Cardwell's Army Reforms

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 21-04-13 13:18

Edward Cardwell

Edward Carwell was a Secretary of State for War between 1868 and 1874, he introduced a series of reforms to improve the British army, known as 'The Cardwell Reforms'. These reforms were supported by William Gladstone who was the Liberal Prime Minister at the time. 

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Why were the reforms introduced?

The Crimean War had revealed various flaws within the army, such as:

  • many of the British Officers were old fashioned, incompetent and were given their rank because of their wealth/status rather than actual abiliy
  • other Officers had never even been in active service before
  • the structure of the British military was extremely complicated and inefficient
  • out dated, ineffective tactics/equipment used
  • the army was constantly short of men and recruitment was difficult
  • men often had to serve for long periods overseas
  • the soldiers were neglected and brutally punished by the high ranking officers
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The War Office Act: 1870

  • completely changed the structure of the War Office to make it much more efficient and easier to negotiate
  • several departments were removed/merged
  • all departments were moved into one central building
  • this was all done to centralise the War Office to make it easier for departments to cooperate with each other, therefore making is more effective
  • the roles of Secretary for War and Commander-in-Chief were also merged to avoid conflict
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The Army Enlistment Act: 1870

  • limited the length of a soldier's service to 6 years of active service followed by 6 further years of reserve service
  • soldiers used to be enlisted for 21 years which was too long - in man cases a life time for a soldier
  • this was hard on the soldiers and many died, as well as putting men off enlisting
  • the act also introduced an option to sign up for the Army again once your 12 year service was over (with a 2 month break in between) and many men did sign up again
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Flogging: 1871

  • flogging was completely banned in 1880 (after already being banned during peacetime in 1868)
  • this was against the wishes of a majority of the senior British Officers who considered the harsh punishment to be necessary
  • however it was flogging and the 21 year enlistment period which was preventing more men from joining the army, so the aim of it being abolished was to attract more recruits for the army and to improve the lifestyle of the soldiers
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The Sales of Commissions: 1871

  • sales of commisions were abolished, which made the British Army much more meritocratic (so men deserved the position they were given)
  • the aim of this was to improve the standard of leadership within the army and to get rid of the social hierarchy which existed with the officers and the soldiers
  • this would in turn unite the army and help it function more efficiently as a whole
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The Reorganisation of Battalions:

  • saw the whole of Britain organised into 69 different districts, each with 2 battalions (one served overseas whilst one served at home)
  • this was to encourage more evenly distributed recruitment throughout Britain
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