Cardwell Reforms

The Cardwell Reforms were a series of wide-ranging military reforms introduced by Edward Cardwell, the Secretary for War in the Gladstone administration.

In spite of much early resistance from the Army establishment these reforms would be instrumental in establishing the model for the organization and running of the British army which continues through to the present day, and have been widely copied by other nations around the world.

The chief reforms included the abolishment of flogging in peacetime (1868); the introduction of a shorter enlistment term consisting of six years active duty and six years reserve duty, and the subordination of the Commander-in-Chief to the Government appointed Secretary for War (Today the Minister of Defence) (1870); plus the abolition of the system of purchased commissions (1871). In addition Cardwell reduced the number of overseas garrisons, created the system of ‘County’ infantry regiments and oversaw the introduction of an efficient breech loading rifle.

For his work Edward Cardwell was created a Viscount in 1874.

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