An Officer in the Victorian Artillery Militia

Published: 26 May 2023

[bold]Biography:[/bold][bold][breakrow][/bold]Son of Thomas M Horsford [1805-1868] and Phoebe Bull [1820-1897], T M A Horsford spent much of his life as an only child in Dorset, in the South of England.[ Ancestry, England [amp] Wales Births 1837-2006.] Although he had a sister three years his senior, two years after his birth, his parents experienced a devastating tragedy with the death of his sibling Moor Mary Horsford [1843-1850], the cause unknown.[ Ancestry, England [amp] Wales Births 1837-2006] Too young to remember his sister’s death, this episode marked the first of several tragedies which were to influence his life. Census records state that he spent much of his childhood in the beautiful suburb of Melcolm Regis, Dorset, England, although he undoubtably travelled often to London in his later years. In April 1867, he commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal Cornwall and Devon Miners Artillery Militia. In a society which revered the military, joining the armed forces in some capacity was a popular one and often opened doors in professional and social circles.[ London Gazette April 19th, 1867] [breakrow][breakrow]This decision however was to be overshadowed one year later by the death of his father in 1868 at the uncommonly senior age of 63 years old.[ Ancestry Wills, 1868] Left with the vast sum of between £25,000/£30,000, the family’s money would undoubtably elevate Horsford’s social and professional status within the militia. [ Ancestry, Wills, 1868]As common in the day, commissioning in the Armed Forces was an expensive venture in which the funds used to purchase accoutrements and uniforms often surpassed the yearly wage of a newly commissioned Second Lieutenant. The duties of a junior officer in 1867 were varied. Although the militia were often seen as a club for the wealthy to socialise; emphasis on training, artillery drills, carbine drills and exercises were frequent to keep the men occupied and at a high standard. On the 14th of July 1873, Colonel Versey, RA, inspected the regiment and expressed his gratification at the appearance of the men and their steadiness on parade.[ P76, " A history of the Stannaries regiment of miners, late Cornwall and Devon Miners Royal Garrison Artillery Militia commonly called "The Royal Miners." Including a short account of contemporary military events affecting Cornwall and Devon and the Militia generally.] At a mess meeting held towards the end of their training, Horsford’s colleague, Lieutenant Eastlake, suggested that no officer should be charged for wine unless he drank it. Colonel Champion proposed and Captain Michell seconded. This decision was carried unanimously.[ Ibid, p. 76.] In May 1874, Horsford was promoted to Captain while stationed at Falmouth.[breakrow][breakrow]In April the following year, Colonel Bolton, RA, Inspector of the Auxiliary Artillery carried out an inspection at Pendennis Castle. Colonel Sir Colman Battie Rashleigh remarks: “It was a dreadful day, rain and wind, but Colonel Bolton was a stern and inconsiderate officer, and carried the whole thing through, regardless of the state of the weather and the health of those involved. We were all glad when we saw the last of Colonel Bolton. Colonel Sir Colman Rashleigh injured his back from falling off a traversing gun carriage, which he mounted by Colonel Bolton’s orders, and from which he subsequently suffered greatly in after years.[ Ibid, p. 77.]” [breakrow][breakrow]With apartments, board, dinners, coffees, and guest nights organised at the Falmouth Hotel, life for the militia’s commissioned officers must have been somewhat luxurious. During training in May 1880, His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales, at Trelisk, Truro, laid the foundation stone at Truro Cathedral. At a grand ball organised by Lord Falmouth and visited by HRH, the Officers of the Cornish Militia were invited, and each officer was presented to His Royal Highness. [breakrow][breakrow]In 1885, Horsford was promoted to Honorary Major along with several colleagues. The following year athletic sports were introduced for the men, which afterwards became an annual affair.[ Ibid, p. 83.] In 1886, it was decided to discontinue the officers mess at Falmouth Hotel, and arrangements were made to take a house in the town, No. 3, Bar Terrace, at a rental of £50 a year, the landlord to pay the Rector’s rate and the house to be furnished. Mr Woon was engaged as mess butler, and Clark [amp] Co were contracted to cater at the following rates: Breakfast, 2s.: lunch, 1s. 6d.: dinner, 4s. To meet the extra expense, an additional subscription of £5 was collected from each officer annually. [breakrow][breakrow]In 1891, Field Service Caps were introduced, and the old knapsacks were condemned, and valises substituted. Prior to training in 1892, the officers decided to reduce the length and cost of dinners, at a price of 3s a head. This arrangement was tried for a week but proved unsatisfactory, and the old rate resumed. The same year, the officers instituted a string band in addition to the regimental brass band, for the purpose of playing in the mess. On November 5th, 1892 Colonel Michell died at Woolwich, after having commanded the regiment for nearly ten years and was succeeded by Honorary Lieutenant Colonel Rashleigh. With this promotion, Honorary Major Horsford was promoted to major and granted the honorary rank of Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel respectively soon afterwards. In 1893, alteration to Pendennis Castle were completed and the regiment once again trained there. During the first few months of training, the officers of the regiment gave a water picnic.[ Ibid. p. 89.] The same year, Horsford wife Ellen Rose Miller [1860-1918] gave birth to their oldest son Thomas Gavin Moor Horsford and later Douglas Moor Horsford. [1895-1983][breakrow]Throughout 1896, the regiment were engaged with training and given a certificate of proficiency from the School of Instructions. On the last day of training at 11:45am, Colonel C. B Rashleigh gave a farewell address to the regiment. A zealous officer, whose love for the regiment was an example to all those serving under him, gave up command in favour of his 2IC, Lieutenant Colonel T. M. A. Horsford. About 1897, a new era for the militia began. The militia regulations stated that Garrison Artillery units should train for an extra 14 days in every third year. All officers on joining had to attend the recruits preliminary drill for two months and a general examination in military subjects during their first training.[ Ibid. P. 93.][breakrow][breakrow]Following the outset of the Second Anglo Boer War [1899-1902], the whole militia was gradually called out and sent to camp. The officers present – Colonel Horsford, in Command, and Lieutenant Colonel Hext, 2IC along with several other Captains and Lieutenants were tasked with preparing the regiment. Owing to recruiting difficulties in this period, the regiment was heavily understrength, the total being only 223, 127 less then recommended. In August 1899, Colonel N. L Walford commented:[amp]nbsp;[breakrow]“I have seen this regiment at practice and in camp and am entirely satisfied with it. The work on the guns is excellent, and such slowness as I remarked in the practice is principally due to the few opportunities which exist for training Officers. No amount of drill will give habit of command in action. I have nothing but praise for the regiment, and only wish that it were stronger in numbers.”[ Ibid, p. 93.][breakrow][breakrow]In 1900, the militia were largely demobilised as the Boer war was widely seen as won and the men were sent home. At a mess meeting held at Plymouth in May, it was decided that the sum of £11, 16s, was to be given as a gift to Quartermaster-Sergeant Cooper on his retirement after nearly 21 years of service. The following month Gordon Calthorpe Landau was gazetted as Second Lieutenant and on the 31st, Colonel T. M. A Horsford retired from command of the regiment. [breakrow][breakrow]His eldest son undoubtably influenced by Horsford’s distinguished career, commissioned in the Bedfordshire Regt in May 1914. Several months later, Colonel Horsford passed away leaving behind £24,279 to his family. In May 1915, Lieutenant Moore Alphonso was killed in the Second Battle of Ypres, in which his body was obliterated in later fighting in June 1915.[] Only Colonel Horsford’s youngest survived past 1918.[breakrow][breakrow][bold]Bibliography:[/bold][breakrow][1] London Gazette April 19th, 1867.[2] Wills, 1868.[3] P76, "A history of the Stannaries regiment of miners, late Cornwall and Devon Miners Royal Garrison Artillery Militia commonly called "The Royal Miners." Including a short account of contemporary military events affecting Cornwall and Devon and the Militia generally."[4] Ibid, p. 76.[5] Ibid, p. 77.[6] Ibid, p. 83.[7] Ibid, p. 84.[8] Ibid. p. 89.[9] Ibid. P. 93.[10] Ibid, p. 93.[breakrow]