Intemperance

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

Intemperance

Postby susancammas » 02 Jul 2017 13:50

Good afternoon

In an 1864 document (Report o the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Sanitary State of the Army in India), on the page concerning Umballa, I read:
"Artillery consume three-quarters of a gallon of spirits per month per man; hussars, 1 1/2 drams per day per man ...."
Maths is not my strong subject, but after looking at conversion charts on internet, it would appear that compared with the very abstemious hussars (0.0366 gals per man per month), the artillery (.75 gals per man per month) were hard drinkers.
Have I got this right?
What do Forum members think??

Many thanks
Susan
susancammas
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Re: Intemperance

Postby Frogsmile » 02 Jul 2017 16:52

susancammas wrote:Good afternoon

In an 1864 document (Report o the Commissioners Appointed to Inquire into the Sanitary State of the Army in India), on the page concerning Umballa, I read:
"Artillery consume three-quarters of a gallon of spirits per month per man; hussars, 1 1/2 drams per day per man ...."
Maths is not my strong subject, but after looking at conversion charts on internet, it would appear that compared with the very abstemious hussars (0.0366 gals per man per month), the artillery (.75 gals per man per month) were hard drinkers.
Have I got this right?
What do Forum members think??

Many thanks
Susan


Hello Susan,

Yes, it seems that the RA were heavy drinkers by comparison. As regards excessive drinking in general, that period leading up to the 1870s was an especially problematic time and much has been written about it (we have discussed this before I think). I recommend the following three sources as a starter:

1. http://www.fusiliermuseumlondon.org/uncategorized/504/ (this article explains the origin of the Temperance Society and the eventual formation of a specific British Army association). The dates are significant.

2. https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/ ... edir_esc=y (this book, the Victorian Army at Home, by Alan Ramsay Skelley, should be available to download through google, but can in any case be read online).

3. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4Nh ... me&f=false

P.S. Do you also post as "cannasue"?
sq
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Re: Intemperance

Postby susancammas » 05 Jul 2017 18:07

Many thanks Frogsmile for your comments and for the links.
I haven’t found my way into The Victorian Army at Home – I’ll keep trying.
So, I did get the sums right- unbelievable. Nevertheless, nearly 5 bottles of spirits per man/month does seem rather a lot.

With help from Forum members over the years, I have learned a lot about the drink problems in the Victorian army. I just wondered why the Artillery drank so much more than other soldiers, or maybe there was something special about Umballa that drove men to drink ! At any rate, the Army Temperance Association seems to have passed them by.

I understand that boredom and inactivity in general were partly responsible for the high consumption of alcohol however, I expect the Artillery were kept pretty busy looking after the horses, who require a lot of looking after, so their huge alcohol intake rather surprise me.

Kind regards
Susan

(No, I’m not "cannasue")
susancammas
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Posts: 148
Joined: 25 Jan 2015 15:10
Location: France

Re: Intemperance

Postby Frogsmile » 05 Jul 2017 19:20

susancammas wrote:Many thanks Frogsmile for your comments and for the links.
I haven’t found my way into The Victorian Army at Home – I’ll keep trying.
So, I did get the sums right- unbelievable. Nevertheless, nearly 5 bottles of spirits per man/month does seem rather a lot.

With help from Forum members over the years, I have learned a lot about the drink problems in the Victorian army. I just wondered why the Artillery drank so much more than other soldiers, or maybe there was something special about Umballa that drove men to drink ! At any rate, the Army Temperance Association seems to have passed them by.

I understand that boredom and inactivity in general were partly responsible for the high consumption of alcohol however, I expect the Artillery were kept pretty busy looking after the horses, who require a lot of looking after, so their huge alcohol intake rather surprise me.

Kind regards
Susan

(No, I’m not "cannasue")


Glad to help, Susan.

I don't think that the RA were especially bad, as the cavalry are not the best arm of service to compare them with. I think you would get a more meaningful impression by comparing them with British infantry.

It is also very important to bear in mind that in India British soldiers were relieved of much of the arduous labour by the cheapness (and importance to the local economy) of Indian labour. Hordes (literally) of regimentally employed public 'followers' (the official term) such as 'syces' (grooms) and 'cherwallee' (grass-cutters), as well as veterinary and saddler assistants and 'pakhali' (water distributors) worked in the stables, supervised by the gunners, NCOs, and officers (including veterinary), to deal with the upkeep of the unit's horses.
Last edited by Frogsmile on 08 Jul 2017 17:47, edited 1 time in total.
sq
Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
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Re: Intemperance

Postby susancammas » 08 Jul 2017 17:23

Good afternoon Frogsmile
Thanks for your interesting reply. I wasn't actually looking for this info, I just happened across it while researching something else and I did the sums out of sheer curiosity and was surprised by the answer.
At any rate, I'm glad to learn that the RA were not the champions in the drinking league!

Kind regards
Susan
susancammas
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Posts: 148
Joined: 25 Jan 2015 15:10
Location: France


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