The John Company

Honourable East India Company

and the Mutineers in 1857




Background Notes for

Skirmish Wargames and Role Play Games

set in the Indian Mutiny

1857 - 1858

(part 2)


Alan Hamilton


By 1857 the Honourable East India Company (HEIC) was trading concern in name only.  More than 250 years previous a small cabal of “Governors and Company of Merchants trading to the East Indies” had gained a charter from Queen Elizabeth I of England. In this way the Company surrendered its right of trade to the Crown and, by way of compensation, became the great landlord of India and the great tax collector.  Through the person of the Governor General the Company held dominion over 838,000 square miles, 48,000,000 subjects and 200 potentates. 

During the 1780s the power of the HEIC had grown so much that it disturbed the British Government.  As a result, the Charter was renewed but on much less favourable terms.  From this time, a Board of Control, whose President was a Cabinet Minister, was established to oversee the Directors’ political policy.  The Company was now only a front, a name, for this Board which, to all intents and purposes, held India.

In commercial terms the great years were over.  In Clive’s day the dividends had risen to 12.5% and had been held at 10.5% for ten years.  Clive’s annual profit of over £1,250,000 had since, frequently, slumped below £275,000.  Shares now paid a dividend of power not financial profit.  Directors could appoint salaried staff posts in London to their family and friends.  These posts were, illegally, for sale despite the fact that under the Charter Act of 1853 the covenanted service was to be entered only by examination.

The lack of competition and assured or purchased places of the clerks stifled initiative and the “frontier spirit”.  These abuses of the “John Company” hardly troubled the majority of its officials.  It was still possible to amass a substantial fortune of £30,000 a considerable fortune at the time.  It was sufficient to allow him to be able to retire comfortably at 45 and live, with his family, in comfort.

As a result of these abuses and the excesses of the individuals, the Company spent less in 14 years on the infrastructure of India than Manchester City spent on piped water in the same period.  Until 1853 some 40% of appointments were the direct result of nepotism.  The high starting salary of £300 per annum gave youngsters the idea that India was a birthright not a responsibility.  Out of an annual revenue of £28,000,000 all but £2,000,000 was swallowed up by official salaries.

Even the few conscientious officers in the eight hot months put in barely one hour of work per day.  At any given time half of the Officers of a Company Regiment would be away from Regimental duty.  They would be on leave or seconded to civil duties perhaps created by the annexation of territory.  These annexations were mainly the result of Lord Dalhousie’s policies over the previous 8 years.  The Punjab, Sattara and Nagpur as well as others made up a total of 250,000 square miles which fell to the Company.  The annexation of Nagpur was very badly and insensitively handled with the Royal Family’s jewels being ignobly sold at public auction in Calcutta.

One of the greatest single areas annexed was Oudh (now Uttar Pradesh).  This area had been and still was a major recruiting ground for the Army of the Bengal Presidency.  The high caste Brahmins in particular made up a substantial proportion of the Infantry.  Before their homeland was annexed they enjoyed many privileges, not the least of which was their access to British courts in settling disputes.  The annexation gave this right to everyone and so they felt a grievance against the British.


In the early days the Company army was mainly one of mercenaries.  These men were mostly of low caste and without prejudices.  Other sources included Afghan and Turkish adventurers and their children.   Generally their background suited them to the rigours of campaign and provided a good fighting stock.

As the newly acquired territories settled down the civil authorities wanted the army to have a stake in the country.  They started to actively seek recruits from amongst the yeoman peasantry and the sons of the larger land owners.  In the Bengal Presidency, these were the agricultural Brahmins of Oudh who substantially outnumbered the priestly Brahmins.  The result was that the average sepoy in the army of Bengal was a high caste Brahmin.  To a lesser extent this applied to the armies of Madras and Bombay.

The Company Army of 1857 comprised:

Type of unit




European Horse Artillery Brigades




Native Horse Artillery Troops




European Foot Artillery Battalions




Native Foot Artillery Battalions




Engineer Corps




Light Cavalry Regiments




Irregular Cavalry Regiments




European Infantry Battalions




Corps of Guides




Native Infantry Regiments




Irregular Native Infantry Regiments (includes Punjabis)




Local Militia Battalions




Camel Corps




Oudh Irregular Artillery Batteries




Oudh Irregular Cavalry Corps




Oudh Irregular Infantry Regiments




In addition there were several allied contingents:


Artillery Batteries

Cavalry Regiments

Infantry Battalions













The contingents from Kotah, Bhopal, Jodhpur and Shekawatti had a variable composition.  The Jodhpur Legion had at one time 1 detail of artillery, 3 risallahs of cavalry and a battalion of 8 companies of infantry. 


 Bengal Light Cavalry (Native)

The regular Bengal Light Cavalry were “Light” in name only.  They were trained and mounted in the same manner as “heavy” or shock cavalry.  However, as befitted a frontier force they were also trained in skirmishing and patrolling - the traditional role of the light cavalryman.  Some sources indicate that, during the Mutiny, there were units of European Light Cavalry.  Whether these were actual cavalry squadrons and regiments or groups of Officers from mutinied regiments is not clear.  The Military Train did, however, provide a considerable and effective cavalry force.

The Light Cavalry regiment had 24 European Officers and 400 Native officers and men organised into a headquarters and 6 troops each of about 60 troopers.  The HEIC provided all native ranks with uniforms, arms, equipment and mounts. 

Their uniform was a short braided jacket of  French Grey, a light blue grey colour, with white lace and silver buttons.  The overall trousers were of a similar colour with a single strip of white lace on the outer seams.  The collar and cuffs were orange edged with white in all but one Regiment which wore black. 

Over the left shoulder was worn a white leather crossbelt with a black cartridge box at the back.  A dark blue peakless kilmarnock cap with a white band completed the uniform. The saddles were covered, on campaign, by black sheepskins.  The saddle valise was dark blue. 

The cavalry horses were superbly trained and on  field days they carried out a series of intricate exercises.  One of these was a spectacular charge upon a formed red coated native infantry square.  In action this high level of training turned out to be a disadvantage.  The horses acted as they had been trained and broke left and right around the red coated mutineer squares as was their custom, leaving the mutineers unaffected.  However, at Kalee Nuddee, an untrained horse in the first line did charge home on the mutinied 41st Bengal Native Infantry square and despite being killed crashed into the infantry ranks to create a gap in the wall of bayonets.  The second line, the 9th Lancers, charged the gap, broke in and wiped out the mutineers.

Native Cavalry Ranks

                Rissaldar Major    Senior Native Officer

                Rissaldar             Native Officer

                Duffadar Major     Sergeant Major

                Duffadar              Corporal of Horse (Sergeant)

                Kot Duffadar        Junior NCO

                Sowar                 Trooper

 Irregular Cavalry

 An irregular cavalry regiment was established at 3 European Officers, about 20 Native Officers and 400 soldiers.  These were organised into 6 troops in the same way as the regulars.  The irregular sowars were recruited under the silladar system which gave a higher rate of pay than the regulars.  However, all ranks, even the sowars, had to provide their own horse.  Furthermore, they had to buy their uniform and equipment from the regimental contractors and in this way uniformity was ensured. 

The Indian Registers and lists tell us that all 18 of the Irregular Cavalry regiments wore red tunics faced in blue with white lace.  On the other hand pictorial evidence and Cardew suggest a different state of affairs. 

1st Skinner’s Horse

                Copper tawah, skull cap (with chinscales) kept on by a turban

                Yellow alkalak (tunic).

                Red trousers

                Yellow and red saddle cloth

2nd Gardner’s Horse

                Green alkalak faced in red with silver lace

                Red trousers

                Percussion Carbines

3rd Rohilla Horse

                Scarlet alkalak faced blue with gold lace

                Red over blue lance pennon             

                Fez type head dress or turban

                Red and blue saddle cloth and harness

                (Partial mutiny at Saugur in 1857)

4th Local Horse (the “Yellow Boys”)

                Yellow alkalak faced yellow

                Yellow turban with polished steel tawah

                Yellow lance pennon

                Red trousers

5th Irregular Horse

                Red Alkalak faced dark blue with silver lace

                White jabot, lace tie, white cross belt

                Crimson cummerbund

                White turban

                Dark blue trousers

                (Mutinied in 1857)

6th Irregular Horse

                Red alkalak with blue collar and cuffs

                Gold lace on collar, cuffs and chest

                Gold cross belt with blue central cord

                White breeches and black boots

                Red and yellow saddle cloth

7th Irregular Horse

                Red uniforms with gold lace

8th Irregular Horse

                Red uniforms with gold lace

9th Irregular Horse

                Yellow turban striped blue

                Red Alkalak with yellow lace

                Blue cummerbund

                Black crossbelt

                Yellow/buff breeches

                High jackboots

                Red and yellow saddle cloths and harness

                Red over blue lance pennon               

10th Irregular Horse

                Green uniforms with silver lace

11th Irregular Horse

                Scarlet uniform with gold lace

12th - 18th Irregular Horse all mutinied and information scarce.  There were several campaign medals issued to the 12th but not enough remained loyal for the Regiment to be reformed afterwards.

Bundelkhand Legion

                Blue uniforms faced scarlet with gold lace

                yellow and red turban

                yellow crossbelt with red cord.

 Scinde Irregular Horse

                Crimson turban and sash

                Dark green alkalak and trousers

                High black boots

                Red saddle cloth

 The Corps of Guides

                Khaki native style dress (this was a drab greyish brown colour)

                Red turban

                Brown leatherwork

 1st Punjab Cavalry

                Dark blue alkalaks with silver lace

                Scarlet turban and sash

 2nd Probyn’s Cavalry (later Sam Browne’s)

                Red alkalak

                Dark blue turban

 3rd Cavalry

                Blue koorta with scarlet facings

                Dark Blue turban

                Red sash

                Yellow trousers

                Blue over white lance pennon

 4th Cavalry

                Dark green koorta with scarlet facings

 5th Multani Horse

                Dark green alkalak with scarlet facings with gold lace

                Scarlet turban and sash

 Hodson’s Horse

                White alkalak

                Scarlet turban, sash and facings

 Horse Artillery

On summer campaign the Bengal Horse Artillery (BHA) wore a white uniform with a tropical helmet.  As the campaign progressed, in common with other units, khaki replaced the white.  At this period there was no defined colour or shade for khaki, the staining agent ranged from vegetable dyes to cold tea to curry powder to any local concoction.  Thus it was that the shade ranged from greyish stone through light brown to what we would now describe as khaki.

Immediately following the mutiny at Meerut the BHA deployed for pursuing the mutineers in its winter uniform of brass helmets and dark blue dress tunics with red cuffs and collar laced in yellow.  This lasted about a mile or so.  The gunners were ordered to cut off the high collars because of the heat.

The summer uniform was made up of a short white shell jacket with pointed cuffs and plain white overall trousers.  Headdress was a white roman style tropical helmet or peakless forage cap covered in white cloth to resemble a turban.  White pouch belts were worn with black pouches.

The guns would often advance to about 250 yards range for canister.  Each charge, according to witnesses, left a lane of bodies four to five yards wide.

Field Artillery

The  Bengal Field Artillery wore similar whites to the Horse Artillery.  Their shell jacket had a cord on the left shoulder to keep the pouch belt in place.  Illustrations show a variety of forms of dress in the soldiers serving the guns.  These variations reflected which items of uniform remained servicable: dark trousers, shirt sleeves, peaked and peakless caps swathed in white cloth with or without neck curtains.

Many of the gunners in the 3 native artillery battalions (7th, 8th and 9th), each of 6 companies, mutinied.  Those remaining loyal were allowed to take an honourable discharge or be transferred to other non-artillery units.     

Native Artillery Ranks

                Subedar Major        Senior Native Officer

                Subedar                 Captain

                Jemadar                 Lieutenant

                Havildar Major         Sergeant Major

                Havildar                   Sergeant

                Naik                        Section NCO (Corporal)

                Golundaz                 Gunner

Engineers and Sappers and Miners

The Corps of Engineers comprised only officers.  The rank and file for engineering tasks came from the units involved (artillery or infantry usually) or from the sappers and miners.  The Officers wore scarlet dress uniforms faced in blue with dark blue trousers with a broad red stripe.  Blue patrol jackets were common as were a wide variety of white and khaki forms of dress. 

The Sappers and Miners wore scarlet tunics faced blue with dark blue trousers  with a red stripe down the outside seam.  Head dress was a dark blue turban with a yellow fringe and red kullah, an alternative shown is a dark blue forage cap.  In summer light coloured clothing of white or khaki was worn. 

Bengal European Infantry (Fusiliers)

There were three battalions of Bengal Fusiliers at the start of the Mutiny.  Another three are said, by some sources, to have been raised but details of actions and uniforms are scarce.  They all wore scarlet full dress tunics faced in blue for the 1st and 2nd and white for the 3rd.  On campaign they wore grey shirts and white covered forage caps. 

The 1st, at least, had a Rifle Company which could well have worn rifle green uniforms.  This was the common practice with Native Infantry Battalions.

The common drill was for one volley to be fired followed by independent loading and firing.

Madras European Infantry (Fusiliers)

The 1st Madras Fusiliers or “Neill’s Blue Caps” which formed part of Havelock’s mobile column wore loose white jackets and trousers.  Some illustrations show the soldiers wearing dark blue trousers with a thin red stripe on the seam.  Their shakos and caps were covered in blue cloth with a neck curtain.  The actual shade of blue soon faded in the prevailing weather conditions.

Bengal Native Infantry

Bengal Native Infantry uniforms were scarlet with regimental facings and dark blue trousers.  However, whites and khaki uniforms were worn on campaign in hot weather.  Sometimes, the dhoti was worn instead of trousers.  Several battalions had a Rifle Company in addition to or instead of a light company.  The rifle companies were often dressed in rifle green uniforms.  Shakos, forage caps with or without covers were worn as the occasion demanded.  Loyal Madras infantry wore blue round topped shakos and the rifles black turbans.

Facing Colours


Bengal Regiments

Madras Regiments


1, 5, 9, 11, 12, 20, 22, 24, 55, 56

1, 13, 17, 29, 30, 45, 46, 47, 51


2, 4, 8, 21, 41, 42, 47, 48, 53, 54, 61-70, 72-74


Light Yellow


8, 32, 33, 43, 44

Bright Yellow


12, 49, 50


36, 37


Dark Green

6, 7, 10, 13, 19, 23, 28, 29, 38, 39, 45, 46, 51, 52

2, 3, 9, 11, 20, 23, 25, 26, 31, 34, 39-42

Willow Green



Saxon Green

59, 60


Pea Green

43, 44



14, 16, 30, 31, 49, 50

6, 14, 22, 38

Light Buff

57, 58

21, 35, 36, 48, 52

French Grey

15, 17


Sky Blue


7, 19


25, 40



26, 27



34, 35



32, 33, 71

5, 27,28

Black Velvet





4, 15

The establishment of a Native Infantry Regiment was a single battalion of 10 companies.  Each company had a nominal strength of 100 bayonets.  Of these companies 8 were “centre” or “line” companies one “grenadier” and one “light” or “rifle”.  Thus a battalion, at full strength, was 24 European Officers, 20 Native Officers, 120 NCOs and 1,000 Private soldiers. 

All of the senior officers were Europeans but each company had two Native Officers a Subedar (Captain) and a Jemadar (Lieutenant).  Promotion was not by purchase but by strict order of seniority.  This led to some extremely old men holding field ranks. 

Punjab Infantry

Many new regiments of Punjab infantry were formed during the mutiny.  They proved very loyal and effective units.  Sometimes they are referred to as levy or irregular regiments.  Because most had a short life being raised during 1857 and being dibanded during 1858 and 1859 details are scarce and their uniform details are virtually non-existent.

Afridi                     light drab uniform, turban etc

                            brown equipment, black boots

                           black sword, bayonet scabbards, gilt metalwork           

Sikh                     as above with orange pouch belt, crimson sash. Sometimes shown with                             coloured turbans.

Afghan                  Civilian type clothing. 

                            Pistol, sword, shield, brown pouch belt, black scabbard. 

                            Green sash over shoulder.

Gurkha Infantry

66th Bengal Native Infantry (the Nasiri or Nusaree Battalion) is reported as wearing red tunics faced in white.  However, photographic evidence from the Gurkha museum suggests that at least some wore rifle style uniforms.

The Sirmoor Battalion wore rifle style uniforms with black leather equipment.  Their cap had a red and white diced band.  They may have had black collars and facings.

The Kumaon Battalion were similarly dressed to the Sirmoors.  However, they may have had white collars and black facings.

Native Infantry Ranks

                Subedar Major         Senior Native Officer

                Subedar                  Captain

                Jemadar                  Lieutenant

                Havildar Major          Sergeant Major

                Havildar                   Sergeant

                Naik                        Section NCO (Corporal)

                Sepoy                     Private

 Units of the Begal Army which Remained Loyal

By no means all of the regiments of the Bengal Army mutinied, indeed in many which did a substantial number of troops remained loyal.  The table below is not exhaustive and shows those units which were allowed to continue to serve after the Mutiny and retain their titles, colours and battle honours.  It does, however, give a fair impression: 




13 BNI



21 BNI



31 BNI



32 BNI


Mutinied but enough stayed loyal to justify retention

33 BNI



42 BNI


Mutinied but enough stayed loyal to justify retention

43 BNI



47 BNI



48 BNI



59 BNI



63 BNI



65 BNI



66 BNI


Rioted but then stayed loyal

70 BNI


Volunteered to serve in China

71 BNI



Kelat-i-Ghilzie Regt



Shakawati Regt



Ferozepore Regt



Ludhiana Regt


Rioted, a few mutinied.  The only Sikh regt to do so.

Sirmoor Bn

Dera Dun

Gurkha rifles

Kumaon Bn


Gurkha rifles

Nusaree Bn


Gurkha rifles

1st Gwalior Inf



1st Assam Lt Inf



2nd Assam Lt Inf



Sylhet Lt Inf



Rattrays Sikhs


Military Police

1 Irreg Cav



2 Irreg Cav



4 Irreg Cav


Mutinied but enough stayed loyal to justify retention

6 Irreg Cav



7 Irreg Cav



8 Irreg Cav


Mutinied but enough stayed loyal to justify retention

17 Irreg Cav



18 Irreg Cav




Many of the troops who mutinied initially, at least, stayed as formed bodies and retained their organisation, uniforms and colours.  Several even maintained parade states, bands and discipline for some time into the mutiny.  Others, however, rapidly adopted native dress.  Usually the first item of civilian clothing adopted was the dhoti which was augmented by normal civilian shirts, coats and so on.  Shakos and caps were usually replaced by turbans or skull caps.

The regimental officers, both British and Loyal Indian, were nearly all killed or forced to flee.  Thus the mutineer units, generally, lacked regimental leadership from the most experienced native officers and certainly lacked the trained decision makers of their British regimental and staff officers.  Up to company level the leadership within most mutineer, as opposed to insurgent or maharajah’s units, was fairly adequate.  It was above this that the inadequacies were most obvious.  There was virtually no strategic direction of any sort and disputes were common.  This made concerted action difficult.  Within a mutineer unit rank was often shown by strings of white beads worn at the neck.  Some illustrations indicate that at least some mutineers wore beads made of metal.

At Sikanderbagh the mutinied 71st BNI and 10th Oudh Irregular Infantry were annihilated.  Their HEIC colours had been carried into action together with green silk banners.  All the colours were captured by the British.  A number of the mutineer bodies carried leave certificates which showed that they had been on leave at the time of the mutiny and had rejoined the regiment.

Early on it was the mutineers followed their usual drill and opened fire, by volleys, at about 300 yards with the percussion Brown Bess.  Later, as discipline broke down, it became common practice for mutineers to fire their muskets at very short range.  They would then throw the musket and bayonet as a “javelin” before drawing their tulwars and charging.  They would also throw themselves under the bayonets to slash at the legs of their opponents.

Broached casks of rum were frequently left in mutineer camps that were about to be overrun.  This was to serve as a distraction to the British soldiers.  Sometimes the rum  was drugged.  Sometimes it would be poisoned.  Often the Officers and NCOs told their men that it was drugged or poisoned for their own safety even when it was not!  The dehydration caused by over-indulgence in alcohol could be fatal in the summer heat.  

The use of snipers was suited, not only to the style of fighting, but also to the terrain of Bengal.  The flat roofs and bushy peepul trees gave ample opportunities for snipers to remain hidden even after firing several shots and so choose their moment.

The story of Quaker Wallace of the 93rd Highlanders serves as an interesting example.   After seeing Hope, a man he hated for some unknown reason, killed by being disembowelled by a musket shot then hit twice in the chest, Quaker Wallace fought his way into the Sikanderbagh and reputedly killed 20 or more of the enemy.  As he went forward he recited the first verse of the 116th Psalm:

                “I love the Lord, because my voice,

                And prayers He did hear.

                I, while I live, will call on Him,

                Who bowed me His ear.”

Then as he battled his way through the enemy ranks, with every shot, every bayonet thrust he recited the second verse:

                “I’ll of salvation take the cup,

                On God’s name will I call:

                I’ll pay my vows now to the Lord

                Before His people all.”

Exactly what the mortal feud was will never be known.  However, an observer wrote: “The man was fey [mad]” as a result of the death of his enemy.

As the 93rd Highlanders and the 53rd Foot (the “Two Thirds”) advanced they came upon an inner courtyard in the centre of which grew a giant peepul tree.  At the base of the tree amid its roots were several jars of water.  With the fighting nearly over several soldiers took shade beneath the tree and to take drink - the day was fiercely hot.

Captain Dawson noticed that the British dead were thickest here and, being suspicious, he examined their wounds from a short distance away.  He noticed that they had all been shot from above.  He called Quaker Wallace, who was nearly under the tree, to look up and see if he could see anyone in the tree.  Wallace who had his rifle loaded and called back, “I see him, Sir!”  He cocked and fired his rifle while reciting the second verse of the 116th Psalm.

A figure dressed in a tight red jacket and tight pink silk trousers fell dead from the tree.  It was a woman who had been armed with two old pattern cavalry pistols, one of which was still loaded.  Her pouch was half full of cartridges.

Quaker Wallace who had just wrought such fearful execution amongst the mutineers burst into tears because he had killed a woman.  


In common with other troubles, the disaffected took advantage of the situation to settle grievances and take revenge.  In many areas political activists, local bandits, prisoners released from jail and ruffians banded together into mobs which then ran riot through the cantonments.  The political activists ideal of a free India was often lost in a welter of murder, massacre, rape, destruction and looting which was directed against all in their path ad not just the Brititsh.

Where the local aristocracy gave support or leadership the mutineers and insurgents held together better and were able to undertake formal operations.  However, the quality and decisiveness of this leadership and direction was extremely variable.  At Cawnpore (Kanpur), for example, the Nana Sahib led a mixed force of his own troops, mutineers and insurgents in a successful siege.  He even managed to appear as the “honest broker” until the last minute when his true intentions were displayed in the two infamous massacres which took place there.    On the other hand, at Delhi, the rebels were “besieged” and then defeated by a tiny (by comparison) force of loyal troops.  The rebel attempts to dislodge the besiegers were, nearly always, badly co-ordinated and lacked any obvious plan.

As a badge of rank many officials and those of importance dyed their horses’ manes, tails and legs in the brightest of colours.  This had been common practice in India and shades of orange, scarlet, indigo and green were common.  It was not uncommon for horses and elephants to be painted in bright patterns of these same colours, white and black.

One particular group of insurgents, Muslim butchers, were infamous as the perpetrators of some of the worst atrocities.  Many sources say that they carried out the infamous slaughter of 118 women and 92 children in the Bibigarh at Cawnpore.  The majority of the sepoys in the mutineer ranks were Brahmins and Rajputs who would not contemplate such deeds.  (Forbes Mitchell, “The Indian Mutiny”).  Another example was that the bakers in Allahabad had their hands cut off by the mutineers as they retreated.  This was to prevent the relief column from getting bread.

Several young white women were taken captive by mutineers, insurgents and those who had the power to do so and under threats, it is claimed, were forced to become Muslims.  Amelia Horne is a famous example who survived to tell the tale.  She was lifted out of the  massacre at the boats near Cawnpore by a rebel Muslim Sowar.  Soon she became a member of his household and was forcibly converted to Islam.


There were also regiments of the Regular Army in India.  These regiments were known as “Queen’s” regiments to distinguish them from the Company army regiments.  Those present at the outbreak of the mutiny were paid for by the HEIC.  Generally they wore white or khaki uniforms in summer and home service scarlet or blue in winter.

When the mutiny broke a number of regiments were diverted in transit to China or were sent from other stations.  This led to a great variety of dress.  Some arrived in scarlet, others in khaki, some in white, yet others in grey and so it went on.  After a very short while the regiments lost any semblance of uniformity as the clothing wore out, was replaced or patched or augmented by local purchase or acquisition. 

For example the Queen’s Bays charged at Lucknow wearing scarlet uniforms and brass helmets.   The 93rd Highlanders had khaki tunics faced red, regimental kilts and feather bonnets with a quilted lining.  The 9th Lancers wore a white uniform with red piping.  The 90th Foot wore, initially, scarlet tunics and white trousers.  The tunics were replaced by, in turn, white shell jackets, white tunics and khaki tunics - all three existing at the same time. The variations were almost endless especially amongst the officers who purchased their own uniforms, equipment and horses.

The infantry battalions had 8 to 10 companies of 100 bayonets.  Units with large head-dresses - the Highlanders in the case of the Mutiny - had 10 companies the others 8.  This was because the distinctions of the light and grenadier companies (shoulder wings on their tunics) were retained on full dress uniforms.  The ordinary line units did not retain the flank companies.

All of the troops who were armed with rifles received “rifle” training.  This meant that they were trained in the same way as those in the Rifle Brigades.  That is to say they could all skirmish, fighting in pairs (one loading or moving covered by the other) as well as fight in line.  Hence the loss of the light and grenadier companies.  The most common rifles on issue were the Brunswick and later the Enfield.  Incidentally, most of the Queen’s units had the inferior Brunswick or percussion rifled Brown Bess weapons when they arrived.  Enfields were issued from HEIC stores from where they would have been issued to the Bengal Native Infantry Regiments had it not been for the mutiny.

Officers carried their own pistol, usually an Adams five shot or Colt six shot cap and ball revolver.   The Adams was favoured because its large calibre bullet was a definite man stopper.  They also purchased their own uniforms and so variety of dress on campaign was the rule.  Those who had been forced to flee at short notice or had harrowing escapes often wore borrowed items of uniform.  The possibility of variation in dress is almost limitless.

The cavalry regiments each had 4 squadrons of 2 to 4 troops.  This gave a full strength total of 790 sabres.  However, horses were always in short supply in India.  The Carabiniers, in 1857 for example, could only mount 330 of their 652 men.

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