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chapter 7 The Army of the Raj During the incessant fighting in India from 1750 to 1850 the East India Company army proved to be a major military innovator. Additionally, British troops began to utilize Indian techniques in their European campaigns. Experience gained during the Anglo-Sikh Wars in particular affected the development of British tactics. At Chillianwalla and Gujerat, for example, the British used a combination of line and column infantry formations for the first time.1 At Chillianwalla the British cavalry’s stunning defeat prompted the adoption of the inversion drill (the about-face) for cavalry formations by entire divisions rather than by threes and twos. As one scholar has noted, ‘‘It required the Chillianwalla debacle, a far greater strain on the British cavalry than the charge of the Light Brigade, to ensure . . . [that] inversion was permitted.’’2 Artillery went through a similar reform process. During the battle of Gujerat, the final large-scale engagement of the Anglo-Sikh Wars, the British, in reaction to the excellent Sikh artillery, deployed 100 guns, the largest British artillery concentration to date. The wars convinced the British that increasing artillery would reduce infantry casualties.3 However, once the British firmly controlled India, the military emphasis changed from dynamic conquest to a more mundane policing effort. After the rebellion of 1857 the Crown took control and immediately appointed a commission of inquiry to investigate the causes of the ‘‘mutiny’’ and to propose changes in the organization of the army.The chief recommendation of the Peel Commission (headed by Secretaryof State forWar Jonathan Peel) was that the proportion of Indian to British soldiers in India should not be greater than three to one.4 The ratio was maintained by what became known as the Cardwell system. In the process of reforming the British army, Secretary of State for War Edward Cardwell introduced a twelve-year standard service to be split between active and reserve service. According to this system, short-service commission soldiers who came to India must be at least twenty years old. They would serve at least six years before returning to England on reserve status.5 In practice, it was impossible to keep an equal number of battalions at home, and units could not maintain regular 127 The Army of the Raj drafts. According to Brian Bond, the home units eventually became training battalions for their sister battalions overseas. One contemporary critic, Col. G. F. R. Henderson, went so far as to declare that the real army was in India!6 Ironically, the British leaders in India also disliked the Cardwell system. The government of India resented the cost of passage for recruits to and from England and the fact that India essentially had the job of training raw recruits for Britain.The government noted, ‘‘It was no consideration for the efficiency of the army in India that evoked the short service system, and its suitability to the conditions of Indian requirements had been gravely questioned on more than one occasion.’’7 In July 1879 the army in India consisted of 6,602 British officers, 60,341 British soldiers, and 123,254 Indian soldiers.8 That year the specially appointed Eden Commission,whose mission was to examine the army’s organization and expenditures, warned of the dangers in persisting with the Presidential armies. The commission proposed establishing four regional corps located in the Presidencies of Bengal, Madras, Bombay, and the Punjab. It also concluded that currently it was not possible to reduce the army. (Lord Roberts abolished the Presidential armies in 1895 in favor of a single army headquarters.)9 Under the energetic and ambitious leadership of Lord Kitchener, commander in chief India from 1902 to 1909, the Indian army experienced dramatic structural and doctrinal reforms prior to the Great War. Lord Kitchener primarily tried to deflect the Indian army from its increasing emphasis on internal security duties. Ever since the rebellion of 1857 the structure of the Indian army had been based on internal rather than external security concerns . Kitchener re-formed the army into nine divisions, divided between two commands, northern and southern, the latter having four divisions and the former five. He renumbered the regiments and eliminated the deficient ones. The old designations of Madras, Bombay, and Bengal were dropped from the regimental titles. In 1905 Kitchener undoubtedly hoped that the army would absorb the lessons of the Boer War, just as the British had attempted to do at their Sta...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780803240612
MARC Record
OCLC
60714474
Pages
440
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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