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1891 Infantry Drill Regulations

A Comparison with1866 Upton's and 1861 Hardee's

and their application to Civil War reenacting

Leonidas Jones

Colonel cmdg

6th Regiment, 1st Division ANV

The Liberty Greys


Close Order

Extended Order



In 1888, the great General Emory Upton passed to his reward. Emory Upton perhaps was born at the wrong time.  As a young man, he had great success as a general in the fedral army.  He then revamped the Tactics, for the first real revision in over 30 years

Upton, in his later service never found our country in a major foreign conflict.  While this is to the best for our country, it did hinder his advancement as a general officer in the army.

Upton did remain perhaps the most important tactician in the US Army, with his great work, the Infantry Tactics, first issued in 1867.  He revised the Tactics in the 1870's, and, upon his death, had almost complerted a new revision.  This revision comprised, in no small part, the 1891 Infantry Tactics.

The edition of infantry tactics adopted in 1891 was the work of a board, consisting of Col. John C. Bates, 20th Infantry; Lieut. Col. George B. Sanford, 9th Cavalry; Maj. Henry C. Hasbrouck, 4th Artillery; Maj. John C. Gilmore, AAG; Capt. John C. Haskell, 23rd Infantry; Capt. Edward S, Godfrey, 7th Cavalry; and Capt. James S. Lancaster, 3rd Artillery.  The recorder, at first, was 1st Lieut. George Andrews, of the 25th Infantry, who was later replaced by 1st Lieut. John T. French, Jr., of the 4th Artillery.  The tactics were approved by Secretary of War, Redfield Proctor. 

The purpose of this comparison is to find the differences, or lack of, in drill techniques in the nearly 30 years since Emory Upton's Tactics.  These covered the years of the Indian Wars, but, terrible though they may have been, the US Army faced no combat against a foe armed with modern weaponry and using standard military tactics.  Upton revised his tactics in 1874, and they were reissued in 1883, although they were virtually unchanged.  

Perhaps the first true "modern war" would have been the Franco-Prussian War of the 1870's.  Upton, and the board had the insights gained from military observers of that conflict.  Their work would be put to the test in the Spanish War that was about to occur.

Definitions, Signals, and General Principles

The manual dispenses with the familiar "Title First, Formation of a Regiment" which Upton had retained almost verbatim from Hardee.  It begins instead with a glossary, containing terms that would mostly be familiar to the modern reenactor.  The term "base comes into play as in base file which would be the directing file, that upon which a movement is executed.  "Extended order" replaces skirmish order, and we see a reference to "scouts" that none of the earlier tacticians had made.

There is a section of "Signals" which is of some interest.  These were arm signals that could be used with an officer's sword, either alone or in conjunction with verbal or bugle commands.  They are, for the most part, common sense, i.e. pointing straight ahead for "Forward" raising the arm vertically for "halt, pointing at a change of direction, etc.  "As skirmishers" is to point in both directions with both arms.  "Assemble is to raise the arm overhead, and make slow circles.  "Rally" is the same, but with rapid circles.

The application to us is confirmation of something that most of us have been doing for some time.  Hardee and his colleagues make no mention of sword signs, nor does Upton.  Yet it seems so obvious.  While we need not necessarily adopt these signals, I think we are justified in continuing our past practice.

The "General Principles" make up the first nine paragraphs of the manual proper. They would seem very familiar to either Hardee or Upton.  Formation in two ranks, guide right and left, commands of preparation and execution, all are substantially unchanged.

The manual begins in earnest with "Close Order, School of the Soldier. 


Close Order

Extended Order


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Close Order

School of the Soldier 

School of the Company

School of the Battalion

Evolutions of a Regiment

The Brigade

The Division or Corps

School of the Soldier

Instruction without Arms

1891 Drill Regulations SotS begins with a set of instructions for the School.  They begin with paragraph 10, picking up after the General Principles.  A few of these have some application for us.

"11.  Short and frequent drills are preferable to long ones, which exhaust the attention of both instructor and recruit."

This is common sense, but oft overlooked nonetheless.

"13.  The instructor will always maintain a military bearing, and by a quiet, firm demeanor set a proper example to the men."

This is vital to good instruction.

"14.  The instructor explains each movement in as few words as possible, at the same time executing it himself.

"He requires the recruits to take by themselves the proper positions and does not touch them for the purpose of correcting them, except when they are unable to correct themselves; he avoids keeping them too long at the same movement, although each should be understood before passing to another.  He exacts by degrees the desired precision and uniformity."

The first sentence is Hardee rephrased, but the second, particularly the injunction against touching the recruits, is interesting.

"17.  When the execution of a movement is improperly begun and the instructor wishes to begin it anew for the purpose of correcting it, he commands: As you were, at which the movement ceases and the former position is resumed."

This could be very handy.

The manual proceeds to indicate that recruits should be trained in groups no larger than four, in a single rank, and spaced.  The spacing is created by placing the left hand on the hip, and opening out the elbow.  The left elbow should touch the right arm of the man on the left, which creates the proper interval.

Both Hardee and Upton state that recruits will be at one pace distance, but for both, this is for initial training only.  Once marching under arms commences, the recruits are shoulder to shoulder, as we are accustomed.  In the 1891 manual, however, this method of dressing with the left hand on the hip is consistent throughout. 

The position of the soldier without arms is nearly identical to Hardee and Upton.  The only minor deviation is a stricture to keep the backs of the hands outwards, instead of the palms turned a little to the front.

I would not change our practice, but I would point out that I often see soldiers without arms taught to turn their palms completely to the front.  This is incorrect.

1891's first real difference is in the Rests.  It describes three types of rest.  The first is "Fall Out", the equivalent of Hardee's "Rest", which allows the soldiers to leave ranks and move about, but not leave the immediate area.  The second is "Rest", which is the equivalent to Hardee's "In Place, Rest".  We also find "At Ease" which is In Place Rest with a stricture against talking.

To resume attention, we see "Squad, Attention", reversing the commands of preparation and execution from both earlier tacticians.  1891 also tells us to dismiss the squad by commanding "Dismissed", rather than "Break Ranks". 

Eyes right and left are executed exactly as in the earlier manuals, with the same commands. 

Facings have some slight though instructive differences.  The right face is very similar to Hardee and Upton, with one slight difference.  "Raise slightly the right heel and the left toe, turning on the left heel, assisted be a slight pressure on the ball of the right foot; replace the right foot."

We have all seen how awkward Hardee's (and Upton's, which are identical) facings can be.  This little assist with the ball of the right foot could make all the difference.  I don’t know that I would adopt it, bit we might make the soldiers aware that it might help on bad ground.

The about differs a little more.  "Raise slightly the left heel and right toe, face to the rear, turning to the right on the right heel and the ball of the left foot; replace the left foot beside the right."  Actually, the Hardee's/Upton's about works pretty well.

1891 then covers saluting, a topic Hardee ignores, but Upton addresses.  The wording is different, but the salute itself seems the same as Upton's, which differs from our salute, which we take from 1863 CS Regulations.  It is the same as the modern salute, but both 1891 and Upton allow for a left hand salute.  1891 also covers a hand salute while uncovered, which Upton does not mention.

1891 then covers "setting up."  Those who have read the Upton's comparison will remember these period calisthenics or stretching exercises.  1891 expands quite a bit on Upton's setting up, adding several more exercises, for a total of 17, as opposed to Upton's four.  

These exercises are of interest, but if any are going to be used, they should be those of Upton's.  I will gladly send these to anyone interested.  I will not print the 1891 exercises here. 

The 1891 manual now proceeds to marching.

"31.  The length of the full step in quick time is 30 inches, measured from heel to heel, and the cadence is at the rate of 120 steps per minute."

The cadence is more what we expect in modern marching, but I find the length of the step instructive.  Let us not complain about the 28 inches, lest we should have to reenact the Spanish War.

Double time also increases the length of the step to 36 inches, yes, a full yard, and the rate to a standard 180 steps per minute.  Hardee permits this, but it is reserved for such maneuvers as turns, when the men must catch up to a guide marching at double quick. 

I remember at a Confederate Memorial Day drill, checking a metronome, discovering just how fast Hardee's (and Upton's) 165 steps per minute was.  We agreed at that time to strive for 144 steps per minute, and to try to toughen up. 

It is not important, but perhaps interesting to note the terminology.  To Hardee it is Double Quick, to Upton it is Double Step, but by 1891 it had become Double Time.

The directions for marching differ only in wording.  It is interesting to note that any reference to common time has vanished.

1891 does contain directions for the short step, a 15 inch quick time, or 18 inch double time. 

I realize that this is tempting, but this is 40 years after the American Civil War.  I cannot see allowing a half step to creep in as a standard command.  I still maintain that if all troops will step off together at the command "March", and march at a 28 inch step, the rear companies in a flank march will not fall so far behind.

1891 contains a side step, as did Upton, but not Hardee.  The back step is increased to 15 inches, still half of the forward step.  1891 cautions the back step is used only for very short distances, and never at double time. 

Each recruit is instructed in marching on points, much as the guides are in the earlier manuals.  Remember that there is no touch of the elbows in this manual.  Each soldier must march directly by his own means.

Instruction with Arms

Instruction with arms begins with a number of preparatory paragraphs, one of which bears reprinting here.

"46. To prevent accidents, the chambers will be opened whenever the squad is first formed, and again just before being dismissed. This rule is general."

Strict safety concerns are not a reenactorism.

1891 then proceeds to the Manual of Arms. Unlike Hardee's and Upton's, that begin at the shoulder (carry), 1891 begins, quite sensibly with the order, which is identical to ours.

As an aside, it is interesting to see the illustrations. The soldier pictured wears a kepi and a sack coat. The weapon could easily be a two band percussion musket, although this is in no way the rifle described in the Manual. These illustrations could easy be Civil War era.

1891 retains the nomenclature of "Carry" arms, as per Upton's, but the position remains our good old "Shoulder". Present is identical. Right Shoulder Shift has become more simply, "Right Shoulder, Arms" but is the same position.

Arms Port remains in the manual, but the command has morphed into "Port, Arms". As we progress, we will find a much greater use of this arms position. The Rests are as described in Instruction without Arms, but with the addition of Parade Rest, which is identical to 1862 Hardee's.

Two instructive points here. We in the 1st Maryland have returned Arms Port to the Manual, and instruct it regularly at Morning Parade. We use it, not only as the rear rank position for Charge Bayonets, but on long marches as well. It is a comfortable and convenient manner to hold the piece. We see it returned to the manual in Upton's and expect it was returned during the war.

As for Parade Rest, I originally taught the manner I was taught, which is in Gilham's, and CS and US Regulations, that is the rifle tucked into the hollow of the shoulder, with the arms folded around it. Yet Hardee, Casey, Upton, and now 1891 are all in agreement that the piece be angled across the body, lock plate in, left hand just above and right hand at the upper band. I still see many soldiers doing it the old way. We should make the correction.

Fix and unfixing bayonet remains as in 1862 Hardee's, with the right hand, however there are some interesting points.

1862 Hardee's has slightly different directions for fixing and unfixing from the order and from the shoulder. The actual fix and unfix is the same, but when going form the order, the piece is automatically returned to the order.  From the shoulder, the piece is left butt at the left side, awaiting further commands. Upton never does describe fixing from the order, an oversight I am sure. In fixing from the carry, the troops again wait for a command before moving the piece.

1891 gives three directions, from the carry, the order, and, unfixing only, from the port. From all three, the piece remains at the left side until further commands are given. There are also directions for the rod bayonet, which is a spring loaded bayonet which is releases from the rifle itself.  Interesting, but of no application to us.

Of some application to us, 1891 comments on fixing on the march, a matter never addressed by the earlier tacticians. It is simple common sense.

"66. If marching, the bayonet is fixed and unfixed in the most expeditions and convenient manner."

Charge Bayonet is similar to our practice, with the right foot brought back 6 inches, rather than 3. Again there are no specific directions for the rear rank.

It interesting to note that Secure and Trail have disappeared from the Manual. They will reappear later.  Support has disappeared altogether.

Kneeling and lying down are discussed, with instructions to teach the position first without arms, and then with. There are specific commands, again common sense, "Kneel", "Lie Down", "Rise". This could be of interest to us since the earlier manuals, while they contain extensive directions for loading and firing in these positions, do not give specific commands.

Load is, of course, very different, due to the advances on weaponry, but there is one interesting point. The front rank half faces to the right, as we do. The rear rank, however, steps obliquely to the right with the left foot, actually turning away with the front rank. This may seem odd until we remember that these troops are not shoulder to shoulder, allowing this safety feature.

Aiming and firing are much the same, with the one addition that the officer commands "At that (tree, rock, whatever), or At (so) many yards, Ready", etc. This is to cause the men to judge distances, and adjust their sights.

It interesting that Hardee and Upton never discuss this, even though many of Hardee's recruits, and all of Upton's had adjustable sights. Gilham, however, includes an extensive section on "Target Practice."

For some odd reason, directions for the rifle salute are inserted here, between firing and inspection. It is identical to ours.

Inspection again differs due to advances in weaponry, but there are two interesting points. First, cartridge boxes are opened automatically, and two, arms are brought to the port for the inspection.

Both of these are sensible adjustments, but, of course, cannot be adopted for ACW use. Our tacticians gave us explicit directions, and we need to follow them. It is interesting to follow the development, however.

1891 does cover inspection of boxes and knapsacks, which are left out of Hardee's, but covered in CS Regulations.

Stacking arms with bayonets is exactly as in 1862 Hardee's, but troops are cautioned not to do this if the rifles are equipped with a stacking swivel. This swivel sounds like a great idea, I wish someone would invent it.

We then find a sort of "mini-manual" of arms positions intended for extended marches. Here we find Trail, which is ours, but with direction that the piece can be lowered to horizontal, if it is not inconvenient to others, and, interestingly, mentions that the same position can be used in the left hand.

We also find two new positions. First is "Left Shoulder, Arms", not the modern military position, but, by our terms, a "Left Shoulder Shift".  It seems to replace "Support, Arms."

While the ACW tacticians never spell this out, they do imply a couple of times. For example, at the end of SotS, Hardee states:

"407. He will cause long marches to be executed in double quick time, both by the front and by the flank, and by constant practice will lead the men to pass over a distance of five miles in sixty minutes. The pieces will be carried on either shoulder, and sometimes at a trail."

Casey writes in identical words. Both are clearly not referring to arms at will, for in the next paragraph we find:

"408. He will also exercise them in long marches at a run, the pieces carried at will.."

Hardee is even clearer in his "Remarks on the School of the Battalion", where he says:

"After arms have been carried for some time on the right shoulder, they may be shifted, in like manner, to the left shoulder."

Clearly what is implied here is a "Left Shoulder Shift" for an extended march when soldiers tire. This is food for thought and discussion.

We also see "Sling Arms". While slings have been around for a long time, earlier tacticians never mentioned their use.

The most surprising one is Secure, which is now under the right arm, with the barrel up. (Remember there is no rammer to fall out.) We are also told that the piece can be held in like manner on the left.

There is one last point made before proceeding to marching, that I believe is of interest to us, and has application for our period.

"113. In the battle exercises, or whenever circumstances require, the regular positions of the manual of arms and the firings may be ordered without regard to the previous position of the piece; such movements as are not in the manual will be executed without regard to motions or cadence. It is laid down as a principle that the effective use of the weapon is not to be impeded by the formalities of drill."

The Squad

1891 Regulations now causes the recruits to divided into 7 man squads, with a corporal as leader.  These squads are the basis for much of the later schools, particularly in extended order.  They are, in effect Upton's fours; the group of four two man files upon which Upton based his maneuvers.  The corporal, while named as instructor of the squad, marches with it as the front rank man on the left. 

The distance between ranks is referred to as "facing distance", that is the distance required so that the men are dressed when faced to the right or the left (remember the elbow out spacing).  On rough ground, or in double time, it increases to 36 inches, which is automatically closed up at the halt.

It is interesting to note that the directions for forming the squad in two ranks still leave the slightly shorter man in the rear rank.  Otherwise, the squad is aligned as we would expect, save that the leader is on the left, and there a gap, rather than elbow to elbow.

Alignments are taught in very much the same manner as in Hardee and Upton's day, with two files being aligned on the new line, and the men taught to dress, at first, file by file, and then all at once.  The command remains the same, "Right (Left) Dress, Front."  All men should remain at eyes right (left) until the command front.  The only difference if the left hand on hip procedure, described earlier.  The left hand drops at the command "Front".

This causes no change in our procedure, but does give the chance to address one of my pet peeves, incorrect commands.  I so often hear the command "Dress Right (Left), Dress", with "Dress" as the command of execution.  According to Hardee it is Right Dress.  So it was for Winfield Scott. We must go back all the way to Baron Von Steuben, to find any difference, where we find "To the Right (Left) Dress).  Certainly from 1829, with the publishing of Scott's Abstract of Infantry Tactics, it was Right (Left Dress).  So it was in 1891, as we now see.  Indeed, a quick glance at the 1911 Infantry Drill Regulations shows it remained Right (Left) Dress.  So it was for over 80 years of military History.  Let's get this one right!

Also, as aside to officers, after you command a dress, you must command "Front".  Otherwise, if your men are well trained, they will continue to look in the direction of the dress until you do.

"126.  When the squad dresses quickly and well, the guide alone is first established."

This is our practice, and I think it a good one.  Much of what Hardee wrote was intended as training exercises. 

The march in line did not change appreciably in the 40 years.  We do have to remember that men are not actually touching elbows, making the alignment more difficult to maintain.  A slight change is that "Rightabout, March" has become "To the rear, March".

Again let's get our commands straight.  It is "Rightabout, March" but "About Face"  "Rightabout, Face" does not exist in Hardee's, or any other manual I have ever read.

In marching by the flank, Upton's fours have disappeared.  Fear not, they return in School of the Company.  The commands "By the Right (Left) Flank", which Upton abandoned, have returned.  However, Hardee's system of doubled files remains a point of history.  The men do not double and undouble.  The command to front the troops, however, is now "Left (Right) Face".  Front is now reserved for returning the eyes.

Changing direction in the flank march is now commanded as "Column Right (Left)" for a 90 degree turn, or "Column Half-Right (Left)" for something less.  "By File Right (Left) which was abandoned by Upton in favor of "Column Right (Left)" remains in the past, with doubling.

Again, it is "By FILE Right (Left)" not "By FILES".  I will be a happy man when we finally rid ourselves of the superfluous pluralization.  Do note, by the way, that the wheel by file does not need to be 90 degrees, it can be at any desired angle.

The oblique march did not change in any detail.  The manual does state that the flank march or "column of files" can be obliqued in the same manner.  Hardee is silent on that, although I am sure he took it for granted.

The change of direction marching in line is, arguably, the biggest surprise yet.  In 1891, troops did not wheel.  The guide takes the short step, which, we will remember, is 15 inches, and the rest of the squad obliques to the new direction, arriving in line successively.  Indeed, it more like our turn than our wheel, and is commanded "Right (Left) Turn."

Firings are of note, changing of course because of advances in weaponry.  When firing in two ranks, the rear rank does not step.  Remember that they have stepped over in the loading process, into the gap created by the left hand on hip dress. They need only lean forward to clear the front rank.  Also, there are no directions for oblique fire.  The instructor can give a target, which renders it unnecessary.  If the target is at an extreme angle, the leader is obliged to change the front of his squad to facilitate better aim.

The firings are reduced to two, Fire by Squad, and finally, Fire At Will.  The fires by rank and by file have disappeared.  The much faster loading breechloaders have rendered them unnecessary. 

For us, however, they are very much a fact of life.  Note that the proper command is "Fire by  FILE", not "Fire by Files from the right".  "From the Right" is superfluous, it always begins on the right.  Certainly it is never "Fire by Files from right to left".  "Fire at Will" does not exist, unless you are reenacting from the Spanish War up.

Also note the Fire by Rank always begins with the rear rank.

The remainder of SotS consists of Bayonet drill.  Both Hardee and Upton restrict the bayonet exercise to almost nothing.  Hardee gives only three movements, Charge Bayonet in the Manual, and then Guard against Infantry and Cavalry after firing kneeling and Lying.  Upton gives only the Charge Bayonet.

In 1891 recruits are give a much more extensive exercise.  It is an abridged version of MacClellan's Bayonet Exercise.  There are small changes in commands, such as "Retreat" becoming "Retire", and the "Passade" becoming simply "Pass".  Sadly, my favorite MacClellan command "Leap to the, Rear" has disappeared. 

I will not go into detail on the drill, as it is 40 years in advance of us, but I will point out that we have an excellent volume to work from, the afore mentioned MacClellan"s which is available in reprint.  If you have never tried bayonet drill, I suggest you try it.  It makes an outstanding living history display, and is perfectly effective with a small number of troops. 


School of the Company

In 1891, each company is grouped into squads, which consist of seven privates, under the leadership of a corporal, as explained in SotS.  These squads are referred to as fours in close order drill, functioning exactly as Upton's fours.  In extended order, our skirmish order, they are squads, and replace the Comrades in Battle. 

The 1891 companies are divided into platoons, an arrangement abandoned by Upton, but reinstituted here.  The right or 1st platoon is to be the larger, a stricture not placed by Hardee.  The first platoon must be complete groups of fours, which creates an even number of files, as Hardee requires. 

As I came up as a reenactor, I was taught that the first platoon should be the larger, even though Hardee does not specify this.  Perhaps we now see where that developed.

The formation of the company does differ in small detail.  The second sergeant is the right guide, and the third the left, with the first a file closer, posted to the right on the line of file closers, which is still two paces to the rear of the rear rank.  The first Lieutenant is now chief of the 1st platoon, not the second, which is now commanded by the 2nd Lieutenant.  Platoons now have two guides, utilizing the 4th and 5th sergeants.  The Captain is a mini-major, in charge of a column by platoon. 

Sections (half platoons) also reappear, but if the platoon is less than four sets of “fours”, sections are omitted. 

We see here a position for musicians, when not united with the battalion.  They are behind the 1st platoon, to the left of the 1st sergeant.  In the flank march, they would be in the rank of file closers.

This gives us a clue as to where to position musicians attached to a company.  Behind a company in flank march is not the place.

The company is formed as was a squad, resulting in the slightly shorter men in the rear.  As firing was explained, in 1891, this was not a problem. 

The companies then count fours, as in Upton’s, and are divided into platoons and sections, as in Hardee’s 

Roll call is specified, and is much as in Upton’s, which follows muster directions in US and CS Regulations.  The difference is that the soldiers are put at the Right Shoulder, instead of the Support, which no longer exists.

Opening and closing ranks is much the same, keeping in mind the new positions of the subalterns and sergeants.  The commands are different.  “Open Ranks”, and “Close Ranks”, instead of “To the rear, open order”, and “Close Order, March”.  Note, this is not “to the rear in open order”, in our period, as we so often hear.

In the different firings, which we found in SotS to be only by Squad, now company, and at will the captain is placed three paces behind the company, rather than four. 

To dismiss the company, the captain turns over command to the 1st sergeant, who commands, Port, Arms, Dismissed. Again we see the increased use of the port.

To effect slight changes of direction in march the captain is to command, Incline to the Right (Left).  Hardee actually does much the same, suggesting that the guide move insensibly to one side or the other.  I will often tell my 1st sergeant to “insensible” to one side or the other. 

In the march by the flank, we see the return of Upton’s beautiful system of fours.  “Fours Right” is the command.  Rather than go into an extensive description here, I refer you to my Upton’s comparison.  It is interesting to note that the fours wheel, both on fixed and moving pivots, even though they are not so instructed in SotS.  None the less, it is a lovely system.  I hope, one day, to see it in action.

The column of fours continues according to Upton.  The first deviation is a command to break into smaller columns.  These are only to used to pass narrow defiles.  The column of fours can now be broken into a column of twos.  The procedure is rather like a mini break into platoons, with the rear two files obliquing behind the first two. 

The column of files here seems a little different than in SotS.  It becomes a single file, with the second file obliquing behind the first. 

Returning to the twos or fours is much like Form Company.  The differences, which are slight, can be explored at another time.

We now find the column of platoons, with which Upton dispensed.  There are directions concerning the repeating of commands, which we shall explore in detail in SotB.

It of interest to note that, in forming a column of platoons, the platoons turn, as in the 1891 Squad drill, rather then wheel as we are accustomed to do.  In changing direction, they also turn in the new sense, rather than wheel, as do the fours.  The directions for Column Right (Left), or Half Right (Left) as are in Squad drill.

To countermarch the column, we return to fours.  “Fours Right (Left)” is the command.  The platoon are inverted by fours, but this does not seem to be problem, as we have seen in our drill. 

To form line, our Left into Line, Wheel, the platoons simply turn rather than wheel.

Forming column of platoons to the front is exactly like Break into Platoons.  The second platoon obliques into column behind the first.

To form company, I am somewhat confused.  Reading the directions, it would seem to invert the platoon order, with the second platoon obliquing to the right to join with the first, rather than Hardee’s 1st platoon obliquing to the right to join the second.  Were the second platoon to oblique left instead of right, it would work Hardee causes the 1st platoon to oblique right, allowing the 2nd to catch up, thus forming the company.  Perhaps I misread the directions.

A Column of platoons can march to a flank, in column of fours, by the command “Fours Right (Left), March), rather as though we had commanded “By Platoon, by the Right (Left) Flank, March”.  They would be returned by “Fours Left (Right)’, by our terms, “By Platoon, By the Left (Right) Flank.” 

Platoons can advance by the right of platoons, with the command, “ Platoons, Right (Left) Forward, Fours Right (Left), March”.  We would command “ By the right of Platoons to the Front, etc.”.  Our ‘By Platoon into Line” becomes “Platoons, Right (Left) Front into Line”. 

The remaining evolutions from fours into platoons, or line of platoons, will be omitted.  They have interest, but no application to ACW drill.

Company columns can be marched at Route Step, which identical to our practice, or At Ease, which is Route Step, with silence preserved.  Officers are told to place swords in the scabbard at either step.

School of the Battalion

In 1891 Regulations, battalion takes on a slightly different meaning than in 1862.  It is now considered a subdivision of a regiment, which is made up of three battalions.  This was not uncommon in the Federal army.  Casey, and Upton after him, made provision for this by specifying senior and junior majors, as opposed to Hardee's one major.  The three battalions would be commanded by the lieutenant colonel and the two majors, under the overall command of the colonel.  I am not aware of this division of regiments in the Confederate army, but it may well have happened.

While Casey and Upton never spelled out the subdivision, in 1891 it is an integral part of military organization.  Each battalion is supposed to be commanded by a major, with the colonel and lieutenant colonel in overall command of the regiment.  It is clearly specified that each captain should be required to drill the battalion.

As in Hardee's, the battalion is composed of at least two companies, but in 1891 cannot be more than six.  These companies are arranged in line according to the seniority of captains, as in the earlier manuals, but we see here that if a captain is absent, the company is arranged by the seniority of the officer in command.  However, if the captain is absent only a short time, or is commanding the battalion, the company retains its usual place in line.  The companies are numbered and divided into wings, as we are accustomed to do, but there is no mention of the two company division. 

By the way, a division is only called a division in Civil War commands, when it functions within the battalion.  As soon as it is detached, it is called a battalion, and is maneuvered as one. 

The color guard is deployed differently.  The color bearer alone is in line, between the right and left guides of the two center companies.   The rest of the guard marches in the rank of file closers.  The right center company is still considered the color company.  If the left of this company changes position, as it would when wheeling by fours to face to the rear, the color guard moves the center of the wings.

In line, the major is 20 paces in front, the adjutant and the Sgt. Major on their normal flanks, six paces behind the rank of file closers.  The commissioned staff is to the right of the battalion, and the non-commissioned staff to its left.  The band is to the right of the staff officers.

The formation has some of the features of dress parade, with the adjutant forming the battalion, and reporting "Sir, the battalion is formed."  The major opens ranks, again "Open (Close) Ranks", and can exercise the men in manual of arms, either in open or closed ranks.  The only difference in the firing between battalion and squad is "Fire by Company", which we would find familiar, the odd companies firing first and the even companies waiting for the odd companies to reload., continuing to fire rather like Hardee's skirmish partners.  The major can also command "Fire by Battalion" and "Fire at Will".  Firing by rank or wing have disappeared.  To dismiss the battalion, rather than giving his own "Break Ranks", as Hardee specifies, he commands "Dismiss your companies", at which point the company officers march the men to their company parade ground and dismiss them as in SotC.  This is the equivalent of "Company Officers, take charge of your companies".

By the way, where does that come from?  It is not specified in any period manual I know, nor is it in US or CS Regulations. 

In successive formations, the Adjutant and Sgt. Major act as right and left general guides, similar to the practice we often adopt in absence of the guides.

Directions for marching to the front place the left guide of the right center company as the center guide of the battalion.  Keep in mind that each battalion will not necessarily have a color bearer, there being only one for the regiment.  A slight change of direction brings the command, "Incline to the right (left)", as discussed in SotC.

The about is accomplished by "Fours right (left) about", exactly as in Upton's.  However, a few paces to the rear may be gained by facing about, "to the rear, March", our rightabout, which Upton eliminated entirely.  A long march is to be accomplished habitually in a column of fours.  Obliques and alignments are basically unchanged.

The flank march is the column of fours, as in Upton, but again, a short distance can be marched "by the right (left) flank, March" which is familiar to us, if we remember that the troops never double in Hardee's sense. 

The maneuvering in columns of fours is essentially unchanged from Upton's.  It is of interest, but of no application to Civil War reenacting.  See the Upton's comparison for details. 

In 1891, battalions still march in columns of companies, as did Upton's.  The procedures are much the same, although while fours still wheel, companies turn, as seen in the earlier schools.  Remember, this is not our version of the turn.  It is of some small interest to note that "On the right (left) into line" uses the new version of the turn as well, making it slightly different from Upon's.

Incidentally, the use of the new turn does greatly simplify the change of direction of a close column. 

There are extensive directions to march in "line of companies" in columns of fours, a version of our "by the right (left) of companies to the front, although seemingly of much greater importance. Upton seems to ignore this, although it could easily be done in his system. 

Other then that, most of the evolutions of columns of companies are as in Upton's.   Refer to that comparison for a detailed discussion. 

Upton's battalions continued to march in two company divisions, as did Hardee's, but the platoon had entirely disappeared from the manual.  By 1891, it was the division that had disappeared, but the platoon had made a dramatic comeback. 

Hardee devoted little attention to the column if platoons, considering it to be more a method of passing narrow ways than a standard column of march. 

Much of this drill is simply column of company commands given to platoons.  However, the full distance is defined as platoon front plus three paces.  The close interval is defined as eight paces.  (Right (left) front into line", our "Forward into Line", also differs a bit.  The 1st company forms company, much as in Hardee's.  The other companies march in column of platoons, half right (left) to their position in line, and form company when at platoon distance.

The Regulations also speak at length about a "line of companies" in column of platoons.  The companies of a four company battalion would march in four parallel columns of platoons.  Almost all of these evolutions could be accomplished with the commands General Hardee gave us.  It is interesting to read, but of little Civil War application.

A totally new wrinkle is the "Street Column".  In a four company battalion, the first and fourth companies are in company fronts.  The second company forms a column of fours behind the right four of the first company. The third forms a column of f ours behind the left four of the first company.  Why this is called a "Street Column" is unclear. 

1891 battalions are still instructed in forming square.  Both Upton and Hardee before him prescribe this to be done from a column by division at half distance.   1891 does it from the street column.  It works beautifully.  The first company halts, forming the first front. The second and third companies wheel by fours in opposite directions, forming the second and third fronts.  The fourth company faces about to form the fourth front.  It is returned to street column by reversing the procedure. 

The street column can also form easily into a column of companies or a column if fours.  It is an intriguing formation.  Interestingly, in correspondence with Col. Huddleston a few years ago, he suggested use of a similar formation, one company in front, followed by a second company marching by the left flank behind its right, and an third marching by the right flank behind the left of the first.  The idea was to be able to protect flanks easily.  The street column is almost the twin of that.

Evolutions of a Regiment

1891 Drill Regulations specify a regiment as consisting of three battalions, although it permits more or less.  The regiment functions more like a brigade in our terms.  It is formed by seniority of the majors, as a battalion is formed by rank of captains. The colonel is placed 60 paces in front, or, in a line of masses, that is parallel columns of companies by battalions, sort of a by the right of battalions to the front, he is 30 paces ahead.  In column, he marches (rides) at the side of the guide abreast of, and 20 paces from the head of the column. 

I will omit the positioning of the remainder of the staff and the band, as it does not have ACW implications. 

The battalions can form in separate lines, or in combinations, to form in one two or three lines.  They may also be formed in line of platoon columns (parallel columns of platoons) or in the aforementioned line of masses.

When the regiment is formed there is to be an interval of 24 paces between battalions, whether in line or line of masses.  The battalions are designated 1st, 2nd, etc. from their positions in line. 

There are directions for the colonel's commands, and how the majors are to repeat them.  The colonel prefaces commands by, "Battalions", as in "Battalions, Attention."  The term regiment is not used in commands.

Ranks are opened and closed, and firings conducted as in SotB.  To dismiss the regiment, the colonel commands "Dismiss your Battalions". 

Yes, to dismiss, the colonel must turn battalions over to their majors, who march to their parade, and, in turn, give command of companies to the captains, who march to their parade, who can then dismiss their companies.  I suppose the soldiers were glad they did not to be dismissed by platoons and then squads.

To face to the rear and to march to the rear, we see "fours about" as in SotB, and Upton's.  To halt the regiment we find "Battalions, Halt".

Some things never change.

In successive formations, the Adjutant and Sgt. Major of each battalion act as right and left general guides.  The line is formed on the base company so there is no need for regimental guides.  At least, none are mentioned.

When forming in multiple lines, the distance prescribed is battalion depth, plus 24 paces.  A two line formation is rather like a two battalion line with a third in reserve.  Like a reserve, the rear lines conform to all movements of the front, maintaining spacing.

The column of fours remains the primary formation of maneuver.  Each battalion maneuvers independently to its place. 

Again, I will omit extensive description of these maneuvers.  Anyone interested in maneuvering by the fours should refer to the Upton's comparison.

The regiment can march in columns of companies and platoons, by exactly the means used in SotB.  The only change is forming two or three lines, which is self-evident.  Most of the evolutions are covered in SotB.

The regiment can march in Column of Masses, basically a close column by company, which Upton wrote about in his Evolutions of a Brigade.  Again there is little difference from Upton, save the deployment from column of masses to line of masses.

In 1891, regiments maneuvered by platoons, with the same commands as SotB.  Again though, we see much mention of Line of platoon columns.

The Evolutions of a regiment close with the order in echelon, with the command "Form Echelon at so many yards".  Hardee, having stopped at SotB never dealt with echelons.  However, Scott, Casey and Upton all did.  Scott is most detailed., giving credence to Hardee's theory that he did not need to improve on Scott's work.

Detailed analysis of these evolutions is not needed.  It is enough to make note of the most significant change, the Line formation, Fours in company line, Line of platoon columns and Line of Masses.  We have seen how valuable advancing or retiring by the right or left of companies can be.  By 1891, it was an involved, detailed procedure, with many variations. 

The Brigade

1891's brigade is formed of three regiments, but could be more or less. The regiments are posted in order, by the rank of their colonels, again exactly as a battalion is by the captains' rank.

The section is quite short, as many of the maneuvers of the regiment are applicable to the brigade.

The general's commands are directed in some detail, with 5 key points that he should cover:

"1. The maneuver to be executed by the brigade.

2. The particular formation the regiment is to take; as in two lines, line of masses, etc.  When the formation is not specified, the regiment forms in line.

3. When forming the brigade in two or more lines by regiment, the number of lines, the distance between the lines, the line in which the regiment is to form, and its point of rest.

4. Whether the right or left of the regiment is to connect with the left or right of another regiment, that precedes it on line.

5. Whether the right or left flank of the regiment will be exposed."

As an example, being in a column of fours, when the general wishes to form front into line, he will send the following orders:

"The brigade to form front into line." To the leading regiment, " Form left front into line", to the center regiment, "Form front into line, your right connecting with left of leading regiment"; to the rear regiment, " Form right front into line, your left connecting with right of leading regiment, right flank exposed."

By similar means, the general can form line to the right and left from the standard column of fours, or in two or three lines. The regiments forming alongside each other as in the preceding evolutions.

He can also form lines of platoon columns, masses, or lines of columns of fours.

To march to front or rear, the general must designate a base battalion, in Scott's old terms, the battalion of direction.

To march to the flank, the general simply commands March by the right (or left) flank, and allows the colonels to effect the maneuver in their regiments.

To change front, the regiments are formed into columns of fours, and formed into line as already explained.

The Division and Corps

The division consists of three brigades of infantry and two or more batteries, but can be more or less. The evolutions are those of the brigade, converted to the larger number.

The corps consists of three divisions, one or more regiments of cavalry, and the corps artillery, which is in addition to the divisional artillery.  Again, there are no evolutions stated as specific to the corps.

The remaining few pages cover salutes, the about for officers, the manual of the sword, the manual of the color, and color guard, and directions for the band and drum major.

Salute with the hand.

In this section, officers are enjoined to salute with the right hand only, unless it is otherwise occupied. Enlisted men, however, are to salute with the hand furthest from the officer, and to hold it until the salute is returned, or the officer passed, as is the rifle salute, which is familiar to us.

About Face

Officers are to face about in the modern military manner, unlike men in the ranks, who still have a version of facing on the heel. Enlisted men out of ranks, however, can face about as officers.

Manual of the sword.

The manual of the sword differs little from ACW manuals. There is a provision for suspending the sword by the sword knot from the right wrist, when publishing orders.

The order places the tip of the sword on the ground, at the right side. Parade rest places it on the ground in front of the body, hands clasped, left on top. I mention this because of some interest in the artillery rest.   I feel this to be inappropriate for infantry, obviously specified here in 1891, and, I would believe, in the 1860's as well.


The manual of the color is more extended than our manuals, which generally give only a color salute and the carry. In 1891 we find the order, where the heel of the lance rests on the ground near the right toe, the right hand holding the pike in a vertical position.

We also find a parade rest, where the heel is on the ground, left hand uppermost.

At a halt, the color salutes at the command, present arms, and returns to the carry at carry arms. Here we see that the present is not given on the march.

The guard is much more limited than on our period, restricted to the color-sergeant and two other soldiers. If a regimental color is used, there is a second color- bearer.

The color is taken from the colonel by the guard only, and taken to the parade of the color company, and returns it, without an escort.

The Band

The band is drawn up in two or more ranks, depending on its size. It is specified that a sufficient interval be provided to permit a free use of the instruments.

The field music, bugles and drums at this time, when united (i.e. not with their companies) forms in the rear of the band. If a musician is in charge (as opposed to a drum major) he is posted on the right of the front rank.

When the battalion wheels by fours, the band countermarches. Other maneuvers are the same for both the battalion and band.

In opening ranks, each rank of the band takes a three pace interval from that in front, the drum major verifying the alignment.

The drum major is placed two paces in front of the center of his band, and gives commands as for a squad, substituting band for squad. The signals are almost identical to those given by Upton, with the common sense addition that he will beat time with his staff in the right hand, when the band plays, left hand at the hip, fingers in front, thumb to the rear.

In making his report on parade, the drum major salutes by bringing the staff to a vertical position, head of the staff up and opposite the left shoulder. In marching in review, he salutes by passing the staff between the right arm and body, head of the staff to the front, and salutes with the left hand.


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Extended Order

Extended order is the 1891 version of skirmish drill.  As had been recognized as early as the Civil War, fighting in line was doomed by modern weaponry.  Troops extended, with space between them, was the way to fight the modern war.

Thus, the fighting unit of 1891 became the squad, the eight man unit from SotS, which is under the command of a corporal.  This unit corresponds beautifully with Upton's Fours.

The men are enjoined to remain with their squad at all times, but, if separated, to place themselves with another squad until they can be reunited. 

This order is of primary importance, and its drill comes after only a few drills in close order.  Officers and sergeants must preserve the integrity of the squads.

All instruction must be give in reference to an enemy supposed to be in an indicated direction .  An  imaginary  enemy is one whose position and force are merely assumed.  An outlined enemy is one who is indicated by only a few men.  The represented  enemy is one whose main body is visible.

Commands are given by bugle, as we are accustomed, or should be, and the extended order may be taken from any formation.

There are no commands to dress.  The alignment is based roughly on the base file, the men standing or marching at ease, arms at will, as we are accustomed.

The squad is led by its corporal, and, as far as possible, without formal commands.  Thus we have commands such as follow me.  When the corporal does not wish the squad to follow him, he commands guide right (or left), and indicates the point of direction.  The squad then follows the man placed as the guide.

Deployments of the squad are forward and by the flank, as we are accustomed.  The interval between skirmishers ( and here we do see the use of that term) is now only two paces.  A different interval can be given in the preparatory command. 

The command is simply  as skirmishers,  MARCH.  The men move into alignment on the specified base file.  The line becomes front rank, rear rank, as Hardee specified 35 years before.  If the corporal wishes to extend the intervals, he command  To (so many) paces, extend (or close)intervals, MARCH.  The paces specified are between soldiers, as in Upton's, not groups of four, as in Hardee's.


To move the line forward, we have Forward, MARCH.  To the rear we have To the rear, MARCH, as opposed to in retreat.  Here the men face to rear and march, as Hardee and Upton specify.  The squad can be marched to the flank, or turned, in order to change front. 


The rally is used for immediate action, when there is no time to form in normal order.  The corporal commands or signals rally.  The men run to him and group themselves in one or two ranks.  If he advances, they advance with him.  Should he command deploy, they resume their places as skirmishers.


The assembly is as we accustomed.  At the command Assemble, MARCH, the men move to their proper places in close order.


The specified firing are three; at will, counted cartridges, and rapid.

To fire at will, the skirmishers who can see an enemy aim, fire and load deliberately, and continue until commanded Cease Firing.

With counted cartridges, the corporal specified how many rounds are to be fired , and at what object.  Another volley requires another command


The rapid fire is usually used in an attack, with bayonets fixed and advancing.  The men fire as rapidly as possible, until commanded to cease fire.

The troops will have extensive instruction on fighting on varied ground.  Hardee's instruction to take advantage of any cover is here added to by paragraphs on how to use that cover, whether rocks, walls heaps of stone, ditches, furrows, woods and others.  They are taught how to prepare the crest of a wall and how to create loopholes for their weapons. 

We then find extensive directions for the actions of a platoon, company, battalion, and regiment in extended order, with specific directions for the offensive and defensive. These are of interest, but are not of application to the 1860's context.  There are interesting points, such as the relief of a firing line, which is much as Hardee outlined.  

Of some interest for another article, is the section on outposts.  These are divided into sentinels, pickets, supports, and reserves.  A comparison with Mahon's might prove most instructive.


The average march for infantry is placed at 15 to 20 miles per day.  The march should be in several columns, to diminish the front of the columns, and expedite the deployment into line of battle.  Pioneers are detailed to prepare the way for the march.  Roads, if possible are left open for artillery and supply trains. 

No. 657 states, "When practicable, marches should begin in the morning after the men have had their breakfasts".    This is well known to reenactors.

Breaks are specified for marches of varied duration.  The provost guard is to follow to pick up stragglers, as we are accustomed. 


The directions for camping need not be repeated here, with the exception of a few points. 

"Ground for camping should be susceptible of good drainage, and be near wood and water".  Words for event organizers to live by!

"When time will permit, all the streets are ditched; a shallow ditch is made around each tent."  Words for reenactors to live by.

"When straw, leaves or boughs are at hand, the men should be required to raise their beds above the ground; attention to this rule, to cleanliness, and to the proper cooking of food will greatly diminish the number and frequency of camp diseases."

"In winter quarters, tents may be pitched on frames of boards or split logs, the bunks of the men being arranged one above another."  Randolph McKim specifies a  similar arrangement for the 1st Maryland winter camp.


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The directions for ceremonies may have some application to ACW use.  Since three battalions of the ANV are formed as Legions, with Artillery anc Cavalry components, we are always faced with the question of where to place these components in line.  The 1891 manual gives us some direction:

"On occasions of ceremonies, except funeral escort, troops are arranged from right to left in line, and from head to rear in column., in the following order:
First infantry; seconds light artillery; third cavalry.  Artillery serving as infantry is posted as infantry.  Dismounted cavalry and marines are on the left of the infantry".

While the above is intended for brigade or larger, I think it does give guidance for postioning our components in dress parade and reviews.

We also saee some guidance in reference to the position of NCO's in command of companies.  "A non-commissioned officer in command of his company retains his post on the right of the right guide when the battalion is in line;"  This is essentially what we do in dress parade. "...he has the post of his captain when the battalion is in column".  This is rather different then we have done.  Usually sergeants commanding companies have remained in their positions as company right guides.  At least in 1891, sergeants commanding were expected to have right guides, and, in column, to actually take the place of the captain.  While 1891 is not 1961, this makes perfect sense, and I suggest that we adopt this procedure.

Further directions for reviews of units of various sizes do not seem to have ACW applications.

Guard Mounting

The directions for Guard Mounting are a subset of the Ceremonies section.  I shall not go into detail here, other then to note that when dismounted cavalry and infantry are united in a guard detail, the cavalry retains its one rank formation.

Battalion Parade

The directions for battalion dress parade caontain only minor changes from the form we use. Captains are already in front of their companies when the adjutant gives them the direction to bring their companies to  parade rest.  They then face about to their companies, succesively from the right, and give the sequence of commands.  The adjutant, instead of commanding the music to "beat off", commands "sound off".  

When the 1st sergeants give their report, they face themselves to the front as they arrive in position, rather then waiting for the adjutant's command.  We can see that so many of our NCO's who have made the mistake a facing front are really 30 years ahead of their time!

At the conclusion of the parade, the captains returned swords, and came to the commanding officer, just as in the ACW parade.  However, the directions here are much clearer, and more military.  The captains were directed to face inward, march to the center, then face front to the battalion commander. Under the command of the senior captain, they march forward to the battalion commander in line.  As in the ACW parade, 1st sergeants take charge of their companies, and march them back to their company parade.  Something simlar in our parade would have a nice effect.

Regimental Parade

Note that the 1891 regiment consited of three battalions.  These directions for regimental dress parade may give us some guidance as to the form that should be used for an ACW brigade dress parade, which is not addressed in our period's regulations.

Basically, each battalion conducts itself much like a company in battalion dress parade.  A line of battalion commanders is formed six paces in front of the line of company commanders.  The regimental adjutant directs the battalion commanders to bring their battalions to parade rest.  

Instead of a 1st sergeants report, there is a batalion adjutants report, done in much the same manner.  In short, for our use, a brigacde dress parade would follow the form of a battalion dress parade, with the battalions being treated as companies.  US and CS Regulations hint at this, but never do spell it out.  Here it is quite clear.  Since the basic format of dress parade changed so little in 30 years, it is not too much of a leap of faith to think that brigade dress parades would have been held in this manner in our period.

Battalion Inspection

Battalions were inspected according the same basic form as given in the ACW regulations,  that is in a column of companies, opened ranks, with field and staff officers at the front of the column.  Note that this inspection was a detailed one.  Arms were inspected, as were knapsacks.  This is not really different from ACW practice, but is a little different then reeanctor practice.

There is also the first mention I have seen of the practice of NCO's saluting officers when in camp, rather then all soldiers.  The soldiers simply come to attention. This has always been our practice in camp, but once again, here it is clearly spelled out.

Company and Regimental Inspection

These inspections simply follow the form of the Battalion inspections.

Regimental or Battalion Muster

The form of the muster is essentially as given in Upton's, and is also essentially same as CS regulations prescribes for a muster by a visiting inspector. Company musters are to be done by the same form.  Upton was much more specific in setting this as the standard procedure for company roll calls.

Escort of the Color

This is little changed from General Hardee's manual.  I have never seen this formal escort done at a reeactment.

Escorts of Honor

Personages of high rank, military or civilian, received an escort, made up of the best troops available.  It is basically a battalion of picked men.  It forms in line in where the personage presents himself.  At his appearance, it renders the appropriate honors due his rank.

It then forms column, either by company, platoons, or fours, the personage, and his staff or retinue takes place at the rear of the column.  An officer is detailed to the personage, to convey communications to the commander of the escort.  This is almost verbatim from Upton's.

Funeral Escort

This form is spelled out in more detail then Upton's, but is essentially similar.  With the much smaller long arms used, the incredibly awkward Reverse Arms, has disappeared.  The pallbearers were to be of the same grade as the deceased, or the next grade above or below, similar to the ACW Regulations.  Oddly, it then states that the coffin of a commissioned officer would be borne by six sergeants, and that of an NCO or private would be borne by six privates, which is as Upton states.  Best of both worlds, I suppose.

Trumpet Calls, etc.

A quick glance at the trumpet calls shows them to be the same as the post war calls, as given by Upton, which are very, very different from the pre war calls.  It does, however, give a series of fife and drum signals which would be very familiar to me.  I tend to doubt that fie and drum corps were actually used for signals in this period, but the vestigal remains are there.


The appendix has the various sections taken from the Army Regulations of 1889, which were cited in the body of the manual.  


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