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means twelve years in the Ranks in the first instance, with the power of prolonging the term to twenty-one years.
Fifthly. The men are enlisted when they can be induced to serve the nominal minimum age of the recruit being eighteen years.
Attention is now invited to what has been previously advanced regarding the inefficiency caused in a military, in a civil, and in a social point of view, by taking the recruit at so early an age as eighteen for the ranks of the army. It is obvious that what may be very prejudicial in a military and a social sense when applied to the Army Proper, loses its force when we speak of the Militia. Thus the lad who enlists at seventeen or eighteen in the former while incapable of performing the heavy duties of war or even of peace, also loses the chance of completing his apprenticeship to an industry, or of acquiring habits of labour which in after life might provide him with a livelihood. In the Militia, on the other hand, the recruit is not exposed to any undue fatigue. He is only for two months with his regiment during the year, the result being to him that during the other ten months he is engaged at his proper calling, whether it be trade, manufacturing industry, or field labour. Consequently, between the years of eighteen and twenty-one he has not only acquired his manufacturing or industrial skill, but he is besides so much the gainer because of the orderly habits entailed by the necessity of obedience to military command and authority according to a reasonable system, and of the physical development following on his martial exercises. It is of the greatest importance to note that whilst being partially trained as a soldier, he is at the same time securing the means of future livelihood, in a manner of which the very young Line recruit is deprived. It follows, then, that whereas it is in a military and a social sense improper to enlist the Line soldier before he is twentyone, it is not only proper, but it is highly advantageous to take the Militia recruit at the earliest age at which he is capable of bearing arms. Here, then, is the first distinction between the Militia soldier and the Line soldier, who have hitherto been treated as if the terms were identical.
The next distinction is this. The Militia soldier is in the position of the half-skilled and half-taught artisan who must from the nature of things remain in that condition of imperfection. The Line soldier, on the other hand, is the skilled artisan, to maintain whom at his highest pitch of efficiency is the object of the supreme authority of the army. Since the introduction of the rifled musket for the Infantry, of the
VOL. CXLIII. NO. CCXCI.
modern improvements of gunnery in the Artillery, and of the enlarged education for the Army generally, the view just stated has received a most considerable and practical development.
It would seem to follow, then, that the distinction obtaining between the Militiaman and the Line soldier should find a clear expression in the difference of the respective emoluments of the two. Surely, if the Militia recruit is worth a shilling a day while serving, the accomplished rifleman in the vigour of his manhood, who performs any deadly duty that may be required of him, is worth at least half as much again, or probably a great deal more, according to the laws which govern supply and demand, and the performance of good work in all other trades and industries.
If we proceed a little further, we see that the so-called short service does in point of fact bind the army recruit in the first instance for six years. Surely a distinction might be made in the amount of pay to the boy of eighteen and that which is awarded to the full-grown man of twenty-one. A farmer or a manufacturer pays a boy as a boy. The State, on the other hand, in its military capacity puts men and boys on a par, which is insufficient for the man, though it may be more than enough to command the time and the very imperfect service of the lad, who is still gristle and does not know his business.
It seems to us, then, that we should do far better to have a real short service in the Line ranks of three years, commencing not before the twenty-first year has been passed, such an amount of pay being guaranteed as might hold out a fair inducement and approximate the earnings of the private soldier to that of labour somewhat more skilled than the work of the ordinary farm servant. We should then get over the social difficulty of committing men to the ranks of the army before they have thoroughly learned an industry or trade, we should ensure the presence of men who are capable of military fatigue, we should simply abolish the crimes of desertion and fraudulent -enlistment, and we should strike at the root of the competition for the same raw material between the Militia and the Line.
It must, however, be admitted that with regard to obvious considerations of the public expenditure, the question as here suggested cannot be treated solely as one of money. We must consider the sources of recruitment at the same time that we strongly advocate a superior payment for the full-aged soldier in the ranks of the Army.
We believe, then, that the whole of the recruiting as originally executed by the Brigade depôts should be carried out in favour of the Militia only. Competition should cease absolutely
between the detached recruiting parties of the Line and the Militia. The former should all be drawn in. It is well known that not only in war time, but that in every year certain drafts of recruits for the Line are obtained by volunteering from the Militia ranks. With Lord Sandhurst, we ask that this practice which is now occasional and fitful should be systematised.* We consider that on the annual training of each Militia regiment coming to an end, it should receive an intimation from the Secretary of State of the percentage of volunteers he expects from it, the volunteering being stimulated by what we hope to see, the increased pay of the Line, and a bounty according to the custom of the Army.
No man should be allowed to volunteer from the Militia who had not completed his twenty-first year, and his previous Militia service should be allowed to count towards pension in case he should prolong his active service to twenty-one years as a non-commissioned officer. The volunteers should in the first instance volunteer for three years in the Ranks and a term in the Reserve, with power to change to a longer term of the former with the consent of authority, the reserve service not being indispensable if the volunteer prefer not to bind himself to it.
Generally speaking, the Artillery Militia regiments would furnish volunteers for the Artillery, and the Infantry for the Line Infantry. But each corps on the occasion of volunteering might be asked for Cavalry volunteers according to professional conditions. In order to meet the objections that the large towns provide many recruits who are not likely to seek the Militia ranks, while the latter will not alone suffice to meet the wants of the Army without rendering themselves inefficient, we suggest that the system of engaging recruits at the headquarters of regiments of Cavalry, of brigades of Artillery, and Infantry battalions be largely encouraged as used to prevail, and we hope still does, at the head-quarters of the division of Royal Marines.
The men so entertained should not be passed without the approval of commanding officers and regimental surgeons, the first condition being that of full age, viz. twenty-one years, and ample physical development. Such men being of full
Some three years ago, when the Kilkenny regiment of Militia was about to be dismissed from its annual training, an Australian emigration agent appeared in the barrack-yard to see what number of men he could pick up for his own purposes. The remark occurred to more than one observer of this phenomenon, that the men who were thus allured to the wilds of Australia might more fittingly have passed into Her Majesty's Line regiments on proper terms.
age should be enlisted for three years in the first instance and subsequently in the Reserve, with power to prolong the first term.
These are the broad principles on which we would carry out the recruitment.
A real Short Service in the ranks of the Army after manhood has been attained.
A longer service in the Militia, which may commence in the years of youth, viz. at from seventeen to eighteen years. The abolition of rivalry between the Militia and the Line for the same raw material. But that the Militia shall be the channel in which the young recruit may spend his early years of soldiership, and through which, if he likes, he may pass to the more fixed military career of the Army and to the Reserve with the encouragement of authority.
That such a system be completed by a well-organised practice of headquarter recruiting in the several corps of which the Army is composed.
We shall, as a matter of course, be at once asked, What are you to do with India and your regiments in the Colonies?
To this the answer is, the difficulty must be met logically. You choose to rely on the voluntary principle for the completion of your armies. That being so, the principle must be followed to its practical conclusion. However, this concession may be made to the objection, viz. that when a soldier is abroad he must continue to serve on the expiry of his engagement, as if such engagement had not expired, till the usual season of relief, or invaliding, has arrived. In like manner if on active service of any kind whatever before an enemy in arms against the Crown, no man should be able to avail himself of the expiry of his engagement without the sanction of the general commanding the forces.
But, with these two limitations, we conceive that the Army being founded on the idea of short service and the voluntary principle, it is incumbent on our authorities to give the latter fair play, and not to bind a man for longer terms in hot, disagreeable, or even pestilential climates than we are prepared to do with the men serving at home. This consideration is invariably evaded when the question is officially discussed. It seems to us that when a regiment is leaving India for England, the men should be invited to prolong their service in the regiments remaining in the country, en bloc, according to a
It is well known to all experienced officers that the soldier who has passed some years in Indian service is unsuited to service at
plan which once prevailed, but for some reason or other was subsequently modified to the disadvantage of the men as well as to the loss of the State. The men might be asked thus to extend their service for any period, viz. from one year to five, liberal bounties being apportioned in consideration of each year thus volunteered for. Good health and decent character should be the conditions insisted on by the State, and a proper disposal of the bounties for the future welfare of the soldier; part being put into his hand, and part invested in the savings' bank, for future payment with accumulated interest, when the time of discharge or transfer to the Reserve has arrived.
Similar measures might be pursued with every healthy wellbehaved soldier, who being in India, or abroad elsewhere, might complete his third year of service in the ranks; that is to say, he should be induced voluntarily to prolong his service for sufficient value. A large proportion of the men would be willing enough to listen to the inducement, which should be liberal in pecuniary terms, and varied as regards duration of engagement to meet the particular wishes of individuals. Thus one man might wish to ensure a round sum by making a long engagement of five years, while for another one year, or two, or three, would suffice. There can be no reason whatever why the shorter time should not be admitted as well as the longer one, the limitations with reference to State necessity being held in view.
We believe that such simple means would dispose of the whole of the Indian difficulty as regards the application of a real Short Service system according to a proper application of the voluntary principle. We have in this matter to consider the Soldier as we should the Officer in analogous circumstances. The tenure of service of the latter has always been thoroughly voluntary in practice as well as in principle. In the ranks we have what in practice is a sham, although the voluntary principle is brandished like a flag before our eyes by those who themselves are shy of acting on it in their own persons, and by the statesmen who do not choose to close with the difficult task they are bound to execute. In truth a man who, whether by accident, through corruption, or of his unbiassed free will, has forfeited the disposal of his person for a long term of years, his contract being one from which he cannot liberate himself except through a disbursement beyond his means, is as sorry an
The habits contracted by the men in the former have unfitted them for the latter. They are unhappy and discontented accordingly in British barracks and camps.