London, Volume 5

Knight, Charles
1843

CXIV.-The Horse Guards.

CXIV.-The Horse Guards.

 

 

Without flattery, may be said to be of the ugliest buildings in her Majesty's service. Barracks are rarely considered models of architectural beauty; and it is questionable whether any barracks in the kingdoms--even the monstrosity which disfigures Edinburgh Castle--can equal in ugliness . The may be admitted to hold rivalry in this respect with the Offices of Secretary at War and Commander-in-Chief; but as it was built by a British Academician, for British Academicians, what else could be expected?

The Horse Guards--that is, the building so called in familiar conversation was built about the middle of last century by Vardy, after a design by Kent. That was a time when people in this country appear to have had a vague notion that there was a thing called architecture which was admired by those who understood it; that Italian architecture, in particular, was highly esteemed; and that in Italian architecture there were pavilions and cupolas, basements, and what not: Such an age of ignorance and imbecility was precisely the in which a bad copier of indifferent prints, like Kent, might pass himself off for an architect, and his copies for architectural designs. Injustice to Vardy, it ought to be remarked that his mason-work is well enough. But as for the architectural pretensions of the Hrse Guards, the moss-grown buttresses of the Treasury look like a Melrose Abbey beside it; the Admiralty (bating the screen) and the Pay

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Office are mere houses, and pretend to be nothing more, so do not offend; and even the pseudo-Hellenism of the Board of Trade looks respectable beside it. How ashamed must feel of its neighbours!

After all, is but a shell: it is what is going on within it, and the anxious hopes and fears of which it is the centre, and the wonder-working orders that have in times past issued from it, that make us pause to regard it.

Not but that there are attractions here for the most unreflecting sight-seer. Those seemly troopers on their powerful chargers, who, with burnished cuirass and carbine on knee, sit motionless as statues in the niches of the overgrown sentry boxes for hours on a stretch (they commence those sittings at A.M., and are relieved every hours, until P.M., when their sentry duties terminate for the day), are figures that can scarcely be passed without attracting a glance of admiration. And there is generally a numerous collection of blackguard boys, members of parliament, crossings-sweepers and out-of-office cabmen, occupants of stools in government offices, and orangewomen--in short, of all the professional frequenters of this part of the town--collected to watch the rather striking ceremony of changing guard. The folding doors, in the rear of the stone sentry boxes aforesaid, are thrown open, cuirassed and helmeted heroes, on sleek snorting steeds that might bear a man through a summer-day's tourney or through a red field of battle without flagging, ride in, and, upon the philosophical principle that no bodies can co-exist in the same space, push the living statues already there out in front, who, each describing a semicircle, meet and ride side by side through the central gate, and so back to their stables.

This Guard is part of the Queen's Guard, more especially so called from being mounted within the precincts of the palace. The movements of the Queen's Guard of the Household Brigade of Cavalry are regulated nominally by the

Gold Stick in Waiting

(that is to say, by of the Colonels of the regiments of Life Guards and of the

Blues

), but virtually by their Lieutenant Colonel, who is technically termed the

Silver Stick in Waiting,

and who, as well as the Gold Stick, is relieved every alternate month. The movements of the Queen's Guard, belonging to the Household Infantry, are under the superintendence of the

Field Officer in Waiting,

who is always on duty at . He also is on duty for a month, and relieved by the next of equal rank in order on the roll, which commences with the Grenadiers.

The barracks in London where the Foot Guards are stationed are:--The Wellington Barracks, in the Bird-cage Walk; the Barracks, in ; the Barracks, ; Wood Barracks; Kensington Barracks (a small detachment); and a battalion in the Tower. The cavalry barracks are at and the . All orders concerning all the Guards in London are given out by the field-officer on duty at . For example, should any of them be wanted on an emergency, the Commander-in-Chief communicates with him, and he arranges what regiment is to supply the detachment required. Of course, he makes his election in the order of the

The Guard commonly called the Queen's (or King's) Guard are--lst. Captain, Lieutenant, and Ensign at the Palace of St. James's, which

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is considered a sort of head quarters. . subaltern at Buckingham House. . Captain and Subalterns at the Tilt Yard--for that name, associated with the stately tourneys of the ages of Elizabeth and Henry VIII., still survives,--attached to the site of . The officers in the Guards, it is well known, have rank in the army above what they hold in their regiments; but when on duty among themselves, the subalterns, that is, the Lieutenants and Ensigns, do all that appertains to those of the same nominal rank in regiments of the line. These Guards supply the sentinels stationed at Buckingham and Storey's Gates, at the various Government Offices, at the entry from into , at the Duke of York's Column, all round , and about Buckingham House.

The guard at St. James's is the only that mounts always with the Queen's colours. At all other guards--even guards of honour, unless it be for a crowned head--they mount with the colours of the regiment.

With the most showy and ceremonious mounting of a guard in England at St. James's Palace--with the less gorgeous but, perhaps, more imposing relief of the guard at the Horse Guards--with the close proximity of the Wellington and Barracks--with the marching and countermarching of the guards drawn from the cavalry barracks--with the marching of the infantry from the barracks above-named to drill or inspection in , the precincts of the Palace afford, of a forenoon, the most stirring military spectacle (apart from a regular review), to be seen in the kingdom. Within and around this region, the Guards-foot and horse--are the characteristic features of the scene, the real --and fine-looking fellows they are. As to their accoutrements, a uniform must be judged less as it tells upon the individual soldier than as it tells upon a large body of men. But even upon individuals, the uniform of the Guards shows well. Somewhat ponderous and stiff they may be, but that bespeaks strength and discipline. The Blues too, in their enormous jackboots, when seen sauntering along on foot, remind us in this of swans, or a kindred species of bird, that they are fine-looking creatures in their element, but helpless out of it. They contrast, however, most favourably with the fantastic frippery of hussars and lancer regiments. They are substantial and genuine English. can imagine Marlborough and Ligonier viewing them complacently: they are in keeping with the athletic image of Shaw, who with his own arm slaughtered so many Frenchmen at Waterloo.

A soldier's is not an idle life, even in time of peace, whatever may be said to the contrary. His martial duties may appear trifling to those who know not the importance of keeping them a habit, but they consume much time and no little attention. Still, an officer in the Guards must, to a certain extent, be, while in London, a gay lounger. His position in society--the vicinities into which his duties carry him-keep him in close juxta-position with the gay world, and it is the easiest thing in nature, when he has but spare moment, to drop into the dissipations of fashion for that brief space. Still, in the dead season, the town must seem a desert to him, and banishment to the Tower, a fate which he must be prepared to encounter at regular intervals, is tedium in the extreme. But he has his resources--the Guards' Club, and the dinners at St. James's and the Bank.

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Into the former we presume not to penetrate: a gentleman's club-house is his home, where he is entitled to shut the door on all strangers and hint to those admitted-

sub rosa

.

The dinners may be said in a manner to be at John Bull's expense, and John thinks he has a right to know how his money is spent. He has no reason to complain on the present occasion.

The subaltern at Buckingham Palace, the Captain and Subalterns at , and the Field Officer, Captain, and Subaltern at the head guard, dine together at St. James's. The Adjutant of the regiment which gives the guard dines with them if he feel disposed, and the Lieutenant Colonel has the privilege of inviting friends. Any day on which he does not avail himself of this privilege, he gives it up to the other officers. Not belonging to the Leg of Mutton, or to the Noctes Ambrosianae, or to the Cervantes schools of literature, we could at any time much more easily eat a good dinner than describe it; the reader, therefore, must hold us excused. The Guards' dinners at St. James's are of ancient standing, and it is a shame that now-a-days, when military men have betaken themselves to writing like their neighbours, none of their traditions have been given to the public. It is a pities Miss Burney was not a guardsman: the records of the mess would have furnished forth much more inspiring incidents than the Frau Schwellenberg's dinners to the Equerries, at which

dear little

Fanny presided as vice-bedchamber-woman. To Gilray are we indebted for the only peep into the of the Guards at St. James's with which the public has been favoured; and until some member of the corps takes up the pen to show that his predecessors could talk, joke, and sing to the purpose, the corps must be contented to be judged by that caricature.

The dinner at the Bank-but a word of the Tower,

whither, at certain seasons, all the

guards are conveyed to do penance for a time for their junkettings at the other end of the town. There is generally, as has already been remarked, a battalion on duty here. The officer locally in command is called the Governor, but his actual rank is that of Tower or Fort Major only. All orders applying to the Tower exclusively, or as a garrison, such as parade for divine service, &c., are given by the Fort Major; but all other orders, such as the actual mounting of the guard, the Bank piquet, &c., come from the Field Officer on duty at . The guard at the Tower is, as at the Palace, an officer's guard, and so is the piquet at the Bank, to which we now proceed.

Dinner is provided by the Bank for the officer on guard there and friends. A snug, plain, excellent dinner it is, brought daily from of the best taverns in the neighbourhood. The store which the Guards set by this dinner--excellent though it be--speaks volumes for the ennui which broods over the period during which they are stationed at the Tower. Some time ago a regiment of the line was marched into the Tower, and the battalion of Guards withdrawn. All the other duties of the place were gladly and unreluctantly given up to the new-comers with the solitary exception of the inlying piquet at the Bank. The duty might have been given up, but to relinquish the dinner was impossible. And on this account, so long as the Tower remained denuded of the presence of the Guards, the Bank piquet, regularly detailed from the far West End, duly and daily threaded the crowded Strand, passed under

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, jostled along , scrambled up , rounded , and over , erst the scene of tournaments, charged home to the . The cynosure of attraction to the weary sub on duty--the magnet which drew him to encounter this long and toilsome march, and worse, the incarceration of -and- mortal hours within the walls of the Bank, was not the ingots piled within these walls-his high spirit disdained them; not the bright eyes of City maid or dame-these must now be sought in the suburbs; it was the substantial savoury fare of the City--the genuine roast beef of Old England, and the City's ancient port, far surpassing the French cookery and French wines of St. James's.

But rich and substantial though the feast provided for the red-coated dragon (as Mause Headrigg might have termed him), who guarded the golden fruit of their Hesperides, by the merchant princes of the , its merits were heightened in the estimation of the young guardsmen by the circumstances .under which it was eaten. After a dreary banishment to the Tower for months --after the weariest period of that dull service, the dreary day, spent within the walls of the Bank--it is easy to conceive the relief felt by a young soldier as his moodiness relaxed and opened under the influence of good fare and good wine, and the chat of favourite companions. Engagements that might have looked common-place elsewhere, and under other circumstances, were Elysium there and then. What a moment was that, when the hour of shutting the gates approaching, his visitors must leave him! The sweetest minute of the evening --he tasted it not in the bustle of leave taking, but, like all sweets approached to the mouth and withdrawn untasted, it lived for ever unchanged in remembrance. Such another moment is the minutes before at the St. James's dinner, when the butler enters, and with sly unconsciousness announces the hour, and the decanters are sent hastily round (no

black bottles

there), the glasses emptied and replenished, and a new supply ordered in--the last that can be issued from cellarage or butlery that night.

Amid the not unpleasing but somewhat monotonous hours of the life of an officer of the Guards on duty in London, these dinners occupy a large space in his imagination. They are like the holidays to which a school-boy looks forward and backward; great part of his year is made up of them. He dates from their recurrence. Only other dinner has ever held the same place in the estimation of Guardsmen-and its place was far higher. The Duke of York, when Commander-in-Chief, was frequently in the habit of dining at on those days-and they were many-when he transacted business there. On such occasions it was his unvarying practice to invite the officer on guard to his table; and it has been our lot to hear a veteran who has seen much of life--from the gay quarters of London to the plague-stricken sands of Egypt-speak--long afterwards of these dinners as among the most pleasing recollections of his life. The Duke of York was not, like his eldest brother,

the

first

gentleman in Europe

--he did not affect the society of wits, or shine himself in repartee--but he had a heart, and that was felt and acknowledged by every who came into close connection with him. Spoiled he might be to some extent by his station-who would not? he might be in his tastes--it was the family failing. But he was kind to the last, and had a strong sense of justice. As a leader in the

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field, though personally brave, he did not shine; but as Commander-in-Chief, as the organiser and upholder of an army in the Cabinet, England owes him a deep debt of gratitude. He was to the army what another Prince who bore the same title was, rather more than a century earlier, to the navy.

According to Fielding, Mrs. Bennet apologised to Amelia for inviting Serjeant Atkinson to take a cup of tea with her, by alleging that a serjeant in the Guards was a gentleman. The non-commissioned officers, and, we may say at the same time, the privates of these regiments retain the character to the present day. Bating his plundering and torturing propensities, Serjeant Bothwell, could he come alive again, would not find himself out of place among them. In former days, at Angelo's Rooms, we used to think the demeanour of the Household Cavalry quite as gentlemanly as some individuals of higher station, with whom they conde. scended to play at single-stick, and in the Fives Court the fancy Guardsmen were decidedly more gentlemanly than the pugilistic amateurs of rank. The British soldier of our days-and this remark is general, applicable to the whole army-is not a mere ignoramus. The regimental libraries have worked a wonderful change. We remember few more pleasant half-hours than we spent in Mr. Constable's Miscellany warehouse in Edinburgh, listening to the comments of a committee of non-commissioned officers, from a regiment stationed at Piershill Barracks, who had come to town to choose some additions to their library. A higher and more uniform tone pervades the ranks now than used to be the case. It is a gross mistake to imagine the British soldier the mere machine some Gallicised writers have been pleased to represent him. There lurks a great deal of fallacy in what is said about the deterioration of the British soldier under

the cold shade of aristocracy.

There are men by nature formed to take the direction, and others equally formed by nature to work out directions given to them. In the rudest state of society each class finds in time its proper place. Organised, civilised society is merely a condition in which the combination of such different classes has long been recognised, and in which the persons qualified to belong to either drop into their places at once. A person born with capacity for command will, in ordinary circumstances, either enter the army as an officer, or, if he cannot accomplish this, choose some other profession. There is nothing necessarily low or mean in occupying the subordinate station. On the contrary, there are qualities required to enable a man to fill a subordinate station with perfect efficiency, which, from the rarity of their occurrence, in a high degree lend an extraordinary value to them when they do occur. It is much more easy to fill a regiment with passable ensigns, lieutenants, and captains, than with good efficient non-commissioned officers. This is felt by the best commanding officers, and such men are valued in proportion. Consciousness of their own worth, inspiring a just pride in belonging to their class, makes them a kind of natural aristocracy. The good soldier is not without a legitimate field of ambition, and the peculiar character of this field makes better soldiers than the vague dreaming prospect of becoming a Junot. Steele, in of the best of his Tatlers, illustrates the high spirit and honourable ambition of the British serjeant: Farquhar's Kite (an irregular man of genius) was even then the exception, not the rule. The privates and non-commissioned officers of the Guards share this honest ambition with the regiments of the line, and, with all due deference to the latter, their

215

position as appendages to royalty gives them what Dr. O'Toole might call, the

top polish.

Mrs. Bennet was right: a serjeant in the Guards is a gentleman, and she at least proved the sincerity of her opinion by taking the serjeant for a husband and becoming Mrs. Atkinson.

But some people will have it that the Guards, and all, are mere pampered loungers. Did they show themselves such at Waterloo? The truth is, that soldiers, like race-horses and fighting-cocks, are the better for being high fed and well dressed, or curry-combed. There is no greater delusion than that constant hard work and privation strengthen men against hardships. There is a certain limited time, during which human powers of exertion and endurance can be taxed without breaking down; and the better condition a man is in at starting, the longer he will hold out. The , too, as Buonaparte used to say, is -tenths of the soldiers' strength; and the of ill-fed, over-toiled men is always bad. There is a buoyancy of spirit about those who rush straightway from good, even luxurious, quarters to the field, that effects even more than their brawny frames.

But Hannibal's army at Capua!

Fudge! The poor rascals were half rotten with toil and famine, and killed or sickened themselves by repletion. It was sheer good eating that carried the Guards rough-shod over Napoleon's crack Cuirassiers-red cloth and roast-beef, against steel cuirass and soupe-maigre, carried the day. All Continental soldiers, who have ever measured bayonet or sabre with the British, know that it is impossible to withstand the charge of our wellfed men and horses. It has often made us laugh to hear our German military friends-brave, judicious men-arguing that English soldiers were too high-fed: it was impossible to keep either brute--the man or the beast--in hand. German troopers, and their steeds, were fed up to the right pitch-could be exercised among eggs without breaking . They knew all the while that this martinet dexterity would be shivered in pieces the moment it came in contact with the ungovernable strength they affected to undervalue. This is the reason why, from the club-houses and saloons of St. James's, and from the Fives' Court and other places of more equivocal resort, men and officers of the Guards-men who had never seen a shot fired in anger-rushed straight to Waterloo and rode resistless over the tough veterans of a fights.

Gallant Frenchmen,

the heroes of old

Nulli Secundus

might have said,

not by us, but by our cookshops, have ye been vanquished!

Enough of this. But as the building we have now in hand is of those of which

least said is soonest mended,

we have preferred talking about its live stock. Its halls are occupied by persons who think themselves of more consequence, and might take it amiss if they were altogether passed over in silence. Here are the offices of the Commander-in-Chief, the Military Secretary, the Quarter-Master-General, and Secretary at War; in other words, here is the

local habitation

of those who wield the gallant army of Great Britain.

Some time ago--& of the Admiralty--we had occasion to point out the admirable systematic arrangements which lurked under its apparent want of system. Looking to , we fear it must be admitted that the want of centralised authority is in the case of the army carried to an extreme. The army is an engine not yet so well understood and appreciated in England as the navy. It is younger by a good many years. The Guards of Charles II.

216

and James II., that is to say, the

Blues,

no more deserve the name of an army than the

Ironsides

of Old Noll. We have regiments which date from before the Revolution, but no army. The army is not only of modern growth when compared with the navy, but it differs from that sturdy indigenous plant in being an acclimatised exotic. They were foreign monarchs- Dutch and Hanoverian kings--who made our army, and they made it after foreign models. Raw materials for an army of the best quality are, and always have been, abundant in this country, but these foreign artists were the to work them up. And as, unfortunately for the art of war, this country has afforded few opportunities of experimental study since we had an army, most of our great soldiers have been obliged to practise on the Continent. The theory and practice of modern warfare has been developed by Frenchmen, Germans, and Italians. Our army is like our school of painting,--at this moment equal, if not superior, to any in Europe, but not of so natural a growth as in the continental states. Down to the beginning of the reign of George III., our great officers were as foreign as the cut of their uniforms. In short, the real British army is scarcely so old as its very modern head-quarters; for the Ligoniers and Marquis of Granbys, who dated their general-orders from ,[n.216.1]  we look upon as Hanoverian officers. Abercromby, with whom soldiers now alive have shaken hands, was trained in this school; he studied law and the humanities at Leipzig, and tactics (experimentally) in the Years' War. This has been the main cause of scattering the fragments of military management through so many different departments of state, and producing such a confusion and contest of authorities as we shall now attempt to illustrate. The King and Parliament were always scrambling for the management of the army, and with every new department added to make it more efficient, there was a toss up for which should have the control of it.

The Commander-in-Chief and the Master-General of the Ordnance have immediate and independent management of their respective portions of the armed force of the country. But, in addition to them, no less than different departments of government have various duties committed to them connected with the administration of military affairs. These are:--lst, the Secretaries of State, more particularly the Secretaries for the Colonial and Home Departments; , the Secretary at War; , the Board of Ordnance; , the Commissariat department of the Treasury; , the Board of Audit; , the Commissioners of . We shall endeavour to point out as briefly as possible the peculiar functions of each of those classes of authorities, and the means by which so many heterogeneous and independent functionaries are brought to work together with something like harmony and effect.

The point of view from which we must set out, and which, in order to thread our way through this labyrinth, we must keep constantly in mind, is, that the army belongs to the King. Parliament gives it to him, or rather, it every year gives him the means of maintaining it for a year, but here the power and right of Parliament to interfere with the management of the army stops. The whole

217

power and control over the army is vested in the Crown--that is, more especially .since the Revolution settlement of -in the King's government, represented in the Cabinet by the Secretaries of State. It is scarcely necessary, except for the sake of distinctness, to remind the reader that there was originally only Secretary of State; and that though convenience introduced the custom of having Secretary who confined his attention exclusively to foreign, and another who confined himself to home affairs-and although in a Secretary, for the colonies, was appointed, to divide the labour and responsibility, yet still, most of the functions of Secretary of State may be, and occasionally are, exercised indifferently by any of the . In point of fact, however, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs never meddles with the war department--that is left to the Home and Colonial Secretaries. The military administration of the nation in all its political bearings is, in reality, vested in these ministers. The Secretary of State for the Home Department has the control and management of all the militia and yeomanry, as well as the disposal of the troops of the line at home, and the Guards. According to the necessities of the service, he orders the army to be moved into a disturbed district; he conveys his orders through the Quarter-Master-General to the general officers who are immediately under his guidance; he informs them how they are to act in conjunction with the magistracy, not only in cases of disturbances, but under any cases that may arise. He directs, through the instrumentality of the Master-Generil of the Ordnance, forts to be built on the coast in time of war, or barracks in disturbed districts. The Secretary of State for the War department and Colonies has the command of the army abroad. In these weak piping times of peace he not only orders what proportion of troops shall be sent to each colony, but he approves of the appointment of the general officer who is to command them; in short, he has the control over the army for all purposes of State policy. He may order a fort or battery to be built in any colony in consequence of its disturbed or exposed state. The offices of these wielders of the destinies of armies must be sought not here, but in .

The administration of the army under the Secretaries of State, or the Crown, whose representatives these ministers are, is entrusted to executive officers who are appointed to, and receive their orders directly from, the King or his Secretaries. The finance of the army is kept rigidly separated from its discipline and promotion: the financial arrangements are the business of the Secretary at War; the discipline and promotion, of the Commander-in-Chief as regards the Household Brigade, Cavalry and Line, and of the Master-General of the Ordnance. of these demi-gods of the army exercise their functions here.

The financial arrangements of the army, as a system, the exclusive control over the public money voted for military purposes, rests with the Secretary at War, who transacts business at . The office was established in . Mr. Locke, the Secretary at War, appointed in that year, was an officer detached from the Secretary of State's office. The Secretary at War has access to the Sovereign, and takes his orders from his Majesty direct. He prepares and submits the army estimates, and the annual mutiny bill to Parliament, and frames the articles of war. The expenditure of sums granted by Parliament for the exigencies of the army takes place by warrants on the Paymaster General,

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signed by the Secretary at War. In every regiment there is a paymaster not appointed by, nor under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, but under the control of the Secretary at War. The accounts of the regimental paymasters, and of other officers charged with the payment of other branches of the service, are examined and audited in the War Office. The insertion of all military appointments and promotions in the

Gazette

pass through the Secretary at War, because they involve a pecuniary outlay, and he is the channel for obtaining the authority of the Secretary of State for issues of arms by the Ordnance when required by the military authorities. In concert with the Commander-in-Chief, and with consent of the Treasury, he may from time to time make alterations in the rates of pay, half-pay, allowances and pensions. By ancient usage the Secretary at War, aided by the Judge-Advocate-General, is, in the , the mouth-piece of the Government to sustain any attack that may be made on the Commander-in-Chief or his office.

The Commander-in-Chief has his office at also. He, too, has access to the King, and may either receive orders direct from him or from the Secretary of State. He has always been held a simply executive, not a ministerial officer; for the officers of the army are extremely anxious to have nothing to do with the handling of money. The business of the Commander-in-Chief's office is dispatched by an Adjutant-General and a Quarter-Master-General, with their subordinate functionaries. Both of these officers are appointed by the King on the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief. The Adjutant-General has under him a Deputy Adjutant General, an Assistant and a Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General, appointed also by the King, and a number of clerks, messengers, &c. appointed by himself. Everything relating to the effective or non-effective state of the troops; to formation, instruction and discipline; to the direction and inspection of the clothing and accoutrements of the army; to recruitments, leaves of absence; to the employment of officers of the staff; and to ordinary or extraordinary returns relative to other matters, falls under his department. All regulations and instructions to the army are published through this officer by direction of the Commander-in-Chief. The Adjutant-General prepares monthly, for the King and Commander in Chief, returns of the troops stationed in Great Britain or Ireland, and of the home and foreign force. The principal duties of the Quarter-Master-General are, to prescribe routes and marches, to regulate the embarkation and disembarkation of troops, to provide quarters for them, to mark out ground proper for encampments, to execute military surveys, and to prepare plans and arrange dispositions for the defence of a territory, whether such defence is to be effected by the troops alone or by means of field-works. Attached to the office of Quarter-Master-General of the Forces is a board of topography, with a depot of maps, plans, and a library containing the best military works that have been published in different countries. Every British army, when in the field, has a special Quarter-Master-General and staff, organised in exact analogy with that of the permanent officer at .

We must now turn our steps towards , and visit the Ordnance Office, in order to prosecute our analysis of the composite organisation of the British army. The Master-General of the Ordnance stands in the same relation to the

219

King and Secretaries of State, in his department, as the Commander-in-Chief. Like that officer and the Secretary at War, he has access to the Sovereign, and takes his orders direct from the King or his Secretaries of State. This is a very complicated department: it combines within itself both civil and military functions, which are not separated as in the army of the line, and has moreover taken on its hands since the peace a great number of other departments. This complexity is in a great measure unavoidable, for the Ordnance combines scientific with mere professional services. The Master-General, however, directs personally, and without the assistance of the Board, all those matters which, in the case of the rest of the army, come within the province of the Commander-in-Chief. All military appointments, all questions of discipline and orders relating to the employment of the force come under this description; and likewise the general direction and government of the Military Academy at Woolwich. The Master-General of the Ordnance has the title and powers of Colonel of what is called the

regiment

of Artillery-absurdly enough, for the body is increased in time of war to men. An officer with the title of Deputy Adjutant General of Artillery, who is in no way dependent on the Adjutant General of the British forces, is at the head of the Artillery Staff. The Board of the Deputy Adjutant General of Artillery is at Woolwich; which may be considered as the head-quarters of this arm of the service. The Royal Artillery corps consists of the Brigade of Horse Artillery and of the Artillery serving on foot. The Rocket corps is attached to, and forms part of the Artillery; as also the Artificers, and the Royal Waggon Train. There was formerly a corps of Drivers: but the men are now always enlisted as

Gunners and Drivers,

and made to do duty in both capacities. As the army of the line was developed under the auspices of the Dutch and Hanoverian Kings of England-squabbling all the while with a jealous and niggardly Parliament--from the few regiments of Guards maintained by the last Stuarts (or engrafted upon them, if the readers think the metaphor more just); so the Ordnance department has, in due course of time, been, after the same fashion, eked out from the old Artillery Companies of Queen Bess and other antique .Sovereigns. Perhaps, however, the Worshipful Artillery Company of the City of London may claim to be the legitimate descendant and representative of the body commanded by the Earl of Essex in . The warrant fixing the constitution of the Ordnance is that of Charles II. (), only years previous to the Revolution.

The corps subject to the Ordnance are the

Regiment,

already described, and the Engineers. The books of the Artillery show the number of battalions and companies in each battalion from the year to the present time. There are, we believe, no authentic documents to show how long the Royal Engineers have existed as a separate corps, or what was its original constitution; but from a warrant dated at

our Court of St. James's, the

3rd day of March, 1759

,

the origin of its present organisation may be inferred. The document runs thus :--

His Majesty this day took the said representation into his royal consideration, together with

the establishment of Engineers now subsisting

; and likewise the new establishment, proposing to increase the number of Engineers to

sixty-one

; and was pleased, with advice of his Privy Council, to approve of the said new estabblishment, &c.

and instead of all former establishments of Engineers, which are to cease and be discontinued for the future.

The Horse Brigade-commonly called the Horse Artillery, or Flying Artillery-only dates from . The Artillery

Regiment

was composed, in , of battalion, divided into companies: the officers were a Colonel Commandant, a Colonel, Lieutenant Colonels, and a Major; for each company a Captain and a and Lieutenant; Lieutenant Fireworkers, an Adjutant, Quartermaster, and Bridgemaster. The names of all the officers since have been preserved, and notes of what became of most of them. The Engineers consisted, in , of Chief, Directors, Sub-Directors, Engineers in Ordinary and Extraordinary, Sub-Engineers, and Practitioners: the names of the Engineer officers since . The privates were called Military Engineers till ; since that time they have been organised into a corps called Sappers and Miners. The whole of the Engineer department is under the Inspector-General of Fortifications. Both the civil and military engineering of the army is entrusted to this corps. The erection and maintenance of forts and barracks devolves upon them. There are of the officers engaged in the survey of Great Britain and Ireland. Of officers, were, in , employed in affairs which were partly of a military, partly of a civil character. The Engineers are, properly speaking, a regiment of officers; but attached to it are the companies of sappers and miners, with the pontoon train, its forges, waggons, &c., under a major of the Brigade of Engineers.

The Board of Ordnance, enumerated as the of those which take part in managing the military affairs of this country, takes upon it those duties which are more especially termed . The Master-General attends its meetings only on rare and very particular occasions. All its proceedings, however, are regularly submitted in the form of minutes for his approval, and are subject to his control. His authority is supreme in all matters, both civil and military; and he, not the Board, is considered responsible for the manner in which the business of the department is managed. The Board officers of the Ordnance are the Surveyor-General, the Clerk of the Ordnance (at ), and the principal Storekeeper. Sometimes the whole of these officers--uniformly the Clerk--contrive to be in Parliament, and act as the mouth-pieces of this arm of the service. Upon the Clerk devolves the duty of preparing and carrying the Ordnance Estimates through Parliament. Each of these officers has his own separate and distinct duties; but as all acts are done in the name and by the authority of the Board, all important questions are brought before it, and every member is expected to have a general knowledge of the business transacted in every separate division. The business of the Board comprehends, with regard to the Ordnance corps, the greater part of the business which, as relates to the rest of the army, is transacted in the War Office; for example, the examination of pay-lists and accounts, the decision of all claims by officers to pensions for wounds, to compensation for the loss of horses or baggage, to command-money, and to allowance for passages, or in lieu of lodgings and servants. But by far the greater part of the duties of the Board have reference to matters not merely concerning their own particular

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branch of the military service, but the whole army, and even the navy. Arms, ammunition, and military stores of every description (including guns and carriages for the navy), are supplied by them to both services. Besides.the clothing of the artillery and engineers, they furnish also that of part of the militia, of the police force in Ireland, and of some corps belonging to the army, and the great coats for all; they are likewise charged with the issue of various kinds of supplies, as of fuel, light, &c., both in Great Britain and abroad, and, with respect to the troops in Great Britain, of provision and forage. The construction and repair of fortifications, military works, and barracks, is another branch of the business of the department; which has also the duty, altogether unconnected with any thing of a military character, of furnishing various descriptions of stores for the use of the convict establishment in the penal colonies.

The Commissariat officers on foreign stations correspond directly with the Treasury, and receive from it all orders with reference to the mode in which the service is to be performed. Till (when the duty was transferred to the Ordnance) the charge of the issue of forage and provisions to the troops in Great Britain was retained by the Treasury. Since that time the Agent for Commissariat supplies has been suppressed, and the number of clerks on the Commissariat establishment reduced. The Commissariat is a peculiar and important service, requiring great ability and much experience. During the whole time consumed by the British army in advancing from the frontiers of Portugal to the Pyrenees, the Commissariat officers had to feed daily men and horses. The money raised by the Commissariat department in specie, in silver and gold, in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular war, by bills on this country, amounted to somewhere about sterling; and probably more was sent from England, and as much from the Mediterranean and other quarters. The justice and wisdom of the paltry economy of throwing part of the duties of this department upon the Ordnance, whose functions were already sufficiently onerous and complicated, and upon a reduced Board of quill-driving Treasury clerks who had no experience outside of their office, may well be doubted. But there can be no doubt as to the gross injustice of throwing all the able and experienced Commissariat officers, trained in the arduous affairs of the Peninsula, upon half-pay, instead of remodelling the Commissariat department by placing some of them at the head of it. A system might thus have been organised by men who had been taught their business experimentally, in a school such as it is to be hoped no individuals may for many generations have a chance of entering. An opportunity has been let slip of perfecting this branch of the service which will be felt as soon as Britain is again dared to the field, for the gift of military financiering does not come by nature.

Since the abolition of the Comptrollers of Army Accounts, the Commissioners of Audit, in addition to their former duty of auditing the accounts of a part of the expenditure of the Commissioners for the service of the army on every foreign station, have also acted as advisers to the Treasury in military business in general, and particularly in all that relates to the Commissariat. Properly speaking, the Commissariat and Audit Board are both branches of the Treasury. This may be the most proper place to notice that by the Act and of William IV. the separate offices of Paymaster of the Forces, Treasurer of Chelsea

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Hospital, Treasurer of the Navy, and Treasurer of the Ordnance, are all consolidated into the office of Paymaster General. This office is also immediately under the control of the Treasury.

Lastly, the Commissioners of are charged with the management of the internal affairs of the hospital, with the admission of in-pensioners, the placing of discharged soldiers on the out-pension, and the issuing of warrants for payment of their pensions. Their proceedings are governed by the patent by which they are appointed, the instructions consequent thereon prepared by the Secretary at War, by various Acts of Parliament regulating particular points, and by occasional instructions conveyed to them by the Treasury and by the Secretary at War.

Amid all this scattering of military business through a number of departments, it is clear that the authorities at the Horse Guards--the Secretary at War and the Commander-in-Chief-remain the nucleus, the heart of the military organisation of Great Britain. Independent though the Master of the Ordnance be, his arm is regarded but as an auxiliary, an adjunct to the army of the line. This manner of viewing it is carried to an extreme which occasions gross injustice to the corps of Artillery and Engineers. The best commanders of France-Napoleon himself--were bred in the Artillery. An English Artillery or Engineer officer cannot look forward to command in the field.

I look upon the Artillery,

said Sir Augustus Fraser, in ,

to be a neglected service, and I know that it is so considered by the officers themselves. I look upon it that no corps that is solely advanced by seniorities and death-vacancies can come to perfection. When you have men of ability, the ability is locked up; when they have no ability they go on with the stream. The officers are all well educated, but to little purpose; and assuredly the state of the Artillery will force itself upon the country sooner or later.

I have been forty years in the Artillery, and have got to be a Colonel, and I could go down a hundred men in the regiment without coming to any man much younger than myself

.

What Sir Augustus thought would be doing justice to his corps appeared from his replies to questions of the Commissioners on the civil administration of the army in :

Officers of Artillery and Engineers are very seldom appointed to command garrisons or districts.

Putting them upon the staff has been discouraged.

I am sure that a door might be opened for Artillery officers to go into the army with great advantage to the service and themselves.

The best heads and the best educated intellects in the service are prevented from rising to command--that is not wise.

But this is a digression. is the centre of vitality of an army. This army consists : The and regiments of Life Guards, the royal regiment of (blues), regiments of Dragoon Guards, of Dragoons, of Light Dragoons, including Lancers and Hussars. In this enumeration the cavalry serving in India and the Cape corps of mounted riflemen are not included. : regiments of Guards, regiments of the line of battalion each, the ; (of the line) and the rifle brigade of battalions each, West India regiments, companies of the royal staff corps, Newfoundland and royal veteran companies, the African corps, and the Ceylon regiment. To these fall to be added the Engineers and the Artillery, with the royal waggon-train, the

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artificers, the rocket corps, and the sappers and miners. The infantry and cavalry borne on the estimates of amounted to officers and men, of whom were effectives. The engineer corps amounted to officers and men, and the artillery to .

This is, after all, but the skeleton of the army--the dry bones--the framework which gives it form and cohesion. The quivering flesh and bounding blood which renders it an object beautiful to look upon--the living spirit which lends it life and energy--are diffused through thousands of manly bosoms scattered over the whole globe. Some are chafing in compulsory idleness among the country towns, or manufacturing capitals of the old island; some are doing duty amid the sharp gales of Canada, amid the sweltering tropical heat of the Antilles, or in the anomalous land of kangaroos and convicts. Some have just been bearing the standard of their country in triumph into the very bowels of

the central flowery land,

while others have been sharing in the alternate defeats and triumphs of the mountain-land of the Afghans. Rather than remain inactive, some of the more ardent spirits have been exploring or taking part in the frays of Persia and Turkistan, and of the rather more barbarous Christian republics of South America. There is scarcely a region of the earth in our day that has not seen a real line captain--that rare animal which excited such a sensation when it made its unexpected appearance at Charlie's Hope, in the person of Dandy Dinmont's deliverer. And a talisman is placed within these shabby tasteless walls --right under that ineffable cupola--of power to arrest at once the wandering propensities of the most distant of those fearless spirits, and call him home as tame as the sportsman's pointer when ordered to heel, or to send him forth again fiercer than sleuth-hound lancing on his prey.

It is a strange thing, that military discipline, which fuses so many of a nation's fiercest and most wayward spirits as it were into mind and will! The armies of modern Europe have no parallel in any other age or region. Individual armies were formed by Alexander, by Baber, by Timur, and other conquerors; but they dissolved with the death of the master-spirit which called them together. But the armies of France, England, and Germany have an organic life independent of any individual: all of them are enduring as the civil institutions upon which they are engrafted. The army of France survived the dissolution of these institutions, and was all that was left to re-construct civil society after the Revolution. It is a fashion with those who have not thoroughly examined the matter, to speak lightly of an army's discipline and organisation, and to exalt what they call the irresistible enthusiasm of a people. It was not the people who repelled the Allied Sovereign, under the Duke of Brunswick from the French frontier, and carried the eagles of France in triumph over great part of Europe; it was not the people who struck down Napoleon in the red field of Leipzig. Popular enthusiasm gave a new stimulus to the army, but it was the traditional discipline and organisation inherited from Turenne, Montecuculi, Marlborough, Frederic the Great, and other masters of the art of war, which received the unformed materials of enthusiastic recruits, and in its hard press stamped them into heroes. An organised army upon modern principles can make soldiers of almost any materials; and the mightiest enthusiasm of individuals or nations is at best but

224

the heavy wave which must break on the rock-like structure of an army, and fall back in foam, carrying with it at most some shattered fragments.

A finer army, whether we regard its physical or moral qualities, never existed than our own at the present moment. Its services as a bulwark against aggression from without in time of war, or as an effective minister of the civil power in internal emergencies in time of peace, are invaluable. Higher scientific acquirements than exist among its

corps du genie

are not to be found; a more intelligent, moral, high-spirited, and lighthearted soldiery never made a monarch's heart high as she passed her eyes along their ranks. And where shall we look for such a wiry, wary master of his art to hold this beautiful but terrible power in hand as the present occupant of ?

 
 
 
Footnotes:

[n.216.1] Not the barracks now known by that name, but the building at the opposite end of Knightsbridge, on the opposite side of the road, now effectually screened from public view by Mr. Dunn's Chinese exhibition on one side and a new church on the other.