Rise in Rank
Posted by Captain Everett on August 12, 1998 at 17:54:37:
In response to Raise in rank during battle, written by Peg on August 12, 1998 at 11:00:03
] Wwould new officers have been promoted from the field? ... (new) non- commissioned officers? How fast could one rise? Would a non-commissioned officer be a 'lifer' or would he have ways to quit also? [snip]
Quite a few questions in one post. I'll attempt to give a quick overview, and can, if necessary, try to find specific details or sources.
Officers could be promoted "in the field." This would however be a temporary, or "brevet", rank until it could be confirmed (or not) through formal channels. Thus a Lieutenant, for example, might find himself assigned to the position of Captain. He had the responsiblities of that position, and was recognized as such in the Command structure. However, he did not get the pay and allowances of a Captain. If you watched or read any of the Sharpe series you'll remember him being a Captain almost on sufferance, and required to step back down once a properly commissioned Captain was assigned to that post.
New NCO's could also be created to make up for losses. The number of them might depend upon how many men were remaining (I'm not entirely sure of this). There were, of course, set numbers for each rank in a company laid out in the regulations. After really severe losses they'd probably combine the remains of the different companies into one to get it somewhere near full size. I haven't really seen that many qualifications for NCO, except that Sergeants had to be able to read and write. Of course to be chosen they would have to have demonstrated a superior knowledge of drill, regulations, etc.
As for whether a ranker would be a "lifer" or not, there seems to be a lot of variation. When a man joined, there were a number of possible durations. For many years previously, and into this period, the term of enlistment was "indefinite." Thus, it could be for a large part of his life, or a few years, depending upon whether it was decided a large army was needed, or was costing too much.
Early in the 1800's it was found difficult to entice men to join the army. There as also a lot of competition, especially in the form of high bounties, from the Militia. One solution was to introduce "limited service' in 1806. This represented seven years for the infantry, ten for the cavalry and twelve for the artillery. Those who enlisted for an indefinite term received a higher bounty, those for the shorter period got less. Finally, I have read that it was possible for an enlisted man to buy his way out. Given the low pay, high deductions, and wastral nature of most soldiers, it was an extremely rare occurance.
I remain, etc.
- Thank you, Captain! :) nfm Peg 02:06:21 8/13/98 (0)
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