You are in [Events] [1872 Autumn Army Manoevres]
The Parish Magazine of October 1872 describes some very extensive troop manoeuvres around Hungerford. The great Northern Army camped on the common as they marched to and from manoeuvres on the Salisbury Plain. Around 15,000 troops were involved.
- a British Hussar from the period of the Crimean War, 1853-56 - slightly earlier than this event, and
- "At the Military Manouevres. Guns of the invading force changing ground in action near Hungerford", 1903 - much later than the event in the main article.
The army arrives:
A week before the planned manoevres, posters were displayed across the town advising anyone with horses or cattle on the Common to ensure that they were removed from the Common by Thursday evening 29 August 1872. (Click here to see the poster).
"The great event of the past month has been the marching of the Troops forming the Northern Army at the Autumn Manoeuvres through our town, and the encampment of a large portion of them upon the Down. Such a sight has not been seen in Hungerford during the present century, and it may well be imagined that it caused no little commotion in our quiet neighbourhood.
The Troops arrived in Hungerford on their way to Salisbury Plain, on Friday August 30, and in spite of the drenching rain they found the inhabitants well prepared to receive them. From an early hour vehicles of every description were driven in, loaded with passengers from the neighbouring villages, business was entirely suspended in the town, and the whole population seemed to have adjourned to the Newbury road, to await the arrival of the soldiers. The whole extent of road from Hungerford to Denford Lodge was thronged with people, the favourite spot being the cross roads by Denford Farm.
The first to arrive was general Sir Charles Staveley's Division, including the Household troops who encamped at Froxfield and Oakhill. They were followed by general Parke's and General Sir R Walpole's Division, who were to encamp at Hungerford. The Troops turned off the high road at Denford Mill, and entered the Down at the eastern end, while General Walpole and his Staff rode round by Charnham Street and up through the High Street and Park Street to Hungerford Park. The Hussars encamped at the east end of the Down near the Kintbury Gate, between the Railway and Hungerford Park. The Royal Artillery occupied the south side. and the 22nd and 100th Regiments of Infantry pitched their tents between the roads leading to Kintbury and Hungerford Park. General Parke with whom was HRH Prince Arthur had his head quarters a little to the south, the Prince's tent being distinguished by a purple flag. The operation of pitching the tents was witnessed with great interest by the numerous spectators and the rapidity with which it was done seemed to astonish every one. In the evening the bands played for an hour, much to the gratification of those assembled.
Prince Arthur and other Officers took luncheon at Hungerford Park, and dined at Inglewood in the evening. The Prince visited several shops in the Town, and purchased several souvenirs of Hungerford, in the course of the afternoon.
About 5 o'clock on Saturday morning the camp began to wake; fires were lighted; and breakfast prepared and eaten with wonderful expedition; and in a very short time every tent had fallen, and was packed up, and all was in marching order. The command was given, the bands struck up, and all marched through the Town, preceded by General Walpole and prince Arthur, on their way to Pewsey. W H Dunn, Esq, of Standen Manor, acted as Commissioner for the County of Berks. Lord Charles Bruce, MP, T Chaloner Smith, Esq, and H R Seymour, Esq, joined the forces as Commissioners on their entry into Wiltshire.
The army returns:
Great as was the excitement and interest shown on this occasion, it was surpassed by that which was manifested at the arrival of the Troops on their return march on Monday, September 16. The town was thronged with people, and all business was made to give way to the engrossing occupation of receiving and welcoming the Northern Army. The first indication of the approach of the Army, was on Friday, September 13, when a detachment of the 9th Lancers was billeted here until the following morning.
On Saturday, the 1st and 2nd Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards Blue passed through on their way to Greenham. And the same day the 13th Lancers entered the Town, and remained until Monday, when they left for York, via Wantage. No sooner had these left than the advanced guard of the great body of the Troops made its appearance. These consisted of General Maxwell's Division, being the 22nd, 30th, 46th and 90th Regiments of Foot, each being preceded by its band. The Royal Engineers arrived next with their Pontoons, Printing Office, Field Telegraph, and all their necessary tools and appliances. These were followed by the 10th and 19th Hussars; and several batteries of the Royal Artillery. The whole passed through the principal streets of the town, up Park Street, on to the Down. The march into the town, on to the Down, was witnessed by thousands, in fact, Hungerford was never so full before. The pitching of the tents was eagerly watched by the numerous sightseers, as was the process of making the fires, and cooking the viands.
There was nearly double the number encamped on Monday, that there was on the march down; and yet there was room on the spacious Common for as many again: its advantages as a camping ground were very highly spoken of by the Soldiers, many of whom said it was by far the best place they had had on the whole march. The tents were pitched on the end furthest from the town, the head quarters being in the Park. The scene on Monday night was most picturesque in the moonlight, the long lines of tents having a very pleasing effect, while the groups of Soldiers around their camp fires cooking their suppers were watched with interest by thousands of spectators.
About 5 o'clock on Tuesday morning the camp was astir, and about seven the Infantry marched off with their bands playing. The Engineers soon followed and then the Artillery. The Cavalry did not leave the Park until nine o'clock. No sooner had they left, than the inhabitants of Hungerford were apprised by the entry into the town of the advance guard of the other column of the Army, which had encamped at Wilton and Crofton. The route taken by this column on the way down was by Inkpen, Ham and Shalbourn, and hundreds of people, and many carriages were gathered there on Tuesday to see them pass back, but in this they were disappointed, as they all came through Hungerford. This consisted of the 6th Dragoon Guards, with band, several Troops of the Royal Engineers, C and H Batteries, Royal Artillery, 1st Battalion 7th Fusileers, 2nd Battaliaon 16th Foot, 2nd Battalion 88th Foot, and 2nd Battalion 95th Foot. At the cross roads, Denford, there was a continued stream of Troops passing from seven o'clock till about twelve. Between fourteen and fifteen thousand troops marched through the town during the week.