Army (Infantry Equipment). Return to an Address of the Honourable the House of Commons, dated 6 August 1870. Copies of the Reports made by Major General Eyre's Committee on Infantry Equipment to the Secretary of State for War:
Of the Correspondence that has taken place between the Committee and Lieutenant Colonel Carter: And, of the Correspondence at the Horse Guards and War Office, which refers to the Equipment proposed by Lieutenant Colonel Carter.London: Ordered, by The House of Commons, to be Printed 6 March, 1871 Stock Code: 145405
First and only edition of this important, extensive and in depth review and report on the damaging effects that 'the present system of drill and accoutrements' (i.e. uniform, kit, knapsacks, weaponry etc), was recognised as having upon the health of newly recruited soldiers, leading in particular to a prevalence of lung and heart disease. Uncommon, Library Hub records just the Royal College of Physicians copy, WorldCat adds the US Army War College and Texas A & M.
'After examining into the various possible causes, Dr. Maclean concludes that the most probable reason is that the young soldier is called upon to make much exertion under unfavourable conditions. During exertion, anything which constricts the lungs, or impedes the action of the heart, tends to produce disease of those organs, and especially so at an early age, when the bones and cartilages are not matured and yield when pressure is made upon them. The young soldier of 18 or 20 years of age is but imperfectly grown and developed; many of the bones are not united, and an amount of pressure which would be unfelt by the older man, may be very injurious to him' (p. 6). One of a number of reports produced as part of an extensive series of reforms of the British Army, undertaken by the Secretary of State for War, Edward Cardwell, between 1868 and 1874, and known as the 'Cardwell Reforms', the present treatise outlines the findings of the Committee on Infantry Equipment, under the leadership of Major General Eyre, working together with 'Major General Rumley, Inspector General of Infantry, Colonel Sir A. Horsford, K.C.B., Deputy Adjutant General Dr. Logan, Inspector General of Hospitals, & Dr. Parkes, Army Medical School Netley'.
The purpose of the report is laid out in a letter from Sir Edward Lugard, Permanent Under-Secretary of State for War at the War Office to Major General Henry Eyre, General Officer commanding, Chatham, dated May 2nd 1864, reprinted here: 'Earl de Grey and Ripon having decided, with the concurrence of his Royal Highness the Field Marshal Commanding in Chief, to appoint a Committee, consisting of the officers named in the margin, under your Presidency, for the purpose of considering how far the large amount of lung and heart disease prevailing among soldiers of less than two years' service is attributable to the present system of drill and accoutrements, and of reporting as to the amount of drill to which recruits should be subjected on first joining the army, and the pattern of accoutrements and knapsacks best adapted to obviate the evils complained of, I am directed to apprise you of the same, and to state that the members of the Committee have been requested to attend to any instructions they may receive from you as to the time and place of meeting, and that accommodation can be afforded for such meetings in this office'. Additionally, the Committee were 'directed to take in consideration the mode in which the Field Companion medical knapsack, borne by sergeants of the Army Hospital Corps, can be best carried' (p. 3).
Drawing upon information gathered from Regiments across the British Army, this detailed study examined the amount of heart and lung disease prevailing among soldiers under two years' service, and the various causes of this excess in heart and lung disease, discussing the influence of 'the present Knapsack and Accoutrements on the health of the Infantry soldier', daily drill sessions, methods used for carrying kit and ammunition, the problems encountered by Medical staff when trying to carry both a knapsack and a Medical Field Companion Kit, before then turning to outline the results of preliminary trials to use a new Yoke and Brace system. The work includes numerous statistical tables, together with nine striking lithograph plates depicting numerous figures of uniformed Infantrymen modelling existing and new suggested modes of fitting, wearing and carrying army kit, knapsacks etc. The Cardwell Reforms were undertaken with the support of the Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone, prompted largely by Germany's stunning triumph over France in the Franco-Prussian War. This had shown that the Prussian system of short-service professional soldiers backed by quickly mobilised echelons of trained reservists with up-to-date equipment and weaponry, was far superior to the more traditional system long service rankers offciered by gentlemen-soldiers favoured by Britain at the time. These reforms included the centralising of the power of the War Office, the abolition of the system of the purchase of officers' commissions, and establishing short terms of service for enlisted men to help create reserve forces. Much criticised at the time, inevitably particularly from within the Army establishment the reforms "did constitute a watershed in the army's development... preparing the way for a more professional service... and the place of the soldier in society all improved gradually on the foundations laid by Cardwell. " (ODNB).
Small folio (317 x 202 mm). Recent grey cloth, title gilt longitudinally to the spine, mounted reproduction from plate facing p. 116 mounted on front board, cream endpapers.
9 lithographic plates.
Some minor edge-wear to title-page and final leaf, which have both been tipped down to the adjacent endpapers, discrete tape repair at head of p. 2, some occasional chips to the margins, text lightly browned throughout, but generally clean and crisp; ex-libris with stamp of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on title-page, very good.
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