Royal Artillery Uniform Buttons, Regular and Volunteer

Official Title:
to 1716 – The Train of Artillery.
from 1716 – The Royal Regiment of Artillery.

Note: these are the generic design regular and volunteer buttons—a number of volunteer/militia units had their own unique design buttons. The Royal Irish Artillery also had their own design of button up until amalgamation with the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1801.


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A cannon on its carriage pointing right with a pile of shot stacked under the barrel.


1790 1802 Royal Artillery Uniform Button

The shield of the Board of Ordnance:- three left pointing cannons stacked vertically on a horizontally striated shield. The upper part of the shield divided and containing three cannon balls. This example an officer’s gilt concave open backed version marked to the reverse: Treble Gilt Stand.d. Colour.
Bronze other ranks version, flat construction, no backmark.


Below: post 1802 type: A garter strap inscribed Royal Regt. of Artillery with the royal crown above. In the centre the mirrored Georgian royal cypher ‘GR’. These examples in brass or bronze, no backmark.

1831-1840 and 1855-1873

Below; the post 1831 version of three cannons pointing left with the royal crown over. The design was changed in 1840 with the addition of a ‘Ubique’ scroll below the lower cannon. Reversion to this older design occurred in 1855 and volunteer white metal and silver plate types appeared in this latter period.
Our example here in gilt, 22mm diameter, backmark J.W. Reynolds & Co. 50 St. Martins Lane London.

Royal Artillery Button 1855-1873

Below, a volunteer officer type from the latter period:
this example in silver plate, 23mm diameter, backmark W. Jones & Co. 23 Regent St. London.

W. Jones & Co. 23 Regent St. London.


Below; the similar version to the above but with the addition of the Ubique scroll. Worn during the interim period of the ‘scroll-less’ version.
Our examples in gilt, 25mm diameter and 16mm diameter. Marked Superior Extra Quality (large) and Orange Gilt Standard (small).

1873- date

(with crown changes at two successions- 1901, 1952)

An artillery field gun pointing left, with the royal crown over.
Below; Victorian brass examples 1873-1901. Large button 23mm diameter, backmark Smith & Wright Limited Birmingham. Smaller button by Platt & Co., London.

Below; Royal Artillery volunteer type post 1873 patterns:- top left- Victorian officer’s silver; top right- Victorian other ranks white metal. Bottom pair- post 1901 Edwardian types, large and medium. Various makers.

Royal Artillery Volunteer Buttons.

Below, brass regular artillerymen 1901-1952 pattern

Records and Badges of the British Army (Extract. Published 1895)

Chichester H.M., Burges-Short, G.

Officer, Foot Artillery, 1846

BESIDES the ” Gunners ” in the King’s Castles and Garrisons, ” Trains of Artillery,” consisting of gunners, conductors, artificers and pioneers, formed part of an army in the field as early as the reign of Henry VIII. In the reign of Charles II. a Royal Warrant prescribed the duties of garrison and train gunners. In the famous camp on Hounslow Heath in the reign of James II. was a train of 3-pounder guns, served by ” gentlemen of the Ordnance,” and guarded by escorts of grenadiers ; and at the time of Monmouth’s Rebellion, the present Royal Fusiliers was raised as the ” Ordnance Regiment,” for the special duty of guarding the Artillery Train (see the chapter on the Royal Fusiliers).

A Train of Artillery, distinguished by a blue uniform with orange facings, served in the campaigns of King William III. ; and after the Peace of Ryswick an attempt was made to incorporate the many experienced artillerymen then turned adrift to a permanent regiment ; it was, however, broken up within the year. Trains of artillery also did good service on various occasions in the great wars of Queen Anne’s reign.

The present Royal Regiment of Artillery dates its corporate existence from 26th May, 1716, when two companies were permanently established at Woolwich. According to Major Hime, five companies of this date are still existing, namely, 1st and 2nd Batteries Field Artillery, and No. 1 Battery Eastern Division, No. 1 Battery Western Division, and No. 28 Battery Southern Division, Garrison Artillery. They are believed to have served in some, if not in all, of Marlborough’s campaigns, and all have long rolls of subsequent war service.

The number of companies was subsequently increased, and in 1754, the year in which official Army Lists were first printed, they were ten in number, five abroad and five at Woolwich, besides a company of gentleman cadets at the Royal Military Academy, which had been founded in 1741. In 1756 certain companies of artillery were raised on the Irish Establishment. These, subsequently known as the Royal Irish Artillery, after performing good service in Flanders and the West Indies, were amalgamated with’ the Royal Artillery after the Union in 1801, and became the old 8th Battalion. Further augmented in numbers, the Royal Artillery rendered valuable service at Minden and elsewhere in Germany, in Canada, at Belle Isle and Havana, throughout the American War, at the famous Defence of Gibraltar, at Minorca, and elsewhere. Certain companies were also employed in the East Indies prior to 1763.

Horse Artillery was first organised on the eve of the great war with France, but their first employment in real warfare was in North Holland, in 1799, when the ” Chesnut Troop ” of later renown was all but sacrificed. Horse batteries were, however, employed in Flanders, one of which so highly distinguished itself at Vaux, in April, 1794, that the Duke of York desired it to march past the whole Allied Army drawn up under arms, in recognition of its gallantry and devotion. Horsed batteries were also employed, under all sorts of difficulties, in Egypt, in 1801. Several detachments of the regiment were employed in bomb-ketches under Lord Nelson before Boulogne, in 1804, as they had been off the French coast under Hawke, nearly fifty years previously.

During the Peninsular War the Royal Regiment consisted of a Horse Artillery brigade and ten battalions, the companies of which were employed as Field or Garrison (or Siege) Artillery, as required, together with a small Invalid Establishment, and latterly a large but not very efficient corps of Royal Artillery Drivers. Besides these, a small corps of Royal Foreign Artillery and some Horse and Field batteries on the strength of the King’s German Legion also existed.

Robe’s artillery at Vimiera and the Norman Ramsay episode at Fuentes d’Onor are familiar to all readers of Napier’s History.

Perhaps less generally understood are the splendid services of the British artillery at the various sieges in Spain, performed in the face of every conceivable difficulty. Nor were their brethren at remote stations less active. A battery, now No. 11 of the Western Division, was highly distinguished at the reduction of Martinique, in 1809, and amongst other trophies assigned to it, received a battle-axe, which was long bornein front of the company by the tallest gunner therein, who was allowed to wear moustaches. The company was known as the ” Battle-Axe Company.”

Some companies employed in America, in 1813-15, also performed much arduous service. In 1813 some detachments sent to Germany were formed into a rocket troop, and as the 2nd Rocket Troop, R.A., under command of Captain Bogue, rendered important services in support of the Crown Prince of Sweden’s Army, at the great battle of Leipsic, in 1813. After serving at Waterloo, this troop was disbanded, but the 1st Rocket Troop was retained until after the Crimean War.

On the pre-eminent services of the Royal Regiment at Waterloo, in the Crimean War, and in the Bengal Mutiny, when it re-appeared on the arena of Indian warfare, and in other lesser operations,—as in Spain during the first Carlist War, in Syria in 1841, in the Kaffir, New Zealand, Chinese, and other minor wars, and the more recent campaigns in Egypt and the Soudan, we need not enlarge.

When the forces of the late East India Company were taken over by the Crown, the Bengal, Madras, and Bombay Artilleries, with their long roll of honours dating from Plassy, were amalgamated with the Royal Regiment. Since then the services of the Royal Regiment have extended to Abyssinia, Bhootan, Afghanistan, the interior of South Africa, China and Japan, Burmah, Egypt and the Soudan, and elsewhere ; in short, Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt.

The regiment is now divided into Horse Artillery, Field Artillery, Mountain Artillery and Garrison Artillery, the divisions of which latter include the regiments of Artillery Militia first formed during the Russian War.


DUNCAN’S History of the Royal Artillery, 2 vols. (London 1879).
KANE’S LISTS. (A new- edition was issued some few years back).
MITCHELL’S History of the Horse Brigade, 2nd edition.
KATE’S & STUBBE’S Histories of the Bengal Artillery

Author: Mike

13 thoughts on “Royal Artillery Uniform Buttons, Regular and Volunteer

    1. Mike, I have a gold plated button to H.A.C. Coursing Club. ( I collect all Artillery buttons of the R.A. And British Commonwealth countries) I can find no information on it. Can you help please. Best regards, David Jeffrey in Canada.

      1. Hi David, that’s a new one on me too. Best to ask on the forum, generally someone has some information, even on the obscure items.

  1. Greetings from across the pond. Just dug a very early Royal Regiment of Artillery style flat button with a drilled post shank with the three balls across the top of the shield over three canon without a backmark from an early colonial site today. Send me an email address and I’ll post a couple of images. Could date to mid 1600s or later. I can do sharper images with a camera vs these phone images. Looking for any further info about this button.

  2. Mike, Further to my earlier post Re. H.A.C. Coursing Club. H.A.C. Archivist contacted, can find no evidence of such club. North Somerset Yeomanry had same Motto, “Arma Pacis Fulcra”, No luck there either!. Finally, through facebook group “British Volunteer and Militia Buttons” found Identical button attributed as a Livery button to the name Jane Faseson. Not clear if that is Personal name or family name as in Jane-Faseson. It really is a beautiful gold plated button, (by Jennens) Now not sure what to do with it! Best regards, David J.

  3. Hi,

    I found a gold plated button today (North Co. Dublin, Ireland), similar to the above.

    Concave button
    Gold Plated front and rear
    Large gold shield on front
    3 Artillery cannons pointed left
    3 circles along top of shiel with triangle of smaller balls between them
    Diameter: 15mm approx
    Shank on rear still in place
    Wear & Tear but gold plating still in places

    Let me know if you want more details as I know very little about these items.

  4. Hi
    I am trying to I’D what I believe is a RA button – 3 cannons late 18th early 19th century, the question is, it has VOA on the bottom which baffles me, thanks in advance. Hugh

  5. I have one no clue what time period at all if any one can help me just email back thanks and I will send photos!

  6. A Yank here, I have long admired the British military having served with them over my 32-year career in the U. S. Army. I am trying to find out what British Army regiment (I’m guessing around the first Boers War) wore a Scarlet “coating” with double-breasted buttons. The picture reveals a gold braided “mop” as the shoulder board. His cover, held in his hands, is somewhat hidden in the painting but one can see a plume of feathers on the top. Is this a colonel in the Lancers? Your expert guidance is deeply appreciated by your “cousin” across the Ponnd!

    1. That sounds like a scarlet infantry ‘coatee’ circa 1854 during the Crimean War. The ‘cover’ you refer to with plume sounds like a shako. These had circular woollen tufts for regiments of the line.
      In the Sovereign’s Foot Guards fringed epaulettes were worn on both shoulders in white worsted for SNCOs and gilt bullion by majors and above. Regiments of the line had a different arrangement with officers of field rank in the 6 centre companies wearing two, but junior officers wearing just one, and the two flank companies, Grenadier (on right flank) and Light (on left flank) wearing crested crescents instead.

    2. If the tunic is double-breasted, and the front panel tapers – a plastron front, then it is probably the 16th Lancers.

  7. Hi
    I found a silver plated button today(17 January 2022) on the farm in the eastern Free State South Africa it is very similar to the above buttons it has a different backmark tough. It has seen better days and is somewhat damaged but the crown and three cannons pointing left is very clear and unmistakable.

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