Barracks are specialised buildings for permanent military accommodation; the word may apply to separate housing blocks or to complete complexes. Their main object is to separate soldiers from the civilian population and reinforce discipline, training and esprit de corps. They were sometimes called discipline factories for soldiers. Like industrial factories, they are sometimes synonymous with shoddy or dull buildings although there are examples of magnificent architecture such as the Collins barracks and others in Paris, Berlin, Madrid, Vienna or London.
Early barracks such as those of the Roman Praetorian Guard were built to maintain elite forces. There are a number of remains of Roman army barracks in frontier forts such as Vercovicium and Vindolanda. From these and from contemporary Roman sources we can see that the basics of life in a military camp have remained constant for thousands of years. In the early modern period they formed part of the 'Military Revolution' that scholars believe contributed decisively to the formation of the nation state  by increasing the expense of maintaining standing armies. Large, permanent barracks were developed in the 18th century by the two dominant states of the period, France and Spain. The English term ‘barrack’, on the other hand, derives form the Spanish word for a temporary shelter erected by soldiers on campaign, barraca. Because of fears that a standing army in barracks would be a threat to the constitution, barracks were not built in Great Britain until 1790, on the eve of the Napoleonic War.
Early barracks were multi-storey blocks often grouped in a quadrangle around a courtyard or parade ground. A good example is Ravensdowne Barracks Berwick-upon-Tweed, among the first in England to be purpose-built and begun in 1717 to the design of the distinguished architect Nicholas Hawksmoor. During the 19th century the increasing sophistication of military life lead to separate housing for different ranks (officers had always had larger rooms) and married quarters, and the provision of specialized buildings such as dining rooms and cook houses, bath houses, mess rooms, schools, hospitals, armouries, gymnasia, riding schools and stables. The pavilion plan concept of hospital design was influential in barrack planning after the Crimean War.
The first large-scale training camps were built in France and Germany during the early 19th century. The British army built Aldershot camp from 1854.
By the First World War, infantry, artillery and cavalry regiments had separate barracks. The first naval barracks were hulks, old wooden sailing vessels, but these insanitary lodgings were replaced with large naval barracks at the major dockyard towns of Europe and the United States, usually with hammocks instead of beds.
These were inadequate for the enormous armies mobilised after 1914. Hut camps were developed using variations of the eponymous Nissen hut, made from timber or corrugated iron.
In many militaries, NCOs and enlisted personnel will frequently be housed in barracks for service or training. Junior enlisted and sometimes junior NCOs will often receive less space and may be housed in bays, while senior NCOs and officers may share or have their own room. The term "Garrison town" is a common expression for any town that has military barracks, i.e., a permanent military presence nearby.
Barracks blockhouses were used to house troops in forts in Upper Canada. The Stone Frigate, completed in 1820, served as barracks briefly in 1837-38, and was refitted as a dormitory and classrooms to house the Royal Military College of Canada by 1876. The Stone frigate is a large stone building originally designed to hold gear and rigging from British warships dismantled to comply with the Rush-Bagot Agreement.
U.S. Armed Forces
In basic training, and sometimes follow-on training, servicemembers live in barracks. The U.S. Marine Corps have gender-separate basic training units. The U.S. Army has gender-separate basic training, but like the United States Coast Guard, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy, has training where male and female recruits share barracks, but are separated during personal time and lights out. However, all the services integrate male and female members following boot camp and first assignment, except the U.S. Navy's submarine corps and the different branches' various combat arms elements.
After training, unmarried junior enlisted members will typically reside in barracks. In the 21st century, these servicemembers are generally housed in individual rooms conforming to the DoD's "1+1 standard," though exceptions still exist. During unaccompanied, dependent-restricted assignmments, noncommissioned and commissioned officer ranks may also be required to live in barracks. Amenities in these barracks increase with the rank of the occupant.
Unlike the other services, the U.S. Air Force officially uses the term "dormitory" to refer to its unaccompanied housing.
- ^ Black, Jeremy, A Military Revolution?: Military Change and European Society, 1550-1800 (London, 1991)
- ^ Douet, James, British Barracks, their social and architectural importance, 1660-1914 (London, 1997)
- ^ Roberts, Michael The Military Revolution, 1560-1660 (Belfast, 1956); reprinted with some amendments in Rogers, Clifford, ed., The Military Revolution Debate Rogers, Clifford, ed., The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe (Boulder, 1995)
- Black, Jeremy, A Military Revolution?: Military Change and European Society, 1550-1800 (London, 1991)
- Dallemagne, François, Les casernes françaises, (1990)
- Douet, James, British Barracks, their social and architectural importance, 1660-1914 (London, 1997)
- Roberts, Michael The Military Revolution, 1560-1660 (Belfast, 1956); reprinted with some amendments in Rogers, Clifford, ed., The Military Revolution Debate Rogers, Clifford, ed., The Military Revolution Debate: Readings on the Military Transformation of Early Modern Europe (Boulder, 1995)
- 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
- Royal Engineers Museum Military Works (Barrack construction)
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Look at other dictionaries:
barracks — plural, and usual, form of BARRACK (Cf. barrack) (q.v.) … Etymology dictionary
barracks — [n] shelter for military billet, bivouac, camp, cantonment, dormitory, encampment, enclosure, garrison, headquarters, hut, prefab, quarters, Quonset hut, tent; concepts 321,516 … New thesaurus
barracks — n. 1) (AE) to GI the barracks 2) (AE) to police (up) the barracks 3) disciplinary barracks 4) restricted to barracks * * * (AE) to GI the barracks (AE) to police (up) the barracks disciplinary barracks restricted to barracks … Combinatory dictionary
barracks — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ army, marine, military, police ▪ fortified ▪ wooden VERB + BARRACKS ▪ … Collocations dictionary
barracks — UK [ˈbærəks] / US [ˈberəks] noun [countable] Word forms barracks : singular barracks plural barracks a group of buildings where members of the armed forces live and work … English dictionary
Barracks — Recorded in several spellings including: Baroc, Baroche, Baroucke, Barrack, Barracks, Bazoche, and Bazoge, this is a surname of early French origins. In its various forms it is found elsewhere in Europe, including England. However spelt it is… … Surnames reference
barracks — plural noun confined to the barracks Syn: garrison, camp, encampment, depot, billet, quarters, fort, cantonment … Thesaurus of popular words
barracks — noun A group of buildings used by military personnel as housing … Wiktionary
barracks — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) n. pl. caserne, bivouac. See abode. II (Roget s IV) pl.n. Syn. encampment, shelters, military enclosure, tents, quarters, (field) headquarters, camp, bivouac, cantonment, garrison huts, Quonset huts… … English dictionary for students
barracks — bar|racks [ˈbærəks] n [plural] [Date: 1600 1700; : French; Origin: baraque small building , from Catalan barraca] a building or group of buildings in which soldiers live … Dictionary of contemporary English