27th & 87th volunteer for Peshawur Light Horse

Wed, 06/03/1857

Raised during the Indian Mutiny, the Peshawur* Light Horse was commanded by Captain Francis Augustus Fane and manned by soldiers from the 27th Inniskilling and the 87th Regiment of Foot, both stationed in Peshawar. The unit was mounted on horses removed from the local disarmed cavalry, had a strength of two officers, four sergeants and 84 other ranks, the latter mainly local Hindu Sepoys. The Peshawur Light Horse was disbanded in 1861 after the end of the Mutiny.

The Peshawur Light Horse was directly under command of Lt Col Sydney Cotton in the 1st Column of his five-column strong expeditionary force that occupied Salim Khan on 25 April 1858. The 1st Column, operating independently (as did the other columns) reached Khabal on 3 May. There were some thirty from the Inniskillings in this deployment and, merging columns, the force attacked Sittana on 4 May. Following a bloody victory, Cotton returned to Nowshera after local clan chiefs pledged not to support the 'mutineers' and 'fanatics'.

One of the attached soldiers from the 27th Inniskillings was Private Patrick Bourke. He was born in Timolin in the south of County Kildare on 5 May 1835, and enlisted in Dublin into the Inniskillings on 27 April 1854. He was a survivor of the sinking of the Charlotte in December 1854 and was serving with the 27th at Peshawar in 1857 during the Indian Mutiny. After his attachment to the Peshawur Light Horse, he was promoted to Corporal on 4 December 1860 and to Sergeant on 24 January 1862. Despite a checkered service, including four courts martial and being jailed for drunkenness when an NCO, he had been promoted to Colour Sergeant by the end of his service. When he was discharged at Colchester on 29 May 1878, he returned to Ireland and joined the Donegal Militia, which became the 5th Battalion The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in 1881, following the Childers Reforms. After a further 15 years militia service, he became an In-Pensioner in The Royal Hospital Chelsea and died, aged 91, as a Chelsea Pensioner on 12 February 1927. His only son had been killed at the Battle of Colenso in December 1899.

Private Bourke's medals (top right) included the Indian Mutiny 1857-59 and the India General Service 1854-95 with the Northwest Frontier clasp, the latter being rare in that is marked 'Pte. P. Bourke Peshr. Lt. Horse', as few were issued to those serving with the Peshawur Light Horse.

Peshawur is period spelling of Peshawar.