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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V18, Page 449 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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YVIII. 1 Europe in all military matters, the " provincial militia," which Louvois and Barbezieux raised in place of the discredited arriere ban, was employed partly to find drafts for and partly to augment the regular army. When a first line army was large enough to absorb the fighting strength of the country there was neither room nor need for a true militia force. This was the case with France under Napoleon's regime, but things were different elsewhere. In Great Britain the county militia (whose special history is briefly sketched below) was permanently embodied during the greater part of the Napoleonic Wars. Destitute as it was of technical and administrative services, of higher staffs and organization, and even of cavalry, this militia was a regular army in all but name. Combining continuous service with territorial recruiting as it did, it consisted of men of a better stamp than the casually recruited regular forces. In those days, the militia was a county force commanded by the lords-lieutenant and officered by men of influence; it was not administered by the War Office. In other countries, Napoleon's invading armies had only to deal with regular or professional troops. Once these were crushed, nothing remained for the beaten side but to make peace with the conqueror on such terms as could be obtained. Militias existed in name as organizations, for the production of more or less unwilling drafts for the line, but the fundamental militia obligation of defending the fatherland as distinct from defending the state, produced only local and occasional outbursts of guerrilla warfare. In the Crimean War, the 1859 war in Italy, the 1866 war in Germany, and other wars (the Hungarian War of 1848–49 excepted) the forces, other than the regular troops, engaged in first line were guerrilleros, insurgents, Garibaldians, &c., and behind the forces in first line there were draft-supplying agencies, but no true militia. Only the British militia and the Prussian landwehr represented the self-contained army of second line, and of these the former was never put to the test, while the latter, responding feebly to a political call to arms in 185o, was in consequence so entirely reorganized that it formed a mere rear rank to the line troops. This latter system, consecrated by the German successes of 187o, became the universal model for the continent of Europe, and organized and self-contained militias to-day are only to be found in states maintaining first line armies of " general service " professionals, or in states which maintain ,no first line troops whatever. In the first class are the auxiliary forces of the British Empire and the United States, in the second the Swiss, Norwegian, Dutch and Swedish forces.
End of Article: YVIII

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