New Hampshire: The Governor’s Horse Guards (1859-1879 & 1999-Present)

Little known facts about the New Hampshire Governor’s Horse Guards include that they were told at the beginning of the Civil War that the war would be so brief, that cavalry (and they) would not be needed; and the modern-day version accepts women into its ranks.

September 28, 2006 was the seventh anniversary of (the new) “Governor’s Horse Guards Day,” as originally proclaimed by then-Governor Jeanne Shaheen. The organization of this ceremonial unit of the New Hampshire National Guard was approved on September 28, 1999, and on March 26, 2000, the unit made their first appearance at the Saint Patrick’s Parade in Manchester, NH at which time The Honorable Governor, Jeanne Shaheen inspected the unit, accompanied by U.S. Senator Dodd of Connecticut.

The original Governor’s Horse Guards, whose members included past and future governors, statesmen, prominent “movers and shakers” of all New Hampshire’s occupations, had become defunct in 1879 (although it was not formally dissolved until 1986).

The original uniform of the field was a white dolman, green body jacket and trousers, shako and pompon, gray astrachan fur and gold lace trimmings; that of the line, staff, and members, blue jackets and trousers, red dolman, and yellow worsted lace trimmings.  The entire outfit of the chief bugler was brilliant scarlet. Each officer and man had rolled behind the saddle for immediate use a large gray, woolen, waterproof horseman’s cloak lined with scarlet.  The housings of the field were scarlet and gold; of the corps, blue and yellow.

Today they sport Civil War-vintage uniforms, including modern BDU’s (battle dress uniforms) and Army Dress Blues, period correct Union and Confederate Cavalry uniforms/arms, and an 1841 horse-drawn mountain howitzer. Some members have late 19th century, cowboy uniforms and weapons.

Perhaps what I found equally as intriguing as the history of the Governor’s Horse Guards, was that both local and Boston bands trained specifically to accompany the Horse Guards, and that learning to play musical instruments while on horseback in a parade, was quite a difficult feat.


**Additional Reading**

NH Governor’s Horse Guards (Current)-

History of the Governor’s Horse Guards (PDF)-

Photographs, Registration Form, Event Schedule (for the NH Governor’s Horse Guards)-

Royal Horse Guards Quadrille (music)-

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