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There are a couple of facebook groups for the discussion of Rifle Volunteers and Yeomanry. See:

Queen Victorias Rifle Volunteers and Yeomanry 1859-1908

Volunteers rifle ranges in and around the UK

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The Pressure Mounts

The years 1859 and 1860 were particularly active ones in the literary field as writers sprang to both encourage the urge towards volunteering and to instruct the new citizen soldiers. From the provinces we have an example to consider from among those that appeared.

A Handy Book for Volunteers

A Handy Book for VolunteersRight: Captain W.G. Hartley’s ideas for the uniform of Volunteers - 1859

The small County of Denbigh in North Wales raised no fewer than nine Corps between 30th January 1860 and the end of 1861. Leading up to this, in July 1859, an officer of the County’s Militia, Captain W. G. Hartley of the Royal Denbigh Rifles, wrote A HANDY BOOK FOR VOLUNTEERS: OR, A COMPENDIUM OF INSTRUCTION FOR DRILL AND RIFLE .. (we will spare the full title). This is not listed by Riling but, unusually, it is listed by Gerrare as #1108 in the 1895 Bibliography. The book has eight introductory pages followed by 248 of text together with a number of charming illustrations of Volunteers in the author’s idea of the ideal uniform. This owes much to the Italian Alpine troops with plenty of cocks’ feathers in the hats and thigh length leggings under short breeches. Hartley gives a very full set of instructions for the management and training of Volunteers and goes at length into his ideas of uniform. A very interesting set of tables gives the degree of visibility at different distances and conditions of light for the various colours of uniforms that might be encountered. He favours brown as being the least visible of all the colours in most lights. His chosen rifle is the Lancaster Oval Bore and he pays great attention to the vital necessity of Judging Distance Drill. Much of the book is given to standard military instruction in drill including the Manual and Platoon Exercises and to both theoretical and practical rifle instruction.

In the next part we shall look at the flood of books that appeared with the Volunteers and consider the relationship with the National Rifle Association which grew out of the Movement and which probably represents their most visible link with the present day.


‘Riling’ references are to: ‘Guns and Shooting: A Selected Chronological Bibliography’ by Ray Riling
(Greenberg, New York, 1951)


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