Topic: Army Rations
Cooking in the Field (1855)
"Certain men of each Company should be appointed to cut, and bring wood, others to fetch water, and others to get meat, &c."
Hints on Bivouac and Camp Life; For the Guidance of Young Officers in the Halifax Garrison While Under Canvas for the Summer Months at the North West Arm, Point Pleasant, by Captain Wilford Brett, 76th Regiment, 1855
The following order was issued by the Duke of Wellington, dated Grenada, 28th November, 1812.
"In regard to the good of the Soldier I have often observed and lamented in the late campaign the facility and celerity with which the French Soldiers cooked in comparison with those of our army. The cause of this disadvantage is the same with that of every other description. The want of attention of the Officers to the order of the Army, and to the conduct of their men, and their consequent want of authority over their conduct.
"Certain men of each Company should be appointed to cut, and bring wood, others to fetch water, and others to get meat, &c., to be cooked; and it would be found, if this practice were daily enforced, and a particular hour for seeing their dinner, and for the men dicing, named, as it ought to be, equally as for parade, that cooking would no longer require the inconvenient length cf time which it has been lately found to take, and that the Soldiers would not be exposed to the privation of their food at the moment at which the Army may be engaged in operations with the enemy." [Duke of Wellington's Despatches, vol. vi., pages 181 and 182.]
With a view to carrying out the directions contained in the above order and to establish a system by which the Soldiers shall cook with celerity, Lord Frederick Fitzclarence laid down the following system:—
The Companies having been previously told off by three's, and the Non-Commissioned Officers told off for the following parties, the Regiment will be formed in open or half distance column and ordered to pile arms.
- Front rank men of 1 file of three's. — Fire-men,
- Front rank of No. 2 file of three's. — Water-men,
- Front rank of No. 3 file of three's. — Wood-men,
- Rear rank of No. 1 file of three's. — Beef-men
- Rear rank of No. 2 file of three's. — Bread-men,
- Rear rank of No. 3 file of three's. — Charge of Arms, Packs, &c.
Subaltern Officers will be warned who will take charge of the various parties named, and march them off.
The words of the Commanding Officers of the Battalions will be as follows:
- "Pile Arms"
- "Off Packs"
- "Prepare to Cook"
- "Out Non-commissioned Officers of Parties."
At this last word of command the Non-Commissioned Officers will place themselves in close column in front of the pivot files of each Company, Non-Commissioned Officers, of fire-men leading, then water-men, wood-men, beef-men, and bread-men.
The water-men on being called to the front previous to falling in on their non-commissioned Officers, will collect the camp-kettles of the Company when such are provided if not, the whole of the canteens of the front or rear rank, as may be directed by the Officer commanding the Company, and one for every two non-commissioned Officers in case of a blank file, they will take one extra when the rear rank canteens are used. The wood-men will, in like manner, collect the canteen straps and hatchets.
The beef-men will fall in, each with a bayonet, having been previously warned how many they are to draw rations for.
The bread-men ditto, with haversacks, having been previously warned how many they are to draw rations for.
The men told off for the arms, and supernumerary men of messes, to remain with the arms, the latter to be available for any fatigue.
The uneven number of men, and non-commissioned Officers, are to be divided amongst the messes, so that the bread and meat men, may know how many rations to draw.
All being ready, the Commanding Officer will face each party towards the place where the bread, meat, &c., may be found, and will direct them to close in on the march upon the companies nearest those points where each party will be taken charge of by the subaltern Officer appointed for that purpose who will be already there, having received directions from the Adjutant.
IN QUICK TIME. Words of Command:—
- "Pile Arms"
- "Off Packs"
- "Prepare to Cook"
At this last word of command all the parties will fall in as above detailed on their non-commissioned Officers and be marched off at once by the Commanding Officer.
The places for the kitchens will be marked off by the Quarter-Master of the Regiment, and the fire-men will be at once marched to him.