§ The effect of the mobilization scheme upon the Royal Engineers is very difficult to explain, especially as some of the questions which regulate it have not yet been decided. It may, however, be shortly stated that there is a large deficiency of Engineers for field, as well as for fortress purposes. In the former case we should require for two Army-Corps and their line of communication, an addition to our pontoon troops, our telegraph battalions, our field companies—in fact, to almost every branch of the corps.
§ The Estimates of 1887–8 make provision, for the first time, for such an increase of the Engineers as will meet the requirements of two Army-Corps, with the exception that in the case of the Second Pontoon troop the necessary cadre only has been provided.
§ The exact extent of the deficiency in respect of Fortress Engineers depends upon certain questions, of which I will here mention only the most important. In the defence of our home forts, the one essential condition is that there should be absolute unity of command, so that in the presence of danger there may be no risk of divided responsibility or of difference of opinion. In this view both the Admiralty and the War Office, I need scarcely say, heartily concur, and a Committee is now sitting to consider the best means of promoting this unity, without unduly interfering with the land defence on the one hand, or on the other with that portion of the sea defence which sailors are best qualified to conduct against a hostile fleet. Upon this point I have no doubt that a satisfactory solution will be arrived at, but until it is, there will remain the question as to which is the force to be charged with the supervision of our submarine mining defences, upon the solution of which depends the amount of increase that will become necessary in the Corps of Royal Engineers. It is not, therefore, possible at present to lay down the arrangements for this corps in the same detail that has been done with others.
§ While upon this point, I may mention that a great deal has recently been accomplished in submarine mining, especially at our military and mercantile ports, for which money has been taken in the Estimates of recent years. This 222 223 Service is now being rapidly pushed forward, and forms one of the most important of our means of defence.
§ The ultimate result produced by the change of establishment now contemplated is shown in the following table:—
|STATEMENT showing variation in numbers for 1887–8.|
|Officers.||Warrant Officers.||Sergeants.||Drummers, &c.||Rank and File.||All Ranks.||Horses and Mules.|
|Colonial Corps (Local Artillery)||6||12||5||194||217|
|Commissariat & Transport Corps||51||17||140||208||68|
|Cavalry of the Line||7||1||13||1||22||50|
|Royal Horse Artillery||29||45||10||504||588||328|
|Net Increase||14||Decrease 2,519||Increase 4|
|* Infantry transport.|
§ Turning to the Auxiliary Forces, no change is proposed either in the Militia or in the Yeomanry.