168 HISTORY OF EAST GRINSTEAD.
to prevent confusion, should the enemy occasion an alarm, which seems to be daily expected. On the beacons being fired, or any other certain intelligence arriving, the drums are to beat to arms and the Company will immediately assemble, sending away one or two of the Volunteers to summon in the out-resident men. After the names are called over and the Officer Commanding has made out the real strength, he must then send a Sergeant to the Magistrate requesting him to order the constables to billet the Company as equally as possible among the public-houses. Those men, however, who have homes and families in the town will, of course, have no occasion for billet.
The men were divided up into messes of seven, orderlies were appointed, sentries nominated and every possible detail arranged to fit the Company for immediate active service. Before the Legion had been in existence nine months Lord Sheffield was able to issue the following very complimentary order:—
Lord Sheffield has been highly gratified by the general good conduct of the North Pevensey Legion, as observed during the late inspection. The attention, steadiness and soldierlike appearance of the Volunteers is truly honourable to them. The perseverance they have manifested will ensure that degree of perfection which is necessary to the formation of good troops, on which the welfare of the nation is to depend.
It may not be necessary during the ensuing hay and corn harvest to assemble for exercise on the week-days, but it is earnestly requested that the several troops and companies meet either early on the Sunday morning or in the afternoon, in order that they may not lose the ground they have gained so creditable to themselves, the necessity for their preparing to defend their religion, their liberty, their families and property being no less urgent than it has been at any period during the existence of the nation.
On July 8th, 1805, the Legion received its colours and the men swore they would never allow them to fall into the hands of the enemies of our country. They kept their word. Major Cranston occasionally read his men a severe lecture, but always finished with a stirring appeal to their patriotism. Here is an eloquent conclusion to one of his addresses :—
Let us then go forward with our present undertaking hand in hand, and become, in unanimity and in discipline, an example to the Legion, and still endeavour to retain that credit we already have acquired— that our names may be recorded for posterity to see that in an hour when danger threatened this happy Isle we (the Volunteers of East Grinstead) came forward to protect and defend our country and our King!