Generals on the Staff
As soon as you have arrived at the command of a regiment, you will form your conduct upon the model of your superiors, and be as despotic in your little department as the great Cham of Tartary. When giving orders to your regiment on the parade, or marching at the head of it, you will doubtless feel as bold as a cock, and look as fierce as a lion; yet, when the commander-in-chief, or any other general officer approaches, it must all subside to the meekness of the lamb and the obsequiousness of the spaniel.
You are to consider yourself as the father of your corps, and must take care to exercise a paternal authority over it: as a good father does not spare the rod, so should not a commanding officer spare the cat-of-nine-tails.
It is your duty also to be very attentive to the good of your regiment, and to keep a watchful eye to its advantage, except when it clashes with your own. If you have interest with the commander-in-chief always be careful to secure yourself good winter quarters; and if you have an inclination to any particular town, either from having a mistress there, or any other good cause, you need not mind marching your regiment two or three hundred miles to it. Though it will fatigue the soldiers and drain the officers' purses, they will not dare to grumble at it, but will be happy, I am sure, to oblige their commander. Soldiers, you know, are merely intended for your use and convenience, just as the people are created for the pleasure of the kings who govern them. But if there are any of your fie1d-officers, or others, who have more interest at Court than yourself, you must direct your march where they think proper. I knew an instance of a major, who, being fond of the sports of the field, got his regiment ordered from their encampment in Kent into winter quarters in Cornwall. Hearing, however, when the regiment had got to Exeter on its way, that there was better shooting, as well as hunting, in Hampshire he immediately posts to the War office, and gets the order countermanded. They are accordingly faced to the rightabout, and marched back again to the New Forest, where they arrive, the soldiers without shoes, and the officers without any inclination for hunting. Thus had they the pleasure of seeing the world, and of marching two hundred miles and back again, to the great advantage of the publicans and the farmers' pigs and fowls on the roadbecause their major was a sportsman.
You cannot take too much pains to maintain subordination in your corps. The subalterns of the British army are but too apt to think themselves gentlemen; a mistake which it is your business to rectify.
When promoted to the command of a regiment from some other corps, show them that they were all in the dark before, and, overturning their whole routine of discipline, introduce another as different as possible; I will not suppose of your ownyou may not have genius enough for that: but if you can only contrive to vamp up some old exploded system, it will have all the appearance of novelty to those who have never practised it before: the few who have, will give you credit for having seen a great deal of service.
If your regiment should not be provided with a band of music, you should immediately persuade the captains to raise one. This, you know, is kept at their expense, whilst you reap the principal benefit; for besides keeping them always with your own company, and treating them as your own private band, they will, if properly managed, as by lending them to private parties, assemblies, etc., serve to raise you a considerable interest among the gentlemen of the country, and, what is of more consequence, among the ladies.
You cannot take too much pains to maintain subordination in your corps. The subalterns of the British army are but too apt to think themselves gentlemen; a mistake which it is your business to rectify. Put them, as often as you can; upon the most disagreeable and ungentlemanly duties; and endeavour by every means to bring them upon a level with the subaltern officers of the German armies.
Never speak kindly to a non-commission officer. An austere and distant behaviour gives them an elevated idea of your dignity; and if it does not tend to make them love you, it will at least cause them to fear you, which is better.
Whenever any oversight or misdemeanour, however trivial, is reported to have been committed by an officer, order him under an immediate arrest, without giving yourself the trouble of an enquiry. If he is an old offender, you should consider him as irreclaimable, and release him soon after. But if he has in general conducted himself with propriety, be sure to bring him to a court-martial. This will establish your character with the commander-in-chief, by showing that you are determined to support discipline, and that the smallest offence will not escape your notice. Besides, it is more inexcusable in a good officer; for he has not the power of habit to plead as an alleviation: and you know it will be best to nip his vices in the bud.
Never stir without an orderly sergeant, particularly when you ride through a town, or from one regiment to another. If you have no other use for him, he will serve to hold your horse when you dismount. When the regiment is on the march, gallop from front to rear as often as possible, especially if the road is dusty. Never pass through the intervals, but charge through the centre of each platoon or division. The cry of open to the right and leftincline to the rightmarks your importance: and it is diverting enough to dust a parcel of fellows already half choked, and to see a poor devil of a soldier, loaded like a jack-ass, endeavouring to get out of the way. In your absence, the same liberty may be taken by the adjutant.
If on service you are appointed to the command of any garrison or post, guard every part, except that by which the enemy is most likely to approach for if you prevent his coming, you can have no opportunity of showing your valour. These parts you may reconnoitre yourself; and if you should be taken, you will at any rate get the character of an alert officer, having been the first to discover the enemy.
The command of five or six hundred men will give you some idea of your own consequence; and you will, of course, look down upon all but your superiors in the army, and gentlemen of high rank and fortune. Though your father may have been a pedlar or an excise man, you will entertain a hearty contempt for all bourgeois; and though your education may have been confined to reading, writing, and the four first rules in Arithmetic, yet you are to consider every man as an ignorant and illiterate fellow, who knows not how to manoeuvre a battalion.