Topic: Canadian Militia
Another Matter of Special Importance
(Recruiting and Retention, 1882)
"Military Matters," The Toronto Daily Mail, 21 January 1882
Another matter of special importance in the organization of the volunteer militia is the system by which men are enrolled. There is something radically wrong when we find from year to year that such a large proportion of the men are recruits. It is bit a very small proportion of the number of those that are enrolled that serve out their three years. A check should immediately be put on enlisting that unsettled class in the community that are here to-day and gone to-morrow. They only join with the object of getting a few days' pay and rations that are to be had at the period of the annual drills, having no love for the service at heart. They lower the tone of the rank and file, and hinder that esprit de corps which cannot be too strongly upheld. They are untidy and careless about their persons, and will do a uniform more damage in one season than a good man would do to it in three years. No decent man will wear a uniform after one of them. The expenditure of money and instruction upon them is a simple waste. Officers are naturally very eager to bring up the ranks to their proper strength at the period of annual drill, but the practice of filling them with these make-shifts should be discouraged, and none but men likely to serve out their full term should ever be enrolled. The men who do credit to the service are not those who join for considerations of pay, and en effectual means of shutting out those who would enroll from mercenary motives alone would be to make the pay progressive. Recruits should only receive 25 cents per diem, second-year men 50 cents per diem, and third-year men and over 75 cents per diem. This plan, if adopted, would guard against the enlistment of any but proper men. It would give to a three-year man the same total pay as if he had the 50 cents per diem each separate year, and after the three years it would be a reward to long service men, and an inducement to continue on in the service. A man after three years of instruction ought to be worth more than a recruit.
The form of acquittance roll should be altered so that statistics might be had showing the average length of service of our volunteer militiamen, and I think the result would be somewhat startling. One of the first essentials of a military force is thorough reliance of your personnel, and in all organizations this should be steadfastly kept in view.