Posted by Ken on January 07, 1998 at 09:08:46:
In response to Thank you! This helps me very much..., written by Hilary on January 06, 1998 at 19:30:17
]] it depended on how rich your family was
So, say, Colonel Fitzwilliam, coming from a rich family, could possibly have been Major Fitzwilliam at 23, right?
Yes. The Duke of York pushed through various reforms at the century's end, e.g., an ensign had to be at least 16 to receive his commission; an officer had to have 6 years service before buying a captaincy. So the Colonel could just have been a major at 23. I don't know enough to know if it is more or less likely that he skipped ranks to get from Lieutenant onwards, but intuitively it feels to me that he would not have bought each rank in turn; perhaps he was never a major at all. But Colonel he could not have bought; he had to be in the right place at the right time & possessed a certain amount of professional skill. (Although given the nature of the Army, perhaps not too much skill (-: )
A word on structure & jobs: the average regiment disposed of 1 battalion. During the wars, many were allowed a second battalion, but that usually remained at home as a recruiting/training/home defense force. A battalion consisted of 10 companies. The officer structure would consist roughly of: colonel (usually absent, and/or commanding other forces), lieutenant colonel (leading the regiment in colonel's absence), major (day to day administration of the battalion), captain & lieutenant (or lieutenant & ensign) for each company, although the colonel, lt. colonel, and major usually commanded a company each as well. There would be a few other officers as staff, the regimental adjutant, for example. Not sure what rank he held, though.
This was not true of the artillery and engineers--commissions could not be bought and sold in these units, and they formed up as independent units attached to various army formations. Since a commission served as an officer's pension as well, these officers tended not to retire, with the effect that the corps overall tended to lower rank than its line infantry/cavalry counterparts. I think we can take it that the Colonel is not in the artillery (-:
This and other information of interest I take from two sources: The Art of Warfare in Marlborough's Time, by David Chandler, and The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon, by Gunther Rothenberg. (First title approximate; I don't have the volume with me at work today, only the second.) These are both very readable works that will tell you more than you probably want to know about the military profession from 1680-1815 (-:
Posting followups to old messages is disabled; instead go to the main index and post a new message which mentions this one.