1854 British Infantry Manual

19th Home | Index | Recruit | Manual | Platoon | Firing | Images | Company | Misc

THE

PLATOON EXERCISE

AND

DIFFERENT FIRINGS

FOR THE

ORDINARY OR RIFLE MUSKET


The recruit. having a thorough knowledge of the different motions of the firelock, as shown in the Manual Exercise, will now be taught the Platoon Exercise, as follows

Eight or ten men being formed in a single rank, at close files, with their knapsacks on, and shouldered firelocks, will be thus taught to fire before they are formed in two ranks.

 

1st. Standing.

2nd. As a front rank kneeling.

3rd. As a rear rank kneeling.

  To load from the shoulder standing.
Prepare to Load.

1st. At the word Load, seize the firelock with the right hand immediately under the cock, the forefinger touching the back part of it, the thumb between the stock and barrel, pointing up, the firelock kept steady.

2nd. Quit the butt with the left hand, and grasp the firelock firmly with it, the little finger as high as the shoulder.

3rd. Bring. the firelock down in the left hand, and place the butt quietly on the around, six inches in front of the body, with the barrel to the front, and perpendicular; carry the right band at the same time to the pouch or ball bag, and draw from it a cartridge; the firelock to be held at the full extent of the left arm.

  To load from the Advance, standing.
Prepare to Load.

1st. Bring the left hand smartly across the body, and seize the firelock with it, the hand in line with the elbow, which is to be kept close to the body.

2nd. As directed in the 3rd motion of the Prepare to Load from the shoulder, standing.

  To load from the Order, standing.
Prepare to Load.

1st. At the word Prepare, slip the thumb of the right hand quickly in rear of the barrel, and at the completion of the word of command, pass the firelock smartly to the left hand, which is to be brought forward to meet it, and proceed as before directed.

Load.

1st. Bring the cartridge to the mouth, holding it between the forefinger and thumb, with the ball in the hand, and bite off the top, elbow close to the body.

2nd. Raise the elbow square with the shoulder, with the palm of the band inclined to the front, and shake the powder into the barrel.

3rd. Reverse the cartridge (keeping the elbow square) by dropping the hand over the muzzle, the fingers in front of the barrel, and place the bullet into the barrel nearly as far as the top, holding the paper above it, between the forefinger and thumb.

4th. By a turn of the wrist from left to right, tear off the paper that remains between the forefinger and thumb, dropping the elbow into the side at the same time, and seize the head of the ramrod with the second joint of the forefinger and thumb.

Rod.

1st. Force the ramrod half out, and seize it back-banded exactly 'in the middle, the elbow square with the shoulder.

2nd. Draw it entirely out with a straight arm above the shoulder, turning it at the same time to the front, put it on the top of the bullet, turning the back of the hand to the front, the ramrod is thus held between the two forefingers and thumb, with the two last fingers shut in the hand.

Home.

1st. Force the bullet straight down till the second finger of the right hand touches the muzzle; elbow close.

2nd. Press the ramrod lightly towards you, and slip the two forefingers and thumb to the point and grasp it as before..

3rd. Force the bullet steadily straight down to the bottom, bringing the elbow down with it close into the body.

4th. Ascertain that the bullet is resting on the powder by two slight taps, avoiding all sharp strokes.

Return.

1st. Draw the ramrod half out, catching it backhanded, with the elbow square.

2nd. Draw it entirely out with a straight arm above the shoulder, turning it to the front; put it into the loops, and force it as quickly as possible to the bottom, the forefinger and thumb holding the ramrod as in the position immediately previous to drawing it.

Cap.

1st. Make a half face to the right, by raising the toes and turning on the heels in that direction, the right heel in front of the left, the left toes pointing to the front, and the right toes pointing to the right; bring the firelock at the same time to the right side, with the left hand at the swell, and hold it in a horizontal position, the front rank pressing the side nail against the right hip, the rear rank four inches above it; the right hand holding the small of the butt, and half cock the piece, thumb resting on the cock.

2nd. Advance the forefinger to throw off the old cap (after having fired).

Carry the band to the cap pocket, and take a cap between the forefinger and thumb.

Put the cap on the nipple, and press it down with the flat part of the thumb ; fingers clenched.

Then carry the hand to the small of the butt quietly.

As Front or Rear Rank ---- yards.

Ready.

1st. Adjust the sight; with the forefinger and thumb of the right hand place the sliding bar even with the line which indicates the required elevation for the distance named; after which, raise the flap steadily from the top; the fingers of the hand will then resume their former position behind the guard, the thumb resting on the cock.

2nd. Cock the piece, then replace the thumb on the small of the butt, at the same time (as a front rank) the right foot will be carried six inches to the rear of, and in line with, the inner side of the left heel; (as a rear rank) the right foot will be carried nine inches diagonally to the right, and in rear of the left heel of the man on the right; fix the eye steadily on the object, and incline the body forward from the heels.

In firing by companies, the sliding bar will generally be set to the correct distance before the firing commences; the soldier will then be required to raise the flap only, and cock the piece at the word Ready; but when the squad is exercised in slow time, it will be advisable, for the sake of practice, that some arbitrary distance should he given. Whenever no distance is given, the soldier must judge for himself the distance from the object he is to aim at.

Present.

1st. Bring the firelock at once to the shoulder, pressing the centre part of the heel-plate firmly into the hollow of it, with the left hand, which must grasp the piece at the swell, the right hand holding it at the small, the right elbow slightly raised (but not so much as to impede the aim of the rear rank 'man), the muzzle inclining to the bottom of the object and the forefinger of the right hand extended along the side of the trigger guard; at the same time shut the left eye.

2nd. Raise the muzzle, slowly and independently until the foresight is aligned through the back sight with the object the right eye is fixed upon; at the same time placing the forefinger on the trigger.

3rd. Pull the trigger with the second joint of the finger 'by a steady pressure, without the least jerk or motion of the band or elbow, keeping the eye still fixed on the object.

4th. Bring the firelock down to the capping position, at the same time bring the right foot to the position in which it was placed before coming to the ready; shut down the flap, count a pause of the slow time, and come to the position of Prepare to Load.

Too much pains cannot be taken to ensure that the soldier takes a deliberate aim at some specified object whenever he brings his firelock to the Present; and if no natural object presents itself for the men to aim at, several small bull's-eyes must be marked on the barrack wall.

In coming to the Present, the first care is to press the butt firmly into the hollow of the shoulder, so as to otter a solid resistance to the recoil of the musket, the muzzle inclining downwards, which will be steadily raised till the foresight is aligned with the object the eye is fixed upon; the inclination of the right cheek to the butt depends entirely on the distance the soldier may be directed to fire at, or on the elevation given to the musket; if, at a short distance, it must lay on the butt without too much stooping of the head; but, if firing at the longer distances, the head must be raised, according as those distances increase; particular care must also be taken that the soldier in this position shuts his left eye when taking aim, looking along the barrel with the right eye, which is to. continue fixed on the object after the fire has been given, to ascertain that he has not deranged his musket from the true alignment by pulling the trigger, which must be performed steadily and without the slightest jerk or motion of the right elbow. The necessity of restraining their breathing, when pulling the trigger, should also be impressed on the men.

Load, &c.

As before directed.

  To shoulder when at the Capping Position.
Shoulder Arms.

1st. Throw the firelock up to the proper position on the left shoulder, the left hand following smartly on the butt, and grasping it, the fingers of the right hand under the cock, pointing up, coming to the front at the same time.

2nd. Quit the right hand smartly, and bring it down to the right side.

  To advance Arms from the Capping Position.
Advance Arms.

1st. Bring the musket up to the right shoulder With the left hand, the fingers extended on the sling and in line with the elbow, to steady it thereto, the upper part of the barrel close in the hollow of the shoulder, the forefinger and thumb of the right hand placed round the guard, remaining fingers under the cock.

2nd. Quit the left hand, and bring it smartly to the left side.

  To make ready from the Shoulder.
--- yards. Ready.

Make a half face to the right in the same manner as at the word Cap, at the same time bring down the firelock to the right side, seizing it with the left band at the swell, holding it in a horizontal position, the front rank pressing the side nail against the right hip, the rear rank four inches above it, bringing the right hand to the sliding bar to adjust the sight, and. proceed as before directed.

  To make ready from the Advance.
--- yards. Ready.

Make a half face to the right in the same manner as at the word Cap, bringing the musket at the same time to the horizontal position at the right side, seizing it with the left hand at the swell; the front rank pressing the side nail against the right hip, the rear rank four inches above it, bringing the right band to the sliding bar to adjust the sight, and proceed as before directed.

  To fire kneeling.
As Front Rank Kneeling.
--- yards. Ready.

Sink down smartly on the right knee, which is to be drawn back about one foot to the rear and six inches to the right of the left heel, the right foot perpendicular and drawn in under the body, the weight of which to rest on the right heel, the firelock to be brought down to the capping position, the side nail in line with the hip, the lower part of the left arm resting on the thigh, bringing the right hand to the sliding bar to adjust the sight and proceed in the same manner as directed at the word Ready when standing.

Present.

1st. Bring the firelock at once to the shoulder, pressing the centre part of the heel plate firmly into the hollow of it with the left hand, which must grasp the piece at the swell, the right hand holding it at the small, the right elbow raised, the muzzle inclining to the bottom of the object, and the forefinger of the right hand extending alongside the trigger guard, the left eye shut, and the left elbow resting on the left knee as a support.

2nd. As before directed.

3rd. As before directed.

4th. Bring the firelock down to the capping position, at the same time raising the body from off the right heel, and shut down the flap easily; the lower part of the left arm resting on the thigh; count a pause and bring the piece to the loading position in the following manner.

With the left band pass the firelock round in front of the body over the left thigh, the butt to the rear and diagonally to the left, so as to be close to the inner side of the left foot of the rear rank man of the file on the left, the sling upwards, the muzzle about one inch in rear of and four inches higher that the left knee, the left leg to be perpendicular; the right hand carry at the same time to the pouch or ball bag, and draw from it a cartridge.

Load. Rod. Home. Return .

As before directed.

Cap.

Bring the firelock round in front of the left knee to the capping position by shifting it through the left hand, and proceed as before directed.

Shoulder Arms.

1st. Spring smartly upon the feet, bringing the heels in line; throw the piece smartly into the shoulder, fingers of the right hand under the cock; thumb pointing up between stock and barrel.

2nd. Quit the right hand smartly to the right side.

Advance Arms.

1st. Spring smartly up on the feet, bringing the heels in line, and the firelock into the right shoulder with the left hand, the fingers extending on the sling in line with the elbow to steady it thereto, the upper part of the barrel close in the hollow of the shoulder, the forefinger and thumb of the right hand placed round the guard, the remaining fingers under the cock.

2nd. Quit the left hand smartly to the left side.

  To load from the Shoulder as Front Rank kneeling.
As Front Rank Kneeling prepare to Load.

1st. At the word Load seize the firelock with the right hand immediately tinder the cock, the forefinger touching the back part of it, the thumb between the stock and barrel, pointing up, the firelock kept steady.

2nd. Quit the butt with the left hand and grasp the firelock firmly with it, the little finger as high as the shoulder.

3rd. Sink down smartly on the right knee, which is to be drawn back about one foot to the rear and six inches to the right of the left heel, the right foot perpendicular and drawn in under the body, the left leg to be perpendicular; push the butt to the rear and diagonally to the left, so as to be close to the inner side of the left foot of the rear rank man of the file on the left, the sling upwards, the muzzle about one inch in rear of, and four inches higher than, the left knee; carry the right hand at the same time to the pouch or ball bag, draw from it a cartridge, and proceed with the loading as before directed

  To load from the Advance. as Front Rank kneeling.
As Front Rank Kneeling prepare to Load.

1st. At the word Load seize the firelock with the left band above the swell.

2nd. As directed in the 3rd motion of the Prepare to load, from the shoulder, as front rank kneeling.

Shoulder or Advance Arms,

As before directed.

As Rear Rank Kneeling.
--- yards. Ready.

Sink down smartly on the right knee, which is to be drawn back one foot to the rear, and one foot to the right of the left heel, the right foot to be perpendicular and drawn in under the body, the weight of which to rest on the right heel, the firelock to be brought down to the capping position, the side nail four inches above the hip, the lower part of the left arm resting on the left thigh ' bring the hand to the sliding bar to adjust the sight, and proceed in the same manner as directed at the word Ready when standing.

Present.

1st. As before directed for front rank kneeling.

2nd. As before directed for front rank kneeling.

3rd. As before directed for front rank kneeling.

4th. Bring the firelock down to the capping position, at the same time raise the body from off the right heel and shut down the flap easily, the lower part of the left arm resting on the thigh; count a pause of the slow time and bring the piece to the loading position, as follows:

Turn the body to the right and lean well to the rear, with the left band reverse the firelock, bringing the butt diagonally to the right front, so as to rest against the right knee of the front rank man of the file on the right, the sling upwards, the muzzle as far to the rear and as high as the right elbow; carry the right hand to the pouch or ball bag, and draw from it a cartridge.

Load. Rod. Home. Return.

As before directed.

Cap.

Give the piece a smart cant with the right hand to the capping position, and proceed as before directed.

Shoulder or Advance Arms.

As before directed.

  To load from the Shoulder as Rear Rank kneeling.
As Rear Rank Kneeling prepare to Load.

1st. At the word Load seize the firelock with the right hand immediately under the cock, the forefinger touching the back part of it, the thumb between the stock and barrel, pointing up, the firelock kept steady.

2nd. Quit the butt with the left hand, and grasp the firelock firmly with it, the little finger as high as the shoulder.

3rd. Sink down smartly on the right knee, which is to be drawn back one foot to the rear, and one foot to the right of the left heel, the right foot to be perpendicular and drawn in under the body, the left leg to be as upright as possible; turn the body to the right, and lean well to the rear, the butt of the firelock thrown diagonally to the right front, so as to rest against the right knee of the front rank man of the file on the right, the sling upwards, the muzzle as far to the rear and as high as the elbow; carry the right band to the pouch or ball bag, draw from it a cartridge, and proceed with the loading as before directed.

  To load from the Advance as Rear Rank kneeling.
As Rear Rank Kneeling prepare to Load.

1st. At the word Load seize the firelock with the left hand above the swell.

2nd. As directed in the 3rd motion of the Prepare to load from the shoulder, as rear rank kneeling.

N.B. When loading on the knee, should the word Ready be given when in that position, particular attention must be paid to see that each man. brings the weight of his body on the right heel, getting steady in the sitting posture before he attempts to adjust the sight, &c., as also to see that he raises the body when bringing the musket to the capping position to shut down the flap.

When the word Order Arms is given when kneeling, seize the firelock with the right hand in front of the left, spring up to the standing position, the butt to come quietly on the ground; with the left hand seize the firelock under the top swivel, then quit it.

The recruits, being thoroughly grounded in the foregoing instructions, may now be practised in two ranks at close order, in the different firings as a company in line, as a wing of a battalion firing a volley, file firing, &c.

From twenty to thirty files may now be formed into two ranks at close order, with shouldered arms and fixed bayonets.

As a Company Load.

The front rank and rear rank, as described in the foregoing directions, each man doing his motions with the greatest celerity, and as correctly as shown in slow time; after returning ramrods, the whole remain perfectly steady, with the forefinger and thumb grasping the head of the ramrod, and after a pause of one pace in slow time, come to the capping position, half-cock, and put a cap on the nipple, which must always be done after loading.

Company.

This serves as a caution.

At --- yards. Ready.

As shown before.

Present.

As before directed: after firing, make a pause of one pace in slow time, come down to the capping position, and put down the flap, and after another pause, come to the position of Prepare to load, then go on with the loading as before directed. At the close of the "general" or at the word "cease firing," the company, if made ready, receives the word Half-cock Arms.

Half-cock Arms.

Place the thumb of the right hand on the front of the cock, and the forefinger at the same time on the trigger; the cock is then to be drawn a little back and the trigger to be drawn so as to disengage the catch, the cock to be gently let down till past the catch of the half-cock, the cock is then to be drawn back to the catch of the half-cock; after which put clown the flap, and seize the small of the butt with the right hand.

Shoulder Arms.

In the usual manner and stand perfectly steady.

But if the company should be in the act of loading, it will go on, and come to the capping position when done, put on a cap, then wait for the word of command of the officer to shoulder.

Firing as a wing, or as a battalion, is performed precisely as laid down for a company.

When a battalion fires a volley, and it is not intended to reload, the caution will be given to "fire a volley and shoulder."

Battalion

This serves as a caution.

Ready.

As before directed.

Present.

Do.

After firing make a pause of one pace in slow time come down to the capping position, and put down the flap, then come to the shoulder.

N.B. - A company, wing or battalion can load or make ready from the order with the same ease as from the shoulder.

Any movement can take place from ordered arms, as occasions may require, in the following manner; upon the first word of the caution brine, the fingers round the barrel, and raise the butt about one inch from the ground with the muzzle close against the hollow of the shoulder, and at the word Halt, resume the position of ordered arms.

The long trail for the ease of the soldiers may be used on a line of march, or in marching to and from the place of parade or exercise, or with guards marching to and from their posts.

Trailed arms must never be used in field movements, as upon such occasions it will cause loose marching and loss of distance.

  How performed at the Halt.
Trail Arms.

Slip the right hand down to the swell of the stock, and lower the muzzle to a horizontal direction, at the same time the rear rank will fall nimbly back a short pace, so that the muzzle of the firelock shall touch the cuff of the front rank man's jacket.

Change Arms.

Change from one hand to the other as often as may be necessary.

The short trail must never be used in any instance, except in fixing and unfixing bayonets on the march, as such motion tends to cramp the muscles of the arm.

At the word Halt, arms are to be ordered without the word Order arms, when the rear rank will close to the front.

  Independent or File firing.

Independent or file firing may commence from the right or left of companies, or from any particular part of the line, as may be directed, and should be done as follows:

At the close of the preparative, the first file will begin, the caution having previously been announced at what part of the line the firing is to commence, when the first file comes to the present, the next file makes ready, and so on for the first fire, after which each file will fire as soon as loaded, the rear rank man keeping his eye on his front rank man, and preserving his fire until his front rank man has fired, and at the close of the general, they will come to the shoulder independently after loading.

N.B. - Each man, before cocking his piece, must adjust his sight for the distance he estimates the object to be from him which he intends to fire at. In file and volley firing, the front rank men must remain perfectly steady after giving their fire, otherwise the aim of the rear rank men will be deranged.

The recruits, having a thorough knowledge of the preceding portion of the drill, may now be formed into four ranks, and practise to receive cavalry with two ranks kneeling, as it is necessary to do so in square four deep.

Prepare to resist Cavalry
Ready.

The first rank kneel as front rank, the second rank kneel as rear rank, both bringing at the same time the butt of the firelock in front of the right knee, the lock turned uppermost, the right hand lightly grasping the small of the butt, holding the firelock firm with the left hand, at the middle of that part between the third loop and the swell, the lower part of the left arm resting upon the thigh, the muzzle of the firelock slanting upwards, so that the point of the bayonet will be about the height of a horse's nose.

Prepare, &c.

The third rank make ready as a rear rank, with this difference, they will carry their right foot only six inches diagonally to their right rear; the, fourth rank make ready as rear rank; in this the kneeling ranks do not cock; the two standing ranks will commence file firing at the close of the preparative, or at the word Commence firing; and at the close of the general, or at the word Cease firing, they will come to the shoulder from the capping position independently, after loading. The kneeling ranks may be fired, if necessary, for which the commander will give the word, Kneeling ranks, Ready present, and which they do as directed in the foregoing instructions; then with a quick motion bring the firelock down to resist cavalry as before, and remain perfectly steady till the word Load is given after loading they will shoulder from the capping position by word of command.

N.B. - When the word Load is given after firing in square, the kneeling ranks will load standing.

 

HistoryX hosts this site for future generations of military historians to enjoy. It is now just for reference.