Saturday, 25 April 2009

Hanoverian Artillery Driver

Unit and uniform detail to follow...

3 comments:

Fitz-Badger said...

Please excuse my ignorance, but what's an artillery driver? I'm envisioning a special troop type who only drives artillery around, sort of an ordnance muleskinner? Brings up thoughts of unions and strictures on some jobs only being handled by the right person, but that person can't do something outside his job description...

David said...

Hi FB,

Yes, it's someone who drives the artillery around. It is true that the artillery units of many nations (e.g. Austria) still had much of the nature of an old fashioned mediaeval guild in the mid-18th century and they often had rather union-like restrictions on who could be recruited and what they could learn and do. In most armies gunners and engineers have been a race apart, highly skilled and educated and looked down upon by the "socially superior", if often vastly more ignorant, cavalry and infantry. I don't think that this really applied to artillery drivers who were not artillery specialists, though, (even though they needed horse handling skills) but even in today's much more flexible and highly educated armies people have specific roles for which they're trained and it's not possible to train everyone to do everyone else's job.

The 18th century was very much a period when people had a rather fixed view of society (and very much so in the military) and there was little idea of giving opportunities for promotion to those with talent from the lower orders - people were mostly expected to accept their lot in life and anything else smacked of a threat to destroy the entire social order. The average 18th century artillery driver is unlikely to have had the inclination, education or opportunity to be anything else; the evidence suggests that many such ancillary troops were reluctant soldiers and highly likely to desert. It took the French Revolution to sow the myth of every soldier having a marshal's baton in his knapsack and even then it was mostly a lie, of course, just as a previous British prime minister's claim in the 1990s that with a bit of hard work every Briton could become a millionaire was so much piffle. ;-)

I've probably introduced too many points into that little discussion, tried to boil them down too much and consequently not made myself at all clear; if so, my apologies! I was out late last night at a party and my brain is much less than 100% today... ;-)

David.

Fitz-Badger said...

Ah, thanks for the info! Makes sense to me. :-)