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"Difference between "effectives" and 'fit for duty'?" Topic

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412 hits since 24 Sep 2021
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Comments or corrections?

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 6:33 p.m. PST

I am poorly read on the AWI and have been slowly
rectifying my ignorance.

Found a reference to Cornwallis' Aug 18 1781 ration
strength report showing about 7300 'effectives' and
about 5900 'fit for duty.'

I could speculate that the difference might be in
detachments, etc. but am wondering if there is, in
the military correspondence of the times, a real
difference in the terms.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 7:24 p.m. PST

I thought the difference had to do with guys laid low with malaria, malnutrition, the pox, ague, food poisoning and possibly malingerers.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 7:32 p.m. PST

OK, so the 'sick, lame and lazy' or otherwise those
'unfit for duty'.

It is the use of the word 'effectives' that is confusing,
if indeed it refers to those 'unfit for duty.'

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 7:41 p.m. PST

Weren't men from each unit detailed to be officers' servants (batmen), attending to his needs and not expected to form up in line with the other lads?

Looking at those figures, about 20% of the army is not "fit for duty." Is that normal for 1781? I didn't spend 20% of my career on sick leave, and now that I'm retired and living through a pandemic, I'm still not down 20% of the time.


rmaker24 Sep 2021 8:43 p.m. PST

"Effectives" would include men on detached service. "Fit for duty" is the equivalent of the ACW "Present for duty, equipped".

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP24 Sep 2021 8:46 p.m. PST

I actually think John is pretty close to the mark. In the early 1800s those on the sick list were to be listed under the "effective" banner. Those Invalided out were removed from the "effective" list. I assume "Fit for Duty" means those capable of taking to the field for campaigning or battle. 7300 men above ground and 5900 capable of taking the field is my guess.

Personal logo Old Contemptible Supporting Member of TMP25 Sep 2021 3:26 p.m. PST

They are sick and cannot be used on the battlefield.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2021 2:23 p.m. PST

lesser's the sinews of independence (on which I worked as a grad student researcher) gives the continental monthly strength reports throughout the war. The first category is "present fit for duty and on duty." The next grouping in "rank and file sick, on furlough, etc" with sub- categories of "sick present,", "sick absent", "on command and extra service", "on furlough", "confined", and "prisoners of war." The term "effective" is not used.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2021 5:51 p.m. PST

But what about British returns?

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2021 6:22 p.m. PST

Yeah, it comes from Cornwallis. grin

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2021 8:17 p.m. PST

Right. This is for Continentals. But I suspect "present fit for duty" is the same for both sides, and the term "effectives" perhaps meant including all of those other guys either NOT present or NOT fit for duty. Which is pretty much what everyone seems to agree on.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP27 Sep 2021 6:35 a.m. PST

The reason I asked is that I read a British document from 1824 that stated that sick men were to remain in the "effective" category so, at some point in time the term came into use with the British.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP28 Sep 2021 7:46 p.m. PST

From a history prof at UNC comes the info that
'ration strength' reports (and the original source
was Cornwallis' ration strength report) used
'effectives' to mean all the personnel who drew
a ration for whatever date the report covered.

This would include sick, wounded, injured and so
forth but not those on detached service.

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