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Britains SoldiersRethinking War and Society, 1715-1815$
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Kevin Linch and Matthew McCormack

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781846319556

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846319556.001.0001

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Effectiveness and the British Officer Corps, 1793–1815

Effectiveness and the British Officer Corps, 1793–1815

(p.57) 3 Effectiveness and the British Officer Corps, 1793–1815
Britains Soldiers

Bruce Collins

Liverpool University Press

One prevalent model of the British officer corps is that it was neither sufficiently well trained nor efficient until Wellington forged an effective officer corps in the Peninsula. There are few historians who detect much competence in the officer corps before the Peninsular War, and some who ascribe Britain's limited military contribution to the long wars against France to outright incompetence in the senior officer corps. This chapter re-examines the role of the British officer corps by exploring the continuity of service among senior officers from the 1790s to Waterloo and by assessing the formal and informal ways in which senior officers’ performance was monitored. It distinguishes between the various career trajectories pursued by officers and provides data on the earlier careers of senior officers at Waterloo and of officers more generally in India. It stresses that the experience and military effectiveness of officers in the militia, the regular army and in the East India Company's service differed over time and that an evaluation of their efficiency requires an understanding of their widely differing roles.

Keywords:   British army, officers, military performance, prosopography, Waterloo, East India Company, regimental inspection, War of the First Coalition, Peninsular War

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