Advice to the Officers of the British Army
with the addition of some hints to the drummer and private soldier

Chapter XIII
To the Quarter-Master-Serjeant

You must not suffer the quarter-master to engross all the emoluments of office to himself, but must take care to secure the small tithes, whilst you leave the larger to your superior. For as you share, like a faithful squire, all the fatigues and dangers of the field, it is but reasonable that you should come in for your portion in the plunder; and, you know, distributive justice is observed even among thieves.

Remember this maxim: that everything may be converted to profit. This was fully exemplified by one of your calling, who being entrusted with the delivery of candles, used to dip them in hot water, in order to wash them clean; whereby he paid himself for his trouble, by sweating off a considerable quantity of the tallow, which he sold to the chandler.

Thread, cartridge paper, and ball afford variety of good perquisites, and find a ready market.

In making up blank cartridges for reviews and field-days, do not fill them too full, as they might stick in going down the barrel of the piece, and so retard the firing. Besides, too much powder might cause it to burst, and thereby kill or maim the Lord knows how many men. And it is surely much better that you should sell a little powder to the grocer, or to the boys who wish to show their loyalty on his Majesty's birth-night, than to have it burned in waste, or perhaps to do mischief to one's friends.

When you arrive at the place the regiment rests at for the night, be sure to require more billets than you have effectives in the division; and, if the constable trusts you with them, secure two or three of the snuggest houses for yourself, your friend the sergeant-major, and other particular favourites.

As you are undertaker-general to the regiment, take particular care, when a soldier dies, to see the external offices of his funeral performed with decency. If any young surgeon should want a body for anatomical purposes, you may safely answer it to your conscience to furnish him. To be cut up and quartered is the least a man can expect, who enlists into the army; and, after he is dead, it is ten to one he will know nothing of the matter. It will lighten the burden of the supporters, who have fatigue enough without that of carrying dead bodies; and whether you bury a corpse or an empty coffin, it is the same thing to the regiment, and to the parson—provided the latter has his fee.

In camp the rear affords your superior, the quarter-master, a plentiful harvest; and, doubtless, it is but just, that you should come in for the gleanings. Sixpence kept back from every half-crown paid him by the petty sutlers is surely no unreasonable deduction; and an odd sixpence and a dram, now and then, to overlook irregularities of particular huts are no more than you may take without scruple.

As you are commandant of the pioneers, you may safely let two-thirds of them go to work for the neighbouring farmers, and take half their earnings. Should they be such ungrateful dogs as to grumble or complain, you may easily find jobs enough for them in camp, or perhaps contrive to get them a good flogging.

When your regiment is on the march, and you are sent to require the constable to press waggons, be sure to charge for a warrant. If you have none, it is no matter; for you know you might have had one. And if you should allow the waggoners to reckon a mile or .two more than the real distance, or, on weighing the baggage, permit them to charge a hundred or two more than the real weight, the share you may get of the money will be but the just perquisites of your office.

In loading the baggage you have an opportunity of obliging the ladles of the regiment: but remember never to let an ugly woman ride in a convenient or elevated station, as she might disgrace the corps.

When you arrive at the place the regiment rests at for the night, be sure to require more billets than you have effectives in the division; and, if the constable trusts you with them, secure two or three of the snuggest houses for yourself, your friend the sergeant-major, and other particular favourites. The overplus you may convert into shillings and half-crowns, without any skill in alchymy.

Should the constable be suspicious, and insist upon seeing the men billeted off, tell him that you have a good many behind with the baggage, or sick men, the time of whose arrival will be uncertain and should he after this persist in his obstinacy, take care that some of the guard knock him up twice or thrice in the dead of the night, to demand billets, as if just arrived. This will soon sicken him and if you do not immediately benefit by it, some of your succeeding brethren may.

In delivering out the small mounting, at the annual clothing, it is very hard if you cannot get an odd shirt, or two or three pair of shoes and stockings. It is but robbing the Colonel, who makes no scruple of robbing the whole regiment.

When in camp, you will receive pick-axes, shovels, rakes, spades, and other tools from the artillery. These you may let out at so much per week to the labouring men in the neighbourhood; and should they be damaged or broken, you can produce evidence, that it was done in working.

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