Posted on

Advancement in the British Army

As explained in the article, “ Aspiring to an Epaulette” the first step in an Officer’s career was to obtain the rank of Ensign (in the Infantry) or Coronet (in the Cavalry). Beyond lay the possibility of promotion to Lieutenant, and above. In peacetime, most promotions were acchieved by purchasing a higher rank. However, during the Napoleonic Wars, most progressions were made by promotions based first on seniority within the regiment to fill vacancies, second by merit, while Purchase came third. Advancement in the Ordnance Corps (Artillery and Engineers), as well as in the East India Company forces, was by Seniority only. A young Coronet or Ensign could advance to Lieutenant by paying the difference between his current and the next highest rank. [See Table of Commission Prices.] For example: a Lieutenancy cost £550, but an Ensign had already paid £400 to achieve that rank. He only needed to pay an additional £150 to make up the difference. As with the first purchase, this could only be done through the Regimental Agent. There were many regulations stating that no other moneys, or other incentives could be offered. The penalty for trying to pay more than the established price, was to immediately forfeit the Commission, and to be cashiered, while aiding and abetting constituted a Misdemeanor. Advancement above the rank of Colonel was by seniority only. In the late 1790’s it became apparent that some officers had proceeded too quickly through the ranks, and had not gained the necessary training and

Want to read the full article?

Sign up for free Jane Austen Membership or if you are an existing user please login

Existing Users Log In
Sign up here to become a Jane Austen member
*Required field

Comments are closed.