The Treasury, the Commissariat and the supply of the combined army in Germany during the Seven Years War (1756-1763)
This study is concerned with the provision of non-combative supplies and services by the Treasury and its commissaries to the Combined Army, which campaigned in Germany during the Seven Years War. It examines the limitations and complexities of the traditional system of British military administration arid the magnitude and problems of the task which was undertaken. It traces the slow and somewhat erratic emergence in the course of the war of a 'commissariat' in a recognizable institutional form, and finds evidence of experience, expertise and integrity among those chosen to staff it. The work of British administrators in providing forage, bread, transport and hospital services is investigated in detail from the points of view of the formulation of general policies and detailed arrangements, the execution and supervision of the latter, the keeping of statistical records and the process of account. Evidence is found of some effective and efficient work, involving the introduction of new and forward-looking methods, as well as examples of the inadequacies and failures known to be characteristic of the administration of the period. It is argued that the latter derived partly from contemporary preconceptions and political realities and the inherent difficulties of supplying a large multi-national army campaigning in Germany, and riot merely from blatant incompetence. It is thus concluded that in this sphere of investigation the record of British administrators was not devoid of success, nor their work of significant elements of vitality.