Just to labour this point, (and personally I was backsliding on a small BO brand because I have great respect for Sean's research), Frank Packer has this to say. I archive it here for the sake of posterity, although Frank originlly made these comments on the 'Skirmish' Living history forums, where he is making some fascinating points to a rapt audience and two idiots (Paul D and 'Lasalle' hold your hands up).
"Since LaSalle has decided to 'poke the bear' regarding the B O markings, you will all have to suffer a longer explanation of why the marking is completely wrong for an infantryman:
During the first half of the 18th century, regiments selected to go on active service were paid an extra-ordinary payment, over and above the normal annual payments made to the colonels. These 'Extra-ordinaries' were to cover the extra costs of items such as camp equipage -- haversacks, canteens, tents. The items were bought by the regiments themselves through their regimental agents, and were their own property, not the government's at all.
Under the normal system of activation, and of campaigns which began in the Spring and went into Winter quarters in October, the system worked well enough. There were some problems of providing camp equipment during the Seven Years War, and the system collapsed completely during the American Revolution. To fill the gap the Army itself, through the office of the Secretary at War, ordered quantities of camp equipment and deducted the cost from the Extra-ordinaries paid to the unit, issuing the equipment instead. The Treasury itself also ordered and issued camp equipment, based on the authority and approval of the Comptrollers of Army Accounts, the office which oversaw every Army expenditure.
At the end of the Revolution the British goverment attempted to bring camp equipment supply back in line with the 'official' (legal!) method of regiments buying their own, and with the Army and government stepping back. A partial mobilisation of the Army in 1786 was an expensive disaster from a logistical point of view, and the Army administration decided that central purchasing of camp equipment from a single provider would be the best course. So in 1787, the Trotter company was given a monopoly of providing all camp equipment to the Army; which was a bit ironic, since it was the Trotter exploitation of a bureaucratic loophole which had made the old system so expensive. (Basically, they sold the Army back it's own equipment... repeatedly!!)
The Trotter monopoly on haversacks and canteens held until 1806 -- the provision of tents was lost about 1803. In 1806 the Treasury 'had a cow' over a long string of fiscal irregularities, accounting mismanagement, insurance fraud, and other assorted naughtiness happening between the Secretary at War office and the Trotter company, and the Trotters were essentially banned. Almost no purchasing of Army equipment was needed from then until 1808 while they sorted out what to do (an indication of the largesse and over-spending going on).
In 1808 new regulations came through for Army equipment. Camp equipment was stored and issued by the Storekeeper-General's Department, a branch of the Treasury. Camp equipment was contracted for and paid for by the Commissariat; another branch of the Treasury. Officers of the SGD were not expected to operate outside of the British Isles, so the responsibility was assigned to the Quartermaster branch of the Army to issue this equipment overseas. In reality, SGD officials worked in Spain and the Netherlands from 1809 to 1815, and were also present in France during the occupation.
With peace restored, the work of the SGD lessened, and in the cost-cutting post-war mood its expense seemed a bit much. The functions of the SGD were amalgamated into the Commissariat in 1821, still under Treasury control. In 1822, the Commissariat itself (and its responsibility for camp equipment) was transferred to the Ordnance, also as a cost-cutting measure. In 1854, the Ordnance and all its responibilities finally fall under Army authority when the newly-revamped War Department is formed.
So, to recap: prior to 1787 camp equipment might be purchased by the regiment, by the Army, or by the Treasury; but the ultimate owner was still the regiment as they were paid for out of their funds. Between 1787 and 1806, canteens and haversacks would be ordered by the Army, and either remained Army property 'on loan' to units until returned, or owned by the unit outright (both events seem to have happened). After 1808, and until 1822, canteens and haversacks were purchased by the Treasury, issued by the SGD (Treasury) or Quartermaster (Army), and on loan to units (that is, expected to be returned or accounted for).
There is, throughout the entire period of the Napoleonic Wars, one Department, one branch of government, one BOARD which is completely and utterly uninvolved in the contracting, purchasing, storage, issuance, or upkeep of canteens and haversacks for Army regiments -- the Ordnance! The Ordnance Board would have had the full responsibility for clothing and equipping only its own rankers, that is, the Artillery and the Sappers and Miners. It also had the responsibility to issue arms and accoutrements to the Army, but never canteens and haversacks until it absorbed the Commissariat post-war.
I cannot see how there can really be any dispute about this, as every primary source I have seen states exactly the same thing that I have recorded here. As I said early on in this thread -- this is not arcane obscure stuff. Sure you can find this throughout the Treasury and War Office documents at the PRO; but no-one needs to travel to Kew. Glenn Steppler's Doctoral thesis lays most of this out, Norman Baker's 'Government and Contractors' covers the American Revolution period, the three published volumes of post-Rev Parlimentary investigations into Army expenditure should be available in most university libraries, along with the fifteen reports of military enquiry published during the Napoleonic Wars, many other works on 18th century finance, and, as also mentioned... Wellington's Dispatches.
I do realise that most re-enactors do not get into the hobby out of a love for logistics and finance! So I do not expect everyone to have an interest in knowing all of the sources backwards and forwards, the problem lies more in the intermediaries writing and transmitting this information for public consumption. So I am sympathetic -- up to a point!
On the other hand, I must sputter indignantly when scholarly works, doctoral theses, authors that actually use footnotes, researchers who have dedicated years to the subject of Army finance and structure, and linear feet upon linear feet of archival documents are placed upon one end of a scale, with... something, anything (please let me know!) on the other side, and a declaration is made that somehow the matter is under debate -- as if the two sides weigh equally!
There is NO situation within the NORMAL course of operations, where an infantryman would receive a canteen from the Ordnance during the Napoleonic Wars. There is NO documented unusual situation within an EXCEPTIONAL course of operations where an infantryman has received a canteen from the Ordnance, that I have ever found. I really would like someone to turn up a situation or two, or even an ambiguous case, so that at least I could stop banging my head wondering why there is a BO fan club!"
Sorry for such a long post, and to Frank for quoting him at such length, but I think it is time to lay this one to bed, if only to stop Frank from having a heart attack.
Last edited by Ben Townsend
on October 5th, 2008, 8:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
On the Imperial service