The amateur military tradition has a long history in Britain, and indeed the idea of a professional standing army was resisted for a long time.
The author traces the changing attitudes towards amateur soldiers. At first they were seen as an essential counter to, or replacement for, a professional army. Later they were seen as an instrument of social control or oppression (with the Yeomanry getting a particulary hostile press). Finally the amateurs became a counterweight to the vast conscript armies on the continent, and an alternative (or barrier) to the introduction of conscription in Britain.
The author also covers the evolution of the various militia, volunteer and territorial forces in some detail, the attitude of the regular army towards the amateurs and the actual performance of the amateurs when they were called up to fight.
This is a high quality study of an important aspect of British society and of the British military.
1 - The evolution of a national militia (to 1601)
2 - The emergence of a constitutional force (1601-1745)
3 - Compulsion and its alternatives (1745-1802)
4 - From expediency to rationalisation (1802-1815)
5 - Decline and revival (1815-1858)
6 - The volunteer triumphant (1858-1899)
7 - The challenge of reform (1899-1914)
8 - Wars and economies (1914-1940)
9 - Last flourish (1940-1945)
Author: Ian F. W. Beckett
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2011 edition of 1991 original