MAJOR, a field-o cer next in rank below a lieutenant-colonel, and imme diately superior to the captains of troops in a regiment of cavalry, or to the cap tains of companies in a battalion of in fantry. His duty is to superintend the exercises of the regiment or battalion, and, on parade or in action, to carry into effect the orders of the colonel. The major has also to regulate the distribution of the officers and men for the perform ance of any particular service; and he has a temporary charge of the effects ap pertaining to any individual of the corps in the event of the absence or death f such individual.
This class of field-officers does not ap pear to have existed before the beginning of the seventeenth century ; and, at first, such officers had the title of serjeants nuflor, a designation borne at an earlier time by a class corresponding to that of the present majors-general of an army. (Grose, vol. i. p. 243.) No mention is made of either lieu tenants-colonel or majors as field-officers in the account of Queen Elizabeth's army in Ireland (1600). But Ward, in his • Animadversions of Warre' (1639), has given a description of the duties of the latter class, under the name of serjeants major, from which it appears that those duties were then nearly the same as are exercised by the present majors of regi ments. They are stated to consist in re
ceiving the orders from the general com manding the army ; in conveying them to the colonel of the regiment, and sub sequently in transmitting them to the officers of the companies; also, in super intending the distribution of ammunition to the troops, and in visiting the guard by day or night.
A brigade-major is a staff-officer who performs fur a brigade, or in a garrison, duties corresponding to those of a major in a regiment or battalion.
The prices of a major's commission are,— In the Life and Royal Daily Pay.
Horse Guards . . .£5350 £1 4 5 In the Dragoons . . 4575 0 19 3 In the Foot Guards (with the rank of colonel) . . . 8300 1 3 0 In the regiments of the line . . . 3200 0 16 0 A serjeant-major of a regiment is a non-commissioned officer, who in general superintends the military exercises of the soldiers : on parade, he has the care of dressing the line.