Napoleon Series Archive 2004

Re: British infantry officers ranks & appointments

Rod wrote:
>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).

Rod:
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
> majors.

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.

Bill H.

Messages In This Thread

British infantry corporals
Re: British infantry corporals
Re: British infantry corporals
Re: British infantry corporals
Re: British infantry corporals
Re: British infantry officers
Re: British infantry officers
Re: British infantry officers
Re: British infantry officers
British infantry officers ranks & appointments
Re: British infantry officers ranks & appointments
Re: British infantry officers ranks & appointments
Re: British infantry officers ranks & appointments
Re: Lieutenants
Rank and Appointments
Re: Rank and Appointments
Re: Rank and Appointments
Re: Rank and Appointments
Re: Good Luck