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Victorian Era Military Weapons, Cavalry and Ranks

Right now Britain is a middle rank and quite small power, however, many years ago it was a major power and known for its aggressiveness.

Britain needed a lot more fighters, therefore many men had to join the forces and even though they may not have had the weapons of today they most certainly had the strategy. The Victorian military served through a period of great technological and social change. They lived to see Queen Victoria ascend to the throne and then end her reign with her death in 1901.

Her lengthy reign was noticeable by the steady development and consolidation of the British Empire, and industrialization within Britain.

But what were the Victorian military doing at this point? Well, there were three central areas of development within the army during the Victorian era.

From the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the mid-1850s, the Duke of Wellington and his successors attempted to maintain its organization and tactics.

When Victoria had died, the Army was still occupied in the Second Anglo-Boer War. However other than measures embraced for that war, it was perceptibly the army which would enter the First World War.

The Industrial Revolution had changed the Victorian military’s weapons, transport, and equipment, and social modifications brought about an improved standard within the education system which inspired more changes to the terms of service and viewpoint of many soldiers.

Nonetheless, it keeps hold of many features innate from the Duke of Wellington’s military forces, and given that its major purpose was to uphold the increasing British Empire, it fluctuated in many ways from the recruitment armies of continental Europe.

Victorian army ranks

The Victorian army consisted of cavalry which was made up of:

3 Household Cavalry Regiments

6 Dragoon Guard Regiments

4 Dragoon Regiments

4 Light Dragoon Regiments

4 Hussar Regiments

4 Lancer Regiments

In the British Army, the line between light cavalry, such as Light Dragoons and heavy cavalry, for example, Household Cavalry was for shock effect on the battlefield was blurred, essentially as both branches employed similar mounts, which was better matched for the charge than long-standing solid service.

The Victorian infantry consisted of:

3 Foot Guard Regiments

3 Fusilier Regiments

8 Light Infantry Regiments

7 Highland Infantry Regiments

79 Line Infantry Regiments

2 Rifle Regiments

Victorian era military uniforms

The typical outfit of a soldier in the infantry would be scarlet coatees, with greatcoats for cold weather. A white cotton dress for summer months when the weather would be hot and a dark green blackish uniforms.

Field Officer in Dress, 2nd Queen’s and a Company Officer 31st in Frock Coat. Courtesy: royal surreys

Victorian soldiers

During the Victorian age, men were expected to fight for their country during wars. While there were some soldiers who volunteered, others were forced by the government to join the army. The expectation from them was to serve in the army for a fixed time before going back to their usual jobs and also could be called up to fight for their country at any time.

List of Victorian Wars

Crimea War 1854 – 1856
Chinese Opium Wars 1839-42 and 56-60
New Zealand Maori Wars, 1844-6, 1860-1 and 1863-5
Ashanti (Ghana) of 1873-4, 1895-96 and 1900.
Zulu 1879
1st Boer War 1880 – 1881
Egypt and Sudan 1882 – 1898
Chinese Boxer Rebellion 1900
2nd Boer 1899 – 1902

Victorian army weapons

Gatling gun was one of the very first automatic weapons, or “machine guns”. Gatling gun had several barrels, and as the crank was turned, the barrels rotated and fired one by one. This is very well known, and an improved version of the Gatling gun is even used today on helicopters and airplanes.

Victorian army weapons: Gatling gun

While the Gatling gun had multiple barrels, the Maxim gun, had only one barrel. It was the first self-powered machine gun meaning that the mechanism used the recoil from the firing bullet to force the spent shell out of the barrel and load a fresh one into it.

Victorian army weapons: Maxim gun

This invention hugely improved the rate of fire and shortened the time and soldiers it took to load the gun. Also, many of our modern guns, including rifles, use this mechanism today.


Range 1000 yards effective, 2000 yards maximum


Victorian soldier’s weapons: Rifle

The Snider-Enfield rifle was used by the British army as a replacement for the 1853 Enfield musket.



Range: 600 yards effective, 1500 maximum

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