Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire

Cavalry in Aid of the Civil Power: Hussars and Yeomanry at Peterloo, 1819

Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (2020), 169, (1), 39–61.

Abstract

The 200th anniversary of the ‘Peterloo Massacre’ has been marked by numerous public events, exhibitions in museums and libraries, and the re-examination of the event by historians in books and articles. The broader significance has been much debated, and much attention paid to the experiences of individuals who took part in the reform rally.1 Perhaps understandably, less attention has been paid to the military presence at St Peter’s Field, apart from the notorious Manchester and Salford Yeomanry Cavalry (hereafter the Manchester Yeomanry). The aim of this paper is not to examine once again the mass of evidence relating to the massacre, but to introduce readers to some of the military sources available which may help in the interpretation of the conduct of the cavalry on that day and correct some small errors that have crept into the literature. The paper examines and compares the background, training and equipment of the regular and yeomanry regiments in 1819, and the relative experience of the officers and men who made up the ranks of the mounted troops at St Peter’s Field on that day. Some consequences for later civil protests and disturbances are suggested from a military perspective.

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Author details

Rumsby, John H.