Mount Hutt, Canterbury, New Zealand
Umpires (at Lord Cardwell's Army Maneouvres)
16th September 1870
From the collection
With us [the British] Army manoeuvres are something quite different; and why we have them must be placed to the account of Lord Cardwell, who, as Secretary of State for War, introduced them in 187r. He little knew what he was about, and what followed was one of the strangest performances in our military history.$The Prince of Wales took part. The Dulte [sic] of Cambridge, as Commander-in-Chief, assumed the dignity of chief umpire and wore a broad white band on his right arm. Three divisions of troops were assembled at Aldershot. Sanguinary battles were fought on the Hog's Back and the Fox Hills between tightly packed lines of men in red and close battalion columns in blue. One critic said that the order of battle was suited to the actions of the Seven Years' War (1756-1763) ;" and another, that if such blunders were to be repeated " it would be well for the Government not to invite foreign officers to witness them." Yet all's well that ends well, and so these manoeuvres closed with a review. " The Army," we are told, " stood here on its own ground, and he would be a bold man who ventured to criticise the dispositions by which it was placed in array, or its appearance and equipment, as it marched past the Commander-in-Chief." Then, in 1874, manoeuvres were abandoned—they revealed too much." [Spectator Archives 26th August 1938].
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