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|the militia and the regular army
Written by MelanieB
(2/16/2004 7:09 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Another question, penned by Vania
Not only was the possibility of battle there for the regulars, there was also a very good chance of being posted overseas.
The militia was a kind of second British army, home-based, originally raised to counter the threat of a threatened invasion by Napoleon. Its men could not be called to serve abroad, although attempts were made to recruit from the militia into regiments of the line. The regulars fighting in the Peninsular War often regarded the militia as pampered and useless and a waste of fighting men! Militia regiments were used to "subdue the populace" ie keep civil order during riots and disturbances.
Death or injury on the battlefield was only one possibility for a regular soldier. Regiments posted, for example to the West Indies, were severly depleted by deaths from Yellow Fever and were always looking for replacements. Wickham is so adept at wriggling off the hook, though, it's hard to imagine that happening to him! I guess he would, however, be aspiring to buy himself promotion from the junior rank of ensign - commissions could be purchased at set rates as vacancies arose - if he could find the money!
Interestingly, a subaltern in the militia could "recruit for rank" - ie receive a regular commission at no cost if he could persuade a certain number of men to enlist with him. As Wickham left his militia regiment hastily, with pressing debts, that wasn't going to be an option for him.
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