Bengal European Artillery

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Origin and History

By 1705, the artillery at Calcutta consisted of one gunner and his crew.

In 1748, the Court determined to place the artillery at the three Presidencies of the East India Company in а much more efficient condition; heretofore this branch of the force was rather on the footing of Marine Artillery, being chiefly recruited from the Company's ships, on board of which it was occasionally employed; the detail was commanded by a Warrant Officer, designated the Master Gunner, who also performed the duties of Military Store-keeper, and his subordinates were ranked as Gunners, Quarter Gunners, and Gunners' Mates, in imitation of the naval nomenclature of the period. On June 17, 1748, the Court addressed a circular letter of the three Presidencies, ordering a Company of Artillery, on the model of that in the Royal Service, to be formed at each presidency, into which the well conducted and qualified members of the gun-room crews were to be absorbed. The three companies were under the command of a first captain, who resided where his services were most required.

Consequently, a company of artillery in the East India Company Service consisted of 116 men:

  • 1 first captain and chief engineer
  • 1 second Captain
  • 1 captain lieutenant and director of the laboratory
  • 1 first lieutenant fire-worker
  • 1 second lieutenant fire-worker
  • 1 ensign fire-worker
  • 4 sergeant bombardiers
  • 4 corporal bombardiers
  • 2 drummers
  • 100 gunners

In 1749, the Court appointed Benjamin Robins as engineer general and commander-in-chief of the artillery.

By 1751, the Bengal European Artillery consisted of one company. The same year, Robins died and was succeeded by Lieutenant-Colonel Caroline Frederick Scotts of the 29th Foot.

In 1755, Captain Jasper Leigh Jones commanded the company of Bengal European Artillery in Calcutta. In 1756, he was succeeded by Captain Witherington.

On September 19, 1758, the artillery was reorganized and formed into two companies, – the command of the first, with a general control of the whole arm, being conferred on Captain Jennings, – and the command of the second, on Captain John Broadbridge.

Service during the War

In June 1756, 45 men of the Bengal European Artillery took part in the unsuccessful defence of Calcutta.

From mid-October to December 1758, the second company of the Bengal European Artillery took part in Forde's operations in Deccan. On December 9, it fought in the Battle of Condore.

On February 25, 1759, Clive left Calcutta to come to the assistance of Mir Jafar with all his available force, including the first company of the Bengal European Artillery. In April, this force took part in the relief of Patna.

In April 1759, the second company of the Bengal European Artillery siege and capture of Masulipatam.

In October 1759, 80 men of the Bengal European Artillery took part in the operations against the Dutch in Bengal. In November, they fought in the Combat of Badara.

At the end of 1759, the first Company of Bengal European Artillery (50 men with 6 field-pieces) formed part of the British forces which took the field against Emperor Shah Alam II, under the personal command of Major Caillaud. In February 1760, this company took part in a combat in front of Patna.

In October 1760, the 1st company of Bengal European Artillery with 4 field-pieces under Captain Jennings formed part of the escort of Mr. Vansittart who went to Murshidabad to depose the Nawab of Bengal, Mir Jafar and replace him with Mir Kassim, his son-in-law.

On January 15, 1761, part of the Bengal European Artillery, under Captain Broadbridge, took part in the Combat of Suan.

Uniform

In 1756, it was ordered that the uniform of the Madras European Artillery should be of the same pattern as that of the Royal Regiment of Artillery. We can reasonably assume that the same instructions applied to the artillery companies of the Presidency of Bengal.

Privates

Uniform in 1758 - Source: Richard Couture from a template by Frédéric Aubert
Uniform Details
Headgear
Matross and gunner black tricorne edged with a narrow gold lace with a black cockade (left side)
Pioneer and miner fusilier style hat
Neckstock white
Coat blue woollen coat lined scarlet and laced and edged yellow (plain yellow worsted braid); 3 yellow buttons and 3 yellow buttonholes under the lapels (same lace as above) at the waist; 3 yellow laces at the small of the back
Collar scarlet collar tabs edged yellow (same lace as above), each fastened with a yellow button
Shoulder Straps blue epaulette edged yellow and fastened with a yellow button (left shoulder only)
Lapels scarlet half-lapels edged and laced yellow (same lace as above) with 8 yellow buttons (arranged 2-2-2-2) and 8 yellow looping around the buttonholes (same lace as above)
Pockets vertical pockets edged yellow with 6 yellow laces (same lace as above) in a chevron pattern, each with a yellow button
Cuffs scarlet (slashed in the British pattern) edged yellow (same lace as above) with 6 yellow buttons and 6 yellow buttonholes (same lace as above) in a chevron pattern on the sleeve above each the cuff
Turnbacks scarlet
Waistcoat blue edged yellow with 12 yellow buttons (arranged by pair) and 12 yellow buttonholes (same lace as above) with horizontal pockets edged yellow, each with 6 yellow buttons and 6 yellow buttonholes (same lace as above)
Breeches blue
Gaiters black with black buttons (white for parade)
Leather Equipment
Crossbelt natural leather
Waistbelt natural leather
Cartridge Box black
Bayonet Scabbard none
Scabbard black
Footgear black shoes


Fusiliers were armed with a musket and a brass-hilted sword. They also carried a dark brown haversack.

Gunners carried linstocks.

In 1770, the uniform is described as blue coar with scarlet facings, white waistcoat, white breeches, white gaiters, red leather belt, black silk stock and buff gloves.

Officers

Officers of the regiment wore the same uniforms as the private soldiers but with the following differences:

  • gold lace instead of normal lace
  • red waistcoat
  • red breeches
  • soft-topped jockey boots

Officers wore the same headgear as the private soldiers under their command but with a gold lace.

Officers of this regiment never carried spontoons. Instead, they carried fusils in the field. In the 1760s, the sword gradually replaced the fusil.

NCOs

Sergeants had a broad gold lace on their tricorne and gold looping around the buttonholes of their coat and waistcoat. They also wore a gold worsted shoulder-knot, corporals two yellow worsted knots, and bombardiers one.

Only sergeants had halberds, the corporals and bombardiers were equipped with carbines.

Musicians

According to the Royal Clothing Warrant of 1751:

The drummers of the regiment wore the royal livery. They were clothed in red, lined, faced, and lapelled on the breast with blue, and laced with the royal lace (golden braid with two thin purple central stripes).

Colours

‘’no information available yet’’

References

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

  • Broome, Captain Arthur: History of the Rise and Progress of the Bengal Army, Vol. 1, Calcutta, 1850, p. 10-250