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UNITED SERVICE MAGAZINE.
THE AEMY ESTIMATES FOE 1858 AND 59, WITH OCCASIONAL EEMAEKS SUGGESTED BY THEM.
The annual estimates for the army, as printed by the House of Commons, though containing a very considerable mass of information likely to prove interesting to most military men, and although the most cursory perusal of the items which compose them would give no small insight into the constitution and organization of the army, they do not form a document which is usually very extensively read by, or known to, the profession. Many officers reach the highest rank who have never seen them at all, or who even know of their existence in a printed form. The only knowledge they possess of them has most probably been obtained through occasional extracts in the newspapers. The ideas of the great majority, with regard to them, are generally extremely vague. The impression usually prevailing is, that the Government is very stingy and mean; and that the estimates for the military defences are always cut down to the lowest possible figure, and that the most parsimonious and pinching economy is their most prominent characteristic. If the soldier dies twice as fast as the class he comes from in civil life—if his barracks, his clothing, his food, or anything else connected with him, are bad or deficient, it is always stated, and generally understood, to be caused by the lowness of the estimates and the starved scale on which the public are alone inclined to tolerate them. The Secretary for War, afraid to ask for sufficient money, or the House of Commons declining to give it, are the causes of all our defects ; and, when anything is proved to be radically wrong, it is to one or the other of these that the error is sure to be attributed. In crder to give a better knowledge of this subject, we propose laying before our readers a detail of the estimates for 1858-9, and by publishing some of the principal facts connected with them (without offering an opinion ourselves) to leave others to correct or abide by theirs.
There is nothing so essential to useful reform, in matters connected with the army, as to arrive at just conclusions with regard to its finance; audcertaiuly one of the bestmeans of doing so, is to know what the country does vote before we condemn the amount as insufficient. As every officer has a personal interest in the efficiency of the service, he has an additional motive beyond tax-payers in general for informing himself upon all that relates to it; and we purpose helping, as far as lies in our power, to his obtaining this information.
The aggregate votes on the estimates for this year are 23 in number, and these are divided into 9 parts. Part 1, consisting of 5 votes, applies exclusively to the military branches of the service, such as the
U. S. Mao., No. 354, May, 1858. B
number of the land forces, their pay and allowances, the miscellaneous charges connected with them, the embodied militia, volunteer corps. Part 2, comprising 3 votes, relates to the civil establishments of the army, described as the departments of the Secretary of State for War, and of the general commanding-in-chief; the manufacturing establishments, military store-keepers, barrack-masters, lodgingmoney, rents, the wages of artificers and labourers. Part 3, relates to supplies, and has three votes, for clothing and necessaries provisions, forage, fuel and light, barrack furniture, bedding, &c.; also warlike stores for land and sea service. Part 4, three votes, for works and buildings, under the heads of fortifications, civil buildings, and barracks. Part 5, consists of the vote for educational purposes. Part 6, of eight votes, appertains to non-effective services, such as rewards for military service; pay of general officers (and for others) who have been reduced, or retired; widows' pensions and compassionate allowances; pensions and allowances to wounded officers; in-pensions and out-pensions; and lastly, superannuated allowances. The total increase upon these estimates over those for the year 1857 and 58, amounts to the sum of £95,152; and the number of troops estimated for (a detail of which will be given, of all ranks, exclusive of those who are serving in the East Indies, and who are paid by the East India Company) are 130,135.
The first pages of the estimates are occupied by a detailed account of the sums credited to her Majesty's Exchequer during the preceding year under various headings, most of which are not likely to recur again, at all events for a considerable period. They are principally connected with the closing of the war, and the surplus stores and material disposed of in consequence. The contributions from colonial revenues in aid of military expenditure, in which only six of our colonial possessions take a part, amount to £95,981. Neither Canada, the Cape of Good Hope, nor any of our West Indian possessions, give any thing. The Ionian Isles furnish £20,000; Malta, £6,200; Ceylon, £24,000; Melbourne, £26,175 ; Tasmania, £14,605; and the Mauritius, £5,000.
Very considerable sums are credited on account of the sale of cast horses, and for horses lately belonging to the Land Transport Corps —or, as it is now designated, the Military Train—and to the Turkish Contingent. Some estimate may be formed of the original number, and immense expense incurred for these animals, from the fact that their sale realized the sum of £181,758; £8,893 of which was received for horses sold to the Turkish Government.
The proceeds for men allowed to purchase their discharges in 1857 and 1858, amount to a large sum; it is no less than £59,467, whilst that realized for smart money is £4,148. The sale of medical stores and comforts produced £41,949 to the Exchequer. It would be something to know how much the cost of these same stores and comforts originally took out of it. Under the head of militia, only £40 was received by the purchase of men's discharges. The balances of men deserted, credited to the public, reach an incredibly large amount for the regular army for the past year; it is £9,819, and for the militia, £1,238. Allowing the very large average of balance for each deserter of ten shillings, it would show that upwards of 22,000 men accepted the Queen's bounty in 1857 and '58, who afterwards absconded. As many men—we should be inclined to think the large majority of them—who desert usually leave no balance at all, but on the contrary generally contrive to be in debt, and as the estimate of ten shillings for each that leaves in credit is certainly a high one, the number of deserters during the past year must have been something incredible—probably upwards of 40,000 men, or more, from the army and militia combined! When things have reached this pitch, it is surely time to institute inquiry as to what are the probable causes of it, and if possible to find a remedy. We believe the best preventive of this most abominable crime, would be to reduce still further the period of enlistment, say from ten to seven years, and to revise our pension warrants. Our police regulations on this head should also be examined into, so that men who desert may be more promptly apprehended. The country will be demoralized to a considerable extent, unless something is done.
For the sale of equipments, necessaries, &c, of the Land Transport Corps, credit is taken for £25,741. By the sums coming in now on this account the expense of organizing this body during the war must have been something enormous. A remnant of it, at no small cost, is still retained, with no useful work of any kind for it to perform. It is a question whether, for a country like England—secure as it is from any thing like a sudden attack—a good scheme of organization for the Land Transport of an army would not suffice, without having any portion of it embodied during peace.
With the sums we have mentioned, and others of a like kind, the sum of £863,175 finds its way back into the Exchequer, from the votes of previous years for the land forces. For the militia, £21,394 is returned. The department of the Secretary for War—by the sale of Army Lists, and by a fine for the loss of a map, gives back £349. The civil establishment, for rent, &c, returns £25,164. The rents for canteens would still seem to be partially retained, and amount to £7,600. A singularly small item, under the head of rents, is £35 13*. Id,., stoppages from the extra pay of officers of the Eoyal Engineers, for quarters. We wonder how many officers of this corps occupy quarters from whom this sum is deducted, and whether it is meant to include foreign as well as home stations. We know that when the officers of Engineers occupied huts and tents in the Crimea, that no deduction was made from the extra pay for quarters; and we believe that the regulation on that head is virtually a dead letter. The provisions, forage, fuel, light, &c, produced £173,262. Of this sum, a " floating mill," which seems to have been regularly baptized under the pugilistic name of "Bruiser," sold for £8,500. It must have been rather a valuable piece of machinery, in the first instance, to have realized this sum by sale. We should like exceedingly to know its history—what it originally cost ?—what it was constructed for ?—when it was used, if ever r—where it was intended to be worked? and all about it. The Commissariat supplies handed over to Turkey bring back, in the present estimates, £43,441; and the proceeds ot Commissariat supplies, most likely of those sold in the Crimea, £108,201. "Broken stones" realised the sum of £3 10». Qd. They are rather a curious item. Were they not sent to the Crimea for the purpose of making the roads? Many things far more absurd were done. The sale of stores produced no less than £262,018. How many of these consisted of stores sold by one department, and wanted at the same time by some other, which a little inquiry might have ascertained is not stated, nor is it shown what portion were wanted immediately after by the very department that sold them? There was more haste than was quite judicious, in getting rid of every thing when the war was over. The Turkish Government paid for stores supplied to it, £93,552. The item of barrack damages—we can scarcely credit its accuracy—only produces £6,274. Sandhurst gives £30,928, and Woolwich £20,000, in aid of their own maintenance. The whole credit to the public, under the foregoing heads and others, amounts to the sum of £1,126,126.