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Courts of
Enquiry to

The eighty-first article of war directs, that if any soldier shall have been illegally absent from his duty for the space of two months, and has not been apprehended or surrendered, a regimental court of enquiry of three officers shall assemble ; and, having received proof of the fact, declare such absence and the period thereof; and the officer commanding the corps is required to record such absence, and the declaration of such court of enquiry thereon, in the regimental books. This court of enquiry is required to receive proof of the fact : it is not however authorized to administer an oath.

required to receive proof, but not administer oath.


Board to record

A regimental board,' composed of three officers, the services of a the major or second in command being president, soldier.

and two captains as members, is directed to be assembled previous to the discharge of any soldier; to enquire into, and record, his services, conduct, character and cause of discharge; and for verifying and recording these particulars in his discharge ; on which document the decision of the commissioners at Chelsea hospital on the soldier's claim is made. The general regulations relating to the discharge of soldiers require the board “to investigate, verify and record the following particulars, viz. Ist, his services ; 2d, his disability ; 3d, his character; 4th, his accounts

(1) 87 Art. War.

(2) It is notified by a circular from the adjutant general, dated Horse Guards, 16th May, 1832, “That, in cases where there may not be a sufficient number of captains present at the head-quarters of a regiment to form the board, his lordship (the general commanding in chief) will approve of the officers next in seniority, at the headquarters, being selected for that duty, according to the arrangement already sanctioned with respect to reserve companies." For the form of proceedings of regimental boards, see Gen. Reg. p. 200.

(3) Gen. Reg. p. 194.

and claims.” A circular letter dated 29th Sept., 1838,' desires that the specification of all badges of merit under the provisions of the good conduct warrant may in no instance be omitted, and that whenever a regimental board feels itself justified Must specify in stating the character of the individual to be Courts Martial,

goodor very good,although he may have been tried by a court martial, a specification of the offences of which he has been convicted before a court martial must also be inserted in the discharge documents, which will not leave the commissioners of Chelsea hospital “to guess whether the offences imputed to him were of a very serious nature, or merely offences against order and discipline, which, though undoubtedly deserving of punishment, would not perhaps be allowed materially to weaken the general character, when estimated with a view to fixing a just rate of pension,” and will be “a precaution which will prove a most important auxiliary to the commissioners, more which prevents especially in the case of a reduced non-commis- from being too sioned officer, who may really be a man of exemplary general character, although he may have, in a thoughtless moment, rendered himself obnoxious to military discipline, and been in consequence reduced to the ranks.” This board is convoked Convocation. by order of the commanding officer, or other superior authority; and, on assembling, is required, in the presence of the soldier proposed to be discharged, to make a declaration in the form pre- Declaration scribed by the articles of war, to the effect that the members. enquiry may be conducted impartially, and in conformity with the existing rules and regulations of the service. This board is not authorized to ad

(1) Addenda, Gen. Reg. p. 59.

Attendance of witnesses.

Informations not on oath.

Origin of this board.

minister an oath ; but all military persons, who may be summoned by the president, are required, by the articles of war, to attend and give information on the subject of enquiry: it was first introduced into the service by the supplementary articles of war for 1829; its origin may be attributed to the great extent to which the falsification of records, relating to the service of soldiers, had been carried, whereby the rate of pension of many soldiers had been improperly fixed, and the public defrauded to an immense amount. These irregularities, so disgraceful to the army and inimical to the interest of the true and deserving soldier, were brought to light by an enquiry which the discriminating zeal of the secretary at war, majorgeneral sir Henry Hardinge, had caused to be instituted. It is one result of the many consequences which might have been anticipated, and which have resulted, from placing a practical military man, and one well versed in the interior economy of the service, at the head of that department, from which all the financial regulations of the army, and many of those connected with its discipline, emanate. The economy resulting from such arrangements is widely different from the heartless schemes of those democratic financiers, who would tempt the brave but thoughtless and improvident veteran to barter his hard-earned pension for some visionary advantage in the colonies ; or of those neophytes to military discipline who, after brawling all their political lives against a prevailing custom, exert themselves for its preservation, but would reduce the pension of the soldier after twenty-five years' service, passed in all the climates of the globe, to a moiety of that to which he was before entitled, and to a sum equal to about one fourth of the daily wages of the lowest servant in husbandry ;' whereas the french soldier, whose code of discipline these english legislators so often laud, has a right, after a shorter period of actual service, to a pension nearly equalling the wages of the french peasant."

MILITARY MEDICAL BOARD. A military medical board, composed of five, Medica} Board. and in no case of less than three medical officers, not under the rank of a staff or regimental surgeon, whereof the senior acts as president, is convened by order of her majesty, communicated through the secretary at war, for the purpose of enquiry and of giving an opinion on the case of any officer brought before it; either with a view to the pension of the officer, on account of wounds received in action with the enemy, or in certain cases of officers retiring on full or half pay. The Declaration president of this board is required to make, and members. to exact from each member, in the presence of the officer whose case is under enquiry, a declaration in the terms prescribed by the article of war, to the effect that each member may enquire and give his opinion impartially, according to the true spirit and meaning of existing regulations ; and further, that he will not disclose or discover his own vote or opinion, or that of any particular member, unless required to do so by competent authority. The wording of this asseveration is remarkable, when compared with the corresponding obligation as to secrecy, contained in the oath of members of courts martial. A member

(1) Vide Warrant, 7th February, 1832. (2) Tarif des pensions pour l'armée de terre. (3) 88 Art. War.

of a court martial swears that he will not discover the vote or opinion of any particular member; consequently, he cannot disclose his own vote, being himself a member. But the declaration of the members of the military medical board is couched in language which, by being placed in juxtaposition, as it were, with the oath to be taken by members of courts martial, would almost cast a doubt upon the interpretation just given to it. The medical officer declares that he will not discover his own vote or opinion, or that of any particular member. These boards either have for their president, or report their proceedings to, the director general or principal inspector of the army medical department, who transmits the report, for the decision of her majesty, to the commander in chief or secretary at war, as the case may require.

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