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Military exercises in the 18th century

18th century military exercises on The Level
From the private collection of Roy Grant

Volunteer militia exercises

The scare of a Napoleonic invasion in 1793 resulted in many troops and militia being drafted into Brighton. The training exercises they held to repel the enemy should an enemy ever come, subsequently became an almost annual event. So practically every year around Easter, military exercises were held in the Brighton area involving volunteer militia from all over England. 

Parading through the town

They were supported by the regular army from the two local barracks and other Army Barracks further afield.  Post 1840, most foot soldiers from the far west and north of the Thames arrived by steam train, and The Level was used as their initial assembly point.  They then paraded through the town and up to Brighton Racecourse. 

Assembled at Brighton Racecourse

At the racecourse they regrouped from a five or six abreast file to broad lines, and paraded past all the generals (and on one occasion The Prince of Wales), who were all assembled in the race course stands to take their salute. Around the 1840s, Lord Cardigan was a frequent attendee, and it is known that the cavalry used in his biggest blunder, The Charge of The Light Brigade, initially practiced their charges on the hillsides around Brighton Racecourse.

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