1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Camp

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CAMP (from Lat. campus, field), a term used more particularly in a military sense, but also generally for a temporarily organized place of food and shelter in open country, as opposed to ordinary housing (see Camping-out). The shelter of troops in the field has always been of the greatest importance to their well-being, and from the earliest times tents and other temporary shelters have been employed as much as possible when it is not feasible or advisable to quarter the troops in barracks or in houses. The applied sense of the word “camp” as a military post of any kind comes from the practice which prevailed in the Roman army of fortifying every encampment. In modern warfare the word is used in two ways. In the wider sense, “camp” is opposed to “billets,” “cantonments” or “quarters,” in which the troops are scattered amongst the houses of towns or villages for food and shelter. In a purely military camp the soldiers live and sleep in an area of open ground allotted for their sole use. They are thus kept in a state of concentration and readiness for immediate action, and are under better disciplinary control than when in quarters, but they suffer more from the weather and from the want of comfort and warmth. In the restricted sense “camp” implies tents for all ranks, and is thus opposed to “bivouac,” in which the only shelter is that afforded by improvised screens, &c., or at most small tentes d’abri carried in sections by the men themselves. The weight of large regulation tents and the consequent increase in the number of horses and vehicles in the transport service are, however, disadvantages so grave that the employment of canvas camps in European warfare is almost a thing of the past. If the military situation permits, all troops are put into quarters, only the outpost troops bivouacking. This course was pursued by the German field armies in 1870–1871, even during the winter campaign.

Circumstances may of course require occasionally a whole army to bivouac, but in theatres of war in which quarters are not to be depended upon, tents must be provided, for no troops can endure many successive nights in bivouac, except in summer, without serious detriment to their efficiency. In a war on the Russo-German frontier, for instance, especially if operations were carried out in the autumn and winter, tents would be absolutely essential at whatever cost of transport. In this connexion it may be said that a good railway system obviates many of the disadvantages attending the use of tents. For training purposes in peace time, standing camps are formed. These may be considered simply as temporary barracks. An entrenched camp is an area of ground occupied by, or suitable for, the camps of large bodies of troops, and protected by fortifications.

Ancient Camps.—English writers use “camp” as a generic term for any remains of ancient military posts, irrespective of their special age, size, purpose, &c. Thus they include under it various dissimilar things. We may distinguish (1) Roman “camps” (castra) of three kinds, large permanent fortresses, small permanent forts (both usually built of stone) and temporary earthen encampments (see Roman Army); (2) Pre-Roman; and (3) Post-Roman camps, such as occur on many English hilltops. We know far too little to be able to assign these to their special periods. Often we can say no more than that the “camp” is not Roman. But we know that enclosures fortified with earthen walls were thrown up as early as the Bronze Age and probably earlier still, and that they continued to be built down to Norman times. These consisted of hilltops or cliff-promontories or other suitable positions fortified with one or more lines of earthen ramparts with ditches, often attaining huge size. But the idea of an artificial elevation seems to have come in first with the Normans. Their mottes or earthen mounds crowned with wooden palisades or stone towers and surrounded by an enclosure on the flat constituted a new element in fortification and greatly aided the conquest of England. (See Castle.)