Imágenes de páginas

whenever any substantive crime was found to bo combined with drunkenness, it was punished with additional rigour. In the reign of Elizabeth, it was ordered, that " drunkards should be imprisoned, and fed on bread and water, so long as the qualities of the offence should deserve."

Theft was formerly a capital military crime. The ordinances of the Earl of Northumberland, in the reign of Charles the First, render it treason, for a soldier " to speak irreverently against the king's majesty or authority, to have or keep intelligence with the enemy, or to deliver up any place of strength, magazine, victuafs, &c*."

It does not appear, that any regular uniform was formerly used in our armies; indeed, their constitution, and the use of armour, rendered this, in some degree, impossible; there was, however, in this way, a uniformity in the clothing of the troops, by the introduction of a red cross on the jacket, which was white, in the reign of Richard the First; but green and blue jackets were also subsequently used.

In the wars of the Roses, our troops wore badges; that of the Earl of Warwick, a silver bear and ragged staff, is well known. The French, to distinguish their forces from the English, used a while cross on a dark ground. In the reign of Elizabeth, the cavalry wore red cloaks. The Highland (Scotch) dress, is comparatively quite modern.

The pay of the military at various periods, does not, from obvious reasons, afTord any illustration of the alteration which has taken place in the value of money. In the reign of Henry the Second, a knight received 3s. a day, besides an allowance for the cost of his horses and esquires; but it seems, subsequently, to have been reduced to 2s. a day. In the reign of Edward the First, (1300,) the daily pay of a banneret was 4s.; of a knight 2s.; of an esquire \2d.; and of a constable \s. The latter appellation was given, in this reign, to officers of infantry, as well as cavalryt. Knights, esquires, and constables, were obliged to have covered or barded horses. A vintner of cross-bow men, then received 6d. a day; a private cross-bow man Ad.; an archer 2d.; a master engineer 9d.; a common engineer dd; and a miner 2d. The commander or constable of a castle, (unless he ranked as a banneret,) received a knight's pay, 2s. a day. •

Edward the Third, more than once paid his army in wool. An augmentation took place in military pay, partly in consequence of an alteration in the deno

The only capital punishments in the British army have long been ned to shooting or hanging; and whipping, the only coporal punishment now used, is inflicted generally by the drummer* of the regiment with what is called a " cat o' nine tails."

* This denomination was abolished towards the close of the reign nf Kdward the Second.

minations of the troops, in the reign of Henry the Seventh, which was materially increased in the reign of Queen Mary; for, at the siege of St. Quintin's in 15^7, the captain-general was paid 5/. Is. 2d. per day, the lieutenant-general 3/. 6s. 8d., the serjeant-major, (the major of the present period), 15s., the surgeon Is. Gd., and the private soldier 8d. In the reign of Elizabeth, the Earl of Essex, the " Lord Lieutenant-General" in Ireland, received 10/. a day, and horsemen, (" a troop then consisted of one captaine, one lieutenant, one cornet, and fifty private troopers,") were each paid Is. 3d. per day. In 16.09 a lieutenant-general was paid 1/., a colonel 12s., a horsesoldier 2s. 3d., and a foot-soldier 9rf. In that year the whole cost of maintaining the army amounted to 038,093/. 14s. $d. During the last century, until 1795, the pay of a private foot-soldier was 6d. daily; in that year it was augmented 2\d, and, subsequently, increased to Is., besides allowances.

The military rank of marshal, or maroschal, dates as far back as the Conquest, and then ranked next to that of Constable of England. The title of general cannot be traced further back than the reign of Henry the Eighth; the major-general was then designated the "sergeant-major-general." There was also an officer of very high rank, called the provost- marshal, in our ancient armies. The rank of colonel is believed first to have been conferred by Henry the Eighth; those of captain and lieutenant, according to their modern acceptation, do not seem to have been introduced until the reign of Henry the Seventh.

The infantry, probably from the Conquest to the reign of Henry the Eighth, was divided into bodies of 1000, 100, and 20 men, corresponding, in some measure, to the regiments, &c. of modern times. In 1557 the infantry was still divided into companies of 100 men, each commanded by a captain, a lieutenant, and an ensign, and provided with a Serjeant, a harbinger (probably similar to our corporal), and a drummer.

Military Surgeons seem, in the middle ages, to have been held in very little repute; and, in consequence of the low state of surgical science, even long subsequent to the reign of Henry the Eighth, the loss of life in time of war was very great. In the list of troops at the siege of Calais, in the reign of Edward the Third, only one surgeon is mentioned. "When severely wounded, soldiers were generally presented with sufficient money to enable them to return home, which, in some measure, accounts for the paucity of medical attendants.

It would lead us too much into detail, here to describe the methods adopted in the middle ages in constructing fortifications; but it may be remarked, tbat very imperfect ideas seem then to have existed of the benefits arising from that kind of mutual defence, which «* constitutes the very essence of our system of modern fortification. The chief dependence of our ancestors seems to have been in the height and thickness of their walls, and the breadth of the surrounding ditches; arid where it was impossible to command the latter, machicolations, or openings in the parapet, and in front of the embrasures, were constructed, for the purposes of pouring down melted lead, stones, and other missiles on the assailants. The, donjon, or keep-tower, which always served as a refuge at the last extremity, generally formed one of the most important features of the ancient castle. •

[graphic][merged small]


THEbrilliant successes 6T the English armies in the middle ages were many of them chiefly, if not entirely, owing to the use of the long bow—an instrument entirely of Norman introduction. There seems good reason to believe that both the arbalest, or cross-bow, and the long-bow, were used by the Norman invaders under William the Conqueror. The use of the English long-bow arrived at the highest perfection in the reign of Edward the Third, and notwithstanding the discovery of gunpowder, continued, for a long period subsequently, to be highly and successfully cultivated in this country. Cressy, Poictiers, Agincourt, indeed most of the great victories gained over the Fren h, mainly resulted from the unrivalled skill of the English bowmen; nor were they less successful on their own soil. Truly was it said by Sir John Fortescue, "That the might of the realme of Englando standyth ypon her archers;" indeed all our old writers are agreed upon the vast superiority of the English bowmen over those of other nations. The Scots, at that period, chiefly depended upon their pikemen, and the French on their men-at-arms.

By an ordinance made in the reign of Edward the Fourth, every Englishman or Irishman dwelling in England, was required to have a bow of his own height "either of yew, wych-hazel, ash or auburne, or any other reasonable tree, according to their power." Mounds of earth were at the same period ordered to be made in every parish, and the inhabitants were enjoined to practise archery under certain penalties. The pay of archers in that reign was sixpence a day, which, considering the relative value of money, strongly proves the high estimation in which this force was held. Subsequently to this, the cross-bow seems to have been much introduced, and several statutes were passed in the reign of Henry the Eighth against its use.

The engraving at page 128 affords an idea of the military costume of English archers during the latter part of the fifteenth century. Yew was the best material for the bow. "The arrows were of different weights and sizes; the lighter sort for long ranges, about two feet three inches, while the heavy were a cloth-yard in length. The heads had various shapes, among which the broad arrow extended in width to nearly four inches at the extremity of the wings Of these twenty-four in a sheaf were put in the quiver, and in action, about twelve in the girdle. They were trimmed with three goose-quill feathers each, and when the archers shot in volleys, the quantity of arrows in the air and falling was so great that Froissart, with a poetical turn of expression, compares it to the driving of snow. Besides these missiles, fireworks, and arrows headed with phials filled with combustible matter, were often shot from bows. The farthest range of arrows was estimated at about eleven score yards. The archers, in order of battle, generally carried besides the bow, axe, and target, a stake pointed at both ends. They formed in open ranks, in files eight deep. When on the point of engaging, they advanced a few paces beyond the intended line, and fixed their stakes, inclined towards the enemy, in the ground. They then stepped backwards, and from behind this kind of chevaux-de-frize, dealt forth their destructive arrows, and when the enemy were thrown into confusion, they sallied, and with small battle-axes and swords, completed the defeat. Their reputation rose so high that several foreign princes, in the fifteenth century, deemed their armies most materially reinforced if they could obtain 200 or 300 English archers in their service.

The exact period when the bow was disused in the British army is uncertain. We find records of its use in 1627.; in 1643 the Earl of Ess^x endeavoured to raise a company of archers; and from a pamphlet published in

1664, we learn that bowmen were used by the Marquis of Montrose in Scotland. The use, however, of archery for so long a period after the introduction of fire-arms, is not to be wondered at, when we remember the cumbrous nature of the latter until the commencement of the last century.


During the middle ages, the English foot-soldiers appear to have been armed with spears, swords, slings, and darts, as well as with bows and arrows. The weapons used by the cavalry were lances, swords, and daggers. Before the introduction of cannon, they brought into the field, or used in sieges, various warlike machines, which projected darts and stones to a considerable distance.

The discovery of gunpowder,—a discovery which gradually effected a total change in military tactics, and in the constitution of armies,—was the event which most powerfully influenced warfare in the middle ages. It is very remarkable that so little is known relative to the original invention of this powerful agent. The popular story relates, that about the commencement of the fourteenth century, Bartholdus Schwartz, a Franciscan monk, and student in " alchemy" at Cologne, in the course of his pursuits, mixed saltpetre, sulphur, and charcoal in a mortar, and partly covered it with a stone, when by some accident, it took fire, and blew the stone with great force to a considerable distance. But the honour of the invention must be ascribed to our countryman, Friar Bacon, whose works were written at Oxford in the latter half of the thirteenth century, at least eighty years before the supposed invention of Schwartz, in which he particularly describes the composition of gunpowder. The projectile power of this destructive agent was soon rendered available for military purposes. Edward the Third is said to have used cannon, or rather bombards (as they were then called), so early as 1327, in a campaign against the Scots; and in 1346 they materially contributed to his success in the memorable battle of Cressy.

The ordnance used at that period somewhat resembled mortars, and formed, from their comparative lightness, excellent substitutes for the ponderous battering-machines which had formerly been used in assaulting fortified places, at a period when roads were unknown throughout Europe. These pieces, which were short, and of a large calibre, were made with bars, and sometimes thin sheets of iron, strengthened with hoops of the same metal welded together. The engraving at page 124 affords a good idea of the early cannon. The bombard, or mortar, in the middle, is of a very early date. The other cannon, which is of a date posterior to the reign of Henry the Fourth, is of iron, and lies in a trough or bed, resting on a moveable pivot fixed in a strong upright, erected on a square timber frame. The apparatus used for both guns proves that the powder must have been very feeble. The bullets were either of lead or stone, some of which were from 200 to 500 lbs. in weightNear the muzzle of one of the guns stands a broad shieldbearer, or paviser, the denomination of a substitute soldier, whose duty it was to bear a large shield befoie the gunners, archers, and cross-bow men, who approached the walls of a castle thus protected. The group an the right consists of a gunner, an archer.Jand another cross-bowman. A smaller description of ordnance began to be used at the latter end of the fourteenth century,' called hand-cannon; some were so light as to admit being carried by two men, and discharged from a rest on the ground. This may be considered the first approach towards light fire-arms. It was not until 1521 that any attempt was made in this country to cast pieces of ordnance.

The engraving at page 125 represents the nature of the artillery which was used during the chief part of the 6fteenth century. From these specimens it will be seen that the cannon at that period were less heavy and bulky than those of an earlier date. The gun in the foreground of the plate is fixed on the swivel principle, being suspended between the branches of an immense fork of iron; its elevation or depression was effected by means of a large iron bar in the form of a scythe, standing in a vertical (upright) position. The whole apparatus is fixed on an iron plate fastened on a massive bed of oak. The other piece of ordnance in the distance is of a lighter kind, and may be considered a kind of field-piece. The warlike machine in the centre of the plate affords a very interesting illustration of the mode of attacking fortifications in the old time. The wooden tower was moved on small rollers, and was perforated with triangular loop-holes for shooting and easting missiles. The battlements seen at the top were each furnished with a shutter. The large bridge which is suspended in the air from two upright timbers at the summit of the tower was used not only to protect the soldiers from the arrows of the besieged, but when brought closer to the walls, was poised in a horizontal direction, and projected upon the ramparts; when the men-at-arms, hitherto inactive, mounted and rushed over it, and thus the town or fortification was, in many cases, carried by storm. Portable fire-arms were not invented until the commencement of the sixteenth century.

Mortars and bombs were invented in England in 1544, by foreigners employed by Henry the Eighth; red-hot balls were first used by the Duke of Gloucester in besieging Cherbourg in 1418; howitzers (an improvement on mortars) in 1697; carronades (a long kind of howitzers) were invented by General Melville, in 1779; iron (or Congrevc) rockets, by Sir William Congreve, and were first used at the bombardment of Copenhagen. A rocket-establishment forms a branch of the military service of Great Britain at the present period.

The first muskets mounted on stocks are believed to have been used in 1521, at the siege of Parma. The pistol was invented in Tuscany, and introduced into England about the middle of the sixteenth century. The bayonet was invented in France in 1671; but it was not fastened to the muzzle of the firelock until 1690. About that time, or shortly after, it was adopted in the British army.

But we must revert to our rapid historical sketch of the progress of our military force. With each succeeding reign, a gradual but distinct separation between the duties of the citizen and the soldier, %to the utter disunion, at' length, of the one from the other, appears to have gone on. Charles the Seventh of France (1455) was the first European monarch that set the example of supporting a standing army; this was subsequently followed by other princes; but the first permanent forces—if such they may be called —employed by our kings, consisted of their immediate body-guards; and it was not till the reign of Henry the Seventh and Eighth, when the corps of Gentlemen Pensioners, Yeomen of the Guard, and the Artillery Company were established, that they even possessed this force. During the troublous reign of Charles the First, the royal army consisted chielly of regiments raised by the nobility and gentry, who adhered to the cause of their sovereign, from amongst their tenants and dependants, and the cavaliers in the country towns.

Section III. 1660—1834.

The Restoration, in 1660, ushered in what may be virtually termed a new era in the constitution of the British army. Before that period, as we have seen, there existed no regular standing military force in England ; but Charles the Second, after wholly abolishing the remaining military tenures, organized a permanent army of about 5000 men, including the garrisons which were then maintained in the fortresses in this country; though, as a modern writer has observed, a portion of the military establishment then formed was taken "from corps raised during the Civil War,—such as the 1st regiment of Foot and the Coldstream Guards, which came with General Monk from Scotland; the Royal Regiment of Horse Guards, commonly called the Oxford Blues, is amongst the first on this establishment. The two troops of Horse Guards, embodied by Charles about the same time, and of which the privates were all gentlemen, were abolished in 1788, and the two fine regiments of cavalry, called the first and second regiments of Life Guards have been raised in their place."

In consequence of the abolition of the military tenures, it became necessary to provide a force for internal defence, answering the purpose of the feudal militia as originally established. An Act of Parliament was, therefore, pasted, establishing a national militia, which, although it has undergone various changes in its constitution at different periods, still forms a part of the military system of the country.

The principle involved in the establishment of the standing army, which was paid out of the royal revenue, and over which the crown asserted a supreme power, led to frcciuent disputes with the parliament. On the succession of James the Second, whose despotic principles and hatred towards the Protestant religion, justly led to his ultimate

dethronement, the resistance towards the prerogative set up by the crown became stronger. The House of Lords toik a bolder course in its opposition to his designs than the Commons; and the Bench of Bishops, casting aside every private and personal consideration, stood nobly and prominently forward in defence of the religious and civil liberties of the people at that dangerous crisis. In the course of this reign the standing army was increased to 30,000 men by the king, in order the better to carry his ultimate designs into effect; but the defection of this force afterwards contributed, amongst other causes, to hurl him from the throne; for, in 1688, on the landing of the Prince of Orange (William the Third,) on the British coa-,t, with an army of 14,000 men, the English troops joined bis standard. After the Revolution, the disputed prerogative of the crown was finally settled on a basis which upheld the rights of the former, while, at the same time, it secured the liberties of the people from danger. This was effected by the declaration in the memorable Bill of Piyhts, (1689,) which sets forth "that the raising and keeping a standing army in time of peace, without the consent of Parliament, is contrary to law." The wars in which the country was subsequently engaged, caused a large augmentation to be made in the military force of Great Britain; but at the conclusion of peace with France, in 1697, (though not without a severe struggle with the king.) the Parliament reduced the military force to 7000 men for England, and 12,000 men for the establishment in Ireland11.

The standing army has sinoo varied in numbers, according to the exigencies of the period, or the altered circumstances of the country. In the early part of the last century, the reputation of the British armies under that illustrious hero, the Duke of Marlborough, arrived at the highest pitch. The peace establishment, in the reign of George the First, varied from 16,000 to 21,000 men. It was not until 1746 that the Light Dragoons were introduced into the English cavalry. In 1763, in the early part of the reign of that prince of glorious memory, George the Third, the standing army was reduced to 17,532 men. The rebellion in America caused a large increase to be made in the military force of the country; and, at the conclusion of that contest, the peace establishment for Great Britain and Ireland was fixed at 40,000 men. But the army did not long remain on this footing. The war with France, which, in a few years succeeded the Revolution in that country, gave a new and extraordinary impulse to military affairs.

From various causes, the reputation of our army had long been on the decline; our ill success in America, and the unfortunate result of the campaigns in Holland against the French Republicans, contributed to confirm an impression as erroneous as it was undeserved. But the cloud which prejudice had cast over our army rapidly cleared away. The events in Egypt—the various successes on the Continent during the latter part of the war—the glorious achievements in the Peninsula•!■ under the immortal Wellington against the veterans of France, and the crowning consummation of the glories of more than a hundred victories, at Waterloo, have raised the reputation of our brave troops to an equality with that of the sisterservice—Britain^ naval heroes.

The peace-establishment of the British army in 1802, amounted to 128,999 men, including 17,000 cavalry, six regiments of colour in the West Indies, and the foreign corps of Swiss, &c, estimated at 5,350. During the subsequent war, from 1803 to 1815, our military, like our naval force, reached a magnitude to which there existed no precedent in the former history of the country. And in addition to the troops of the line, Great Britain possessed an effective force of immense magnitude in the yeomanry, militia, and volunteers, for its internal defence. The yeomanry and volunteer corps alone, in 1803, amounted to 463,134 effective men. In 1808, the troops of the line amounted to 220,000, including 30,000 cavalry and 14,000 artillery. Of this force, nearly 60,000 men were employed in India and the Colonies. In 1813, the whole of the regular and irregular land forces of Great Britain amounted to 680,000. If to this force we add 140.000 seamen and marines, the military and naval power of Great Britain at that period, amounted to 820,000 men. A vast reduction

* The first established force in Ireland was in the fourteenth year of the reign of Kdward the Fourth, when 120 archer* on horseback, 40 horsemen, and 4) pases were established by Parliament llieie ;— a curious contrast to later armies.

t bee the articles in this work on the Wellington Shield.

took place after the peace, and the standing army at the

present period, may be thus stated:—

Great Britain 88,516

India* 20,156

Total . . . 108,6 721 The number of commissioned officers in this force, is, Great Britain, 4404; India, 1208: total 5612.

Considerable changes have been made in the equipments and arms of our cavalry since the peace. Armour has been introduced into the Life Guards, and four regiments have been converted into Lancers. The use of armour has been strongly objected to on account of its weight. "The largest sized cuirass," we are told, " worn by the Life Guards, weighs 15 lbs.; the smallest, 12 lbs. 6oz. A Life Guardsman in marching order, weighs upwards of 25 stone, supposing the man to weigh 13 stone!"

The corps of Engineers forms a most important part of the military force of the country. This department, during the greater part of the late war, was in a very defective dtate; the loss of life, especially in the Peninsula, was, consequently, extremely great, and in this respect the French engineers were infinitely superior to the British. Great improvements have, however, taken place in the organization of this corps, which are chiefly attributable to the exertions of the Duke of Wellington.

In 1814 bis Grace caused a brigade of Engineers, comprising a company of Sappers and Miners, with horses,

• According to a writer in the new edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, the European troops in the East India Company's service, "consist of 8000 infantry, and 4000 artillery; while the native regular troops are composed of 10,000 cavalry, 130,000 infantry, and 8,000 artillery, and the native irregular force of 7000 cavalry, and 17,000 infantry. Our Indian army may, therefore, be considered to amount in all, to about 200,000 men, similarly organized, in all essential respects, to the British army.

t The French army in 1834, amounts to 360,000 regular troops, and 3,639,700 national guards. The Russian army to »IO,000 men; the Austrian army to 271,400 regular troops, and 470,000 militia; and the Prussian army to 122,000 regular troops, and 400,000 militia. It has been computed, that Prussia has one soldier in every sixtyeight inhabitants; Russia, one in every seventy; Austria, one in one hundred; France, one in one hundred and ten; and England, one in one hundred and forty inhabitants.

cars, and drivers, to be attached to each division of trie army. These men are regularly exercised in field-duties, as well as in the complicated operations required in besieging fortified places.

The Royal Artillery, which forms another most important branch of the military service, has also been materially improved in its discipline since the peace. It consists of only one regiment, which, during the war, extended to twenty-four thousand men. This comprises a brigade of horse-artillery, and that serving on foot. The former is divided into companies, termed troops, varying from six to ten in number; the foot artillery is divided into battalions, each consisting of ten companies.

Grenadiers originated in France; they were originally employed in throwing hand grenades in the attack of the covert-way, or trenches, in time of siege. The exact period when Marines were introduced into the naval service of the country, cannot accurately be ascertained. In the list of the army for 1684, we find the third regiment of infantry thus designated:—" the Lord High Admiral of England's maritime Regiment of Foot, commanded by the Hon. Sir Charles Littleton, also called the Admiral's Regiment." William the Third appears to have employed several regiments of marines, and they now form a most material branch of our naval service in time of war.

The King, by the Constitution of Great Britain, has the supreme command of the army within and without (he realm. All orders and directions, as to its employment, both in war and in peace, legally emanate from him. He has the sole power of raising and enlisting troops, and of appointing, promoting, or removing, military officers: and the whole of the military establishment is paid by his authority. The army, in short, is compelled to obey all the orders of the Crown, so long as they do not deviate from the fundamental laws of the country. But by the Bill of Rights, as previously noticed, there is a most important check on the prerogative of the crown; and the funds to pay and maintain the army, are exclusively in the power of Parliament. Bills are, therefore, passed for this purpose every session; without which, although its sole direction is in the hands of the sovereign, the standing army, of course, could not be kept up. This is one of the most beautiful parts of the British Constitution.

[graphic][merged small]

LONDON: Published by JOHN WILLIAM PARKER, West Steand • and sold by all Booksellers.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]


[graphic][merged small][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »