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STATE OF THE MILITIA.
The critical state of our army in it is almost impossible to separate the Crimea, and the perplexities oc- them. Such has been our opinion casioned by the Ministerial changes from the earliest moment when the at home, have naturally, for some aggressive intentions of Russia were time past, engrossed the attention of announced ; and bitterly indeed have the public. But now that the springs we deplored the chance which, at a of Government are again in motion, it time when firm and undisguised reis our common duty to look narrowly monstrances might have operated upon to the means which may be employed the mind of the Czar, left the moral for developing the military strength power of Britain in the hands of a of the British nation, and for enabling feeble and selfish Ministry, who had us to maintain, in what possibly may not the courage, if they had the inclinbe a protracted struggle, that position ation, to oppose themselves resolutely wbich we have already assumed as a to bis will. But we shall not dwell first-rate European power. We shall upon the past. Looking alone to the not venture to speculate upon the present position of European affairs effect which the death of the Emperor and European armaments, we are not Nicholas may have upon existing justified, from any analogy which combinations. Great, energetic, am- history affords, in believing that this bitious as he was, still he was but a stupendous quarrel can be so easily man; and the policy which he pur- accommodated. In the face of the sued, and the designs which he strove enormous levies which Russia has to execute, were far less intended for raised, it seems incredible that she his own aggrandisement than for that will yield Sebastopol. If Sebastopol of the nation which he ruled. Rus- is not yielded or dismantled, we may sian to the heart's core, he has be- have again, under worse auspices, to queathed to his successor the tradi- recommence another war. In short, tions which he had himself received; we have no belief that the diplomatic and the first act of that successor has cogines assembled at Vienna will have been to declare his unflinching adhe- any effect in subduing the present sion to the ancient policy of the em- European conflagration. pire. We have no title whatever toW e say this, because—while we expect that the restoration of Euro- acknowledge the full propriety of pean tranquillity may be the result of attempting every possible method for the conferences at Vienna. We must pacification which is consistent with remember that at this moment the national honour, national responsibiliBritish and French armies are en- ties, and national duty-we are desircamped on Russian ground—that for ous that our countrymen should not be months past they have been laying too sanguine as to the results of such siege to the great Russian fortress, endeavours; or suppose that, because arsenal, and depôt on the Black Sea they are made, it is not incumbent - that the Allies have gone too far to upon them to prepare for the utmost resile without accomplishing their exigency. Statesmen, pending pegopurpose-and that Russia has by far tiations, cannot be expected to avow too much at stake in the East to per their opinion that such negotiations mit Sebastopol to be taken and dis- will prove fruitless, or altogether mantled without the strongest opposi- nugatory. Their language must be, tion. Anxiously as we desire the or ought to be, guarded; and the return of peace, we cannot avoid public, if they do not choose to be the conviction that the war is as yet wilfully deceived, must accept it with too young. The quarrels of nations some qualification. are like those of individuals. Taken The chances of peace are at best at the early stage, before the passions remote and uncertain ; whereas war are fully inflamed, they may be ad. is around us in all its grim reality. justed; but when once the parties are Therefore it is obviously the duty of in the field, and confront each other, Ministers, and of the national repre
sentatives, not to suffer themselves long time on the subject of the enlistto be led astray by hopes of early ment of the foreign legion, a measure pacification, but to carry on their which the late Ministry considered of preparations with the utmost vigour such very great importance; and we and vigilance. We are desirous to are given to understand, upon good give the present Government credit authority, that the recruiting of the for sincerity of intention; and we militia is nearly at a stand-still. shall not attribute to them collec Yet, unless immediate and vigortively or individually any share of that ous steps are taken for the complete responsibility for neglect and mis- organisation of the latter force management which rests upon their unless Ministers bestow upon it tenpredecessors. But the task which fold the attention which it has yet they have undertaken is obviously received—we are firmly of opinion a most serious one, and it concerns that it will not be possible to make us all to see that their duty is pro- the requisite addition to the ranks perly discharged.
of the British army. We have to The House of Commons has already raise, within a very short time, a recognised, by its vote, the absolute large number of men competent for and immediate necessity of making effective service in the field; and a large increase to the numbers of where are we to look for these except the standing army; and it is with in draughts from the militia? Maniregard to the best means for accom- festly it is not for the advantage or plishing that end that the present credit of the country that men enremarks are intended. There is no listed in one month from the agriculdenying the fact, that, at the outbreak tural or manufacturing population, of the present war, we were not should be despatched in the next to prepared to take the field in that active service, before they have learnforce which could insure success. ed even the rudiments of their profesWhat available troops we had were sion. We cannot take upon oursent out, but there was no proper selves to say what time may be reserve; and some of the reinforcing required for the proper training of a regiments which arrived at Balaklava, soldier ; but it must be obvious to since the commencement of the in- all that something more is necessary vestiture of Sebastopol, were mainly than the stout heart and strong decomposed of recruits, uninured to termioation which induces a recruit military hardship, and unskilled in to enter. The militia ought to be, military duty. The natural conse- in time of war, not only the nursery, quence of this was a fearful mortality but the academy for British soldiers; among the men, who were conveyed, and until it is regarded in that light, it is said, at the rate of upwards of a and until the proper means are taken hundred per day, from the trenches for promoting its efficiency to the atto the hospitals, from which few of most, we cannot expect to see arrayed them emerged in a condition fit for in the field such an army as becomes service in the field. This awful and the honour of Britain to produce. calamitous expenditure of human life Let it be understood that we are has thrown an immense additional not charging the present Ministry difficulty in the way of the augmen- with neglect; which would indeed be tation of the army; and we really unfair, considering the short period believe that the most difficult problem which has elapsed since their accession
to be solved at the present time to power, and the many difficulties relates to the sources from which the which have lain in their way. But proposed augmentation is to come. we entreat that they will give, with
We have no statistics which enable out any delay, their earliest considerang to speak with anything like cer- tion to the state of the militia in Great tainty as to the number of men who Britain and Ireland, and adopt such have lately been directly recruited steps as may render it a truly efficient into the army; but we doubt very body from which the regular army much whether the result has answer may be reinforced by a far more the expectations of the Goveru- effective process than that of ordinary
We have heard nothing for a recruiting. And, in order to do so, it
seems to us absolutely necessary that
Privates. the direction and control of the militia
8326 should be removed from the office of
560 the Home Secretary, and placed under
Ross, Caithness, Sutherland, adequate superintendence. Unless
and Cromarty (Rifles), 515 this is done, the public money will be
Stirling, Dumbarton, Clackmansquandered in vain ; and the only re
nan, and Kinross,
599 liable force for recruiting the ranks of the regular army must prove ineffi
10,000 cient at the time when we most urgently require its assistance.
These are all to be raised by volun. The existing arrangements as to tary enlistment, and the appointment the embodiment and training of the
of the officers lies with the Lordsmilitia are, we believe, very nearly, Lieutenant of counties. The order of if not altogether, the same in England, Council apportioning the quotas of the Scotland, and Ireland. But the Eng- several counties was issued on the lish Militia Act was passed in June 13th of September last; so that the en1852, and may have proved, from
listment has been going on for more certain circumstances to which we
than six months. Let us see with shall presently advert, more successful
what effect. than the Act which, at the very close
From a document quoted in the of last Session, was applied to Scot
Times of 10th March, it appears that land. We hope that such is the case,
returns have been received from eleven and that the difficulty which has been
of the above regiments now embodied, felt in obtaining the proper comple- and their collective force is thus ment of men in the northern part of stated :the United Kingdom, has not been
Officers. Men. experienced in the south.
Authorised complement, 284 7236 think it will be acknowledged that
158 3028 the present state of the Scottish militia affords us quite sufficient scope for
Deficiency, comment, and is important enough to From the six other regiments, of justify us in selecting it as the subject which one or two have been emof illustration.
bodied, there are no returns; but we By the Act passed on 11th August have good grounds for believing that 1854, the quota of private militia-men in them the deficiency is much greater. to serve for the several counties of We know that in some of the northern Scotland, is restricted to ten thousand. districts it has been found difficult to The force is a volunteer one, is divid- procure a single volunteer; and it is ed into seventeen regiments, and is our conviction that, at the present apportioned thus :
moment, the number of the militia Regiments.
enrolled in Scotland does not amount Privates.
to 5000 men. Aberdeen,
It is of the utmost possible imporArgyll and Bute,
381 Ayr (Rifles),
tance that these facts should be made
691 Dumfries, Roxburgh, and Selkirk, 503
known, so that a remedy may be Edinburgh, County,
657 applied in time. If out of a populaEdinburgh, City of (Artillery), 221 tion of nearly 3,000,000, Scotland, in Fifeshire (Artillery),
542 the time of war, can barely raise Forfar and Kincardine,
776 5000 men for the militia, we may be Kirkcudbright and Wigtown
certain that there are serious faults in (Rifles),
the system which is presently pursued. Haddington, Berwick, Linlith
This is a matter which demands the gow, and Peebles (Artillery), 415
instant attention of the Ministry and Inverness, Banff, Elgin, and
of Parliament; for the time is short, Nairn,
692 First Royal Lanark,
and the enormous levies of Russia are
1911 Second Royal Lanark,
already in the field. If the militia, in Perthshire (Rifles),
495 this part of the country, is to be made
effective as a reserve force or nursery Carry over,
8326 for the army, or even available for
garrison duty, far more vigorous and peace to diminish the numbers of the peremptory steps must be taken re- regular force, because then the militia garding it than bare as yet been em- would furnish a reserve, ready to be ployed.
called out in the event of any sudden That the militia, as presently con- emergency. But to reduce the standstituted, is unpopular, we hold to being army to the lowest point that will established beyond question by the enable it to discharge garrison duty fact which we have just stated. Let us at home and in the colonies during å attempt to discover the reason of this. period of profound peace, without
In a society constituted like ours, having any kind of reserve to meet where the welfare and subsistence of contingencies, is the most egregious millions of the population depend act of folly which any nation can upon their rigid and unceasing atten- commit. Such, however, has been tion to the requirements of their our course, and we are now paying handicraft or trade, any public duty the penalty for it. which may withdraw them from their The illustrious Duke of Wellington, usual occupation is viewed with re- in the very last speech wbich he pugnance and dislike. It was the uttered in the House of Peers, on the operation of this feeling more than occasion of the second reading of the anything else that first led to the English Militia Bill, on 15th June establishment of standing armies, the 1852, earnestly urged the necessity of cost of which is neither more nor less making the militia an effective force, than a commutation paid by the in- as by far the best means for providing dustrial population for their own ex- against any possible emergency. He emption from military service. Those spoke thus :-“You are now providwho of late years have made such an ing for a peace establishment : you outcry against military establishments are at peace with the whole world ; seem altogether to have forgotten that you are providing for a peace estabby the maintenance of such arma- lishment. I say that peace establishments they are enabled without in- ment ought to have been effectually terruption to pursue their ordinary provided for long ago. If it had been, business ; for as no nation can expect we should not have needed now to be to remain unmolested, if it has ne. told, as we have been by the noble glected the means of defence, and is Marquess, about the number of days destitute of the power of repelling ag- and weeks it will take to train the miligression, it either must provide that tia recruits, or about the futility of exits male population shall be trained to pecting anything to the purpose from the use of arms, which necessarily im- troops with their three weeks', or their plies an interruption of the peaceful six weeks', or what time it may be, avocations of life, or it must maintain, training. We have never, up to this on constant service, a body of trained moment, maintained a proper peace soldiers who are to relieve the others establishment-that's the real truth; from the duty.
and we are now in that position in In Britain, for a great many years, which we find ourselves forced to we have accepted without reservation form a peace establishment such as the latter alternative. We have en- this country requires. I tell you that, tirely abandoned the system of train- for the last ten years, you have never ing any part of our population; and had in your army more men than even on occasions of emergency our enough to relieve the sentries on duty Governments have shown a marked of your stations in the different parts disinclination to sanction the forma- of the world: such is the state of your tion of purely volunteer corps. It is peace establishment at the present not our intention now to discuss the time, such has been the state of your soundness of that policy ; but surely peace establishment for the last ten its adoption ought to have been con- years.... What I desire-and I sidered as the strongest of all argu- believe it is a desire the most modements for the maintenance of a pow. rate that can be formed-is, that you erful standing army. With a regu. shall give us, in the first instance, the larly trained and exercised militia it old constitutional peace establishment. might be quite possible in the time of When we have got that, you may do
what you please. The noble Marquess important change. As the law presays, very truly, that these 50,000, or viously stood, all that was required 80,000, or 150,000 militia-men won't from those who entered the militia, be fit for service in six months, or was attendance for twenty-one days twelve months, or eighteen months : annually, when the regiment was but I say they'll be fit, at all events, called out for exercise ; so that no for some service; and certainly they'll man was required, for any great enable us to employ in the field others length of time, to abandon bis ordiwho are fit for service; and in time nary avocations. In the event of they will themselves become fit for invasion or rebellion, the regiment service. In the last war we had in might be embodied, and marched service several regiments of English from one part of Great Britain to militia, and they were in as high a another; but not otherwise. This state of discipline, and as fit for ser- was by no means a harsh or oppresvice, as any men I ever saw in my sive kind of service; and, had the life."
militia been kept up, the training of The emergency has arisen, and we these local forces would have been of now find that we have not a sufficient infinite service at the present time; number of troops to enable us to pro- but, unfortunately, the militia was secute the war with vigour. The allowed to become dormant, an Act losses in the first campaign hare being passed regularly every Session been enormous; and in order to re- " to suspend the making of lists, and inforce the army in the Crimea, it is the ballots and enrolments for the necessary that the troops employed militia of the United Kingdom." in garrison duty, both at home and When the new English Militia Act, abroad, should be relieved. It is which was intended to resuscitate the proposed that such relief shall be force, was passed in June 1852, the effected by means of the militia ; and old regulations as to service were still had the whole militia been ready for continued; so that every man who that service, perhaps no better ar- enlisted in the militia did so on the rangement could have been made understanding that he was not liable But, in Scotland at least, barely one to serve with his regiment in another half of the required number has been part of the country than that to which obtained ; and as none of the regi- it belonged, except in cases of the ments were embodied before January, last emergency. But the Act of May the men have not been trained, and 1854 altered all this; and it, moreover, are as yet unfit for military duty. gave power to extend the period of
During the last war, no difficulty annual training from twenty-one to was experienced in raising a large fifty-six days after the different corps militia force; and we have no reason were called out; so that the service to believe that there would be any became of a different and much more difficulty now, but for the changes onerous nature than before. We shall which have been made both in its presently have occasion to say a word nature and in the manner of raising or two as to the effect of this very it. Let us see wbat these changes sweeping change, which transformed are.
the militia from a local to a movable By former Acts, the militia of force. In the mean time, let us simply Great Britain could only be drawn request attention to the fact, that the out and embodied " in cases of actual conditions under which the enrolment invasion, or upon imminent danger of the militia of England proceeded in thereof, or in cases of rebellion and 1852, were very different from those insurrection;" and could not, in any under which the enrolment of the case, be ordered to serve abroad. militia of Scotland was commenced in But by an Act passed on 12th May the latter part of 1854; and we are 1854, this arrangement was altered, inclined to attribute the marked relucand it was enacted that, “whenever tance to militia enrolment, which has a state of war exists between her been exhibited in the latter country, Majesty and any foreign power," the very much to the changes which have militia may be drawn out and em- thus been introduced. bodied. This is a very serious and We must, however, go a step fur