The Revolt of Pontiac and the American Invasion

Military and Civilian Organization

A New, British, System

From a military standpoint, the position of Great Britain, an island nation, was different from that of other Western European countries. Without land borders to defend, it did not need to maintain large armies or build imposing fortresses. Its army was therefore numerically much smaller than those of the other great European powers. It totalled approximately 40,000 men in peacetime, whereas other countries had to keep armies of between 200,000 and 300,000. Moreover, much of the British army did not serve in Great Britain itself, but in the various overseas territories under the British flag. Other than the Indian troops maintained by the English East India Company, England did not have distinct colonial troops as did France and Spain. It was the British army itself that manned the colonial garrisons.

In each British colony, a rotation system provided a permanent military presence. One regiment relieved another, and each one, after a few years spent in England, would leave in its turn for other horizons. There was nothing immutable about the process and some regiments remained in a colony for a decade, others for less than two years.