VOLUNTEERS—the great defensive citizen-force of Greet Britain, in some degree cor responding to the national guard of continental states. It is essentially self-supporting, and wholly unpaid; although government arms the men, and contributes a certain sum toward the corporate expenditure. The oldest volunteer corps is' the honorable artil lery company" of the city of London, which dates from the reign of Henry VII. although still called artillery, it comprises artillery, cavalry, and infantry; and is proba bly the oldest armed body in Europe. When the country was in dread of invasion by Bona parte almost the whole available male population flew to arms as volunteers, and in 1803 they mustered 463,134 effectives. About this time George III. reviewed 150,000 volun teers. The force gradually diminished when the immediate danger ceased; and, before the war closed, they were replaced by a new force called the "local militia," which was supposed to be more thoroughly amenable to government control. As early as 1857 two small volunteer corps—the 1st bevon and the Victoria rifles—had sprung into existence but in 1859 the whole nation seemed to awake to a sense of insecurity, with a compara tively small army, half of which was abroad, amid the enormous armaments of neigh boring states. In a few months 150,000 men had organized themselves into companies; and, in the following year, government, which had at first shown no favor to the move ment, gave it a helping baud by combining the companies into battalions, by appointing paid adjutants and drill instructors, and by the establishment of a staff of inspectors under the control of an inspector-general of volunteers. The volunteers numbered in 1878-79, 182,810 efficients, in a high state of training, and capable of performing in a very satisfactory manner all the simpler military maneuvers. They are divided into a small number of light horse, mounted rifles, and engineers, a force of 33,409 artillery, and quite an army of about 147,902 riflemen. Where 60 men can be got together, a company of volunteers may be formed, which is entitled to a captain and two lieuten ants or sub-lieutenants for its officers. If a place is populous enough, and sufficiently zealous in the cause to produce a carps of two companies, the senior officer becomes "captain-commandant." Four companies make a major's command; six are sufficient to constitute a battalion, for which government provides an adjutant, hitherto au old military officer, but now an army captain, who receives 10s. a day besides his forage. When there are a number of detached companies in the different villages of a district they are grouped into an administrative battalion (or brigade for detached batteries of ar tillery), with an adjutant, and with qualified field-officers. England and Scotland are fur ther divided into military districts, each commanded by a general officer, who commands and inspects all forces of whatever kind within his district, his constant endeavor being to keep the corps in his district up to the standard of efficiency. Every company may have an honorary assistant-surgeon; but a corps of two companies is entitled to an assistant-surgeon; of four companies, to a surgeon, who may have an assistant when there are six companies, and two for eight or more companies. If a corps exceed a strength of twelve companies, it is customary to divide it into two battalions. The vol unteer corps were originally raised under an act of 1804; but the circumstances of mod ern times having rendered various supplementary enactments necessary, the whole were embodied in a new act—the 26 and 27 Vict. cap. 65 (1803)—under which, and the "regu lation of the forces act, 1871," and under orders in council issued from time to time the volunteer force of Great Britain is now constituted.
All officers are appointed by the crown, except sub-lieutenants, who are nominated by the lords-lieutenant of counties; the non-commissioned officers are appointed by the officers commanding. Adjutants and sergeant-instructors are at all times subject to the mutiny act—the other officers (and men) are subject to it only when their corps is embod ied; but the queen can at any time deprive them of their commissions. Offenses within corps, in time of peace, are punishable by fines or otherwise, as laid down in the rules of the several corps, which must have the approval of the secretary of state for war. Every volunteer on joining must take the oath of allegiance, and must be of the age of 17.
The force may not be used in times of civil disturbance, but may be embodied for active service anywhere in Great Britain whenever the country is invaded, or invasion is apprehended by the crown. The occasion must first be communicated to parliament; or, if parliament be not sitting, to the country, by an order in council, and then the crown may direct the general commanding in districts to call out any or all of the vol unteer corps in their respective commands for active service. Corps so called out come under the mutiny act, and are bound to march whithersoever the general may command. While embodied, officers and men are entitled to the same pay as in the regular army. In point of precedence, volunteers rank with, but after, the same ranks in the army and militia. The yeomanry are reckoned as part of the volunteers. Among themselves, the volunteers rank in the following order: 1st, light horse; 2d, artillery; 3d, engineers; 4th, engineers and railway transport corps; 5th, mounted rifles; 6th, rifles.
Members of a corps are honorary and enrolled. The first are merely subscribers of certain amount; they are entitled to wear the uniform, but perform no duties. The enrolled members are the actual rank and file; they are classed as "efficient" and "non efficient"—the efficient being those who are certified by the commanding-officer and the adjutant to have a competent knowledge of the duties of the service, and to have attended the following number of drills: The assistance afforded by the government to volunteer corps consists in the supply of adjutants; and of sergeant-instructors in the proportion of 1 to a corps of 3 companies or less,.2 from 4 to 7 companies, 3 up to 12 companies, etc. The money aid is a capitu lation grant of 30s. annually for each volunteer who is efficient, including officers, in addition to which there is a special grant of £2 10s. for each officer and volunteer ser geant who holds a certificate of pro_leiency (for which a severe examination has now to be passed). In scattered administrative battalions, a charge of 5s. for each efficient is allowed to cover the cost of attending battalion drills. These alowances are, however, none of them personal, but are granted to corps, to be expended by the adjutant, who is accountable to the war office, within certain limits, according to the discretion of the commanding officer. Government likewise provides all the arms, and a certain quathity of practice-ammunition. At first the several corps were allowed to choose their own uniform, subject to the approval of the lord-lieut.; but there are now " sealed " patterns of uniforms; and new corps must be clothed accordingly, and old corps changing uni forms must conform. Volunteer corps do not bear colors. The system has not yet been extended to Ireland.—See MILITIA.