1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Officers

OFFICERS. Historically the employment of the word “officer” to denote a person holding a military or naval command as representative of the state, and not as deriving his authority from his own powers or privileges, marks an entire change in the character of the armed forces of civilized nations. Originally signifying an official, one who performs an assigned duty (Lat. officium), an agent, and in the 15th century actually meaning the subordinate of such an official(even to-day a constable is so called), the word seems to have acquired a military significance late in the 16th century.[1] It was at this time that armies, though not yet “standing,” came to be constituted almost exclusively of professional soldiers in the king’s pay. Mercenaries, and great numbers of mercenaries, had always existed, and their captains were not feudal magnates. But the bond between mercenaries and their captains was entirely personal, and the bond between the captain and the sovereign was of the nature of a contract. The non-mercenary portion of the older armies was feudal in character. It was the lord and not a king’s officer who commanded it, and he commanded in virtue of his rights, not of a warrant or commission.

European history in the late 15th century is the story of the victory of the crown over the feudatories. The instrument of the crown was its army, raised and commanded by its deputies. But these deputies were still largely soldiers of fortune and, in the higher ranks, feudal personages, who created the armies themselves by their personal influence with the would-be soldier or the unemployed professional fighting man. Thus the first system to replace the obsolete combination of feudalism and “free companies” was what may be called the proprietary system. Under this the colonel was the proprietor of his regiment, the captain the proprietor of his company. The king accepted them as his officers, and armed them with authority to raise men, but they themselves raised the men as a rule from experienced soldiers who were in search of employment, although, like Falstaff, some captains and colonels " misused the King's press damnably." All alike were most rigorously watched lest by showing imaginary men on their pay-sheets they should make undue profits. A " muster " was the production of a numljcr of living men on parade corresponding to the number shown on the pay-roU. An inspection was an inspection not so much of the efficiency as of the numbers and the accounts of units. A full account of these practices, which were neither more nor less prevalent in England than elsewhere, will be found in J. W. Fortescue's History of llic British Army, vol. i. So faithfully was the custom observed of requiring the showing of a man for a man's pay, that the grant of a special allowance to officers administering companies was often made in the form of allowing them to show imaginary John Does and Richard Roes on the pay-sheets.

The next step was taken when armies, instead of being raised for each campaign and from the qualified men who at each recruiting time offered themselves, became " standing " armies fed by untrained recruits. During the late 17th and the i8th centuries the crown supplied the recruits, and also the money for maintaining the forces, but the colonels and captains retained in a more or less restricted degree their proprietorship.

Thus, the profits of military office without its earlier burdens were in time of peace considerable, and an officer's commission had therefore a " surrender value." The practice of buying and selling commissions was a natural consequence, and this continued long after the system of proprietary regiments and companies had disappeared. In England " purchase " endured until 1S73, nearly a hundred years after it had ceased on the continent of Europe and more than fifty after the clothing, feeding and payment of the soldiers had been taken out of the colonels' hands. Ihe purchase system, it should be mentioned, did not affect artillery and engineer officers, either in England or in the rest of Europe. These officers, who were rather semi-civil than military officials vmtil about 1715, executed an office rather than a command — superintended gun-making, built fortresses and so on. As late as 1780 the right of a general officer promoted from the Royal Artillery to command troops of other arms was challenged. In its original form, therefore, the proprietary system was a most serious bar to efficiency. So long as war was chronic, and self-trained recruits were forthcoming, it had been a good working method of devolving responsibility. But when drill and the handling of arms became more complicated, and, above all, when the supply of trained men died away, the state took recruiting out of the colonels' and captains' hands, and, as the individual officer had now nothing to offer the crown but his own potential military capacity (part of which resided in his social status, but by no means all), the crown was able to make him, in the full sense of the word, an officer of itself. This was most fully seen in the reorganization of the French army by Louis XIV. and Louvois. The colonelcies and captaincies of horse and foot remained proprietary offices in the hands of the nobles but these offices were sinecures or almost sinecures. The colonels, in peace at any rate, were not expected to do regimental duty. They were at liberty to make such profits as they could make under a stringent inspection system. But they were expected to be the influential figure-heads of their regiments and to pay large sums for the privilege of being proprietors. This classification of officers into two bodies, the poorer which did the whole of the work, and the richer upon which the holding of a commission conferred an honour that birth or wealth did not confer, marks two very notable advances in the history of army organization, the professionalization of the officer and the creation of the prestige attaching to the holder of a commission because he holds it and not for any extraneous reason.

The distinction between working and quasi-honorary officers was much older, of course, than Louvois's reorganization. Moreover it extended to the highest ranks. About 1600 the " general " of a European army ' was always a king, prince or nobleman. The lieutenant-general, by custom the commander of the cavalry, was also, as a rule, a noble, in Except in the Italian republics.

virtue of his command of the aristocratic arm. But the commander of the foot, the " sergeant-major-general " or " major-general, " was invariably a professional soldier. It was his duty to draw uj) the army (not merely the foot) for battle, and in other respects to act as chief of staff to the general. In the infantry regiment, the " sergeant-major " or " major " was second-in-command and adjutant combined. Often, if not always, he was promoted from amongst the lieutenants and not the (proprietary) captains. The lieutenants were the backbone of the army.

Seventy years later, on the organization of the first great standing army by Louvois, the " proprietors, " as mentioned above, were reduced to a minimum both in numbers and in military importance. The word " major " in its various meanings had come, in the French service, to imply staff functions. Thus the sergeant-major of infantry became the " adjudant-major." The sergeant-major-general, as commander of the foot, had disappeared and given place to numerous lieutenant-generals and " brigadiers, " but as chief of the staff he survived for two hundred years. As late as 1S70 the chief of staff of a French army bore the title of " the major general."

Moreover a new title had come into prominence, that of " marshal " or " field marshal." This marks one of the most important points in the evolution of the mihtary officer, his classification by rank and not by the actual command he holds. In the i6th century an officer was a lieutenant of, not in, a particular regiment, and the higher officers were general, lieutenant-general and major-general 0/ a particular army. When their army was disbanded they had no command and possessed therefore no rank — except of course when, as was usually the case, they were colonels of permanent regiments or governors of fortresses. Thus in the British army it was not until late in the i8th century that general officers received any pay as such. The introduction of a distinctively military rank"^ of "marshal" or "field marshal, " which took place in France and the empire in the first years of the 17th century, meant the establishment of a list of general officers, and the list spread downwards through the various regimental ranks, in proportion as the close proprietary system broke up, until it became the general army list of an army of to-day. At first field marshals were merely officers of high rank and experience, eligible for appointment to the offices of general, lieutenant general, &c., in a particular army. On an army being formed, the list of field marshals was drawn upon, and the necessary number appointed. Thus an army of Gustavus Adolphus's time often included 6 or 8 field marshals as subordinate general officers. But soon armies grew larger, more mobile and more flexible and more general officers were needed. Thus fresh grades of general arose. The next rank below that of marshal, in France, was that of lieutenant-general, which had formerly implied the second-in-command of an army, and a little further back in history the king's lieutenant-general or military viceroy.^ Below the lieutenant-general was the marechal dc camp, the heir of the sergeant-major-general. In the imperial scrMce the ranks were field marshal and heutenant field marshal (both of which survive to the present day) and major-general. A further grade of general officer was created by Louis XIV., that of brigadier, and this completes the process of evolution, for the regimental system had already provided the lower titles.

The ranks of a modern army, with slight variations in title, are therefore as follows:

a) Field marshal: in Germany, Generalfeldmarschall; in Spain "captain-general"; in France (though the rank is in abeyance) " marshal." The marshals of France, however, were neither so few in number nor so restricted to the highest commands as are marshals elsewhere. In Germany a new rank, " colonel-general "

- The title was, of course, far older.

In England, until after Marlborough's death, rank followed command and not vice versa. The first field marshals were the duke of Argyll and the earl of Cadogan. Marlborough's title, or rather office, was that of captain-general. {Generaloberst), has come into existence—or rather has been revived[2]—of late years. Most of the holders of this rank have the honorary style of general-field-marshal.[3]

(b) General: in Germany and Russia, “general of infantry,” " general of cavalry, " " general of artillery." In Austria generals of artillery and infantry were known by the historic title of Feldzeugmeister (ordnance-master) up to 1909, but the grade of general of infantry was created in that year, the old title being now restricted to generals of artillery. In France the highest grade of general officer is the " general of division." In the United States army the grade of full " general " has only been held by Washington, Grant, Sherman and Sheridan.

(c) Lieutenant-general (except in France): in Austria the old title of lieutenant field marshal is retained. In the United States army the title " lieutenant-general, " except within recent years, has been almost as rare as " general." Winfield Scott was a brevet lieutenant general. The substantive rank was revived for Grant when he was placed in command of the Union Army in 1864. It was abolished as an American rank in 1907.

(d) Major-general (in France, general of brigade): this is the highest grade normally found in the United States Army, generals and lieutenant-generals being promoted for special service only.[4]

(e) Brigadier-general, in the United States and (as a temporary rank only) in the British services.

The above are the five grades of higher officers. To all intents and purposes, no nation has more than four of these five ranks, while France and the United States, the great republics, have only two. The correspondence between rank and functions cannot be exactly laid down, but in general an officer of the rank of lieutenant-general commands an army corps and a major-general a division. Brigades are commanded by major-generals, brigadier-generals or colonels. Armies are as a rule commanded by field marshals or full generals. In France generals of division command divisions, corps, armies and groups of armies.

The above are classed as general officers. The “field officers” (French officiers superieurs, German Stabsoffiziere) are as follows:

(a) Colonel.—This rank exists in its primitive significance in every army. It denotes a regimental commander, or an officer of corresponding status on the staff. In Great Britain, with the " linked battalion " system, regiments of infantry do not work as units, and the executive command of battalions, regiments of cavalry and brigades of field artillery is in the hands of lieutenant-colonels. Colonels of British regiments who are quasi-honorary (though no longer proprietary) chiefs are royal personages or general officers. Colonels in active employment as such are either on the staff, commanders of brigades or corresponding units, or otherwise extraregimentally employed.

(b) Lieutenant-colonel: in Great Britain "the commanding officer " of a unit. Elsewhere, where the regiment and not the battalion is the executive unit, the lieutenant-colonel sometimes acts as second in command, sometimes commands one of the battalions. In Russia all the battalion leaders are lieutenant-colonels.

(c) Major. — This rank does not exist in Russia, and in France is replaced by chef de bataillon or chef d'escadron, colloquially commandant. In the British infantry he preserves some of the characteristics of the ancient " sergeant-major, " as a second in command with certain administrative duties. The junior majors command companies. In the cavalry the majors, other than the second-in command, command squadrons; in the artillery they command batteries. In armies which have the regiment as the executive unit, majors command battalions (“wings” of cavalry, “groups” of artillery).

Lastly the “company officers” (called in France and Germany subaltern officers) are as follows:—

(a) Captain (Germany and Austria, Hauptmann, cavalry Rittmeister): in the infantry of all countries, the company commander. In Russia there is a lower grade of captain called “staff-captain,” and in Belgium there is the rank of “second-captain.” In all countries except Great Britain captains command squadrons and batteries. Under the captain, with such commands and powers as are delegated to them, are the subaltern s, usually graded as—

(b) Lieutenant (first lieutenant in U.S.A., Oberleutnant in Germany and Austria).

(c) Sub-lieutenant (second-lieutenant in Great Britain and U.S.A., Leutnant in Germany and Austria).

(d) Aspirants, or probationary young officers, not of full commissioned status.

The continental officer is on an average considerably older, rank for rank, than the British; but he is neither younger nor older in respect of command. In the huge " universal service " armies of to-day, the regimental officer of France or Germany commands, in war, on an average twice the number of men that are placed under the British officer of equal rank. Thus a German or French major of infantry has about 900 rifles to direct, while a British major may have either half a battalion, 450, or a double company, 220; a German captain commands a company of 250 rifles as against an English captain’s no and so on. At the same time it must be remembered that at peace strength the continental battalion and company are maintained at little more than half their war strength, and the under-office ring of European armies only makes itself seriously felt on mobilization.

It is different with the questions of pay and promotion, which chiefly affect the life of an army in peace. As to the former (see also Pensions) the Continental officer is paid at a lower rate than the British, as shown by the table of ordinary pay per annum (without special pay or allowances) below:—

France.  Germany. 
Lieutenant-colonel † 328 263 292
Major † 248 224 292
Captain † 210 139 to 200 150 to 195
Oberleutnant (Lieutenant) † 118 101 to 120  78
Second Lieutenant (Leutnant, 
Sous-lieutenant) †
 94  93 45 to 60

† Infantry, lowest scale, other arms and branches higher, often considerably higher.

It must be noted that in France and Gepmany the major is a battalion commander, corresponding to the British lieutenant colonel. But the significance of this table can only be realized when it is remembered that promotion is rapid in the British army and very slow in the others. The senior Oberleulnants of the German army are men of 37 to 38 years of age; the senior captains 47 to 48. In 1908 the youngest captains were 36, the youngest majors 45 years of age. As another illustration, the captain’s maximum pay in the French army, £10 per annum less than a British captain’s, is only given after 12 years’ service in that rank, i.e. to a man of at least twenty years’ service. The corresponding times for British regular officers in 1905 (when the effects of rapid promotions during the South African War were still felt) were 6 to 7.5 years from first commission to promotion to captain, and 14 to 19 years from first commission to promotion to major. In 1908, under more normal conditions, the times were 7 to 8.5 years to captain, 15 to 20 to major. In the Royal Engineers and the Indian army a subaltern is automatically promoted captain on completing 9 years’ commissioned service, and a captain simDarly promoted major after 18.

The process of development in the case of naval officers (see Navy) presents many points of similarity, but also considerable differences. For from the first the naval officer could only offer to serve on the king’s ship: he did not build a ship as a colonel raised a regiment, and thus there was no proprietary system. On the other hand the naval officer was even more of a simple office-holder than his comrade ashore. He had no rank apart from that which he held in the economy of the ship, and when the ship went out of commission the officers as well as the crew were disbanded. One feature of the proprietary system, however, appears in the navy organization; there was a marked distinction between the captain and the lieutenant who led the combatants and the master and the master’s mate who sailed the ship. But here there were fewer “vested interests,” and instead of remaining in the condition, so to speak, of distinguished passengers, until finally eliminated by the “levelling up” of the working class of officers, the lieutenants and captains were (in England) required to educate themselves thoroughly in the subjects of the sea officer’s profession. When this process had gone on for two generations, that is, about 1670, the formation of a permanent staff of naval officers was begun by the institution of half-pay for the captains, and very soon afterwards the methods of admission and early training of naval officers were systematized.

The ranks in the British Royal Navy arc shown with the relative ranks of the army in the following table (taken from King’s Regulations), which also gives some idea of the complexity of the non-combatant branches of naval officers.

Corresponding Ranks.

Army. Navy.
1. Field Marshals  Admirals of the Fleet
2. Generals  Admirals
3. Lieutenant-Generals  Vice-Admirals  Engineer-in-Chief, if Engineer Vice-Admiral.
4. Major-Generals  Rear-Admirals  Inspectors-General of Hospitals and Fleets.
 Engineer-in-Chief, if Engineer Rear-Admiral.
 Engineer Rear-Admiral.
5. Brigadier-Generals  Commodores

6. Colonels

7. Lieutenant-Colonels

8. Majors

Captains of 3 years’ seniority

Captains under 3 years’ seniority

Commanders, but junior of that rank

Lieutenants of 8 years' seniority .

9. Captains

10. Lieutenants ....

11 . Second Lieutenants .

12. Higher ranks of Warrant Officers

Lieutenants under 8 years' seniority


Deputy Inspectors-General of Hospitals and Fleets.

Secretaries to Admirals of the Fleet.


Engineer Captains of 8 years'seniority in that rank.

Staff Captains of 4 years' seniority.

Staff Captains under 4 years' seniority (navigating

branch). Secretaries to Commanders-in-Chief, of 5 years

service as such. Engineer Captains under 8 years' seniority in that

rank. Fleet-Surgeons. Secretaries to Commanders-in-Chief under 5 years

service. Fleet Paymasters. Engineer Commanders. Naval Instructors of 15 years' seniority. Engineer Lieutenants of 8 years' seniority, qualified

and selected. Staff-Surgeons. Secretaries to Junior Flag Officers, Commodores, 1st

Class. Staff Paymasters and Paymaster. Naval Instructors of 8 years' seniority. Carpenter Lieutenant of 8 years' seniority. Surgeons.

Secretaries to Commodores, 2nd Class. Naval Instructors under 8 years' seniority. Engineer Lieutenant under 8 years' seniority, or

over if not duly qualified and selected. Assistant Paymasters of 4 years' seniority. Carpenter Lieutenant under 8 years' seniority. Assistant Paymasters under 4 years' seniority. Engineer Sub-Lieutenants. Chief Gunner. Chief Boatswain. Chief Carpenter. Chief Artificer Engineer. Chief Schoolmaster. Midshipmen. Clerks.2 Gunners. Boatswains. Carpenters. Artificer Engineer. Head Schoolmaster. Head Wardmaster.

1But junior of the army rank.   2But senior of the army rank.

Training of British Army Officers.—This may be conveniently divided into two parts: (I.) that which precedes the appointment to a commission; (II.) that which succeeds it.

I. Omitting those officers who obtain their commissions from the ranks, the training which precedes the appointment to a commission is subdivided into: (a) General Education; (b) Technical Instruction.

(a) General Education.—A fairly high standard of education is considered essential. Candidates from universities approved by the Army Council must have resided for three academic years at their university, and have taken a degree in any subject or group of subjects other than Theology, Medicine, Music and Commerce. A university candidate for a commission in the Royal Artillery must further be qualified in Mathematics. The obtaining of first-class honours is considered equivalent to one year's extra service in the army, and an officer can count that year for calculating his service towards his pension. University candidates are eligible for commissions in the Cavalry, Royal Artillery, Infantry, Indian Army and Army Service Corps. For other branches of the service special regulations are in force.

Those candidates who have not been at a university are examined by the Civil Service Commissioners as to their educational qualifications. This examination is competitive in so far that vacancies at the Royal Military College at Sandhurst (for Cavalry, Infantry and Army Service Corps), or the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich (for Engineers and Artillery), go to those who pass highest, if physically fit. Before presenting himself for this examination, the candidate must produce a “leaving certificate” from the school at which he was educated, showing that he already possesses a fair knowledge of the subjects of examination. Candidates who fail to secure admission to these institutions, but satisfy the examiners that they are sufficiently well educated, can obtain commissions in the Special Reserve.

Candidates for commissions in the Royal Army Medical Corps and the Army Veterinary- Corps are not required to pass an educational examination, the ordinary course of medical or veterinary education being deemed sufficient, but the Army Council may reject a candidate who shows any deficiency in his general education.

Officers of the Colonial military forces wishing to obtain commissions in the British Army must either produce a school or college “leaving certificate” or pass an examination held by the Army Qualifying Board, or must show that they have passed one of certain recognized examinations.

(b) Technical Instruction.—In addition to general educational attainments, a fair knowledge of technical matters is expected from candidates.

For Cavalry, Infantry, Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery, - and Army-Service Corps, an examination must be passed in administration and organization; military history, strategy' and tactics; military topography, engineering and law. In addition, the following conditions must be complied with: (1) University candidates are required to be members of the Senior Division of the Officers Training Corps (see United Kingdom: Army) should there be a unit of that corps at the university to which they belong. They are further required to be attached for six weeks to a Regular unit during their residence at the university. If there is no Officers Training Corps at his university, the candidate is attached to a Regular unit for twelve weeks (consecutively or in two stages). The final examination in military subjects is competitive. (2) Cadets of the Royal Military College are instructed in the following additional subjects: sanitation, French or German (or both), riding and horse management, musketry, physical training, drill and signalling. Hindustani may be taken instead of French or German. (3) Cadets of the Royal Military Academy are instructed in the same subjects as the cadets at the Royal Military College, with the addition of artillery, advanced mathematics, chemistry, light, heat, electricity and workshop practice. Cadets who pass highest in the final exam mat ion for commissions are as a rule appointed to the Royal Engineers, the remainder to the Royal Artillery. (4) Officers of the Special Reserve, Territorial Force and certain other forces must have completed a continuous period of attachment of twelve months to a Regular unit of Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers or Infantry, and have served and beentrained for at least one year in the force to which they belong, before presenting themselves at the competitive examination in military subjects. The period of attachment to Regular units may be reduced if certain certificates are obtained. Candidates for commissions in the artillery must belong to the artillery branches of the above forces and have a certificate in riding and mathematics. They are not eligible for the Royal Engineers. (5) The conditions for Officers of the Colonial Military Forces are similar to those for the Special Reserve, &c., except that only two months' attachment to a Regular unit, or unit of the Permanent Colonial Forces, is required. (6) Commissions are also given to Cadets of the Royal Military College, Kingston, Canada; the training of that establishment being similar to that at the Royal Military College and the Royal Military Academy.

Candidates for commissions in the Royal Army Medical Corps and Army Veterinary Corps are not examined in military subjects, but must pass in the appropriate technical subjects; those for the Royal Army Medical Corps passing two written and two oral examinations, one each in medicine and surgery; those for the Army Veterinary Corps passing a written and an oral examination in veterinary medicine, surgery and hygiene. Candidates for the Royal Army Medical Corps have further to proceed to the Royal Army Medical College for instruction in recruiting duties, hygiene, pathology, tropical medicine, military surgery and military medical administration.

Royal Engineers attend the School of Military Engineering at Chatham, where long and elaborate courses of instruction are given in all subjects appertaining to the work of the corps, including practical work in the field and in fortresses.

II. The training which succeeds the appointment to a commission consists partly of more detailed instruction in the subjects already learned, partly of the practical application of those subjects, and partly of more advanced instruction with its practical application.

On first joining his unit the young officer is put through a course of preliminary drills, lasting, as a rule, for from three months (infantry) to six months (cavalr'), though the time depends upon the individual officer's rate of progress. During this period, and for some considerable time afterwards, officers are instructed in " regimental duties, " consisting of the interior economy of a regiment, such as financial accounts, stores, correspondence, the minor points of military law in their actual working, customs of the service, the management of regimental institutes, &c., with, in the case of the mounted branches, equitation and the care and management of horses. They are required to attend a number of courts-martial, as supernumerary members, before being permitted to attend one in the effective and official capacities of member or prosecutor, although from a legal point of view their qualification depends simply upon their rank and length of service. A course of musketry, theoretical and practical, is then gone through. Field training begins with lectures on the various evolutions of the squadron, battery or company, followed by actual practice in the field, arranged by the commanders of squadrons, batteries or companies.

Before promotion from the rank of second-lieutenant to lieutenant, an examination must be passed in " Regimental Duties " (practical, oral and written) and " Drill and Field Training " (practical only). The officer is then taken in hand by the commanding officer of his regiment, battalion or brigade. He is frequently examined in the subjects in which he has already been instructed, and is practically taught the more advanced stages of topography, engineering, tactics, law and organization. The next stage consists of regimental drills, which include every kind of practical work in the field which can be done by a unit under the command of a lieutenant-colonel. After this come brigade, division and army manoeuvres. Officers have to pass examinations in military subjects for promotion until they attain the rank of major. The chief of these subjects are tactics, military topography, military engineering, military law, administration and military history. For majors, before promotion to lieutenant-colonel, an examination in “Tactical Fitness for Command” has to be passed. This examination is a test of ability in commanding the " three arms " in the field; a course of attachment to the two arms to which the officer does not belong being a necessary preliminary.

Army Service Corps.—The officers of this corps have usually served for at least one year in the cavalry, infantry or Royal Marines, though commissions are also given to cadets of the Royal Military College. On joining, the officer first spends nine months on probation, during which he attends lectures and practical demonstrations in the following subjects: military administration and organization generally; and as regards Army Service Corps work, in detail; organization of the Field Army and Lines of Communication; war organization and duties of the A.S.C.; registry and care of correspondence; contracts; special purchases; precautions in receiving supplies, and care and issue of same; accounts, forms, vouchers and office work in general and in detail; barrack duties (including all points relating to coal, wood, turf, candles, lamps, gas, water, &c). A thorough and detailed description of all kinds of forage, bread stuffs, meat, groceries and other field supplies is given. The lectures and demonstrations in transport include, beside mounted and dismounted drill, wagon drill; carriages; embarkation and disembarkation of men and animals; en training and detaining; harness and saddlery; transport by rail and sea, with the office work involved. This course of instruction is given at the Army Service Corps Training Establishment at Aldershot.

A satisfactory examination having been passed, the officer is permanently taken into the corps. Before promotion to captain he is examined in accounts, correspondence and contracts; judging cattle and supplies; duties of an A.S.C. officer in charge of a sub-district; interior economy of a company; military vehicles and pack animals; embarkation, disembarkation and duties on board ship; convoys; duties of brigade supply and transport officer in war. Captains, before promotion to major, are examined in lines of communication of an army in war; method of obtaining supplies and transport in war, and formation and working of depots; organization of transport in war; schemes of supply and transport for troops operating from a fixed base; duties of a staff-officer administering supply, transport and barrack duties at home. These are in addition to general military subjects.

Royal Army Medical Corps.—On completion of the course of instruction at the Royal Army Medical College, lieutenants on probation proceed to the R.A.M.C. School of Instruction at Aldershot for a two months' course in the technical duties of the corps, and at the end of the course are examined in the subjects taught. This passed, their commissions are confirmed. After eighteen months service, officers are examined in squad, company and corps drills and exercises; the Geneva Convention; the administration, organization and equipment of the army in its relation to the medical services; duties of ward masters and stewards in military hospitals and returns, accounts and requisitions connected therewith; duties of executive medical officers; military law. These successful candidates are then eligible for promotion to captain. Before promotion to major the following examination must be passed, after a course of study under such arrangements as the director-general of the Army Medical Service may determine: (1) medicine, (2) surgery, (3) hygiene, (4) bacteriology, (5) one out of seven special subjects named, and (6) military law. The examination for promotion from major to lieutenant-colonel embraces army medical organization in peace and war; sanitation of towns, camps, transports, &c.; epidemiology and the management of epidemics; medical history of important campaigns; the Army Medical Service of the more important powers; the laws and customs of war, so far as they relate to the sick and wounded; and a tactical problem in field medical administration. Officers who pass these examinations with distinction are eligible for accelerated promotion.

Army Ordnance Department.—An officer of this department must have had at least four years' service in other branches of the army and must have passed for the rank of captain. They are then eligible to present themselves at an elementary examination in mathematics, -after passing which they attend a one year's course at the Ordnance College, Woolwich. The course comprises the following: (a) Gunnery (including principles of gun construction and practical optics); (b) Materiel, guns, carriages, machine guns, small arms and ammunition of all descriptions; (c) Army Ordnance Duties (functions of the corps; supply, receipt and issue of stores, &c.); (d) Machinery; (e) Chemistry and Metallurgy; (f) Electricity. An advanced course follows in which officers take up any two of the subjects of applied mathematics, chemistry and electricity, combined with either small arms, optics or mechanical design. They are then appointed to the department and hold their appointments for four years, with a possible extension of an additional three years.

Army Veterinary Corps.—A candidate on appointment as veterinary officer, on joining at Aldershot, undergoes a course of special training at the Army Veterinary School. The course lasts one year, and consists of (a) hygiene; conformation of the foot and shoeing, conformation, points, colours, markings; stable construction and management; management of horses in the open and of large bodies of sick; saddles and sore backs; collars and sore shoulders; bits and bitting; transport by sea and rail; mules, donkeys, camels and oxen; remount depots; training of army horses; marching, (i) Diseases met with specially on active service, (c) Military etiquette and ethics; accounts and returns; administration and organization; veterinary hospitals, mobilization, map-reading and law. At the end of the course he is examined, and if found satisfactory, is retained in the service. Before promotion to captain he is examined in the duties of executive veterinary officers and in law: before promotion to major, in medicine, surgery, hygiene, bacteriology and tropical diseases, and in one special subject selected by the candidate; and before promotion to lieutenant-colonel, in law, duties of administrative veterinary officers at home and abroad, management of epizootics, sanitation of stables, horse-lines and transports.

Army Pay Department. — Officers are appointed to the department, on probation for a period not exceeding one year, after serving for five years in one of the other arms or branches of the service. At the end of this period the candidates are examined in the following subjects: examination of company pay lists and pay and mess book; method of keeping accounts and preparing balance-sheets and monthly estimates; knowledge of pay- warrant, allowance regulations and financial instructions, book-keeping, by double entry and the duties attending the payment of soldiers; aptitude for accounts, and quickness and neatness in work. On completion of five years' service, officers return to their regiments, unless they elect to remain with the department or are required by the Army Council to be permanently attached to it.

Schools and Colleges. — The training of the officer in his regiment is necessarily incomplete, owing to a far wider knowledge of his profession in general, and of his own branch of the service in particular, being essential, than can be acquired within the comparatively confined limits of his own unit. Accordingly, schools and colleges have been established, in which special courses of instruction are given, dealing more fully with the generalities and details of the various branches of the service. There is a cavalry school at Netheravon.

Mounted Infantry schools have been established at Longmoor, Bulford and Kilworth, which train both officers and men in mounted infantry duties. The officers selected to be trained at these schools must have at least two years' service, have completed a trained soldier's course of musketry and should have some knowledge of horsemanship and be able to ride. The instruction consists for the most part of riding school and field training.

The School of Gunnery at Shoeburyness gives five courses of instruction per annum; one " Staff " course for Ordnance officers, lasting one month; two courses for senior officers of the Royal Artillery, lasting a fortnight each, and two courses for junior officers of the same regiment, lasting one month each. For Royal Garrison Artillery officers there is one Staff " course lasting for seven months (this being a continuation of the previous "Staff " course), and two courses, lasting four months each, for junior officers. There is also a school of gunnery at Lydd, where two courses, lasting for three weeks each, in siege artillery, are given each year.

The Ordnance College at Woolwich provides various courses of instruction in addition to those intended for officers of the Ordnance Department. There is a " Gunnery Staff Course " for senior officers, in gunnery, guns, carriages, ammunition, electricity and machinery; two courses for junior officers of the Royal Artillery in the same subjects; a course for officers of the Army Service Corps in mechanical transport, which includes instruction in allied subjects, such as electricity and chemistry. It also gives courses of instruction to officers of the Royal Navy.

The School of Military Engineering at Chatham trains officers of the Royal Engineers, compiles official text-books on field defences, attack and defence of fortresses, military bridging, mining, encampments, railways.

The School of Musketry at Hythe (besides assisting and directing the musketry training of the army at large by revising regulations, experiments, &c.) trains officers of all branches of the service in theoretical and practical musketry, the courses lasting about a month each and embracing fire control, the training of the eye in quick perception, fire effect and so on. Courses in the Maxim gun usually follow.

The Staff College (see also Staff) at Camberley is the most important of the military colleges. Only specially selected officers are eligible to attempt the entrance examination. The course lasts two years, and is divided into: (a) military history, strategy, tactics, imperial strategy, strategic distribution, coast defence, fortification, war organization, reconnaissance; (b) staff duties, administration, peace distribution, mobilization, movements of troops by land and sea, supply, transport, remounts, organization, law and topographical reconnaissance. Visits are paid to workshops, fortresses, continental battlefields, &c., and staff tours are carried out. Officers of the non-mounted branches attend riding school, and students can be examined in any foreign languages they may have previously studied. They are also attached for short periods to arms of the service other tlian those to which they belong, and attend at staff offices to ensure their being conversant with the work done there.

The Army Service Corps Training Establishment at Aldershot gives courses of instruction to senior officers of the corps at which

a limited number of officers of other corps may attend, provided they have passed through or been recommended for the Staff College. Other courses, in addition to the nine months' course for officers on probation for the corps are, one of twelve days for senior officers of the corps in mechanical transport; two (one long and one short) in the same subject for other officers; one for officers in other branches of the service in judging provisions; and one for lieutenants of the Royal Army Medical Corps in su])ply and transport.

Other colleges and schools are: the Balloon School at Farnborough, for officers of the Royal Engineers; Schools of Electric Lighliyig at Plymouth and Portsmouth; the School nf Signalling at Aldershot, for officers of all branches of the service; the School of Gymnastics, also at Aldershot; and the Army Veterinary School, where a one month's course is given to officers of the mounted branches in the main principles of horse mastership, stable management and veterinary first aid, in addition to the one year's course for officers on probation for the Army Veterinary Corps.

To encourage the study of foreign languages, officers who pass a preliminary examination in any language they may select are allowed U> reside in the foreign country for a period of at least two months. After such residence they may jiresent themselves for examination, and if successful, receive a grant in aid of the expenses incurred. The grant is £80 for Russian, £50 for German, £24 for French and £30 for other languages. The final or " Interpretership " examination for which the grant is given is of a very high standard. In the case of Russian, £80 is paid to the officer during his residence in Russia, in addition to the grant. Special arrangements are made with regard to the Chinese and Japanese languages; three officers for the former and four officers for the latter being selected annually for a two years' residence in those countries. During such residence officers receive £150 per annum, in addition to their pay, and a reward of £175 on passing the " Interpretership " examination.

There has been a tendency of late years to give officers facilities for going through civilian courses of instruction; for example, at the London School of Economics and in the workshops of the principal railway companies. These courses enable the officer not only to profit by civilian experience and progress, but also to form an opinion as to his own knowledge, as compared with the knowledge of those outside his immediate surroundings.

Promotion from the Ranks.—In several armies aspirant officers may join as privates and pass through all grades. This is hardly promotion from the ranks, however, because it is understood from the first that the young avantageur, as he is called in Germany, is a candidate for officer's rank, and he is treated accordingly, generally living in the officers' mess and spending only a brief period in each of the non-commissioned ranks. True promotion from the ranks, won by merit and without any preferential treatment, is practically unknown in Germany. In France, on the other hand, one-third of the officers are promoted non-commissioned officers. In Italy also a large proportion of the officers comes from the ranks. In Great Britain, largely owing to the chances of distinction afforded by frequent colonial expeditions, a fair number of non-commissioned officers receive promotion to combatants' commissions. The number is, however, diminishing, as shown by the following extracts from a return of 1909 (combatants only):-

1885-1888 annual average 34 (Sudan Wars, &c.)
1889-1892   "   " 25
1893-1898   "   " 19
1899-1902   "   " 35 (S. African War)
1903-1908   "   " 14

Quartermasters and riding masters are invariably promoted from the lower ranks.

Officers of reserve and second line forces are recruited in Great Britain both by direct appointment and by transfer from the regular forces. In universal service armies reserve officers are drawn from retired regular officers, selected non-commissioned officers, and most of all from young men of good social standing who are gazetted after serving their compulsory period as privates in the ranks.

Foreign Armies

The training of the officer of a foreign army differs very slightly from that of the British officer. Each country specializes according to its individual requirements, but in the main the training is much the same.

Germany. — The Germans attend more closely to detail — being even microscopical — and it has been said that a little grit in the German military machine would cause a cessation of its working. Unfortunately for this argument, the German army has not yet given any signs of cessation of work, so few deviations from the smooth working of the military machine being permitted that the introduction of grit into this air-tight casing is practically impossible. At the same time, the German officer is trained to have initiative and to use that initiative, but he is expected to be discreet in the use of it and consequently undue insistence on literal obedience to instructions (as distinct from formal orders), and undue reticence on the part of senior, especially staff, officers is held to be dangerous, in that the regimental officer, if ignorant of the military situation, may, by acts of initiative out of harmony with the general plan, seriously prejudice the issue. The Germans attach special importance to instruction in the tactical handling of artillery.

Italy.—The Italians make a speciality of horsemanship, their cavalry officers studying for two years;it the cavalry school at Modena; later at the school at Pinerolo, and later still at the school at Tor di Quinto. They also attach much importance to mountain warfare.

France.—The formal training of the French officer does not appear to differ seriously from that of the British officer, with this exception, that as one-third or so of French officers are promoted from the non-commissioned ranks, a great feature of the educational system is the group of schools comprising the Saumur (cavalry), St Maixent (infantry) and Versailles (artillery and engineers), which are intended for under-officer candidates for commissions. The generality of the officers comes from the “special school” of St Cyr (infantry and cavalry) and the École Polytechnique (artillery and engineers).  (R. J. G.) 

United States.—The principal source from which officers are supplied to the army is the famous Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. The President may appoint forty cadets and generally chooses sons of army and navy officers. Each senator and each representative and delegate in Congress may appoint one. These appointments are not made annually, but as vacancies occur through graduation of cadets, or their discharge before graduation. The maximum number of cadets under the Twelfth Census is 533. The commanding officer of the academy has the title of superintendent and commandant. He is detailed from the army, and has the temporary rank of colonel. The corps of cadets is organized as a battalion, and is commanded by an officer detailed from the army, having the title of commandant of cadets. He has the temporary rank of lieutenant-colonel. An officer of engineers and of ordnance are detailed as instructors of practical military engineering and of ordnance and gunnery respectively. The heads of the departments of instruction have the title of professors. They are selected generally from officers of the army, and their positions are permanent. The officers above mentioned and the professors constitute the academic board. The military staff and assistant instructors are officers of the army. The course of instruction covers four years and is very thorough. Theoretical instruction comprises mathematics, French, Spanish, English, drawing, physics, astronomy, chemistry, ordnance and gunnery, art of war, civil and military engineering, law (international, constitutional and military), history and drill regulations of all arms. Practical instruction comprises the service drills iri infantry, cavalry and artillery, surveying, reconnaissances, field engineering, construction of temporary bridges, simple astronomical observations, fencing, gymnastics and swimming. Cadets are a part of the army, and rank between second lieutenants and the highest grade of non commissioned officers. They receive from the government a rate of pay sufficient to cover all necessary expenses at the academy. About 50% of those entering are able to complete the course. The graduating class each year numbers, on an average, about 60. A class, on graduating, is arranged in order according to merit, and its members are assigned as second lieutenants to corps and arm, according to the recommendation of the academic board. A few at the head of the class go into the corps of engineers; the next in order generally go into the artillery, and the rest of the class into the cavalry and infantry. The choice of graduates as to arm of service and regiments is consulted as far as practicable. Any enlisted man who has served honestly and faithfully not less than two years, who is between twenty-one and thirty years of age, unmarried, a citizen of the United States and of good moral character, may aspire to a commission. To obtain it he must pass an educational and physical examination before a board of five officers. This board must also inquire as to the character, capacity and record of the candidate. Many well-educated young men, unable to obtain appointments to West Point, enlist in the army for the express purpose of obtaining a commission. Vacancies in the grade of second lieutenant remaining, after the graduates of the Military Academy and qualified enlisted men have been appointed, are filled from civil life. To be eligible for appointment a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, unmarried, between the ages of twenty-one and twenty seven years, and must be approved by an examining board of five officers as to habits, moral character, physical ability, education and general fitness for the service. In time of peace very few appointments from civil life are made, but in time of war there is a large number.

There are, in addition to the Engineer School at Washington, D.C. four service schools for officers. These are: the Coast Artillery School at Fort Monroe, Virginia; the General Service and Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; the Mounted Service School at Fort Riley, Kansas; the Army Medical School at Washington. The commandants, staffs and instructors at these schools are officers specially selected. The garrison at Fort Monroe is composed of several companies of coast artillery . The lieutenants of these companies, who constitute the class, are relieved and replaced by others on 1st September of each year. The course of instruction comprises the following subjects: artillery, ballistics, engineering, steam and mechanics, electricity and mines, chemistry and explosives, military science, practical military exercises, photography, telegraphy and cordage (the use of ropes, the making of various kinds of knots and lashings, rigging shears, &c., for the handling of heavy guns). July and August of each year are ordinarily devoted to artillery target practice. The course at the General Service and Staff College is for one year in each School. The class of student officers is made up of one lieutenant from each regiment of infantry and cavalry, and such others as may be detailed. They are assigned to the organizations comprising the garrison, normally a regiment of infantry, a squadron (four troops) of cavalry and a battery of field artillery. The departments of instruction are: military art, engineering, law, infantry, cavalry, military hygiene. Much attention is paid to practical work in the minor operations of war, the troops of the garrison being utilized in connexion therewith. At the close of the final examinations of each class at Fort Monroe and Fort Leavenworth, those officers most distinguished for proficiency are reported to the adjutant-general of the army. Two from each class of the Artillery School, and not more than five from each class at the General Service and Staff College, are thereafter, so long as they remain in the service, noted in the annual army register as " honour graduates." The work of the Mounted Service School at Fort Riley is mainly practical, and is carried on by the regular garrison, which usually, in time of peace, consists of two squadrons of cavalry and three field batteries. The government reservation at Fort Riley comprises about 40 sq. m. of varied terrain, so that opportunities are afforded, and taken advantage of, for all kinds of field operations. The Army Medical School is established at Washington. The faculty consists of four or more instructors selected from the senior officers of the medical department. The course of instruction covers a period of five months, beginning annually in November. The student officers are recently appointed medical officers, and such other medical officers, available for detail, as may desire to take the course. Instruction is by lecture and practical work, special attention being given to the following subjects: duties of medical officers in peace and war; hospital administration; military medicine, surgery and hygiene; microscopy and bacteriology; hospital corps drill and first aid to the wounded.  (W. A. S.) 

  1. At sea the relatively clear partition of actual duties amongst the authorities of a ship brought about the adoption of the term “officer” somewhat earlier.
  2. The 16th-century “colonel-general” was the commander of a whole section of the armed forces. In France there were several colonels-general, each of whom controlled several regiments, or indeed the whole of an “arm.” Their functions were rather those of a war office than those of a troop-leader. If they held high commands in a field army, it was by special appointment ad hoc. Colonels-general were also proprietors in France of one company in each regiment, whose services they accepted.
  3. In Russia the rank of marshal has been long in abeyance.
  4. In the Confederate service the grades were general for army commanders, lieutenant-general for corps commanders, major general for divisional commanders and brigadier-general for brigade commanders.