Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/656

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614
[BRITISH
ARMY

the beginning of the war, the infantry, like that of the continental powers, was formed in three ranks; but a two-rank formation had been introduced in America and in India and gradually became general, and in 1809 was finally approved. In the Peninsula the army was permanently organized in divisions, usually consisting of two brigades of three or four battalions each, and one or two batteries of artillery. The duke of Wellington had also brought the commissariat and the army transport to a high pitch of perfection, but in the long peace which followed these establishments were reduced or broken up.

67. The period which elapsed between Waterloo and the Crimean War is marked by a number of Indian and colonial wars, but by no organic changes in the army, with perhaps the single exception of the Limited Service Act of 1847, by which enlistment for ten or twelve years, with power to re-engage to complete twenty-one, was substituted for the life enlistments hitherto in force. The army went to sleep on the laurels and recollections of the Peninsula. The duke of Wellington, for many years commander-in-chief, was too anxious to hide it away in the colonies in order to save it from further reductions or utter extinction, to attempt any great administrative reforms. The force which was sent to the Crimea in 1854 was an agglomeration of battalions, individually of the finest quality, but unused to work together, without trained staff, administrative departments or army organization of any kind. The lesson of the winter before Sevastopol was dearly bought, but was not thrown away. From that time successive war ministers and commanders-in-chief have laboured perseveringly at the difficult task of army organization and administration. Foremost in the work was Sidney Herbert (Lord Herbert of Lea), the soldier’s friend, who fell a sacrifice to his labours (1861), but not before he had done much for the army. The whole system of administration was revised. In 1854 it was inconceivably complicated and cumbersome. The “secretary of state for war and colonies,” sitting at the Colonial Office, had a general but vague control, practically limited to times of war. The “secretary at war” was the parliamentary representative of the army, and exercised a certain financial control, not extending, however, to the ordnance corps. The commander-in-chief was responsible to the sovereign alone in all matters connected with the discipline, command or patronage of the army, but to the secretary at war in financial matters. The master-general and board of ordnance were responsible for the supply of material on requisition, but were otherwise independent, and had the artillery and engineers under them. The commissariat department had its headquarters at the treasury, and until 1852 the militia were under the home secretary. A number of minor subdepartments, more or less independent, also existed, causing endless confusion, correspondence and frequent collision. In 1854 the business of the colonies was separated from that of war, and the then secretary of state, the duke of Newcastle, assumed control over all the other administrative officers. In the following year the secretary of state was appointed secretary at war also, and the duties of the two offices amalgamated. The same year the commissariat office was transferred to the war department, and the Board of Ordnance abolished, its functions being divided between the commander-in-chief and the secretary of state. The minor departments were gradually absorbed, and the whole administration divided under two great chiefs, sitting at the war office and Horse Guards respectively. In 1870 these two were welded into one, and the war office now existing was constituted.

Corresponding improvements were effected in every branch. The system of clothing the soldiers was altered, the contracts being taken from the colonels of regiments, who received a money allowance instead, and the clothing supplied from government manufactories. The pay, food and general condition of the soldier were improved; reading and recreation rooms, libraries, gymnasia and facilities for games of all kinds being provided. Barracks (q.v.) were built on improved principles, and a large permanent camp was formed at Aldershot, where considerable forces were collected and manœuvred together. Various educational establishments were opened, a staff college was established for the instruction of officers wishing to qualify for the staff, and regimental schools were improved.

68. The Indian Mutiny of 1857, followed by the transference of the government of India, led to important changes. The East India Company’s white troops were amalgamated with the Queen’s army, and the whole reorganized (see Indian Army below).

The fact that such difficulties as those of 1854 and 1857, not to speak of the disorders of 1848, had been surmounted by the weak army which remained over from the reductions of forty years, coupled with the instantaneous and effective rejoinder to the threats of the French colonels in 1859—the creation of the Volunteer Force—certainly lulled the nation and its representatives into a false sense of security. Thus the two obvious lessons of the German successes of 1866 and 1870—the power of a national army for offensive invasion, and the rapidity with which such an army when thoroughly organized could be moved—created the greatest sensation in England. The year 1870 is, therefore, of prime importance in the history of the regular forces of the crown. The strength of the home forces at different times between 1815 and 1870 is given as follows (Biddulph, Lord Cardwell at the War Office):—


Regulars. Auxiliaries. Field Guns.
1820
1830
1840
1850
1860
1870
 
64,426
50,876
53,379
68,538
100,701
89,051
(later 109,000)
60,740
34,614
20,791
29,868
229,501
281,692
 
22
30
30
70
180
180
 


69. The period of reform commences therefore with 1870, and is connected indissolubly with the name of Edward, Lord Cardwell, secretary of state for war 1869-1874. In the matter of organization the result of his labours was seen in the perfectly arranged expedition to Ashanti (1874); as for recruiting, the introduction of short service and reserve enlistment together with many rearrangements of pay, &c., proved so far popular that the number of men annually enlisted was more than trebled (11,742 in 1869; 39,971 in 1885; 40,729 in 1898), and so far efficient that “Lord Cardwell’s ... system, with but small modification, gave us during the Boer War 80,000 reservists, of whom 96 or 97% were found efficient, and has enabled us to keep an army of 150,000 regulars in the field for 15 months” (Rt. Hon. St John Brodrick, House of Commons, 8th of March 1901). The localization of the army, subsequently completed by the territorial system of 1882, was commenced under Cardwell’s régime, and a measure which encountered much powerful opposition at the time, the abolition of the purchase of commissions, was also effected by him (1871). The machinery of administration was improved, and autumn manœuvres were practised on a scale hitherto unknown in England. In 1871 certain powers over the militia, formerly held by lords-lieutenant, were transferred to the crown, and the auxiliary forces were placed directly under the generals commanding districts. In 1881 came an important change in the infantry of the line, which was entirely remodelled in two-battalion regiments bearing territorial titles. This measure (the “linked battalion” system) aroused great opposition; it was dictated chiefly by the necessity of maintaining the Indian and colonial garrisons at full strength, and was begun during Lord Cardwell’s tenure of office, the principle being that each regiment should have one battalion at home and one abroad, the latter being fed by the former, which in its turn drew upon the reserve to complete it for war. The working of the system is to be considered as belonging to present practice rather than to history, and the reader is therefore referred to the article United Kingdom. On these general lines the army progressed up to 1899, when the Boer War called into the field on a distant theatre of war all the resources of the regular army, and in addition drew largely upon the existing auxiliary forces, and even upon wholly untrained civilians, for the numbers required to make war in an area which