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Major Gilham

William Gilham

William Gilham, born in 1818 in Indiana,  graduated 5th in his class at West Point in 1840, and served his country in both the Seminole War and the war with Mexico.  In 1846, he was appointed a professor at VMI.  Interestingly, Gilham was not only comandant of cadets, but instructor of Infantry tactics, while his colleague, Thomas Jackson, was instructor of Artillery Tactics.

After  John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, Governor Wise, of Virginia, ordered Major Gilham to write a manual to train volunteers and militia. Finished in the fall of 1860, it was entitled Manual of Instruction for the Volunteers and Militia of the United States. This volume is presented here.

As the war began, in 1861, Gilham was commissioned a Colonel in the Confederate Army, and commanded Camp Lee, a camp of instruction for Virginia volunteers. Colonol Gilham organized and commanded the 21st Viginia Infantry, but was quickly promoted to brigade command, though retaining the rank of Colonel.

In 1862, Gilham realized that his true calling was as a teacher, and left the army for his beloved VMI.  After the war, Virgina's economy in tatters, he took a business position, and was quite successful.  His health failing, he left Virgina for Vermont, there passing to his reward in 1872.

While Major Gilham (to give him the rank conferred by his beloved VMI) did not play a major part on the battlefields of the Civil War, his great work, the Manual of Instruction for the Volunteers and Militia of the United States lives after him, and keeps his name alive.








With Numerous Illustrations.













Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1860, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern District

of Pennsylvania.

page break



   The following work was undertaken with the hope of meeting, to some extent at least, a long-felt want among the volunteers and militia; that is, a manual, which, besides containing every thing which may be necessary for mere tactical instruction, should also embrace more or less instruction on various other subjects of equal importance with tactics; subjects that few men who have not been regularly trained in the military service, have much familiarity with. In the regular service the necessity for such a work is not felt, at least not to the same extent as among the volunteers and militia, from the fact that the military system being in constant operation, and each individual, no matter what his present rank may be, having gradually risen from a low, or perhaps the very lowest grade, has abundant opportunities for becoming familiar with it in all its details, before he is called upon for any extensive exercise of his professional knowledge. With the volunteers and militia, however, where no such process for the acquisition of important practical knowledge is attainable, the case is very different. Called suddenly into active service, from the various pursuits of civil life, all, even the highest in rank and the best informed, meet with difficulties on every side; what would seem to be comparatively plain and simple to the old campaigner, must of be more or less obscure to the volunteer or militia officer, whose opportunities for the attainment of military knowledge have been limited. 

    It is not intended, nor indeed would it be desirable, that the present work should embrace every thing which is proper to be known by our citizen soldiery; its aim is, simply to aid the inexperienced so far as to enable them to become familiar with such principles, and practical details of the military service, as are absolutely essential to those who would be competent officers. If it accomplishes this, it will not have been compiled in vain.

    The Introduction, or "Glossary," will, it is hoped, be found useful to the student of military art or science, and to the reader of military history.

        Article I., 
On Army Organization, commences with a general account of the four arms of the service,--Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Engineers,-- the duties of each in the conduct of a campaign, and the proportion they should bear to each other in an army. The latter part of the Article enters more fully into the details of the organization of each of the three leading arms, and closes with a short account of the duties of the various departments of the staff.

    In Article II., upon Arms and Ammunition, will be found a condensed account of the various arms and kinds of ammunition used by infantry, cavalry, and artillery, together with the manner of preparing and using the latter.

    From Article III. to Article XI., inclusive, will be found the tactical portion of the work; it embraces very full instructions for every kind of Infantry troops, from the School of the Soldier to that of the Battalion; Cavalry tactics, from the School of the Trooper to the Instruction of the Regiment; and Artillery tactics, from the School of the Piece to the Evolutions of a Battery. The whole will be found to be in strict conformity with the requirements of the United States service.

    Article XII. embraces directions and forms for the conduct of every form of parade; the kinds and duties of guards; together with much other matter of a kindred nature.
    In Article XIII. the duties of captains, and other company officers, in regard to the internal management, police, and morale of their companies; together with the proper equipment of officers and men, to secure efficiency as well as comfort, when in the field, camps, marches, etc., are discussed.

    Article XIV. is devoted to the Staff, and embraces such directions for the conduct of those departments of the staff upon which the efficiency of an army in the field must mainly depend, as seemed most necessary.  In this Article will also be found directions and forms for the preparation of the morning reports of Companies, Regiments, Brigades, and Divisions, together with such forms for requisitions, returns, etc., as are in most frequent use.

    In Article XV. will be found some account of the various orders of battle, together with an outline of the manner in which the different kinds of troops should be handled in action.

    Article XVI
. contains directions for the organization and conduct of Military Courts; and lastly, the Appendix, containing the Articles of War, presents us with the Military Law now in force.

W. G.



[The numbers refer to paragraphs and not to pages.]



1. Army corps; 2. Infantry - Proportion of infantry to the other arms - Distinction between heavy and light troops - The musket - Uses and formation of infantry of the line; 3. Light infantry and riflemen - The rifle and sword-bayonet - Duties, and mode of formation of light troops; 4. Cavalry - Its rank, and the proportion it should bear to the infantry - Distinguishing qualities and     uses; 5. Artillery and its rank - Proportion to other arms - Light and heavy artillery - Distinction between mounted and horse     artillery - Uses of artillery; 6. Engineer troops.


7. The company and its officers - The platoon - Formation of the company - Comrades in battle; 8. Posts of officers, etc.;  9.     The regiment - Its officers; 10. Posts of the field and staff of the regiment; 11. Pioneers, field music, and band; 12. Color guard; 13. General guides and markers; 14. Battalion in column; 15. Posts of officers in column; 16. Brigades and divisions - Posts of general officers in line and in column.


17. The company - Posts of officers, etc.; 18. The squadron - Posts of officers and file-closers; 19. The regiment in line - Posts of field and staff, etc.; 20. The regiment in column by twos and fours; 21. In column of platoons; 22. In column by division; 23. Order in close column of squadron, cavalry brigades and divisions.


25. Batteries - Guns and howitzers - Relative proportions of these - Caissons; 26. Complement of officers and men necessary to man the battery; 27. The order in line; 28. The order in column; 29. The order in battery; 30. Two or more batteries united; 31. The position of artillery.


32. The different departments of the staff; 33. Adjutant-general's department; 34. The inspector-general's department; 35. The quartermaster's department; 36. The Commissary department; 37. The engineer department; 38. The ordnance department; 39. The pay department; 40. The medical department.



41. Small arms now in use; 42. The smooth bore musket; 43. The rifled musket - The cylindro-conical baIl; 44. The "altered musket"; 45. The rifle (Minie); 46. Rifled carbines, and breech-loading rifles; 47. Pistols, and pistol-carbines; 48. Sabres; 49. Artillery - Guns - Howitzers - Mortars - The different calibres of each in use; 50. Field guns - Siege and garrison guns - Sea-coast guns; 51. Howitzers - Field - Mountain - Siege and garrison - Sea-coast; 52. Field howitzers; 53. Mortars; 54. Trunnions; 55. Field gun carriages; 56. Caissons; 57, 58. Cartridges for small arms, and how to prepare them; 59. Ball, and ball and buck-shot cartridges; 60. To fill cartridges; 61, 62. Cartridges for elongated projectiles; 63. How to use them; 64. Cartridges for artillery-Fixed ammunition; 65. Dimensions, and how made; 66. The charges of powder; 67, 68. Sabots; 69. Canister shot, and bow prepared; 70. To attach the cartridge to the projectile; 71, 72. Cartridge blocks, and paper caps; 73, 74. Shells and their charges: 75. Spherical-case shot; 76. To load spherical-case; 77. The fuze; 78, 79. The Boarman fuze, and how to use it; 80. Priming and friction tubes; 81. Port-fires and their uses.



82. General directions; 83. Position of soldier; 84-86. The facings; 87. Balance step - Direct step; 88-92. Common time - Quick time - Double quick step - Double quick time; 93. General directions for manual; 94-141. Manual for the musket; 142-190. Manual for the rifle; 191-196. The firings; 197. Bayonet exercise; 198. Salute with the sword or sabre; 199. Color Salute; 200-203. The alignments; 204. To march to front; 205. The oblique; 206, 207. The double quick and the about; 208-210. To march by a flank; 211-215. Wheeling and turning.



216. To form the Company; 217. To open and close ranks; 218-221. The alignments; 222-224. To stack arms; 225-230. The firings; 231-236. To advance in line - The oblique - Mark time - March in retreat - The about; 237-239. To march by flank; 240. On right by file into line; 241. Marching by the flank to form company or platoons; 242-245. Breaking into, and the march of, a column of platoons; 246-248. To form a column of platoons into line to the left or right; 249, 250. A company marching in line, to break it into column of platoons, and to re-form company; 251. In column of platoons, to break files to the rear; 252-255. The route step; 256. The countermarch; 257. In column of platoons, to form line on the right; 258-26l. To form from two to four ranks, and reciprocally; 262. General directions for skirmishers; 263. Deployments; 264. To deploy forward; 265. To deploy by a flank; 266. To deploy on the centre; 267, 268. To extend and close intervals; 269. To relieve a company deployed as skirmishers; 270-273. The advance, retreat, changes of directions, etc.; 274-276. The firings; 277-282. The rally; 283. The assembly.



284-296. The various rules for securing accuracy of aim, and skill in the use of small arms.



297. To form the regiment or battalion; 298. To open and close ranks; 299. The firings; 300. To break to the right into column; 301, 302. To break to the right and rear into column; 303-305. To form close column; 306-308. The march in column at full distance; 309-312. To close the column to half distance, or in mass; 313, 314. In column at half distance, or closed in mass, to take distances; 315-317. In column closed in mass, to change direction; 318-320. In column by company, to form divisions; 321. The countermarch; 322. Manner of determining the line of battle; 323-325. A column at full distance formed into line of battle to the left, or right; 327. Successive formations; 328. On the right into line; 329, 330. Column at full distance forward into line; 331, 332. Into line faced to the rear; 333-335. Formation of the line of battle by two movements; 336-339. Different modes of passing from a column at half distance into line of battle; 340-343. Deployments of columns closed in mass; 344-347. The advance and retreat in line of battle, and the movements incident thereto; 348-350. The passage of obstacles; 351. To pass a defile in retreat; 352, 353. To march by a flank; 351. To form the battalion on the right or left, by file, into line; 355-357. Changes of front; 358, 359. To form the battalion into double column; 360-363. The deployment of the double column; 364-379. Dispositions against cavalry, or the formation of squares; 380. To deploy the battalion as skirmishers; 881. The rally.



382-284. Directions for, and position of trooper before mounting; 385. To mount; 386. Position of trooper mounted; 387-389. The use of the arms and legs; 390. To march; 391. To turn to the right or left; 392. To the right or left about: 393. To make a quarter turn to the right or left; 394. To rein back; 395. To dismount; 396. To file off; 397-429. Exercises in the riding house in single and in double ranks; 430-432. Principles of the gallop; 433-438. The wheelings in single and double ranks, and on fixed and movable pivots; 439-461. Sabre exercise; 462-466. Manual of carbine, or breech-loading rifle for horsemen; 467-469. Manual for Colt's revolvers.



470, 471. General directions - Mounting and forming ranks; 472-476. The alignments; 477. To open and close ranks; 478. To rein back; 479, 480. To break the troop by file, and the direct march in file; 481. The oblique march; 482-484. The troop marching in column, by file, to form it into line to the front, to the left, or on the right; 485-487. To break the troop by twos and by fours, and the direct and oblique march; 488-490. The troop marching in column by twos or by fours, to form it to the front, to the left, or on the right into line; 491. To break the troop by the left; 492. To break by twos and fours at the trot, and at the gallop; 493, 494. To form the troop to the left into one rank, and to the right into two ranks; 495-499. To form twos and fours at the same gait, and to break by twos and by fours at the same gait; 500-504. To form twos and fours in doubling the gait, and to break by twos and fours in doubling the gait; 505, 506. Sabre exercise; 507, 508. Direct march of the troop in line; 509. The countermarch; 510-512. The troop being in line, to form it into column with distance, and the march of this column; 513. The oblique march in column; 514-52l. In column, to break by fours, by twos, and by file, and to form twos, fours, and platoons at the same gait; 522-527. The same movements in doubling the gait; 528-529. The about in column, and the halt; 530-532. To form line to left, and right; 533, 534. To form line on the right, and on the left; 535, To form front into line; 536, 537. The formation of lines faced to the rear; 542. Movements by fours, the troop being in column with distance; 543-547. The changes of direction of a troop marching in line; 548. Movement by fours, the troop in line; 549. The troop marching in line, to break it by platoons to the right, and to re-form it; 550, 551. The troop marching in line, to break it to the front by platoons, and to re-form it; 552-557. The charge; 558. Rallying; 559. Skirmishing.



560, 561. The movements of the squadron; 562. Successive alignments of platoons in the squadron; 563, 564. To break from the right to march to the left; 565. To break by platoons to the right, and to advance; 566. To form line to the front by inversion; 567. Break to the right by platoons, head of column to the left or half left; 568. To form line faced to the rear by inversion, on the rear of the column; 569. By platoons to the right head of column to the right, or half right; 570. To form line face to the rear, by inversion, on the head of column; 571. The oblique; 572. The oblique by platoons; 573. By fours about, and to face to the front again; 574. The about by platoons; 575. To break the squadron to the front by platoon, and to re-form it; 576, 577. The passage of obstacles; 578-581. Skirmishing; 582-587. The column by division.



688. Positions of the guides in column; 589, 590. The alignments; 591. To break the regiment by fours; 592, 593. Form platoons, and to break the platoons by fours; 594, 595. The same movements in doubling the gait; 596-598. To form the regiment to the front, to the left, and upon the right into line; 599. To form the regiment into column with distance; 600, 601. To break from the right, to march to the left; 602-603. To form the regiment into close column; 606, 607. The march, and change of direction in column; 608. Platoons left about wheel; 609, 610. By fours to the right, and right or left about; 611. The oblique; 612-620. Various methods of forming a regiment into line of battle; 621, 622. The deployments of a close column; 623. The march in line; 624. The regiment marching in line to oblique by platoons; 625. To gain ground to the right; 626. To march in retreat; 627, 628. The changes of front of the line; 629, 630. The passage of defiles; 631, 632. The charge.



633, 635. Manner of forming the gun detachments, and posting the cannoneers; 636-643. Loading and firing the piece; 644, 645. Moving the piece by hand; 646, 647. Changing posts, and equipments; 648-650. Limbering; 651. Posts of cannoneers, the piece limbered; 652-656. To form the detachments, their posts, and changing posts; 657. Moving the piece by hand, when limbered; 658-660. Unlimbered and coming into action; 661. Movements with the prolonge; 662 Service of the gun with diminished numbers; 663. Supply of ammunition when in action; 664-666. Pointing and ranges; 667 Composition of the battery The officers and men necessary to man it; 668. Posts of officers, etc.; 669. Manning the battery; 670, 671. To mount and dismount the cannoneers; 672-684. To unpack, and to perform various movements in column; 685-687. Various ways of passing from the order in column to the order in line; 688-695. To pass from the order in line to the order in column; 696, 697. To form the double column into line; 698-700. To advance, to change direction in line, and to halt; 701-717. Formations in battery; 718. To pass from the order in battery to the order in column; 719-723. The firings; 724-727 The changes of front in battery; 728-729. The passage of defiles.


730. Honors paid by troops to the President, Governor, General-in-chief, Major General, Brigadier General, etc., Members of the Cabinet, etc., Foreign Ministers, Officers, etc.; 731. Compliments paid by guards - Compliments paid by officers and soldiers to their Superiors; 732 Artillery salutes; 733. Escorts of honor, how formed and conducted; 734. Funeral honors - the escort for various grades, the manner of Conducting the march, etc.; 735, 736. Manner of inspecting infantry and cavalry; 737-741. Forms of parade - Dress parade - Review of infantry Review of cavalry - Review of artillery; 742. Guard mounting - Relieving sentinels and guards; 743. Method of escorting and receiving the color of an infantry regiment; 744. Method of escorting and receiving the standard of a cavalry regiment; 745. Method of receiving One body of troops by another; 746. Manner in which orders should be written and communicated; 747. The manner of conducting musters of the troops; 748. The roster, or details for service, how made; 749. Sentinels are relieved, how often - The countersign and parole - Duties of officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates of guards - Manner of challenging - Receiving the "grand rounds," etc., etc.; 750. General arrangement of the guards of a camp or position; 751. The different kinds of guards Police guards - Picket - Grand guards - Outposts - Patrols; 752. Strength and duties of the police guard - Duties of the regimental officer of the day; 763. Strength and duties of the pickets; 754-757. Strength and duties of the grand guards and Outposts - Manner of posting them, etc., etc.



758. Responsibility of captains; 759. Manner of issuing arms to volunteer companies; 760. The uniform and equipment of volunteers and militia - The knapsack - Haversack - Bedsack - Blankets, etc.; 761. Tents - The Sibley tent - The shelter tent - Tent knapsack - Half-faced camp; 762. The "kit," or necessary equipment for the field; 763. Interior police of companies - Method of keeping the arms, etc., in order - The ration, how cooked and served; 764, 765. Duties in camp and garrison - The reveille - Breakfast call - Troop - Surgeon's call - Dinner call - Retreat - Tattoo - Stable call - Drummers' call; 765. Daily duties - General officers of the day - Field officers of the day - Regimental officers of the day - Their duties; 766. Camp of infantry; 767. Camp of cavalry; 768. Camp of artillery; 769. Bivouacs; 770. Cantonments; 771. Preliminaries for the march - The general - Long roll - Directions for the conduct of the march; 772. The camping party - Going into camp - Details for duty.



773-778. Duties of the adjutant-general's department - Adjutant-generals and assistant adjutant-generals - Morning reports of brigades and divisions - Orders, how distributed - The parole and countersign how issued, and to whom sent - Manner of folding the Countersign - Brigade and division inspectors - Adjutants of regiments - Morning report of regiment; 779-785. Quartermaster's department - Quarters, and the allowance of Transportation - The forage ration - Stationery - Camp and garrison equipage Depot quartermasters, etc.; 786-789. Subsistence department - The ration - Provision returns - Issues; 790, 791. The medical department - Surgeon's call, and morning sick report; 792. The pay department.



793. The different kinds of battles; 794. When a defensive battle should be given; 795. Conditions to be satisfied in a defensive position; 796. Offensive battles; 797. The meeting of two armies; 798, 799. The different orders of battle; 800-808. The infantry - The defence - Attack - Pursuit - Retreat - Means of prolonging the engagement - Defence against cavalry - Against artillery - Attack on artillery; 809-812. The position of cavalry - The defence - Its attack upon infantry - Upon artillery; 813-815. Position of artillery - Defence - Attack.



816. Courts martial defined; 817. What officers eligible as members; 818. Kinds and powers of courts martial; 819. Who may assemble general courts martial, and manner of assembling them; 820. Number of officer's necessary to compose a court; 821. Revision of the proceedings, etc.; 822. Regimental and garrison courts, how convened, etc.; 823-828. The trial - Challenges - The oath of the members, and of the judge advocate - The plea of the prisoner - The examinations of the witnesses - The defence; 829-831. The findings; 832-834. The sentence; 835, 836. Duties of the judge advocate; 837. Form of order convening a court; 838. Form of proceedings.



Reveille, Tattoo, etc., etc.



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