University of Leicester
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The impact of war on the administration of the Army, Navy and Ordnance in Britain, 1739-1754.

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posted on 2015-11-19, 09:13 authored by G. W. Morgan
The thesis examines aspects of the work of three departments in Britain responsible for the conduct of war, the ordnance, the army and the navy during the period 1739-54. Similarities are observed in the size and structure of their staffs. An examination of the changes in procedure in the most important areas indicates the extent to which the departments were critical of their own performance. The measures taken touched on fundamental difficulties but were palliatives rather than lasting solutions. A more objective assessment of how effectively the departments coped with the challenge of war is attempted. It appears that, as with many other wars which Britain entered after a long period of peace, the ordnance, army and navy were not adequately prepared for war. They experienced both a crisis of confidence and a real crisis in the first two years. They then took measures to deal with the most pressing problems, and proceeded to adopt expedient measures before rushing into peacetime tranquillity. The analysis of the performance of the armed forces serves as a background to establish what evidence in administrative fact there was for the claim made by the parliamentary opposition after the war that measures taken to strengthen discipline in the army were not justified. There was sufficient evidence of slackness and abuse in the army to induce a stern commander in chief to take corrective action and a dutiful Secretary at War to assist him. Such measures were consistent with trends in the articles of war. Reforms were initiated prior to 1748, before the Duke of Cumberland could be accused of furthering his ambitions to become Regent. Nevertheless measures were pursued to an unprecedented extent and with a zeal not apparent in the period before 1748. A more general assessment on the working of the various offices would be that although there were examples of incompetence and slackness, there is nothing to suggest that administration was conducted in an unprofessional way by contemporary standards.


Date of award


Author affiliation

Historical Studies

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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