Notes on the Origin and Derivation of Some Military Terms

By Professor W. R. P. Bridger
Royal Military College
Canadian Defence Quarterly, Vol XII, No 3, April, 1935

In the following notes no attempt has been made to trace all the vagaries of each word mentioned, only a few of the most striking and interesting episodes in its career have been touched on and only a few of the foreign words connected with its history or travels have been mentioned. The endeavour has been to trace roughly the origin, and by that means, to explain the modern meaning of certain military words. It may indeed be possible to correct a few erroneous interpretations which have crept into print, for jumping at origins is just as dangerous as jumping at conclusions.

Let us first deal with some general military terms. It may not be generally recognized that the word Army did not become firmly established in its present meaning until the end of the 17th Century. Its origin is obvious from the past participle of the Latin verb armare, through the French armée and the cognate Spanish and Portuguese armada, but it was in the sense of the last mentioned word that it was first used in English, literally meaning an armada. A little later it was used to designate either sea or land forces, or sometimes both. In 1647, two years before the Commonwealth the Parliamentary Forces were alluded to as "the Army"; from about this time, when a standing army was first inaugurated, the word began to acquire its modern sense until in the reign of James II it was applied to the whole of the land forces of England. Chaucer, Caxton and Lord Berners, in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries, respectively, all three use the word "army" for a military and naval expedition, and many other writers in those centuries thus describe an armed force, either by sea Or by land. Chambers Cyclopedia of 1751 gins the following reference: "A naval or sea army is a number of ships of war equipped and manned with sailors and marines under an admiral." In the 16th and 17th centuries army was occasionally used as another name for a fleet, for instance in Selden's Mare Clausum we get: 'The King commanded that £21,000 should bee paid to his Armie; (for so that fleet is called everywhere in English Saxon,) which rode at Grenewich." In a figurative sense meaning either a vast host of men or a multitude of things, "army" has been common since the beginning of the 16th Century, occurring often in the Bible, Shakespeare, Spenser, etc. In modern times we have as an example of this use 'The Salvation Army'.

War is derived from the old High German werran, to embroil (hence the modern German, wirren to confuse). It was adopted by the French as werre, the modern guerre, and by some of the other Romance languages as guerra. It was brought to England by the Normans. The Romance languages adopted it because the latin word bellum was too much like the word for beautiful, bellus. The Teutons thought it unlucky to have a special word for war so used many euphemisms, the old Norse language had the word 'ufrithr or un-peace. the Anglo-Saxons gewinn (winnan meaning to strive). Krieg, which originally meant striving after, has only in modern German taken on its current meaning.

Warfare had the additional meaning of an expedition in early times. In the New Testament 1, Cor. IX. 7, we find:—"Who goeth a warfare anytime at his own charge," and it is found with this meaning in 15th Century writers. However, in the Old Testament you find the modern meaning, in the Book of Samuel you read or may read that the Philistines gathered their armies together for warfare.

Soldier is from an old French word soude, and the late Latin soldaris (soldum pay), the French sou is another modern derivative. The word has been common in English from the beginning of the 14th Century and has had almost seventy variations in spelling.

Recruit arrived in England in the 16th Century, and was formed from an obsolete French word recrute which itself came from recrue the feminine past participle of recroitre. It meant originally reinforcement and is allied with the Latin word crescere to increase, e.g., "His Majesty has ordered a recruit of 1,200 foot and 300 horse", but very shortly afterwards it came to mean one newly enlisted in the army, and was also used as a verb.

Troop, troops and troupe are forms of the same word derived from Late Latin troppus a flock. through the old French trope. Its origin seems to be uncertain. The word is used in two senses either as a body of soldiers, viz., "Your enymy assembled more and more in gret troupes (State Papers of Henry VIII, 1545) or as a small band of cavalry under a captain, corresponding, of course, to a company of foot or a battery of artillery, viz., "Souldiers disordering themselves upon every light occasion both in battalion, squadron and troupe". (Sir J. Smyth, 1590.) In Quinn's Military Dictionary, 1780, troop is defined. in addition to its ordinary meaning, as the second beat of a drum when the foot are to march. just as 'general' is the first beat to give notice, commonly in the early morning, for the foot to be in readiness to march. "Trooping the Colour" may date back to Marlborough's time, though the first standing order on the subject is dated May, 1755. The ceremonial is described in 'General Regulations, Orders and Warrants', 1717-1766, the MSS. of which is in the War Office Library.

Corps, an abbreviation of corps d'armee, is found in 'French in the 17th Century, and was brought to England during the time of Marlborough's Campaigns. It and corpse are variants of the same Middle English and Old French cors, derived from the Latin corpus. The French were the first to reinstate the 'p', followed later by the English who in the last century added an 'e' to the word and so corps and corpse became differentiated in meaning, spelling and pronunciation.

Corps de garde was introduced into England in the 16th Century. It has had many variants in its spelling, starting from the corps du garde of Sir J. Smyth (e) in 1590 and continuing through corps de guarde, cor de gnarde, and the corrupt form court of guard.

Regiment comes from the Latin regimentum and has nothing peculiar about it except that it has lost its old sense of rule, obvious in the stem. Since the 17th Century it has designated the largest permanent unit in any branch of the army, though it was used in a general sense long before that time.

Battalion, from the French bataillon, is a word whose chief peculiarity seems to lie in its spelling. The O.E.D. gives two references to its use in the 16th Century, in one of which it is spelt 'batailon' and in the other 'battaillon', a form found in early French. Both battalion and battle appear to be closely allied with French words though their original form is obscure. Battle is believed to be of Celtic origin.

Platoon, from the French peloton (pronounced ploton) meaning a little ball, owes its origin to Gustavus Adolphus and is cognate with pellet, a little ball. One of its early meanings was a volley of canon balls and later it came to mean the men who fired the volley.

Parade came naturally from the Latin parare, to prepare, through the ftalian paratu, meaning a warding off or defending. It was adopted by both the Spanish and French languages and in the latter acquired the meaning of ostentation or show whereas the Spanish word parada signified merely a standing or staying place. The English word seems to combine the two meanings.

Patrol is referred to in 1611 as 'a still night watch in warre'. It comes from the French patrouiller meaning to paddle in the mud, a prophetic meaning and one which must have seemed to be most appropriate in the Great War.

Reconnaissance appears to have been first used commonly by Wellington, though in its older form reconnoissance it has a much longer history, and its adoption is credited to Marlborough, a pretty safe guess where French words are concerned.

Echelon seems quite recently to have acquired a different meaning from its recognized one of parallel divisions with clear fronts; it now apparently means the division itself moving in echelon or one that can or has been so moved, and so becomes another name for a body of troops. Fur instance, Major L. E. Vining in his book, Held by the Bolsheviks, says 'General Knox's echelon pulled out last night with the British Mission personnel', and this is not a solitary instance of this new meaning. The word is obviously going through a period of change in meaning at the present time and it will be interesting to watch its career.

Drill is from the Dutch dril or drille, a tool for boring holes, the German and Danish languages having each a similar word. In a military sense it was used in the year 1637 by Ben Jonson, 'He that but saw thy curious captain's drill', as a verb it was used about ten years earlier.

Dress, to draw up troops in proper alignment comes from the old French word dresser to arrange, and was imported about the middle of the 18th Century into England. The English word 'arrange' was used, in a military sense, as far back as the 14th Century by Barbour, and later by Caxton and Spenser. But this meaning of drawing up troops in ranks or line of battle seems to have become obsolete in the 17th Century, and does not appear in either the Bible or in Shakespeare. It later, of course, became common in the usual sense of 'put in order'. It comes from the old French word arangier.

Infantry, meaning a collection of infants or juniors in contrast to the veterans of the cavalry, was used as far back as the 16th Century.

Bivouac, often spelt in olden times biovac or bihouac, has been in use since the beginning of the 18th Century. It was possibly introduced during the "Thirty Years' War", but I have found no authority for that opinion. According to Quinn's Military Dictionary it is a corruption of the German weinack, or weignacht according to James' Dictionary, which signifies a double guard. It formerly meant a night watch or encampment of the whole army to assist the ordinary town watch during periods of excitement, rather than the modern meaning of a temporary encampment of troops without tents, etc.

Billet is a very old word which has acquired and dropped several different meanings during its long history. In Middle English it was billette or billetta, a diminutive of bille or billa, two words derived from the Latin bulla, meaning a boss or stud, hence a seal on a charter, and then the document or charter itself furnished with a seal, and so finally a note, memorandum or chit. It was used in the sense of an official note or order as early as the middle of the 17th Century. When Shakespeare in Coriolanus says "The Centurians and their charges distinctly billetted he uses the word to mean enrolled; but in Othello when he says "Go where thou art billetted" he uses it in the modern sense of lodged or quartered. The other meanings of the word, a log of wood or an architectural ornament do not concern us here.

Chit is a shortened form of chitty from the Hindu chitthe and the Sanskrit chitra which meant a spot or mark, but has no connection with the opprobrious and nearly obsolete chitty-face nor yet with chit meaning a child. It dates back to the 18th Centurv.

Roster, sometimes spelt roister or rollster, is from the Dutch rooster, a table, or more correctly a gridiron, the memory of which was evoked by the parallel lines on the paper. It is used now in the United States for an ordinary list with no sense of rotation. This word also dates from the 18th Century.

Tatto is from the Dutch word taptoe of which word the first syllable has the ordinary meaning of tap or spigot, and the second the same meaning as our word 'to' in the phrase 'shut to'; and therefore tattoo really means to close the tap in a public house. The word was originally used in the sense of 'shut up', but began to be used in military sense in the 17th Century. It was not until the following century that it got the meaning of a military entertainment, in addition. It has had many spellings, such as 'tap-too', 'tat-too', 'tato', 'tatto', 'tatoo', etc.; it was spelt 'taptoo' as late as 1857 in a letter from Lieutenant A. M. Lang, of the Bengal Engineers, during the Indian Mutiny. It might be interesting to note that there is a similar word in several of the Polynesian dialects meaning a permanent mark on the skin and another in the East Indian dialect, meaning a native-bred pony.

Route—from the French route ( old French rute), came originally from tupta in the old Latin phrase via rupta, broken away. It was found. meaning a way or road. in Middle English but was not really adopted until the 18th Century and during that era was usually spelt rout and pronounced as it still very often is in military parlance. It originally meant 'marching orders' and then the formation assumed by troops on the march. although it is in reality merely another spelling of rout. Meaning a die-orderly retreat. Routine has the same derivation, Quinn's Dictionary (1780) does not mention the word, though James' (1810) does, and defines it first as the destination of a body of men and then the orders to march to that destination, given by the Secretary of War, in which definition he agrees with Grose (1796). As the first quotation given in the O.E.D. with this sense is 1784 and Quinn does not mention the word in 1780, the date of its introduction to English appears to be narrowed down to a pretty fine point.

Camp is derived through the French from the Latin campus a plain. There is also an early English word 'camp', meaning a battle, acquired during the Roman occupation of Britain and appropriately given to the mediaeval game of football and still used in the phrase camp-the-bar. In Beowulf. camp seems to be used in its modern sense. Campaign and campaigner have, of course, the same derivation.

Barracks is of uncertain origin, a similar word is found in the French, Italian and Spanish languages, where it means a tent. Diez derives the word from barra, a bar; the O.E.D. quotes an old saying to the effect that barracks are made of 'sayle of a shippe'. In early days they were the camps of horse soldiers, whilst the infantry camps were called huts, but later, barracks was used indiscriminately for both arms of the service. The old word casernes had a similar meaning. In the 18th Century, barracks were made by fixing four forked poles in the ground, laying four others across them and then building the walls with wattles or sods. The tops were either thatched or covered with planks. In the 17th Century the word was sometimes spelt barraques.

Canteen, or cantine, is also of doubtful origin and again the French and Italians had each a similar word which meant a cellar or cave, and it originally meant a kind of sutling house in camp or in a fortified place for the use of officers and soldiers. The word has another meaning also, a small case containing different compartments for holding wine, ete., and growing out of this it sometimes denoted a machine made of wood or leather with compartments for several utensils, generally used by officers. Besides the common meaning of a small wooden or tin vessel, holding about two quarts of water, carried by soldiers on the march, this useful word was occasionally used by the French to signify dressed meat. It is an 18th Century word so far as the English language is concerned.

Barricade, from the same word in French or possibly, by assimilation, of the word barricado from the Spanish barrica a cask; the fact that the first street barricades in Paris were composed of casks filled with earth lends support to this view. The word dates from the 16th Centurv and was used by Cromwell in the following century. Quinn defines it as "a fence made of pallisadoes, empty barrels and such like vessels, bags of earth, stones, carts, trees cut down against an enemy's shot or assault; but generally trees cut with six faces, which are crossed with battoons as long as a half-pike, bound about with iron at the feet." (A pike, he says. was 14-16 feet long). Pallisadoes was another name for palisades or stakes about nine feet long, six or seven inches square, stuck three feet in the ground in rows 2 ½ - 3 inches asunder and placed three feet from and parallel to the parapet or side of the glacis.

Battlement is derived from batailler, to fortify, which itself comes from bastir, old or middle French, meaning to build; the words bastile and bastion are cognate hut the word battre has no connection with it. The word is, of course, a very old one, dating back to early in the 14th Century and was at first used only for fortifications, but later was used for non-military architectural decorations.

Battle is traced by the O.E.D. from the Middle English batayle, the Old French bataille (with similar words in Italian and Spanish), the vulgar Latin battalia a corruption of Late Latin battualia neuter plural of the adjective battualis from the Late Latin battuere to beat, and adds in parenthesis 'May be of Celtic origin'. The first quotation given by the Dictionary is in the 13th Century.

James gives an interesting little account of 'The Battle' about which he says:—"A term of distinction which was used in the 13th and 14th centuries to mark the cavalry, or gentlemen who served on horseback. … during these periods the armies of Europe were composed almost entirely of cavalry. No gentleman would appear in the field but on horseback … The cavalry, by way of distinction. was called 'The Battle', and on it alone depended the fate of every action. The infantry, collected from the dregs and refuse of the people, ill armed. and worse disciplined, was almost of no account."

Beleaguer, from the Dutch belegeren, made up of be, around or about, and leger, camp, is a term which dates back to the 16th Century. The word leaguer was equivalent to the old English lair.

Manoeuvre is from the Latin manu operari, to work by hand. It came to us through the French word manoevrer; the word manure has. of course, the same origin. The word does not seem to have been used before the middle of the 18th Century.

Contact and Tactics have one syllable in common but nothing similar about their derivations. Contact comes from the Latin contingere, to touch, and tactics from a Greek word taktika, meaning the art of arrangement. The latter word, in a military sense dates from the beginning of the 17th Century.

Strategy also comes from a Greek word strategia, made up of the two words stratos, army, and ago, lead. A work called The Modern System of War translated by C. Malorti de Martemont thus distinguishes between Tactics and Strategics:—"Tactics are the science of movements, made within sight of the enemy, and within reach of his artillery. Strategics, the science of the movements of two armies in war, out of the visual circle of each other; or, if better liked, out of cannon reach.' James says that strategy is the soul and tactic (sic) the mere body of military science.

Plunder, like trigger (see below), is a German word from plundern which originally meant bed-clothes or household stuff; it was used during the "Thirty Years' War", and in our own Civil War it was evidently common parlance, especially during the raids of Prince Rupert. Carlyle uses the phrase 'Plunderous Rupertism'. In Switzerland, the word meant to flit with one's household goods. In Low German, there is a similar word meaning rags.

Pontoon, or ponton, is from the Latin ponto, a punt or floating bridge and, of course, is derived from pons. According to Quinn it was a boat of lattin (a metal like brass) or tin, about eight yards long and two broad, a long square, as he describes it, with a large ring at each corner, laid upon a carriage and drawn by five horses when the army is on the march. The French pontoons and those of some other countries were of copper on the outside and so much better in every way. Each one had an anchor, cable, baulks and chests belonging to it. The baulks were about seven yards long and five or six inches square, and the chests or boards, which were bound together by wooden bars, were about a yard broad and four yards long. The method of use was similar to that now employed. The word 'chest' is generally 'chess'; Wellington so spells it in 1803, and so does James' Dictionary. In the sense of parallel lairs or planks the word may be derived from the game of chess as the men whose duty it was to lay them were sometimes called 'chess-men'.

Batman is an interesting word; bat comes from the French bât, a pack-saddle, Old French bast, Late Latin bastum, and Greek bastazein to bear, thus a horse carrying an officer's baggage, a sumpter beast, and so the man in charge of this horse, a batman or military servant. Wellington uses the word in his Despatches during the Peninsular War.

Comrade has a very close affinity with the word camera. It was adopted in its old form of camerade, from the French camarade, and Spanish camarada in the 16th Century. Shakespeare and Milton both used the word. It meant originally a roomful, then a room-mate and so a chum or pal, coming from the Latin camera a room; we still use the word in that sense in the phrase, in camera or in the judge's private room and also in camera obscura or dark chamber or more simply still in the modern word camera. A similar Greek word kamara had the sense of anything with an arched or vaulted roof and so a chamber was the origin of the Latin word. In Garrad's Art Warre (1591) we read "A soldier in Campe must make choice of two or three or more Camerades." Blount in his Glossary (1656) defines camerade as a tent, chamber or cabin-fellow.

Ironside. The origin of this word in connection with the Parliamentary Troops has occasioned many false jumps at conclusions. The Royalists did not bestow this cognomen on their rivals on account of the iron breast-plates or other metal coverings worn by the Parliamentarians, but because their leader Cromwell was called 'Ironside'. The O.E.D. gives the following quotation:—"Lieutenant-General Cromwell, alias 'Ironside', for that title was given to him by Prince Rupert after his defeat at York." So it was quite natural for his followers to be called 'Ironsides'. The name 'Ironside' was also given to Edmund II, in the 11th Century and, of course, in Mallory's Morte d'Arthur we get many references to 'Sir Ironside' the Red Knight of the Red Laundes'.

Redcoat was another name given to the Parliamentary Troops by the Royalists, viz., "Colonel Hollis and his regiment of Redcoats", though both sides had redcoated soldiers and the word had been used to designate soldiers in the previous century. Lobster was another obvious name for a soldier. This name appeared first in connection with Sir A. Hazelrigg's regiment of Dragoons, which were 'So prodigiously armed that they were called by the other side the regiment of Lobsters because of thin bright iron shells with which they were covered.' (Clarendon). In the Harleian Miscellany (1660) we find "Redcoats, lobsters, corporals, troopers or dragoons." Even the very modern W. W. Jacobs in Many Cargoes calls a 'sergeant in the line' a 'lobster'. The unboiled raw or blue lobster naturally designated a policeman.

Old Fogey has a military signification as a nickname for an invalid soldier, though Brewer states that he was originally an old military pensioner of Edinburgh Castle. Often spelt fogy, it may be the same as 'foggy', meaning covered with grass or moss and so flabby or puffy, as applied to flesh. The origin of the word is unknown. Perhaps the slang 'fuggie' is allied to it.

Marines hardly looks like a military term, yet it is quite worthy of inclusion in this list. Quinn says about them "Soldiers who serve on board ships", and in the 17th and 18th Centuries we come across the phrase 'marine soldiers' quite frequently. The first marine regiments were composed of ten infantry regiments, who were appointed for sea service between the years 1702 and 1715. Strangely enough, in Colonel Edye's History of the Royal Marines, there is an earlier reference to them in 1672. Luttrell in 1690 refers to the fact that the Earls of Pembroke and Torrington had a commission to raise a. marine regiment. In one of the Elizabethan Acts (1566) we read of 'Her Majesty's Marine Service'. The word comes naturally through the French marin and the Spanish marino from the Latin mare sea.

Furlough has innumerable forms and comes from the Dutch verlof, which appears to have been formed in imitation of the German verlaub. The Danes had a similar word f orlov and the Swedes the word forlof. The English word has always been stressed on the first syllable since it came into use in the 17th Century. In the United States it is also used as a verb, meaning to grant leave. Its bad spelling has reacted on its pronunciation, which formerly rhymed with 'cough'.

Refugee is an anglicized form of the French refugié, and was sometimes spelt that way, without the accent, in English. The French word is the past participle of refugier, from the Latin refugium, from re, back, and fugere, to flee. It was first applied to the Huguenots who crossed to England after Louis XIV had revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. In the United States, especially in the State of New York, it was a name given to parties of marauders, who during the American Revolutionary War, claimed British protection.

Capitulate is from the past participle of the Latin capitulare, to draw up under distinct heads, and that was its original meaning: it later meant to treat, parley, make terms, etc., and finally to surrender. In 1689 Luttrell says:—"The Duke of Gordon beat a parly and desired to capitulate." As a noun it was used in 1650 by Cromwell.

Haversack, sometimes havresack, is from the German haber or hafer, oats, and literally means an oat sack or bag in which the cavalry carried the oats for their horses: the word was later used to designate an ordinary bag for travellers, but particularly as a receptacle for a soldier's rations. In 1868 the army regulations ordered both straps of the haversack to be worn outside the waist belt. The leather bag used to carry cartridges from the' ammunition chest to the piece in loading was also called a haversack, but this is now, of course, obsolete. Until about the year 1747 the soldiers of the French Army had no other mode of disposing of their clothes, or other articles of equipment except by stuffing them into a canvas bag. Count d'Argenson, then French Minister of War, directed that each man should be furnished with a haversac, which was to be made of the skins of dogs or goats, with the hair outwards, for the purpose of protecting the contents from rain. The goat-skin havresac is still in use in the French Army. It is probable that the idea was borrowed from the Germans. Smollett uses the word havresack in his translation of Gil Blas, 1749.

Knapsack is of rather doubtful origin so far as its first syllable is concerned, though the O.E.D. thinks it is probably from the Low German and Dutch knappen and the German knapp, meaning food. It dates back to the beginning of the 17th Century and adopted by the French, who called it canapsa, a term which is now obsolete. The British Army and a few other nations. such as the Swiss, had for many years a goat-skin bag in which to carry their clothes, etc., called by this name. It antedates and, of course. is distinct from the haversack mentioned above. In fact, in 1868, the Army Regulations ordered that the havresack should be worn on all occasions when the knapsack is worn. James in his Military Dictionary (I810) gives two notes on knapsack. He remarks that square ones are more convenient and that they should be made with divisions for the various articles, to keep the blacking-balls, for instance, separate from the linen. White goat skins, he goes on to say, were formerly used but "we do not conceive them to be equal to the painted canvas ones." Soldiers had their pay stopped for six years to pay for them; after this they became their own property. In a second note he gives a derivation of the word, which is at all events original. He says it comes from the circumstance of a soldier making use of a sack which had been full of corn, In those day,". he goes on, 'there were no roads, and everything was carried on pack-horses, when the soldiers reposed they hung up the empty sacks and slept in them." The word should be napsack, fron napping, etc., to slumber … such is the account given to us by a very worthy and respectable friend; but we are inclined to think that knapsack comes from the Saxon word snapsack, a bag to carry food."

Bandoleer, or bandolier, is from the French handouillere or modern bandouliere, through the Italian bandoliera and the Spanish bandolera, bandola, a diminutive of banda, a band. In Quinn's time, the end of the 17th Century, bandoliers were little wooden cases, covered with leather, of which every musketeer used to carry twelve, hanging on a shoulder belt or collar, each of them containing a charge of powder for a musket. (Quinn spelt the word bandelier). He continues, "But they are not used now (1780) the footsoldiers wearing a leathern pouch to a broad belt. James (1810) gives the same note, but adds that bandoliers are still to be seen in the small armoury in the Tower. He also says that they were, in ancient history (military), large leathern belts, worn over the right shoulder and hanging under the left arm, to carry some kind of warlike weapon. This description is copied, word for word, in Wilhelm's Military Dictionary (1881). The modern bandolier is, of course, still used by the Cavalry and also by the Artillery, in Canada, though the Royal Artillery have done away with it, and in the Infantry, the Webb equipment has, of course, taken its place. As these notes are being written, a new field uniform is being tried out for the British Army, so that this last note may be incorrect.

Cravat, though now practically obsolete in English, has a history sufficiently interesting to warrant its inclusion here. It is a form of Croat or Croatian acquired through the French cravate. Quinn, though he defines the Croats as the people of Croatia, makes them synonomous with the Pandours. "In France", he writes, "there was a regiment of horse so called, because originally they came from Croatia, who were always sent on desperate services, and so were posted on the wings, a little advanced before the other squadrons, upon the line with the dragoons. Their habit (i.e., of the Pandours or Croats) is first a bonnet, the hinder part of which falls down upon the back like a sack: a large loose upper garment, fixed tight to their bodies by a girdle, with great sleeves; and linen breeches, which are also large and reach down to their ancles (sic); instead of shoes they have a piece of leather or perhaps a Felt tyed about the foot with a cord. They use fire-arms well, and are excellent marksmen; they carry a fusil and four pistols: they make use of great sabres, a cuttoe (from the French couteau, a knife), and another instrument of steel, made like a rake, which they carry in their bonnet, and which serves then for several uses, particularly to defend themselves when they have no other weapon at hand: they wear chains about their necks, which they make use of to secure their prisoners." Truly formidable adversaries. James, thirty years later, whilst admitting that they (the Croats) are like the Pandours, gives a different account of their dress. They wear, according to him, a short waistcoat and long white breeches, with light boots and a cap greatly resembling the Hussar cap. Their arms also differ, in his account, consisting of a log firelock, with rifled barrel, a short bayonet and crooked hanger and only a brace of pistols. The late Empress of Austria, he goes on lo say, ''had 5000 of these troops who got no pay but lived on plunder, in the acquisition of which they were remarkably dexterous". "The Pandours, on the other hand, were Sclavonians who inhabit the banks of the Drave, a considerable river of Germany ... and those of the Save ... They wear a long coat, have four or five pistols placed in a belt round their waists, and they are armed with a sabre and poniard. They always act as irregulars, when employed on service. They derive their name from a village called Pandut in Lower Hungary. The Pandours were originally a corps of infantry named Ruitza; and their chief occupation or duty was clearing the high roads of thieves, etc. They first made their appearance in Germany under the command of Baron Trenck, in 1741." Wilhelm says that the Croats and the Pandours had the same methods of fighting and that the latter took part in the War of the Spanish Succession and in the Seven Years War, where fighting as free lances they were a terror to the enemy, and owing to their habits of brigandage and cruelty were just as much a terror to the people they defended.

They were eventually incorporated with the Austrian Frontier Regiments. They might, perhaps, be compared with our old friends the Bashi-Bazouks. Our English word cravat came from the neckwear worn by these bloodthirsty marauders, and was introduced into England during the Thirty Years War, which fact might be used as a good example of anti-climax.

Gas, since the Great War, has become a military term, though, of course, there is no mention of it, in that sense. in the O.E.D. albeit we do find there such compounds as 'gas-battery', 'gas-firing', 'gas-indicator', 'gas-gun', 'gas-range', etc. But the origin of the word may be of some interest. It was invented by the Dutch chemist, J.B. Van Helmont, who lived from 1577 to 1644, and he himself says it was suggested to him by the Greek word Chaos. However, his statement has until recently been very generally ignored and the Dutch word geest spirit was supposed to have inspired the word, from the 18th Century onwards. The word gas has been adopted in most languages, for a time it was spelt gaz in English as it still is in French and Portuguese.

Medal, in the French medaille and Italian medaglia, comes originally from the Latin metallum, meaning metal. The striking of medals to commemorate some great event dates back a very long time, but the use of them as military decorations is comparatively modern, not earlier than the 16th Century. According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Chinese are said to have used military medals during the Han dynasty in the first century A.D. Medals were worn during Henry VIII's reign, but in all probability the first bestowed as rewards for military services rendered to the Crown were the two Armada medals of Queen Elizabeth, struck in 1588-89. Holland issued a medal to volunteers in 1622 and in Sweden the 'Military Medal of Gustavus Adolphus' was issued in 1630. But England has undoubtedly issued more medals of this kind than any other country. Charles I and the Commonwealth were particularly lavish, and Charles II was not far behind them in this respect. Charles I 'straitly commanded' that no soldier should sell his medal. In 1813, the Commander-in-Chief issued a general order from the Horse Guards introducing gold clasps instead of additional medals and stating that "One medal only was to be borne by each officer recommended for the distinction."

The decorations of most foreign countries, which have become so well known since the Great War, usually take the form of 'orders'. In the United States, more than once the colours of the ribbon have been selected from the national colours of the enemy.

It may be of interest to glance for a moment at a few military phrases.

Forlorn hope is from the obsolete Dutch phrase vecloren hoop, meaning a lost expedition where hoop means literally heap or perhaps troop, and the phrase means a lost expedition, the Germans had the phrase verlorener haufe and the French enfants perdus: "the forlorne hope of a camp" is comparable. There is no connection in the phrase with the English word hope as is so commonly supposed. In the Encyclopaedia Britannica there is a quotation from a royal warrant "given at the court of Oxford, the eighteenth day of May, 1643", which directed "Sir William Parkhurst. Knight, and Thomas Bushell, Esq., Wardens of our Mint, to provide, from time to time, certain Badges of silver, containing our Royal image, and that of our dear son Prince Charles, to be delivered to wear on the breast of every man who shall be certified under the hands of their Commanders-in-Chief to have done us faithful service in the 'Forlorn-hope.' "

Forlorn-hope, in this quotation, did not mean some desperate enterprise but a tactical advanced guard, a picked body of skirmishers or a storming party. From the 16th Century the phrase was used with this meaning and in Wellington's time we are told that the forlorn hope of each attack consisted of a sergeant and twelve Europeans. But sometimes in the 17th Century the phrase was applied to the rearguard. But the other meaning of persons in a desperate condition seems to have grown up contemporaneously. The use of the phrase to mean a faint hope is of course incorrect. Sometimes the word 'forlorn' was used without hope. but with the same meaning as the phrase. Cromwell in a letter to Lenthall (1645) writes, "Captain Ireton with a forlorn of Colonel Rich's regiment." In Defoe's Memoirs of a Cavalier we get the same usage.

To shoot one's bolt is a variation of Shakespeare's "A fool's bolt is soon shot", which occurs in Henry V. But the phrase dates back much earlier than that to the early 13th Century. Bolt is an Early English word meaning an arrow with a heavy head, the bolt of a door (which we still speak of shooting) is the same word. The phrase carries us back to the time when the bow was the chief weapon of the army and a good bowman shot with a purpose, but a fool at random.

Cheval-de-frise was a contrivance used by the Frieslanders in the 17th Century against cavalry and also used by them to make up for their lack of that branch of the service. Other names which seem to have been applied to more or less the same contraption were, caltrops, crowfeet, chausse trapes, horse de Freeze and the Dutch Vriesse ruyters, meaning Frisian horsemen. They are described by Kersey in 1708 as 'Large joists or pieces of timber, ten or twelve feet in length, with six sides, into which are driven a great number of pins about six feet long, crossing one another, and having their ends armed with iron points.' James says they were first used at the siege of Groningen in 1658, and were large pieces of timber to stop up breaches, etc., in fortifications. Quinn, however, thirty years earlier says they are like turnpikes.

Caltrops, which are described as iron balls armed with four short spike, so placed that when thrown on the ground one spike was always upwards, are of much greater antiquity. Hollingshed's Chronicles mention that the Irish 'strawed them on the shore to wound the Danes'. As an ordinary trap or snare, the word goes back to the beginning of the 14th Century. It is still used in France in the sense of a wolf-trap.

Mailed Fist is no older than 1897, when the December Times of that year translated a phrase in a speech about China, delivered by the late Emperor of Germany as follows:—"Then up and at them with your mailed fist".

Battle royal, according to the O.E.D., was merely a general engagement, free fight or general squabble in a figurative sense. So used, it dates back to the 17th Century. But in mediaeval times a battle between two armies which were captained by kings was known as a battle royal. The O.E.D., Hyamson (Dictionary of English Phrases) and Brewer all agree in saying that the word specially referred to cock-fighting. The last mentioned also says that metaphorically the term is applied to chess.

Boot and saddle is, of course, a corruption ob the French boute-selle place saddle, the signal for cavalry to mount, but of old a signal to knights to put on the saddle.

Free lance is a term used by modern writers for a military adventurer. Scott uses the term in Ivanhoe. In the middle ages it applied rather to those who offered their services, according to Brewer 'roving companies of knights, who wandered from place to place, after the Crusades, selling their services to anyone who would pay for them.' In Italy they were termed Condottieri.

Freebooter is from the Dutch vrijbuiter, buiten meaning to rove, and is allied to the German freibeuter and the English filibuster. In 1570 it was spelt 'frebetters', but Hakluyt and Bacon both use the modern word.

Point-blank is from the French blanc, the white spot in the centre of the target. the bull's eye, often called the white. According to the O.E.D. neither the French nor any other Romanic language have the phrase point-blanc, meaning the white spot, but it is exclusively English. Point is probably a verb, meaning the pointing of the arrow at the white spot.

Pyrrhic Victory alludes lo the well known and witty rejoinder of Pyrrhus, after !using the flower of his army in defeating the Romans at the Battle of Aselum, "One more such victory and we are lost".

Punic Faith, rarely Carthaginian Faith, of course, means faithlessness and dates hack to the 17th Century. Breweer says that the Puni or Poeni were accused by the Romans of breaking faith with them, a most extraordinary instance of the 'pot calling the kettle black'. Poeni refers lo the Phoenicians, the ancestors of the Carthaginians.