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British Military History

The British Army

  • The British Army: Originally published during the Crimean War, 'The British Army' gives an overview of the organisation, officer education, training and equipment at the time. [1855]
  • The British Soldier - How And Why He Enlists discusses recruitment in the mid-nineteenth century. A follow-up article goes on to discuss the soldiers' treament At Home. [1859]

Crimean War, 1854-1856

The Indian Mutiny, 1857

  • Indian Mutiny Long Shots - Comment on the effect of shooting a fouled muzzle loading Enfield rifle, and on the effectiveness of long range volley fire on artillery crews [1859].

Volunteer Force, 1859-1908

Rifle Volunteers: Volunteer Force, 1859-1908. On 12 May 1859 the British Government issued a circular sanctioning the formation of Volunteer Corps. The initial immediate rush of Volunteering was not expected to last. However, measures to secure the long-term prospects for the Volunteers were put in place late in 1859 with the formation of the National Rifle Association (NRA). In 1881 the British Army was reorganised into territorial regiments with regular, militia and volunteer battalions. Great Volunteer reviews before large crowds of spectators, and sometimes royalty, were held throughout the country where the men demonstrated their skill at drill and skirmishing. In 1908 the Volunteer Force, which included rifle, artillery and engineer corps, merged with the Yeomanry to form the Territorial Force.

Further Reading

The British Military Longarms section provides information on muskets, rifles and carbines, plus small arms trials.

A School of Musketry was established at Hythe, in Kent, in 1853; see Hythe School of Musketry for related articles.

The British Army, 1855

The organization of the British army is soon described. Of infantry there are three regiments of guards, eighty-five regiments of the line, thirteen regiments of light infantry, two regiments of rifles. During the present war, the guards, the rifles, and a few other regiments have three battalions, the remainder have two - a dépôt being formed by one company in each. The recruiting, however, is hardly sufficient to fill up the vacancies caused by the war, and so the second battalions can scarcely be said to be in existence. The present effective total of the infantry does certainly not exceed 120,000 men.

Read more: The British Army, 1855

The British Soldier - How And Why He Enlists

It is a remarkable circumstance that never until now has there been a volume containing an authoritative account of the British army, in relation to its strength, formation, organisation, pay, food, dress, barracks, garrisons, encampments, education, hygiène, and general government. True, there have been histories in great number of the achievements of the army; treatises on war, fortification, and gunnery; manuals of discipline, drilling, and tactics; and pamphlets and articles on some or other of these topics - but no regular and systematic look which would shew the internal working of this great and singular system.

Read more: The British Soldier - How And Why He Enlists

The British Soldier - At Home

We shall endeavour to give some idea of the life of a soldier at home; not as a combatant armed with musket or sword, and marching in foreign regions, but as a fellow-citizen requiring pay, food, dress, lodgment, medicine, culture, recreation, and some sort of provision for his old age. To make this large subject at all manageable, we shall confine it chiefly to the infantry regiments of the line, and to the common soldiers of those regiments - forming the main-stay of our army.

Read more: The British Soldier - At Home

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