Founder of Sandhurst, Lt Gen John Le Marchant
'A Most Able Officer'
- Paul Le Messurier
15th August 2025
Major-General John Gaspard Le Marchant (9 February 1766–22 July 1812) was one of the finest British cavalry commanders of his generation; he was also an intellectual soldier who had a great influence on the efficient functioning of the army. He joined the British Army at the age of sixteen and as a young man his quick temper would on occasion lead him into trouble. At one point, he challenged his commanding officer to a duel following a disagreement. He soon learnt to control his temperament and in spite of his lack of society connections, he quickly rose through the ranks to become one of the most accomplished cavalry officers of his time. A master swordsman, he had seen first-hand how poor training and sub-standard skill with the sword resulted in numerous casualties amongst the British cavalry, sometimes as a result of self-inflicted wounds. Le Marchant set about designing a new cavalry sabre, writing instruction manuals on swordsmanship and training cavalry men throughout the country.
He didn’t stop there. His proposal for professional training of officers initially met with opposition. But he persevered and in 1801, Parliament approved a grant of £30,000 for Le Marchant to set up two military colleges which would eventually combine to become the world-famous Royal Military College at Sandhurst. His success as a cavalry officer and a reformer did not go unnoticed and he became a firm favourite of George III. He led a successful cavalry attack on the French army during the Battle of Salamanca in 1812. It was at the end of this battle that he was killed, aged 47.