This isn't really related, but your story reminded me...
I used to live in North Carolina. Not too far from my home was a historic house that dated back to the pre-Civil War period. Out in front of the house was a relatively small cannon. A plaque explained the cannon.
Seems the owner of the house had the cannon back before the war (back in the days when a person could own a cannon without raising the suspicions of the neighbors!). When the war broke out he took the cannon and a couple of dozen local boys to enlist. On the basis of that they made him a colonel in the Confederate Army.
So, it seems the rule was pretty simple: bring a field piece and enough men to operate it and receive a commission in return!
Actually, that was the way it worked regarding raising regiments, both in the US and the British systems (that we Canucks inherrited). Anyone, or a group or city with the means to equip, man and sustain a regiment could raise a regiment and "donate" it to the govt (ie: The Regina Rifles). They were also allowed to name it's Colonel, which was usually a prominent member of the community.
Depending on the time, said Colonel may or may not be required to take military training, but even if he was it was far less than the minimal required training expected of a modern military officer. Once in command, he ran the show - promotions, training schedule etc etc. Obviously, there was ample opportunity in such a system for gross corruption and criminally incompetent people serving in key military positions.
Equally often after the unit's sponsor came down from their patriotic high having raised, manned and equipped a regiment, they were reluctant to pay for its upkeep. Training cost money, plus it usually meant that a significant portion of the area's able-bodied men would be away on exercises, which cost the local economy even more. Or if they were willing they were more concerned about having a sharp-looking adition to the local [insert appropriate national holiday here] parade, than having a unit trained to fight a war in the field. In general the result set the stage for some spectacular disasters.
In the US it was the Union Army during the first battles of the Civil War, and in the British Empire it was WW1 before the system was completely abolished - the last example that I know of was the "Pal's Battalions" of 1916. They were all from the same city, often from the same factory or field of work. After they passed the sic] "rigorous" wartime enlistment and training requirements, they were given officers from the regular army and sent off to the front with a royal guarantee that they would be able to serve together as a unit for the duration.
[ This Message was edited by: saskie on 2003-06-13 15:50 ]
Thanks for the info Saskie, I hadn't given the history of military organization more than a passing thought, but your right somewhere along the line pulling together a organized military moved from being a patch work of bands to being a more "homogenized force".
Homogenized meaning all soliders had similar training and well defined command/control structures.
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