On 28 August 1882 an Egyptian army led by Ahmed Urabi attacked the British troops at Kassassin in order to recapture the Suez Canal. The outcome of the battle was in the balance until the arrival of British reinforcements finally broke the Egyptians
Among the latter was a composite regiment of the Household Cavalry, the 7th Hussars and the Royal Horse Artillery.
The Moonlight Charge of Kassassin by the Household Cavalry, 28 August 1882. Chromolithograph by G W Bacon
Legend has it that the Household Cavalry regiment (a squadron from each of 1st Life Guards, 2nd Life Guards and the Royal Horse Guards) arrived as it was getting dark, but nevertheless went immediately into action. By moonlight they cut their way through the Egyptian infantry to reach a battery of guns behind them.
Queen Victoria herself had specially requested the inclusion of the Household Cavalry in General Sir Garnet Wolseley’s expeditionary force and their ‘midnight’ or ‘moonlight’ charge became one of the most famous incidents of the campaign.
‘By this time the moon had risen. Squadrons showed up black, and flash answered flash as the opposing guns opened one on the other. The order now came to charge, and away went the Household Squadrons led by the gallant Ewart. Into the Egyptian infantry and up to the guns they went, the 7th following as a solid reserve in hand, but a little of this work was enough for the enemy, and they evaporated in all directions.’
Description of the charge at Kassassin, London Gazette, (1882)