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Army Clothing

soldiers, system, money, colonels and time

CLOTHING, ARMY, is one of the departments of the British military system into which, within recent years, much change and improvement have been introduced.

In the time of Henry VIII., the soldiers' dress was principally white, with green or russet for special corps. In queen Elizabeth's reign, a sum of ls. 8d. was allowed weekly for each soldier's clothing. The uniform then consisted of a cassock of Kentish broadcloth, a canvas doublet, kersey stockings. trousers of kersey broadcloth, neat's leather shoes, and holland shirt. In 1678, an infantry soldier's dress was valued at £2 13s., and a dragoon's as high as £0 10s. At one time, lords-lieutenant attended to the C. of the troops, each in his own but the duty was afterwards transferred to the state. Captains of companies clothed the men, stopped the money out of the pay, and made a profit on the transaction. The privilege afterwards passed to the colonels of regiments. The sum provided by the state every year was for the "effective" strength of the regiment; and any vacancies put an additional sum into the pockets of the colonel. From 1740 to 1855, soldiers' pay was debited with " off-reckonings," as a means of paying for the clothes supplied to the men. Under this system, the colonel received from the state so much money annually for clothing his regiment, and then contracted with wholesale tailors for a supply on the lowest terms. In 1854, just before a change was made in the system, the colonel's profit, on the C. for a private in the line, was 15s. 3d. per man.

The disasters during the early months of the Crimean war having created a national demand for reforms in military matters, a change in the mode of army C. was one of

the results. By a royal warrant, dated Juno 21, 1835, the colonels of regiments were awarded certain annual sums of money in lieu of off-reckonings. These sums varied from £1200 to £500, and were to be given in addition to the pay. From that date, all the troops have been clothed by the government, the off-reckonings being calculated nearly as before, but paid by the country to the colonels. When the war office was remodeled about the same time, a department was added to it; and it was now found that the C. for a full regiment of 1091 non-commissioned officers and rank and file, in the line, cost about £2,500 per annum. The C. is now contracted for more openly than under the former system; and better materials are hence obtained without any increase in cost. The government has a factory on its own account, but a large part of the supply is obtained by contract. Formerly soldiers' coats were too often made of very loose, spongy materials; but now the inspection is rendered much more severe; and the cloth provided for privates is as good as that worn by sergeants a few years ago, while the cloth worn by sergeants now is correspondingly improved.

The net amount of the parliamentary vote for army clothing in 1877-78 was £805, 587 (of which a proportionate part is repaid by the Indian government). The cost of a suit of uniform varies from 22 15s. 4d. for a private in the line, to £8 15s. for a life guardsman. The issue of new uniforms takes place on the 1st of April of each year. Under some circumstances, the men may receive money instead of C., at a certain price for each garment.