The Rifle Brigade 1800 to c.1870: A Study of Social, Cultural and Religious Attitudes
Crosby Anne Stevens
University of Sheffield, 1995
This dissertation analyses the social, cultural and religious outlook of the officers and men of the Rifle Brigade, a regiment of the British army, between 1800 and about 1870, and examines the relationship between that corps and British civilian society.
Chapter 1 outlines the structure and military record of the regiment, describes its links into the wider army, and examines the military and non-military careers of Riflemen, and their social backgrounds. Chapter 2 presents evidence for reforming and conservative professional attitudes, and argues for the importance to them of an ideal of regenerated gentlemanliness. Chapter 3 describes the operation of patronage and the links it created with civilian society, and it analyses the views of merit that und~rpinned the system. Chapter 4 brings together evidence for the reading of officers and men, and the theatre they saw and performed themselves. It shows how these acted as a channel for a range of information, ideas and attitudes to enter the regiment from civilian society, and so fostered a shared outlook. Chapters 5 and 6 look at the extent and nature of religious belief among Riflemen, taking into account their backgrounds and subsequent careers, and argue both that Christianity coloured attitudes to a range of conduct, and that Riflemen adhered to forms of institutional and cultural religion that should be set beside personal piety. The conclusion highlights the role of the ideal of gentlemanliness in guiding officers and in shaping a culture shared across ranks and across the civilian-military divide. Two appendices are provided. The first describes the method used for the analysis of officers' careers, and the second is a genealogical table showing their interrelation.