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  1. Ahmedabad Cantt (Gandhinagar)
  2. Allahabad Cantt
  3. Ambala Cantt
  4. Babina Cantt
  5. Badami Bagh Cantt, Srinagar
  6. Bangalore Cantt
  7. Barrackpore Cantt
  8. Bareilly Cantt
  9. Bathinda Cantt
  10. Belgaum Cantt
  11. Bharatpur Cantt
  12. Cannanore Cantt
  13. Chakrata Cantt
  14. Chandimandir Cantt, Panchkula
  15. Chennai (Madras) Cantt
  16. Dehradun Cantt
  17. Delhi Cantt
  18. Deolali Cantt
  19. Hyderabad Cantt
  20. Jabalpur Cantt
  21. Jaipur Cantt
  22. Jalandhar Cantt
  23. Jodhpur Cantt
  24. Kamptee Cantt
  25. Kapurthala Cantt
  26. Khadki Cantt
  27. Kirkee Cantt
  28. Kolkata Cantt
  1. Landour Cantt
  2. Lansdowne, Cantt
  3. Lucknow Cantt
  4. Mathura Cantt
  5. Meerut Cantt
  6. Mhow Cantt
  7. Nagpur (Kamptee) Cantt
  8. Nagrota Cantt, Jammu
  9. Nainital Cantt
  10. Nashik Cantt
  11. New Cantt
  12. Patna Cantt
  13. Pune Cantt
  14. Ranikhet Cantt
  15. Roorkee Cantt
  16. Saugar Cantt
  17. Secunderabad Cantt
  18. Shillong Cantt
  19. Shimla Cantt (ARTRAC)
  20. Tiruchirapalli Cantt
  21. Udhampur Cantt
  22. Varanasi Cantt
  23. Wellington Cantt
  24. Zhansi Cantt

The word cantonment is derived from the French cantonnement, from cantonner, to quarter; Ger. Ortsunterkunft or Quartier. When troops are distributed in small parties amongst the houses of a town or village, they are said to be in cantonments, which are also called quarters or billets. Formerly this method of providing soldiers with shelter was rarely employed on active service, though the normal method in " winter quarters," or at seasons when active military operations were not in progress. In the field, armies lived as a rule in camp, and when the provision of canvas shelter was impossible in bivouac.

By the late 19th Century,, however, it was unusual, in Europe at any rate, for troops on active service to hamper themselves with the enormous trains of tent wagons that would be required, and cantonments or bivouacs, or a combination of the two had therefore taken the place, in modern warfare, of the old long rectilinear lines of tents that marked the resting-place and generally, too, the order of battle of an 18th-century army. The greater part of an army operating in Europe was accommodated in widespread cantonments, an army corps occupying the villages and farms found within an area of 4 m. by 5 or 6. This allowance of space had been ascertained by experience to be sufficient, not only for comfort, but also for subsistence for one day, provided that the density of the ordinary civil population is not less than 200 persons to the square mile.

Under prevailing conditions there was little danger from such a dissemination of the forces, as each fraction of each army corps is within less than two hours' march of its concentration post. If the troops halted for several days, of course they require either a more densely populated country from which to requisition supplies, or a wider area of cantonments. The difficulty of controlling the troops, when scattered in private houses in parties of six or seven, was the principal objection to this system of cantonments.

But since Napoleon introduced the "war of masses" the only alternative to cantoning the troops was bivouacking, which if prolonged for several nights is more injurious to the well-being of the troops than the slight relaxation of discipline necessitated by the cantonment system, when the latter is well arranged and policed. The troops nearest the enemy, however, which have to be maintained in a state of constant readiness for battle, cannot as a rule afford the time either for dispersing into quarters or for rallying on an alarm, and in western Europe at any rate they were required to bivouac.

Permanent forts, in hot climates, are injurious to the health of the troops, and require permanent garrisons to save them from being occupied by our enemies. They bind the Army to particular localities, which is always objectionable in unsettled and hastily acquired countries. With an efficient force on the left bank of the Indus, troops in an entrenched position, at Peshawur, would easily be reinforced or relieved, in case of need. The cost of a masonry fort, too, would be a very useless outlay of money. The Engineers recommend permanent buildings in preference to temporary ones, as being cheapest in the long run, but that is simply a professional view of the question, and the Engineers are not called upon generally to take any other matter into consideration. All over India the troops suffered from being permanently fixed in places where they ought not to be, simply because the costly palaces that had been built for troops cannot be thrown away.

In India, the term "cantonment" meant more generally a military station or standing camp. The troops lived, not in private houses, but in barracks, huts, forts or occasionally camps. The large cantonments were situated in the neighborhood of the North-Western frontier, of the large cities and of the capitals of important native states. Under Lord Kitchener's redistribution of the Indian army in 1903, the chief cantonments were Rawalpindi, Quetta, Peshawar, Kohat, Bannu, Nowshera, Sialkot, Mian Mir, Umballa, Muttra, Ferozepore, Meerut, Lucknow, Mhow, Jubbulpore, Bojarum, Poona, Secunderabad and Bangalore.

Under the Raj the British Government had the absolute right of occupying any military positions it deemed fit in any of the protected states. It had received the authority of its allies to protect them, and by consequence of this delegation and without further reference to them, it established its cantonments in their principalities. It was essential to the efficiency and safety of the army so cantoned that it should be placed exclusively under British jurisdiction. Just as the ship of war, qui maritimus est exercitus, sails into a foreign port carrying with it its own equipment of laws and disciplinary rules, so the British army, to quote Wheaton, section 95, "stationed in the territory of another state, is exempt from the civil and criminal jurisdiction of the place," and filled the vacuum with its own laws.

The first step taken by the authorities on the occupation of a foreign cantonment was to mark off the land so occupied and define its limits. When this was done, full jurisdiction over all persons and things within the cantonment was asserted without any further reference to the chief. British laws which applied proprio vigore to British subjects or servants in foreign territory of necessity followed the army itself into its cantonment. But the invasion of British jurisdiction went farther. The efficiency of an army depended largely upon the influence of surrounding circumstances. If intoxicating liquors were offered for sale without restriction by the subjects of the Native state living in the cantonment limits ; if the soldiers' accoutrements were bought up by traders; or if sanitary arrangements were wholly neglected, and smallpox and other contagious diseases were left uncared for; the force which occupied a foreign cantonment would become useless for the duties of general defence.

Accordingly, the inability of the British Legislature to pass laws for the subjects of a foreign state was cured by the capacity of the Governor-General in Council to make regulations and establish Courts in the cantonment outside British India. All persons resident, or found, within the cantonment were brought under subjection to British law and the cantonment Courts. If they are not already, as British subjects or servants of the Crown, amenable to the law of British India, the Governor-General in Council notifies that the said British Act is applied by him under the authority of the Foreign Jurisdiction Act and other lawful powers, to the cantonment. He declares the authority of the Courts and the procedure they are to adopt; and thus the whole area of the cantonment, whilst it still retains its character as foreign territory, is occupied alike by British troops and by the laws and Courts which are necessary for its effective occupation.

During the period of occupation, the Native state law and jurisdiction were ousted, and where the ordinary jurisdiction and British laws passed by the Indian Legislature cannot extend proprio vigore to the rest of the cantonment population, the authority of the Governor-General in Council extended them. The sovereignty of the ruler of the country survives, although latent and suppressed for the time being. The chief is not consulted as to the measures which the British Government considers it proper to introduce for the administration of the cantonment, since his consent is implied in his obligations of military defence ; but, when the cantonment is given up, his sovereign rights and powers revive. If the territory had ever been incorporated into British India, its rendition would require an act of the Legislature, and that difficulty is avoided.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 15:37:18 ZULU