Tent (Lat. tentorium, from tendere, to stretch), a portable habitation, formed generally of cloth or skins stretched upon cords or frames, and supported by poles. Tents have always been the dwellings of nomadic tribes. The natives of the East brought them at an early period to a high state of perfection, and they are frequently mentioned in the Bible. The patriarchs were dwellers in tents, and St. Paul was a tent maker. Skins are first mentioned as a tent covering in Exodus xxvi. 14, where the tabernacle is ordered to be covered with rams' and badgers' skins. Tents of cloth made of camels' and goats' hair, like those of the Arabs of the present day, were also used. The Persian monarchs passed portions of the summer in tents in the mountains, and the custom of living in them during the hot months still prevails in the East. The Greeks encamped in tents at the siege of Troy, and the magnificence of the Persian tents and tent equipage is attested by many ancient writers. Tents were early used by the Roman armies, the first being made of skins or leather, and Hannibal's forces were provided with them when they crossed the Alps into Italy. The Roman tabernaculum resembled the house tent, and the tentorium the wedge tent of the present day.

A later and more elaborate tent was called papilio; it was probably circular, with a conical roof, but its exact form is not known. The armies of the crusades were provided with elaborate tents, and their Saracen antagonists were equally well furnished. Medieval tents were sometimes of the most splendid description. The finest were very large, of the pavilion form, and divided into several apartments. Their hangings were frequently of silk and damask of many colors, and their cords and stay ropes of twisted gold. - Tents are said to have been first issued to modern armies by Louis XIV., but they were furnished only to certain privileged corps. According to Bardin, the Prussian army was the first regularly provided with them. Until near the middle of the 18th century there was little uniformity in their shape or quality. The earliest form in use in modern armies was probably the wedge tent, formed of a square piece of cloth over a ridge pole, and without stay ropes. A wedge tent rounded at one end and open at the other was called a cannoniere in the French service in the last century. The cortine or courtine was an oblong wall tent, used by officers; when furnished with a fly or second roof, it was called a marquise or marquee.

The use of tents in the French armies was almost abandoned after the beginning of the revolution, and during the wars of the empire even the officers were rarely provided with them. It was not until about 1830, during the Algerian war, that the tente abri or shelter tent began to be regularly furnished to troops. This is made of two rectangular pieces of canvas, each 5 ft. 9 in. long and 5 ft. 4 in. wide, which are buttoned together and raised upon two sticks so as to form a roof open at both ends. Each soldier carries one of these pieces, one of the supporting sticks, and three pegs, which together weigh 3 lbs. 11 oz., and every two men are thus enabled to provide a shelter for themselves. This is still the French regulation tent, and was used in the Crimea, in Mexico, and in the Franco-German war. Besides this the French have three troop tents : the bonnet de police, which has the form of a triangular prism, to each end of which is joined a hemi-cone; the tente elliptique or Tacconet, a slight modification of the former; and the tente co-nique or marabout, a cone 22 ft. 4 in. in diameter at base and 10 ft. 8 in. high, with an interior curtain 14 in. high, which drops down around its base, leaving an interior diameter of 18 ft. 8 in.

Each of these tents has two doors, opposite to each other. The French use also a marquee for general officers and a tente de conseil, the latter a round wall tent 20 ft. in diameter, with a conical roof. In the British service the use of tents was more generally adhered to after their introduction than in the continental armies. The troop tent principally used is the " bell" tent, a conical-roofed round tent with a wall one or two feet high. Its diameter at the base is 14 ft. and its height 10 ft., and it is intended to shelter 12 to 15 men. The British have made but little use of shelter tents, although many models have been proposed. The Prussian troop tent is similar to the bell tent; but in the campaigns of 1866 and 1870 the German armies were not furnished with tents. In the Austrian service a " marching " tent is used, which resembles the French bonnet de police. It is 18 ft. long, 14 ft. wide, and about 7 ft. high, and accommodates 10 men. The Theurekauf troop tent is rectangular, and 26 ft. long by 22 ft. wide. It has a conical roof, with side walls 3 ft. high, and triangular end walls 7 ft. 6 in. high to the apex. An officers' tent, made after the same model, is also used. The Russian infantry tent is square, with a centre pole and four corner poles.

It is 14 ft. in diameter and the side walls are 7 ft. high; it is intended for 14 men. The officers' tents are like those of the men, excepting that the roofs are of double canvas. The Italians use shelter tents, conical tents, and marquees. The shelter tent is formed of three rectangular sections, one of which is spread on the ground. The pieces are a little larger than those of the tente abri, and are supported by muskets instead of sticks. The conical tent, which is used by officers, is a modification of the French tente conique.

1. Roman Tabernaculum, from column of Trajan. 2. Tentorium, from column of Antonine.

Fig. 1. - 1. Roman Tabernaculum, from column of Trajan. 2. Tentorium, from column of Antonine.

1. French Tente elliptique. 2. English Bell Tent.

Fig. 2. - 1. French Tente elliptique. 2. English Bell Tent.

1. Theurekauf s Austrian Tent. 2. Sibley Tent.

Fig. 3. - 1. Theurekauf s Austrian Tent. 2. Sibley Tent.

A similar tent is in use in the Turkish army also, for both officers and men. In the United States the tents used most commonly have been the wedge, the Sibley, and the shelter. The wedge tent is 6 ft. 10 in. long, 8 ft. 4 in. wide, and 6 ft. 10 in. high; it is intended for five or six men. The Sibley tent is a modified Comanche lodge; it is a cone about 13 ft. high, with a diameter at base of 18 ft., and will shelter 12 or 14 men. During the last years of the civil war the shelter tent was used almost exclusively. The sections of the regulation tent are each 6 ft. long by 5 ft. 6 in. broad, and are made of cotton cloth with a coating of caoutchouc. Each section has a slit in it, through which the head may be passed, thus forming a poncho on the march, in rainy weather. It can also be used as a blanket. Shelter tents are sometimes formed in the American service into "half-faced camps," by fastening together two or three sections and stretching them from a ridge pole to the ground, thus making a back and roof. The triangular ends are then closed with other sections, and a fire built in the front, which is left open.

This contrivance makes a very comfortable shelter, the heat which is reflected from the roof and sides keeping the men sufficiently warm. - The coverings of tents are now made generally of flax or cotton, hemp being rarely employed. The French tissue is of Belgian or Picardy flax, the English of the best long Baltic flax. The Austrian and the German canvas is also linen. The Italian government uses cotton canvas for large tents, and the Turkish government uses it altogether. In the United States army tents are made of cotton only, which is cheaper here than linen, while in Europe linen canvas can be produced at a lower price than cotton. The relative merits and demerits of the two tissues depend greatly on their mechanical structure and on the quality of the materials used, but the weight of authority seems to favor cotton in preference to linen. In the beginning of the American civil war, when the price of cotton became excessive, the United States government purchased a large number of linen tents, but the troops objected to using them, and they were replaced by cotton ones. - Hospital Tents. In ancient times sick and wounded soldiers were treated in their general quarters.

Tents specially set apart for the sick are said to have been first provided by Queen Isabella of Spain during the wars of Granada, but they did not come into general use. Invalids were occasionally treated in tents during the 17th and 18th centuries, but no organized tent hospitals, the records of which have any sanitary value, were established before the Crimean war. The enforced use of tents at Varna, made necessary by the absence of houses, first aroused attention to the subject of tent hospitals. The tent used was the hospital marquee of the British service, which is a double tent, a large one completely enveloping a smaller one, with an air space of about 18 in. between them. The inner tent is 28 ft. long, 15 ft. wide, and 12 ft. high in the middle, with walls 5 ft. high, and it has a floor cloth of painted canvas. It will accommodate 12 or 14 persons. The Prussian hospital tent, adopted in 18G7, is house-shaped, double, supported by an iron frame, and large enough for 12 beds. In the Franco-German war a small square tent, supported by a light wooden frame and having a projecting pyramidal roof, was used. It was intended for but two beds, and was specially devoted to the treatment of those suffering from contagious diseases.

The Turks have made use of a hospital tent which is described as of a long oval shape, supported by a pole at each end, and made of double canvas. The Russians, Austrians, and Italians have no special tent set apart for this purpose. The hospital tent used by the United States government is a rectangular house tent, 14 by 15 ft. in diameter, and 11 ft. high in the centre, with a Avail 4 ft. 6 in. high, and a fly forming a second roof which overlaps the wall about a foot. At one end it is furnished with a lapel so that two or more tents can be joined together to form one long tent. Each tent accommodates eight or ten patients.--See "The American Ambulance," by Dr. Thomas W. Evans (London, 1873).

American Hospital Tent.

Fig. 4. - American Hospital Tent.