Manual of Arms for Infantry: A Re-examination Part I

By Geoff Walden & Dom Dal Bello

Chapter I - Hardee's Revisions for Confederates

by Geoff Walden

Most Civil War infantry reenactors use Hardee's Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics for drilling in the Schools of the Soldier and Company, and with good reasons. Period sources abound with mention of Hardee's "Tactics," and we have had several different reprints of this work available for use since the 1970s. (See note 1)

But are we correct in using Hardee's work, and if so, are we using the right version of Hardee's infantry drill? This series of articles will examine those questions in detail, from both the Confederate and Federal viewpoints. Chapter I will detail some changes Hardee made for Confederate editions of his manual, and Chapter II will present a broad look at Federal infantry drill manuals (not just Hardee's). In conclusion we will make some recommendations for changing the manual of arms used by reenactors.

Hardee and his "Tactics"

The early 1850s were a time for change in military circles around the world. Weapons technology had advanced by leaps and bounds; where the Mexican War had been fought mostly with flintlock smoothbore muskets, the Crimean War, and by the Model 1841 "Mississippi" rifle in the Mexican War, let the United States to adopt a 33-inch barrel rifle in 1855 (a 40-inch barrel rifle-musket was adopted concurrently).

To go along with this new rifle, Secretary of War Jefferson Davis wanted a revised system of infantry tactics. The current system had been written by Winfield Scott in the 1830s, based on French tactics dating ultimately from the 18th century, and had survived virtually un-changed. Scott's tactics emphasized masses of men concentrated on the march and on the battlefield, to reap the greatest benefit from their relatively inaccurate firepower. By the 1850s, these movements were slow and outdated. The manual of arms was particularly cumbersome: it took 12 separate steps to load the flintlock musket, which was normally carried in an awkward position, held by the butt, nearly vertical at the left side. (See note 2) A soldier wishing to move at any pace faster than common time (90 paces per minute) had a difficult time controlling his musket at this "Shouldered Arms" position. Partly because of this, common time was the norm in Scott's drill. However, masses of troops moving at common time found themselves at a severe disadvantage under rifle fire. Revisions were necessary to bring U.S. infantry tactics in line with the long-range capabilities of the rifle.

Davis knew of the extensive studies being conducted in Europe in both weapon and tactics, and he appointed a number of officer committees to observe these and recommend changes to the U.S. systems. To revise U.S. infantry tactics, Davis chose Bvt. Lt. Col. William Joseph Hardee, Second Dragoons. Davis chose well: Hardee had studied at Saumur, the French cavalry school (and the home of the modern French armored forces) in 1841, where he learned the value of skirmishers, rapidity of movement, and hit-and-run tactics by light forces gained from the French experiences in Algeria in the 1830s. To this, he added personal experience in such warfare on the Texas frontier in 1849-1851. He was widely read in tactics, and he was familiar with the possibilities of the shorter and longer range M1855 rifle. Finally, he had gained an excellent reputation during the Mexican War. (See note 3)

Hardee drew extensively on his knowledge of the French military to accomplish his task. He knew Davis wanted to thoroughly modernize the U.S. infantry into a faster, lighter force, capable of taking advantage of the new rifle. His task was made simpler by the 1845 publication of a French manual that did just that for the French infantry. (See note 4) Hardee's manual was finished in 1854; it was tested, approved, then published in June 1855.

This then, was Hardee's "Tactics:" a modernization of American infantry drill at the company and battalion level, aimed at incorporating several important features of light infantry tactics into the normal field functioning of infantry. The most important tactical improvements, which took into account the long-range capabilities of the rifle, were an increased tempo where quick time (110 steps per minute) was the norm, and double quick time (165 steps per minute) was common, along with simplified instructions to deploy a column into line at the double quick, without first halting. To be sure, many of these innovations could be found in other manuals of the 1850s, but Hardee's became the official manual for the U.S. Army. (See note 5)

Davis, Hardee, and others in official Army circles seemed to assume the M1855 rifle would become the dominant arm in the U.S. Service, and the manual of arms in Hardee's "Tactics" was naturally written for the 2-band rifle with sword bayonet. However, the rifle never was issued in the numbers envisioned. The militia, and indeed most of the army, were left with 42-inch barrel muskets or 40-inch barrel rifle-muskets, both having socket bayonets. Not only did Hardee's "Tactics" produce difficulty for militia units trying to learn the new evolutions, his manual of arms proved awkward, and even sometimes impractical for the longer muskets (e.g., in fixing bayonets and stacking arms). This manual of arms was essentially the same as the old Sergeants' Manual in Scott's, but without Scott's primary manual for 3-banders.

Although Hardee himself recommended that militia units not try to adopt his manual right away, evidence indicates that a number of progressive militia officers did just that in the late 1850s and early 1860s. As a development from this, and "improved" manual of arms, based on Hardee's "Tactics," but suited to the 3-bander musket and rifle-musket, began to emerge. (See note 6) And, coincidentally, so did the War Between the States.

Confederate Versions Of Hardee's "Tactics"

Hardee's manual was a natural for the infant Confederate forces. Although many Southern officers and men were militia veterans, and doubtless were quite familiar with Scott's older style drill, many others were just as familiar with Hardee's. Hardee was known throughout the army, and he was, after all, a Confederate officer. (See note 7) Quite a number of drill manuals were published in the new Confederacy, some using older militia style musket drill, but Hardee's "Tactics" quickly became the manual of choice. Editions were printed in Richmond, Nashville, New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis, Raleigh, Charleston, Jackson, Little Rock, and Houston. When most soldiers spoke of drill learned in their camp of instruction, Hardee's name eventually came out. (See note 8)

This profusion of Hardee's "Tactics" produced two problems for Hardee: he received no royalties from these "bootleg" editions; and most of these were simple reprints or abridgements of the 1855 version, and did not contain his own "improvements and changes ... recently made, adapting the manual to the use of the arms generally in the hands of the troops of the Confederate States." (See note 9) The first of these problems was never satisfactorily solved. Hardee and his Mobile publisher were thwarted in their attempts to secure a copyright until 1864, by which time the rush to put out "bootleg" editions was over. The second problem, however, provides the subject matter for the cord of this discussion: Hardee's "improvements and changes" to his manual of arms.

Immediately after resigning from the U.S. Army, Hardee went to work for the Georgia state forces, forming an infantry regiment in Savannah (the "First Regiment Georgia Regulars," commanded by Col. C.J. Williams, not to be confused with the "First Georgia Infantry Volunteers," commanded by A.R. Lawton and H.W. Mercer). (See note 10) After accepting a commission as a Confederate Colonel, Hardee was posted to Fort Morgan, in Mobile, Alabama.

While in Mobile in the spring of 1861, Hardee entered into partnership with Mobile publisher S.H. Goetzel & Co. to produce an edition of his "Tactics" that included a revised manual of arms for the 3-band weapons commonly found in the Confederate army. Goetzel advertised this edition as "Hardee's Correct, Complete, Perfect, and Revised and Improved Infantry and Rifle Tactics," (see figure 1). Note that the adjective "Light" has been removed from "Infantry," making this manual applicable to all infantry, no matter how armed or organized. Hardee himself was quoted as calling this edition the "only COMPLETE, CORRECT and REVISED EDITION" (See note 11).

Hardee meant this manual to replace his 1855 edition, for use throughout the Confederate army by troops armed with 3-band muskets and rifle-muskets. The changes actually were slight. The same basic shoulder movements were retained, as well as the "light infantry" concepts of skirmishers, double quick time, etc. However, those parts of his 1855 manual of arms that had been written specifically for the 2-bander were adjusted to suit the 3-bander.

The main differences lie in the position of the musket during loading, fixing and unfixing the bayonet, and stacking arms. Each of these movements was revised to take into account the greater length of the musket and rifle-musket over the rifle, and the socket bayonet in lieu of the rifle's sword bayonet. The following paragraphs emphasize the differences from the standard 1855 edition (page and paragraph sources are keyed to Hardee's Rifle and Infantry Tactics, S.H. Goetzel & Co., Mobile, various editions, 1861-1863; emphasis has been added).

1. Loading
The command remains "Load in Nine Times, LOAD."
First Motion (from Shoulder Arms) - With the right hand bring the musket erect before the center of the body, the rammer to the front; at the same time grasp the musket with the left hand half-way between the rear sight and the lower band, the thumb extended along the barrel and against the body, the hand as high as the elbow (para. 143, page 33 - this is the same as the first motion for Present Arms).

Second Motion - Carry the musket to the left side with the left hand, turning it so the barrel is to the front. Set the butt on the ground beside the left foot, and incline the musket to the right and front, so that it is resting along the left thigh with the muzzle six inches in front of the center of the body. At the end of this motion, the right hand grasps the musket just below the upper band, and the left hand is extended to grasp the musket about the middle band.

Third Motion - Hold the musket with the left hand at the muzzle, and carry the right hand to the cartridge box (para. 156, page 3.)

The remaining commands and motions are identical to those in the standard 1855 Hardee's manual and reprints, with the exception of moving to the position of Prime, which is necessarily slightly different due to the musket initially being positioned at the left side.

Editor's Note: We will continue with Chapter II of Confederate Drill in our next issue.
Notes Note 1: Reprints of the folling Hardee's editions have been available to reenactors:
2 Vols., Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo & Co., 1855
2 Vols., Philadelphia: Lippincott & Co., 1861
1 Vol., New York: George F. Watson, 1861
1 Vol., New York: J.O. Kane, 1862
2 Vols. in 1, Memphis: Hutton & Freligh, 1861
2 Vols. in 1, Raleigh: Spelman, 1862 (limited edition reprint, Boone, NC, 1992).

Note 2: Major-General [Winfield] Scott, Infantry Tactics. Various editions, 1834-1861, paras. 150-155 (pp. 37-39); paras. 191-210 (pp. 46-52). Even in the 1861 edition, the 12 steps for loading the flintlock remained.

Note 3: Nathaniel Cheairs Hughes, Jr. General William J. Hardee, Old Reliable. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965, p. 43.

Note 4: Ministre Secretaire d'Etat de la Guerre, Ordonnance du Roi sur l'Exercise et les Manoeuvres des Battaillons de Chasseurs a Pied. 3 vols., Paris, 1845.

Note 5: Hughes, Hardee, pp. 46-47. See also discussion in Chapter 4 (pp. 48-58) in Grady McWhiney and Perry Jamieson's Attack and Die, University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1982. There is some doubt as to the exact nature of Hardee's own involvement in the production of his manual. Some have stated that he did no more than to put his name on the cover, and that the French manual was actually translated by Stephen Vincent Benet. See Donald E. Graves, "Dry Books of Tactics:' US Infantry Manuals of the War of 1812 and After," Part II, Military Collector and Historian 38(4), Winter 1986, pp. 176, 177 (n. 111).

Note 6: See, for instance: General Regulations for the Military Forces of the State of New York. New York, 1858.
E.E. Ellsworth, A Manual of Arms for Light Infantry, Adapted to the Rifled Musket, ... Arranged for the U.S. Zouave Cadets. Chicago: P.T. Sherlock, 1860.
7th Regt. New York Infantry, The Manual of Arms, Adapted to the Rifled Musket, Model 1855. NY: Chatterton & Parker, 1860.
A Manual of the Piece, Adapted to the Rifle-Musket, the Rifle, and Other Infantry Arms, Prescribed for the Kentucky State Guard. Louisville: J.W. Tompkins & Co., 1861.
Miner Knowlton, Instructions and Regulations for the Militia and Volunteers of the United States. Philadelphia: Desilver, 1861.

Note 7: Hughes, Hardee, pp. 50, 90-70. Hardee's status as a Confederate officer would naturally make his manual more "politically correct" than those written by Old Army or militia officers who did not join the Southern forces.

Note 8: Library of Congress On-line Card Catalog; USAMHI On-Line Library Catalog System; Library of Virginia On-line Catalog; OCLC search; Noxon Toomey, The History of the Infantry Drill Regulations of the United States Army, St. Louis, 1917. Quotes on the use of Hardee's among Confederates can be found in: Hughes, Hardee, p. 138 (AoT, Dec. 1862);
Austin Dobbins, Grandfather's Journal. Dayton: Morningside Press, 1988, entry for June 13, 1861 (16th Miss. Inf.);
Mary Lasswell, ed., Rags and Hope. NY: Coward-McCann, 1961, p. 49 (4th Texas Inf.); Flavel C. Barber (Robert H. Ferrell, ed.), Holding the Line. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1994, pp. 55, 175 (3rd Tenn. Inf., AoT, 1862-1864);
Digby G. Seymour, Divided Loyalties. Knoxville: East Tennessee Historical Society, 1982 (2nd Ed.), p. 227 (reference to copy of Hardee's owned by Col. Moses White of the 37th Tenn. Inf.).

In addition, an index search of Confederate Veteran, Southern Historical Society Papers, and Southern Bivouac revealed over 16 separate entries for Hardee's Tactics, including use by the following units: 50th Tenn. Inf., 35th Miss. Inf., 1862, 5th Tenn. Inf., 1863, 9th Ky. Inf., 1861, 24th or 34th N. Car. Inf., 1863, Univ. of VA Cadets, 1860-61, and a Virginia artillery unit, 1862.

Note 9: William J. Hardee, "Memorial to the Congress of the Confederate States," Mobile, December 14, 1863 (Library of Congress Manuscript Division, Z645.A5-1863).

Note 10: W.H. Andrews, Footprints of a Regiment. Marietta, GA: Longstreet Press, 1992, p. 12; Stewart Sifakis, Compendium of the Confederate Armies: South Carolina and Georgia. New York: Facts on File, 1996, pp. 173-176.

Note 11: Hardee, "Memorial" (this copyright notice was also published in the Goetzel versions, from the 3rd Edition on). See, for example, ads in various Southern newspapers, such as that in The Southern Illustrated News, Vol. 1, No. 30 (April 4, 1863), p. 8 (commonly available as a reprint). It must be noted that although the text was revised, the corresponding plates did not receive as much attention. The weapon is still shown as a 2-band rifle, with a socket bayonet substituted for the sword bayonet, and the positions of the piece were not changed significantly from the 1855 plates.

Behind the byline: Geoff Walden, a member of the 4th Kentucky Infantry, CSA, has been shouldering a musket and sword since 1973. He has drilled infantry units from squad to multi-battalion level.