Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V14, Page 533 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
ORGANIZATION AND EQUIPMENT The organization of infantry varies rather more than that of other arms in different countries. Taking the British system first, the battalion (and not as elsewhere the regiment of two, three or more battalions) is the administrative and manoeuvre unit. It is about woo strong, and is commanded by a lieutenant-colonel, who has a major and an adjutant (captain or lieutenant) to assist him, and an officer of lieutenant's or captain's rank (almost invariably promoted from the ranks), styled the quartermaster, to deal with supplies, clothing, &c. There are eight companies of a nominal strength of about 120 each. These are commanded by captains (or 1 In February 1910 a new Infantry Training was said to be in preparation. The I.T. of 1905 is in some degree incompatible with the later and ruling doctrine of the F.S. Regulations, and in the winter of 1909 the Army Council issued a memorandum drawing attention to the different conceptions of the decisive attack as embodied in the latter and as revealed in manoeuvre junior majors), and each captain has or should have two lieu-tenants or second lieutenants to assist him. Machine guns are in Great Britain distributed to the battalions and not massed in permanent batteries. In addition there are various regimental details, such as orderly-room staff, cooks, cyclists, signallers, band and ambulance men. The company is divided into four sections of thirty men each and commanded by sergeants. A half-company of two sections is under the control of a subaltern officer. A minor subdivision of the section into two " squads " is made unless the numbers are insufficient to warrant it. In administrative duties the captain's principal assistant is the colour-sergeant or pay-sergeant, who is not assigned to a section command. The lieutenant-colonel, the senior major and the adjutant are mounted. The commanding officer is assisted by a battalion staff, at the head of which is the adjutant. The sergeant-major holds a " warrant " from the secretary of state for war, as does the bandmaster. Other members of the battalion staff are non-commissioned officers, appointed by the commanding officer. The most important of these is the quartermaster-sergeant, who is the assistant of the quarter-master. The two colours (" king's " and " regimental ") are in Great Britain carried by subalterns and escorted by colour-sergeants (see COLOURS). The " tactical " unit of infantry is now the company, which varies very greatly in strength in the different armies. Elsewhere the company of 250 rifles is almost universal, but in Great Britain the company has about to men in the ranks, forming four sections. These sections, each of about 28 rifles, are the normal " fire-units," that is to say, the unit which delivers its fire at the orders of and with the elevation and direction given by its commander. This, it will be observed, gives little actual executive work for the junior officers. But a more serious objection than this (which is modified in practice by arrangement and circumstances) is the fact that a small unit is more affected by detachments than a large one. In the home battalions of the Regular Army such detachments are very large, what with finding drafts for the foreign service battalions and for instructional courses, while in the Territorial Force, where it is so rarely possible to assemble all the men at once, the company as organized is often too small to drill as such. On the other hand, the full war-strength company is an admirable unit for control and manoeuvre in the field, owing to its rapidity of movement, handiness in using accidents of ground and cover, and susceptibility to the word of command of one man. But as soon as its strength falls below about 8o the advantages cease to counterbalance the defects. The sections become too small as fire-units to effect really useful results, and the battalion commander has to co-ordinate and to direct 8 comparatively ineffective units instead of 4 powerful ones. The British regular army, therefore, has since the South African War, adopted the double company as the unit of training. This gives at all times a substantial unit for fire and manoeuvre training, but the disadvantage of having a good many officers only half employed is accentuated. As to the tactical value of the large or double company, opinions differ. Some hold that as the small company is a survival from the days when the battalion was the tactical unit and the company was the unit of volley-fire, it is unsuited to the modern exigencies that have broken up the old rigid line into several independent and co-operating fractions. Others reply that the strong continental company of 250 rifles came into existence in Prussia in the years after Waterloo, not from tactical reasons, but because the state was too poor to maintain a large establishment of officers, and that in 187o, at any rate, there were many instances of its tactical unwieldiness. The point that is common to both organizations is the fact that there is theoretically one subaltern to every 50 or 6o rifles, and this reveals an essential difference between the British and the Continental systems, irrespective of the sizes or groupings of companies. The French or German subaltern effectively commands his 50 men as a unit, whereas the British subaltern supervises two groups of 25 to 30 men under responsible non-commissioned officers. That is to say, a British sergeant may find himself in such a position that he has to be as expert in controlling and obtaining good results from collective fire as a German lieutenant. For reasons mentioned in ARMY, § 40, non-commissioned officers, of the type called by Kipling the " backbone of the army," are almost unobtainable with the universal service system, and the lowest unit that possesses any independence is the lowest unit commanded by an officer. But apart from the rank of the fire-unit commander, it is questionable whether the section, as understood in England, is not too small a fire-unit, for European warfare at any rate. The regulations of the various European armies, framed for these conditions, practically agree that the fire-unit should be commanded by an officer and should be large enough to ensure good results from collective fire. The number of rifles meeting this second condition is 5o to 8o and their organization a " section " (corresponding to the British half-company) under a subaltern officer. The British army has, of course, to be organized and trained for an infinitely wider range of activity, and no one would suggest the abolition of the small section as a fire-unit. But in a great European battle it would be almost certainly better to group the two sections into a real unit for fire effect. (For questions of infantry fire tactics see RIFLE: § Musketry.) On the continent of Europe the " regiment," which is a unit, acting in peace and war as such, consists normally of three battalions, and Defence. 1836 of the Home and Colonial School Society for the training of teachers in infant schools; this in turn reacted upon other countries, especially Germany. Further impetus and a new direction were given to the movement by Friedrich W. A. Froebel, and the methods of training adopted for children between the ages of three and six have in most countries been influenced by, if not based on, that system of directed activities which was the foundation of the type of " play-school " called by him the Kinder Garten, or " children's garden." The growing tendency in England to lay stress on the mental training of very young children, and to use the " infant school " as preparatory to the elementary school, has led to a considerable reaction; medical officers of health have pointed out the dangers of infection to which children up to the age of five are specially liable when congregated together—also the physical effects of badly ventilated class-rooms, and there is a consensus of opinion that formal mental teaching is directly injurious before the age of six or even seven years. At the same time the increase in the industrial employment of married women, with the consequent difficulty of proper care of young children by the mother in the home, has somewhat shifted the ground from a purely educational to a social and physical aspect. While it is agreed that the ideal place for a young child is the home under the supervision of its mother, the present industrial conditions often compel a mother to go out to work, and leave her children either shut up alone, or free to play about the streets, or in the care of a neighbour or professional " minder." In each case the children must suffer. The provision by a public authority of opportunities for suitable training for such children seems therefore a necessity. The moral advantages gained by freeing the child from the streets, by the superintendence of a trained teacher over the games, by the early inculcation of habits of discipline and obedience; the physical advantages of cleanliness and tidiness, and the opportunity of disclosing incipient diseases and weaknesses, outweigh the disadvantages which the opponents of infant training adduce. It remains to give a brief account of what is done in Great Britain, the United States of America, and certain other countries. A valuable report was issued for the English Board of Education by a Consultative Committee upon the school attendance of children below the age of five (vol. 22 of the Special Reports, 1909), which also gives some account of the provision of day nurseries or creches for babies. United Kingdom.—Up to 1905 it was the general English practice since the Education Act of 187o for educational authorities to provide facilities for the teaching of children between three and five years old whose parents desired it. In 19o5, of an estimated 1,467,709 children between those ages, 583,268 were thus provided for in England and Wales. In 1905 .the objections, medical and educational, already stated, coupled with the increasing financial strain on the local educational authorities, led to the insertion in the code of that year of Article 53, as follows: " Where the local education authority have so determined in the case of any school maintained by them, children who are under five years may be refused admission to that school." In consequence in 1907 the numbers were found to have fallen to 459,034 out of an estimated 1,480,550 children, from 39'74% in 1905 to 31%. In the older type of infant school stress was laid on the mental preparation of children for the elementary teaching which was to come later. This forcing on of young children was encouraged by the system under which the government grant was allotted; children in the infant division earned an annual grant of 17s. per head, on promotion to the upper school this would be increased to 22S. In 1909 the system was altered; a rate of 21S. 4d. was fixed as the grant for all children above five, and the grant for those below the age was reduced to 13s. 4d. Different methods of training the teachers in these schools as well as the children themselves have been now generally adopted. These methods are largely based on the Froebelian plan, and greater attention is being paid to physical development. In one respect England the early years of the 19th century, loading to the foundation in I is perhaps behind the more progressive of other European each battalion of four companies or moo rifles. The company of 250 rifles is commanded by a captain, who is mounted. In France the company has four sections, commanded in war by the three subalterns and the " adjudant " (company sergeant-major); the sections are further grouped in pairs to constitute pelotons (platoons) or half-companies under the senior of the two section leaders. In peace there are two subalterns only, and the peloton is the normal junior officer's command. The battalion is commanded by a major (commandant or strictly chef de bataillon), the regiment (three or four battalions) by a colonel with a lieutenant-colonel as second. An organization of 3-battalion regiments and 3-company battalions was proposed in 191o. In Germany, where what we have called the continental company originated, the regiment is of three battalions under majors, and the battalion of four companies commanded by captains. The company is divided into three Zuge (sections), each under a subaltern, who has as his second a sergeant-major, a " vice-sergeant-major " or a " sword-knot ensign " (aspirant officer). In war there is one additional officer for company. The Zug at war-strength has therefore about 8o rifles in the ranks, as compared with the Freud' " section " of 50, and the British section of 30. The system prevailing in the United States since the reorganization of 1901 is somewhat remarkable. The regiment, which is a tactical as well as an administrative unit, consists of three battalions. Each battalion has four companies of (at war-strength) 3 officers and 150 rifles each. The regiment in war therefore consists of about 'Boo rifles in three small and handy battalions of 600 each. The circumstances in which this army serves, and in particular the maintenance of small frontier posts, have always imposed upon subalterns the responsibilities of small independent commands, and it is fair to assume that the 75 rifles at a subaltern's disposal are regarded as a tactical unit. In sum, then, the infantry battalion is in almost every country about moo rifles strong in four companies. In the United States it is 600 strong in four companies, and in Great Britain it is t000 strong in eight. The captain's command is usually 200 to 250 men, in the United States 15o, and in Great Britain 120. The lieutenant or second lieutenant commands in Germany 8o rifles, in France 5o, in the United States 75, as a unit of fire and manoeuvre. In Great Britain he commands, with relatively restricted powers, 6o. A short account of the infantry equipments—knapsack or valise, belt, haversack, &c.—in use in various countries will be found in UNIFORMS, NAVAL AND MILITARY. The armament of infantry is, in all countries, the magazine rifle (sec RIFLE) and bayonet (q.v.), for officers and for certain under-officers sword (q.v.) and pistol (q.v.). Ammunition (q.v.) in the British service is carried (a) by the individual soldier, (b) by the reserves (mules and carts) in regimental charge, some of which in action are assembled from the battalions of a brigade to form a brigade reserve, and (c) by the ammunition columns. Manion RAPHY.--The following works are selected to show (I) the historical development of the arm, and (2) the different " doctrines " of to-day as to its training and functions:—Ardant du Picq, Etudes sur le combat; C. W. C. Oman, The Art of War: Middle Ages; Biottot, Les Grands Inspires—Jeanne d'Arc; Hardy de Perini, Batailles francaises; C. H. Firth, Cromwell's Army; German official history of Frederick the Great's wars, especially Fester Schlesische Krieg, vol. i.; Susane, Ilistoire de l'infanterie francaise; French General Staff, La Tectique an X PIII"'e—l'infanterie and La Tactique et la discipline Bans les armies de la Revolution—General Schauenhourg; J. W. Fortescue, History of the British Army; Moorsom, History of the 52nd Regiment; de Grandmaison, Dressage de l'infanterie (Paris, 1908); works of W. v. Scherff; F. N. Maude, Evolution of Infantry Tactics and Attack and Defence; [Meckel] Ein Sommernachtstraum (Eng. trans. in United Service Magazine, 189o) ; J. Meckel, Taktik; Malachowski, Scharfe- and Revuetaktik; H. Langlois, Enseignements de deux guerres: F. Hoenig, Tactics of the Future and Twenty-four Hours of Moltke's Strategy (Eng. trans.); works of A. von Boguslowski; British Officers' Reports on the Russo-Japanese War; H. W. L. Hime, Stray Military Papers; Grange, " Les Rcalites du champ de bataille—Woerth" (Rev.d'infanterie, 1908-1909) ; V. Lindenau, " The Boer War and Infantry Attack " (Journal R. United Service Institution, 1902-1903); Janin, Apercus sur la tactique—Mandchouric " (Rev. d'infanterie, 1909); Soloviev, " Infantry Combat in the Russo-Jap. War " (Eng. trans. Journal R. U.S.I., 1908); British Official Field Service Regulations, part i. (1909), and Infantry Training (1905); German drill regulations of 1906 (Fr. trans.); French drill regulations of 1904; Japanese regulations 1907 (Eng. trans.). The most important journals devoted to the infantry arm are the French official Revue d'infanterie (Paris and Limoges), and the Journal of the United States Infantry Association (Washington, D. C.). (C. F. A.)

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.