1902 Encyclopedia > England > Army and Navy.

(Part 10)


Part 10.
Army and Navy.

About one-fifth of the entire national expenditure is for the maintenance of the army, and an additional one-seventh for that of the navy. In the army estimates for the financial year ending the 31st March 1878, sanctioned by parliament, the total amount to be expended on account of the army was fixed at £14,583,700, of which £12,643,900 was for "effective services," that is, the actual maintenance of the regular army, as well as auxiliary and reserve forces, and £1,894,800 for "auxiliary services," comprising rewards, pensions, and superannuation allowances.

The regular army was composed, according to the army estimates of 1877-78, or 7153 commissioned officers, 16,968 non-commissioned officers, and 109,599 rank and file, being a total of 133,720 men of all ranks, as follows:—


The numbers of the regular army, maintained for service in the United Kingdom, have varied much in the course of the present century. In the year 1800 the total was 70,745; and it rose to 106,331 in 1805, and to 112,518 in 1810. Within the next three quinquennial periods, the number decreased, that is, to 80,731 in 1815, to 61,116 in 1820, and to 46,264 in 1825. In 1830 the number rose again to 48,094, but fell to 47,214 in 1835. There was another rise to 50,476 in 1840, to 59,870 in 1845, and to 67,077 in 1850. In 1855 the number had fallen once more to 49,342, but this was the lowest point it reached. The strength of the army rose again to 89,507 in 1860; it stood at 78,410 in 1865, and at 84,361 in 1870. There were considerable fluctuations in the number of men maintained for home service in each of the years from 1871 to 1876. The number was 82,472 at the end of 1871, 94,402 in 1872, 101,145 in 1873, 98,719 in 1874, 92,386 in 1875, and 96,275 in 1876. Of the total force in the United Kingdom in 1876, there were 68,253 men in England and Wales, 3895 in Scotland, 22,414 in Ireland, and 1713 in the Channel Islands.

The numbers of regular troops on colonial service were gradually diminished in recent years. They were entirely withdrawn from Australia and New Zealand, and partly from British North America, a small force only being left in Nova Scotia. The chief military stations left were Malta, Gibraltar, the Cape of Good Hope, Ceylon, Bermuda, and Hong Kong. The total number of the British forces in India was given at 62,652 men of all ranks in the army estimates of 1877-78.

The recruits for the regular army were raised as follows from each of the divisions of the United Kingdom in the years 1971 to 1873:—


Desertions from the army, mainly if not entirely by recruits, were formerly extremely numerous. But they tended to diminish in recent years, partly on account of improved organization, under which better treatment is secured to the rank and file of soldiers, and partly by the option given to recruits to enlist either for "long" service of twelve years, or for "short" service of six years. In the year 1862 there were 4624 recruits approved, and among them there were no fewer than 2895 desertions, being more than one-half of the total; but from among the 21,927 recruits of 1871 there were but 5861 desertions; while from 20,640 recruits enlisted in the year 1874 there were only 5572 desertions. Of the recruits of 1874, there enlisted 7784 on "long" service, and 12,856 on "short" service.

The army estimates enumerate, as constituting the forces of the United Kingdom, besides the regular troops, four other bodies, classified as reserves, or auxiliary troops. These are—the militia, the yeomanry cavalry, the volunteer corps, and the enrolled pensioners and army reserve force. The total number of militia in 1877-78 was returned at 139,331, comprising a permanent staff of 4831, and 134,500 men in training service. For the same period the total number of yeomanry cavalry was 14,830, there being a permanent staff of 282, and 14,548 yeomen. The total number of volunteers provided fro in the army estimates of 1877-78 was 174,241, comprising 32,393 artillery volunteers, and 148,848 light horse, engineers, and rifle volunteers. Since its establishment, under a new organization, in the year 1859, down to the end of 1876, the total number of volunteers who joined and passed through the force was as follows, according to a report laid before parliament in the session of 1877:—


The fourth and last branch of the reserves or auxiliary troops of the United Kingdom, the enrolled pensioners, were returned as numbering 36,000 in the army estimates of 1877-78. The enrolled pensioners are divided into two classes, 15,000 men forming the first, and 21,000 men the second division.

Army Expenditure—The expenditure for the army, after nearly doubling from 1840-41 to 1861-62, remained almost stationary in the sixteen financial years form 1861-62 to 1876-77. It amounted to £15,570,869 in 1861-62, and, gradually decreasing, fell to £13,804,450 in 1865-66, after which it rose again to £15,482,582. It sank once more to £13,430,400 in 1870-71, but rose in the financial year 1872-73 to £14,824,500; and changed little till the year 1876-77, when the disbursements for the army amounted to £15,749,717. The largest branch of expenditure is that for the general staff and regimental pay, for which £4,565,800 was set down in the army estimates of 1877-78; and the next largest branch for provisions, transport, and other services, fixed at £2,986,000 for the same year. The total cost of the auxiliary and reserve forces for the year 1877-78 was not more than £1,209,100, of which £534,000 was for the militia, £74,400 for the yeomanry cavalry, £468,700 for the volunteer crops, and £132,000 for the enrolled pensioners and army reserve force.

Naval Expenditure.—Although considered "the bulwark of the nation," and more important for the defence of the kingdom than its land forces, the navy is maintained at much less expense. However, the disbursements for the navy increased very largely since the year 1840, when the old wooden "three-deckers," formerly the pride of the seas, had to disappear, to give way, first, to iron ships propelled by steam, and, not long after, to armour clad men-of-war, gradually assuming the shape of floating fortresses. In the financial year 1840-41 the total expenditure on account of the navy, including transport service, was £5,597,511; and in the next-year, 1841-42, the cost rose to £6,489,074. In 1845-46 the naval expenditure had risen £6,809,872, in 1846-47 to £7,803,465, and in 1847-48 to £8,013,873. After 1848 the expenditure for the navy remained nearly stationary for sic years, till 1854, when it suddenly rose, with the setting in of the era of armour-clad ships. In the financial year 1854-55 the naval expenditure went up, with a leap, to £14,490,105; and in the next year, 1855-56, it reached the large sum of £19,654,585, an amount unparalleled before or since. The next few years showed a great reduction in naval expenditure, which fell to £13,459,013 in 1856-57, to £10,590,000 in 1857-58 and to £9,215,487 in 1858-59. There was another rise to £13,331,668 in 1860-61; but this was followed by a decrease to £12,598,042 in 1861-62, and to £11,370,588 in 1862-63. At the latter amount the expenditure for the navy remained, with unimportant fluctuations, till 1877, never rising much above 12 millions, nor sinking much below 10 millions. The naval expenditure amounted to £11,364,383 in the financial year ended March 31, 1877.

Navy.—In the naval estimates for the financial year 1877-78, voted by parliament, the total expenditure was fixed at £10,979,829, and in them the strength of the navy of the United Kingdom, regarding ships in commission, was reported as follows for December 1,1876:—


The number of ships in commission here given form but a small portion of the naval forces of the United Kingdom, especially of its by far most important division, the armour-clad fleet. Together with the navy estimates for the financial year 1877-78, there was issued a parliamentary return, issued from the Admiralty, dated April 5, 1877, containing a list "of all iron-clads, and date of their first completion for sea." The return gives the names of 48 armour-clad vessels, 31of them classified as "broadside ships," 1 as a "ram," 14 as "turret ships," and 2 as "iron-clads building."

The whole of the armour-clad ships of the broadside class completed previous to 1870 have no thicker armour than from 4 _ to 5 _ inches; while those completed from 1870 to 1873 received armour of from 6 to 8 inches thickness. This was increased in the broadside iron-clad of 1877, the "Alexandra," to from 8 to 12 inches thickness; and in three not quite completed, to armour of from 8 to 10 and 11 inches. In the turret ships, a greater thickness of armour was resorted to at an earlier date. The "Glatton," completed in 1872, was the first ship to receive armour of from 12 to 14 inches in thickness, subsequently also given to the "Devastation" and the "Thunderer;" while the "Dreadnought" had 14 inches throughout. Surpassing all other ships in armour-thickness is the "Inflexible," under construction at the end of 1877, the central part of which has from 16 to 24 inches, protecting 4 guns of 81 ton weight, the heaviest ever made for the British navy and exceeded only by a few made in England for two Italian men-of war.

The construction of unarmoured ships, while not yet quite abandoned, is confined entirely to screw streamers, built of iron or steel, designed for great speed, and with very powerful engines. There were 9 whips of this class at the end of 1877, 3 of them frigates and 6 corvettes. The tow largest frigates, the Inconstant" and the "Shah," of 5700 tons, with engines of 7500 horse-power, were reported at the date to be the swiftest ships of the British navy.

The number of men provided for the naval service of the kingdom was 54,400 in the navy estimates 1877-78. They were divided into 34,100 seamen and 6300 boys, 3000 of the latter being under training, giving a total of 40,400 directly classified as "sailors." Besides them, for the service of the fleet, were 14,000 marines---7000 afloat and 7000 on shore. Included in the number of 34,000 seamen of the fleet, provided for in the estimates of 1877-78, were 160 flag officers, 30 officers superintending dockyards and naval establishments, and 289 other commissioned officers on active service, being a total of 3079 officers for the British navy.

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