Life in the British Army
A series of Essays shewing what It was like For the Officers, men and women Who made the Army their career BEFORE they Arrived in the Colony.  The topics discussed are Desertion | Uniforms | History of the British Uniform | Education Why Join | Daily life | Rations | An example of a Typical day Punishment | Officers Quarters | Marriage and Women


     Each of the officers' quarters was assigned to a single man.  He lived in luxury in comparison to the rank and file soldiers.  In addition to their own rooms and kitchens, the officers also had a special anteroom.  Before and after a meal, as well as when off duty, the officers could retire here to engage in various activities such as chess, dominoes, reading, or playing the piano.  Because visiting military and civilian guests would be spending time in this room, the officers would want to be able to show off the fact that they were of the upper class by decorating the room with taste and elegance.

Officers' Mess

     The officers had their own kitchens run by a "Mess Man" who was usually a capable sergeant.  He would train mess servants.  The cook was a civilian, usually French, who was paid with or from mess funds.  The Mess Man was an enviable position because of his connections to the officers and his access to good food.

     Naturally, the food was of a better quality and more abundant.
Officers ate breakfast, lunch, high tea and the main meal of the day, supper which would include several courses.

     Each officer paid into a communal fund for the upkeep of the mess which was decorated with regimental mementoes, silver plates, cutlery, glassware.  The mess was the centre of social activities for the men and became an institution that followed its members wherever they went.

     As is evident in the different rituals and qualities that revolved
around food, class structure filtered into every facet of people's
lives, even an event as simple as eating.  In 1860, it was very
difficult to escape your "breeding".

Next page: Marriage and Women

Information courtesy of

The Fort Henry Adventure