Al Nofi's CIC
||Issue #6, January 3, 2000 || |
| ||This Issue...
- Infinite Wisdom
- la Triviata
- Short Rounds
- So Why Does a Lieutenant General Outrank a Major General?
- Japan's "Super Heavy Cruiser" Program in World War II
- Joachim Murat Tells a Little White Lie
- "The Case of the Larache Millions"
- Expert Opinion
- Soldier’s Story - Caesar Repulses Pompey at Dyracchium, 48 B.C.
"Men grow tired of sleep, love, singing, and dancing, sooner than of war."
--Homer, c. 800 B.C.
- Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, served as a civilian attorney for the U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps in Germany between 1954 and 1957.
- The Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris, holds the remains of five six of Napoleon's marshals, St. Cyr, Massena, Ney, Suchet, and Kellerman, as well as several other notable generals, such as the younger Kellerman and Morand, and not to mention Oscar Wilde and Jim Morison.
- The reason military cooks were in the past wont to add saltpeter to their concoctions had nothing to do with the hoary old tale about its alleged abilities to reduced sexual drives, and a great deal to the fact that the stuff helps preserve the color of meat whilst cooking.
- Knowing that there were some Jewish soldiers in his army, at Valley Forge George Washington provided them with sermons written by a civilian rabbi.
- Despite concerns about their loyalty, during World War II Egyptian anti-aircraft crews proved quite adept at shooting down Axis aircraft attacking Alexandria and other places, one battery even winning a prize for the most "kills," albeit that as good Moslems they were perhaps less than overwhelmed by receiving a case of whisky.
- On the morning of June 19, 1815, the day after the Battle of Waterloo, some British officers discovered the body of a "strikingly beautiful" young woman in the uniform of a French cuirassier officer about 100 meters south of Wellington's famous elm tree at the juncture of the Ohain and Brussels Roads.
- One beneficial side effect of the elimination of horses from armies is that troops are no longer susceptible to mange, glanders, or any of the other dozens of equine diseases which can infect people, not to mention having to shovel all that fresh manure.
- Maj. Levi Twiggs, who died leading the Marine Battalion in the storming of Chapultepec Castle, Mexico City, on September 13, 1847, during the Mexican War, has the misfortune of being memorialized on a plaque in the south foyer of the capitol building in Austin, Texas as a "Regular Army Officer."
- At the Battle of Basra, in 665, during a civil war between two Islamic factions, 70 men in succession were slain while holding the bridle of Ayesha, the widow of Mohammed the Prophet, who had sided with the losers.
So Why Does a Lieutenant General Outrank a Major General?
Well, it's a bit complicated.
Aside from a few men to guard the royal person and some critical castles, prior to the fifteenth century most countries did not have standing armies. When war came, the king would call for troops, often using a combination of feudal levies, paid contractors, and mercenaries, who were often feudal lords commanding their own vassals. But in the late fifteenth century the kings of France and of the Spains began keeping a larger body of
troops on the royal payroll even in peacetime, primarily to preserve internal order.
These were organized into "companies" of vaguely similar size, each of which was commanded by a "captain," a word deriving from the Latin and meaning essential "head." Assisting the captain was a lieutenant, deriving through
French from the Latin locum tenens, which means "in place of the holder [of command]." Now since these companies were initially composed of mounted troops -- men-at-arms -- the individual soldiers were all "serjeants," essentially unknighted knights. So the next lowest ranking man in the company was the "sergeant major."
When an army was needed, a bunch of the companies was ordered to report to an officer appointed as the "captain general," who would command them in action. Of course with so many individual companies under his command, the captain general had a lot to do. So early in the sixteenth century, King Ferdinand of Spain (Columbus' friend), grouped batches of ten companies into colunelas --columns -- under a capitan de colulnela, thus creating the first regiments. He also created the basis for the modern rank structure The colunelas worked pretty well in combat, as the captain general now had a lot fewer subordinates to deal with. Within his colunela the capitan de colunela -- the "colonel" -- had several subordinates, notably a teniente de colunela and a sergente mayor de colunela. And within his army, the captain general also had some subordinates, a teniente general and a sergente mayor general.
On each level, the role of the officers was the same:
|Rank (in Spanish) ||Assignment|
|capitan, capitan di colunela, capitan general ||The commanding officer|
|teniente, teniente di colunela, teniente general ||Deputy commander|
|sergente mayor, sergente mayor di colunela, sergente mayor general ||Management of the troops|