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9th April 2003military life
By glynne
Hi there
Can anyone suggest a book that gives a good insight into Victorian military life c1870's
and also give details of drill/rifle drill etc.
9th April 2003David Bell
A good insight into military life is Redcoat by Prof. Richard Holmes. though it's not specifically for the 1870s and the victorian period. It has sections about it thought and lots od anacdotes.
9th April 2003Peter Ewart

There are innumerable books on the British Army of Victorian times, as well as many general ones with chapters on the Victorian period. I'm no expert on weapons or drill but have a few original manuals on drill, firing and tactics etc., but they are mostly post-Haldane rather than post-Cardwell. (Most of it over my head, too).

Because you are far more likely to find a book covering the whole Victorian period (or at least the time betwen Crimea & the 2nd Boer War) I'd recommend:

Ian Knight - "Go to Your God Like a Soldier; the British Soldier Fighting for Empire, 1837-1902." (Greenhill, 1996).

David Chandler (ed) - "The Oxford History of the British Army" (OUP, 1994)

The first is very readable and well illustrated. The second contains a chapter "The Late Victorian Army, 1868-1914" which includes the period of Cardwell's Act and the time during which his reforms gradually came into being. The chapter is superbly written by Edward Spiers, who is the author of a work on the Victorian soldier whose title escapes me tonight but which I've more than once tried to acquire. (Someone on this forum will know it).

You might also enjoy an article in the AZWHS Journal of Dec 1997 about the life of British Army officers and soldiers in the 1879
campain. And, although just a decade or so later, you could do worse than immerse yourself in Kipling's "Barrack Room Ballads" and his other offerings about the British Tommy both at home and overseas. Ian Knight's title comes from his work.

Good hunting

10th April 2003Keith Smith

A valuable book I have in my collection is "The Victorian Army at Home" by Aklan Ramsay Skelley. It is very useful for all sorts of detail. The book is probably out of print but might be located on

10th April 2003Ian
All excellent books especially Skellys. Also Mr Kiplings armies by Byron Farwell is very good & for the female view On the strength by Veronica Bamfield is interesting. For drill etc the Field Service pocket book 1877 is good for practising in front of the mirror with, but watch the ceiling at the present arms!!! Hope this helps.
10th April 2003Clive Dickens
Further reading on the Victorian Army is"The Late Victorian Army 1868-1902 " published by Manchester Universty Press author Edward Spiers anoher is a National Army Museum publication "The Victorian Soldier 1816-1914" these togeher with those already mentioned are all very good books
10th April 2003Glynne
Once again a good response
Thanks for everyones input.
Just two more questions.
When and how did the "salute" first come about?
Were Colour Sergeants adressed as Sir?
10th April 2003Martin Everett
Dear Glynne,
Saluting come from the days (17th century) when officers greeted each other by taking off their hats and bowing to each other.
The correct way of addressing a Colour Sergeant is 'Colour Sergeant', but is more common for young soldiers to address Colour Sergeants and Company Sergeant Majors as 'Sir'. The more seasoned soldiers off parade may get way with just 'Colour'.

10th April 2003Glynne
Thanks martin