This is the story of John Mould (1774 - 1843) who served in the Royal Horse Artillery during the Napoleonic Wars


      On the 18 March 1793, a young butcher, about eighteen or nineteen years of age, 5 feet 7½ inches tall (about 1.72m), with brown hair, grey eyes and a fair complexion, walked in to a recruiting post in Birmingham and enlisted for unlimited service in the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Artillery. According to the Description Book, he could both read and write.

      He was John Mould, born at Market Harborough, in Leicestershire, and baptised there on 16 January 1774. His parents were Richard Mould the Younger, of Market Harborough, and Mary, possibly daughter of a Sergeant Parker of Wilbarston, but as the registers for that parish have not survived it has not been possible to confirm this. John Mould had several siblings, one of whom, Richard Mould, married a Mary Jelley. (Seriously!)

      Whether John Mould was motivated to join up by patriotic zeal in order to fight the French, or simply for a military career, we cannot know, but whatever the motivation, the length of his military service was determined by events in France. He was recruited in 1793, a few weeks after the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, and was discharged equally soon after Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo. Yet it appears he played no direct part in these events, or in any of the many actions across the globe in which Britain was engaged during those twenty-two tumultuous years.

      The Artillery was at that time still under the control of the Board of Ordnance, as opposed to the War Office, which controlled the rest of the army, and as such a rather different ethos prevailed. There were no purchased commissions in the Artillery and so officers were appointed on merit, and attention was paid to the technical skills required to master their duties as artillerymen. As such, the officers tended to be drawn more from the middle classes and less from the aristocracy than was often the case in the army.

      This painting of a gunner of the Royal Regiment of Artillery of 1792 depicts him standing at 'the Present', and with his hair 'clubbed'. This was done by having the head well pomatumed or larded and powdered; the thick tail was turned up, leaving a large knob below, and it was secured by a leather strap.  He wore two cross-belts; one carried the bayonet, and the other the pouch. On the front of the one carrying the pouch was a hammer and pair of prickers used to vent the gun.


            John Mould was assigned to the company under the command of Captain Benjamin Stehelin, and posted to the headquarters of the Royal Artillery at Woolwich.  As a recruit he started as a 2nd Gunner, and his pay was 9½d. per day. Here is a list of the contents of an Artillery soldier's knapsack, with which he would have been issued, the knapsack itself being made of painted canvas.

 4 white shirts
 1 powder-bag and puff
 1 check shirt
 1 razor
 6 false collars
 1 shaving box
 1 canvas pair of trowsers
 1 pair of shoe brushes
 1 canvas frock
 1 cloth brush
 1 leather cap
 1 twin screw and worm
 2 pairs of shoes
 1 brush and pricker
 1 pair of black cloth gaiters
 1 leather stock
 1 pair of white stockings (thread)
 1 rosette
 1 pair of worsted stockings
 1 pair knee buckles
 3 pairs of Welsh yarn socks
 1 stock buckle
 1 pair of shoe buckles
 1 large and 1 small comb

      However, John Mould remained in the 2nd Battalion only a few months, for in January 1794 he transferred to one of the newly formed troops of the Royal Horse Artillery.

      There was a desperate need for the greater mobility of this new force because until that time the guns were each drawn by three horses in single file, driven by civilians, on foot, armed with long carter's whips of the "ordinary farm pattern", who were usually local peasants hired as required. They could not possibly keep up with rapid movements of infantry in the field, let alone the cavalry. But in the Horse Artillery all personnel were mounted, and their own drivers were recruited in place of civilians. The strength of a troop varied from time to time, but in 1794 was 8 guns, 15 non-commissioned officers, 97 gunners, 71 drivers, and 246 horses per troop, not including the officers' horses. The Royal Horse Artillery, which has always had separate traditions and insignia, still retains a separate identity within the regiment, and is considered (by its members at least) to be an élite.



      The uniform of the Horse Artillery was also different to that of the Foot Artillery, as depicted by this officer of 1793. R J Macdonald's The History of the Dress of the Royal Regiment of Artillery says "The first Horse Artillery jacket was similar to the Chasseur jacket of the French Army, it hooked at the collar and sloped away to a short skirt ... had half facings, and on the shoulders, wings made of interlacing rings. Well pipeclayed doe or buckskins fastened at the knee with buttons, and jack-boots with stiff tops were worn. A crimson sash encircled the waist with a large 'boss' or rose (from which the fringes depended) on the left side, in front, and the sash was tied behind under the coat with ribbons".

      But the most striking feature was the Tarleton helmet worn by officers and men alike. It was of black leather, with a ducks-bill shaped peak. The bearskin crest, white feather plume worn on the left side, and royal cipher, can be seen on the restored helmet of the Waterloo period, shown in this photograph. The turban or fillet round the lower part of the helmet was initially of crimson silk, but was changed to black velvet around 1805, and then to black silk (as shown) a few months later.

      The first two troops had been formed in January 1793, and a further two were formed the following November, and it was to one of these, the company commanded by Captain James Hadden, that John Mould was assigned. When the first troops were formed recruits were accepted who were 5 feet 6¾ inches in height, but this was soon raised to 5 feet 8 inches, so John Mould must by then have grown that vital half-inch, and this was his height recorded on his discharge at the end of his service. At that time the troops were known by their commanding officer, but, because the commanding officers were often changed and occasionally moved from one troop to another, it will be clearer to use the letter system, adopted later, to differentiate between the troops. Thus we can say that it was to D Troop that John Mould was assigned, as a gunner.

      Upon his transfer he received an additional allowance according to the following General Order dated January 1793, bringing his pay to 11½d. a day. "The Master-General directs that an allowance of twopence per day, in addition to their Regimental pay, shall be made to each non-commissioned officer and gunner of the Brigade of Horse Artillery, when and so long as he continues to be mounted, and having the care and management of an horse, in consideration of the extraordinary and constant attention required of such persons for the due performance of this particular service, which must deprive them of the occasional advantages arising from their being employed in works for which additional pay is given."

      On 6 November 1794, eleven months after joining the Horse Artillery, John Mould was promoted to Bombardier, a rank equivalent to Lance Corporal and denoted by an epaulette worn on the right shoulder, and he received a further pay increase of 7d. to 1s. 6½d. a day. The actual locations of D Troop and of John Mould himself can be traced through the Muster Rolls and Pay Lists at the National Archives. They show he continued to serve in D Troop under Captain Hadden for the next five years, during which time they were posted to various sites in south east England, and that John Mould was occasionally away on detachment. They were mustered first at Lewes (for six months), then at Lavant Camp, Sussex (for twelve months), then at Canterbury (two years three months), then Brighton Barracks (nine months), then Colchester (three months), and finally Woodbridge, Suffolk (three months). John Mould's detachments included a few weeks in August and September 1795 at Nutshalling Camp, Portsmouth, and for the last nine months of his time in D Troop he was in a detachment at Woolwich, commanded first by Captain Edward Trelawney, then by Lieutenant William Lloyd Senior.

James Murray Hadden. You can read the journal he wrote as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Artillery during the American War of Independence, Hadden's Journal and Orderly Books, a Journal Kept in Canada and Upon Burgoyne's Campaign in 1776 and 1777 online at Google Books. Hadden eventually rose to become Surveyor-General of the Ordnance (1804-1810).


      During this period there had been considerable discontent in the country in general, and in the Navy in particular. Poor harvests and rising inflation caused bread riots in many towns and cities, culminating in King George III being pelted with stones by an angry mob in October 1795, and again in February 1796. Then, between April and June 1797, two mutinies occurred in the Royal Navy at Spithead and at Nore, sparking fresh fears of revolution. Concessions were granted to the mutineers, including improvements to pay and conditions. Similar dissatisfaction prevailed in the Army, though to less extent, and in June 1797 a general pay increase was allowed for the troops. As a result John Mould's pay rose by 5¾d. to 2s. ¼d. per day, though some of this increase was offset by the removal of a subsidy which had previously provided his bread and meat ration at a reduced rate. 




      By early 1800 Captain Trelawney was the officer commanding C Troop at Canterbury, and John Mould's next chance for advancement came when on 18 January 1800 he was promoted to Corporal in that troop to replace Corporal John Barr, who was reduced to Gunner by sentence of court martial (see above). To denote his new rank, he would have had two fringed epaulettes. With his promotion came a further pay rise of 2d. to 2s. 2¼d.per day Had he remained in D Troop, John Mould would have fought in the Peninsular and Napoleonic Wars, where they won battle honours at Bussaco, Almeida, Albuera, Usagre, Aldea de Ponte, San Minoz Ribera, Yeltes, Vittoria, Pyrenees, Orthez, Toulouse, Waterloo, and Paris, taking part in many of the major battles. Instead he joined C Troop at Woolwich, a detachment of which had recently returned from Ireland in 1799, where it had taken part in the Battle of Vinegar Hill. Two guns each from four troops of Horse Artillery were sent to Ireland, where during operations they had been under the command of the Irish Branch of the Ordnance. Only the guns of Troops A, B, and C took part in active operations, and apart from these, the Artillerymen engaged in the rebellion belonged to the Irish Artillery.

       Following the Irish Rebellion, William Pitt became convinced that the best way to pacify Ireland was closer integration with Britain, and in 1801 the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was formed, a single political entity. King George III previously the monarch of both the Kingdom of Great Britain and of the Kingdom of Ireland became king of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. A new flag was needed, and another consequence of the union was that the Royal Irish Artillery was absorbed into the Royal Artillery.


      Corporal John Mould served in C Troop for two and a half years. For almost all that time it was based at Canterbury, apart from a short stint at Swinley Camp, Berkshire, but for the first sixteen months John Mould remained on detachment at Woolwich. In May 1801 Captain George Wood took over command of C Troop, and that same month John Mould rejoined the troop at Canterbury, and it was there, on 8 June 1801, at the Church of St George the Martyr, he married Susannah Perkins.

 Lt. Col. Sir George Adam Wood: Served in Flanders 1793 to 1795; served in West Indies 1795 to 1798; Major in RA 24 July 1806; Lieutenant-Colonel 1 February 1808; served in Peninsula August 1808 to January 1809; served at Walcheren 1809; brevet Colonel 4 June 1814; ADC to Prince Regent 1814; CRA in Netherlands 1814; CRA in Waterloo campaign and Army of Occupation; subsequently Colonel 1820; Major-General May 1825

      In October Captain Frederick Griffiths replaced Captain Wood in command of C Troop. Also in October John Mould was marked in the Muster Roll as being at Hythe, Kent and the following month as "sick". From March 1802 he was on command at Woolwich, and on 12 June he was promoted to Serjeant and transferred to F Troop, where he was once more, though briefly, under the command of Captain Trelawney, although the troop was actually led by Lieutenant Walker in his stead. This was the same year that the chevrons worn on the arm, with which we are all familiar today, for denoting the rank of non-commissioned officers were introduced, replacing the old system of epaulettes. Therefore it is not clear whether John Mould first received two gold lace epaulettes, or went immediately to three gold chevrons. As Serjeant his pay rose a further 1¾d. to 2s. 4d per day. Once again, if he had stayed with C Troop he would have fought in the Peninsular War, at Sahgan, Benavente, and Corunna.

      F Troop was based at Christchurch, where Serjeant John Mould joined them in August. By January 1803 they were under the nominal command of Major George Cookson , who was away, serving in Egypt, so Captain Richard Buckner was actually in charge.

Colonel George Cookson: Served in West Indies 1781 to 1786; served in Flanders 1793; served in Egypt 1801; Major in RA 12 September 1803; Lieutenant-Colonel 27 July 1804; CRA in Ireland 1804; CRA in Hanover 1805; served at Copenhagen 1807; served in Peninsula October 1808 to January 1809; served in Walcheren 1809; Colonel 17 March 1812; Major-General 4 June 1814; retired from active service 1815; subsequently Lieutenant-General 22 July 1830.

      In April John Mould was again marked as "sick", and then, on 14 May 1803 F Troop was posted to Ireland. Those of you for whom the above detail of changes in commanding officers and locations of troops and detachments has seemed tedious will be relieved to read that, with a few exceptions, the Muster Rolls and Pay Lists for the Horse Artillery in Ireland have not survived. 

      However, brief glimpses of John Mould's everyday activities there can be found in the records. A few days after they landed he was in command of a detachment of twelve men sent to collect thirty-three horses from Island Bridge, on the outskirts of Dublin, to be taken to Fermoy, near Cork. On Wednesday 25 May he hired a boat at Carlow to take himself and his men to Dublin, paying £4 9s. 0d. as shown on the receipt below. Their route would have taken them up the River Barrow to Athy where there was a connection to the Grand Canal and they may have used the passenger service of horse drawn boats direct to Dublin. This left Athy at 5a.m., and, with the boats traveling at an average speed of 3 miles an hour, the journey time was 13 hours to Dublin.

      Having collected the horses they left Island Bridge on the Friday and by night time had reached Naas, Co. Kildare where they stabled the horses at the Black Bull. On Saturday they were back in Carlow, and there spent two nights, stabling 15 of the horses at the Royal Oak, and 18 at the La Touch (?) Arms. It seems they were having trouble with the horses, for on the Sunday he purchased thirty-three hempen halters at 1s. 1d. per halter.




      On Monday they moved on to Callan, Co. Kilkenny, where 9 horses were stabled for one night at the Callan Hotel, and 28 at liveries. Tuesday night was spent at the Brown Bear, at Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, and finally, a night was spent at the Globe at Clogheen, which they left on Thursday 2 June, presumably arriving at their destination the same day. This Google map shows their route.



      Serjeant John Mould served with F Troop in Ireland for a further eighteen months. They were based first at Fermoy, County Cork, then at Island Bridge on the outskirts of Dublin. By January 1804 Captain Alexander Duncan had taken command and from September John Mould was in a detachment, under Duncan's 2nd in command, Captain George Beane, of officers and men drawn from Duncan's, Macdonald's and Griffiths' Troops, at Ballinasloe, County Galway. 


 Major Alexander Duncan: Served in Corsica 1794; served in Egypt 1801; Major in RA 17 November 1809; CRA at Cadiz April 1810 to September 1812; brevet Lieutenant-Colonel 6 March 1811; killed in the accidental explosion of the powder magazine at Seville 29 September 1812.
Captain George Beane: Killed in action at Waterloo

      On 1 January 1805 John Mould was promoted to Staff Serjeant, and in February, a new troop (K Troop) was formed at Ballinasloe, commanded by Captain Charles Godfrey. It is known that John Mould was in K Troop by 1807, and it seems very likely that in fact his promotion and transfer were linked; i.e. that he was a founder member of K Troop. With his promotion came a significant pay rise of 17¼d. to the princely sum of 3s. 9¼d. per day. Staff Serjeant John Mould served over ten years in K Troop, to the end of his military service. In 1808 Captain Frederick Walker took command, and he was replaced in 1814 by Captain William Norman Ramsay. Finally in 1815 Captain George Jenkinson took over.

 Captain William Norman Ramsay: Born Scotland 1781; served in Egypt 1801; served in Peninsula with I Troop August 1809 to February 1814; Captain in RA 17 December 1813; brevet Major 22 November 1813; commanded H Troop at Waterloo - killed in action.

      It was during this period that John Mould's three elder children were born, so it is evident that his wife Susannah Perkins had joined him in Ireland at some point.  It was not uncommon for the wives and families of soldiers to accompany them even on campaigns to battlefields abroad, so her presence in Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, is no surprise. The children were Susannah Mould, born about 1811 (the 1851 census gives her age as 40, and birthplace as Ireland). James, about 1812 (age on his burial in 1832 given as 20), and David, (baptised into the Church of Ireland 16th September 1814 at St James, Dublin).