David Rowlands: Military Artist
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The charge of the 19th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Assaye, 23 September 1803   The charge of the 19th Light Dragoons at the Battle of Assaye, 23 September 1803

During the 2nd Mahratta War, Major General Sir Arthur Wellesley (later, the Duke of Wellington) commanding a small British force was greatly outnumbered by the Mahratta army which faced him in Berar. Seeing two villages on opposite banks of the Kaitna river, he correctly deduced that a ford lay between them. Crossing the ford with his troops, he deployed to face the enemy with his right and left flanks protected by the Juah and Kaitna rivers. The enemy were only able to deploy a small part of their force in the intervening space.

A formation of Mahratta cavalry charged the 74th Highlanders in flank and began capturing some of the British guns. In response, Lt Colonel Maxwell advanced with his cavalry brigade, which consisted of three regiments of Native Cavalry and the 19th Light Dragoons and charged the enemy's left, driving the Mahrattas into the river Juah. This river had less water in it than the Kaitna, and had very steep banks. The dragoons crossed the river and charged, driving the enemy off the field. However, so large was the enemy's force that the rear of the British position was still threatened. Maxwell's cavalry returned to the scene, and ended the day with another charge against the Mahratta infantry, though men and horses were exhausted. Maxwell was killed in the fighting.

Light dragoons in India wore a helmet, typically black, enamelled with a brass comb, a red mane and a black turban. They were armed with the 1796 pattern light cavalry sabre. A carbine hung by a swivel from the shoulder belt. Jackets were 'French grey'. In marching order the rolled cloak was carried in front of the saddle, with a leather valise behind. Saddle cloths were little worn. Harness was usually black. Light cavalry horses differed only very slightly from those of the 'heavies'.

Medium: Oil on Canvas

Printed image size(s): B2 only (58 x 38 cm)

Owner: The Light Dragoons

Price(s): 65