Help support TMP


"British Regimental Officers in Combat American War of" Topic


1 Post

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

Please remember not to make new product announcements on the forum. Our advertisers pay for the privilege of making such announcements.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the American Revolution Message Board


Areas of Interest

18th Century

Featured Hobby News Article


Featured Recent Link


Featured Ruleset

Donnybrook


Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 


Featured Showcase Article

28mm Acolyte Vampires - Based

The Acolyte Vampires return - based, now, and ready for the game table.


Featured Profile Article

First Look: 1:72 Austrophile Infantry of the Line

War of the Spanish Succession figures for the Spanish theater.


Current Poll


Featured Book Review


302 hits since 1 Oct 2021
©1994-2021 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?


TMP logo

Membership

Please sign in to your membership account, or, if you are not yet a member, please sign up for your free membership account.
Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP02 Oct 2021 3:41 p.m. PST

…Independence

"In eighteenth-century conventional linear warfare, the regimental infantry officer took part in four main activities: he motivated his men, directed them, kept them in good order, and engaged in personal combat. At least on European battlefields, perhaps the first of these four activities was the most important. Historians commonly assert that eighteenth-century common soldiers braved enemy fire partly because they were more afraid of their officers than of the enemy. There is some truth in this. As Wolfe put it in his tactical instructions to the 20th Regiment in 1755, in action the cordon of supernumerary subalterns and sergeants in the battalion's rear were required "to keep the men in their duty." This meant they used compulsion even lethal force to prevent the men from taking off: "A soldier that quits his rank, or offers to fly, is to be instantly put to death by the officer who commands that platoon, or by the officer or sergeant in the rear of that platoon; a soldier does not deserve to live who won't fight for his king and country." Roger Lamb, a veteran of the American War, later opined that this threat was effective: "A coward taught to believe that, if he breaks his rank and abandons his colors, he will be punished with death by his own party, will take his chance against the enemy." British officers in America did occasionally resort to such threats in action, even if they do not appear to have carried them out. For example, Ensign John De Berniere wrote of the retreat from Concord that, as the militia's fire began to take its toll, "we began to run rather than retreat in order. The whole behaved with amazing bravery but little order. We attempted to stop the men and form them two deep, but to no purpose: the confusion increased rather than lessened. At last . . . the officers got to the front and presented their bayonets, and told the men if they advanced they should die. Upon this they began to form under a very heavy fire." Less happily, Tarleton recalled that "neither promises nor threats" availed the frantic efforts to recover the troops from their panic after the collapse of his line at Cowpens.

Although the threat of summary retribution must (if only subconsciously) have reinforced common soldiers' readiness to brave enemy fire, eighteenth-century officers principally led rather than drove their men into combat. As previously discussed, this sometimes took the form of stirring exhortations that appealed to national or regimental identity. Similarly, the officers probably orchestrated the loud cheering in which the redcoats commonly indulged during combat. But the main way that the officer motivated his men was by maintaining a resolute, steady demeanor, particularly before and during the advance. As Bland pointed out in 1727, "the private soldiers . . . form their notions of the danger from the outward appearance of their officers, and according to their looks apprehend the undertaking to be more or less difficult." For this the officer needed presence of mind and, above all, physical courage the essence of the eighteenth-century cult of honor and sine qua non of the gentleman-officer. The need for these qualities intensified once the battalion engaged in close combat because the advanced position of the regimental officers who conducted the firings made them highly vulnerable not only to the enemy's fire but also to that of their own men (whether accidental or otherwise). The officer's prominent position also ensured that any momentary lapse in resolution would have been highly conspicuous. Any who failed in this respect almost certainly would have been pressured into quitting the corps, as happened to two unfortunate officers of the Queen's Rangers after the battle of Brandywine…"
Main page
link

Part II here
link


Armand

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.