Choice of Regiment

For general discussions on the British Army of the Victorian era or specific regiments.

Choice of Regiment

Postby Speedy » 15 Jun 2017 23:12

A question for the informed!
If a young soldier on enlisting in the late 1800's requested to serve in the regiment of other family members would the military have agreed to this?

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Re: Choice of Regiment

Postby QSAMIKE » 15 Jun 2017 23:55

Hi Speedy......

I will be corrected if I am wrong but rather than join the Army it is my understanding that you could join a specific regiment......
Did not each regiment have recruiting Sergeants???????

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Re: Choice of Regiment

Postby jf42 » 16 Jun 2017 12:07

I was reading just the other day in Wolseley's memoirs that until the reforms initiated by Cardwell in 1871, soldiers could be drafted where they were required, even though they might have been recruited by the recruiting party of a specific regiment and believed that was the corps in which they would serve. Until the establishment of the territorial system between 1871 and 1881, the county titles assigned to infantry regiments in 1782 were for most part token and recruiting parties took men where they could find them. Even the Highland regiments with their supposed regional connections took men from all over as well as Englishmen and Irishmen. Once depots were established as regional centres linked with specific regiments, then the notion of the local regiment became firmly established.

Family connections are a different matter. Of course, the sons of many soldiers entered the regiment into which they had been born as boy soldiers. However, I imagine that, before the 1870s, if an individual formed up at the station or depot of a regiment in which a relative was already serving he would have had little problem being accepted as a recruit. It would have been more difficult if the regiment was serving abroad. Regimental depots were not static before 1871 and might be in some far away district.
Last edited by jf42 on 16 Jun 2017 12:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Choice of Regiment

Postby Frogsmile » 16 Jun 2017 12:17

I would like to endorse JF42's explanation. In most cases a recruit would be able to join the regiment of a family member if he specifically requested it.
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Re: Choice of Regiment

Postby Speedy » 17 Jun 2017 07:47

Guys thanks again for your informed views, it's greatly appreciated!
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Re: Choice of Regiment

Postby Redcoat 57 » 19 Jun 2017 23:07

This is a very interesting question and it reminded me of the career of James Bergin VC as described in 'Battlefield Heroes' by Col Knollys and Maj Elliott.
Bergin was born 29th June 1845, in Killbricken Ireland. As a lad he moved to Preston with father who was looking for work. On the 22nd January 1862 young Bergin enlisted in the 10th Regiment. On 1st July 1863 he volunteered into 108th Regiment and a few weeks later sailed for india.
While in India he was allowed to transfer to the 33rd Regiment where his brother was serving. This was January 1867 and very soon he found himself in Abysinnia where he won the VC.
On the 1st of June 1868 he volunteered back to the 108th, not knowing he had been recommended for the VC.
After 8 more years in India he returned to England with the 108th and in February 1878 volunteered to the 78th Highlanders.
At this point he was interviewed by Col Knollys who found him an educated smart soldier, not a teetotaller but not a drinker! At some point he made Lance Sergeant but was reduced for being absent from his post whilst Orderly Sergeant.
Bergin seemed able to move between regiments more often than I would have expected. Presumably there was some official trawl for volunteers for regiments going overseas. Knollys is very precise in his use of ‘volunteering’ for his moves except for the 33rd, where he was “allowed to transfer”. Does anyone know how this process worked for the other ranks?
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