian Mr Muthiah, the use of horses by the Police in Madras dates at least to 1800 when Walter Grant was appointed the Superintendent of Police.  Among the functions assigned to him was to organise mounted patrols in the city for which he had 30 mounted persons.  With Act of 1856, the strength rose to 80.

In the 1790s, following the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, the perceived threat of invasion of the Kingdom of Great Britain was high. To improve the country's defences, volunteer regiments were raised in many counties from yeomen. While the word "yeoman" in normal use meant a small farmer who owned his land, Yeomanry officers were drawn from the nobility or the landed gentry, and many of the men were the officers' tenants or had other forms of obligation to the officers. At its formation, the force was referred to as the Yeomanry Cavalry. Members of the yeomanry were not obliged to serve overseas without their individual consent.

The Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter's Field, Manchester, Lancashire, England on Monday 16 August 1819 when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand the reform of parliamentary representation.

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 there had been periods of famine and chronic unemployment, exacerbated by the introduction of the first of the Corn Laws. In 1819, political radicalism was rising in popularity because of poor economic conditions, coupled with the relative lack of suffrage in Northern England. The Manchester Patriotic Union was agitating for parliamentary reform, and they organised a demonstration in response, to be addressed by well-known radical orator Henry Hunt.Shortly after the meeting began, local magistrates called on the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry to arrest Hunt and several others on the stage with him. The Yeomanry charged into the crowd, knocking down a woman and killing a child, and finally apprehended Hunt. Cheshire Magistrates chairman William Hulton then summoned the 15th Hussars to disperse the crowd. They charged with sabres drawn, and 18 people were killed and 400–700 were injured in the ensuing confusion. The event was first labelled the "Peterloo massacre" on a front-page headline on the Manchester Observer newspaper, the portmanteau juxtaposing the name of the site with the Battle of Waterloo, which had taken place four years earlier, and the attack on unarmed civilians.

The Yeomanry Cavalry was the mounted component of the British Volunteer Corps, a military auxiliary established in the late 18th century amid fears of invasion and insurrection during the French Revolutionary Wars. A yeoman was a person of respectable standing, one social rank below a gentleman, and the yeomanry was initially a rural, county-based force. Members were required to provide their own horses and were recruited mainly from landholders and tenant farmers, though the middle class also featured prominently in the rank and file. Officers were largely recruited from among the nobility and landed gentry. The yeomanry heritage is maintained in the 21st century largely by four yeomanry regiments of the British Army Reserve, in which many 19th century regiments are represented as squadrons.

Interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
30th May 2022.  

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