Glossary


by Fred Larimore.
comments to fbl@dca.net
Copyright © 1995-1997
This glossary is an editorial work in progress and may not define the term or abbreviation that you require. Please let me known if you require a definition.
A-C | D-G | H-L | M-Q | R-Z

Army:
As a general term this describes a nation's armed forces. As a military organizational formation an "Army" is two or more corps commanded by a General.

Austrian Knot:
A common pattern of braided sleeve docoration made of cord or cord and lace on officers tunics.

Battalion:
A military organizational unit commanded by Lieutenant Colonel with four to eight companies and a total strength of 500 to 1200 men depending on the historical period being discussed.

Battery:
A military organizational unit of artillery (including guns) commanded by a Major with a total strength of 80 to 150 men.

Bengal Knot:
A pattern of officers braided sleeve decoration used in some regiments of the Indian Army.

Brevet:
The conferring of promotion in rank on an officer, usually for services, but with no right to extra pay.

Brigade:
In the Infantry a military organizational unit commanded by a Brigadier General usually three battalions in strength. In the artillery it refers to a regiment of artillery.

Busby:
Headgear, generally of some type of fur with a bag on one side that is covered with coloured cloth and varies slightly in design at various time periods. It is worn by Engineer, Artillery, Fusilier, and Rifle Regiments at various periods. Originally maufactured by Busby of London thus the name.

CAB: See Cabinet Photograph.

Carte de Visite (CDV):
This term is from the French and came into general usage in 1861. It refers to a small photographic portrait that has been mounted on a card which measures 2 ½ by 3 ½ inches. The back of the card can be plain or have the backmark of the photographer responsible for the photograph.

Cabinet Photograph (CAB):
The cabinet photograph comes along later in the nineteenth century and is larger than the carte de visite. The image is mounted on a card that measures 4 ¼ by 6 5/8 inches. As with the carte de viste, the back of the card can be plain or have the backmark of the photographer responsible for the photograph.

CDV: See Carte de Visite.

Coatee:
A pattern of military coat introduced in 1830 for all ranks. The coat was cut away sharply in the front and had short tails in the back. It followed the style of the civilian tailcoat. It was discontinued in 1855

Cocked Hat:
A pointed fore and aft hat made of black beaver with gold lace and falling feather plume (white and red for generals and staff, black for medical staff).

Colour Sergeant:
Originally, four to six sergeants charged with the important duty of guarding the colours of the regiment and the officers who carry them. They were called colour sergants. Later, a senior ranking sergeant usually with regimental responsibilities at the company level.

Company:
A military organizational unit within an infantry regiment or service corps commanded by a Captain or Major with a strength of 60 to 150 men.

Corps:
As a general term a "Corps" describes a support branch of the Army (ie: Corps of Royal Engineers). As a military organizational unit it is two to four Divisions commanded by a Lieutenant General.

Curb Chain:
The decorative chain on uniform headgear used as a strap to hold the headgear on the wearer.

Division:
A military organization unit commanded by a Major General and consisting of three brigades.

Duffadar or Daffadar:
An Indian Army cavalry non-commissioned officer equal to a Sergeant.

Duffadar-Major or Daffadar-Major:
An Indian Army infantry non-commissioned officer equal to a Regimental Sergeant-Major.

Facings:
The distictive colour of cloth the covers the collar and cuffs on a full dress tunic for both officers and other ranks. The facing colors for various regiments or groups of regiments can change depending on the time period of the uniform.

Field Officer:
Officer holding the rank of Major, Lieutenant Colonel, or Colonel.

Forage Cap:
A general term used for the undress headgear. There were two basic types the first worn from 1856-1878 had a squared off flat bill with rounded corners and the second worn from 1878-1902 had a rounded bill that bent down over the forehead.

Frock Coat:
A service dress single or double breasted knee length coat for officers worn when full dress was not required. The coats had either a high closed collar or an open collar with labels.

Full Dress:
The most elaborate order of dress. This order is of dress is distictive to time periods.

Glengarry:
A soft fore and aft pattern cap with two silk streamers in the back which originated in Scottish Regiments. This cap became the standard undress cap of the army for a period from about 1870 to about 1898. The caps were made distinctive with dicing in some regiments and individual regimental cap badges.

Gouache
A method of painting, usually on ivory, with opaque colors ground in water, and mixed with gum and honey. The painting thus executed and the pigment are both called "Gouache".

Hart's Annual Army List:
These unofficial army lists are compiled by Lt. (later Lt. Gen) Henry George Hart (1808-1878) and continued by his son after his death. The lists run from 1840 to 1915. They are particularly useful because they list the war services of officers and their medals. The lists contain Indian Army officers from 1862 on.

Havildar:
An Indian Army infantry non-commissioned officer equal to a Sergeant.

Havildar-Major:
An Indian Army infantry non-commissioned officer equal to a Regimental Sergeant-Major.

India Office Records:
This is the main record holding office for documents related to the service of individual soldiers in the Indian Army. For complete details on this resource click on
"India Office Records".

IOR: See India Office Records.

Jemadar:
An Indian Army cavalry or infantry junior officer equal to a Lieutenant.

Kot-Duffadar or Kote-Duffadar:
An Indian Army senior cavalry non-commissioned officer equal to a Troop Sergeant-Major.

Lance-Duffadar:
An Indian Army cavalry non-commissioned officer equal to a Lance-Corporal.

Lance-Naik or Lance-Naique:
An Indian Army infantry non-commissioned officer equal to a Lance-Corporal.

Levee Dress:
A special order of full dress for infantry officers for wear at levees and official balls. This order of dress was worn from 1868 to 1900. The distinctive feature of the dress is the special pattern sash and belt which was gold or silver with scarlet strips, two on the sash and one on the belt.

Mentions in Despatch (MID):
This is the mentioning by name of an individual for services rendered in an official communication related to a battle. The despatch was normally written by the officer commanding.

Mess Dress:
An order of dress worn by officers at formal social functions. The design can vary slightly over time and by regiment but generally comprises a shortwaisted inner vest and outer jacket. The outer jacket generally reflects the pattern of a particular regiments shell jacket (Infantry) or stable jacket (Cavalry).

MID: See Mentions in Despatch.

Naik or Naique:
An Indian Army cavalry or infantry non-commissioned officer equal to a Corporal.

Olivet:
A cylindrical shaped button that was usually covered with gold or silk lace. It was used to fasten the front of hussar full dress and infantry undress tunics.

Other Ranks:
All military personnel below commissioned officers in rank. Other ranks include Warrent Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Privates.

Patrol Jacket:
The name given to the officers undress tunic.

Pill Box Cap:
A round cap with a chin stap and gold lace of a regimental pattern. Worn by officers with mess and undress uniforms. It is also worn by other ranks mainly in cavalry regiments with other than full dress uniforms.

Pip or Star:
A device used by itself or in combination with a crown on the collar as a designation of officer rank.

Platoon:
A military organization unit within an infantry company commanded by a Captain or Lieutenant with a strength of 20 to 70 men.

Pouch Belt:
A regimentally distinct decorative leather belt covered with lace that holds the pouch in the small of the back of the wearer. In rifle regiments the belt is black. Other ranks wear pouch belts that are of a plain design.

PRO: See Public Record Office.

Public Record Office:
This is the main record holding office for documents related to the service of individual soldiers in the British Army. For complete details on this resource click on
"Public Record Office".

Pugri or Pagri, Puggari, Puggree:
Cloth worn wraped around the head or headdress.

Puttee or Putties:
Cloth strips wound around the bottom of the legs over the trousers.

Quartermaster Sergeant:
A non-commissioned officer attached to each regiment, with the duties of providing quarters for the soldiers, laying out the camp,and looking for rations, ammunition, and other supplies for the regiment. A Quartermaster Sergeant holds the rank of a Staff Sergeant in the British Army.

Quartermaster Duffadar:
An Indian Army cavalry non-commissioned officer equal to a Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.

Quartermaster Havildar:
An Indian Army infantry non-commissioned officer equal to a Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant.

Regiment:
For soldiers of the British Army this is the primary and predominate military organizational unit. A regiment is commanded by a Colonel and has it's own number and title with distinctive designations that reflect it's own unique historical traditions. These distinctions include such things as the regimental Battle Honours, Colours or Guidon, cap badge, crossbelt plate, collar badge, and buttons. Over time these traditions build the regimental 'family' and 'spirit'. The manpower strength and number of battalions of a regiment has varied throughout history.

Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant:
Senior ranking non-commissioned officer (warrent officer) with Quartermaster resonsibilities. See : Quartermaster Sergeant.

Regimental Sergeant Major:
Senior most ranking non-commissioned officer (warrent officer) in a regiment.

Risaldar:
An Indian Army mid-rank cavalry officer equal to a Captain.

Risaldar-Major:
An Indian Army cavalry officer that is the senior most Risaldar of the Regiment. The rank was created in 1866.

Roll of Honour:
A nominal roll of personnel who died or were wounded during campaign service. These take the form of published lists or public memorials in remembrance.

Russia Braid:
A type of 1/8 inch wide gold or silver braid that is usually in a loop pattern as part of the rank insignia in collars and sleeves on the full dress uniform tunics of officers.

Sepoy:
An Indian Army infantry rank equal to Private.

Sergeant:
A non-commissioned officer above the rank of Corporal. Sergeants may hold speciality positions in a regiment such as, trumpter, farrier, instructor, armourer, or pioneer for example.

Shell Jacket:
A short single breasted jacket with a high Prussian collar worn by infantry officers for work and combat in the 1850's and '60's.

Sowar:
An Indian Army cavalry rank equal to Trooper.

Squadron:
A military organization unit within a cavalry regiment commanded by a Captain or Major with a strength of 60 to 150 men.

Stable Jacket:
A short single breasted jacket with a high Prussian collar worn by cavalry officers for work and combat in the 1850's and '60's.

Staff Sergeant:
A senior non-commissioned officer rank appointed to assist in performing special duties, trades, or controls within a regiment. For example sergeants employed at a senior level as instructors, farriers, or armourers would be staff sergeants in the British Army.

Star or Pip:
A device used by itself or in combination with a crown on the collar as a designation of officer rank.

Subadar:
An Indian Army mid-rank infantry officer equal to a Captain.

Subadar-Major:
An Indian Army infantry officer that is the senior most Subadar of the Regiment. The rank was created in 1866.

Turban:
A tightly tied, close fitting headdress worn in the Indian Army.

Troop:
A military organizational unit within a cavalry squadron commanded by a Captain or Lieutenant with a strenth of 20 to 70 men.

Undress Uniform:
An order of dress worn by officers and other ranks. It is essentially a working uniform. For an officer undress involves the wearing of a tunic that is a shell (Infantry), stable (Cavalry), or patrol jacket (Both Infantry and Cavalry).

VC:See Victoria Cross.

Victoria Cross (VC):
The highest British military decoration that can be awarded. It was established in 1856 and is given for conspicuous bravery in battle.

WO10/, 11/, & 12/:
This is the classification for the group of documents in the Public Record Office (War Office, WO) that are Muster Books and Pay Lists. WO10 is the record group for the Artillery, WO11 is for the Engineers, and WO12 is for the Infantry. The Muster Books are, for the most part, quarterly. The series ends in the late 1870's. These documents are useful in providing details of a soldiers service, especially when there are no WO97 Soldiers Documents present.

WO76/: This is the classification for the group of documents in the Public Record Office (War Office, WO) that are the Records of Officers' Services. These records provide useful information on war services and often give details related to the officers family.

WO97/:
This is the classification for the group of documents in the Public Record Office (War Office, WO) that are the Soldiers Documents. The documents are grouped together in boxes. The box number is the number that follows the "/". These documents chronicle the details of a soldiers service and are the primary source used in developing the biography of an other rank of the 19th century British Army.

Wordi-Major:
Indian assistant to the adjutant of an Indian Army regiment.