Manual of Arms
Commands consist of two parts – the command of preparation which tells you what is coming and the command of execution which tells you to execute the command. The two parts are shown with ‘……’or ‘your’ between them below. The ‘your’ in the commands may be replaced by the pause.
(The position of the feet is an open 45 deg. angle with the heels about 2” apart.)
To the right…..Face! – turn on both heels to the right. Bring back the right foot.
To the left….. Face! – turn on both heels to the left. Bring forward the right foot.
The right about….. Face! – On about, drop back the right foot behind the left. On face, pivot around 180 deg. and bring up the left foot. While turning, the right hand secures the cartridge box.
Take care to break ranks….. March! – This is a right about face with the addition of slapping the cartridge box upon turning about and yelling HUZAH! The right foot is brought back on the break ranks and the 180 degree turn is executed on the march.
(Step about two feet, at 75 steps per minute. )
To the front by the common step…..March! – lead on the left foot. Dress the line to the right on the officer.
Take care….. Halt! – Halt is given on the left foot. As we do it, take one short step with the right and bring up the left without stomping.
To the fight (left) oblique….. March! – On march, a crossing step is used to the direction called. This results in the columns moving at a 45 deg. angle to the front.
To the right (left) wheel….. March! – All men look (dress) opposite to the direction called. By dressing to the outside of the maneuver, a straight line is ensured. The person on the end of the line called marks time, rotating as the outside man comes around. This is not a race, the outside man moves at a normal step with all others moving at such a speed to keep the line straight. The pivot man on the second rank must, while rotating, move a bit to the right (left) so that when the maneuver is complete, he is behind his file partner in front of him. If the end man in the second rank just pivots, due to the geometry, he will end up between the files of the front rank.
Front! — On this command, a wheel or an oblique is returned to the normal, straight ahead march.
Rear rank, take distance….. March! 1 – 2 – 3 – 4! – on this command, the rear rank, facing front, marches 4 steps to the rear to open room between the ranks for firing or forming line from column.
Rear rank, close to the front…. March! 1 -2 – 3 – 4! – on this command, the rear rank marches 4 steps to the front to close ranks after firing, or after forming column from line.
Form line from column, by the right (left) wheel….. March! – this is executed after opening up the ranks as above. The wheel brings the two ranks into a line at 90 deg to the original facing of the column.
Form column from line, by the right (left) wheel….. March! – this wheel brings the line back to the columns. Afterward, the ranks may be closed by the command above.
To the right (left), by file….. March! – at this command, the first in file sharply turns to the right (left). The following file partners do no turn to the fight (left) until they reach the point where the front file partner turned. The right command is given on the left foot, the left command on the right foot.
The Manual of Arms:
Fall In! – the platoons form, dressed on their officer with their officer at their right. All men have their firelock shouldered, with their feet at a 45 deg. angle, heels about 2” apart.
Order your firelock! –the right hand grasps the firelock at shoulder height, brings it across the body, and rests the butt on the ground with the barrel steadied with the right hand. Both arms are down, along the side of the body and the trigger guard is facing out. This is done in two motions – grasp and lower.
Shoulder your firelock! – the reverse of the above, lifting the firelock with the right hand, placing the left hand under the butt, bringing the arm to the left shoulder with the cock out, and returning the right arm to the right side. This is also done in two motions – putting the firelock to the left shoulder and returning the right arm.
Poise your firelock! – the right hand grasps the firelock at the wrist, the firelock is then brought up with the lock shoulder high with the left hand open and placed at the top of the frizzen spring. This is the midpoint for the present arms command and the make ready command in firing.
Present your firelock! – this is done in three motions with the first two being the same as the poise. The right hand grasps the firelock at the wrist; the firelock is then brought up with the lock shoulder high with the left hand open and placed at the top of the frizzen spring. The right foot is then brought back while the musket is lowered to align with the left leg. The trigger guard is facing to the front. At shoulder arms from this position, the firelock is brought back to poise and then returned to the shoulder.
Advance….. firelock! – the firelock is brought to poise and then lowered to the right side, being grasped by the right hand with the fingers around the trigger guard. The left hand is returned to the right side. This is done in four motions.
Trail….. firelock! – the firelock is grasped by the right hand at the swell and brought to the right side, holding the firelock at its balance point with the lock up.
Secure your firelock! – the right hand grasps the firelock at the wrist, the left hand grasps the barrel above the swell (just before the lower band on a musket), the firelock is rotated down with the left hand so that the butt rests behind the shoulder, while the right arm returns to the right side. This is done in three motions.
Support …. Firelock! – the arms are crossed without moving the firelock from the shoulder. The left elbow supports the firelock by the cock. This is a comfortable marching position.
Fix ….. bayonet! – the right hand grasps the firelock at the wrist, the left hand grasps the middle of the barrel, the firelock is lowered straight to the ground with the left hand, the right hand draws the bayonet, and fixes it to the muzzle of the firelock. When all are fixed, the command to shoulder arms will be given. With the bayonet fixed, all commands change from firelock to arms.
Charge…. bayonet! – the right hand grasps the wrist of the firelock; the left hand grasps the firelock at the swell. The firelock is then lowered to the right side so that the butt is even with the right hip and the muzzle is pointing foreword.
Loading and Firing:
Dress right….. Dress! – the rear rank officer takes his original place behind the front rank officer and all men dress to the officer on the right, shoulder to shoulder.
Take care….. prime and load! – in one motion, the firelock is lowered to the right side with the lock up and held with the left hand. At the same time, the right foot is placed to the rear. The firelock is held in the left hand so the right hand is free to handle the cartridge. The right hand is brought around to smartly slap the cartridge box. The cartridge box is opened, a cartridge withdrawn, and the top bitten off. The frizzen is opened and the pan filled with a small amount of powder. The firelock is then cast about with the left hand bringing the firelock to the left side at a 45 deg. angle with the muzzle up. The balance of the powder is poured down the barrel and the paper is thrown down. The firelock is then brought to the shoulder. (a smart slap to the side of the firelock before or while bringing the firelock to the shoulder will help to settle the powder.)
Make ready! – the firelock is brought to poise and the cock is moved to full cock.
Take aim! – the firelock is brought to the right shoulder from poise with the muzzle elevated at 30 to 45 degrees.
Fire! – the trigger is pulled. The arm is brought down to the prime and load position after about 3 seconds when the sergeant says drop to wait the next command which will either be prime and load or shoulder. In the event of a misfire, the firelock may be re-primed and fired at the commands or the muzzle may be depressed and the powder allowed to fall out. If the firelock fails to fire several times, retire to the rear of the formation