Regency Military Organization


Last night as I was plugging along on my revisions, I discovered AN ERROR, one I could not ignore, even though maybe only about two readers would recognize the error.

From the beginning of this book, my villain was a general in the British army and his son, the mini-villain, was his cowardly aide de camp. I thought I was so lucky because I put him in charge of a regiment, the Royal Scots (1st Regiment of Foot), while my hero was in the East Essex (44th Regiment) and they both fought at the battles I needed them to, including Waterloo.

A couple of days ago I also discovered that these two regiments fought at Quatre Bras as well as Waterloo AND they were in the same brigade. This fit perfectly with some changes I’d decided to make.

Then last night I noticed something. The real commanders of the regiments were all colonels. After about two hours of searching the internet and my dozens of Napoleonic War books, I verified that, indeed, colonels commanded regiments, not generals, and colonels do not have aids de camp. (I also phoned my friend Eugene Ossa who knew all this stuff off the top of his head)

So I had to revamp a few things and go through the whole manuscript to make sure I fixed everything.

Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep last night….

This is what I learned.
Armies were made up of Divisions (and Artillery, but that’s a whole different ballgame)
Divisions were made up of Brigades
Brigades were made up of Regiments
Regiments were made up of Companies.

Armies were led by important people, like Wellington, called Field Marshall Wellington in this battle.
Divisions were commanded by Lieutenant Generals
Brigades were commanded by Major Generals (inferior in rank to Lt. Generals)
Regiments were commanded by Colonels, assisted by Majors.
Companies were commanded by Captains, assisted by Lieutenants.

Of course, each regiment had surgeons, bandsmen, clergy, a paymaster, but I didn’t need to know that to solve my problem.

I sent my manuscript on time, then got permission to go through it one more time, just to polish the prose (and hope that I don’t discover another ERROR)

But first I’m going to sleep…..

So…has this ever happened to you?
Do you understand the British Army in 1815???

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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Ladyhawk
13 years ago

Sleep well, Diane. At least you caught it BEFORE it went to print. 🙂 And what an education. Something to add to writing notes.
~Judy

Megan Frampton
13 years ago

Wow, Diane, what you did for those two readers! I hope they appreciate it.

And I love the idea of “mini-villain.” Sleep well.

Amanda McCabe
13 years ago

Okay, this is very helpful for my own WIP! Thanks, Diane. I love info in little charts like that…

Susan Wilbanks
13 years ago

Diane, it’s lovely to see that structure laid out so neatly–most military histories assume you already know all that, and it took me forever to piece it all together, even with having a brother in the army, because he was Corps of Engineers and spent a lot of his time outside of ordinary battalions, doing things like teaching math at West Point and running a ROTC program in Kansas. (He did, however, give me a helpful chart matching army and navy ranks when I asked him how bad it was for Picard to be a Lieutenant j.g. in that one Next Gen episode where Q shows him an alternate life. But he included the caveat that the lowliest private outranks all the admirals in the whole d*mn navy.)

janegeorge
13 years ago

Diane rocks!

I can safely say I am not one of those two readers, but I appreciate the extra effort all the same!

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Judy, you are always so positive!

Megan, my father was an Army Colonel. I think he would have come back from the grave if I’d let the mistake by.

Amanda, if I weren’t so sleepy, I would have made a real chart!

Susan, I thought of you when I was working on the problem and when I was writing the Blog! I knew YOU’d be one of those readers who would KNOW.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Hi Diane,
There must be something in the Wash DC water. I can’t believe you did this chart since I’ve been scouring a book you recommended “Wellington’s War Machine” for just this info–and troop numbers for each section you mentioned. I go cross eyed each time I wade into this book because there are so many different names for each of the above and trying to track who fought where is a NIGHTMARE!

Sophia Nash

Keira Soleore
13 years ago

YAY!! You’re done!! Hope you’re enjoying the blissful sleep of the just and the successful.

Diane, fabulous information. Thanks so much!

You might be interested in these two military threads on Candice Hern’s board: one, two.

Diane Gaston
13 years ago

Janegeorge, I’m glad you think I rock. I think I might be nuts.

Sophia, I found a lovely chart on wikipedia that got me started on realizing I’d made a mistake.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quatre_Bras_order_of_battle

email me if you have any other questions….Or check on Candace’s message board
(Thanks, Keira!)

Santa
13 years ago

I don’t even understand the military of 2009, let alone the military of 1815. I leave that to you!

Thanks for your attention to detail. I appreciate the time you put into your books to make them the best they can be on both romance and historical levels.

I hope you had the sweetest of dreams that did not include irate aide d’camps. I can’t wait to read this one!

Louisa Cornell
13 years ago

YAY ! Another book done by the Divine One! Can’t wait to read it. THIS is one of the reasons we all love your books. That attention to detail! And what a cool chart. Definitely going in the writing notes. As an Air Force brat I can concur. Your Dad, the colonel, would have definitely come back to set you straight had you gotten it wrong. Those military men are real sticklers about rank.

My Dad was always patient when we asked why one man would salute him, but another man Dad had to salute first. It was especially confusing when many of these officers were so much younger than my Dad – the senior master sergeant.

I hope you got some well-deserved rest, O Divine One.

Janet Mullany
13 years ago

Useful list, Diane. I tend to throw out military titles like confetti (gunshot?) and then forget about them.

Evangeline
13 years ago

I happened to find a podcast from the National Archives detailing what exactly the buying and selling of commissions was between 1800 and 1871. Right-click and download here if anyone is curious.