The Minute Book
Friday, 18 March 2016

Ordered to Wear Swords for King
Topic: Cold Steel

Ordered to Wear Swords for King

Military Arm for Officers Now Practically Obsolete in Active Service

The Spokesman-Review, Spokane, Washington, 6 December 1915
(Correspondent of Associated Press.)

London, Nov. 15.—A curious survival of the martinet spirit of the old army appeared furing the recent visit of the King to the British troops in France, when an order was issued that the officers should appear with swords during the royal review. It was a costly order for the young officers, as few were provided with swords, which are a most expensive part of a kit.

Swords are obsolete as part of an officer's equipment in the field. Officers who had them left them at home when they came to the front. A small bamboo cane has taken the place of the sword except when in action, and then some officers carry rifles.

In anticipation of the royal review an order was issued at the headquarters by France for all officers to provide themselves with swords. This piece of antiquated etiquette fell heavily upon the purses of the subalterns. The King, on account of falling from his horse, was unable to review his troops after all. And it is said that the King would have been the last man in England to place this heavy tax on his officers for the sake of mere form had he known of the order.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 17 March 2016

Development of the Soldierly Spirit
Topic: Drill and Training

Development of the Soldierly Spirit

Cavalry Training, General Staff, War Office, 1912

1.     Soldierly spirit is the product of a high sense of personal honour and duty; of self-reliance and of mutual confidence between all ranks.

A sound soldierly spirit cannot be developed by rules, but much can be accomplished by force of example in teaching high ideals of personal conduct. Officers and N.C.O.'s must be careful, therefore, on all occasions to set a high moral, intellectual, and physical standard to their men.

Men should be taught by example to meet privations cheerfully and never to grumble at hard work or hardship.

2.     Efficient instruction and good example will instill into individuals absolute confidence in their instructors and comrades. Instructors must endeavour to increase the soldier's initiative, self-confidence, and self-restraint; to train him to obey orders, or to act in the absence of orders for the advantage of his unit under all conditions; and finally to produce such a high degree of courage and disregard of self, that in the stress of battle he will be able to use his weapons and his brain coolly and to the best advantage.

3.     In order to impress him with the necessity of upholding the reputation of the army, of our cavalry, and of his own regiment, the soldier should be instructed in the deeds which have made each famous.

Manly games have a great effect on the military spirit, especially if they are arranged so that all ranks generally, and not only selected teams, take part.

Drill is also an important factor, producing that habit of instant obedience which is so essential in war.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 17 March 2016 12:03 AM EDT
Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Analyze Wound Cause
Topic: Military Medical

Analyze Wound Cause

Most of War Injuries Result of Firearm Action

Toledo Blade, Toledo, Ohio, 18 March 1915

The subject of war wounds from firearms is of special interest to the reading public at this time:

1.     Because the recent improvements in armaments have brought about interesting changes in the source and character of wounds.

2.     In the case of lodged balls, and in bone injuries, the character of the injury through the medium of X-ray evidence gives a striking exhibit of the wounded part.

3.     A knowledge of first aid to the injured is so essential in these days of preventive medicine that modern civilization expects people generally to become familiar with the causation of war wounds, and the most effective means of ameliorating suffering while one is in the presence of the wounded, in the absence of a surgeon. With this end in view, every officer and soldier of the line in all armies is taught first aid to the injured.

War wounds are mostly caused by firearms, while a few, not exceeding 3 per cent., are cause by bayonets, swords, lances. Wounds by firearms are inflicted by the so-called hand weapons, like the military rifle, pistol, revolver and the military arms.

In our civil war 90 per cent. of gunshot wounds were inflicted by the hand rifle, pistol and revolver; 5 per cent. by artillery and about 3 per cent. by the bayonets, swords and other cutting instruments.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Canadian Militia Reform (1911)
Topic: Canadian Militia

Canadian Militia Reform

Scheme to Make it More Efficient
Outline Proposed by Sir John French
6 Infantry Divisions, 4 Cavalry Brigades
Thirty-Four Additional Companies of Field Artillery

Boston Evening Transcript, 10 May 1911

Ottawa, May 10—The Minister of Militia has made a statement in regard to the action which the department proposes to take for carrying out the recommendations of Sir John French. He began by a brief reference to the spirit in which the British inspector general made his inspection of the Canadian militia.

"Sir John French," he said, "as a professional soldier looks on soldiers from the point of view of efficiency as armed troops on duty. He was naturally disappointed, as far as the Canadian militia was supposed to represent a force of that kind. We know that the Canadian militia has never been a force ready for war. That has not been the principal idea in its organization. Only in the last four or five years has such an idea been suggested. The business of the Canadian militia has been to assist the British army when difficulties occur in Canada. The British Government until recently kept the nucleus of an army at Halifax and Esquimalt.

Sir Frederick also distributed to the members a statement in which he further made reference to the report of Sir John French. The memorandum opens by stating:

"The recommendations of Sir John French can be classed as coming under two main heads, viz.:

(A)     changes in organization, and

(B)     improved methods of training and education.

"The militia in Eastern Canada will, as recommended, be organized as cavalry brigades and infantry divisions. The ten military districts will form six divisional areas, each of which will furnish one division, and collectively, four cavalry brigades. This reorganization can be effected with practically no dislocation of the existing system, as each divisional command will include one or more of the present districts. The result of this change will be to place under each divisional commander the troops to form the division he would command on mobilization, and tend to associate, during training, the units which would work together as a division in the field."

The memorandum goes on to point out that there are not at present a sufficient number of units to fully form the six infantry divisions, and that before they can be made complete the following will have to be raised: 34 batteries of field artillery; 10 howitzer batteries, one heavy battery and ammunition column, 6 divisional ammunition columns, 7 field companies of engineers, one telegraph department, 13 companies of Army Service Corps, and four field ambulance units.

Similarly, to complete the four cavalry brigades, it will be necessary to raise one regiment of cavalry, one battery of field artillery, three field troops of engineers, and one company of Army Service Corps.

"It is not proposed," the memorandum continues, "to proceed in the work of completing the divisions and cavalry brigades any faster than the usual votes will permit. A continuance of the vote of $1,300,000, which has been annually granted since 1903-4, will be asked, and out of this money the required guns, ammunition and equipment will be purchased. To complete payment of the orders already given for rearming the existing batteries of field artillery with modern guns and for other needs, the entire amount of this vote for 1911-12. About seven years will be required to fully complete the organization on this plan.

"Of equal, if not of greater, importance than the subject of organization is that of training and education. There is an increasing demand on the part of officers of the militia for instruction and education, which cannot, at present, be satisfactorily met. The training and efficiency of militia officers is the first essential for the efficiency of the force itself, and the teaching can only be supplied by obtaining highly qualified men as proposed above. Their duties include lectures and theoretical instructions; supervision, under their divisional commanders of all field training, musketry, signalling and camp training."

The House of Commons put through without discussion the items of $1,325,000 for annual drill and $110,000 for allowances, with the understanding that the general condition of the militia and the selection of the Coronation contingent will be discussed later.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 14 March 2016

Army Bayonet Altered
Topic: Cold Steel

Army Bayonet Altered

Length Has Been reduced From 20 Inches to Nine


The Montreal Gazette, 21 April 1931
(Special Cable to The New York Times and Montreal Gazette.)

London, April 20.—Eleven inches has been taken off the length of the British Army bayonet and the soldier's load lightened by about half a pound as the result of modifications in the army rifle just approved.

The new bayonet is only nine inches long against the twenty of the present sword bayonet. The design has also been changed from a flattish blade to a sort of short, sturdy triangular prog. The Belgian bayonet is now 9 ½ inches, Italian 11 ¾ and the French and German about 15 inches long. Moreover, the accuracy of shooting is expected to be improved by the introduction of the aperture sight, instead of the V-sight hitherto exclusively used on the British Army rifle.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 13 March 2016

The Offensive in War (Liddell Hart)
Topic: Military Theory

The Offensive in War

Defence the Best Strategy—True Strategy in the West

By Captain B.H. Liddell Hart
The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, Australia, 11 October, 1939

[In the following article, Captain Liddell Hart, who has for long been regarded as one of the most brilliant military critics in Britain, examines the basic problem of modern warfare with results which both illuminate and vindicate the course taken by the Allied High Command on the Western Front.]

The idea of an irresistible offensive dominates the official doctrines of the Continental military machines which admit no aim less than that of victory achieved by the complete destruction of the opposing forces in battle.

German military literature is lit up with the theme of the "blitzkrieg"—the lightning war. The Italian military authorities made the pronouncement only a few years ago that "trench warfare is obsolete"—because "the first onslaught of tanks and fast-moving vehicles would break through trench-lines, force fighting into the open and make movements so rapid that nothing would be gained by digging new trenches." Their experience in Spain may have disillusioned them—but the military hierarchy everywhere has hitherto shown a much greater capacity for explaining away its mistakes than for overcoming more concrete obstacles.

The new Field Service Regulations of the Russian Army, issued after the Spanish War had been in progress for some time, declare: "the fundamental aim of the Soviet Union in any war which is forced upon it will be to secure a decisive victory and utterly overthrow its enemy … The enemy must be caught throughout the whole depth of his position and there encircled and destroyed. Modern technical means make possible the simultaneous defeat of the enemy along the whole of his battle front and throughout the whole depth of his position." The steam-roller of 1914 has become, in theory, the mechanized avalanche of 1939.

Limits of the Offensive

The case for the offensive is so obvious that it can be expressed briefly. Indeed, it can be epitomised in a single sentence—only by the offensive can an enemy country, or position be occupied, and its surrender compelled. It is thus the only way in which a war, or a battle, can be won in the precise sense of the term. Furthermore, the offensive has great psychological advantages as a means towards this end—because it keeps the initiative over the opposing command, and acts as a tonic to one's own troops so long as it produces result proportionate to the effort expended.

The offensive, however, is the more exhausting form of action. Nothing does more to ruin any force, or nation, then offensives which show no profit commensurate with their cost. The sands of history are littered with the wrecks of kingships which set their compass on an offensive course. Napoleon is the greatest of all these wrecks. Yet his career came to its disastrous end before the tide of the attack itself was on the ebb.

While recent wars have provided abundant examples of offensives failing, they have provided a few examples of these succeeding—up to a point. But it is difficult to find any cases where the attacker has not had an immense superiority of armament or the defender has not been in a state of declining morale from other causes. Even the best offensive technique developed from prolonged experiment in the course of the last war required a quantitative superiority of nearly three to one to make an offensive effective. There appears little likelihood of such favourable odds in the Western theatre of war. To organise and train an army primarily for the offensive is therefore to stake the national fortunes on a very dark horse.

Lessons of 1870

Soldiers who oppose the idea of defence by defence commonly support their abstract argument against it by citing the experience of the 1870 war as proof of its dangers. They assert that the French suffered defeat by adopting the defensive as a deliberate policy on the assumption that it would enable them to profit by their superior firearms, the needle-gun in particular. Even if such a belief were well founded the argument from it would not be a credit to the mental adaptability of those who employ it. For, in view of the immense development in weapons, a failure of the tactical defensive more than half a century back, even if it were true, would not be a reasonable ground for dismissing all the evidence of the power of defence under modern conditions. The weapons of 1870 were not the weapons of 1914, still less the weapons of 1939. But it is not even true that the French doctrine was defensive.

The notion that the French came to disaster by relying on the tactical defensive is merely a myth which gained currency by constant repetition on the part of the French advocates of the "offensive a outrance" during the generation which preceded the last war. The myth does not stand examination. While the German successes mere maintained merely due to strategic manoeuvre, helped by their great superiority of numbers, the French vied with them in attempting attacks—which were crushed by the superior German artillery. The actual policy which the French adopted was the tactical offensive combined with the strategic defensive—if what was really strategic paralysis caused by epidemic incompetence can be thus described. This combination was the opposite of what I suggest. Only on rare occasions did the French take up a defensive position proper, and then repulsed attacks with striking success. The disregard of these lessons by the "offensive" zealots of the next generation showed how often military theory is built on faith instead of a dispassionate analysis of facts. Likewise, the repetition of this 1870 myth as an argument to-day shows how far the case against the defensive is based on emotional repugnance rather than on scientific investigation.

A National Nightmare

Under present conditions it would be unwise for Britain and France to attempt an offensive strategy in the West, at any rate, in the early stages of the war. This should become clear when the potential strengths of the rival armies is considered, since no skill of general ship would be likely to achieve a local concentration of sufficient superiority.

In the West, the ratio of space to force is such as to offer no adequate scope for an offensive strategy against opponents who are at least equal in equipment. Battering rams also, are out of date. In face of such conditions, nothing could be more dangerous to the capacity of Britain and France than to indulge in a combined general offensive which suffered a costly repulse. In the tactical sphere, the costliest fiascoes of the last war were the attempt to carry out the old conception of a "holding attack"—in which more slender resources are used than those required for a decisive attack. By 1918, all the armies had learnt by hard experience the uselessness of this method. It would be madness to reproduce it on a greater scale in the strategic sphere.

On the other hand, the advantage of the general defensive could be enhanced, its risks diminished, and its common value increased by combining it with a "harassing offensive." This could be pursued by:—

(1)     Carrying out local or limited attacks, carefully mounted as a surprise, and with the maximum fire-power, against weak points on the main front;

(2)     Utilising artillery fire and air bombing to harass the enemy's routes of supply and rest camps;

(3)     Utilising sea power to isolate, and then to concentrate a decisive superiority of land force against detached bases and territories which the opponent cannot reinforce. As regards this, it must be appreciated, however, that a landing on a hostile shore has become almost impossible unless the defender's air force can be dominated.


(4)     Utilising sea power and air power combined to cause a general disturbance of the enemy's system of supply and internal life. So far as there is any scope for the offensive in modern war between more or less evenly matched opponents it seems it lie in developing such a super-guerrilla form of warfare.

Defence as Attack

Above all, it should be realised that defence is a psychological attack—on the mind and morale of the enemy's peoples. Now that professional armies have been superseded by nations in arms, these have to be convinced of the justification for the war aims of their Governments and High Commands. Nations contain far more discordant elements than professional armies, and are inherently more susceptible to internal disruption. It is easier to launch a nation into an aggressive war than to hold together its multitudinous components in a prolonged struggle, and maintain their will to continue fighting for palpably aggressive aims. If such an attack is met by attack the aggressor Government is enabled to consolidate its people by representing to them that they are fighting to defend their homes.

Such misrepresentation becomes far more difficult to maintain if the attack is met by defence. This tends to weaken the will of the enemy people, and foster unrest among them, by making it clear that their rulers are the aggressors and are responsible for keeping alight the cauldron in which the nation's manhood is consumed. This state of mind, and loss of spirit, will develop all the sooner if the offensive campaign produces no results comparable with its cost. There is nothing more demoralising to troops than to see the corpses of their comrades piled up in front of an unbroken defence, and that impression soon filters back to the people at home. Locally, where conditions are favourable, it may still be true that "attack is the best defence." But, on the whole, in a modern war of peoples a new truth is becoming apparent—that defence is the best attack.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Saturday, 12 March 2016

Active Militia; Officers of the Day
Topic: Officers

Active Militia; Officers of the Day (1868)

The Canadian Volunteer's Hand Book for Field Service, Major T.C. Scoble, 37th Battalion (Haldimand Rifles), C.V.M., 1868

Form of Report for the Captain of the Day


As captain of the day, yesterday, I visited the right or left wing (as the case may be) of the barracks, at the hours of breakfast and dinner; found the messing good, the men all present, the barracks clean and regular, and no complaints, (or otherwise).

I visited the guard by day, and found I visited the all correct, (or otherwise).

I visited the hospital and school, and found them clean and orderly.

Enclosed is the report of the subaltern of the day.


Report of the Subaltern of the Day


1.—Bread and Meal.—As subaltern of the day yesterday, I attended at the delivery of bread and meat, and found them of good quality and the bread of proper weight, or otherwise.

2.—Meals.—I visited the right or left wing (as the case may be) of the barracks at the hours of breakfast, and dinner, and evening meal, found the Messes regular, well supplied, the men all present, and no complaints, (or otherwise).

3.—Guards and Prisoners.—I visited the different guards and sentries by night, also the prisoners in the guard room, defaulters' room, and cells, and found all correct, (or otherwise.)

4.—School.—I visited the school of the non-commissioned officers and the canteen; found everything correct and regular.

5.—Tattoo.—I attended at the hour of Tattoo when all the non-commissioned officers were reported present and regular, and the men reported all present, (or otherwise).

6.—Lights.—I saw the lights and fires extinguished at the proper hour.

7.—Dinners.—I saw the guards' dinners marched off at the proper hour.

8.—Cook Houses.—I visited the cook houses previous to the time of the meal at dinner time and found all regular.


The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 11 March 2016

Sending Men to Death by Overloading
Topic: Soldiers' Load

U.S. Said Sending Men to Death by Overloading Them in Battle

The Montreal Gazette, 5 March 1951

Washington, March 4.—(AP)—Out of the United States Army's studies of the Second World War has come a long overdue disclosure that some military commanders sent soldiers to certain death by piling too much weight on their backs.

"In fact," the report says, "we have always done better by a mule than a man."

And there is a warning that overloading of combat troops has cut down the striking power of the American Army in the firing line—while the Russians are stripping weight off their fighting men to give them more mobility in battle.

This report, gleaned from the battlefields of the last war, says:

1.     Men were killed unnecessarily because staff officers failed to realize that overloading a soldier cuts down his chances for survival.

2.     Too much weight probably caused more deaths on bloody "Omaha Beach" in Normandy than enemy fire.

3.     Men have been called before a firing squad for cowardice when perhaps they were guilty of nothing more than extreme fatigue which could have been cured by a few salt tablets.

4.     The Army has become so engrossed with machines of war that it has neglected the human machine—the weary old infantryman who carries the real burden of combat.

5.     The Army must strip down its supply services—because oversupply can bog down an Army as surely as shortages of gasoline and ammunition.

This expert study of the American Army in action comes from Col. S.L.A. Marshall, a First World War veteran who did battlefield research in the last war and then became a theatre historian on the staff of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.

In peacetime, Marshall is an editorial writer for the Detroit News. But he is now in Korea making other battlefield studies for the Army.

Marshall has condensed part of his studies in a booklet "The Soldier's Load and the Mobility of a nation" published by the Combat Forces press of Washington.

Marshall's main argument is that the army may move swiftly on wheels—but true mobility in battle is the key to winning, and this can be achieved only by having strong troops who can move swiftly.

The accepted theory for years has been that 65 pounds on a soldier's back is a fair weight for marches and for combat. That's about what the Roman legionaries carried 2,000 years ago.

But Marshall contends from first-hand study that fear and fatigue make it impossible for most soldiers to carry such weights into a fight.

He thinks the weight limit should be about 40 pounds.

elipsis graphic

Canadian Load Lighter

Ottawa, March 4.—CP—An army official said today Canadian infantrymen are "stripped to the essentials" in combat.

"I believe we don't load our men as heavy as the Americans," he said.

The spokesman said Canadians carry ":nothing like 65 pounds_—a weight considered for years a "fair" soldier's carry. The Army didn't enforce any standard load.

A commanding officer decided what a Canadian soldier wore and it depended on the type of operation. There would be heavier gear in an approach to a battle area than in an attack.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 10 March 2016

Punishable by Death (1879)
Topic: Discipline

Punishable by Death (1879)

The Army Discipline and Regulation Bill

The Glasgow Herald, 10 July 1879

The following memorandum has been issued, explanatory of the Schedule related to Corporal Punishment, and containing a list of offences punishable under the bill with death:—

A person liable to military law, when on active service, is punishable with death is he commits any of the following offences:—

1.     Shamefully abandons or delivers up any garrison, place, post, or guard, or uses any means to compel or induce any governor, commanding officer, or other person shamefully to abandon or deliver up any garrison, place, post, or guard, which it was the duty of such governor, officer, or person to defend.

2.     Shamefully casts away his arms, ammunition, or tools in the presence of the enemy.

3.     Treacherously holds correspondence with or gives intelligence to the enemy, or treacherously or through cowardice sends a flag of truce to the enemy.

4.     Assists the enemy with arms, ammunition, or supplies, or knowingly harbours or protects as enemy not being a prisoner.

5.     Having been made a prisoner of war, voluntarily serves with or voluntarily aids the enemy.

6.     Knowingly does, when on active service, any act calculated to imperil the success of Her Majesty's forces or any part thereof.

7.     Misbehaves or induces others to misbehave before the enemy.

8.     Leaves his commanding officer to go in search of plunder.

9.     Without orders from his superior officer leaves his guard, picquet, patrol, or post.

10.     Forces a safeguard.

11.     Forces or strikes a sentry.

12.     Impedes the provost marshal, or any officer legally exercising authority under of on behalf of the provost marshal; or, when called on, refuses to assist in the execution of his duty the provost marshal or any such officer.

13.     Does violence to any person bringing provisions or supplies to the forces; or commits any offence against the property or person of any inhabitant of or resident in the country in which he is serving.

14.     Breaks into any house or other place in search of plunder.

15.     By discharging firearms, drawing swords, beating drums, making signals, using words, or by any means whatever intentionally occasions false alarms in actions, on the march, in the field, or elsewhere.

16.     Treacherously makes known the parole or watchword to any person not entitled to receive it; or, without good and sufficient cause, gives a parole or watchword different from what he received.

17.     Irregularly detains or appropriates to his own corps or detachment any provisions or supplies proceeding to the forces, contrary to any orders issued in that respect.

18.     Being a sentinel, commits any of the following offences (that is to say):—(a.) Sleeps or is drunk at his post; or (b.) leaves his post before he is regularly relieved.

19.     Causes or conspires with any other persons to cause any mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy.

20.     Endeavours to seduce any person in Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy, from allegiance to Her Majesty, or to persuade any person in Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy, to join in any mutiny or sedition.

21.     Joins in, or being present does not use his utmost endeavours to suppress any mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy,

22.     Coming to the knowledge of any actual or intended mutiny or sedition in any forces belonging to Her Majesty's regular, reserve, or auxiliary forces, or navy, does not without delay inform his commanding officer of the same.

23.     Strikes or uses or offers any violence to his superior officer, being in the execution of his office.

24.     Disobeys any lawful command given by his superior officer in the execution of his office.

25.     Deserts or attempts to desert Her Majesty's service.

26.     Persuades, endeavours to persuade, procures or attempts to procure, any person subject to military law to desert from Her Majesty's service.

Note.—Treason, murder, and other offences (if any) punishable by the law of England with death, if committed by persons subject to military law, can, under the circumstances specified in the bill, be tried by court-martial and be punished by death.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 9 March 2016

Iron Ration (1933)
Topic: Army Rations

Iron Ration Up to Date

The Glasgow Herald, 26 July 1933

I understand that the new type of iron ration which is the subject of investigation by the Army medical authorities as an alternative to bully-beef and biscuits is to be issued experimentally to troops during the present training season in order to test it under field service conditions. One of the main objects of the proposed change has already been explained as the desire to lighten the soldier's load, and in the ration to be tried this has been achieved to the extent of over 1 ½ pounds. Made up into a solid slab and resembling a block of chocolate, the substitute for bully and biscuits is a scientifically prepared product of which the biggest proportion, 29 per cent., is pea flour. Cocoa butter and sugar each represent 25 per cent., and cocoa powder and sugar each 10 per cent., while the remaining one percent. is oil of lemon.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Militia Report (1876)
Topic: Canadian Militia

The Militia Report (1876)

The Times, Ottawa, Ont., 19 February 1876

The report of the state of the Dominion Militia, presented by Major-General Selby Smyth to the Minister of Militia and Defence, is a most intresting one. The Major-General states that he has inspected most thoroughly the Dominion forces from the shores of the Atlantic to the Pacific Coast. He alludes also to the result of his conferences with the general officers of the United States army, commanding in Montana, Washington and Oregon Territories, to whom he was accredited by the American Government—results which have already been submitted to the Department, and he states that he met with a most friendly reception. His official tour extended in point of time from the 24th May to the 15th November, and embraced a distance traveled in going and returning of about 11,000 miles, of which over 2,000 miles were performed on horseback, and 600 miles with pack animals. In speaking of the force in Prince Edward Island the General states that he found the militia had not been reconstituted since Confederation, and that considerable misconception existed upon the subject. In the year 1851, it had been disbanded, but at the time of the Fenian commotion a few independent companies were organized in consequence of a despatch from the Secretary of State—these were kept together until July, 1873. At the time of his visit there appeared to be considerable apathy in all matters connected with the militia of the Island. The force within the province consists of 700 men, in four regimental districts, or divisions, with four batteries of artillery and twelve infantry companies. Some detailed statements are also given to the clothing and arming of the Island militia, which has been placed on a more satisfactory basis than heretofore.

With respect to Manitoba, the report says that the garrison now consists of only 100 men, of whom 25 are artillery, with two 9-pounder rifled guns, and two 7-pounder mountain howitzers; two of the latter description have also been supplied to the Winnipeg battery of militia artillery. The militia of Manitoba is composed of two companies of infantry and the battery of artillery. The latter is in fair condition, while the infantry has but little solidity. The Deputy Adjutant General was about to reconstitute the infantry companies, which he hoped to render more serviceable. Recently an application has been made for more military protection at Portage Laprarie, about 100 miles west of Winnipeg, based upon a minute of the Provincial Council relative to a murder of a Sioux Indian by one of his own tribe. In the opinion of Gen. Smyth, if an armed force is considered necessary, it should be established at Totogon, in preference to Portage Laprarie, as the former commands a larger sweep of country from White Mud River to the open plateau near Poplar Point, both places being respectively 90 and 42 miles from Fort Garry.

The report then proceeds to set forth the state of the militia force in British Columbia and Vancouver's Island, and the report shows the most satisfactory state of affairs. The efficiency of the Dominion army is spoken of in the highest and most complimentary terms and some good wholesome advice is given to young officers, commissioned and non-commissioned. It is urged upon them to pay the strictest attention to their drill, and by their conduct to set an example to those in the ranks. The new clothing issued is condemned in flat terms as a failure; to use the words of the report:—

"The shape of the frock is extremely unpopular, and the serge material very bad. A shower of rain reduces the scarlet to a neutral tint approaching black. Money is always badly laid out in purchasing cheap materials, popular feeling must be respected in a purely volunteer force, encouragement must be given to maintain that feeling. One and all, I believe, condemn the serge frock, and for my own part, I think it looks unbecoming and proves unserviceable. All desire the cloth tunic, it is the uniform of the British Army which the Militia with becoming pride desire to emulate. I recommend the universal resumption of that dress. The forage cap invented here is equally unserviceable. Anything with paste board in its composition is totally useless for a soldier's wear. The men complained that the former forage cap afforded no shade from the sun nor shelter from rain. Militiamen are accustomed the year round in their ordinary work to wear broad brimmed hats, and so they dislike the round forage cap; but I believe the Kilmarnock with a back and front peak, as formerly worn by some regiments of the line in India, would answer the purpose, affording both shade and shelter, and causing a circulation of air round the back of the neck. A headdress combining grace and utility is a matter of taste still far from decided on. The Glengarry cap is smart, but would be worn probably for general use and the shako is not required for the short summer drills."

The following statistic table will show the numbers trained in each Province during the past season:—

  • Quebec, 8,168;
  • Ontario, 14,836;
  • Nova Scotia, 3,033;
  • New Brunswick, 2,124;
  • Manitoba, no return;
  • British Columbia, 200;
  • Prince Edward Island, 484.

In regard to military stores, it is stated that there is now in reserve throughout the Dominion:—

  • Gunpowder, 188,576 lbs;
  • Small arms ammunition, 6,902,576 rounds;
  • Snider rifles, long and short, 19,820;
  • Camp equipment, for about 50,000 men.

The Mounted Police is spoken of in the highest terms of praise and its maintenance is urged in the most vigorous terms. It has already done good service, and the men appear, as a rule, to be thoroughly satisfied with their lot. Some changes in the mode of arming are recommended, such as the substitution of the improved Adams revolver for the Smith & Wesson. The report denies that the force is, as has been stated, "a complete failure," and cites several instances where it has been of essential use, especially in the protection of trading posts and the fur hunters. The force is efficient in every respect, and its presence has been the means of promoting a feeling of security throughout the country. The remainder of the report is composed of reports from the commandants of the various military districts, and they are very interesting reading.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 7 March 2016

Abolished Sword as a Cavalry Weapon
Topic: Cold Steel

Abolished Sword as a Cavalry Weapon

The Rifle is to Take its Place

Boston Evening Transcript; 17 September 1902
(Special to the Transcript)

Montreal, Sept, 18—A militia order just issued by the new commander-in-chief of the Canadian Militia, Lord Dundonald, practically abolished the sword as a cavalry weapon. He has decided that, for the future, mounted troops, whatever they may be called, shall consider the rifle as their principle weapon. They may use swords on parade, but not on the field. Drill of the simplest kind is to be provided in order that men may get into rendezvous formations, moving from place to place and getting rapidly into position for dismounted work. Rapidity in mounting and dismounting, outpost and reconnaissance work, attack and defence of a position, defence of a bridge, arrangements for ambush, pioneering, map reading, how to find way by compass and stars are recommended as proper exercises to fit mounted troops for the best work. The general expresses his desire, in making this change, to impress upon mounted officers and men that he is not depriving them of opportunities to distinguish themselves, but is rather adding to those chances. He intimates that it may be possible later to arm men with a light sword bayonet, but is satisfies that the greatest efficiency lies in the use of the rifle. He wishes the mounted man to learn from the infantryman and the engineer all that is useful to him, while retaining the dash and "go" which should always distinguish the cavalryman.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 6 March 2016

A Problem in Army Discipline
Topic: Humour

A Problem in Army Discipline

Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene, Oregon, 15 September 1902
By F.A. Mitchel

"Corporal," said the colonel, "I see Private Stokes strutting around the post as if he were the prime favourite of the secretary of war. It's not ten minutes since he was tied up by the thumbs. What does it mean?"

"Private Clarkson cut him down, sir."

"Cut him down!" exclaimed the colonel, aghast at such defiance of military authority. "Why, this is mutiny."

The corporal stood straight as a ramrod and said nothing.

"Arrest Stokes and tie him up again. Send Clarkson under guard to me."

In a few minutes private Clarkson came marching between two soldiers to the colonel's quarters. He was a rosy cheeked boy of eighteen, with flaxen hair, cut close, and blue eyes, in which were a defiant look."

"Are you aware, my man," asked the colonel, "that you have committed an act of mutiny?"

"Yes, colonel."

"And that mutiny is an offence punishable with death?"

No answer.

"Corporal, what was Private Stokes tied up for?"

"Fightin', sir."

"Whom did he fight?"

"Private Clarkson."

"What—this boy?"

"Yes, sir."

"He deserves to be tied up. What did you cut him down for, Private Clarkson?"

"He wasn't fightin' me, I was fightin' him. I hit him on the head with a scabbard."

"How long have you been in the service?"

"I enlisted last week."

"H'm—a recruit. You haven't had much time to learn discipline, but if you have no more idea of it than to interfere with a man under punishment you're not likely to make much of a soldier. Considering you're green, I'll let you off this time, but I warn you that if ever you mutiny again while under my command I'll have you shot."

The corporal marched the two guards away, and Private Clarkson turned and walked across the parade ground. The colonel watched him and saw him draw his sleeve across his eyes.

"Not much more than a kid," muttered the stern commander. "These innocent boys, ignorant of army discipline, are harder to break in than jailbirds. They don't know what they are doing."

Half an hour later as the colonel was leaving his headquarters he met the corporal of the guard at the door.

"Well, what is it, corporal?" he asked uneasily.

"Private Stokes has been cut down again, sir."


"Cut down again."

"Who did it this time?"

"Private Clarkson, sir."

The colonel was nonplussed. How to handle such a case seemed to him an insoluble problem. He thought the matter over while the corporal was standing like a graven image and determined to give this beardless boy who was defying him a scare that would teach him the nature of army discipline.

"Corporal," said the colonel, "tell the sergeant of the guard to bring private Clarkson here with eight men."

When Clarkson and the men arrived, the colonel ordered the sergeant to have the muskets loaded with blank cartridges without Clarkson's knowledge. This was done, the men were drawn up in line, and the colonel himself took Clarkson, placing him thirty paces from and in front of the firing party.

"Now, my man," said the officer, "I'm going to show you what it means to defy my authority. I'm going to have you shot."

Private Clarkson turned pale, but said nothing. The colonel spent some time adjusting him before the line of soldiers in order to give him time to collapse. Clarkson stood silent, with a sullen pout on his lips.

"Ready!" said the colonel. ("By Jove, he's the biggest fool I ever knew. I believe I'll have to pretend to shoot him.) "Aim!"

Clarkson not only failed to wilt, but cast a scornful look at the colonel. This was more than the commander had bargained for.

"Are you aware," he said to the prisoner, "that when I give the next order you will be a dead man?"

There was a twitching of the muscles of the private's face, but he said nothing.

"If I let you off once more, do you think you will have sense enough not to cut Private Stokes down again?"


The colonel stood grim for a moment, then gave the order:


Eight muskets exploded. Clarkson fell.

The colonel, frightened lest some of the pieces had been loaded by mistake or the prisoner had died of shock, rushed to him, raised him, fanned him with his hat and tore open his coat at the neck that he might breathe more freely.

"Great heaven! It's a woman!"

Clarkson opened her eyes, saw the colonel bending over her in terror and—laughed.

"Who are you?" exclaimed the colonel.

"Private Stokes' wife."

the colonel gave a low whistle, then went to his quarters and countermanded an order excluding soldiers' wives from the post. It was plain to him that he could not keep them out.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 6 March 2016 12:03 AM EST
Saturday, 5 March 2016

10 Diseases of Leadership
Topic: Leadership

Richard Holmes'
'10 Diseases of Leadership'

A Sandhurst Guide, Pilot version, Easter 2012

1.     Lack of moral courage. In the military physical courage is often supported by the sense of team and shared commitment to a specific task. Moral courage is often a far lonelier position and so that much harder to undertake in practice.

2.     Failure to recognize that opposition can be loyal. Encourage constructive dissent rather than have destructive consent.

3.     Consent and evade. Do not consent to a plan that you do not agree with then evade its implications by doing something different without telling your commander.

4.     There is a need to know and you don't need to know. Some people use information and access to it to reinforce their leadership position.

5.     Don't bother me with the facts I've already made up my mind. There is always a point where the detail of a plan is confirmed, after which there is a tendency to ignore any new information that might suggest a change to that plan is required. The British as a people have a greater tendency than most to succumb to this.

6.     The quest for the 100% solution. A good plan in time is better than a great plan too late.

7.     Equating the quality of the advice with the rank of the person providing it. Wisdom and insight are not linked inextricably to rank and experience.

8.     I'm too busy to win. Failure to exploit opportunities that arise by being focused on routine work.

9.     I can do your job too. Avoid the temptation to slip back into your old comfort zones. It will smother subordinates.

10.     Big man, cold shadow. Consider the effect of your presence and involvement in a task. Will it help or hinder?

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 31 January 2016 3:25 PM EST
Friday, 4 March 2016

A Duel in India (1828)
Topic: Officers

A Duel in India (1828)

The Public Ledger and Newfoundland General Advertiser, 29 July, 1828 (New Monthly Magazine.)

The ___ Regiment of Foot, was quartered at Vellore, when the tragical occurrence took place which deprived poor captain Bull of his existence. He was yet only in his early manhood, beloved by all who knew him, and much respected in the hussar regiment, which he quitted in exchange for a company in the regiment in India, which he had joined only a few months. At Vellore, he found a set of officers chiefly Irish, and by no means favourable specimens of that country, either in its virtues or its failings. He felt therefore, as was natural, little or no inclination to associate with them farther than military duty required. The mess of the regiment was convivial and expensive; and Capt. Bull having been affianced to a young lady who was coming to India, had the strongest and most laudable motives for living economically. He therefore intimated, but in terms of politeness his disinclination to join the mess, stating his expectations of being shortly married, and the consequent expense which he was so soon to incur. But the majority of the mess, the Irish part of it in particular, with the confusion of head incident to those who are resolved to quarrel, interpreted his refusal as a personal affront. It was then unanimously agreed amongst nine officers present, that they should draw lots which of them was to call Captain Bull out. The lot fell to Lieut. Sandays, who in the name of himself and his brother officers, sent the challenge which Bull had too much spirit to decline, though determined, as he told his second, not to fire, having no personal injury to redress. They went out, Sandays fired, and Captain Bull fell. The systematic cowardice of the plot, and the untimely fate of so excellent a young man, strongly agitated the feelings of all. Sandays, and Yeaman, his second, were brought down to the presidency, and tried at the ensuing sessions for wilfull murder. The grass-cutters and the horse-keepers, who had observed them going out together, and returning, and a water-bearer, who had actually seen the duel, were somewhat at a loss to identify Sandays, and Yeaman; and the prisoners had moreover the advantage of a jury of Madras shop-keepers, who serving the different regiments with stores, had on former occasions acquitted officers under similar charges; and, aggravated sd the present case was, probably felt a like indisposition to convict. They were acquitted, therefore, but against the strong and pointed direction of the judge, Sir henry Gwillin, who told the jury that it would be trifling with hos oath not to tell them that is was a case of foul and deliberate murder. The deliberated or pretended to deliberate, for half an hour; and during this time, the judge who could not imagine that any other verdict could be brought in than that of "Guilty" had already laid his black cap upon his note book, prepared to pass the sentence of the law upon them, and which as he told the prisoners, it was his intention to have carried into effect. "You have had," said he, addressing them with great solemnity, "a narrow escape and too merciful a jury, If they ca, let them reconcile their verdict to God and the consciences. For my part, I assure you, had the verdict been what the facts of the case so fully warranted, that in 24 hours you should have been cold and unconscious corpses—as cold and unconscious as that of the poor young man whom, by a wicked conspiracy and a wicked deed you drove out of existence. Begone! Repent of your sins. You are men of blood, and that blood cried up to heaven against you." Sandays and Yeamen were afterward tried by a court martial, found guilty of the conspiracy against the life of Capt. Bull, and broke. The sentence was confirmed by the King, with an additional clause, declaring them "incapable for ever of again serving his Majesty."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Thursday, 3 March 2016

Burden Put on Doughboy
Topic: Soldiers' Load

Burden Put on Doughboy

Army Experts Seeking a Method by Which Soldier's Load May Be Enlightened

The Woodville Republican, Woodville, Mississippi, 3 March 1923

Washington.—The heaviest laden pack animal of the army is the doughboy himself. Inch for inch for size or pound for pound for weight, the buck private of infantry carries on his back into battle double the burden handled by horses or mules or motor truck.

He is expected to jog cheerfully along through the ooze beside the road, leaving the good going to the gas and animal transport.

Army experts are racking their brains for ways to cut down the doughboy's load. Exhaustive study has been given to war experience for that purpose. Through the American legion and similar organizations efforts have been made to get the men who carried the infantry packs in France to suggest changes. As yet, however, it was said at the War Department, to get only a few ounces of weight off the backs of the trudging infantry.

Experts figure that the average load for a foot soldier should not exceed 61 pounds. Yet under the present organization tables, "No. 3 rear rank" (who is the automatic rifleman in the infantry), must stagger along under about 133 pounds when fully equipped. All of the machine gun personnel is burdened almost as heavily as the infantry, carrying 115 to 125 pounds per man.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 2 March 2016

The Abuse of Bayonets
Topic: Cold Steel

The Abuse of Bayonets

The Pittsburgh Press, 25 June 1911

A veteran soldier was talking about bayonets.

"A lot of unjust obloquy was heaped on our bayonet makers during the Civil War," he said, "The makers were blamed for defects that were really the fault of the soldiers."

"I saw some interesting bayonet tests the other day that proved this. First, in these tests, a lot of swords and bayonets were put through the severest ordeals proper to swords and bayonets, and they came out in superb condition. Then they were put through the improper ordeals that too many of us subjected them to during the war.

"A piece of bread was toasted on a fine bayonet, and then the hot steel was thrust suddenly into cold water, as often happened in the field on the sudden appearance of an officer. The result was that the magnificent metal became as brittle as glass. Dropped on the floor, it broke into five pieces.

"Three bayonets were arranged in tripod shape and a steak was cooked under them. These bayonets cooled slowly, and, when cold, they were soft as lead.

"And as for these things, in the Civil War, many a bayonet maker's name was disgraced."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Recruiting and Retention, 1882
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.

Yours, &c.,

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Monday, 29 February 2016

Of Subsisting Troops (Saxe)
Topic: Army Rations

Of Subsisting Troops

Reveries, or Memoirs, Concerning the Art of War, by Maurice Count de Saxe, Marshal-General of the Armies of France (Translated from the French, MDCCLIX)

The practice of troops messing together contributes much to good order, oeconomy, and health debauchery and gaming are thereby prevented, and the soldier is, at the same time, very well maintained. This institution, however, is not without its inconveniences; because a man harasses himself after a march in search of wood, water, &c.; is tempted to maraud; is perpetually dirty, and ill dressed; spoils his clothes by the carriage from one camp to another of all the necessary utensils for his mess; and likewise impairs his health by the extraordinary fatigues which unavoidably attend it. Yet these inconveniences are not without a remedy; for the troops being, according to my disposition, divided into centuries, a sutler, provided with four carts drawn each by two oxen, should be appointed to every one, and furnished with a pot large enough to hold a sufficient quantity of soup for the whole century, of which every man should receive his proportion in a wooden porringer, together with some boiled meat at noon, and roasted in the evening; and officers should attend, to see that they be not imposed upon, or have cause to complain. The profit allowed to be made by these sutlers, should arise from the sale of liquors, cheese, tobacco, and the skins of the cattle which they kill; and which they are also to maintain with the herbage and provisions that will be always found in the neighbourhood of the army.

To carry this into execution, may at first appear a matter of some difficulty; but very little application will be necessary to render it both practicable, and of general use. Soldiers, when they were to go on parties, might carry as much roasted meat as would serve them for one or two days, without any manner of incumbrance. The quantity of wood, water, and kettles, which is now required to make soup for an hundred men, is more than would be sufficient for a thousand in the way I propose and the soup, at the fame time, be composed of much better ingredients: besides, the soldiers would thus avoid all unwholesome things which produce disorders, such as hog's flesh, unripe fruit, &c.; and the officers would only have occasion to attend their meals, at which one at least should be always present, to take care that they had justice done them. On forced marches, or at such times when the baggage could not be brought up, the cattle upon the spot should be distributed amongst the troops, and wooden spits made to roast their flesh; which is an expedient accompanied with no embarrassment whatsoever, and lasts only for a few days. But let us compare our method with this, and we shall soon find which is the most preferable. It is in use amongst the Turks, who are by that means at all times well nourished, insomuch that their bodies, after an engagement, are very distinguishable from those of the Germans, which are pale and meagre. There is also another advantage resulting from it in certain cases; that of managing the soldier's purse, by furnishing him with his pay, and at the fame time selling him his provisions; for instance, when contributions are to be raised in countries abounding in cattle, like Poland and Germany, that the inhabitants may be able to furnish what is required, one half must be taken in provisions, the other in money, and the former fold to the troops. Thus the soldier's pay makes a perpetual circulation, and. there will likewise remain an overplus of both money and provisions. It is moreover of great service in the consumption of such magazines as you have been obliged to make; for by fending your troops to subsist upon them, the loss to the state will be much diminished, and no umbrage, at the same time, given to the men.

Bread should never be given to soldiers in the field, but they should be accustomed to biscuit; because it is a composition that will keep without spoiling five years or more in the magazines. It is very wholesome, and a soldier can carry a sufficient quantity of it for even or eight days without any inconvenience. We need only apply to such officers as have served amongst the Venetians, to be informed of the general use, as well as convenience of it. The Muscovite kind, called soukari, is the best, because it does not crumble : it is made in a square form, of the size of a small filbert; and, as it takes up but little room, will not require such numbers of waggons to convey it from place to place as are necessary for bread. The purveyors indeed very industriously propagate the opinion, that bread is better for a soldier: but that is altogether false, and proceeds only from a selfish regard to their own interest; for they do not more than half-bake it, and blend all forts of unwholesome ingredients; which, with the quantity of water contained in it, renders the weight and size double. Add to this, their train of bakers, servants, waggons, and horses, upon all which they make a large profit : they are also a great incumbrance to an army ; must be always furnished with quarters, mills, and detachments to guard them. In short, it is inconceivable how much a general is perplexed with the frauds they commit, the embarrassments they create, the diseases they occasion by the badness of their bread, and the extraordinary trouble they give to the troops. The erecting of ovens is a circumstance which, in general, discovers so much of your intentions to the enemy, that it is needless to fay any more about it. If I undertook to prove every thing which I advance by fact, I should not be able to dismiss this subject so soon; but, upon the whole, I am convinced, that a great many misfortunes have proceeded only from this evil, which have been falsely ascribed to other causes.

It would be proper sometimes to with-hold even biscuit from the men, and give them corn in its stead, which, after having first bruised, and made into paste, they must learn to bake upon iron plates. Marshal Turenne, in his memoirs, makes some mention of this custom ; and I have heard it observed by other great commanders, that they sometimes refused their troops bread, even when they had abundance of it, in order to inure and reconcile them to the want of it. I have made campaigns of eighteen months length with troops that were, during the whole time, without it, and yet never discovered the least dissatisfaction. I have also made several others with such as were accustomed to it, and who were so far from being able to submit to the want of it, that the intermission of it for only a day was attended with the greatest inconveniences; a circumstance that rendered every enterprise in which expedition was required, impracticable.

In regard to flesh-meat, there is hardly a possibility of being reduced to a want of it; for cattle can keep up with an army very well, and cost nothing in conveyance; and if we grant that an ox weighs 500 pounds, and that every man is to be allowed but half a pound, one ox per day will maintain a thousand men, and fifty will consequently be sufficient for 50,000: suppose then that a campaign lasts 200 days, the number of oxen required will amount to no more than 10,000, which will follow the army, and find pasture sufficient to support them in all places. They should be assembled in different herds, or repositories, and successively advanced as occasion may require.

I cannot omit taking notice here of a custom established amongst the Romans, by means of which they prevented the diseases and mortality that armies are subject to from the change of climates; and to which also a part of that amazing success which attended them ought to be attributed. The German armies lost above a third upon their arrival in Italy and Hungary. In the year 1718, we entered the camp of Belgrade with 55,000 men: it stands upon an eminence; the air is wholesome; the water good, and we had plenty of all necessaries: nevertheless, on the day of battle, which was the 18th of August, we could muster only 22,000 under arms; the rest being either dead, or incapable of acting. I could produce many instances of this kind, which have happened amongst other nations, and can be only imputed to the change of climate. The use of vinegar was the grand secret by which the Romans preserved their armies; for as soon as that was wanting amongst them, they became as much subject to diseases as we are at present. This is a fact that few perhaps have attended to, but which is notwithstanding of very great importance to all commanders, who have a regard for their troops, and any ambition to conquer their enemies. In regard to the manner of using it, the Romans distributed it by order amongst the men, every one receiving a sufficient quantity to serve him for several days, and pouring a few drops of it into the water which he drank. To trace the cause of so salutary an effect, is what I leave to the adepts in physic, contenting myself with having related a simple fact, the reality of which is unquestionable.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Sunday, 28 February 2016

Cronje's Surrender
Topic: Paardeberg

Cronje's Surrender

Boer Commando Reduced to Desperate Straits Before They Would Give In
Internal Dissensions and Unsanitary Conditions Compel Cronje to Stop Fighting

The Lewiston Daily Sun, Lewiston, Maine, 5 April 1900
[Correspondent of the Associated Press.]

London, March 28.—By means of the latest mails from Cape Town, the papers have been able to tell the story of the defeat of the "Lion of South Africa."

The Times correspondent at Paardeberg is able to give some idea of what transpired in the Boer camp, prior to surrender.

"The Red House," he writes, "a kind of Dak bungalow which is found near every drift in South Africa, was used as Cronje's headquarters. On Tuesday, the 20th, was marked by the severest bombardment of the entire investment, and a Boer doctor described the position as awful. The losses inflicted upon the horses were the turning point of the siege. Decomposition set in and the absolute need of clean air caused a serious rebellion in the camp, most of the 4,000 men demanding the surrender should be made at once.

"From that moment the Boers scarcely obeyed orders. A sharp division between the Transvaalers and the Orange Free State Boers ensued, and the only bond of sympathy that united them, besides their common adversity was a long-hidden hatred of the Germans in their ranks. Until sunrise, on the 27th, the state of affairs among the Boers was pitiful. Apart from the ever increasing hunger, despair of relief and unhealthiness of the position, mutual recriminations destroyed the last consolation of adversity, good fellowship, and Cronje sat aloof, silent and unapproachable.

"The events of the early morning of the 27th, can best be told from outside.

"Brigadier General MacDonald sent from his bed a note to Lord Roberts, reminding him that Tuesday was the anniversary of that disaster, which, we all remembered, he has by example, order and threat himself, done his best to avert, even while the panic had been at its heights; Sir Henry Colville submitted a suggested attack backed by the same unanswerable plea.

"For a moment Lord Roberts demurred to the plans; it seemed likely to cost too heavily, but the insistence of Canada broke down his reluctance and the men of the oldest colony were sent out in the small hours of Tuesday morning to redeem the blot on the name of the mother country.

"From the existing trench, some 700 yards long, on the northern bank held jointly by the Gordons and the Canadians, the latter were ordered to advance in two lines—each, of course, in extended orders—30 yards apart, the first with bayonets fixed, the second reinforced by 50 Royal Engineers under Col. Kincaid and Capt. Boileau.

"In dead silence and covered by a darkness, only faintly illuminated by the merest rim of the dying moon, the three companies of Canadians moved on over the brush strewn ground. For ober 400 yards the noiseless advance continued, but when within 80 yards of the Boer trench the trampling of the scrub betrayed the moment.

"Instantly the outer trench burst into fire which was kept up almost without intermission from 5 o'clock till 10 minutes past the hour. The Canadians flinging themselves under, kept up an incessant fire on the trenches, guided only by the flashes of their enemy's rifles, and the Boers admit that they quickly reduced them to the necessity of lifting their rifles over their heads to the edge of the earthwork, and pulling their triggers at random.

"Beginning at this line, the engineers dug a trench from the inner edge of the bank to the crest, and then for fifty or sixty yards out through the scrub. The Canadian retired three yards to this protection and waited for dawn, confident in their new position, which had entered the protected angle of the Boer position and commanded alike the rifle pits of the banks and the trefoil-shaped embrasures on the north.

"Cronje saw that matters were desperate. Col. Otter and Col. Kincaid called a hasty consultation, which was disturbed by the sight of Sir henry Colville, General of the Ninth Division, quickly riding down within 500 yards of the northern Boer trench to bring the news that even while the last few shots were being fired a horseman was hurrying in with a white flag and Cronje's unconditional surrender, to take effect at sunrise."

The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Updated: Sunday, 28 February 2016 12:02 AM EST

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