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Monthly Archives: January 2018

Engineer Officers

The heroes, and sometimes the villains, in regency romances are often involved in war, whether in the Royal Navy, the army, or as spies. Even if their wartime activities do not appear directly in the story, their military experiences shape their lives and their characters. In the army, the most glamourous were the cavalry or the Guards regiments, and this was reflected in the higher costs of purchasing commissions in those regiments than in regiments of foot.

There were some army units in which commissions could not be bought—the engineers and the artillery. In both cases, cadets underwent the same basic training, including engineering (as you might expect!), chemistry and physics, and languages. On completion of basic training they could choose which branch to enter.

An engineer officer

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Flintlocks and sayings

Flash in the pan  –  Going off half-cocked  –  Lock, stock and barrel

The kind of gun you see in western films, where the gunman can quickly load a set of metal cartridges into his handgun, only came into use in around the 1830s. In Regency times, guns were fired using a flintlock mechanism. Our heros (or heroines) would have used a pistol something like this.

The stock is the handle and other wooden parts, the barrel is the tube the pistol ball travels down when it is fired, and the ‘lock’ is the firing mechanism. Each part was made by a different craftsman, so ‘lock, stock and barrel’ means having the whole thing, complete with all its parts.

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