Rifle Volunteers attending the Hythe School of Musketry, November 1860
An albumen print showing various men who attended the School of Musketry at Hythe in the autumn of 1860.
According to a short paragraph that appeared in the Lancashire Gazette (6 October 1860): ‘The War-office has issued a circular to commanding officers of Volunteer Rifle regiments, informing them of the necessity of making selections of some effective members to attend at Hythe for the purpose of undergoing a course of musketry instruction, with a view to subsequent teaching of the members of the corps to which they are attached.’
The Hythe Manual of Musketry Instruction, ironically a translation of an earlier French manual, had quickly become the standard for all musketry training. ‘How are our Volunteers to become good marksmen?’ asked a journalist writing for the Aberystwith Observer (21 July 1860). ‘Before a man can shoot effectively with a rifle, he must know how to hold it.’ […] Nothing is so deceptive as distance, especially in level places where you see the ground foreshortened. All these things are taught at the Hythe School of Musketry, and we are glad to find that a number of Volunteers have undergone the musketry drill there with exemplary patience. […] The Volunteer Rifleman has entered upon a new exercise in which he cannot afford to take a second rank. He must be with his rifle what his forefathers were with the long-bow, and the only manner in which he can accomplish this is to make rifle-shooting as scientific a pastime throughout the land as cricket.’
An inked inscription in the lower margin reads: ‘2nd section (Right Wing) / Hythe Nov./60’
Verso presents a portrait of Lieutenant Christopher Hodgson of the 12th (East Suffolk) Foot, in civilian dress. He was apparently also known as ‘The Nobbler,’ according to a pencilled inscription in the lower margin.
Condition: The print presents a few very small imperfections in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition. It is mounted on an apple-green album page, which presents a small amount of wear at two corners and a short tear running off its lower edge.
Description: the print measures 5.6” by 7.7” (14.3 cm by 19.5 cm); the album page measures 11.4” by 8.5” (29 cm by 21.7 cm).