A "wee" bit off topic

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Edward Hillenbrand
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A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 28 Oct 2014, 23:00

I recently read a book set in 1793 that referred to an English (pre-union days) rank of Lieutenant Major. I have never heard of such a rank, nor could I find it any where on the net.

Does anyone have some leads or thoughts? And maybe a link to "sort of" try and tie this to heraldry?

Thanx.
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Chris Green » 29 Oct 2014, 07:07

Could you quote the context. The name of the book would be interesting too.
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Chris Green » 29 Oct 2014, 07:36

In those days (18th/early 19th century) the regimental Colonel, Lieutenant Colonel and Major (of whom there was only one back then) each commanded their own company in addition to their regimental duties (the remaining companies being commanded by Captains, not Majors as became the norm later). This double-hatting didn't work too well as the field officers spent most of their time doing what field officers do, not what company officers do. The Colonel had indeed by this time become largely a ceremonial appointment - he "owned" the regiment but no more, indeed he might well be a General or a member of the Royal Family and only see the regiment very occasionally (in effect the situation today in the British army). The Colonel's company came to be commanded by the Captain-Lieutenant, an acting rank originally but from 1772 a recognised rank.

So where does that leave the "Lieutenant-Major"? it may be, though I can find no proof immediately, that this was the title given to the acting commander of the Major's company, since someone had to command the company in the Major's absence, and, as explained above the only Captains were commanding other companies. The senior Lieutenant in the Major's company would thus become acting company commander and could conceivably have been known as "Lieutenant-Major". If this was so, it was only ever an honorary title to reflect an acting appointment.
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Chris Green » 29 Oct 2014, 12:27

If we are to nudge this topic back in the direction of heraldry, we might start by examining the heraldic origins - if any - of the various rank emblems.

In the UK, as in other armies, officers were originally obvious only by their standards that accompanied them and by their relative finery. The former eventually developed into the colours of the regiments themselves. The latter gradually developed into a more or less uniform system of lace and gold/silver bullion on shoulders, cuffs and collars. This worked reasonably well in barracks, less well in the field where such fripperies suffered badly from wet and muck. There was also a lack of consensus amongst the regimental commanders as to what fripperies were appropriate to which ranks. It wasn't until 1760 that a Royal Clothing Warrant attempted to bring order and 1810 before crowns and stars were introduced and then only for regimental officers, generals sticking with lace until after the Crimean War.

The use of the crown hardly needs explanation, the stars (now commonly referred to as "pips") were miniature replicas of the Orders of Chivalry, Garter for the Guards and a few others (Thistle for Scots Guards, St Patrick for Irish Guards), Order of the Bath for the rest. So no direct link to heraldry, but rather to Orders of Chivalry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Army_officer_rank_insignia

For the non-commissioned officers, the lace and bullion transmogrified into chevrons during the early years of the Napoleonic Wars. Both "point-up" and "point-down" chevrons were found, though the former is now largely restricted to Drum-Majors.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Army_other_ranks_rank_insignia

So chevrons suggests a heraldic connection? Possibly, though there were only a limited number of options open to regimental uniform designers and tailors faced with more or less restricted budgets: horizontal or diagonal bands of cloth or chevrons. Mass-production of the crowns and coats-of-arms later allocated to warrant officers was not possible in the 1800s.

The most heraldic rank badge is that of the Guards Warrant Officers Class 1. Here is the rank badge of the Garrison Sergeant Major, London District - both chevrons and CoA here!

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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 31 Oct 2014, 04:24

Chris the book is "A Battle Won" by Sean Russell. It deals with Corsica during the French Revolution and the English intervention. The date used in the book is 1793.
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Chris Green » 31 Oct 2014, 06:41

Edward Hillenbrand wrote:Chris the book is "A Battle Won" by Sean Russell. It deals with Corsica during the French Revolution and the English intervention. The date used in the book is 1793.


Can you provide the paragraph in which "Lieutenant-Major" occurs?
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 02 Nov 2014, 02:09

Sadly no Chris, I returned the book to the library. It was used throughout as an army rank. Not the first time an author made a silly error. Recently Johnny Ringo referred to the FDNY as "New York City Fire Department" several times in a book. While both exist, the later is a political albatross who exists only on paper while FDNY is one of the largest fire and ambulance services in the world today.
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Terry Baldwin » 02 Nov 2014, 15:01

Chris,

Found the Reference: page 259 "We will be accompanied by Lieutenant Major Kochler". Two other references page 285 and page 448 both refer to the same character. You can use Google books search under "Lieutenant Major Kochler" and all three pages will appear.

However, it does little to provide clarity to the rank, I also ran across a "created" rank of that title, appearing in one of the Star Wars stories, Lieutenant Major Purcill.

So perhaps a bit of literary license on the part of Mr. Russell? I do follow your line of reasoning in reference to English Army of that era and would seem to make perfect sense, there Lieutenant Generals and Lieutenant Colonels it would follow that a Lieutenant Major could have been, rounding out the field grade officers having a "second or executive" officer under them.

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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Chris Green » 02 Nov 2014, 15:35

In referring to Kochler as "Lieutenant Major" Russell is simply wrong. There was an historical Kochler who accompanied Lieutenant-Colonel John Moore to reconnoitre Corsica in 1793. He was a Captain and subsequently served as Deputy Quartermaster-General under Lieutenant-General Dundas during the British occupation of Corsica the following year.

My theory as to the informal use of the rank of "Lieutenant-Major" is ingenious but has no historical support that I can discover. If the rank had existed, Kochler (the historical one), would in any case not have held it during his expedition with Moore, as it would have only been relevant had he been a Lieutenant acting as company commander for his Major. But he was a Captain, so, if on regimental duty, would have had his own company.
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Re: A "wee" bit off topic

Postby Edward Hillenbrand » 02 Nov 2014, 18:51

Well,

Thank you all for the help. I think we can politely chalk this one up to "creative licence" by the author and call this mystery solved.

Thanx for the help.
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