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Commission

commissions, officers, lieutenant, captain, king, rank, military, army and major

COMMISSION, in military affairs, is the document by which an officer is autho rized to perform duty for the service of the state.

In England in former times the regular mode of assembling an army, either to resist an invading enemy, or,to accom pany the king on a foreign expedition, was by sending a royal command to the chief barons and the spiritual lords, that they should meet at a given time and place with their due proportion of men, horses, &c. properly equipped, according to the tenure by which they held their estates ; and these tenants in capite appear to have appointed by their own authority all their subordinate officers. But com missions were granted by the kings to in dividuals, authorizing them to raise men for particular services; thus, in 1442, Henry VI. gave one to the governor of Mantes, by which he was appointed to maintain 50 horsemen, 20 men-at-arms on foot, and 210 archers, for the defence of that city. According to Pere Daniel, the commission was written on parch ment, and, that it might not be counter feited, the piece was divided, by cutting it irregularly, into two portions, of which doubtless each party retained one.

Commissions of array, as they were called, were also issued by the king in England, probably from the time of Alfred, for the purpose of mustering and training the inhabitants of the counties in military discipline ; and in the reign of Edward III. the parliament enacted that no person trained under these commis missions should be compelled to serve out of his own county except the kingdom were invaded. Of the same nature as these commissions of array was that which, in 1572, when the county was threatened with the Spanish invasion, Queen Elizabeth issued to the justices of the peace in the different counties, autho rizing them to muster and train persons to serve during the war. Those magis trates were directed to make choice of officers to command bodies of 100 men and upwards ; and such officers, with the consent of the magistrates, were to ap point their own lieutenants. This privi lege of granting commissions to the offi cers of the national militia continued to be exercised by the lord-lieutenants of counties, the king having the power of confirming or annulling the appointments ; and it was made law in the reign of Charles II. The militia has been disem bodied for several years ; but commis sions in the yeomanry cavalry, a force which is still kept up in England, are granted by the lord-lieutenants. It ap pears, however, that before the Revolu tion, the lieutenants and ensigns were recommended for commissions by the captains of the companies.

In the French service, between the reigns of Francis I. and Louis XIV., we

find that the kings reserved to themselves the nomination of the principal com manders only of the legions or regiments, and that the commanders were permitted to grant commissions under their own signature and seal to the subordinate officers, who were charged with the duty of raising the troops and instructing them in the use of arms.

In the British regular army all the com missions of officers are signed by the king. The several commissions in the navy are a sort of warrant, and are signed by the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty; but the documents are called commissions, and they are signed in the name of the king. In the navy, in the regiment of artillery, and in the corps of engineers and marines, the commissions are con ferred without purchase ; and to a certain extent this is the case with the commis sions granted to officers of the line. Those cadets who have completed a course of military education in the Royal College at Sandhurst are so appointed. In other cases, gentlemen obtain leave to enter the army by the purchase of an ensigncy, the prices of which, in the different classes of troops, are regulated by authority ; and they proceed to the higher grades on paying the difference between the price of the grade which they quit and of that which they enter.

The commissioned officers of a batta lion of infantry are as follow : Field officers—colonel, lientenant-colonel, and major. Regimental officers — captains, lieutenants, and ensigns. Staff-officers chaplain, adjutant, quartermaster, and surgeon.

The prices of commissions in the Bri tish army are as follows :—Life Guards lieutenant-colonel, 7250l.; major, 5350l.; captain, 35001.; lieutenant, 17851.; cor net, 12601. Royal Regiment of Horse Guards—lieutenant-colonel, 7250l.; ma jor, 5350/. ; captain, 3500/. ; lieutenant, 16001.; cornet, 12001. Dragoon Guards and Dragoons — lieutenant - colonel, major, 4575l.; captain, 3225l.; lieutenant, 1190l.; cornet, 8401. Foot Guards—lieutenant-colonel, 90001.; ma jor, with rank of colonel, 8300/. ; captain, with rank of lieutenant-colonel, 4800/. ; lieutenant, with rank of captain, 2050/. ; ensign, with rank of lieutenant, 1200/. Regiments of the Line—lieutenant-colo nel, 4500/. ; major, 3200/. ; captain, 1800/. ; lieutenant, 700/. ; ensign, 450/. Fusilier and Rifle regiments-1st lieu tenant, 700l.; 2nd lieutenant, 500/.

Commissions in the military service of the East India Company are given by the Court of Directors.

In the British colonies where a mili tia is kept on foot commissions are given in it by the governor as captain-general, In the National Guards of France the officers are selected by their comrades.