Loading ...
Sorry, an error occurred while loading the content.

Re: [WarOf1812] Literacy among the OR's of the 95th Foot

Expand Messages
  • mmathews@VAX2.WINONA.MSUS.EDU
    (snip) ... And this begs the question, would you find more literate men among the militia than the regular military? On both sides of the border? Not being
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 2, 2000
    • 0 Attachment
      (snip)
      >comrades. Certainly the point of the rifle regiments was to draw the better
      >men from the redcoated regiments, (something which in 1800 met a lot of
      >resistance from the regiments from whose men were drawn- the regt'l colonels
      >sent their "rubbish" instead....) and later from the militias, and part of
      >this intelligence was the ability to read and write. (snip)

      And this begs the question, would you find more literate men among the
      militia than the regular military? On both sides of the border? Not being
      the dregs of society/useless gutter louts/yadda yadda; would they have had
      more opportunities to gain some measure of education? Seems like a logical
      premise, but I await the collective wisdom of the list. ;-)

      Michael


      Michael Mathews -- Winona State University
      Voice: (507) 285-7585 Cel: (507) 450-3535 Fax: (507) 280-5568
      ------------------------------
      "I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have."
      - Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
    • Roger Fuller
      ... were encouraged to learn to read and write, and that opportunities were provided by the regiments ... Ray, that s a good question, and one that has been
      Message 2 of 4 , Nov 2, 2000
      • 0 Attachment
        >PS: I understand, though have not looked at it carefully, that riflemen
        were encouraged to learn to read and write, and that opportunities were
        provided by the regiments
        >for this. Any comment Roger?
        >
        Ray, that's a good question, and one that has been answered in different
        ways in the past, mostly indicating that, by the number of memoirs of 95th
        Other Ranks, one must say that they were more literate than their redcoated
        comrades. Certainly the point of the rifle regiments was to draw the better
        men from the redcoated regiments, (something which in 1800 met a lot of
        resistance from the regiments from whose men were drawn- the regt'l colonels
        sent their "rubbish" instead....) and later from the militias, and part of
        this intelligence was the ability to read and write. Coote-Manningham in his
        Regulations for the Rifle Corps (1800) prescribes in detail the
        establishment of regimental schools for all men and families in the
        regiment, but I haven't looked into whether these schools were ever actually
        established. I shall report back on it when I find more info.

        Well, it may be true, that they were more educated than their average
        redcoated comrade, BUT- the two most famous memoirs, "Rifleman Harris" and
        "Costello's Memoirs (The Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns)" were both
        _dictated_ in later life by older men who were not in good health. Harris,
        who was functionally illiterate, tends to mix up some dates and names (some
        of which are annotated and corrected, depending upon which edition one has)
        and Costello seems to have technical details added by somebody else, e.g.,
        the ubiquitous brass hammer for starting the ball as part of his kit, which
        both Ezekiel Baker as well as the writer of Scloppetaria (a treatise about
        rifles and their use) both reported that they were soon discarded as
        useless, long before Costello- or Harris- saw active service.

        My guess in this case was that the "ghostwriter" tried to help out
        Costello's fading memories by putting in technical details he/she found
        someplace without cross-checking the facts. As for the preponderance of
        accounts from this regt. versus other regiments, that is probably due to the
        95th's status as an elite regt, as well as from its deeds in battle. In
        other words, the publishers knew the memoirs of greenjackets would sell
        well.

        Surtees' memoirs indicate that he was literate, if for the simple reason
        that he attained status as a sergeant, then as a quartermaster officer of
        the 95th, positions he could have not reached had he been illiterate. I am
        waiting for a copy of Bugler Green; as I haven't read it yet, that is the
        only other memoir of an enlisted man from the 95th that has been published
        that I am aware of.

        So, it is difficult to make a blanket judgement about the literacy rate of
        the 95th's OR's solely on the basis of the known memoirs alone. The regiment
        showed its literacy rate, however, by the sheer number of corporals and
        sergeants in the regiment, as half-companies were expected to operate on
        their own, even squads had to function on their own, should the officer be
        missing or a casualty.

        Roger
        3/95th (Rifles)
      • IX Regiment
        In message , Roger Fuller writes ... I realise that Private Wheeler wasn t in the
        Message 3 of 4 , Nov 2, 2000
        • 0 Attachment
          In message <001a01c044e9$9e31b3a0$6746d63f@hp-customer>, Roger Fuller
          <fullerfamily@...> writes
          >>PS: I understand, though have not looked at it carefully, that riflemen
          >were encouraged to learn to read and write, and that opportunities were
          >provided by the regiments
          >>for this. Any comment Roger?
          >>
          >Ray, that's a good question, and one that has been answered in different
          >ways in the past, mostly indicating that, by the number of memoirs of 95th
          >Other Ranks, one must say that they were more literate than their redcoated
          >comrades. Certainly the point of the rifle regiments was to draw the better
          >men from the redcoated regiments, (something which in 1800 met a lot of
          >resistance from the regiments from whose men were drawn- the regt'l colonels
          >sent their "rubbish" instead....) and later from the militias, and part of
          >this intelligence was the ability to read and write. Coote-Manningham in his
          >Regulations for the Rifle Corps (1800) prescribes in detail the
          >establishment of regimental schools for all men and families in the
          >regiment, but I haven't looked into whether these schools were ever actually
          >established. I shall report back on it when I find more info.
          I realise that Private Wheeler wasn't in the Rifles, but his letters
          provide quite a lot on information about schooling and education, he and
          his wife ran the Regimental school when they served in the Ionian
          islands late in his service. I imagine that the details were not wildly
          different from Regiment to Regiment. Letter No. 107 dated 10 June 1824
          onwards.
          Cheers

          P**
          >
          >
          >So, it is difficult to make a blanket judgement about the literacy rate of
          >the 95th's OR's solely on the basis of the known memoirs alone. The regiment
          >showed its literacy rate, however, by the sheer number of corporals and
          >sergeants in the regiment, as half-companies were expected to operate on
          >their own, even squads had to function on their own, should the officer be
          >missing or a casualty.
          I have come across a similar problem when researching the Journal of
          James Hale. It claims that James Hale wrote the book, but the prose is
          of a reasonably good quality and is supposedly written by a man who
          couldn't sign his name a few years earlier, I suspect that at least a
          scribe had been used if not an author who wrote the book from the
          information that the soldier provided.
          P**

          --
          IX Regiment
        • HQ93rd@aol.com
          In a message dated 11/2/00 9:01:32 AM, mmathews@VAX2.WINONA.MSUS.EDU writes:
          Message 4 of 4 , Nov 3, 2000
          • 0 Attachment
            In a message dated 11/2/00 9:01:32 AM, mmathews@... writes:

            << And this begs the question, would you find more literate men among the
            militia than the regular military? >>

            Of course then there's always the ...ahem....93rd.
            The majority (Other Ranks) were taught, while growing up, in Parish schools
            at home in Scotland. While on garrison duty in South Africa twixt 1805 and
            1814 they earned extra money by teaching school. 700 of them were attested as
            to carrying their own bibles when on church parade. A famous New Orleans
            account is of a New Orleans gentleman, who having fought in the battle, later
            took off the body of a dead Highlander (bloody looter!) a bible which had
            been given the soldier by his mother.
            The high discipline and low offense and corporal punishment rate in the 93rd
            is often attributed to the high literacy rate.

            Cheers
            B
            93rd SHRoFLHU
            THE Thin Red Line
            http://hometown.aol.com/ninety3rd
          Your message has been successfully submitted and would be delivered to recipients shortly.