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Military Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers & Rank and File Soldiers
Adjutant: regimental staff officer responsible for discipline, drill and personnel matters. Usually a captain, often with additional rank service experience.
Adjutant-General: Second Military Member of the Army Board; responsible for all personnel services, welfare training and discipline.
Aide-de-Camp (also ADC): junior staff officer, attached to a general.
Army Agent: civilian businessman acting as a middleman between the adjutant-general/paymaster-general and individual regiments; appointed by the colonel or commandant of a regiment to keep the regimental accounts and to be responsible for the pay of the officers and men, the provision of clothing, and the sale and purchase of army commissions.
Bombardier: junior NCO of artillery, originally one trained to prepare explosive shells.
Brevet: local rank; a document conferring nominal rank on an officer rather than a formal commission.
Brigade Major: staff officer attached to an infantry brigade.
Brigadier: a brigade-commander (an appointment not a rank).
Captain: commissioned rank above lieutenant and below major.
Captain General: the titular head of a regiment referred to as Captain General rather than Colonel-in-Chief.
Colonel: commissioned rank above lieutenant colonel and below brigadier.
Commandant: commanding officer of a unit.
Commander: officer, warrant officer or non-commissioned officer appointed to the command of a force, formation, unit or sub-unit of soldiers. Where no commander has been appointed it is usual for the senior rank present to assume the responsibilities and duties of commander.
Commander-in-Chief: originally the highest appointment in the British Army.
Commissary: supply-officer; officer responsible for requisitioning, purchasing and moving of supplies and convoys; personally responsible for any financial losses.
Commission: the document authorising an officer to perform military duty in the service of the state or nation.
Commissioned Officer: an officer holding a commission in the army.
Company: sub-unit, usually of infantry, with a strength of approx. 100 men.
Cornet: the lowest commissioned rank in the cavalry, corresponding to an ensign in the infantry, and expected to carry the troop's cornet (flag); in 1871 the the title was abolished and replaced by that of Second-Lieutenant.
Corporal: non-commissioned rank between sergeant and lance corporal.
Ensign: the name originally applied to the lowest commissioned rank of infantry officer in the Army; one who traditionally carried the Ensign or Colour of the regiment.
Fireworker: artillery technician [see also Lieutenant Fireworker].
General: officer ranking above lieutenant general and below field marshal.
Gunner: an officer responsible for the ship's heavy guns (one of the four warrant officers).
HEIC: the Honourable East India Company established by Royal Charter on 31 December 1600. The Company transformed itself from a commercial trading venture to one that virtually ruled India and other Asian colonies until its dissolution in 1858 following the events of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Also referred to as 'John Company' or the 'East India Company'.
Lance Corporal: the prefix 'lance' (from the Italian for 'veteran') signified a senior soldier acting in the place of a corporal.
Lieutenant Colonel: commissioned rank below colonel and above major.Lieutenant Fireworker: rank in the artillery regiments of the Madras, Bombay and Bengal Presidency armies of the HEIC in India.
Lieutenant General: general officer ranking below general and above major general.
Local Rank: temporary short-term rank; usually granted in a specific location or theatre. [see also: 'acting rank' and 'substantive rank'].
Major: commissioned offer of field rank, ranking above captain but below lieutenant colonel.
Major-General: general officer ranking above brigadier and below lieuteant general
Major of Brigade: a local rank or appointment.
Mess: a group of military personnel who eat together regularly.
Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO): enlisted member of the army who holds rank by appointment rather than by commission or warrant.
Officer: a person having rank and authority in a disciplined service.
Paymaster: officer of rank of captain responsible for a regiment's pay. A military commission as Paymaster could be purchased, but the regimental Colonel had to approve.
Pioneer: regimental artificer or carpenter; responsible for field engineering and light construction tasks.
Piper: a soldier qualified to play the bagpipes.
Private: the lowest rank of trained soldier.
Prize Agent: member of a military tribunal set up to calculate the amount of reward for individual ranks of soldiers in a military campaign.
Prize Committee: military tribunal established in time of war to calculate the value of goods and treasure captured during a campaign.
Quartermaster: junior officer, usually a lieutenant (often an ex-rank and file soldier); responsible for stores, rations, supplies, ammunition, uniforms, and equipment within a regiment.
Quartermaster-General: the Third Military Member of the Army Board; responsible for all aspects of the logistical support of the Army in peace and war.
Rank and File: term used to describe the Army excluding the commissioned officers.
Ranker: colloquialism for a member of the rank-and-file; a private soldier.
Recruit: a newly joined and as yet untrained member of the Army.
Redcoat: a British soldier.
Regimental Serjeant-Major: the senior warrant officer in a regiment or battalion. He is responsible to the commanding officer through the adjutant for all aspects of the duty and discipline of the warrant officers, non-commissioned ooficers and rank and file of the regiment or battalion.
Serjeant (also Sergeant): non-commissioned officer ranking above corporal and below staff serjeant or colour serjeant. 'Serjeant' is an early spelling of 'sergeant'.
Serjeant-Major: senior serjeant in a battalion, with one to each battalion.
Subaltern: a commissioned officer below the rank of captain (i.e. ensign or lieutenant).
Town Major: the senior administrative officer in a garrison town.
Volunteer: an aspiring officer serving in the ranks in the hope of obtaining a commission.
Warrant Officer: a rank below commissioned officer and above non-commissioned officer [NCO].
HAYTHORNTHWAITE, Philip J. The Armies of Wellington. London: Arms & Armour Press, 1994 pp.276-287.
HAYTHORNTHWAITE, Philip J. The Colonial Wars Source Book. London: Arms & Armour Press, 1995 pp.359-373.
MAKEPEACE-WARNE, Antony. Brassey's Companion to the British Army. London: Brassey's 1995.
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