>During the Napoleonic wars the ranks of junior infantry officers were >captain, lieutenant and ensign. The only regiments to use 2nd Lieutenant >as a rank, as far as I know, were the rifle regiments (since they did not >carry colours and the rank of ensign therefore was less appropriate).
I will look that up, but I know I have seen two lieutenants to a company, or five officers--counting the ensign.
> The cavalry simarly had captain, lieutenant and cornet. Their regimental
> standards and squadron guidons were (and still are) carried by sergeant
The returns for the light cavalry regiments in 1815 all show more lieutenants than captains for their squadrons. THe 16th Light Dragoons, for instance, have 7 captains, 12 lieutenants and 3 coronets. [Bryon Fosten gives these numbers in the Osprey book "Wellingtons Light Cavalry" #126.] The variations can be explained by the rigors of war, me thinks.
> In most cases therefore the term second lieutenant refers to the
> appointment (not the rank) of the most junior lieutenant, if there were
> actually two with the company.
Yes, I know, but it did identify the junior lieutenant--and on land or ship, the distinction did carry different reponsibilities and authority. I was simply referring to the origin/purpose behind the existing distinction of 1st and 2nd lieutenant--and that it required two or more lieutenants to a company for the distinction to be necessary at all. I realize it isn't a particularly startling realization, but it was a minor epiphony for me. ;-7
> Most regiments of the British Army later (I think after the Napoleonic
> wars) changed the rank of ensign to 2nd Lieutenant. As far as I recall
> the Guards did not change and still refer to their 2nd Lieutenants as
> Ensigns. Some cavalry regiments still refer to their 2nd Lieutenants as
> Cornets. Those traditions are part of what still gives every British
> Army regiment a distinct identity which they try hard to preserve
> against all attempts at standardisation.
I understand, and I wasn't getting that transition confused with the Napoleonic period conventions. It is interesting that 'Standardization' seems to have had a different context during the Napoleonic wars.
I'll work to find out where I got the information from. Thanks.