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of the great unifying factors in military
history is the tradition of dress parade,
that formal ceremony in which the troops are formed,
of roll calls received, and important orders read.
Dress parade was a fact of everyday military life during
American Civil War, as reported in many first person accounts, and, in
the military life of the time, it is important that we do it as
propose, in this short article, to deliver an
overview of the parade, and the basics of each soldier’s
duties in the parade,
in hopes of making our performance of the ceremony a more exact
Regulations of the Confederate States Army,
published in 1861, calls, in paragraph 324, for one daily dress parade,
Troop, or Retreat. The
time of retreat
is clearly specified as sunset, but that of the morning Troop is left
discretion of the commander. Samuel
Cooper, in his Volunteer’s Manual, notes that the commander
may choose to call
parades at both hours.
practice has been to hold dress parade at
10:00 AM. Truth to
tell, this is very
late in the morning, but it seems to make little sense to hold the
a time when spectators will be unable to see it.
we are to follow the form exactly, a drum
signal would be given one half hour before troop, in our case, at 9:30,
which point the music would assemble on the parade field, and each
would form on its own parade for roll call and inspection. Usually this task has
already been done
prior to 8:00 company drill.
minutes later, or 9:40, the Adjutant's call
would be played. At
captains should march their companies to the regimental parade. The music will continue to
the forming of the battalion, stopping when the adjutant indicates to
the battalion is formed.
roll calls have already been made, and
company inspections held, it seems more logical for our purposes to
drum signal at 9:40, 20 minutes before the parade, and the
Adjutant’s Call at
9:50, 10 minutes before the parade
Forming the Battalion
color-company forms the basis of the formation,
and should fall in first, on the right of the color-guard, which the
has formed and pre-positioned on the line.
Other companies, should they arrive early, should wait
color-company is on the line.
should fall in on the right and left of
the color-company, in order, rather than falling in and leaving gaps. Thus, in a four company
battalion, the 2nd
(color) company would be first to take position, then the 1st
company, 3rd company, and 4th
are to fall in on the principle of
successive formations, such as Forward into Line, on the Right into
etc. Remember that,
once the captain is
satisfied with the dress, the company is to be put at Support Arms, NOT
Arms. This is true,
not only for dress
parade, but also for any battalion formation.
I suggest that there is no need to arrive 10 minutes early. The adjutant takes post
two paces from the
right of the battalion, and the sergeant major two paces from the left. The music is in two ranks,
to the right of
the adjutant. Field
and staff officers
and non-commissioned staff are in their proper place in line of battle. The colonel, if he is the
present, will place himself a suitable distance in the front of the
adjutant is in total control of the
formation. When he
is satisfied with
the alignment, he will direct that the captain of the first company put
company at Parade Rest. That
will take one step forward, and command, Shoulder-ARMS, Order-ARMS,
the first company is at Parade Rest, the captain
of the second company will repeat the procedure.
Each company should be brought to Parade Rest
right to left.
the adjutant sees each company at Parade
Rest, he will order the music, under the command of the principal
Beat-OFF. The music
will play a slow
march, as they march from right to left in front of the battalion, and
back to return to their position.
that trooping the color is NOT part of the dress parade.
music has returned to its position, the adjutant will command,
Attention-BATTALION, Shoulder-ARMS, Prepare to open ranks, To the rear
order- MARCH. This
executed exactly as
in SotB, except that all company officers including lieutenants not in
should march four paces forward, captains opposite their position in
lieutenants opposite their place, in other words in front of their
(platoons or sections). Lieutenants
will pass through the captain’s interval to take position. The lieutenant colonel and
dismount, and march from their positions behind the line to a place six
in front of their wings, or two paces in front of the line of company
Once the ranks are aligned, and the commissioned officers in their
adjutant should command, FRONT.
adjutant will then march along the battalion front to the center, face
marching, and pass the line of company officers eight or ten paces,
and command, Present-ARMS. He
face front, salute the colonel, and report, Sir, the parade is formed.
colonel, still with sword in scabbard, will return the salute with a
adjutant will take post
three paces to the left, and one to rear of the colonel, passing around
right. The colonel
will the draw his
sword, command Battalion, Shoulder-ARMS, and drill the battalion in the
of arms, as he sees fit, ending with Order-ARMS.
adjutant will then pass around the colonel’s right, taking
post midway between
the colonel and the line of company officers.
He will then command First Sergeants, to the front and
command, (all that before March) they will shoulder arms, march two
forward, and face inward. At
command MARCH, they will march to the center and halt.
Note that they do not face to the adjutant
until his command.
adjutant will then command, Front-FACE, REPORT.
At this, each
first sergeant, beginning on the right, will give the rifle salute, and
the result of the roll call. Remember
that, while each of our companies portrays a different regiment
in the dress parade, we are supposed to be one battalion. Thus, the report should be
on the order of,
1st company, all present or accounted for, Sir. It is not necessary to
numbers. Neither is
it necessary to
report missing soldiers, unless they are missing without permission. All others are
reports, the adjutant will command, First sergeants outward-FACE. To your posts-MARCH. The sergeants will face
out and return to
their positions in line.
adjutant will face to the colonel, salute, and report the results of
to the colonel, who will then direct that the orders be published. The adjutant will face
about, and command
Attention to Orders, at which time he will read such orders as the
direct. He will
then face to the
colonel, salute and report that the order has been carried out.
At this point,
our practice differs from regulations.
Remembering that we have moved the dress parade to later
in the morning,
in order to make the ceremony accessible to spectators, and in order to
minimize the number of formations the troops must attend, we combine
with formal inspection in column, and then with drill.
Inspection in column is properly the subject
of an independent article.
practice, the adjutant should announce that the Parade is dismissed. Then the colonel would
take command, close
ranks, and wheel the battalion into a column by company, and begin the
regulations, the dress parade is a stand alone formation. When the adjutant
announces that the Parade
is dismissed, the company officers would return their swords, face
march to side of the adjutant, who will have moved to the center of
line. The field
officers would step
back to the line of company officers and close on their flanks. Note that they do not face
front until the
adjutant’s command. The
command Front-FACE, Forward-MARCH.
will march forward, dressing on the center, with the music playing, to
six paces from the colonel, when the adjutant will command HALT. The officers will render a
hand salute, and
remain as the colonel conveys such orders as appropriate. He shall then indicate
that the ceremony is
officers will again
salute, and disperse to their camps.
The first sergeants will then take charge of their
companies, and march
them back to their company parades.
Take note of
this procedure, as we may find use for it in the future
Commissioned and non-commissioned
soldiers have perhaps the easiest job in the parade.
They take their positions in line of battle and stay there. As arms commands are
given, they obey them
to the extent that either the sword manual of rifle manual for
permits. Note that
sergeants carrying a
sword as an arm salute differently than officers, bringing their swords
to a poise.
sergeant major does take a different position.
Rather than being behind the line on the left flank, he
two paces from the left of the front rank of the battalion. Once there, he has no
other duties, save
obeying arms commands.
operate as a legion, with a chief of cavalry and a chief of artillery,
officers would march to the front of their proper commands, in the line
note that any of these soldiers might be called upon to perform the
part, or take command of the parade in the absence of those officers. Being prepared remains a
Privates, corporals, and sergeants,
other than first
One of the
great joys of being in the ranks is the need to know almost nothing. All these soldiers need to
do is to obey the
familiar commands of their officers.
Nothing in the parade is any different than company drill.
interested historians, we all want to understand as much as we can. Note that any soldier may
be called upon to
act as first sergeant, or even company commander in the absence of
sergeant, for the most part, acts as though he were in company or
drill. When the
adjutant commands To
the rear open order, he steps back four paces as he usually does. When the captain marches
to the front, he
replaces him in the front rank. If
lieutenants are present, he may need to step to the front, in front of
first file of his company, to allow them to pass to the front of their
important function of the first sergeant is the report of the roll call. ON the
adjutant’s command of First Sergeants
to the front and center, all first sergeants will shoulder arms, march
paces forward, (midway between the front rank and the line of company
and face inwards. On
the command MARCH,
they march to the center, and halt, still facing inwards. On the command
Front-FACE, they face the
adjutant. On the
command REPORT, the
first sergeant of the first company gives the rifle salute, and reports
result of the roll. The
is First Company, all present or accounted for, Sir.
If there are soldiers absent without permission, report
such. All others
are accounted for.
command, First Sergeants, Outward Face, all face out.
At To your Posts-MARCH, all return to their posts and
The only real
duty of the lieutenant in the parade is to take post in front of the
company. On the
command To the rear,
open order-MARCH, they should march to the front of their commands,
the captain’s interval, the first sergeant stepping to the
front to allow them
to pass. A first
lieutenant would stand
four paces in front of the second platoon.
A second lieutenant would stand four paces in front of the
section of the first platoon. A
lieutenant would stand four paces in front of the second section of the
platoon. All will
obey the manual of
arms commands as far as the sword manual permits.
Of course, all lieutenants should be familiar with the
captains, in the absence of those officers.
see that their companies are formed and aligned at the first drum call
the parade. They
should march their
companies to the parade ground only on the sound of the Troop, which is
second music heard after the initial drum call.
Do not bring your company early, as they will then have to
for the color-company to form on line.
captain of the color company, however, will form his company and march
parade ground as soon as possible, preparing for the adjutant to place
to the color-guard.
that the formation of the battalion is according to the principles of
successive formations. DO
YOUR COMPANY TO ORDER ARMS. Bring
to the support instead. Remember
this is true in all formations of the battalion, nit just for dress
adjutant directs the captain of the first company to bring them to
he will step one pace forward and command Shoulder-ARMS, Order-ARMS,
will then step back
into line and take the position of parade rest. The captain of the
company will then repeat the procedure, and so on successively down the
adjutant’s command, To the rear open order-MARCH, all
captains will march four
paces forward and halt. From
point, simply obey manual of arms commands as allowed by the sword
that the end of our parade usually rolls into a formal inspection in
column. When the
Parade is dismissed, await further orders.
If we are going to do something different, you will be
Field Officers and Chiefs of
Cavalry and Artillery.
lieutenant colonel and major, after seeing that the companies are
their parades, will take their positions twelve paces behind their
wings in line of battle. This
will probably need to be adjusted to a small battalion front. On the command, To the
order-MARCH, they will march to the front, passing through the two pace
interval between the adjutant or sergeant major and the battalion. Their position is six
paces in front of
their respective wings. As
a matter of
practicality, it is well to step off when the preparatory command is
given. Thus you
should be at the battalion line in
time to remind the company officers to march four paces forward.
directs the adjutant as to the exact location of the line. He then takes position a
from the front of the battalion, depending on the length of the front. His sword should be in the
the adjutant takes post behind him, and he instructs the battalion in
manual of arms. He
should be familiar
with the adjutant’s job, as he is in an excellent position to
remind him of the
order of the parade. He
for informing the adjutant of the orders to be read.
The adjutant is
the main player in this particular drama.
He prepares the line for the parade, and forms it before
turning it over
to the colonel. Even
then, most of the
actions of the parade are initiated by him.
Rather than repeat, I suggest that all who wish to learn
part study the overview. Most
refers to the adjutant. If
you know the
adjutant’s part, you know the parade!!
enough, none of
the period sources I consulted, CS Regulations, US Regulations,
Lee's, Viele's, Cooper's, or Dal Bello's PIE say anything about uniform
requirements for the parade. I surmise that was understood
practice, which did not need to be spelled out at the time.
parade" refers back to the English tradition of "dress" and
"undress" uniform. In that tradition, the ceremony did
the full dress uniform. In unusual circumstances, such as
an "undress parade" might be called, which would require only the
undress uniform, and a shortened ceremony.
the Confederate, there was
no codified distinction between "dress" and "undress"
uniform. Indeed, the infantry uniform as specified in CS
double breasted frock coat, with blue trim, light blue trousers, light
kepi with dark blue band, was virtually never worn. Thus, we
a surmise, I would suggest
that the best uniform available would have been worn. Early
in the war,
frock coats, sashes and white gloves would have been common, though not
universal. Sergeants would have worn swords rather than
we progress to mid and late
war, many of these items would have been discarded, or have worn out
been replaced. Still, even in the late war, there would be
who would dress to the fullest.
on active campaign
would have been unlikely to bring such items. If on an active
one would wear the only uniform available, the one on the soldier's
far as I know, blousing of
trousers was not a common period practice. I have seen no
photographic, painted, sketched, that show bloused trousers, although I
by good authority that they exist. Regardless, I would
suggest that they
not be bloused for dress parade, unless we are in a known tick infested
Buttoning of uniforms is another point. CS Regulations, in Para. 1477, do state that the jacket should be “buttoned or hooked at the collar”. I would suggest though, 15. An officer, non-commissioned officer or soldier shall indicate respect for women when passing by them in public by touching the brim of the cap in the manner of a salute, or removing the hat. that for dress parade, the jacket be buttoned completely. The ceremony lasts only 10 minutes or so. In extreme heat, this could be adjusted, as the British did with the "undress parade".
parade is an important military ceremony, with a
rich history. It is
important that we
represent it as accurately as possible. I hope that all will read the
and copy the instructions for their particular part.
Learn the part next above your station, since you can
who will be “on furlough”, and prepare accordingly.
6th Regiment. 1st Division ANV
The Liberty Greys
"Any Fate but Submission!"
listing of the works I have consulted in making this study, and a short
commentary on their use.
Samuel. (1836) A
of Instructions and Regulations for the Militia and Volunteers of the
A predesessor of Gilham’s
using Scott’s Infantry Tactics as the basis
for infantry drill.
Gilham, William. (1861) Manual of Instruction for the Volunteers and Militia of the United States Philadelphia: Charles Desilver
A very useful volume.
Infantry is Hardee’s with additions for
William J. (1862) Rifle
Hardee’s revision for three band
weapons. 1st printed in Mobile in 1861
Volunteer’s Handbook. Richmond:
West & Johnston Press
Another manual for volunteers.
for the Army of the Confederate States. (1863) Richmond: J.W.Randolf.
Most valuable for reenactors.
for the Army of the United States. (1861)
Philadelphia; J. G. L. Brown
The volume upon which the CS
Regulations were based.
Emory. (1867) Infantry Tactics. New
York: D. Appleton
A revision of tactics just after the
war, which clarifies much that was not answered in pre-war manuals.
Winfield. (1830) Abstract of Infantry
Hilliard, Grey, Little, and Wilkins.
A short manual written by committee
before Scott’s major work, Infantry Tactics.
Winfield. (1835) Infantry Tactics. New York: Harper and
The great work of Scott, and the
principal manual for infantry in use until the adoption of
was still in use by many in the war.
Hand-Book for Active Service.
New York: John,
valuable reference for troops in the field.
For more complete information on 19th Century Military Drill, visit the main page.