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

Chapter XV
To the Corporal

As you are but one step below the serjeant, and often have the honour of representing him, as lance-serjeant, you may justly avail yourself of many articles of the advice to that officer. Some few particulars are solely applicable to your appointment: relative to these I shall give you a hint or two.

It is your office to post the sentinels, and to see that they are properly relieved; and a disagreeable office it is in a dark, cold, and stormy night. You may, therefore, in bad weather, save yourself that trouble, and send the relief by themselves. This will be a means of teaching them how to perform their duty, when corporals; and surely they must be very unfit for sentinels, if they cannot be trusted alone.

When commanding an escort with a deserter, I need not tell you that his shirt, shoes, and stockings will produce a pot or two of beer, or a glass of gin. The prisoner is sure to get supplied when he comes to the regiment, and it is but one flogging for all. Persuade him likewise to pretend lameness; you may then charge double for carriage by a cart, horse, or return chaise, and drink the produce; besides saving your labour and shoes.

Teach the young recruits the proper use of their arms, when off duty—as, to make a horse to hang their wet clothes upon with the firelocks—with the bayonet to carry their ammunition loaves, toast cheese and pork, and stir the fire.

When you escort a man to the field for punishment, you may let him drink as much liquor as he can procure. This will in: some measure deaden the pain, and prevent him from disgracing himself and the regiment, by becoming what the drummers term a nightingale.

On the rear guard, when the serjeant has left you (which he will infallibly do, soon after he has mounted) you become commanding officer, and have an opportunity of obliging the soldiers. Permit, therefore, at least one-half of them to go about their business till it is their turn to stand sentinel; and, should they be missed, say that they are just gone into the rear, or that one of them was taken in a fit, and that the rest are gone with him to his tent, or to the surgeon.

Make it a general rule to prevent all disorders and crimes from coming to the ears of the officers, as it would only vex them, and make them uneasy. Besides, the contrary would procure you the hateful title of a tell-tale or informer.

Teach the young recruits the proper use of their arms, when off duty—as, to make a horse to hang their wet clothes upon with the firelocks—with the bayonet to carry their ammunition loaves, toast cheese and pork, and stir the fire.

In order to get the character of a smart fellow at exercise, loosen the pins on the stock of your firelock, to make the motions tell. If the piece get damage by it, it is no great matter; your captain, you know, pays the piper; and it is right that he should pay to hear such martial music.

As it is the business of a good non-commission-officer to be active in taking up all deserters, when on the march, or at any other time, you observe any ducks, geese, or fowls that have escaped the bounds of their confinement, immediately apprehend them, and take them along with you, that they may be tried for their offence at a proper season. This will prevent the soldiers from marauding.

When the regiment attends divine service, should you be ordered to stay without to keep the soldiers to their devotions, see if there is not an alehouse near at hand that commands a view of the church door, whence you may most conveniently watch their motions.

Yours is a troublesome and fatiguing office. You must, however, bustle through as well as you can, doing your duty, when you cannot help it; and keeping up your spirits with good geneva, when it is to be had, and with the hopes of arriving at the ease and dignity of the halbert.

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