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The following volumes of Infantry Tactics are based upon the French ordonnances of 1831 and 1845, for the manœuvres of heavy infantry and chasseurs à pied.  Both of these systems have been in use in our service for some years; the former having been translated by Lieutenant-General Scott, and the latter by Lieutenant-Colonel Hardee.  My attention, for many years given to the study of the manœuvres of infantry, was more particularly directed to the subject while engaged, in 1854, as President of a Board assembled by the War Department, for the review, correction and emendation of the translation of Lieutenant-Colonel Hardee.  Since the introduction into our service of this latter drill, in connection with the tactics of General Scott, I have seen the necessity of a uniform system for the manœuvres of all the infantry arm of service.

The revolution which has been wrought within a few years past in the weapons both of artillery and infantry, has necessitated a departure from those provisional movements and formations in order of battle, which characterized the school of Frederick the Great.  Apart even from the consideration of a change in weapons these movements are condemned by the ablest tacticians of Europe, and have been violated in all the great actions since the French Revolution.  It has, consequently, been felt essential to fix the formation to that in two ranks to increase the rapidity of the gait; to increase the intervals between the battalions and brigades; to make, in the evolutions, the brigade the tactical unit; to hold the troops, when in manœuvres in presence of the enemy, in closer order and well in hand; and, as a general rule, to insist upon deployments upon the heads of columns, as the safest and most rapid means of forming line of battle.

Not many changes from the original have been deemed necessary in the schools contained in the first volume.  It is believed, however, that the careful reader will find among those made, several which will be of assistance in the movements of a company or line of skirmishers.

The absolute necessity in action and on the battlefield, of skirmishers, and the heretofore unfrequent use of this class of troops in connection with the manœuvres of the battalion, has led me to designate in each battalion two of its companies as light troops, whose sole duty will be to cover it in all the movements.  It is intended that these companies shall be composed of picked men, possessing the highest physical qualifications, marksmen as well, and that they shall be used as skirmishers.  Should they, however, be present in company formation with the battalion during its manœuvres (which will probably be exceptional in its occurrence), methods have been provided in the School of the Battalion, for their movements.  In this School, several battalion manœuvres have been introduced not in the original, several thrown out, and others changed and modified.

In the third volume, the manœuvres of a brigade, comprising in its organization the three arms of service, are provided for, as well as the evolutions of a corps d’armée, composed of several brigades.  In these schools a number of changes and additions have been made in the manœuvres, formations, and organizations.

It is not my intention to discuss the propriety of the alterations made from our present systems of tactics.  I leave to the test of practice and experience the exhibitions of their merits and demerits.  Most undoubtedly, there are still improvements to be made; but if the system here set forth shall in any manner cause our armies to act with more efficiency on the field of battle, and thus subserve the cause of our beloved country in this her hour of trial, my most heartfelt wishes will have been attained.




Col. 4th Regt. U.S. Infantry,

and Brig.-Gen. Vol., U.S. Army.


WASHINGTON, D.C., January 1st, 1862. 


S. S.  Will stand for School of the Soldier.

S. C.  Will stand for School of the Company.

S. B.  Will stand for School of the Battalion.

E. B.  Will stand for Evolutions of a Brigade.

Paragraphs marked 0 are suspended, and may not be taught.








1. IN the formations of Infantry, a Brigade of the Line will constitute, the unit, and in every line of battle composed of more than one of these brigades, they will be, posted from right to left, in the order of their numbers.

2. A similar disposition will be made of the regiments in a brigade.

3. In all exercises, manœuvres and evolutions, every regiment of ten companies will take the denomination of battalion, and all the battalions in the same brigade, will be designated, from right to left, first battalion, second battalion, &c., &c.  By these designations they will be known in the evolutions.

4. The interval between every two contiguous battalions in the same brigade will be twenty-two paces, and the interval between every two contiguous brigades will habitually be one hundred and fifty paces.

5. A less number of battalions than four will habitually be formed in one line of battle, but when it is thought expedient to form the brigade in two lines, the third and fourth battalions will be respectively posted in rear of the first and second battalions.  The battalions of the first line will either be deployed, or in column at half distance, or closed in mass.  The battalions of the second line will always be drawn up in column, either simple or double, at half distance or closed in mass, and posted for tactical instruction, one hundred and fifty paces in rear of the first line, counting from the front-rank of the first, to the front-rank of the second line.  The battalions of the second line will be posted so that a line passing through their colors and those of the battalions of the first line respectively (whether deployed or in column) shall always be perpendicular to the line of battle.  In presence of the enemy the distance between the lines will depend upon circumstances; in general the second line should not be much exposed to the enemy’s fire.

6. In a regiment composed of ten companies, eight will habitually be posted from right to left in the following order: first, fifth, fourth, eighth, third, seventh, sixth, second, according to the rank of the captains.  These will be called battalion companies.  [Editors Note: See Changes.]

7. With a less number of battalion companies, the same principle will be observed, viz.: the first captain will command the right company, the second captain the left company, the third captain the right centre company, and so on.

8. The companies thus posted will be designated from right to left, first company, second company, &c.  This designation will be observed in the manœuvres.

0-9. The other two companies, to be designated from time to time by the colonel, will be called the companies of skirmishers.  The first company will habitually be posted thirty paces in rear of the file closers of the first, and the second thirty paces in rear of the file closers of the last battalion company.

0-10. Should the number of the regimental companies present, other than the companies of skirmishers, be less than eight, but one will be designated as skirmishers, to be in rear of the first or last battalion company, or divided into platoons, the first platoon in rear of the first, and the second in rear of the last battalion company, as the colonel may direct.

11. The first two battalion companies on the right, whatever their denomination, will form the first division; the next two companies the second division, and so on to the left.

12. Each company will be divided into two equal parts, which will be designated as the first and second platoon, counting from the right; and each platoon, in like manner, will be subdivided into two sections.

13. In all exercises and manœuvres, every regiment, or part of a regiment, composed of two or more companies, will be designated as a battalion.

14. The color, with a guard to be hereinafter designated, will be posted on the left of the right centre battalion company.  That company, and all on its right, will be denominated the right wing of the battalion; the remaining companies the left wing.

15. The formation of a regiment is in two ranks; and each company will be formed into two ranks, in the following manner: the corporals will be posted in the front-rank, and on the right and left of platoons, according to height; the tallest corporal and the tallest man will form the first file, the next two tallest men will form the second file, and so on to the last file, which will be composed of the shortest corporal and the shortest man.

16. The odd and even files, numbered as one, two, in the company, from right to left, will form groups of four men, who will be designated comrades in battle.

17. The distance from one rank to another will be thirteen inches, measured from the breasts of the rear-rank men to the backs or knapsacks of the front-rank men.

18. For manœuvres, the companies of a battalion will always be equalized, by transferring men from the strongest to the weakest companies.


19. The company officers and sergeants are nine in number, and will be posted in the following manner:

20. The captain on the right of the company, touching with the left elbow.

21. The first sergeant in the rear-rank, touching with the left elbow, and covering the captain.  In the manœuvres he will be denominated covering sergeant, or right guide of the company.

22. The remaining officers and sergeants will be posted as file closers, and two paces behind the rear-rank.

23. The first lieutenant, opposite the centre of the fourth section.

24. The second lieutenant, opposite the centre of the first platoon.

25. The third lieutenant, opposite the centre of the second platoon.

26. The second sergeant, opposite the second file from the left of the company.  In the manœuvres he will be designated left guide of the company.

27. The third sergeant, opposite the second file from the right of the second platoon.

28. The fourth sergeant, opposite the second file from the left of the first platoon.

29. The fifth sergeant, opposite the second file from the right of the first platoon.

30. In the left, or eighth company of the battalion, the second sergeant will be posted in the front-rank, and on the left of the battalion.

31. The corporals will be posted in the front-rank as prescribed, No. 15.

32. Absent officers and sergeants will be replaced – officers by sergeants, and sergeants by corporals.  The colonel may detach a first lieutenant from one company to command another, of which both the captain and first lieutenant are absent; but this authority will give no right to a lieutenant to demand to be so detached.


33. The field officers, colonel, lieutenant-colonel and majors, are supposed to be mounted, and on active service shall be on horseback.  The adjutant, when the battalion is manœuvring, will be on foot.

34. The colonel will take post thirty-five paces in rear of the file closers, and opposite the centre of the battalion.

35. The lieutenant-colonel and the senior major will be opposite the centres of the right and left wings respectively, and twelve paces in rear of the file closers.  The junior major will take post thirty paces in rear of the file closers, and five paces to the right of the centre of the battalion; and he will, under the direction of the colonel, have the command of the companies of skirmishers.

36. The adjutant and sergeant major will be opposite the right and left of the battalion respectively, and eight paces in rear of the file closers.

37. The adjutant and sergeant major will aid the lieutenant-colonel and senior major, respectively, in the manœuvres.

38. The colonel, if absent, will be replaced by the lieutenant-colonel, and the latter by one of the majors.  If all the field officers be absent, the senior captain will command the battalion; but if either be present, be will not call the senior captain to act as field officer, except in case of evident necessity.

39. The quarter-master, surgeon and other staff officers, in one rank, on the left of the colonel, and three paces in his rear.

40. The quarter-master sergeant, the commissary sergeant, and the hospital steward on a line with the front-rank of the field music, and two paces on the right.


41. The buglers or musicians of the battalion companies will be drawn up in four ranks, and posted twelve paces in rear of the file closers, the left opposite the centre of the left centre company.  The senior principal musician will be two paces in front of the field music, and the other two paces in the rear.  In the companies of skirmishers, the buglers will be in one rank, in a line with the front-rank of the company, and four paces from its right flank.

42. The regimental band, if there be one, will be drawn up in two or four ranks, according to its numbers, and posted five paces in rear of the field music, having one of the principal musicians at its head.


43. In each battalion the color-guard will be composed of eight corporals, and posted on the left of the right-centre company, of which company, for the time being, the guard will make a part.

44. The front-rank will be composed of a sergeant to be selected by the colonel, who will be called, for the time, color-bearer, with the two ranking corporals, respectively, on his right and left; the rear-rank will be composed of the three corporals next in rank; and the three remaining corporals will be posted in their rear, and on the line of file closers.  The left guide of the color company, when these three last named corporals are in the rank of file closers, will be immediately on their left.

45. In battalions with less than five companies present, there will be no color-guard, and no display of colors, except it may be at reviews.

46. The corporals for the color-guard will be selected from those most distinguished for regularity and precision, as well in their positions under arms as in their marching.  The latter advantage, and a just carriage of the person, are to be more particularly sought for in the selection of the color-bearer.


47. There will be two general guides in each battalion, selected, for the time, by the colonel, from among the sergeants (other than first sergeants) the most distinguished for carriage under arms, and accuracy in marching.

48. These sergeants will be respectively denominated, in the manœuvres, right general guide, and left general guide, and be posted in the line of file closers; the first in rear of the right, and the second in rear of the left flank of the battalion.




49. Every commanding officer is responsible for the instruction of his command.  He will assemble the officers together for theoretical and practical instruction as often as he may judge necessary, and when unable to attend to this duty in person, it will be discharged by the officer next in rank.

50. Captains will be held responsible for the theoretical and practical instruction of their non-commissioned officers, and the adjutant for the instruction of the non-commissioned staff.  To this end, they will require these tactics to be studied and recited, lesson by lesson; and when instruction is given on the ground, each non-commissioned officer, as he explains a movement, should be required to put it into practical operation.

51. The non-commissioned officers should also be practised in giving commands.  Each command, in a lesson, at the theoretical instruction, should first be given by the instructor, and then repeated, in succession, by the non-commissioned officers, so that while they become habituated to the commands, uniformity may be established in the manner of giving them.

52. In the school of the soldier, the company officers will be the instructors of the squads; but if there be not a sufficient number of company officers present, intelligent sergeants maybe substituted; and two or three squads, under sergeant instructors, be superintended, at the same time) by an officer.

53. In the school of the company, the lieutenant-colonel and the majors, under the colonel, will be the principal instructors, substituting frequently the captain of the company, and sometimes one of the lieutenants; the substitute, as far as practicable, being superintended by one of the principals.

54. In the school of the battalion, the brigadier general may constitute himself the principal instructor, frequently substituting the colonel of the battalion, sometimes the lieutenant-colonel, or one of the majors, and twice or thrice, in the same course of instruction, each of the three senior captains.  In this school, also, the substitute will always, if practicable, be superintended by the brigadier general or the colonel, or (in case of a captain being the instructor), by the lieutenant-colonel or one of the majors.

55. Individual instruction being the basis of the instruction of companies, on which that of the regiment depends, and the first principles having the greatest influence upon this individual instruction, classes of recruits should be watched with the greatest care.

56. Instructors will explain, in a few clear and precise words, the movement to be executed; and not to overburden the memory of the men, they will always use the same terms to explain the same principles.

57. They should often join example to precept, should keep up the attention of the men by an animated tone, and pass rapidly from one movement to another, as soon as that which they command has been executed in a satisfactory manner.

58. The bayonet should only be fixed when required to be used, either for attack or defence; the exercises and manœuvres will be executed without the bayonet.

59. In the movements which require the bayonet to be fixed, the chief of the battalion will cause the signal to fix bayonet, to be sounded; at this signal the men fix bayonets without command, and immediately replace their pieces in the position they were in before the signal.


60. The instruction of officers can be perfected only by joining theory to practice.  The colonel will often practise them in marching and in estimating distances, and he will carefully endeavor to cause them to take steps equal in length and swiftness.  They will also be exercised in the double quick step.

61. The instruction of officers will include all the Titles in this system of drill, as well as a perfect knowledge of the system of firing as proscribed by the War Department.

62. Every officer will make himself perfectly acquainted with the bugle signals; and should, by practice, be enabled, if necessary, to sound them.  This knowledge, so necessary in general instruction, becomes of vital importance on actual service in the field.


63. As the discipline and efficiency of a company materially depend on the conduct and character of its sergeants, they should be selected with care, and properly instructed in all the duties appertaining to their rank.

64. Their theoretical instruction should include the School of the Soldier, the School of the Company, and the Drill for Skirmishers; as also a knowledge of the principles of firing.  They should likewise be well instructed in their duties as battalion guides.

65. The captain selects from the corporals in his company, those whom he judges fit to be admitted to the theoretical instruction of the sergeants.


66. Their theoretical instruction should include the School of the Soldier, with a knowledge of firing.

67. The captain selects from his company a few privates, who may be admitted to the theoretical instruction of the corporals.

68. As the instruction of sergeants and corporals, is intended principally to qualify them for the instruction of the privates, they should be taught not only to execute, but to explain intelligibly every thing they may be required to teach.


There are three kinds.

69. The command of caution, which is attention.

70. The preparatory command, which indicates the movement which is to be executed.

71. The command of execution, such as march or halt, or in the manual of arms, the part of command which causes an execution.

72. The tone of command distinct, and of a loudness should be animated, proportioned to the number of men under instruction.

73. The command attention is pronounced at the top of the voice, dwelling on the last syllable.

74. The command of execution will be pronounced in a tone firm and brief.

75. The commands of caution and the preparatory commands are herein distinguished by italic, those of execution by CAPITALS.

76. Those preparatory commands which, from their length, are difficult to be pronounced at once, must be divided into two or three parts, with an ascending progression in the tone of command, but always in such a manner that the tone of execution may be more energetic and elevated; the divisions are indicated by a hyphen.  The parts of commands which are placed in a parenthesis, are not pronounced.

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Transcribed by Scott Gutzke, 2004-2006.



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