UNITED STATES TACTICS,
FOR THE USE OF OFFICERS.
AND PRESENTED TO THE FORTY-FOURTH MASS. REGIMENT.
310 WASHINGTON STREET, BOSTON.
Entered according to an act of Congress, in the year 1862 by
Col. FRANCIS L. LEE, of the 44th Mass, Regiment,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
J. E.FARWELL AND COMPANY
37 Congress Street, Boston.
SCHOOL OF THE BATTALION.
It is of the utmost importance that every officer, (captain or lieutenant,) should be accustomed to bring a company into its proper place at any time and under whatever circumstances. He must therefore be thoroughly conversant, theoretically and practically, with the School of the Soldier and the Company. As a militia officer has not very frequently an opportunity of practising the School of the Battalion, let him take blocks, suppose any manoeuvre to be executed, give aloud the commands, leading atthe same time the blocks into their proper places. Here is his company or platoon, there the place to which he must take it.
Very well; one moment's reflection, and then the loud and distinct command. Hesitation is a blunder which, in active service, may be followed by disaster.
There are cases when the companies should form in line of battle or in square without regard to their proper places. For instance: the battalion has been extended in skirmishing line, parts of the companies, of course, in rear as supports, and the color company as reserve. Large masses of cavalry appear, and the accidents of the ground do not favor the skirmishers sufficiently. The colonel, seeing that there is time enough to form square before the cavalry can charge, and being sure of the discipline of officers and men, gives the signal to rally on the reserve. The skirmishers rally at a run on their supports, which at the same time run on the shortest line towards the color company, form, without regard even to front and rear rank, in close order the four faces of the-
perhaps somewhat irregular - square, charge bayonets, and are ready to execute the command ”fire." Again: when surprised, it is infinitely more necessary that the battalion should form line or column without regard to the numbers of the companies, but ready to resist or to charge, than to wait, arrange, and be decimated. It will be easily understood that perfect familiarity with the manoeuvres and their objects, as well as perfect discipline, can only enable an officer to do his duty before the enemy and 'to set an example to his men, who, seeing this, will implicitly trust, obey, and follow him.
There are many manoeuvres, in minor tactics, which appear to have no direct connection with any operation on the battlefield; yet they are necessary, because they produce those habits which must distinguish
the soldier. Thus, "to open and close ranks" is certainly not a manoeuvre to be executed in active service, but only to allow inspection. No captain should ever neglect to open ranks after having formed his company, in order to inspect the men's dress, cleanliness, and arms. The habit of cleanliness of the body and dress will keep the men healthy in camp and on the marsh the habit of keeping arms and accoutrements in good order will enable them to be ready for duty at a moment's notice, and to be relied on in battle. Besides, certain parts of the drill executed with open ranks can be made more thoroughly instructive, as the officer can see better each man and his faults and blunders. Perfect uniformity and precision can best be attained by perfect drill of each man.
638 to 651.
The battalion being formed, it must be aligned and remain so as nearly as possible. Now, the colors are the magnet by which the men of the battalion are attracted on which they rally. The colors, therefore are placed in the centre of the line, so that distance and direction can be easily taken from them.
If the line shows but little bends irregularities, the colonel will order the captains to correct them, when they first align themselves on the color-guard, and then their companies. (No. 639.)
But if the irregularities should be great, or if a different alignment should be necessary, the colonel places first, (no.'s 640, 650 to 651,) the general guides and color-bearer as directing points in the desired alignment, then the guides of the companies, and lastly the companies.
The former simple proceeding, will generally be sufficient in active service. The latter method, however, should be frequently practised, that officers and men may accustom themselves to march into the line and align themselves with rapidity and ease, to take the touch of the elbows, and to turn their eyes, as it were, mechanically in the right direction, that is, towards the colors.
It is stated in 643 that the captains of the right wing should shift to the left of their companies before the command "on the centre dress " be given. This is done because the companies of the right wing have the centre on their left, must therefore dress to the left; hence the captains must be on the left to assist the men to align themselves well. It is a general rule that the captains should be on the right of their companies at the command "right dress" or its equivalent, and on the left at the command left
dress" or its equivalent, and return to the right at the command "guides posts."
4.To advance and retreat in line of battle.
587 to 622, and 664 to 675.
The colors mark the centre of alignment at a halt and march on the directing point when the battalion is advancing or retreating. The color-guard marches six paces in front of the battalion, (both in the advance and retreat,) that every man can see it and take the step from it. Let it be stated here at once that the file-closers, (lieutenants and sergeants,) must Pay attention, and correct in the moment they see men of their company inclined to Press towards the centre or the flank. They can do a great deal to keep a battalion steady, and must do so, particularly on a difficult ground, or when the bullets of the enemy take effect. Let them cause the Wounded to fall to the rear and the ranks to be closed again; for an effect can only be
produced on the enemy when the battalions approach in an unwavering line, ready to charge or to halt and fire. When a battalion of the bravest men comes up with the enemy like an armed mob, the men will be in each other's way, and can effect very little or nothing.
Now, to enable a battalion to advance or retreat so that at every halt its line shall be parallel to the original one from which they started, there are, firstly, the colors, who march steadily on a line perpendicular to the battalion, corporal behind the color-bearer following in the trace of the latter; and secondly, the general guides, who march abreast with the colors. The duties of color-bearer render it necessary that of that he should be a steady and practised soldier. It is evident that there must be some means in order to assist him to march on the perpendicular. The rules laid down in 587 to 590, 606 to 611, aid 666, 667, should be
strictly attended to, and very frequently practised on the parade-ground; yet on the field of battle it will be sufficient for the colonel to point out to the color-bearer one or more objects in advance on which to direct his march and in the direction of which he keeps him. If the color-bearer neglect his duties, (that is, to march steadily and evenly on the perpendicular,) one wing will be crowded and the other in very loose order, or rather disorder, which would prevent the men from using their arms properly at the decisive moment. Even greater attention must paid when the battalion advances at the double-quick, when it charges. It is on this occasion that the captains and file-closers should particularly exert themselves to keep the men in good order, so that the muskets may form one unbroken row of steel- the moral effect of this alone is enormous. When the enemy has been overthrown the men must remain in their ranks, for now
follows the volley to finish the work; detachments pursue, not the battalion. Much more, of course, must the officers exert their energy when the advance has been unsuccessful, and a retreat in quick time or at the double-quick has become necessary. If they do not, the retreat will degenerate into a flight, or at least into straggling, which costs more men and demoralizes more than any regular, steady retreat, ever so closely followed by the enemy. The retreat should be executed in such order that, at the halt or facing to the front, the battalion can be easily reformed and made ready to advance again.
In 693 there is stated a principle, viz: When a battalion in line of battle advances or retreats, the captains should shift to that flank of their company which is the farthest from the colors, because they can from this place better align their company on the centre, and keep it in alignment during the march.
5.To halt a battalion marching in line of battle. 635 to 637, and 676 to 680.
If the battalion halts in order to remain in this position, the color-guard and the general guides are no longer wanted in front of it. They are therefore recalled after the command "halt" (637), and they take their original places at the command "about face." (677.)
The oblique march is used when ground must be gained forward and sideways at the same time. It requires very steady and thoroughly drilled troops. The men will easily lose their distances and the off-wing will hang back, so that at the command "forward march," both the touch towards the colors and the original alignment are lost. Yet it cannot be avoided for short distances, e. g., when the intervals of the
battalions of a brigade advancing in line of battle have been lost, or when a more advantageous position must be reached. The captains can do much towards the proper execution of the diagonal march, by remaining themselves aligned with the corporals in the centre and with one another, and by keeping the first file of their company close to their arm. Also the file-closers can render themselves very useful.
to 663 ; 681 ; 743 to 775.
Changes of front should be covered by other troops, so that they may not be observed by the enemy, or at least that they may not be disturbed. They are executed either because the object of our offensive operations requires it, or because the enemy appears unexpectedly in our flank.
He who knows the difficulties of wheeling by companies, will not hesitate to pronounce
the change of direction and therefore front, explained in 652 to 663, to be not very easy even under the most favorable circumstances, the less so as the captains of the two wings must regulate their march and the direction of their shoulders not by the wheeling flank, but by the centre corporals. Unless a very small segment of a quadrant is all that may be desired in order to advance at once in this new direction, it should be avoided. A column doubled on the centre, however, now much more used for advance and retreat than line of battle, could very easily perform the change direction at right angle to the former direction, and then deploy if necessary. This is the more easily practicable as the manoeuvre should not be executed under the fire of the enemy.
The same remarks hold for change direction on the rear rank, that is, in retreat, as explained 681.
More time is required and greater difficulties are to be conquered by the method described in 743 to 776, viz: change of front on one of the flank companies, either at a halt or in march, forward or to the rear. Each captain must cause the guide to march in the proper direction; he must give the command 61 right (left) turn, march," as soon as the latter has arrived in rear of the last file of the preceding company; he must command "halt" when he has arrived near the alignment, the change of front being forward, and after the company has passed through the line of markers, the change of front being to the rear. The detail of execution is the same as in "forward into line," or "into line faced to the rear," from open column. If the change of front should not amount to a right angle, the captains need not command "turn," because the companies will be already nearly parallel to the new alignment.
It is very rare that a single battalion is compelled to execute this manoeuvre, more frequently a brigade, &c., and then always protected by detachments more in front. Much easier and with more safety can the front be changed in this way: form double column on the centre, wheel and deploy if necessary. The manoeuvres as described in 743, seq., may be excellent practice on the parade ground, but are too complicated for militia, and can be avoided as just stated. Officers who have a decided predilection for complicated movements of a battalion in line of battle, will find it interesting to know that one of the European armies has a shorter way to change front. Let it be desired to change front to the right. Command: "Right wing about face, battalion right wheel, double-quick, march." The captains of the left wing command "halt," those of the right wing "right about front," when in the alignment, marked by the guides, at 90
degrees to the original position. But even this manoeuvre has been condemned.
of companies.105 to 116.
This manoeuvre was formerly much used to take a battalion through difficult ground, through the intervals of the pieces of a field battery, &c.
At the preparatory command "by right (left) of companies to the front (rear)," the captains hasten to take their position in front of their companies. The reason is this: as long as the battalion remains in line, it is one unit, and all the parts execute the command of the colonel simultaneously. As soon, however, as the preparatory command indicates a manoeuvre by which the line, the unit, is to be broken into its subdivisions, the commanders of the letter assume command under the colonel, become responsible for the proper execution of the
manoeuvre, and therefore place themselves at once in front of their subdivision. . other rule must be observed in all manoeuvres, viz: as often as the captains leave their places in the front rank, they are replaced by the covering guides, because there must not be any break or gap in line of battle. At the command "battalion right (left) face," or "by the right (left) flank march," the captains hasten to that flank in order to direct the guide and first file. They then cause the first and second files to break to the front (rear), in order allow the guide the time, to place himself once in the new direction, perpendicular the line of battle, before the command "march " be given. Lastly, it is of paramount importance, that both captains and guides should carefully attend to the distance of the companies from one another, so that the command "by companies into line", there should be just room enough for each
company to form line again. For if the distance be too small, crowding will be the consequence, and the men cannot use their arms; if the distance be too large, the companies will be detached instead of forming all one unit; they will be compelled to oblique at a moment when the greatest steadiness should be shown, and when the battalion should be under the control of the colonel.
in line. 722 to 742.
The march by the flank will be necessary when ground must be gained sideways on the same line on which the battalion is drawn up in line, e.g., to gain the proper distance from the next battalion on the right or left; to take a battalion behind a cover, in order to avoid unnecessary exposure, &c. When the battalion is at a halt, the command is "right (left) face, march," when marching
"by the right (left) flank, march." The men who just touched each other's elbows would now be in rear of each other, with very little interval, and the march, executed in this way on uneven and soft ground, would cause the files to widen out, and produce a dangerous length of the battalion,even straggling. To prevent this and to allow the men to step freely forward, the double file has been introduced. It can be now exacted that the files keep their proper distances. At the command "halt, front," the men must be neither crowded nor loose; either would require much valuable time to give way towards the flanks or to close towards the centre. The file-closers must assist the men, particularly those of the company at the bead.
The flank march is an excellent test of the thoroughness of the drill of the men, and should therefore be frequently practised in companies. First, the simple march by the
flank, followed by "halt, front," on which the ploying and deploying of a battalion depends; next, flank march from the march in line, and vice versa; lastly, from marching in line into flank march, at the command, "by the right flank by file left" (by the left flank by file right), and again "by company into Line."
In order to march by the flank on a straight line, the guide should be accustomed to take points of direction, and to march without varying the length of steps. The captains march by the side of their guides at the head, in order to regulate the better the proper execution of the movement; they take their places in the front rank again, as soon as the battalion faces to the front or rear.
To form a battalion, marching by the flank, on the right (left) by file into line, implies a change of front to the original rear, a complete counter march, and will be sometimes of advantage, particularly when exe-
cuted by a detached company. Yet it must be properly protected by skirmishers. It would take a battalion much time to excel this manoeuvre. In order to assist the companies to form the battalion in the alignment which the colonel considers the most advantageous, markers are placed for the direction of the company at the head, and then the guide of each company aligns on them soon as the last file of the company arrives in the line.
On a march far from the enemy, it necessary to allow the men all possible convenience, compatible with strict order, and to leave the road open to communication, which would be stopped by marching in broad front. This would be unnecessarily inconvenient both to the troops and to traffic. The battalion marches in such cases by the flank on both sides of road. The chapter on Route march 198 seq., contains many very practical rules
which do not require any explanation, and which ought to be carefully read.
10. Passage of obstacles. 692 to 708.
As our battles are now often fought on a ground which does not favor the unobstructed advance in long lines, obstacles would too frequently interfere with the proper execution of a manoeuvre in line. The frequent breaking of companies to the rear, and taking them into line of battle again, requires very well drilled troops, indeed it requires a higher degree of drill than we can reasonably expect of militia. The troops move better in columns when there are obstructions, and deploy when the necessity arises.
In executing, however, these manoevures, the captains must keep their companies very well together, and the guide on the flank of the company next to that which has broken to the rear, should scrupulously attend to
the duty of keeping the space for that company open. The company which breaks to the rear, and comes forward into line again, must do so at a more rapid gait, than that in which the battalion moves, in order not to interrupt the advance of the whole body. If, however, the battalion advances in double quick, it must resume quick time during the execution of the manoeuvre of the company, because wild running and utter confusion would be the necessary consequence, if the battalion should not do so.
11.To pass a defile in retreat. 709to 721.
A defile should be passed as rapidly as possible, even if the enemy does not press very closely on the marching troops, much more so when he does. Detachments, skirmishers keep the enemy in check, whilst the battalion forms the most compact mass possible, when passing the bridge. This mass however should at the same time allow the
reforming of the battalion, without loss of time, on the opposite side of the defile. Neither of these requisites appears in the method explained in 709, seq. It is more in the spirit of modern tactics to employ another method, for instance that which the reader will find explained in the chapter treating on Column doubled on the centre.
12. Loading at will and firing. 31 to 63.
Battalions always load at will during an engagement. The captains and file-closers, all in rear of course during the firing, must do their best to prevent overhurrying, firing, at random, and loading several cartridges one upon the other. A regiment should never be brought to the field of battle unless the men have not only had frequent target practice, but also been drilled thoroughly in the different firings with blank cartridges. The few dollars spent for powder and caps, the time and trouble spent in washing and
cleaning the muskets, are exceedingly well employed. It is when firing by battalions, wings, or companies, not to speak of firing by file, that it becomes very difficult for the colonel to keep young troops in that perfect discipline which frequently decides the fate of the day, at least the fate of the regiment. The men are too much inclined to waste the ammunition and to disregard the word command or the signal; they are carried away by excitement. The fire by files should be rarely used. The commander loses almost the possibility of keeping his men well in hand; the never-dissolving column of smoke in front of his troops prevents him from seeing whether there is still an object worth the ammunition; the men fire blindly as fast as possible, no cartridge is left after an incredibly short time, and the regiment is worse than useless in position. Let the officer never give his command, aim, fire," before he is sure of
being in range. The fire by battalion should be used when several battalions form the line of battle, or if only one battalion being engaged, the volley is to be followed by the charge. In general, it is better to fire by ranks. The effect is good, the smoke is not so dense, there is time for its clearing away, half the men have their guns loaded, ready for any emergency; the men remain cool, and hence more inclined to obey the signal which, given when one rank has fired the volley, can be distinctly understood as: advance, retreat, form square, etc. The fire by companies is under many circumstances good, yet its moral and actual effect on the enemy is less decided, and besides, it multiplies the commands - it may degenerate into a fire by files.
The fire by the rear rank may be practised as well as manoeuvres by the rear rank. There is however, this difference, that the latter will be frequently executed in active
service, whilst the former can only happen very rarely, if ever; and only when the battalion is suddenly attacked in rear. It is evident that before the fire by the rear rank can be commanded, all file-closers should have an opportunity of getting out of the way, that is, of forming in the rear, former front, of the battalion.
Infantry forms in column on the march and when charging..
To pass from order in line into column, means to place the fractional parts of the battalion in rear of one another, so that the line can be easily reformed.
A column is right in front when that subdivision is at the head which in line of battle formed the right flank.
A column is left in front when that
subdivision is at the head which in line of battle formed the left flank.
Whether a column shall be right or left in front, depends on the accidents of the ground or the position of the troops. If, for instance, a battalion in line leans with its left flank on the road on which it is to advance, column left in front would be formed, otherwise right in front. It is therefore necessary that both formations should be equally familiar to officers and men.
A column is doubled on the centre when the left wino of the battalion forms column right in front, the right wing column left in front on the two centre companies.
The extent of front of a column depends on the front of the subdivision into which the battalion is broken.
Column by sections and column by platoons, on the march beyond the range of the ene-
my's fire. They are , mostly formed from the column by companies.
Column by companies and column by divisions for manoeuvres on the field of battle. The broader the front of a column the less will be its depth, and the easier can it be handled. The column by companies or divisions can be formed:
Either by breaking to the flank (wheeling),
Or, by breaking to the rear by the right (left) of companies or divisions,
Or, by ploying.
A column is open or at wheeling (full) distance when the subdivisions have a distance from one another equal to their front. Columns by sections or platoons are always at wheeling distance.
A column is at half distance when the subdivisions have a distance from one another equal to half their front.
A column is close or in mass, when the
front rank of the following subdivision has a distance of six paces from the guide of the preceding one. The fractional parts of the battalion in column must be so arranged that line can be formed with ease, order, and rapidity.
A column at full distance can pass into order in line of battle:
Either by wheeling into line,
And on the right (left) into line, when the enemy is in the flank of the column;
Or, by forward into line, when the enemy is in front of the column;
Or, into line faced to the rear, when the enemy is in rear of the column.
The three last methods bring the companies successively into line, the first all at the same time.
A column closed in mass passes into order in line of battle by deploying.
A column doubled on the centre forms line by deploying, which takes but half the time
of the same manoeuvre of a column right or left in front, because both wings deploy at the same time.
As soon as the colonel's preparatory command indicates that column is to be formed, the captains take command of their subdivisions and place themselves therefore in front of them. As long as the battalion remains in order in column, the chiefs of the subdivisions repeat the commands "halt" and "march."
All columns right in front have their guide left, responsible for distance and alignment, because they are on the pivot flank; for the same reason all columns left in front have guide right.
The text-book explains how to form column by company, because each battalion consists of a certain number of companies,
each commanded by a captain. Each company is subdivided into platoons and sections; the column by platoon or section can therefore be formed from column by company, according to the rules laid down in the School of the Company. Two companies form a division, commanded by the senior captain; the column by division can be easily formed from column by company
a. By the wheeling of companies. 68 to 86.
The text-book explains three different cases:
The battalion in line is at a halt and breaks into column which is also to halt.
The battalion in line is at a halt and breaks into column which is to move in the new direction.
The battalion in line marches and breaks into column which is to continue marching.
All are executed according to the same
principles. All companies wheel on a fixed pivot, which is explained in the School the Soldier. When the column is not to move, each captain gives the commands, takes the guide of the wheeling flank into the alignment of the pivot man, and dresses his company. Therefore he must be time at the point where the wheeling flank is to rest. Let him never allow the men pass beyond the alignment, because it is difficult to cause them to fall back, easy move them forward. Having seen his company dressed, he commands "front," and takes his place two paces in front of centre. When the column is to advance soon as formed, the guide of the wheeling flank of each company takes at once the responsibility for distance and alignment, hence the captains remain in front of their companies; they have to give no command because the colonel moves the whole battalion at once in the new direction. The
guides of the wheeling flank must now be careful not to wheel any further than necessary to take the company at right angles to its original position in line; they mark time if the command "forward, march," should not be given in time in consequence of the unequal number of files of the companies. Let the guides of the wheeling flank march on an are, which corresponds with the number of files of their company; they can greatly assist the men and prevent either crowding- or looseness.
b. By breaking to the rear. 87 to 104.
The method of forming column at full distance by breaking to the rear by the right (left) of companies is (104) considered to be at once the most prompt and regular one. It allows, like the preceding method, the formation of column from a halt and in march, the column can halt or continue marching as circumstances may dictate.
There are two points particularly to be attended to: firstly, that the right (left) guides, according as the column is to be right or left in front, should march on a line perpendicular to the battalion in line of battle, and secondly that each captain should give his command "halt, front " promptly, as soon as the other guide comes up with him. At the command, "battalion right (left) face," each captain hastens to the flank indicated, and places himself so that his breast touches the left (right) arm of the nearest front rank man of the neighboring- company, and remains there in order that the guide at the command, "halt, front," or "by the left (right) flank march" should be at once aligned, and that none of the companies should be compelled to move to any extent to the right or left to come into the proper alignment. He also causes the two first files to break to the rear, partly to avoid pushing, at the command
march," and partly to allow the guide to place himself in front of the front rank man, and to take the direction perpendicular to the original line of battle.
This manoeuvre can only succeed when the men have been thoroughly trained to execute the march by the flank; for if the files lose distances and the command "halt, front," or "by the left (right) flank, march," has been given, it will require much time and moving sideways before the men can take the touch of the elbows towards the guide, and before they can be ready to execute promptly another manoeuvre.
line of battle.
390 to 411.
The column at full distance right in front has its left guides aligned, and the men have taken the touch of the elbows towards them.
The line can therefore be formed, when all companies simultaneously wheel to the left; the left guides remain in their places, the companies dress up to them, and the battalion is at once properly aligned. The column at full distance left in front has its right guides aligned, and can therefore form the line of battle by right into line wheel; the right guides remain in their places, the companies dress up to them. This manoeuvre can only succeed when the guides on the pivot flank keep their exact distances under all circumstances, and stand or march on the same straight line.
There can be three different cases.
The column is at a halt, and the line of battle is to halt.
The column marches, and the line of battle is to halt.
The column marches, and the line of battle continues marching.
There cannot exist any doubt whether the
colonel wants the line to halt or to advance as soon as formed. If he wants the line of battle to halt, he commands, "left (right) into line wheel;" if he wants the line to advance, he commands, "by companies left (right) wheel." In the first case each captain commands "halt, right (left) dress." In the second case the colonel commands "forward march, guide centre," when color-guard, general guides, and captains of the left wing must hasten to their places in line of battle, when advancing.
When the column is right in front, and the colonel gives the preparatory command, "left into line wheel," the right guide of the first company hastens on to the alignment of the left guides; and when the column is left in front, and the command "right into line wheel" is given, the left guide of the last company places himself on the alignment of the right guides. This is done that the captain of the leading company may be able to
give his command "halt" before the wheeling flank has arrived on the alignment. As these guides are but markers on the new line of battle, it is not necessary that they should take the exact company distance from the next guide; yet they ought not to be further from him than the length of the company, otherwise the men could not be dressed up to their arm. It is for this reason that 391 requires that they should be opposite one of the three right (left) files of the company. Of course this is only done when the battalion is to halt; if the march is to be continued, after the line of battle has been formed, there is no reason for placing markers.
If the column be at a halt or in march, the guides of the pivot flank must not move during the execution of the command, "left (right) into line wheel." They mark the line, and can therefore only leave it at the command guides posts." If, however,
the command, "by companies left (right) wheel," be given, the guides must have passed to the rear before "forward march" is commanded, otherwise they would be in the way of the battalion advancing in line.
If the column right in front should find the enemy on its right flank, or if the column left in front should find the enemy on its left flank, and circumstances compel the colonel toform in line of battle, the shortest way to doso would be as explained in 407 to 411. As this manoeuvre places every company so, that the battalion's right flank changes into its left, it is called by inversion. Although it is certain. that this formation should be used in active service only in very exceptional cases, yet it offers the means of depriving the enemy of part of the advantage of being in the rear of the battalion, and should therefore be practised, particularly by the officers, using blocks in their study of tactics. It proves that the bat-
talion is not a Chinese puzzle, the parts which can only compose the whole in or single way; but that it is more like an algebraic compound quantity. He who understands its nature can unite the parts in variety of ways, among which he promptly chooses the one which is the most easy under the circumstances. The original right wing having become now the left wing, the captains must take their positions accordingly, when the battalion advances, viz: the captains of the now left wing on the left those of the now right wing on the right of their respective companies, in order to keep their companies properly aligned on the centre.
b. Successive formations. 412 to 413.
All successive formations require comparatively much time, and keep the battalion during their execution in a defenceless state; the battalion executing them must therefore
be protected by accidents of the ground, or by other troops. If in exceptional cases the colonel should consider it necessary to cormmence firing before the whole line could be formed, (438 to 439,) each captain must give of course the command to his company as soon as the next following company has arrived on the alignment ready to commence firing. It requires, however, very well drilled troops who, after having come into the line at a double-quick, keep cool enough to deliver an effective fire. That in this case captains and guides must keep in the rear is a matter of course. In all successive formations it is better to halt the battalion until the formation is properly finished, than to hurry parts of the battalion forward whilst other parts find it difficult to come into line, particularly on uneven or soft ground. It is a rule (437) to let each company come to a support arms as soon as the next following one has finished dressing. This is done
in order not to fatigue the men unnecessarily. An officer should never compel men to stand or march long with "shouldered arms," but vary it by "support arms" or "right shoulder shift arms." The more he husbands the strength of his men, more can he draw upon it in the moment of need. Let the men pay strict attention the commands of their captains.
The different successive formations are as follows:
On the right (left) into line. 414 to 437.
This manoeuvre will be of advantage when the different battalions arrive on the flan the line of battle with their reverse flanks on the line on which they are to form.
Before the colonel gives the command "on the right (left) into line," he must indicate to the lieutenant-colonel the place where the right (left) flank is to rest, and also the direction, otherwise the captain of
the company at the head of the column can neither know when he has to give his command, " right (left) turn," nor how to align his company. The column being right in front, the line is to be formed successively, extending to the left, bringing each company by "right turn" into the direction, whence the colonel commands "guide right." The column being left in front, the line is to be formed successively, extending to the right, bringing each company by "left turn" into the direction, whence the colonel commands "guide left," to cause the men to take the touch of the elbows towards the guide indicated, and each of these guides to cover the ones of the preceding companies. The captains should give the command "right (left) turn march," just when opposite the left (right) flank of the preceding company. If they should give the command too early, crowding and pushing would be the consequence; if too late, the men would march
too loosely and deceive the next following company. The guide particularly must march, after the turning, so as to arrive close to the last file of the company already in line. If the guide of the second or third company should neglect this obligation, he would throw the whole battalion into confusion. Besides, the file-closers must assist by causing the men to keep the touch of the elbows towards the directing guide. At the command "such company, halt," the left guide when the column is right in front, and the right guide when the column is left in front, steps forward and aligns himself on the markers to allow the captain to dress his company in the direction desired. All these remarks hold also for the corresponding portions of the execution of the other methods of successive formations.
Forward into line. 440 to 465.
If the line is to halt, markers show the position, which the company at the head of the column is to take. The left guides of the companies when the column was right in front, the right guides when it was left in front, place themselves successively in the alignment indicated by the markers. The latter need not be placed at a great distance from the column, - they may be placed just in front of the company at the head of the column; but if the new alignment is in a direction at an angle with that company, the markers must be placed sufficiently in advance. If the battalion in line is to march, no markers are necessary, the company at the head of the column itself shows the alignment. As soon as the color company has arrived in line, the command "guide centre " is given, from which moment all the rules must be attended to which are explained in
the chapter on advancing in line of battle. It is necessary that the company at the head of the column should march very steadily in quick time on a line perpendicular to its base, (the right guide must attend to this,) otherwise the other companies would be thrown into confusion.
The success of passing into line of battle, by "forward into line," depends in a great measure on the steadiness and circumspection of the directing guides of the companies.
Into line, faced to the rear.467 to 484.
This is one of the artificial manoeuvres which are only interesting as they show the great flexibility of a battalion. Volunteer and militia regiments should only attend to those simple formations which our modern tactics require, and all the time they can afford for military exercises in time of peace, or after having been suddenly organized for
the war, will be required to make them efficient in them.
The company at the head of the column executes a complete countermarch, so that its new position will be in rear of the markers. In this manoeuvre, as in the preceding one, this company does all it has to do on the preliminary command of the colonel, in order to facilitate the manoeuvres of the other companies. As each company must get into the rear of the alignment, so that at "halt, front," nothing else will be required, but to dress it; therefore the guides must successively hasten on to the alignment, to show the point near which their respective companies have to cross the line; if the manoeuvre be executed at the double-quick, all the guides must hasten at once on the alignment, because there is very little time to be spared, and their failing to be at their proper places would very likely cause the companies to cross the line, where they ought not, producing great confusion.
Into line by two movements. 485 to 500.
This manoeuvre is a combination of two the preceding ones, more complicated therefore than either. Let the student draw chalk line representing the line of battle, on which the battalion is to form itself, let him represent the different companies by blocks and execute the manoeuvres, as described the text-book.
to 173, and 193 to 197.
The directing guide of the company at the head of the column, must take points at distance, and in a line at right angles to the company. He must march straight towards them, because otherwise crowding or looseness of the files in his company, and therefore in all the following ones would be the necessary consequence, rendering it absolutely impossible to advance or retreat with any-
thing like steadiness. The same rule must be observed when the column marches by the rear rank, because it is naturally of importance that, after having faced to the front again, perfect order should prevail, and the column be ready to execute any manoeuvre deemed necessary. Each of the other guides should attend to two points: firstly, to follow strictly in the trace of the one preceding him; and secondly, to keep the exact distance for his company, a neglect of either would prevent the prompt and orderly formation of the line. If the colonel by command, or caution, causes the leading directing guide to change the direction of his march, the others must follow only by degrees, and one after the other; their suddenly changing the direction, would produce violent fluctuations and disorder.
The battalion will mostly march in column at full, at least at half distance, if not in column doubled on the centre, previous to
engaging the enemy. It therefore necessary that the battalion should frequently practice the movements in column; advance, retreat, flank march, and passing from one to the other without halt. The captains are during the advance in front, during the retreat in rear of the front rank of their companies, and during the flank march at the flank, carefully preserving the distance from the next company. With these simple movements combine, as indicated 196, diminishing the front by platoon, and increasing the front by division, and vice versa. Let the officers never allow the files to increase their distances, let each company of the column, that is, each fraction of the unit, remain a compact body during these movements, because, all the advantages which the column offers for movements near the enemy, and the possibility of forming line with rapidity and steadiness, depend on this compactness of the companies in themselves.
4. To change direction. 231 to 238.
Each captain commands his company as soon as it has arrived at the wheeling point. Firstly, he takes the guide to the wheeling flank by "guide right (left)" secondly, "left (right) wheel, march;" thirdly, "forward, march;" fourthly, he retakes the guide to the side where he was before wheeling, by "guide left (right)." The marker is placed so as to be touched by the wheeling guides, because the touch of the elbows of the men is in that direction, the wheel being executed in inarching. Each guide of the pivot flank must begin his motion exactly at the point where the preceding guide had done so, even if the captain should fail to give his command at the proper moment. If he should begin too early, his distance, (at the command "forward, march,") would be too small ; if too late, it would be too large; a fault which must necessarily increase at a
great ratio with regard to the companies following his. If he should see that by inadvertence or in consequence of the difficulties of the ground his distance from the preceding guide has become a little small or too large, let him not correct at once, but by degrees; otherwise he would throw his fault on the following guides, would most likely cause them also to hurry forward or to stop short, as the case might be, and thus produce great fluctuations of the whole column.
5. To halt a column. 239 to 246.
The battalion is brought to a halt by the command of the colonel. Before wheeling into line or executing any manoeuvre, the colonel should convince himself that the guides cover each other, and that they preserved the requisite company distances. If he should find some irregularities, he will correct them by causing the respective guides
to move to the point where they ought to be. If he should find greater irregularities, he will give the command "guides cover," after having placed the first and second guide on the direction; the guides being all on this direction, he will cause the men to take the touch of the elbow towards them by the command, "left (right) dress," when each captain moves to that flank and dresses his company. As it requires some practice to attend to direction and distance during the march of a column in cadenced step or in route step, and as it is of great importance that officers and guides should be accustomed to execute all these manoeuvres without fault, they ought to make frequently a part of the battalion drill.
6.The column arriving in front (behind) the line of battle, to prolong it on this line.
174 to 192 and 247 to 251; 485 to 500.
The different rules laid down in these paragraphs are excellent for the drill on the parade-ground, and require great attention of captains and guides. On the battle-field the battalions will frequently form line of battle, each being in column doubled on the centre, not in line, particularly when offensive movements are intended. Besides, we do not fight our battles always on ground which favors the formation of the battalions in line.
Officers should study this chapter before they go to the parade-ground. Let them draw a chalk line on the table, representing the line of battle, and let them execute the whole manoeuvres with blocks. It will be seen that it contains no new feature, but that it consists of march and chance of direction of a column, and lastly of the formation of the line.
The intended line of battle has previously been marked by officers and sergeants or by any other means. The column may either arrive in front of this line or behind it. When the column arrives in front of the line there is placed,
Firstly, a marker at that point on it where the column has to cross it, as a point of direction of the guide of the pivot flank of the leading company.
Secondly, a marker is placed so that the guides on the wheeling flank of the companies can direct their march on him.
The marker first mentioned will be on the left extremity of the line when the column is right in front, and on the right extremity when the column is left in front.
When the column arrives behind the line there is placed,
Firstly, one marker at a point where the companies must wheel in order to remain four paces behind the line.
Secondly, one marker on the line at a point so as to bebreast of the leading company when it has completed the wheeling.
These markers will be on the right extremity of the line when the column is left in front, and on its left when the column is right in front.
If, however, the column should arrive the right of the line when right in front, the line of battle could also be formed, though not by wheeling into line, but one of the successive formations.
The execution of the manoeuvre consists of the following parts:
The column arrives in front of the line, -
1.Arrived near the line, the captain the leading company takes the guide the wheeling flank; this guide directs march on the marker.
2.When this guide has arrived abreast of this marker, the captain wheels his company.
3.The captain commands "forward march," retakes the guide to the flank nearest to the line ; the general guide marches on the line abreast with the company.
4.Each captain executes the same manoeuvre.
5.The color-bearer and the second general guide begin to move on the line, covering the first general guide and the markers on it as soon as their respective companies have completed the wheeling.
6.The guides of the flank nearest to the line follow the trace of the first leading guide, so that they march on a line parallel to the line of battle, about four paces behind it.
Arrived at the place where the battalion is to pass into order in line, the colonel commands "halt," takes, (247, seg.,) the guides on the line, aligns them, assisted by the lieutenant-colonel, on the general guides and color-bearer; commands then "left
(right) dress," where the companies take the touch of the elbows towards their respective guides now on the line, and lastly the colonel commands, "left (right) into line wheel."
The column arrives behind the line.
The execution is the same as the one above mentioned, with this difference, that the column has not to cross the line, but that it prolongs itself at once four paces in rear of it.
There may happen a more complicated manoeuvre by which to pass from column into line of battle. The last battalion arrives in front of the line; a number of its companies have crossed it, have wheeled, and are marching parallel to the line in rear of it; but there is not space enough to take the whole battalion into this direction without coming too near to the preceding battalion. In this case those companies which have arrived behind the line wheel into line,
whilst those companies which are still in front of the line come into the alignment by ”into line faced to the rear." (See 485, seg.) If the column arrives in rear under similar circumstances, those companies which are already prolonging themselves wheel into line, and the rear companies come by "forward into line " on the line of battle.
7.Countermarch, 351; and School of the
Company, 334 to 342.
Countermarch means to change a column right in front into a column left in front, and vice versa. It is sometimes of advantage as a preliminary manouvre when changes of front or formation of line to the originalrear should be necessary.
If the column be right in front countermarch is executed by "right face by file left;" if left in front by "left face by file right." The guides remain in their places, but face about, to mark the new front, the
points where each file must wheel and behind which the first and last files have to place themselves, at the command, "halt, front." Each captain conducts the file at the head his company, to be sure that the men who properly just round the one guide and arrive in rear of the other. The company being not always of the same number files, each captain commands "halt, front, just when the file which he leads arrives rear of the guide.
After having dressed their companies the captains take again their position in front, and the guides shift places.
The right guides being on the alignment with left in front, and the left guides with right in front, each captain leads his company to and dresses it on that guide which is on the alignment already.
8. Form divisions. 380 to 388.
The column by divisions will have the same depth as that by companies less one company, and will be used when a broader front is desirable, or when square must be formed. The column by company can be at a halt or in march. When the column is at a halt and right in front, the even companies place themselves on the left of the odd companies; when the column is at a halt and left in front, the odd companies place themselves on the right of the even companies. This is done in the following way: the even companies in column right in front march by the left flank, and the odd companies, in column left in front, march by the right flank, (commanded by their captains,) a distance equal to their own length of front; then they halt and face to the front, after which they march up to the alignment marked by the two guides of the
companies which stood fast and their own guides farthest from those companies. If the divisions are to be formed in double-quick, no time must be lost by unnecessary commands; hence they march by the flank a distance equal to their own length of front, face at once to the front at the command "by the right (left) flank, march," and come thus into the alignment.
If, however, the column be marching, (right in front), and the command ”form divisions" be (given, the odd companies march right oblique their full length, in order to unmask the front of the even companies, which meanwhile continue their front march; having unmasked them they mark time, to allow the latter to come up with them, face to the front, and the divisions thus formed advance at the command of the senior captains "forward, march." If the column be left in front, the even companies oblique to the left, to unmask the front
of the odd companies. It is a general rule that if subdivisions of a battalion must move forward whilst the whole battalion marches in double-quick time, those subdivisions who have not to change the place in which they are, should resume quick time, to give the other ones the opportunity to come up with them in good order without being compelled to run. It is for the same reason that when the battalion marches in quick time on similar occasions, those subdivisions which have not to change their places mark time.
Close column is used in attack and for many manoeuvres on the battle-field, when the column at half distance doubled on the centre would not be practicable. The column has less depth than the one at full distance, covers therefore a smaller area; it can be more easily moved in difficult ground
and covered, has much momentum in attack because it is compact; and lastly, the line of battle can be formed in shorter time from it than from open column.
A column right in front can be formed from the line of battle in the follow way:
a.All companies place themselves rear of the first company; the most usual method.
b.All companies place themselves in front of the eighth company, if there should be room in rear of the first, or if the road, which the column has to advance, is near the left flank.
c.The companies on the right of any company named, place themselves in front, those on the left of that company place themselves in rear of the said company, if
there be not much room either in front or rear, or if said company stands a cheval on the road on which the column has to advance.
In the same way and for the same reasons a column left in front can be formed:
a.All companies place themselves in rear of the eighth company.
b.All companies place themselves in front of the first company.
c.The companies on the right of any company named, place themselves in rear, and those on the left of that company place themselves in front of said company.
If a battalion in line of battle should be desired to ploy whilst it advances, the companies can only form in rear of one another (148); the leading company marches in quick time whilst the ploying companies execute the manoeuvre in double-quick, and then resume quick time.
When a company takes its position in
close column, that is, six paces in front ear of the guides of the preceding one, the file-closers must close up one pace, in order to avoid unnecessary crowding, and therefore disorder.
a.Close column right in front in rear of the first company. 117 to 130, and 149 to 158.
In order to place themselves in rear the first company, all the companies, except the first, must face to the right; the first and second files break to the rear, that they may be able to move freely forward at the command "march." The right guides being responsible for the proper execution of the manoeuvre, place themselves in front the first file, march first to the rear to gain six paces distance from the front rank of the preceding company, file then to the left and march in a direction parallel to the first company.
The captain of the first company takes the guide left at the beginning of the manoeuvre, because the column is to be right in front; the captains of the ploying companies stop as soon as they have arrived in the alignment of the left guides of the preceding companies and let their companies pass by them, because each left guide must at once cover the other left guides, and because the captain has to dress his company from the left, parallel to the first company.
If the manoeuvre should be executed whilst the line advances, the first company takes the guide left and advances steadily in quick time; the other companies march in double-quick by the right flank into the rear of the first company, face to the left, close up, and resume the quick step; the left guides march at once in the trace of the one of the first company. Let the captains give their commands aloud and very distinctly, and let the file-closers exert themselves to prevent the files from widening out.
eighth company.141 to 142.
The eighth company takes the guide left and remains in its place. All the other companies face to the left; they break two files to the front, because they are to place themselves six paces in front of the eighth company; the left guides are the leaders, and the captains march on their right. As soon as they arrive in the alignment of the left guide of the eighth company, the captains command "halt, front," whilst the left guides face to the rear to be aligned by the lieutenant-colonel. They remain faced to the rear, until the colonel commands
"guides about face," because up to that time they are liable to be corrected in their position. Each captain must be careful to lead his company so as to keep the distance of six paces from the company on his left, because the distance cannot well be cor-
rected after "halt, front" is commanded, without causing confusion in the following companies.
c. Close column right in front on any other
company. 143 to 147.
This is a combination of the two preceding manoeuvres. Let it be necessary to form column right in front on the fifth company. The captain of said company commands "guide left." The first, second, third, and fourth companies form in front of the fifth and sixth, seventh and eighth in its rear.
eighth company. 141 to 142.
The eighth company takes the guide right, because the column is to be left in front. All other companies face to the left and break two files to the rear, because they must form in rear of each other, behind the
eighth. The left guides are responsible for the proper march and distance, they being leaders. The captains halt as soon as they have arrived in the alignment of the right guide of the eighth, allow their companies to march past them, halt, and dress them. If the manoeuvre should be executed in march the same rules must be observed as in the corresponding formation right in front, with this exception, that what is said there of the left guides holds here for the right guides.
first company. 132 -to 140.
The first company remains in its place and takes the guide right, because the column is to left in front. All other companies face to the right and break two files to the front, because they must take their place in front of the first company. The right guides lead, on their left march the captains, who are responsible for distance and parallel
march. At the command "halt, front," the right guides face to the rear and remain in this position until the command "guides, about face " is given, because they will be assured in their alignment by the lieutenant-colonel.
Let the column be formed on the sixth company. The sixth company remains in its place and takes guide right. The seventh and eighth companies place themselves in front of said company; the fifth, fourth, third, second, and first in its rear. Each captain has to attend to the rules, which regulate the formation of a column left in front, respectively in front of the first and in rear of the eighth company.
corresponding column at full distance.
The line could be formed in the same way as from open column, provided the companies have first taken wheeling distance. But this would absorb much time unnecessarily and therefore a simpler and shorter method has been devised, viz: the deployment. Deployments are always on the prolongation of the head of column or parallel to it. If the enemy should show himself on the flank of the column, the colonel will first change front of the column and then deploy it; a if the enemy should show himself in the rear of the column, the colonel would cause the latter to execute the countermarch and then deploy it.
Corresponding with the formation of the column the deployment can be executed,
a.On the company at the head of the column.
b.On the company at the rear of the column.
c.On any other company, according to the peculiarity of the ground or the position of the object on which the line is to advance, or at which it is to open fire.
In all cases two markers are placed in front of the company at the head of the column and the general guide of that flank towards which the deployment is executed, in their alignment, in order to enable the lieutenant-colonel to align the guides as they successively place themselves on the line.
a. From column right in front deploy on the
first company. 513 to 539.
Let the column be at a halt. The first company dresses up to the markers to facilitate the alignment of the other companies, as they arrive in rear of the line. All other companies face to the left; the left guides lead, taking distance and direction from the right, the captains march on their right, parallel to the line marked, because if the companies arrive behind the line in a slanting direction, it would be more difficult to dress. Every captain halts as soon as he has arrived opposite the left of the preceding company; he lets his own company file past, in order to give his command "halt, front," as soon as the last file comes up with him; if he should command too late, or too early, he could not march his company squarely to its place in line, but in a slanting direction, throwing the following companies into disorder. After
"halt, front," the companies close their ranks rapidly, that the following company may not be deceived. They march then up to the line, the captains commanding, "forward, guide right, march." The guide is right, because the first company, the directing one, is on their right. Lastly, they dress as soon as the left guide has been assured in the alignment. The second company being very near the line, need only ”halt, front, right dress."
The principles are the same when the column deploys whilst it is marching.. Yet time is to be saved. Therefore not the column, but only the first company, must halt, as soon as the deployment commences. The other companies march, first by the left flank, and then by the right flank, in order to take their respective places in line.
If it is necessary to deploy without interrupting the advance of the column, then the leading company must continue steadily its
march in quick time, whilst the other companies deploy in double-quick. If ever the colonel should bring his battalion into line this way, he must do so before he enters into actual conflict with the enemy. For it stands to reason, that violent fluctuations can scarcely be avoided, and that no effect can be produced during the deployment, and immediately after it. It is better to spend a little time to enter in proper order and steadily into the contest, than to hurry up in disorder. The companies dress to the right until the colonel commands "guide centre," when colors, general guides, and captains of the left wing take their places formerly pointed out.
eighth company. 540 to 562.
The column being at a halt, the eighth company takes the guide left, because the touch of the elbows is to be taken towards
it by all companies. The other companies face to the right, the right guides lead and take direction and distance from the left, so that the companies marching by the flank remain a column in mass from the rear of which one company after the other detaches itself, as in the preceding manoeuvre the same is done from the front. As the companies successively come from the rear into the line of battle, great care must be taken, that the men march by the flank with accuracy, and that the captains give their command not a moment too early or too late, otherwise the companies would either run into each other, or large gaps in the line would interrupt its continuity.
To execute this manoeuvre without interrupting the advance, must increase the difficulties, yet the principles are exactly the same as those mentioned before.
c.From column right in front deploy on any
other company. 563 to 570.
Let it be the third company on which the column is to deploy. The markers are placed in front of the first company. The third company takes guide left and marches up the markers as soon as it is unmasked. The first and second company deploy to the right, the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth to the left, according to the principles stated in respectively b. and a.
The column left in front can either deploy on the eighth company, when the column develops itself towards the right; or on the first company, being the rearmost, when the column develops itself towards the left, one company after the other detaching itself from the rear of the column, and marching into line as soon as unmasked; or lastly, it can
deploy on any other company to the right and left. There is no particular difficulty in executing these manoeuvres; they correspond with the deployments of the column right in front.
mass. 281to 286.
The marching of a column closed in mass, is executed by the same means as that of column at full distance.
All wheelings must be so executed that the men take the touch of the elbows towards the marching flank. The whole column being one mass, each company cannot wheel independently at the pivot point; there is no room for doing so. Hence the pivot man of the company at the head of the column has to regulate his motion according
to that of the marching flank, and must not shorten his steps so much as in column at full distance, when describing an arc, in order to clear the centre of this are, which lies without him. In this way only the companies can keep their distances. Of course .the guides must see to this and conform to the movement of the head of the column, whence they must march somewhat obliquely. It is clear that not all the companies can have completed the wheel when the head of the column has, yet the guides must follow, as soon as possible, the trace of the leading guide after the command " forward march." The captains do not give any commands, but only the colonel, because the whole battalion forms one mass. As soon as the command "forward march" is given, the guide will again be taken to the proper flank, because after the completion of the wheel the original order must be restored.
The method of changing direction from a halt is described in 306 to 321. First, the new front is marked, which must be wholly beyond the original front, otherwise the manoeuvre could not be executed. At the command "battalion right (left) face, march," each captain leads the flank of his company, so that the latter will march parallel to the markers, allows it to pass by him, and then commands, "halt, front, left (right) dress."
5. Countermarch. 352 to 363.
If the companies were to move all in the same direction, as in open column, they would not find room enough, and would be thrown into disorder; but if the companies move in opposite directions, the manoeuvre will be easy.
If the column be right in front, and must execute the countermarch, the odd companies face to the right, the even ones to the left;
the former file left, the latter file right around the guide, in order to get behind the line, marked by the two guides who had faced about into the new front. The new column being left in front, the guide must be right, whence the captains must move the right of their companies, from which point they dress them up to the guides, after having commanded "halt, front."
If the column be left in front and must execute countermarch, it will be done in the same way, except that the captains must place themselves on the left of their companies after "halt front," and dress them to the guides, because the column is now right in front.
6. To form divisions.364to 379.
If the column be by company and a larger front become necessary, the column by division will be formed. The even companies, if the column be right in front, the odd
companies if the column be left in front, deploy, whether the column be at a halt or in march. It is therefore but necessary to direct the attention of the student to that chapter, where he will see that the captains of the deploying company need only command 11 halt, front, left (right) dress."
232 to 280.
An open column can form mass either on the foremost or on the rearmost company, as circumstances may dictate. In either case the column can be at a halt or marching.
If the column is to close in mass on the foremost company at a halt, each captain brings up his company to a distance of six paces, commands "halt," and dresses it left or right, according as the column is right or left in front. The guides of the directing flank cover one another. If the column be marching, the company at the head of the
column halts, as soon as the manoeuvre begins. But if the column be marching in double-quick, the company at the head will march in quick time from the moment the manoeuvre begins; the other companies continue to march in double-quick till they arrive successively at six paces distance from the preceding one, when they take the step of the latter. Thus much time will be saved. If the column is to be closed in mass on the rearmost company, all companies except the last face to the rear. If each captain should remain in rear of the front rank, he would not be able to see when his company had arrived at six paces from the one in front of him. He places himself, therefore, outside the column on, the directing flank, and remains there until be has commanded "halt, about face," and dressed his company. The colonel commands "guide right when the column is right in front, and "guide left" when it is
left in front, because the companies march by the rear rank. The guides remain faced to the rear until the command "guides about face " is given, in order to be aligned by the lieutenant-colonel on the guide of the rearmost company. If the column be marching in advance when the manoeuvre begins, but is not to continue marching, the rearmost company halts; it is faced to the front when the column is retreating. The march to the rear may also be continued, when the rearmost company marches in quick time, whilst the other companies close up in double-quick.
8.Column closed in mass to take wheeling
distance. 322 to 350.
When it should be necessary to form line of battle to the left (right), that is, by wheeling into line, the companies must first take wheeling distance. This can be done in different ways, according to circumstances.
When the column has arrived in rear of the line of battle, its guides parallel to it, and it has to prolong itself on the line, the company at the head will begin and the other companies follow, as soon as wheeling distance has been obtained. When the rearmost company is at the place where the flank of the line is to rest, and there is room enough forward, the companies take distance from the rear, and therefore move forward. When the leading company is at the place where the flank of the battalion is to rest, the companies take distance from it, and therefore move to the rear. When the companies take distance from the company in their rear, the captains must step two paces outside the column and the directing guide, to be able to see when they have their wheeling distance, and when they therefore must command "halt."
Firstly, a column closed in mass has to prolong itself. It takes distance "by the
head of the column." The company at the head begins the movement at the command of its captain. When it has marched about as many paces as the following company contains files, the captain of this company commands march, and so on, company after company, until the whole battalion moves in open column, (general guides and color-bearer on the line of battle). The colonel can now command "halt," and wheel the battalion into line. If the column was marching, the company at the head begins the movement in double-quick, and the other companies follow successively in the same gait as soon as the distance has been obtained, - a method which requires comparatively little time.
Secondly, the column has to take distance "on the rear of the column." All companies, except the rearmost, march forward at the command of the colonel, and each captain halts and dresses his company when he
has arrived at wheeling distance from the guide of the company next in rear of him. The guides remain faced to the rear till the command "guides about face" is given. The general guide and the markers are placed in the alignment, in order to assist the guides of the companies to move in the alignment.
Thirdly, the column has to take distance "on the head of the column." All companies except the one at the head must face about and march to the rear. The guides however, remain in the front rank, because the distance is to be measured from from rank to front rank. They march on a line just within the one marked by the general guide, in order to remain in the alignment. The captain must again be outside the column and the directing flank, to command at the proper time "halt, about face," ("right about, halt").
Columns at half distance are used on the march. They allow the men to move with greater ease, and yet permit the prompt execution of any manoeuvre, circumstances may require. As the column at half distance partakes of the nature of both, that in mass and at wheeling distance, the manoeuvres will be in agreement now with the one, now with the other.
1.To ploy a battalion in column at half dis-
This manoeuvre is executed in the same way as ploying, into close column, only the companies take not six paces, but platoon distance, to which the guides must attend.
distance.322 to 350.
See column closed in mass.
501 to 509.
Line of battle can be formed from column at half distance.
a.To the flank. The companies take first wheeling distance, and then wheel into line. When the column is marching, and no time to be lost, the taking of distance and the wheeling into line can be combined. The rearmost company wheels at once into line (left or right, according as the column may be right or left in front), whilst all the other companies continue advancing, and thus take. wheeling distance on the rear of the column. Each company wheels into line as soon the preceding company has obtained its distance. The guides attend to the same duties as in the formation of an open column in line of battle.
b.On the right (left) into line. See open column.
c.Forward into line. The companies have only platoon distance; they can therefore not execute the manoeuvre as if they were in open column, without producing disorder. Hence the column closes first in mass and then deploys, or deploys at once.
d.Faced to the rear. See open column.
4.Column at half distance to close in mass.
252 to 280.
See column at full distance.
See close column.
6.To change direction in column at half dis-
See open column; but the pivot guides partly attend to the rules for close column.
7. Countermarch. 351.
See open column.
8. To form divisions. 380 to 388.
See open column.
The double column offers the greatest facility for the execution of movements on the field of battle and near the enemy. Its formation from line of battle and its deployment take half the time any other column requires; it adapts itself to the accidents of the ground more easily than any other column; it can be promptly moved in any direction, front, rear, flank; it has mass enough for a bayonet charge, and a front long enough to fire with effect; not only the line, but any other column, and particularly the square, can be formed from it. It is therefore most extensively used in modern tactics.
1. To ploy the battalion in order in line into column doubled on the centre.776 to 795.
The two centre companies, that is the fourth and fifth, do not move; the third, second, and first form column left in front behind the fourth; the sixth, seventh, and eighth form column right in front behind the fifth company. The fourth and fifth, third and sixth, second and seventh, the first and eighth, form each one division; the column is therefore at half distance, when the divisions have company distance. The guide is right, because the battalion is here considered quite by itself, or to be the battalion of direction; yet very frequently the guide will be centre or left, according to circumstances. In many cases, particularly when a square is to be formed to resist cavalry, it will be necessary that the right guides of the right wing and the left guides of the left wing should remain carefully covered both at a
halt and marching; because square, for instance, must be formed by wheeling right and left into line, when those guides will be the pivots. If therefore the companies have a different number of files, as will be frequently the case in action, the men must take the touch of the elbows towards the guides at the outer flanks.
If the column doubled on the centre should be formed from column right in front, this would be done as follows: The fourth company remains in its place; the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth companies face to the left, march a company distance, then by the right flank and halt when the fifth company has arrived beside the fourth; meanwhile the third, second, and first companies face to the right, and each marches by file right to the rear; as soon as the right guide of the third company has arrived at company distance from the fourth, he files right and the captain commands, "by com-
pany into line," when his company will form in the same line on which the sixth company stands; the same is done by the second and first company successively. In a similar way from column left in front the column doubled on the centre can be formed. The fifth company does not move; the sixth, seventh, and eighth face to the left, file left, and form successively in rear of the fifth; the fourth, third, second, and first companies face to the right, march the length of a company, face to the left, and halt when the fourth company has arrived beside the fifth.
2.Deployment of the double column.796 to
The column will mostly deploy on the fourth and fifth companies. Even if a different front should be necessary, it may perhaps be easier to change first the front of the column and then deploy it, than to execute the more complicated manoeuvres explained in 803 to 814.
If the column be at half distance or closed in mass, the deployment will be executed to the right and left on the principles explained in the chapter "Column closed in mass." This deployment requires the least time, and even if it should be necessary to deploy in double quick, the distances are so short - only the length of three companies - that the men can arrive in line in perfect order ready to fire deliberately or to advance the charge. To close in mass, if the column be at half distance, and then deploy would require more time and complicate the manoeuvre.
If it were necessary to deploy the column faced to the right, it could be done in the following manner: The right companies wheel to the right into line, the left companies "on the right into line;" and faced to the left, the left companies wheel to the left into line and the right companies "on the left into line."
Suppose the column advances and finds a defile in its front. The colonel will command "to pass the defile, first division by the left and right flanks, double-quick, march," when the fourth company faces to the left and files right; the fifth company faces to the right and files left, either double file or not, according to the width of the defile. As soon as the division has passed the defile by the length of a company, the captains command "by company into line," and resume quick time or halt. All the other divisions do the same successively. The whole column will not only have passed the defile in a short time, but will also be ready to enter at once into the combat. In a similar way the defile can be passed in retreat, when the first and eighth companies begin the movement. It is evident that this manoeuvre is far superior to that mentioned in 709, seq.
The first and eighth companies, - the flank companies of the battalion, now in rear of the column, - form skirmishing line on the right and left of the column aligned with the fourth and fifth companies, and fire whilst the column steadily advances. When near enough to the enemy, the charge is sounded and executed with all the momentum a column has. If successful, the skirmishers pursue the enemy; if unsuccessful, the skirmishers cover the retreat of the column, and keep the pursuing enemy in check.
There are two different classes of squares, hollow and solid ones. Each has its peculiar advantages. The hollow square allows much space in the interior; the solid square is more compact, is formed in shorter time and can be easily moved in any direction.
The hollow square is used in our army. Its object is to resist cavalry has therefore a purely defensive character. It must, however, be put together in such a manner as to permit its easy chance into any other formation, which allows offensive operations. The men should be thoroughly disciplined, and the four fronts should be every moment ready to pour a destructive fire into the enemy, or remain standing motionless at a charge bayonet. If the fire of the rear rank be given without command, or if the colonel command too early, it is altogether thrown away; whilst a good volley at thirty yards empties many saddles, and renders the horses unmanageable. A square formed by good soldiers, and commanded by good officers, cannot be broken by any cavalry, unless it be seriously shaken by artillery previous to the charge.
A square cannot be formed at once from either line or column; some preliminary
manoeuvres must be executed in order to get the battalion ready to form a mathematical figure of four nearly equal fronts. Thewhole operation must therefore be divided into two manoeuvres: firstly, the disposition of a battalion to form square; and secondly, the formation of the square.
The manoeuvres must be as simple and prompt as possible, in consequence of the speed of motion of the cavalry.
It is easy to understand, that a battalion in line of battle would be ridden down. Column must therefore be formed. The column by company has a small front and great depth, and forms a rectangle of some power of resistance. But not only would the ground frequently not allow this forma-
tion, but also the front would be very small, oppose very few bayonets to the enemy, and produce little effect by fire. Hence the formation of the column by division, either simple column right or left in front, or doubled on the centre. The latter requires half the time that it will take to come into column right (left) in front, it therefore offers the greatest advantages, 958. Any column can be either closed in mass, or at full distance, or at half distance. Now, the object is, to arrange the divisions so that the second and third fronts, that is, the right and left flanks of the square can be formed in the easiest way, namely, by wheeling into line. Hence the column must be at half distance, measured from the rear rank of the preceding division to the front rank of the one following more in rear, so that, when the companies wheel right and left into line, the flanks of the square are completely closed. The square formed in this manner
will be as nearly regular as possible, rendering it of little importance whether the enemy attack front, flank, or rear. As soon as the fourth division has been formed in the rear at half distance from the third division, the file-closers will pass round the outer flanks and place themselves before the front rank. For this division has to face to the rear, when the file-closers must be out of the way as in all manoeuvres by the rear rank. If the battalion in line of battle be advancing when the necessity rises to dispose it to form square immediately, the column doubled on the centre is formed in double-quick, whilst the division at the head of the column comes to a halt, because the square cannot be formed when the column marches. If, however, the colonel should only want to have the battalion ready to form square in case the cavalry should attempt an attack, the march need not be interrupted, particularly not if a more advantageous position
could safely be reached in this way, e. g., a marshy ground, a ditch, &c.
817 to 820; 837 to 838; 846.
Two different manoeuvres are mostly necessary : firstly, form divisions; and secondly, if the column be at wheeling distance, close up to half distance; if the column be closed in mass, take half, that is, company distance by the head or on the head of the column. The reason for doing so, viz: forming column by division at half distance has been stated before. The column will be either right or left in front, as the column by company had been either right or left in front. The distance may be taken either at a halt or marching. If the formation of the square must follow as soon as the dispositions are finished, and the column had been closed in mass, the colonel will not be compelled to wait till the fourth division has taken its dis-
tance; on the contrary, he will be able to save time by forming square as soon as the third division has taken company distance.
If the column be at full distance, close to half distance at a halt or marching; if the column be in mass, take half distance by the head of column. In the latter case the square can be formed as soon as the third division has taken its distance; if, however, the formation of the square is not to follow immediately, the fourth division, too, takes distance.
4.Double file in four ranks.910 to 914;
932 to 937.
If (910) the square in two ranks should not be deemed sufficiently strong, the companies form in four ranks. This will prove to be of advantage against strong forces and
repeated attacks of cavalry, and particularly when the square is not exposed to the fire of artillery.
a.The battalion is in line, and square is to be formed on the right or left flank division,
(923to 930). The flank division doubles files in four ranks at a halt; the other divisions ploy, but the chiefs cannot in this case command "halt front," because the double files must close up, and each, one after the other, face to the front without undoubling, as soon as it has arrived close to the preceding file. The captains and guides must now not forget that the company has only half its original length, - that the distance therefore from the preceding company ought to be also but half the original distance.
b.The battalion is in line, and square is to be formed from column doubled on the Centre, (931 to 937). The fourth and fifth companies, in halt or marching, will double files towards the centre, the most prompt method
and in harmony with the nature of the column. The companies of the right wing double on the left file, the companies of the left wing, double on the right file as soon as the heads of the companies have arrived on a line with the centre of the column.
c.The battalion is in column by company. 910 to 914. Firstly, divisions are formed; secondly, the right companies double file on the left, the left companies on the right file, that is, on the centre as in double column, in order to save time.
Each forms four ranks by doubling on the centre files.
821 to 836 ; 840 to 845.
The battalion being now in column by division - simple or double - at half distance, the file-closers of the fourth division before the front rank, the square can be formed.
The right companies of the second and third divisions wheel right, the left companies of the same divisions wheel left into line; the fourth division closes up and faces to the rear; the color-bearer places himself in the rear rank, that there may be two ranks of corporals in the centre of the first front. Thus a hollow square is formed, having four equally strong fronts. The men fix bayonets, charge bayonets; the rear rank of each front is ready to fire at the command of the colonel (959). The flank files of the first and fourth fronts face outward in order to complete the second and third fronts; the
salient angles being the weakest points of the square, half face of the flank files mentioned would perhaps be better. The file-closers and officers must cause the men to close gaps made by balls and bullets, and the wounded and dead into the interior of the square. If there be four ranks, the rear ranks, standing at support arms (960) will hasten to fill up the gaps and bayonet any cavalrist who may have succeeded in breaking through the outer ranks. If the men remain steady, the square cannot be broken; if they give way they are lost. In almost every case in war, but particularly in this one, there is much more danger when the men dodge, run, or in any way try save themselves, than when they look danger boldly into the face. There are occasions when a square can honorably withdraw, always ready to halt and receive the charge, reform and be as useful as ever before; a
square of frightened men can never be rallied, can never retrieve their lost honor.
The lieutenant-colonel and major align (822) the left and right guides at the flanks preparatory to the formation of the second and third fronts. It follows from this that if there be less files in the companies which are to form these fronts, then in those that make up the first division, they must take the touch of the elbows towards the outer flanks. At the command "guides, posts," they take their places within the square, because there is no place for them in the front rank. The captains of the second front remain on the left of their companies, because touch of the elbows and direction is to be taken from the first front; the captains of the third front remain on the right of their companies for the same reason. Whether there are eight, or ten, or twelve companies, the formation of the square is the same, only the second and third fronts will be longer.
But an odd company can never be permitted, as it cannot form a front. If the column, disposed to form square, be marching, the first front, (division at the head of the column) halts as soon as the formation begins ; the square cannot resist cavalry when moving.
The case has been supposed (953) of a battalion in column by company being surprised by the appearance of cavalry under circumstances which render it impossible to form first column by division. This would never happen if the battalion, being near the enemy, were marching in column doubled on the centre. As, however, something must be done, it is this: the companies take platoon distance, the first company halts, the platoons of the following companies form the second and third fronts by wheeling right and left into line, the last company closes up and faces to the rear as fourth front.
Suppose the column by division or company be closed in mass, and the square must be formed without talking half distance, (965 to 969). This square, called "column against cavalry," is the nearest approach to the solid square of other armies. The manoeuvre requires very little time. All the subdivisions of the column come to a halt and send from the interior flanks of the inner companies (platoons) as many files as are necessary to fill up the distances between the divisions (companies) on the outer flanks. Of course they, as well as the two files at the outer flanks of the divisions, face outward to form at once the second and third fronts. Perhaps even more time could be saved by ordering the file-closers to form the files in question, at least partially.
Whether the square be formed in quick or double-quick time, it must be executed with the greatest order (962). This depends partly on the colonel - let him give his com-
mands in time and without hurry - partly on the subaltern officers and men. The manoeuvre should, therefore, be practised very frequently. Every individual should know that want of strict order and coolness is certain destruction and disgrace.
III. -TO FORM COLUMN FROM SQUARE AND REDUCE SQUARE. 863 TO 884; 970 TO 971.
There are two methods by which column can be formed from square. They are very much the same. The one is used when the column must march for some distance, and yet remain ready to form square at any moment; the other is used when all danger of a cavalry attack has ceased, and is called "to reduce square."
It happens sometimes that the order of battle being in two lines, large masses of cavalry attack. Both lines form squares. The first line of squares having suffered
much from artillery and cavalry, and the danger of renewed charges continuing, the first line of squares takes advantage of the momentary lull and retreats, whilst the second line advances to take its place. The distance being a hundred yards and more, the men must be able to move freely and at the same time be ready to form square promptly. This is one of the many examples to which 863 to 884 refers.
1.The square is to advance. The first division marches forward and halts at company distance in order to allow the second division to have half distance at once; the companies of the second front face to the left and march by file left (inward); the companies of the third front face to the right and march by file right (inward); both meet at the centre of the column and form thus divisions again, at half distance. The fourth front faces about; it has already half distance in consequence of the manceuvre
executed by the second and third fronts; the file-closers do not change places, because the column remains disposed to form square.
2.The square is to retreat. For retreat the same dispositions are made as for advance, and for the same reason, yet with the following additions: In order to dispose the column to manoeuvre by the rear rank and at the same time to form square, the file-closers of the inner divisions move round the outer flanks of their companies behind the former front rank, now in rear. As soon as the command "form square " should be given, the companies wheel by the rear rank into line ; the fourth division marches forward at company distance; the first division closes up and faces about.
3."To reduce the square " is to form column. But as it is not necessary to remain in readiness to form square again, the file-closers of the rear division and the colors take again their original places.
The formation of column from "column against cavalry" is executed in this way: the files taken from the inner flanks of the inner divisions return to their original places, and the rearmost division faces about; its file-closers return to their places behind the rear rank.
If the square had been in four ranks and column is to be formed (915) or square to be reduced, it will be done in the same way as if the square had been in two ranks.
Form column as before stated, and then march in any direction desired.
The division, in the direction of which the square is to be moved, be it the first, second,
third, or fourth front, must march steadily forward, particularly the captain in its centre, because the guide is centre. But also the other three fronts, after having faced into that direction, must be careful to keep their ranks and files closed and in perfect order, because the square must be ready to halt and to resist cavalry at any moment. At the command "halt," the different fronts face again outward, and there must be no necessity for closing the ranks or files, because the enemy would take advantage of this to the destruction of the square.
TWO RANKS.916 TO 922.
As the column in four ranks was formed by doubling the files towards the centre, so the undoubling of the files will be executed towards the outer flanks. Each captain
must command and superintend the undoubling of files of his company.
VII. -OBLIQUE SQUARES.938 TO 952.
The chapter of United States Tactics headed "Oblique Squares," supposes the necessity that the square should be formed not on the basis of the battalion, but that a change of front at half a right angle should be executed. The whole manoeuvre will be more complicated, and most likely very rarely used. If the battalion was in line, the formation of column by division and change of front must be combined. The lieutenant-colonel marches twelve paces, (that is, any convenient number of paces,) along the front rank of the :first or last company (939), then twelve paces forward in a perpendicular direction, in order to obtain two sides of a square, the diagonal of which will be the direction of the column and of
the first front of the square. The first (or last) division wheels and dresses against the markers; the next division breaks the first two files to the front, in order to direct the leading guide on the outer flank of the first division to proceed in this direction until half distance has been gained, and he files then so as to march parallel to the markers. The third and fourth divisions break slightly to the rear, and march in the shortest way parallel in rear of the second. The rest of the manoeuvre contains nothing different from what has been stated before.
If the battalion was in column by division, the "change of front by the flank" is first executed, as explained in a preceding chapter, and then the same manoeuvres which has been stated before.