Advice to the Officers of the British Army
with the addition of some hints to the drummer and private soldier

Chapter XI
To the Young Officers

Those who are unacquainted with the service may perhaps imagine, that this Chapter is addressed to the subalterns only-but a little knowledge of the present state of the British forces will soon convince them, that it comprehend~ not only the greatest part of the captains, but also many of the field officers, of the army.

The first article we shall consider is your dress; a taste in which is the most distinguishing mark of a military genius, and the principal characteristic of a good officer.

Ever since the days of Ancient Pistol, we find, that a large and broad-rimmed beaver has been peculiar to heroes. A hat of this kind worn over your. right eye, with two large dangling tassels, and a proportionate cockade and feather, will give you an air of courage and martial gallantry.

The fashion of your clothes must depend on that ordered in the corps; that is to say, must be in direct opposition to it: for it would show a deplorable poverty of genius if you had not some ideas of your own in dress.

On coming into the regiment, perhaps the major or adjutant will advise you to learn the manual, the salute, or other parts of the exercise; to which you may answer, that you do not want to be drill-sergeant or corporal or that you purchased your commission, and did not come into the army to be made a machine of.

Your cross-belt should be broad, with a huge blade pendent to it—to which you may add a dirk and a bayonet, in order to give you the more tremendous appearance.

Thus equipped you sally forth, with your colours, or chitterlin, advanced and flying; and I think it will be best in walking through the streets, particularly if they are narrow, to carry your sword in your right hand. For besides its having a handsome and military appearance, the pommel of the sword will serve to open you a free passage, by shoving it in the guts of everyone who does not give way. He must be a bold man who will venture to oppose you; as by your dress he cannot in reason expect the least quarter. We are told that the Janissaries never wear their swords but upon duty; a practice more becoming Turks than Christians.

When you visit your friends either in town or country, or make an excursion to any other place where your regiment is not known, immediately mount two epaulets, and pass yourself for a grenadier officer.

Never wear your uniform in quarters, when you can avoid it. A green or a brown coat shows you have other clothes beside your regimentals, and likewise that you have courage to disobey a standing order. If you have not an entire suit, at least mount a pair of black breeches, a round hat, or something unregimental and unmilitary.

If you belong to a mess, eat with it as seldom as possible, to let folks see you want neither money nor credit. And when you do, in order to show that you are used to good living, find fault with every dish that is set on the table, damn the wine, and throw the plates at the mess-man's head.

If the dinner is not served up immediately on your sitting down, draw circles with your fork on the table; cut the table-cloth; and, if you have pewter plates, spin them on the point of your fork, or do some other mischief, to punish the fellow for making you wait.

On coming into the regiment, perhaps the major or adjutant will advise you to learn the manual, the salute, or other parts of the exercise; to which you may answer, that you do not want to be drill-sergeant or corporal or that you purchased your commission, and did not come into the army to be made a machine of.

It will also be perfectly needless for you to consult any treatises of military discipline, or the regulations for the army. Dry books of tactics are beneath the notice of a man of genius, and it is a known fact, that every British officer is inspired with a perfect knowledge of his duty, the moment he gets his commission; and if he were not, it would be sufficiently acquired in conversaziones at the main-guard or the grand sutler's. Thus a general officer, who had never before seen a day's service beyond the limits of Blackheath or Wimbledon common, being ordered abroad, lands in America or Germany a factus imperator, though by very different means from those of Lucullus. If you have a turn for reading, or find it necessary to kill in that manner the tedious hours in camp or garrison, let it be such books as warm the imagination and inspire to military achievements, as, The Woman of Pleasure, Crazy Tales, Rochester's Poems; if you aim at solid instruction and useful knowledge, you must study Lord Chesterfield's Letters, or Truster's Politeness; if you have a turn for natural philosophy, you may peruse Aristotle's Master-piece; and the Trials for Adultery will afford you a fund of historical and legal information.

If there should be a soberly-disposed person, or, in other words, a fellow of no spirit, in the corps, you must not only bore him constantly at the mess, but should make use of a kind of practical wit to torment him. Thus you may force open his doors, break his windows, damage his furniture, and put wh—s in his bed; or in camp throw squibs and crackers into his tent at night, or loosen his tent-cords in windy weather. Young gentlemen will never be at a loss for contrivances of this nature.

Be sure also to stigmatise every officer, who is attentive to his duty, With the appellation of Martinet and say he has been bitten by a mad adjutant. This will discourage others from knowing more than yourse1f, and thereby keep you upon an equality with them. When ordered for duty, always grumble and question the roster. This will procure you the character of one that will not be imposed on. At a field day, be sure not to fall in before the regiment is told off and proved; and then come upon the parade, buttoning your gaiters, or putting on some part of your dress. Observe the same when for guard—making 20 or 30 men wait, shows you are somebody.

Whenever you mount guard, invite all your friends to the guardroom; and not only get drunk yourself, but make your company drunk also; and then sing and make as much noise as possible. This will show the world the difference between an officer and a private man; since the latter would be slayed alive for the least irregularity upon duty.

Though it may, on some occasions, be proper and becoming a military man, to be watchful and to sit up all night, as in drinking, gaming, at a masquerade etc., yet it would be an intolerable bore on guard; and, if near an enemy, and liable to be attacked, would argue a degree of apprehension that a good soldier should be ashamed of.

When a guard mounts with colours, they will make a handsome covering for the card-table at night, and will prevent it from being stained or soiled.

When you mount the quarterguard in camp, as soon as the men have grounded their arms, put off your sash and gorget, and immediately go to your tent, or to the grand sutler's in the rear. The sergeant can take charge of the men in your absence; and should any General officers happen to come by, you will have an opportunity to shew your activity, in running across the parade to turn out the guard.

Never read the daily orders. It is beneath an officer of spirit to bestow any attention upon such nonsense; and the information you can get from them will not repay you for the trouble you are at, in deciphering them and reducing them into English. It will be sufficient to ask the sergeant if you are for any duty.

Be a constant attendant at the General officer's levees. If you get nothing else by it, you may at least learn how to scrape and bow, to simper and to display a handsome set of teeth, by watching closely the conduct of the aid-de-camps.

At exercise you must be continually thrusting out your spontoon, ordering the men to dress, and making as much noise as possible; in order to show your attention to your duty.

When at a field day or review, you have taken post in the rear for the manual exercise to be performed, you have a fine opportunity of diverting yourselves and the spectators. You stand very convenient for playing at leap-frog, or may pelt one another with stones; or, if there should be snow on the ground, with snowballs. This will be a very harmless relaxation, as you have nothing else to do, and besides the diversion it will afford among yourselves, will contribute vastly to amuse the soldiers and to prevent them from puzzling their brains too much with the business they are about.

If you are in the right wing during the firings, you must always keep a pace or two in front, till you order the men to fire, when it will be expedient for you to step into the rear, to prevent your face from being scorched with the powder; or you may order two or three file on the right of your platoon to do only the motions of firing, which, if it diminishes the fire of the battalion, will at least save His Majesty's ammunition.

Evening roll-calling, which drags one from the bottle, is a most unmilitary custom: for drinking is as essential a part of an officer's duty as fighting. Thus Alexander prided himself more on being able to take off half a dozen bottles at a sitting, than on all his victories over the army of Darius. If the Colonel then should insist on the attendance of the officers they should not fail to get a little mellow first, to show the world that they are no milk-sops; but If any of the soldiers should presume to imitate their example, they must be confined and brought to a court-martial for what is commendable in an officer may be in the highest degree reprehensible in a private man; and, as the dramatic poet observes:

That in the captain's but a hasty word,
Which in the soldier is rank blasphemy.

When you are ordered to visit the barracks, I would recommend it to you to confine your inspection to the outside walls: for what can be more unreasonable than to. expect, that you should enter the soldier's dirty rooms, and contaminate yourself with tasting their messes? As you are not used to eat salt pork or ammunition bread, it is impossible for you to judge whether they are good or not. Act in the same manner, when ordered to visit the hospital. It is none of your business to nurse and attend the sick. Besides, who knows but you might catch some infectious distemper? And it would be better that fifty soldiers should perish through neglect or bad treatment than that the King should lose a good officer.

Always use the most opprobrious epithets in reprimanding the soldiers, particularly men of good character: for these men it will not in the least hurt, as they will be conscious that they do not deserve them.

When on leave of absence, never come back to your time; as that might cause people to think, that you had nowhere to stay, or that your friends were tired of you.

Make trenches round your marquis in camp, to carry off the water, and to prevent the stray-horses from coming near enough to tread upon your tent-cords. The larger and deeper they are, the better; that such as stumble into them in the night may break their legs, which will be a useful warning to the other horses.

If ever you have been abroad, though but to deliver drafts at Emden or Williamstadt, give yourself the airs of an experienced veteran; and in particular find fault with all parades, field days, and reviews, as of no consequence on real service. In regard to all these, say, you hate to be playing at soldiers.