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The work of disbanding the Army began some months before the final conclusion of the Peace of Utrecht. By Christmas 1712 thirteen regiments of dragoons, twenty-two of foot, and several companies of invalids who had been called up to do duty owing to the depletion of the regular garrisons, had been actually broken. The Treaty was no sooner signed than several more were disbanded, making thirty-three thousand men discharged in all. More could not be reduced until the eight thousand men who were left in garrison in Flanders could be withdrawn, but even so the total force on the British Establishment, including all colonial garrisons, had sunk in 1714 to less than thirty thousand men. The soldiers received as usual a small bounty on discharge; and great inducements were offered to persuade them to take service in the colonies, or, in other words, to go into perpetual exile. But this disbandment was by no means so commonplace and artless an affair as might at first sight appear. One of the first measures taken in hand by Bolingbroke and by his creature Ormonde was the remodelling of the Army, by which term was signified the elimination of officers and of whole corps that favoured the Protestant succession, to make way for those attached to the Jacobite interest. Prompted by such motives, and wholly careless of the feelings of the troops, they violated the old rule that the youngest regiments should always be the first to be disbanded, and laid violent hands on several veteran corps. The Seventh and Eighth Dragoons, the Thirty-fourth, Thirty-third, Thirty-second, Thirtieth, Twenty-ninth, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-second, and Fourteenth Foot were ruthlessly sacrificed; nay, even the Sixth, one of the sacred six old regiments, and distinguished above all others in the Spanish War, was handed over for dissolution like a regiment of yesterday. There were bitter words and stormy scenes among regimental officers over such shameless, unjust, and insulting procedure. All these designs, however, were suddenly shattered by the death of Queen Anne. The accession of the Elector of Hanover to the throne was accomplished with a tranquillity which must have amazed even those who desired it most. Before the new King could arrive the country was gladdened by the return of the greatest of living Englishmen. Landing at Dover on the very day of the Queen's death, Marlborough was received with salutes of artillery and shouts of delight from a joyful crowd. Proceeding towards London next day he was met by the news that his name was excluded from the list of Lords-Justices to whom the government of the country was committed pending the King's arrival. Deeply chagrined, but preserving always his invincible serenity, he pushed on to the capital, intending to enter it with the same privacy that he had courted during his banishment in the Low Countries. But the people had decided that his entry must be one of triumph; and a tumultuous welcome from all classes showed that the country could and would make amends for the shameful treatment meted out to him two years before. On the 18th of September King George landed at Greenwich, and shortly afterwards the new ministry was nominated. Stanhope, the brilliant soldier of the Peninsular War, became second Secretary-of-State; William Pulteney, afterwards Earl of Bath, Secretary-at-War; Robert Walpole, Paymaster of the Forces; while Marlborough with some reluctance resumed his old appointments of Captain-General, Master-General of the Ordnance, and Colonel of the First Guards. He soon found, however, that though he held the titles, he did not hold the authority of the offices, and that the true control of the Army was transferred to the Secretary-at-War. To be continue in this ebook...