The History Book Club - NAPOLEONIC WARS: NAPOLEONIC WAR LEADERS Showing 1-46 of 46
~ Sharpe's Ranks ~
Regiments and Corps. But what ranks are there in the British Army and how are they denoted? Officers are at the top of the hierarchy. Their ranks indicate that they hold positions of authority, granted through a commission - a formal document of appointment signed by the monarch. Other ranks are the enlisted soldiers of the army. They do not have a commission and they do not hold positions of high command. However, separate tiers of authority - warrant officer WO and non-commissioned officer NCO - exist within their rank structure.
The British solider and military is a recurring element in Jane Austen's works.
For the private soldier, the most frequent cause of promotion was often a matter of favoritism, or in the case of someone like Obadiah Hakeswill, it was gained through devious manipulation. Once earned, an NCO would likely hold his rank until the time he mustered out unless he was fortunate enough to perform a heroic feat, like Sharpe did, or he proved worthy enough to step into a critical vacancy caused by battle loss. On the other hand, given the rate of alcohol consumption among the enlisted ranks, it was more likely that instead of promotion, an otherwise capable corporal or sergeant would be demoted. Sharpe was not immune to that particular trend. Being commissioned an officer from the enlisted ranks, while not looked upon favorably by the officer class, was not as uncommon as perceived. Within the 95th Rifles, that percentage was slightly higher as there was better opportunity to be promoted due to heroism or neccessity due to combat losses.
The British Army during the Napoleonic Wars experienced a time of rapid change. At the beginning of the French Revolutionary Wars in , the army was a small, awkwardly administered force of barely 40, men. At its peak, in , the regular army contained over , men. In , shortly before Britain became involved in the French Revolutionary Wars , the army consisted of three regiments of Household Cavalry , 27 line regiments of cavalry, seven battalions in three regiments of Foot Guards and 81 battalions in 77 numbered regiments of line infantry, with two colonial corps one in New South Wales and one in Canada. There were 36 Independent Companies of Invalids, known by their Captain's name, scattered in garrisons and forts across Great Britain.
Although titles like colonel and captain are familiar to us all, the roles associated with these ranks, and the fact that an individual could have more than one rank, lead many a writer astray. The British army that served in American during the Revolution was composed primarily of infantry regiments. The full, or established, strength of infantry regiments varied during the course of the war, and actual strength was almost invariably different from the established strength, but a good rule of thumb is to think of a regiment as consisting of about soldiers. There were exceptions, but this is a good overall guideline. Regiments were typically divided into ten companies of equal size.