Earlier this year we posted an article about the Childers Army Reforms of 1881. In it we mentioned the 1873 Cardwell Reforms.
Whilst pouring over a copy of the magnificent "Records of the Scottish Volunteer Force" By General James Grierson I noticed he had covered the subject too. It was the first time the Volunteers and regulars were linked together, so he had included it in his magnum opus. The Localisation of Depots was an important step in the reform of the British Army but is often overshadowed by the Childers Reforms eight years later.
Poor General Grierson died on his way to the front in August 1914, but his work on the Scottish Volunteers from 1859-1908 is still the definitive work on the subject over one hundred years after it was published. He sums it all up beautifully so I will use his words on the reforms:
In the year 1873 a most important step was taken in the organisation of the volunteer force, which was the beginning of their closer association Territorial organisation with the regular forces and the militia.
By General Regulations and Instructions of July 24, 1873, there were brought into force the recommendations of the Localisation Committee of 1872. The United Kingdom was divided into seventy infantry sub-districts, each consisting of a certain area, to each of which were assigned for recruiting purposes, as a normal rule, two line battalions, two militia battalions, and the volunteers of the area. Of the line battalions, one was nominally to be stationed abroad, the other (which fed the foreign battalion in peace) at home, and two companies of each were to be permanently quartered at sub-district headquarters to form the brigade depot. The depot, the militia and volunteer battalions, and the army reserve men were constituted the "sub-district brigade," and were placed under the orders of the lieutenant-colonel commanding the sub-district brigade depot, who was charged with the training and inspection of all the infantry of the auxiliary forces.
In the North British District (as the Scottish Command was then termed) the infantry sub-districts were as follows :—
Depot at Fort George.
Regular Battalions—71st and 78th Foot.
Militia - Highland Light Infantry and Highland Rifles.
Volunteers—1st Administrative Battalion. Ross-shire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Inverness-shire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Sutherland, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Elginshire.
No. 56.—Counties of Aberdeen, Banff, and Kincardine.
Depot at Aberdeen.
Regular Battalions—92nd and 93rd Foot.
Militia - Royal Aberdeen (2nd battalion not yet formed).
Volunteers—1st Aberdeen Rifle Volunteers, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Administrative Battalions. Aberdeenshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Kincardineshire, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Banffshire.
No. 57.— Counties of Forfar, Perth and Fife.
Depot at Perth.
Regular Battalions—42nd and 79th Foot.
Militia - Royal Perth (2nd battalion not yet formed).
Volunteers—1st Forfar Rifle Volunteers, 1st Administrative Battalion. Forfarshire, 10th Forfar
Rifle Volunteers, 1st and 2nd Administrative Battalions. Perthshire, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Fife.
No. 58.—Counties of Renfrew, Bute, Stirling, Dumbarton, Argyll, Kinross, and Clackmannan.
Depot at Stirling.
Regular Battalions—72nd and 91st Foot.
Militia - Highland Borderers L.I., and Royal Renfrew.
Volunteers—1st, 2nd, and 3rd Administrative Battalions. Renfrewshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Stirlingshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Argyllshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Dumbartonshire, and 1st Administrative Battalion.. Clackmannanshire and Kinross-shire.
No. 59.—County of Lanark.
Depot at Hamilton.
Regular Battalions—26th and 74th Foot.
Militia - 1st Royal Lanark (two battalions).
Volunteers—1st, 3rd, 4th, 16th, and 29th Lanark Rifle Volunteers.
No. 60.—County of Lanark.
Depot at Hamilton.
Regular Battalions—73rd and 90th Foot.
Militia - 2nd Royal Lanark (two battalions).
Volunteers—19th, 25th, 31st, and 105th Lanark Rifle Volunteers, and
3rd Administrative Battalion. Lanarkshire.
No. 61.—Counties of Ayr, Wigtown, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries, Selkirk, and Roxburgh.
Depot at Ayr.
Regular Battalions—21st Foot (two battalions).
Militia - Scottish Borderers, and Royal Ayr and Wigtown.
Volunteers—1st Administrative Battalion. Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire, 1st and 2nd Administrative Battalions. Ayrshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Dumfries-shire, and 1st Administrative Battalion. Galloway.
No. 62.—Counties of Edinburgh, Peebles, Haddington, Berwick, and Linlithgow.
Depot at Glencorse.
Regular Battalions—1st Foot (two battalions).
Militia - Edinburgh L.I. (2nd battalion not yet formed).
Volunteers—1st and 3rd Edinburgh Rifle Volunteers, 1st Mid-Lothian Rifle Volunteers, 1st Administrative Battalion. Mid-Lothian, 1st Administrative Battalion. Berwickshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Haddingtonshire, 1st Administrative Battalion. Linlithgowshire.
For the command and training of the auxiliary artillery, artillery sub-districts were similarly formed, of which there were two in Scotland, each in charge of a lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Artillery, who commanded and inspected the corps of militia and volunteer artillery and the army reserve of the artillery in his sub -district. The 1st North British Sub-district, headquarters at Edinburgh, comprised the counties of Argyll, Ayr, Berwick, Bute, Clackmannan, Dumbarton, Dumfries, Edinburgh, Fife, Haddington, Kinross, Kirkcudbright, Lanark, Linlithgow, Mid-Lothian, Peebles, Renfrew, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Stirling, and Wigtown, and the 2nd, headquarters at Aberdeen, the rest (North) of Scotland.
The mounted volunteers of Scotland were placed for command and inspection under the lieutenant-colonel and inspecting officer of the 1st Cavalry District for Auxiliary Forces, headquarters at York, and the engineer volunteers were kept under the direct command of the Commanding Royal Engineer, North British District. Thus the volunteers were for the first time brought into close organic connection with the other branches of the forces of the Crown, and in this same year a beginning was made with a scheme of mobilisation which, it must be confessed, existed at first only on paper, according to which definite duties in the defence of the country were told off to the various corps on the coast, which were formed into "local brigades" for its watching and defence, or as "detachments from corps" for the garrisoning of the fortresses.