Newly commissioned colonels

For general discussions on the British Army of the Victorian era or specific regiments.

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Nov 2016 13:47

mike snook wrote:Frogsmile,

You make mention of an interesting figure...the 'regimental agent', who as I understand it acted on behalf of the Colonel of the Regiment (which did not necessarily mean that they were always in the same place - even the same continent). Abolition of purchase was of course part of a continuum of modernization. I have had it in mind for some time to look into regimental agents, but am deterred by the potential dryness of the subject and the apparent absence of an easy accessible and authoritative reference, when there are so many other more interesting and exciting subjects to devote time to. My impression is that this was a role that declined in importance/influence over the course of the 19th Century. At the same time the size and role of the civil service was expanding, while the deeds and doings of the Army were ever more 'in the public eye'. In other words Army administration became more and more formalized and open to scrutiny as the century wore on. I agree that it is likely that the system was more open to abuse earlier in the century, in Georgian England, than in the period, say 1840-70, immediately preceding abolition. Here I think there is a connection with the ease or otherwise with which officers transferred between regiments. Earlier in Victoria's reign (and certainly in the Georgian period before it), officers hopped about between regiments, if not quite at whim, then certainly much more frequently than was later the case. The ability to hop about would tend to favour the wealthy, as the internal regimental checks and balances I have described would be negated. Wellington for example briefly held a vacancy in the 41st Welsh (possibly captain or major - it doesn't really matter), though he never actually served with it. But hopping became decidedly less common later - I have yet to put my finger on the reason for this - but I wonder whether this was something to do with the declining role and influence of regimental agents - who as civilians administering military business transactions would doubtless, as a breed, have had an eye on the main chance (and the clandestine brown envelope)? I don't know though. Mental research note to self.

As ever

M


Yes, I think that you have hit upon a very worthy point and it makes complete sense that the opportunities for corruption lessened as the Victorian era went on, not least, I think, because our free press even then leapt upon every juicy story of systemic abuse amongst the nation's institutions.

I had not fully appreciated the extent of the exchanging between regiments until I subscribed to a periodical magazine - Military Illustrated - back in the 90s, which contained biographies of various officers, and this phenomenon was emphasised further when I purchased the book by Chichester and Burgess-Short: Histories and Badges of the British Army, a tome I had long coveted and where I first read of '2nd Lieutenant Colonels.' Against each officers biography is a list of all the regiments with which they served. Many had been in several, although it was unclear if they actually joined each and every unit, or whether it was just a paper exercise. If not they would have had a very onerous tailor's bill, that's for sure, especially as quite a number exchanged between guards and line, or line and highlanders.

As regards the regimental agents, one book that I purchased recently lists them for the Napoleonic wars and, as it contains lots of other useful information in easily accessible form, I do recommend that you obtain a copy of - "The British Army Against Napoleon" by Bob Burnham, Ron McGuigan, Foreword by Rory Muir: http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/The-Brit ... ack/p/2567 You might be able to obtain a second hand copy from Abe books. I found its information on personnel matters and finance as it affected commissioned officers (i.e. what we would know as AG/MS) particularly fascinating.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 02 Dec 2016 11:42, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4684
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby mike snook » 16 Nov 2016 17:51

Frogsmile

Worth noting too that agents are also given in the page-length (sometimes two pages) regimental gazettes of the Annual Army List - or they are in the period I have been working lately in preparing Cape Warriors - 1830s-early 50s. I'll have to have a shufti in my 1899 List to see if they are still there. Thanks for the reading tip too.

As ever

M
Dr Mike Snook MBE psc
User avatar
mike snook
Honorary Academic Advisor
 
Posts: 1302
Joined: 19 Jun 2008 09:35

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Nov 2016 18:38

mike snook wrote:Frogsmile

Worth noting too that agents are also given in the page-length (sometimes two pages) regimental gazettes of the Annual Army List - or they are in the period I have been working lately in preparing Cape Warriors - 1830s-early 50s. I'll have to have a shufti in my 1899 List to see if they are still there. Thanks for the reading tip too.

As ever

M


Yes I recall that even the contemporary Army List shows the regimental agent for each cap badge, that for RWF was Cox's and King's, if I remember correctly, and RRW, I think, were with Holt's. These were the last two agents to adapt and survive, largely by concentrating on the banking affairs of each regiment.

I know that you must have recommended to you many books, but the one I mention above contains lots of fascinating lists and details of a kind that I think you will dip into again and again. Although it relates primarily to the Napoleonic era, a great deal still applied subsequently and into Victoria's reign.

Regards,

FS
Last edited by Frogsmile on 02 Dec 2016 11:24, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4684
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby BingandNelsonFan » 16 Nov 2016 19:58

Frogsmile and Mike:

Wow! This is a classic example of what is so totally wonderful about this forum! I've been watching all these replies and reading them a few times through before answering. Thank you so much for the great information. The whole idea of purchasing the commissions is a new idea to me. That is, the fact is not new --- but understanding it is new!

Thanks for the recommendation about the book series. I've already ordered one to my local library and will try it out. Bet my Dad will like this, too, as that type of series is just up his alley!

Great observations on both or your parts, and interesting to think that the "reform" may not have been completely for the better. All of this is still sinking in, but now I have a couple more questions. :)

1. As far as purchasing of commission aiding some careers (i.e. Wellington) which would not have, necessarily, advanced well under the new method . . . Is this because his prime years were able to be spent at a good rank and power, where they would not have been enabled for that by waiting the allotted time for promotion without purchase?

2. Could an officer reach a certain rank and just decide to "sit" there, refusing any offers to purchase another rank?

3. As far as training of the officers goes . . .
I have just gotten a copy of some letters written by the Neville brothers during the Crimean campaign. One died at Inkerman, and the other died of wounds received at Balaclava:
https://books.google.com/books/about/Letters_written_from_Turkey_and_the_Crim.html?id=dXkIAAAAQAAJ
The older brother, Henry, was a Captain in the Grenadier Guards. This was his first experience in war of any kind, and the first letters are filled with his admiration for the Army as a profession and excitement to be fighting. After one night, though, in the trenches, he writes that he's had enough of war and hopes to be done soon. Was there no sort of training or preparation for the officers? Something that would give them the idea of what their life was actually going to be like? Or do you think that this gentleman may just have not been suited to life as an officer?

I'll stop now, as this is probably enough to answer. :) I so appreciate all of your explanations!
Sarah
User avatar
BingandNelsonFan
Senior Member
 
Posts: 354
Joined: 08 Nov 2013 13:59
Location: Ohio, United States

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Redleg56 » 16 Nov 2016 22:43

Sarah:

For items 2 and 3 on your post:

2. Officers were not forced to purchase higher ranks, so they were able to remain where they were. No "up or out"
policies that we have in some Armies today.

3. Regarding Henry Neville. I would sum up his desire to "be done soon" with the phrase "reality set in". He enjoyed
the uniforms, pageantry, social activities and life as a Guards Officer at Home in peacetime. Who wouldn't? But after
seeing first hand what a soldier is also paid to do (fight, get dirty, not sleep, not eat and keep going on no matter what), he
may have become disillusioned. Any training he had in the Guards was in a peacetime environment. Very little of what
today's Armies term "realistic training". No preparation for going on Active Service.

He saw the real thing and realized it was not what he had expected.

It happens.

Mike
User avatar
Redleg56
New Member
 
Posts: 72
Joined: 14 Oct 2014 20:13
Location: New York City

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby BingandNelsonFan » 17 Nov 2016 14:27

Redleg56 wrote:Sarah:

For items 2 and 3 on your post:

2. Officers were not forced to purchase higher ranks, so they were able to remain where they were. No "up or out"
policies that we have in some Armies today.

3. Regarding Henry Neville. I would sum up his desire to "be done soon" with the phrase "reality set in". He enjoyed
the uniforms, pageantry, social activities and life as a Guards Officer at Home in peacetime. Who wouldn't? But after
seeing first hand what a soldier is also paid to do (fight, get dirty, not sleep, not eat and keep going on no matter what), he
may have become disillusioned. Any training he had in the Guards was in a peacetime environment. Very little of what
today's Armies term "realistic training". No preparation for going on Active Service.

He saw the real thing and realized it was not what he had expected.

It happens.

Mike


So, in effect, someone could remain a Captain for twenty years --- if they had no desire to take on the duties of a higher rank?

I can understand the disillusionment, as that has been quite common with soldiers during wars like the the American Civil War, WWI and WWII. However, those were men whose chosen career had nothing to do with the Army. They were only in the Army for the duration of the war. Someone like Henry Neville (and I'm assuming that he is not the only young man to experience these feelings), though, was actually an officer in an elite regiment in a serious conflict. Sure, I know that the "elite" part stems from the fact that commissions were expensive and the unit was made up of high-ranking gentlemen --- but can it have benefited the army to have an officer in a lead regiment who had no idea whatever of the realities of war? While his personality appears to lend itself to tactical planning, it can't have been much help on the battlefield to have an officer who no longer wanted to be there.
User avatar
BingandNelsonFan
Senior Member
 
Posts: 354
Joined: 08 Nov 2013 13:59
Location: Ohio, United States

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Redleg56 » 17 Nov 2016 20:22

Hi Sarah:

A man would be able to remain a Captain for 20 years if he so desired.

Going back to Captain Neville. He was a Regular Officer, but had served in the Guards at Home and had not been exposed to war, and therefore had no knowledge of how he would react. Neither did his superiors..

It was not until he arrived in the Crimea that he saw what warfare actually entailed. As far as the Army went, how would his superiors have known how he would react once on Active Service? This was also the situation in a number of line infantry and cavalry regiments as well as the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers who saw no or very little Active Service between Waterloo and the Crimea. It was not just the Guards. Placing Neville in a Staff position may not have been possible at this time, so he had to remain with his regiment. Basically, had to be given his chance to prove himself as a soldier on the battlefield. Until a soldier is actually under fire, no one, not his superiors, subordinates or he himself will know how he will react. Hence the term "baptism of fire".

Once this happens, decisions can then be made. A man such as Neville may be moved to a staff position, where his expertise in planning would be utilized to the fullest. Or he could resign his Commission as an Officer if he felt that disillusioned with what his profession demanded of him.

What happened to Neville subsequent to he writing of being disillusioned?

Mike
User avatar
Redleg56
New Member
 
Posts: 72
Joined: 14 Oct 2014 20:13
Location: New York City

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Frogsmile » 18 Nov 2016 12:33

Sarah, the training of officers at the earliest college was much criticised as being largely academic and sports based, not that different from a civilian school, but with lots of marching about (foot drill) and little of practical use for combat.

The following information regarding officers training is extracted from a history of the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, which was one of two training facilities for British Army officers, the other being the RMA at Woolwich, as you know. There was also, for a period a third college, a seminary for HEIC cadets (aka 'Griffins') at Addiscombe.

The Royal Military College 1800 -1939

Until 1870, the usual way for an officer of the cavalry or infantry to obtain his commission was by purchase. A new candidate had to produce evidence of having had "the education of a gentleman", to obtain the approval of his regimental colonel, and to produce a substantial sum which was both proof of his standing in society and a bond for good behaviour. When a promotion vacancy occurred, the senior officer of the immediate lower rank in the same regiment had the first claim to be promoted, subject to being able to produce the as appropriate sum laid down by Parliament for the rank in question. Promotion to colonel and above was by seniority without purchase. Staff appointments, which carried promotion, were by selection, not purchase, but an officer reverted to his regimental (normally purchased) rank on expiry of tenure.

When an officer left the Army, the price of his last commission was refunded, thus realising a large capital sum for investment elsewhere. The system was subject to abuse, as very rich men could pay their juniors not to take up their right to promotion, but had the advantage of allowing wealthy officers to obtain command of a regiment in their twenties, while at the peak of their fitness and energy. By contrast, in the Ordnance corps, where promotion was by seniority, it was common to find officers in their forties still serving as subalterns. The greatest weakness of the purchase system was its reliance on officers learning their duties by experience after appointment, rather than by training prior to it.

The Junior Department of the RMC, formed as a college of gentlemen cadets, began in 1802 at Remnatz, a converted country house at Great Marlow. When the experiment proved successful, a new site was purchased at Sandhurst Park, Berkshire, where, after several false starts, the new Royal Military College (now Old College, RMAS) was first occupied in 1812. The purchase system was still in force, but gentlemen cadets who completed the course and were recommended by the College authorities were granted their first commissions without purchase. Moreover, when there were more candidates than vacancies, RMC cadets were given priority. Despite these advantages, the RMC gained a reputation for disorderly behaviour, rioting, and bullying comparable with unreformed public schools of the period, with the average age of the cadets being about fifteen. Gradually the age was raised, but the College failed to lift the more irksome petty rules intended for schoolboys rather than young men. This led to the Cadet Mutiny of 1862 in which the cadet battalion withstood a three-day siege in one of the earthworks used for fortification training, before finally surrendering to the C-in-C, HRH the Duke of Cambridge, who came down in his coach from London to restore order.

The College was closed in 1870, when the purchase system was abolished and first commissions were, for a time, awarded by written competitive examination. The buildings were used to train successful candidates in military skills while they waited to join their regiments, but this did not prove satisfactory, and in 1877 the examination became for appointment to the RMC as a cadet, rather than for a commission. In practice the cost of the college fees was much the same as that formerly charged for an ensign's commission, and this, plus the school fees required in preparation for the entry examinations, meant that the social composition of the Army's officers remained unchanged. The RMC was not large enough to train all the subalterns needed by the Army, so an alternative route, favoured by those who failed entry to the College, was to obtain a commission by nomination in the Militia. It was then possible to transfer to the Regular Army after a period of full-time service and passing the College's final examination.

There is also a quite elusive archive, that might prove rewarding for your research, here: https://archive.org/stream/annalsofsand ... 9/mode/2up
Attachments
RMA_Cadets_-_edit.jpg
RMA_Cadets_-_edit.jpg (708.86 KiB) Viewed 155 times
Last edited by Frogsmile on 02 Dec 2016 11:25, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4684
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Redleg56 » 18 Nov 2016 16:57

Sarah:

There is also a thread regarding the Commissioning process on the Fourm. Look under Victorian Army and Navy, go to The Army then to
"Officers, What Was the Process?" Hope this helps!

Mike
User avatar
Redleg56
New Member
 
Posts: 72
Joined: 14 Oct 2014 20:13
Location: New York City

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Frogsmile » 18 Nov 2016 17:39

Sarah, I inadvertently omitted to respond to your first question, although you correctly identified the answer anyway. In essence, because the young Wellesley (later Duke of Wellington), was able to purchase his way through the junior steps in an officers career quite quickly he avoided the fate of many officers under the reformed system, whereby they became stuck for many years at junior officer level and thus with concomitant experience. Wellesley, was able to gain a lot of experience at formation command level precisely because he advanced through the junior stage very quickly, something that subsequently (after the reforms) only became possible at a time of full scale, war at the highest level, when rapid expansion led to opportunity (e.g. 2nd Anglo/Boer War, WW1, etc).

Here is the thread to which forum member, Redleg56, is referring: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=11267
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4684
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby BingandNelsonFan » 20 Nov 2016 00:12

Thanks! Fabulous responses, gentlemen. I really appreciate all of this, and I think that I'm finally getting a handle on how the whole "commission thing" worked. :)

Just sat and read through that whole other thread. I'd seen the first few posts, but somehow never went back to read the finish. That answered a lot of other questions, too --- particularly about the specifics of promotion through the ranks.

I did not know that graduates of the RMC were not required to pay for their initial commission. Did that also apply to graduates of Woolwich? Since Woolwich was training the Artillery and Engineers, was it harder to enter and graduate from their than it was at Sandhurst?

Will definitely read the "Annals of Sandhurst"! Thank you for that!
Sarah
User avatar
BingandNelsonFan
Senior Member
 
Posts: 354
Joined: 08 Nov 2013 13:59
Location: Ohio, United States

Re: Newly commissioned colonels

Postby Frogsmile » 21 Nov 2016 12:54

BingandNelsonFan wrote:Thanks! Fabulous responses, gentlemen. I really appreciate all of this, and I think that I'm finally getting a handle on how the whole "commission thing" worked. :)

Just sat and read through that whole other thread. I'd seen the first few posts, but somehow never went back to read the finish. That answered a lot of other questions, too --- particularly about the specifics of promotion through the ranks.

I did not know that graduates of the RMC were not required to pay for their initial commission. Did that also apply to graduates of Woolwich? Since Woolwich was training the Artillery and Engineers, was it harder to enter and graduate from their than it was at Sandhurst?

Will definitely read the "Annals of Sandhurst"! Thank you for that!
Sarah


Sarah, this is a brief explanation of RMA Woolwich:

"The Royal Military Academy was opened by authority of a Royal Warrant in 1741: it was intended, in the words of its first charter, to produce "good officers of Artillery and perfect Engineers". Its 'gentlemen cadets' initially ranged in age from 10 to 30; they were accommodated in lodgings in the town of Woolwich to begin with, but this arrangement was deemed unsatisfactory (the cadets gained a reputation for riotousness) so in 1751 a Cadets' Barracks was built just within the south boundary wall of the Warren and the cadets had to adjust to a more strict military discipline. (The Cadets' Barracks was demolished in the 1980s for road widening.)

Education in the Academy focused at first on mathematics and the scientific principles of gunnery and fortification. French was also taught, for a small fee. In the 1760s the Military Academy acquired its Royal title. At the same time the institution was split: younger cadets entered the Lower Academy, where they were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, Latin, French and drawing. If they performed well in examinations they were allowed to proceed to the Upper Academy, where they learned military skills and sciences (as well as fencing and dancing – required skills for prospective officers).

The possibility of moving the Royal Military Academy out of the Warren was mooted as early as 1783, as it was fast outgrowing the available accommodation. At first costs precluded this possibility, but (with the Academy continuing to grow) James Wyatt, the Board of Ordnance Architect, was commissioned to design a new complex of buildings to stand, on a site facing the Royal Artillery Barracks, at the southern edge of Woolwich Common; it was built between 1796 and 1805 and opened for use the following year.

Wyatt's Academy was built of yellow brick in the Tudor Gothic style. It consisted of a central block (reminiscent of the Ordnance Board's headquarters in the Tower of London) flanked by a pair of accommodation blocks, linked by arcaded walkways. The central block contained classrooms, a library and offices; the accommodation blocks housed officers in the three-storey central sections and cadets in the two-storey wings. Behind the central block Wyatt placed a large dining hall flanked by spacious quadrangles having service buildings around the sides.

128 cadets moved to the new Academy: these comprised the four senior years. Of the younger cadets, sixty were kept at the Warren (by then renamed the Royal Arsenal) and another sixty were sent to a new college for junior cadets at Great Marlow. Practical teaching continued to be given in the working context of the Arsenal. In 1810, military cadets of the East India Company, who had previously been educated at the Academy, were moved to a new college at Addiscombe.

During the years that followed the status of the cadets changed: rather than being considered military personnel (albeit junior), as had previously been the case, they were removed from the muster roll and they (or their parents) began to be charged fees for attendance. In this way the Academy took on something of the ethos of an English public school. In 1844 the Academy was described by Edward Mogg as accommodating:

"about one hundred and thirty young gentlemen, the sons of military men, and the more respectable classes, who are here instructed in mathematics, land-surveying, with mapping, fortification, engineering, the use of the musket and sword exercise, and field-pieces; and for whose use twelve brass cannon, three-pounders, are placed in front of the building, practising with which they acquire a knowledge of their application in the field of battle. This department is under the direction of a lieutenant-general, an instructer, a professor of mathematics, and a professor of fortification; in addition to which there are French, German, and drawing masters".

Following the demise of the Board of Ordnance in the wake of the Crimean War the Academy was inspected by a commission which recommended changes: the minimum age for cadets was raised to fifteen and more specialist training was added. As part of these reforms the Academy complex was enlarged in the 1860s, with a view to accommodating all cadets on the same site (although some would remain in the Arsenal through to the 1880s): the frontage was extended with the addition of new pavilions at either end, in similar style to Wyatt's work but in red brick rather than yellow; William Jervois was the architect. These contained new classrooms, with accommodation provided in similar new blocks behind. Sports facilities were also added along with gun batteries for training.


1. http://www.chrismansfieldphotos.com/REC ... -DWjrRTH/A

2. http://www.chrismansfieldphotos.com/REC ... -TnFWpnm/A
Attachments
ram_wo10.jpg
ram_wo10.jpg (123.48 KiB) Viewed 136 times
52473232.jpg
52473232.jpg (207.32 KiB) Viewed 136 times
Kitch02.jpg
Kitch02.jpg (94.91 KiB) Viewed 136 times
royal-military-academy-woolwich---pre-1901-23mm---indented-queen-victorias-crown-brass-military-uniform-button.jpg
royal-military-academy-woolwich---pre-1901-23mm---indented-queen-victorias-crown-brass-military-uniform-button.jpg (55.35 KiB) Viewed 136 times
User avatar
Frogsmile
Forum Fellow
 
Posts: 4684
Joined: 25 Jan 2011 20:17
Location: Wiltshire, England

Previous

Return to The Army

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests