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Benacian Labour Reserve

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Benacian Labour Reserve
Active 1698 AN
Country Benacian Union Benacian Union
Allegiance Magisters-Carnifex
Type Penal Labour Service
Role Labour army
Size 1,739,880 (1717 AN)
Garrison/HQ Sansabury
Lord High Censor Heinrich Adolphus Kryptsinger
Few would deny that the subjects undergoing service in the Benacian Labour Reserve do not endure their share of suffering on the long road to redemption. In spite of strict discipline, violence and abuse amongst the penitent labourers reportedly remains widespread.

The Benacian Labour Reserve is a conscription and penitentiary-based labour reserve of the Benacian Union; enrolment in which is regularly used as a form of punitive measure, normally as an alternative to capital punishment or an equivalent term custodial sentence. Sentences for mundane, non-political, crimes, passed by the various tribunals of the Benacian Union, are frequently commuted to a concomitant period of servitude in the labour reserve. Civic authorities have also been known to use the BLR as a dumping ground for idlers, malingerers, and the so-called unlawful poor.


The BLR was originally organised into penal labour regiments at the bailiwick-level, with penitent labourers being available to expend either in the furtherance of projects initiated by the civic authorities or else in support of the Benacian Union Defence Force and Benacia Command. These tasks could range from agricultural labour to battlefield obstacle removal work, but most commonly will entailed the expenditure of the penitent on any number of ongoing construction projects.

Between 1702 AN and 1703 AN, a number of Auxiliary Labour Battalions were formed to receive an anticipated glut of Umraid prisoners who had refused to sign the Union Covenant and offer sacrifice to the Highest Divinity. In the end this surge did not materialise as the majority were instead deported to Transprinitica under a deal with Hurmu, and by 1716 AN the surviving Umraid detainees had been consolidated into a single regiment assigned to the BUDF for special taskings.

In 1706 AN 1,585,525 subjects were assigned to the Labour Reserve in lieu of punishment. The Labour Reserve forms a mobile contingent within the far larger body of Protected Persons (of whom there were 29,779,203, as of 1712 AN, in the UGB alone) who toiled as bondsmen within their bailiwicks of residence.

From the final month of 1707 AN onwards the illicit narcotics trade, that which occurred outside of Paradise Districts under the monopoly control of the Guild of the Lotus, was made subjected to heightened levels of official repression. Following an initial flurry of theatrical executions to mark the commencement of the newly severe policy, the manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers of illicit substances were to be transferred wholesale into the BLR along with their families, with the majority of these condemned to penal servitude at the Svordson Reform Settlement on Leng.

Since 1715 AN conscripts of the BLR who have survived to the end of the term of their commuted sentence have been transferred to the Humanist Institute of Thought Reform in Merensk for rehabilitation prior to their return to society.

Between 1715 AN and 1717 AN, the BLR underwent a series of reorganisations so as to better reflect the permanent and enduring nature of the system as a component of the Harmonious Society and Coordinated State in the Benacian Union.

During 1727 AN1728 AN 287,000 subjects were detained and directly transferred into the BLR after being encountered in the act of unlawful travel by circumventing controlled transit points. The overwhelming majority of such unlawful transit actions were encountered in the Governorate of Absentien and the Governorate of Nordland, both being within the realm of Elluenuueq.

The 1729 Act for the Commutation of Punishment through Voluntary Service standardised the length of voluntary labour in commutation of sentence for a variety of crimes to twenty years and provided for the rehabilitation of the majority of returnees as meritorious subjects, albeit of the lowest rank.


Directorate for Labour Services

Outside of the Penitent Labour Brigade, the fundamental unit of organisation in the Benacian Labour Reserve is the Labour Camp (7,200 protected persons) and the Labour Column (1,200 persons).

Each governorate of Elluenuueq and the Unified Governorates, as well as such governorates of the Sovereign Confederation that required their presence, was to host a network of labour camps under the authority of the Commandant-General. Officers available to the Commandant-General, termed as warrant officers, are provided through transfers into the Labour Reserve from the Magisters-Carnifex. Auxiliaries for disciplinary, security, and enforcement duties are recruited from the Vanguard Divisions of the N&H within the Benacian Union.

Labour Camp

The Labour Camps, controlled by a Warrant Holder Commandant appointed by the Commandant-General, are responsible for providing food, shelter, and basic medical care to the protected persons under their charge. They also oversee the work assignments of the protected persons, ensuring they are performing their designated tasks efficiently and effectively.

The Commandant is responsible for ensuring that the basic needs of the protected persons are met, including adequate food, shelter, and medical care. To this end, each camp has a supply of rations and provisions, as well as basic medical facilities and personnel.

The protected persons within the camp are assigned to various work details by the Commandant, and are overseen by supervisors who report back to the Commandant on their progress. The work assignments are designed to ensure that the protected persons are performing their designated tasks efficiently and effectively, while also providing valuable contributions to the region's economy. More substantial detachments, of a regimental strength, known as Labour Columns can be deployed to satellite camps, subject to the requirements of the state and economy in the local area.

In order to maintain order and discipline within the camp, the Commandant is authorised to use force if necessary, although this is a last resort. Instead, the Commandant relies on the cooperation and obedience of the protected persons, who are aware that failure to comply with the rules and regulations of the camp could result in punishment or even expulsion.

As of 1717 AN there were 240 such labour camps active in the Benacian Union.

Labour Column

The Labour Columns, on the other hand, are mobile units that are dispatched to various parts of the Benacian Union to carry out specific labour projects. They are composed of skilled workers, such as engineers, carpenters, and electricians, as well as unskilled labourers. The Labour Columns are supervised by a Warranted Column Officer who reports to the Warrant Holder Commandant.

Directorate for Penitentiaries

Reception Centres

Whilst it is not politically expedient for every governorate to host a Labour Camp, it may be that, in the fullness of time, these governorates, as well as the realms set over them, may wish to see troublemakers removed from their communities to serve as Protected Persons in the lands of the west. To this end a reception centre was established in Alalehzamin, on the borders of Shirekeep, to receive the prospective banished into the camps system.

Reform Settlements

The reform settlements of the Benacian Union are to be found primarily within the Governorate of Leng and the Cimmeria and Raikoth Special Autonomous Region. These have customarily been the destination for subjects and foreign nationals condemned for serious political and religious crimes against the Union-State, the Harmonious Society, and the Union Covenant. Whilst these settlements retain a labour-based economic function, their primary role lies in the remaking of fallen subjects through individual penance, contemplative guided meditation, and a discursive collective self-criticism. The austere conditions of the reform settlements, combined with the harshness of the boreal climate, are considered to be optimal conditions for forcing the subjects to confront and address the deficiencies of merit which have brought them to their present unhappy station.

Directorate for Rehabilitation

Penitent Labour Brigades

Drafted Protected Persons, held in a replacements camp in Lower Lywall, awaiting the summons to join an active service unit participating in Operation Penitent during 1717 AN.

In the second month of the year 1717 AN, the Benacian Security Council established the Penitent Labour Brigades, a deeply contentious programme that would conscript one percent of all adult males between the ages of fifteen and fifty from the category of Protected Persons within the Unified Governorates of Benacia. The lucky 295,200 men were transferred into the Benacian Labour Reserve for the next four years of their lives, a period that would test their physical and mental endurance, and push them to the brink of their limits.

The Penitent Labour Brigades were made up of 295,200 Protected Persons, who were selected through a draft lottery conducted by the ruling municipal corporations in each bailiwick of the UGB. These individuals were transferred into the Benacian Labour Reserve, where they would serve for four years as part of the penitent labor force.

The manpower levy was sufficient for the creation of forty-one Penitent Labour Brigades, twenty-three of which were attached to the ersatz divisions of the State Guard of the Unified Governorates. The remaining brigades were held in Replacement Pools, which were open-air encampments established throughout Lower and Upper Lywall. The purpose of these pools was to provide a source of replacements for battlefield casualties.

Each Penitent Labour Brigade was organised into six regiments, which included an Administrative Regiment, a Foraging Regiment, a Pioneer Regiment, a Depot Regiment, and two General Service Regiments. The penitents received two months of basic training, and were mostly unarmed while with their brigades, equipped only with tools appropriate for their work duties.

The Penitent Labour Brigades were watched over by blocking detachments from the Corps of the Gentlemen-at-Cudgels and the General Inspectorate of the Benacian Union Defence Force, whose purpose was to prevent retreat or desertion on the part of the penitents.

The living conditions of the penitents were far from ideal, as they were housed in open-air encampments established throughout Lower and Upper Lywall, where they would endure extreme weather conditions, lack of hygiene, and disease. The food and water supply was limited, and the medical care was minimal, which led to many cases of malnutrition, dehydration, and illness. The mortality rate was high, and many penitents died from exhaustion, exposure, or accidents while on duty.

With the conclusion of Operation Penitent the majority of the first wave of Penitent Labour Brigades were stood down and their members made eligible for resettlement on Naudia'Diva and the Warring Islands.

During 1719 AN, 35,280 Protected Persons were drafted in Elluenuueq for service in Normark as part of Operation Revetment, the Benacian contribution to the Siege of Dalen. These conscripts were organised into four penitent labour brigades.

Penitents attached to special mission formations, such as the 1st Fugitive Pursuit Squadron, are routinely promised the restoration of meritorious status in return for faithful service.

Resettlement Programme

In 1718 AN the formerly closed Governorate of the Iridian Isles was designated as a resettlement zone for those members of the Benacian Labour Reserve for whom reintegration into society was impracticable but who were equally no longer capable of useful labour.

In the following year Naudia'Diva and the Warring Islands Special Autonomous Region were made available for settlement by members of the Penitent Labour Brigades who had completed their term of service without incurring a disciplinary record. Subjects transferred to these islands were enjoyed by the conditions of their parole to remain resident there for twenty-five years, and to not depart from their resettlement site in that time on pain of referral to a Cull Commission or the reform settlements of Leng.

Notable BLR projects