18th Century Re-Enactment in the UK
 

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The Manual Exercise, as ordered by His Majesty in the year 1764

Together with Plans and Explanations of the Method generally practised at Reviews and Field-days, &c.

GR3 Cypher

Introduction

WHEN the use of fire arms began to be established, the necessity of a regular uniformity, in the using of these arms, became apparent: It was soon discovered that those troops which could make the briskest fire, and sustain the longest, had a great superiority over others less expert: And, likewise, that the efficacy and power of fire, did not consist in random and scattering shot made without order, but in the fire of a body of men at once, and that properly timed and directed.”

“The manual exercise places a man in the most beautiful attitudes, gives him an air of ferocity, and nerves his arm with vigour: It quickens his apprehensions, makes his limbs active and agile, and teaches him duty and obedience; besides, how pleasing does even the review of a single battalion afford an intelligent officer, to see men perform their evolutions, and other parts of exercise with alertness, ease, and exactness.”

Simes, T (1779). The Military Instructor for the Non-Commissioned Officers and Private Men of the Infantry

Thomas Simes, in his many military essays in the late 18th Century, included the learning of the Manual Exercise as a fundamental part of becoming a gentleman soldier, saying about the drill in his Government and Conduct of a Battalion Simes, T (1777). A Military Course for the Government and Conduct of a Battalion p.174 that it's “the first thing necessary to be taught them to give them the air and dress of a soldier, in order to drive out the clown.”

In attempting to recreate the motions and movements of 18th Century drill as re-enactors and historical enthusiasts, the Manual Exercise can seem somewhat incomplete, missing the various movements described in letters and orders, and it's lightweight text meant for reviews and field days have been added to and elaborated on by myriad period authors, ex-officers and American rebels hoping to understand the manoeuver of the army.

This transcript aims to replicate the full text of the Manual Exercise as it was published in Philadelphia 1776 by Humphreys, Bell and Aitkin. I have moved the List of Words of Command from the back page to the front of this transcript to act as a convenient menu for the 35 commands of the exercise. Also included are videos and other illustrations to accompany the text where relevant, to see the current interpretation of the drill.

A list of Words of Command as they follow in Order in the Manual Exercise.

Manual Exercise, as ordered by His MAJESTY, in the year 1764

A demonstration of the Manual Exercise, by Revolutionary Gazette. To be updated shortly with an original video with what we have learned.

Position of a Solider under Arms.

To stand straight and firm upon his legs; Grenadier of the 17th Regiment.The uniform of the several regiments of foot in His majestys [sic] service, 1771, the American Revolution Institute. Online. head turned to the right; heels close; toes a little turned out; the belly drawn in a little, but without constraint; the breast a little projected; shoulders square to the front, and kept back; the right hand hanging straight down the side, with the palm close to the thigh; the left elbow not to be turned out from the body; the firelock to be carried on the left shoulder, as low down as can be admitted without constraint; the three last fingers under the butt; the fore finger and thumb before the swell; the flat of the butt to be supported against the hip-bone, and to be pressed so that the firelock may be felt against the left side, and that it may stand before the hollow of the shoulder, not leaning towards the head nor from it; the barrel almost perpendicular.

Words of CommandNo. of MotionsExplanations
Take Care!At this word every man must be silent, stand firm, and not move hand nor foot, but attend carefully to the words of command.
To be very exact in counting a second of time, or One, Two, between each motion.
iPoise your Firelocks!2. Seize the firelock with your right hand, and turn the lock outwards, keeping the firelock perpendicular.
2. Bring up the firelock with a quick motion from the shoulder and seize it with the left hand just above the lock, so that the little finger may rest upon the spring, and the thumb lie upon the stock: the firelock must not be held too far from the body, and the left hand must be of an equal height with the eyes.
iiCock your Firelocks!2. Turn the barrel opposite to your face, and place your thumb upon the cock, raising the elbow square at this motion.
2. Cock your firelock, by drawing your elbow down, placing your thumb upon the breech pin, and the fingers under the guard.
iiiPresent!Step back about six inches on the rear with the right foot, bringing the left toe to the front; at the same time the butt end of the firelock must be brought to an equal height with your shoulder, placing the left hand on the swell, and the forefinger of the right hand before the tricker, sinking the muzzle a little.
ivFire!Pull the tricker briskly, and immediately after bringing up the right foot, come to the priming position, with the lock opposite to the right breast, the muzzle at the height of the hat keeping it firm and steady, and at the same time seize the cock with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand, the back of the hand turned up.

The placement of the right foot is quite ambiguous in the 1764 Manual Exercise. In previous regulations (1743) and later (1792), it's explicit that the right heel is positioned in the hollow of the left foot. But in the 1757 regulation that preceded the 1764 exercise, the right foot sits behind the left. This is further muddied by various military essayists of the time that use both positions in their versions of the exercise, though it should be noted that in Simes’ 1779 Military Instructor he explains that one should bring "the right foot to the inside of the left." Simes often had the exercise reprinted verbatim, so it's interesting that he should add this.
vHalf Cock your Firelocks!Half bend the cock briskly with a draw back of the right elbow, bringing it close to the butt of the firelock.
viHandle your Cartridge!Bring your right hand with a short round to your pouch, slapping it hard, seize the cartridge, and bring it with a quick motion to your mouth, bite the top well off, and bring the hand as low as the chin, with the elbow down.
viiPrime!Shake the powder into the pan, placing the three last fingers behind the hammer, with the elbow up.
viiiShut your Pans!2. Shut your pan briskly, drawing your right arm at this motion toward your body, holding the cartridge fast in your hand, as int he former position.
2. Turn the piece nimbly round to the loading position, with the lock to the front, and the muzzle the height of the chin, bringing the right hand behind the muzzle; both feet kept fast in this motion.
ixCharge with Cartridge!2. Turn your hand and put the cartridge into the muzzle, shaking the powder into the barrel.
2. Place your hand, closed, with a quick and strong motion, upon the rammer.
xDraw your Rammers!2. Draw the rammer with a quick motion half out seizing it at the muzzle back-handed.
2. Draw it quite out, turn it, and enter it into the muzzle.
xiRam down your CartridgeRam the cartridge well down the barrel, instantly recovering, and seizing the rammer back-handed at the centre, turning it, and enter it as far as the lower pipe, placing at the same time the edge of the hand on the butt end of the rammer, with fingers extended.
xiiReturn your RammersReturn the rammer, bringing up the piece with the left hand to the shoulder, seizing it with the right hand under the cock, keeping the left hand fast at the swell, turning the body square to the front.
xiiiShoulder your Firelocks!2. Quit the left hand and place it strong upon the butt.
2. Quit the right hand and throw it down to the right side.
xivRest your Firelocks!3. Seize the firelock with the right hand, turning the lock outwards.
2. Raise the firelock from your shoulder and place your left hand with a quick motion above the lock, holding the piece right up and down in both hands before you, and your left hand even with your eyes.
3. Step briskly back with your right foot, placing it a hand's breadth distant from your left heel, at the same time bring down the firelock as quick as possible to the rest, sinking it as far down before your left knee, as your right hand will permit without constraint; your left hand at the feather spring, and your right, with fingers extended held under the guard, taking care to draw in the muzzle well towards your body, and to dress in a line with the butt end.
xvOrder your Firelocks!4. Place your firelock nimbly with your left hand against your right shoulder.
2. Quit the firelock with the right hand and sinking it at the same time with your left, seize it at the muzzle, which must be of an equal height with your chin, and hold it close against your right Side.
3. Lift up your right foot and place it by your left; at the same time throw back your left hand by your left side, and with your right, bring down the butt end strong upon the ground, placing it even with the toe of your right foot; the thumb of your right Hand lying along the barrel, and the muzzle kept at a little distance from your body

The typesetter of the Philadelphia manual incorrectly put “4 motions” here — there's only 3 motions described in the explanations. This is correctly set at “3 motions” in the contemporary Boston (1774) and New York (1780) Editions, and in the “Words of Command” summary.
xviGround your Firelocks!4. Face to the right upon your heels, and at the same time turn the firelock so that the lock may point to the rear, and the flat of the butt end against the inside of your foot, at the same time slipping the right foot behind the butt of the firelock, the right toe pointing to the Right, and the left to the Front.
2. Step directly forward with your left foot about as far as the swell of the firelock, and lay it upon the ground, your left Hand hanging down by your left foot, and your right kept fast with the butt end against it.
3. Raise yourself up again nimbly, bringing back your left foot to its former position, keeping your body faced to the right.
4. Face again to the Left upon your heels, and come to your proper front, letting your hands hang down without motion.
xviiTake up your Firelocks!4. Face to the right upon both Heels.
2. Sink your body down and come to the position described in the second motion of grounding (xvi).
3. Raise yourself and firelock, bringing it close to your right side.
4. Come to your proper front, seizing the firelock at the muzzle, as in explanation fifteen (xv).
xviiiRest your Firelocks!3 Slip your right hand down the barrel as far as the swell.
2. Raise the firelock high up in a perpendicular line from the ground with your right hand and seize it with the left above the spring, the cock the height of the waist-belt.
3. Step back with your right foot, placing it behind your left heel, and come to the rest.
xixShoulder your Firelocks!2. Lift up your right foot and place it by your left; bring the firelock at the same time to your left shoulder, and seize the butt end with the left hand, keeping it in the same position as above described.
2. Throw your right hand briskly back.
xxSecure your Firelocks!3. Bring the right hand briskly up, and place it under the cock, keeping the firelock steady in the same position.
2. Quit the butt with the left hand, and seize the firelock with it at the swell, bringing the elbow close down under the lock: the right hand kept fast in this motion, and the piece still upright.
3. Quit the right hand and bring it down your right side, bringing the firelock nimbly down to the secure; the left hand in a line with the waist-belt.
xxiShoulder your Firelocks!3. Bring the firelock up to a perpendicular line, seizing it with the right hand under the cock.
2. Quit the left hand and place it strong upon the butt.
3. Quit the right hand and place it smartly down the right side.
xxiiFix your Bayonets!3 and 2. Motions as in the two first of the secure. (xx)
3. Quit the right hand and bring the firelock smartly down to the left side with the left hand, as far as it will admit without constraint, seizing the bayonet at the same time with the right hand, and fixing it, placing that hand just below the brass, with the piece kept close to the hollow of the shoulder.
xxiiiShoulder your Firelocks!3. Quit the right hand, and bring up the Firelock with the Left, seize it again under the Cock with your Right, as in the second motion of the Secure.
2. Quit the left hand and place it strong upon the butt.
3. Quit the right hand and bring it down the right side.
xxivPresent your Arms!3As explained in three motions of the fourteenth word of command (xiv).
xxvTo the right Face!3. Bring up the firelock, with a quick motion high before you, till your left Hand comes even with your Eyes, with the fingers of that hand extended along the stock, just above the Feather Spring. The right foot to be brought close up to the left Heel in this motion.
2. Face to the right taking care in facing to hold the firelock right up and down, and steady in your Hands.
3. Step back with your right Foot and come down to your Present.
xxviTo the right Face3As in the forgoing explanation. (xxv)
xxviiTo the right about Face!3As in the foregoing Explanation, coming to the right about instead of to the Right.
xviiiTo the left Face!3. Bring the right foot briskly to the hollow of your left, with the Firelock in the same position as in the first motion of facing to the right.
2. Face to the left.
3. Come down to your Present.
xxixTo the left Face!3As before. (xviii)
xxxTo the left about Face!3As before, coming to the left about, instead of the left.
xxxiShoulder your Firelocks!2 Lift up your right foot and place it by your left; bring the firelock at the same time to your left shoulder, and seize the butt end with the left hand, keeping it in the same position as above described.
2. Throw your right hand briskly back.
xxxiiCharge your Bayonets!2. Poise your firelocks as in explanation i. 2. Bring the Swell of the Firelock down strong upon the palm of the hand, turning upon both heels to the right, the right Hand grasping the Piece at the Small behind the Lock, and as high as the waist-belt: the firelock upon a level with the Barrel upwards.
xxxiiShoulder your Firelocks!2. Bring up the Firelock to the Shoulder, place the left Hand upon the Butt, bringing the feet square to the Front.
2. Quit the right hand and throw it down the right side.
xxxivAdvance your Arms!4 and 2 Poise your firelocks as in explanation i.
3. Bring the Firelock down the right Side with the right Hand, as low as it will admit without Constraint, flipping up the left Hand at the same Time to the Swell, the Guard between the Thumb and fore Finger of the right Hand, the three last fingers under the cock, with the barrel to the rear.
4. Quit the left Hand.
xxxvShoulder your Firelocks!4. Bring up the left Hand and seize it at the Swell.
2. Come smartly up to a Poise.
3 and 4. Shoulder.

Explanation of Priming and Loading

Words of CommandNo. of MotionsExplanations
Prime and Load!5. COME smartly to the Recover by springing the firelock straight up with the left Hand, turning the barrel inwards to proper height of the recover; at the same time that the left hand springs the firelock, the right hand is raised briskly from the right Side, and seizes the Firelock across the breast; as it rises below the cock, the left hand comes with a quick motion from the Butt, and seizes the Firelock strong above the Lock, the little Finger of the left Hand at the Spring of the Lock, the left Hand at an equal Height with the Eyes, the Butt close to the left breast, but not pressed, the Firelock perpendicular, opposite the left Side of the Face.
2. Bring the Firelock down with a brisk motion to the priming Position, the left Hand holding the Firelock as in priming, the Thumb of the right Hand placed against the Face of the steel, the fingers clenched, and the elbow a little turned out, that the Wrist may be clear of the Cock.
3. Open the Pan by throwing up the Steel with a strong motion of the right Arm, turning the Elbow in, and keeping the Firelock steady in the left Hand.
4. Handle the Cartridge!
5. Prime!
6. Shut Pans!
7. Cast about!
8 and 9. Load!
10 and 11. Draw Rammers!
12. Ram down the Cartridge!
13. Return the Rammers!
14 and 15. Shoulder.

Nb. The Motion of Recover and coming down to the priming position, and opening Pans, to be done in the usual Time.

The Motions of handling cartridge, to shutting the pans, to be done as quick as possible; when the Pans are shut, a small Pause is to be made, and cast about together; then the loading motions are to be done as quick as possible; but before the Rammer is returned, another small pause is to be made, counting one, two, between each Motion, until the Firelock is shouldered.

Position of each Rank in the Firings

Front Rank
Words of CommandNo. of MotionsExplanations
Make Ready!SPRING the firelock briskly to the recover, keeping the left foot fast in this motion; as soon as the Firelock is at the recover, without any stop sink the Body briskly without stooping forward, with a quick Motion down upon the right Knee, the Butt-end of the Firelock at the same Time falls upon the Ground; the front Part of the Butt to be in a Line with the Heel of the left foot; as soon as the butt comes to the ground, the firelock is to be cocked, immediately seizing the cock and steel in the right Hand, the Firelock to be held firm in the left hand, about the middle of that part of the firelock between the Lock and the Swell of the Stock; the Point of the left Thumb to be close to the Swell pointing upwards.
As the Body is sinking, the right Knee is to be thrown so far back as the left leg may be right up and down, the right Foot to be thrown a little to the Right, the body to be kept straight, the head up, looking to the right along the rank, the same as if shouldered; the firelock to be upright, and the Butt about four Inches to the Right of the Inside of the left Foot.
Present!Bring the firelock briskly down to the present, by extending the left Arm to the full Length, with a strong Motion; at the same Time spring up the butt by the Cock with the right Hand, and raise up the Butt so high upon the right Shoulder, that you may not be obliged to stoop too much with the Head, the right Cheek to be close to the Butt, and the left Eye shut, and look along the barrel with the right Eye from the Breech Pin to the Muzzle; keep the left Elbow down in an easy Position, and stand as steady as possible, the Thumb of the right Hand to remain in the Position as described in the third explanation of the Manual.
Fire!Pull the tricker as directed in the Manual, and as soon as the piece is fired, give yourself a strong spring upon your left Leg, raising your Body briskly and straight up, keeping your left Foot fast, and bringing the right heel close to the left; at the same time the firelock is to be brought up to the priming Position, and half cocked immediately; a short Pause is to be made, then handle Cartridges, and go on with the loading motions described in the explanation of Prime and Load.
Centre Rank
Words of CommandNo. of MotionsExplanations
Make Ready!Spring the firelock briskly to the recover; as soon as the left Hand seizes the Firelock above the Lock, the right Elbow is to be nimbly raised a little, placing the Thumb of that Hand upon the Cock, the Fingers open by the Plate of the Lock, and as quick as possible force the Piece to the Cock, by dropping the elbow, and forcing down the cock with the thumb stepping at the same time a moderate pace, or two feet, to the Right, keeping the left Foot fast; as the firelock is cocked, the Thumb is to fall below the cock, the right hand seizing the Firelock close under the Cock firmly; the Fore-finger not to be before the Tricker; The Piece to be held in this position perpendicular, opposite the left side of the face, the Butt close to the left breast, but not pressed, the body to be straight, and as full to the front as possible; the head kept up, looking to the Right of the Rank, that the Body and Firelock may not stoop forward, nor lean much out of the Rank.
Present!Spring the Firelock from the Body to Arms Length with a quick Motion, pressing down the Muzzle with the left hand, and spring up the butt with the right hand, as in the foregoing Explanation of the front Rank.
Fire!As in explanation fourth in the manual, with this difference, that the left Foot is to be brought up to the right, at the same Time that the Firelock is brought down to the priming Position.
The loading Motions as in the Explanations of Priming and loading, and at the last motion of shouldering, to spring to the Left again and cover the File-leaders.
Rear Rank
Words of CommandNo. of MotionsExplanations
Make Ready!Recover the Firelock and cock as before directed for the centre rank. As the firelock is recovered and cocked, step briskly straight to the Right with the right Foot a full Pace, bringing the left heel about six inches before the right foot, the body straight and as square to the Front as possible.
Present!As in Explanation of the Centre Rank.
Fire!As in explanation of the centre rank, and as the firelock is coming down to the priming Position, the left Foot is to be brought back to the right, and at the last motion of shouldering, to spring to the left again, and cover the file-leader.

By Order of His Majesty, Aug. 1764. EDQ. Harvey, Adj. Gen.

The following is the method generally practised by the regiments at the Reviews and Field Days, in performing the Firings, Evolutions, &c.

A Regiment to be drawn up. As in Figure st. Plate st. viz.

Manual Exercise Plate 1, figure 1, figure 2 and figure 3.
Plate 1: includes Figures 1 (Left), 2 (Middle) and 3 (Right). Photograph © Heritage Auctions. View a larger version of this photograph or View a very large facsimile, from the Boston 1774 Edition.

In three ranks, at six paces, or twelve feet distance from one another.

The Files at four Inches Distance.

An interval of one pace or three feet between each company.

The officers four paces distant from the front of their respective Companies, the Captain on the Right, the Ensign in the Centre, the Lieutenant on the Left.

The Serjeants in the Rear of their respective Companies, at four Paces Distance.

The Drummers, equally divided on the Right and Left of the Battalion, dressing with the Front Rank.

The Grenadier Company at ten Paces distance from the Right of the Battalion. Despite this transcribed version being published in 1774, it has not been updated for the augmentation of a Light Infantry company, which were added in 1771.

The Grenadier Drummers and Fifers on the right of that Company.

The Pioneers in one rank on the right of the Grenadiers, and at ten Paces Distance.

The Colonel six Paces in the Front of the Colours.

The Lieutenant-Colonel on the left of the Colonel, and two Paces before the Officers.

The Major on the Right of the Whole.

The Adjutant on the left.

The Chaplain, Quarter-master, Surgeon and Mate, on the right between the Grenadiers and the Battalion, and in a line with the Officers.

Each Company forms a Sub-Division.

Two Companies form a Grand-Division.

The six Files of reserve to be taken from the several companies as follows:

Three men from each of the two Centre companies, and two men from each of the other companies.

If the Files are not equal in the several Companies, they must be leveled at the Regimental Parade.

The Reviewing General to be received with the compliment due to his Rank, according to the King's regulation of Honours.

Before the General Officer appears (if above the Rank of a Major-General) the Bayonets to be fixed.

The General Officer being within twenty Yards of the Right of the Battalion, the Major gives the Word:

Words of CommandExplanations
Present your Arms!

And as soon as he has saluted, he posts himself in the Front, and gives the Words of Command for the usual facings. After the General has taken Post in the Front, the Major orders, Shoulder your Firelocks!
Unfix your Bayonets
Shoulder your Firelocks!

The regiment is then to march past the General by grand divisions. As in Plate st. Fig. 2d.
Rear Ranks close to the Front!The Officers recover their arms, and face to the divisions to which they belong, according to the following Order of march.
The Serjeants advance their Halberds.
March!The Rear ranks step off together with their left feet; the Centre marching five Paces, and the Rear ten. The Officers move their Posts and halt, facing outwards from the Centre.
To the Front Face!The Officers face to the Front, and order their Arms.
By Grand Divisions to the Right Wheel!The Divisions turn their Heads to the Left.
March!The Grenadiers and the four Grand Divisions wheel.
Halt!The Divisions turn their Heads to the Right, the Officers order their Arms.
March!The Whole step off together.

The Regiment Marches in the following Order:

The Major.

The Pioneers in three Ranks with a Non-commissioned Officer in Front.

Chaplain, Quarter-Master, Surgeon and Mate, in one Rank

The Colonel advanced four Paces before the first rank of Officers.

The Captains on the right of the Colours, in one rank in Front of the first Grand Division

The Lieutenants on the right of the Colours, in Front of the second Grand Division.

The Ensigns in Front of the third Grand Division.

The Lieutenants on the left of the Colours, in Front of the fourth Grand Division: And,

The Captains on the left of the Colours in the rear of it.

The Lieutenant-Colonel in the rear of the Captains.

The Adjutant in the rear of the Whole.

The Drummers equally divided with the four Divisions, and to march in the rear of each Division.

The Serjeants on the right and left of the several Ranks with Halberds advanced.

The Ranks march in close Order until they have made the second Wheel, they are then to take their distance at six Paces.

After they have marched past the General, the Ranks are to close before they wheel, and to continue in close Order until the Battalion is formed.

On which the Major orders,

Words of CommandExplanations
Rear Ranks take your Distance!The Rear Ranks face to the Right about; the Officers recover their Arms and face to their respective Companies.
March!The Rear Rank step off together with their left feet; the Centre Rank marching five, and the Rear Rank ten paces, halting with their Heels closed.
The Officers take Post as at first, and halt, facing outward from the Centre.
To the Front Face!The Rear Ranks come to the Right about; the Officers face to the Front, and order their Arms, and the Serjeants their Halberds.

N. B. The Regiments sometimes march past the reviewing Officer in Companies by Fours — This is so generally known and practised, that particular Directions are here unnecessary.

When the Battalion is again formed, the Major is to direct the general Salute as follows:

Fix your Bayonets!
Shoulder your Firelocks!
Present your Arms!


As soon as the men come to the reft, the Drummers beat a march.

The Major then raising his sword, and dropping the point gives the Signal to all the Officers to Salute together, and the Ensigns to drop their Colours.

Shoulder your Firelocks!
Unfix your Bayonets!
Shoulder your Firelocks!


N. B. The Battalion is formed for Exercise, as in Plate st., Fig. 3d. in the following manner.
Orderly Drummer beats a Ruffle and Caution.
Flam!Officers and Serjeants recover their arms at three motions.
Flam!Officers face to the Right-about; Serjeants face to the Right and Left from the Centre.
Drummers face outwards.
Flam and Troop!Officers march through the intervals on the Right of their respective Companies nine Paces in the Rear. The Colonel advances to the General.

The Serjeants march at the same Time with the Officers, those on the Flanks of the Battalion directly forward, followed by those in the Rear, until they have passed the line where the General stands; they then face to the right and left inwards, and marching towards each other, divide the length of the Front equally between them. The youngest Serjeant of Grenadiers having faced to the right, marches to the Front, and dressing in a line with the other Serjeants, keeps opposite the Centre of his own Company; the other two Serjeants of Grenadiers post themselves, one on the Right of the Front, and the other on the Right of the Rear rank of their own Company.

The Drummers march straight out, when they have passed the line where the Major stands, they face inwards, and take post behind him, keeping faced to the Centre until the next Flam.
Flam!The Officers come to the right-about; Serjeants and Drummers face and front the Battalion.
Flam!The Officers and Serjeants order their arms at two motions.

The regiment is then to go through the Manual and Platoon Exercises, as before directed and explained: After which the Officers, and Non-commissioned Officers return to their Posts, by Signals from the orderly Drum; and the Battalion is then to prepare for the Firings in the following manner:

Words of CommandExplanations
Grenadiers cover the Flanks of the Battalion!The Grenadiers and Pioneers face to the Left.
March!The Grenadiers and Pioneers march; the Pioneers follow the rear Rank of the Grenadiers until they come to the rear of the Colours, when they stand fast.

The left platoon of Grenadiers marches to the left of the Battalion; the Officers between the Rank of Officers and front Rank; the front Rank between the front and centre Rank of the Battalion; the centre Rank between the Centre and Rear; and the rear rank between the rear rank and Serieants.

The right Platoon of Grenadiers marches to within eight Paces of the right of the Battalion; as soon as they come to their Ground; the Officers commanding the Platoons order them to Halt!

And the Major gives the Word.
To the Front Face!The Platoons of Grenadiers face to the Front.

The Pioneers to be four Paces in the rear of the reserve.
Prime and Load!As described in the explanation above.
Rear Ranks close to the Front!Officers and Serjeants advance their Arms, and the Officers face to the Right-about.
March!The Rear Ranks close to the Front; the Officers at the same time march into the Intervals, those commanding Companies, coming to the right-about, and dressing in the front rank, and the Supernumeraries going through the intervals of their respective companies to the rear. The Serjeants at the same Time fall into the intervals, to complete the Files of Officers.

The Grenadier Officers, with advanced Arms, go to the right-about at the same time with the Officers of the battalion.

Explanations

N. B. The Battalion is drawn up for Firings, and the Officers posted, as in Plate 2d, Fig. st.

Manual Exercise Plate 2, figures 4, through 10
Plate 2: includes Figures 4 through 10. From the 1774 Boston, New England Edition. Printed by T. and J. FLEET, at the Heart and Crown in Cornhill. View a larger version of plate.

The Officers which are in the rear to be divided, and nearest the Companies they belong to.

When the Companies are sub-divided, and the Battalion formed into sixteen Platoons, the Subalterns in the rear are to take the Command of a Platoon of their respective Companies. As Captains should have the Command of Grand Divisions, the companies are therefore placed in this manner, that the Officers may remain with their own companies.

If any of the captains are absent (who according to the annexed plan are appointed to the grand Divisions) the next oldest Officers are to command, and the Companies to be changed accordingly.

The Colonel is advanced before the Reserve.

The Lieutenant-Colonel in the front rank of the Reserve. The Reserve for the Colours to be six Files.

The Ensigns with the Colours in the Centre Rank, two Serjeants in their Front, and two in their Rear.

As many Serjeants as necessary are to be in the Rear Ranks to complete the Files of Officers.

The Drummers divided into four Divisions, and to take post four paces in the rear of the centre of each grand division; the two which are orderly remain with the commanding Officer.

When the Colonel is not present the Lieutenant-Colonel takes Post in the Front of the Battalion, the oldest Captain in the Front Rank of the Reserve, and the next senior Captain in the Rear of the Reserve.

N. B. When the Ranks are closed, the Major is to inform the commanding Officer that the Battalion is ready to go through the Firings; and then he goes to his post in the Rear of Right-Hand Grand Division.

The Pioneers close at the same Time with the rear ranks, keeping the Distance of four Paces from the Rear.

The Adjutant takes his Post in the rear of the Left.

Firings by Subdivisions, Standing
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Preparative.The Officers commanding the st and 8th Sub-Divisions step forward one Pace.

The Officer of the first Sub-Division gives the Word:
Subdivision!
Make Ready!
Present!
Fire!
When the Officer commanding the 8th Sub-Division sees the first Sub-Division make ready, he immediately gives the Word:
Subdivision!When the first Sub-Division presents, the eighth makes ready; when the first fires, the eighth presents, and fires; and so on by every Officer commanding the Sub-Divisions, until the Battalion has fired two rounds; always preserving proper Intervals of time between each word of command later than the Officer who immediately fires before him.

N. B. The Grenadiers make the 9th and 0th fire.

On the left platoon of Grenadiers firing the second round, the first Part of the English General beats, and the firing ceases.

N. B. The first Part of the General is the signal for all firings to cease.
By Grand-Divisions, Standing
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Preparative.The Officers commanding the st and 4th Grand-Divisions step forward one Pace; the Officer of the first gives the Word:
Grand-Division, &c.On the Fire of the st, the Officer of the 4th Gives the Word.

So on by every Officer until the two rounds are fired.

N. B. The Officers commanding the two platoons of Grenadiers are to give the caution. Platoon! When the 4th Grand-Division makes ready, the second fire. And when the 4th Grand-Division fires, the two Platoons of Grenadiers receive the word of command from their own Officers.
Make Ready!The commanding Officer then gives the Words:

Grenadiers!
Present!—
Fire!
Firings to the Rear By Sub-Divisions
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Battalion!
To the Right about Face!
The Battalion Faces.

Supernumerary Officers, Serjeants and Pioneers, go through the intervals nearest them; the Drummers round the flanks of the Grand-Divisions.

They post themselves in the rear of what was the front rank, and the Officers commanding divisions, change places with the Serjeants which covered their Files.

The 8th Sub-Division is the st to fire; the st now becomes the 8th, and so on.

The Battalion fires two rounds as before.
By Grand-Divisions
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Battalion!
To the Right about Face!
The Battalion fires two rounds as before ordered, beginning with the 4th Grand-Dividion, which is now the st to fire.

The Battalion faces, Supernumerary Officers, &c. take their former Posts.
By Sub-Divisions, Advancing
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Battalion!
March!
The Battalion dresses by the Centre.
Halt!The Battalion dresses by the right
Preparative.The Battalion fires from the Centre to the Flanks, beginning with the Sub-Division on the right of the Colours.
By Grand-Divisions, Advancing
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Battalion!
March!
The Battalion dresses by the Centre.
Halt!The Battalion dresses by the right
Preparative.The Battalion fires, beginning with the Grand-Division on the right of the Colours.
By Sub-Divisions, Retreating
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Battalion!
To the Right about, Face!
March!
The Battalion retreats dressing by the Centre.
Halt!The Battalion dresses by the right
To the Front, Face!The Battalion faces to the Right-about.
Preparative.The Battalion fires, as in Explanation of firing by Sub-Divisions, advancing.
By Grand-Divisions, Retreating
Words of CommandExplanations
Caution.By the Commanding Officer.
Battalion!
To the Right about, Face!
March!
The Battalion retreats dressing by the Centre.
Halt!The Battalion dresses by the right.
To the Front, Face!The Battalion faces to the right-about.
Preparative.The battalion fires, as in explanation of firing by Grand-Divisions, advancing.

N. B. Besides the foregoing, the Battalion is sometimes ordered to fire two rounds, beginning with the four right Hand Sub-Divisions at once; and then the four left Hand ones: Also two rounds by Wings, or Half Battalions, beginning with the right.

Manœuvres usually practised.

Wheeling by Companies at close Ranks

Words of CommandExplanations
By Companies to the Right, Wheel!
March!
Halt!
The Battalion is in Columns of Companies fronting to the right.
By Companies to the Right, Wheel!
March!
Halt!
The Battalion again formed, facing to the rear.
By Companies to the Right-about, Wheel!
March!
Halt!
The Battalion formed to its proper Front.
By Companies to the Left, Wheel!
March!
Halt!
The battalion is in Columns of Companies, facing to the Left.
By Companies to the Left, Wheel!
March!
Halt!
The Battalion formed and facing to the Rear.
By Companies to the Left-about, Wheel!
March!
Halt!
The Battalion returned to its proper Front.

Advancing and Retreating by Files, from the Right of Grand-Divisions. As in Plate 2d, Fig, 2d.

Words of CommandExplanations
Grand-Divisions!
By the Right, advance by Files!
March!
The Battalion is supposed to be marching, and receives the Word of Command:

The three right files of each Grand-Division march three long Paces forward; the rest of the battalion turn to the right. Each Grand-Division wheel by files to the left, and follow those which moved forward.

The battalion is then advancing in four columns, each of three Men Front.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The three leading Files of each Grand-Division stand fast; the others turn to the Left, and then wheel to the Right; which forms the battalion to its former Front.
Grand-Divisions!
Retreat by Files by the Right!
March!
If Ordered to Retreat

The three right Files of each Grand-Division face to the Right-about and retreat; the others face to the Right, and the files of each Grand-Divieion follow the three which lead.

The battalion retreats in four Columns.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The three leading files of each Grand-Division stand fast; the others turn to the right, and wheel to the left; when the Divisions have completed their Wheelings, the whole battalion comes to its proper front, by the word of command.
To the Right-about, Face!N. B. When this Manoeuvre is done from the Left, the Facings and Wheelings are to be varied accordingly.

Advancing by Files, from the Centre of Grand-Divisions. As in Plate 2d. Fig. 3d.

Words of CommandExplanations
Grand-Divisions!
from the Centre, advance by Files!
March!
The six Centre or leading Files of each Grand-Division move three long paces forward, the others turn to the Centre of their respective divisions, and wheeling out successively, follow the leading Files in four Columns each, of fix Men in Front.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The six Centre or leading Files stand fast; the right Companies of each Grand Division turn to the right, and wheel to the left; the left Companies turn to the left, and wheel to the right, which forms the battalion.
Grand-Divisions, from the Centre Retreat by Files!
March!
If ordered to retreat the Word of Command is given:

The six Centre Files of each Grand-Division face to the Right-about and retreat; the other Files face inwards, and wheeling to the right and left, follow those which lead.

The battalion retreats in four columns, six men in front.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The leading files halt; the right companies of each Grand Division turn to the left and wheel to the right; the left Companies turn to the right and wheel to the left.
To the Right-about, Face!When the Wheeling is completed, the Word is given.

Advancing by Files, from the Centre of each Wing. As in Plate 2d. Fig. 4th.

Words of CommandExplanations
From the Centre of each Wing, advance by Files!
March!
The battalion moving forward, receives the Word of command.

The six centre or leading Files, viz. Three of the left of one Grand Dividion, and three of the right of the next adjoining to it, move forward three paces; the others of each Wing turn to their centre, then wheel out successively, and follow those which move forward.

The Battalion advances in two columns, each of fix men in Front.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The six leading Files of each Wing stand fast; the right Grand-Divisions turn to the right and wheel to the left; the left Grand-Divisions turn to the left and wheel to the right, which forms the Battalion.

N. B. If ordered to retreat, it is done as in the foregoing Explanation, by the following Words of Command.

From the Centre of Wings, retreat by Files! March!
Form the Battalion!
March!
To the Right-about Face!

Advancing by Files, from the Centre of the Battalion. As in Plate 2d. Fig. 5th.

Words of CommandExplanations
From the Centre of the Battalion, advance by Files!
March!
The battalion moving forward, receives the Word of command.

The six Centre or leading Files, viz. The three Left of the right wing, and the three Right of the left wing, move three Paces forward; the others turn to the Centre, and wheeling out, follow those which moved forward.

The Battalion is then advancing in one Column of six Men in Front.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The six Centre Files stand fast; the right Wing turns to the Right, and wheels to the Left; the left Wing turns to the Left, and wheels to the Right, which form the battalion.

N. B. If ordered to retreat, it is done as in Fig. III. by the following Words of Command:

From the Centre of the Battalion, retreat by Files!
March!
Form the Battalion!
March!
To the Right-about Face!

N. B. In all Evolutions where the Wheelings are long, and cannot be easily and expeditiously effected, by Reason of the situation in broken ground (in a wood, or otherwise) not admitting of it; forming the Battalion, and all similar evolutions, may be performed by wheeling and facing briskly by Files.

From the Right of the Left Wing, forming the oblong Square by Companies. As in Plate 2d. Fig. 6th.

Words of CommandExplanations
By Companies from the right of the left Wing, form the oblong Square!
March!
The battalion moving forward, receives the Word of command.

The 5th or right Company of the left Wing moves forward, and forms the Head of the Square; the Rest of the Battalion turn to the Centre, and marches by Files in the Rear in the leading Company.

The three left Companies face to the Left, and form the left Flank, or face of the Square.
Halt!The three Companies of the right wing, next the centre, face to the Right, and form the right Flank,
Front!The right Company of the battalion turns to the Right, closes up and forms the Rear Face.

N. B. If the Square is to move forward, this Company keeps its proper Front: but if it is to Halt, the Company is ordered to face to the Right-about.
Reduce the Square!
March!
The company forming the head of the square stands fast; the six companies which form the two Flanks, wheel to the Right and Left by companies, close up, face to the Right and left outwards, and march by Files opposite to their Places in the battalion. When their own Officers gives the Word, To the Front, Turn! they march up successively to The their proper Ground.

The company that formed the rear Face of the Square, faces to the right, while the others are wheeling, and marches by Files until it covers the companies on the Right, turns to the Front, closes up, and forms as the other companies are directed.

Forming the Oblong Square. From a Battalion marching in Columns by Companies at half Distance. As in Plate 2d. Fig. 7th.

Words of CommandExplanations
By half Companies form the Oblong Square.
March!
The battalion marching in columns by companies from the Right at half distance, receives the word of command:

The leading Company stands fast, the next six companies being at half Distance, wheel each from the centre to the right and left outwards, and by half companies form the two faces or flanks of the square; the rear company closes up, and forms the rear face.

N. B. If the Square is to advance, this company continues in this position; if to halt, it is to face to the right-about.
Reduce the Square!
March!
The leading company moves half Distance forwards, the files of the flank faces, face to the front of the square, then wheel inwards by files; until the respective half companies join, and front by word from their own Officers; forming again a column of companies at half Distance.
Form the Battalion!
March!
The first company on the right stands fast, the other seven close up, face to the left, and march by files until they come successively opposite their Places in the Battalion, receive the Word from their respective Officers, To the Front. Turn! and march up to their proper Ground.

N. B. In this it is supposed, that the Battalion marched from the Right; if it had marched from the Left the 8th Company would have formed the Head of the Square.

Forming Columns by Companies From the Centre of the Battalion, As in Plate 2d. Fig. 8th.

Words of CommandExplanations
From the Centre form Columns by Companies.
March!
The Battalion marching receives the Word of command:

The two centre Companies move on slowly, those on the right and left, face inwards, and march by files, when the Officers see their Companies joined, they give the Word of Command, though not loud, To the Front, Turn! and so on until the Column is formed: The Columns being formed, the commanding or exercising Officer gives the Word of Command:
March!The Battalion steps off with a quick Pace.
Form the Battalion!The Centre Companies keep moving without gaining any Ground; the other six face outwards, and march by Files to the right and left: As doon as they have got Ground enough to march in Front, the Officers give the Word, To the Front, Turn! and so on until the Battalion is formed; a Signal is then given from the Centre for the Battalion to move On.

Forming Columns by Grand-Divisions From the Right, As in Plate 2d. Fig. 9th.

Words of CommandExplanations
By Grand-Divisons form Columns from the Right!The Battalion marches and receives the Word of command:

The first Grand-Division continues marching; the other three Divisons face to the Right, march by Files until they successively cover the first Grand- Division; then ordered by their respective Officers, To the Front, Turn!
Form the Battalion!TThe first Grand-Division stands fast; the other three march to close Order, then face to the Left, and march by Files: When the commanding Officer of the 2d. Grand-Division sees he has gained Ground enough to form on the left of the first, he gives the Word, To the Front, Turn! marches forward in a line with the first division, and orders Halt, Dress; the other two divisions form in like Manner.

Passing a Defile or Bridge by half Companies From the Centre, As in Plate 2d. Fig. 0.

N. B. There are various methods practided in performing this Manœuvre, among others the following, viz.

Words of CommandExplanations
By half Companies from the Centre pass the Defile or Bridge!
March!
The Battalion receives the Word of command:

The two Centre Half Companies, or Platoons, march three long paces to the front; the other files of the battalion face to the Centre, and march until they are near meeting; then the half companies two and two successively front, and follow those which lead, moving up as they advance to close Order.

As soon as the Centre Platoons are got far enough over, they are ordered by their own Officers to Halt; and the other Platoons as they come into their rear, respectively face to the right and left outwards, marching by files until they come to their proper Places in Battalion, then Front.
From the Wings by half Companies re-pass the Defile!
March!
When ordered to Retreat.>

The Flank Platoons face outwards, and march by files in the rear, wheeling on the ground they stand on; or if pressed for time, they may face inwards, march by Files along the Rear, until the two Platoons meet; turn to the Rear, and re-pass the bridge: turn outward march to their former Ground and Front.

N. B. It is here understood that in passing or re-passing the bridge or defile, a constant Fire is kept up by every Platoon (from its forming in Battalion) while it continues to front the Enemy.

A Charge and Volley by Battalion.

Words of CommandExplanations
Prepare to Charge!The Battalion comes to a Recover at one Motion without Cocking.
Charge your Bayonets!The front rank charges only, the other two remain recovered.
March!The Battalion steps off with a quick Pace, and when it has advanced as far as the commanding Officer thinks proper, he orders,
Halt!At which time the Front Rank Recovers.
Shoulder!The whole Shoulders.
Battalion!
Make Ready!
At which Time the whole comes to a Recover.
Present!
Fire!
Take your proper Distance!
March!
The centre and rear ranks move backwards without facing to the Right-about: the Officers move out to the Front.
Half-Cock your Firelocks!
Shoulder!
Shut your Pans!
Return your Bayonets!
Shoulder!
The Officers and Serjeants order their Arms.
Grenadiers! To the Right, Face!The Grenadiers face to the right; the Battalion stands fast.
March!The left platoon of Grenadiers marches to the right of the Battalion, and the right platoon to its former Ground.

Both platoons are ordered to Halt by their own Officers.
To the Front Face!The Grenadiers face to the Front.

The Colours to be sent away with the usual Form, and the Battalion then to be dismissed.

N. B. There are several other Manœuvres, sometimes practised by the British regiments in Europe: The nature of the Service in America is such, that they are almost, if not entirely useless to the troops serving in this country, they are not therefore here inserted.

IN dressing Ranks, the Soldiers must observe to stand upright, and without stooping, to cast their Eyes smartly to the right and left, and see the third Man's breast, taking care to keep six Inches Distance between the Files.

In covering their File leaders, they must look between their Heads and the Firelocks.

In marching and wheeling, they must observe the same Rule as in dressing the Ranks, lift up their Feet with stiff Knees, and set them down firm without stamping; and not to drag the Feet back, but to move the Body without shaking from one Side to the other.

In order the divisions may wheel with celerity, when they receive the Word March! the Flanks are to step off with a quick, but strong Pace. As soon as the wheel is performed, a Signal is given from the Flank, on which they catch the slow Pace again.

In all Wheelings to the Right, the Men must cast their Eyes to the Left, except the Left-Hand Man: And in all Wheelings to the Left, they cast their Eyes to the Right, except the Right-hand Man, observing to feel the hand they wheel to, without crowding upon it.

The Performance of all Manœuvres may be done either with a slow or a quick pace, as the commanding Officer shall think proper to direct.

Some Occasional Words of Command, with Explanations.

Words of CommandNo. of MotionsExplanations
Support your Firelocks!3. Strike and seize the Firelock so low with the right hand as just to admit the left Arm between it and the Lock in the next Motion.
2. With the left hand strike the right breast, holding that Arm across the Body, the lock resting thereon.
3. Quit with the right Hand, and let the same fall with Sprightliness down the right Side.
Carry your Arms!3. Strike and seize the piece with the right hand close below the left Arm.
2. Strike the butt with the left Hand.
3. Quit with the right Hand.
Unfix your Bayonets!3. Strike the Piece with the right Hand under the Cock without turning the Barrel.
2. Cast off the Piece a little, and seize the same with the left Hand around the Swell, that Elbow close to the lock.
3. Drop the Piece upright with the left Hand to the ground, on the outside of the little Toe of the left Foot, at the same time striking off and returning the Bayonet with the right Hand, and then press the Muzzle to the right Shoulder with the Fingers of that hand.
Shoulder!3. Raise the firelock upright with the left hand, that elbow to the lock, the fingers of the right hand being brought under the Cock, the thumb up the piece on the screw-nail.
2. Strike the Butt with the left Hand.
3. Quit the right Hand.
Order your Firelock!As in the Manual.
Ease your Arms!Bring down your right Hand as low as you can without Constraint, with the Fingers and Thumb down the Piece and pressing thereon, the back of the Hand to the Front.
Clap Hands!Throw the right Hand across the Piece, clapping hands and bending the Knees easily.
Handle your Arms!Bring up your right Hand to the Muzzle and stand firm, as in the Order.

THE forming of the Column is an Evolution practiced yet it is thought by modern authors very defective, and not calculated for the purposes intended. The use of the Column is, either to form a Line of march, to attack a Pass, Retrenchments, or a Breach made in the Works of a fortified Place; and therefore the head, front, or breadth of the Column is made more or less extensive according to the Service for which it is designed.

There are two Sorts of Columns; one is composed of Files, the other of Ranks. Each of these Columns hath its particular advocates in point of choice. But neither of these columns will do for all purposes; since it will be found upon reflection, that the sort of column which is necessary for one kind of service, will be inconvenient or improper on a different occasion. If a Column is formed of Ranks, and is attacked in Front or Rear, it can oppose a regular Platoon or Sub-Division, immediately, to the Enemy; but if attacked in flank and front, at the same time, it cannot make a proper defence. There is the same objection to a column formed of files: It cannot defend itself in front if attacked, (at the same time) in Flank and Front. Where there is no opposition, in reserve, intended by the enemy to oppose the front, the column of files is preferred. There is a column recommended by a late Author, composed of Ranks and files, which he calls the mixed Column, that seems to be calculated for Defence on whatever Side it may be attacked.

Suppose a Battalion drawn up in Line, and it is thought necessary to form the mixed column: The commanding Officer gives the following Words of command:

Battalion by Files and Ranks form a Column at the Centre.

Explanation

The two centre platoons stand fast, those on the right and left face inwards, to the Centre. The two Centre Grand. Divisions form a Column of Ranks.— The Grand-Divisions on the Right and Left cover the Flanks by Files. But, as the Grand-Divisions on the flanks, marching by Files, will extend much beyond the Column of Ranks, it may be best to order the Front Files to dress with the Front of the Column of Ranks, and the rear Sub-Division of files to double up on the Outside of the other, which will form a Column of Files on the flanks of two Sub-Divisions. The Column thus formed, may be ordered to advance to the attack — If it penetrates through the Enemy's Lines, and a Reserve is prepared to attack the head of the Column, there is a proper Front to oppose them: and if attacked on one or both Flanks at the same Time, the commanding Officer orders:

Column form to Flank Attacks!

Explanation

Upon which, the Divisions on the Flanks face outwards, and oppose a proper Front to the enemy. If it is necessary to extend their Front, the Front Sub-Division inclines half its Front to the Right, the Rear Sub-Division half its Front to the Left, march up, dress, and form a Grand Division in front. In this form they advance to the enemy, keeping up a brisk fire, or charge with bayonets, as the commanding Officer shall direct; till they gain a complete Victory. If the Officer who commands the Column of Ranks routs the Reserve, and thinks it necessary to assist the flank Attack, he may detach a Platoon or Sub-Division to each Party.

Finis.

Contributors

  • Alan Ball (Transcript and Editing)
  • Dr. Thomas Whitfield (Sources – Plates)
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