A recruiting sergeant is a British or American soldier of the rank of sergeant who is tasked to enlist recruits. The term originated in the British army of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The playwright George Farquhar served as an infantry officer, and the characters in his play The Recruiting Officer are drawn from life.
The unscrupulous methods used by some to trick the innocent have been the subject of several traditional songs composed by their victims as a warning to others, a popular example being the Irish traditional song "Arthur McBride".
A recruit would be given the Kings shilling as a mark of the contract made.
The term has passed into the English language to mean any set of circumstances which recruits or fails to recruit volunteers to the army. See Daily Telegraph headline Iraq deaths make poor recruiting sergeant for the Pentagon