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Directions for Funeral Parties (Part One)

T’other day I was having an exchange with Serjt. Land regarding the prescribed drill for handling the musket in memorial/funeral services. The “Directions for Funeral Parties” is presented in the last section of Rules and Regulations for the Manual and Platoon Exercises, Formations, Field-Exercises, and Movements of His Majesty’s Forces (one can also find it in the last section of the 1823 M&PE). The description found in these instructions for handling the musket are as follows:

Although helpful, these instructions are not the most descriptive. Fortunately, these movements (with only slight discrepancies) are also found in Thomas Rowlandson’s Loyal Volunteers of London and Environs, Infantry and Cavalry (1799). Not only are the directions for the motions in this work more detailed, but they are accompanied by exquisite coloured plates. What follows are a transcription of the written instructions found in Rowlandson’s work followed by the appropriate plates (please forgive the low-resolution):

In Part Two of this two-part series of posts, I will be linking to an article that Serjt. Land has written concerning these movements on Forty-First Regiment Blog, as well as a series of instructional videos he will be uploading on the 41st Regiment’s YouTube page.

Sources: The Manual and Platoon Exercises, &c. &c (Horse-Guards, 1823), VOLUNTEER ARMS DRILL, 1799, AS SHOWN BY ROWLANDSON” (George Cambridge, 2nd Marquess of Cambridge, JSAHR, June 1962), “Contemporary (1790-1820) British Army and Volunteer Pictures” (“dibble,” Fall 2019).

EKW

“… the superior system established in the 52nd Regiment”

As a follow-up to my last post, the following are observations made by Sir Henry Clinton of the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment of Foot (Light Infantry) during his time as Inspecting Officer for all the Anglo-Allied forces in what is now Belgium in 1814/15 and later commander of the 2nd British Infantry Division.* In the words of historian Gareth Glover, Clinton was “uncompromising in enforcing regulations” and his inspections of the 52nd definitely reflect that. They also show Clinton’s approval of the “system” introduced into the regiment by Sir John Moore, as well as the negative impact that regimental pride can have on the overall abilities of a unit. Apparently there may be such a thing as too much esprit de corps.

Inspection of the 2/52nd in Tournai (September 14th, 1814):

Lt Colonel [Edward] Gibbs, brother of the general [Major General Sir Samuel Gibbs], is the commander; this regiment has continued from the excellent system introduced by Sir John Moore, to enjoy a superiority above most regiments of our service, through composed of very young men mostly indeed recruits, it performed several movements in double quick time with great correctness, the pouches are of the proper kind, the arms, ammunition & [accoutrements] in good order, the packs well packed, the officers intelligent, in short the whole state showing a great deal of attention on the part of the officers to a very judicious system.

Inspection of the 2/52nd in Ypres (January 6th, 1815):

This battalion has gained nothing since I saw it in the autumn, the pouches which are good, being for the most part supplied with the wooden boxes and the ammunition kept in the bottom of the pouch, there is some difficulty in getting at it; this would be extremely objectionable in the course of service, it is to be hoped that no prejudice, ignorances or apathy will prevent a better contrivance for carrying ammunition, being adopted. I was disappointed to see even these caps disfigured as in other ill commanded regiments. Colonel Gibbs is more indebted to the system established before he commanded the regiment than any exertion of his moderate abilities.

Remarks on 2/52nd (January 8th, 1815):

Although from the superior system established in the 52nd Regiment; and the general excellent composition of its officers, it has a great advantage over most corps. I had not the same reason to make this remark as I have had on former occasions. In such a corps no fault, no instance of the slightest inattention should be observable upon the most minute examination, the commanding officer himself appeared to require some little practise in moving the battalion. 

Inspection of the 52nd in Tournai (April 14th, 1815):

Lt Colonel [Charles Rowan] the only field officer present does not seem quite equal to the command of this strong battalion, the men are generally a fine and serviceable body, but altogether this regiment lately the pattern of the English army has now more the appearance of the remains of a good system than the present possession of it. Through there are 9 captains there was hardly an officer who would account for any deficiency, but they are so used to be applauded that anything like inquiry excites only surprise or even displeasure. The arms however, are not in the order in which they certainly ought to be, the ammunition is in the most part loose in the boxes with which the pouches that lately now are furnished. This regiment has not been provided with camp kettles or bill hooks. The caps are put out of shape as I have observed in many of the English regiments, they are however complete in shoes & linen and the excellent manner of packing & putting on the knapsacks is well attended to. The commanding officer excused the awkward manner in which this regiment moved by saying they [the men of the 1/52nd] had been for 5 months on board ship. There are no less than 22 extra drummers & musicians, a fault which I recommended the General [Frederick] Adam to have corrected.

At Waterloo Clinton’s division was held in reserve for much of the day behind the right of the Allied line and north of the Nivelles road, only moving up to the front line mid-afternoon. His 3rd British Brigade under Major-General Frederick Adam played a prominent part in the repulse of the final Imperial Guard attack.

Moments after Wellington ordered the 1st Foot Guards to “stand up” in front of the advancing 1/3e and 2/3e Chasseurs-à-Pied, Lieut.-Col. Sir John Colborne saw an opportunity of attacking the 4e Chasseurs in the flank, and wheeled the left hand companies of his 52nd forward. Raked by musketry, the Chasseurs soon broke and retired. Nevertheless, this short action was quite severe for the 52nd – around 140 fell killed or wounded while the left had of the battalion wheeled into position. Is says much of the bravery and discipline of the 52nd that this manœuvre was executed so successfully while under intense musket and artillery fire.

Inspection of the 52nd in Champs Elysees (July 17th, 1815):

This battalion is in good serviceable order, the excellent system introduced by Sir J. Moore continues its influence, indeed it has been in its full practice under the present good commander Sir J Colborne. The arms, ammunition & appointments are in good order, and as long as there is only a question of successful fighting however severe, the complaint may be this regiment will do its duty but in case unhappily this regiment shall be employed in assaulting a place or in any service in which its subordination shall be called in question to support the authority of its officers, all its good qualities will be of little accord. There is in this respect, a laxity of discipline which is very disgusting, an officer of whatever corps or rank receives from the soldier of this regiment no acknowledgement of respect. Upon a march, they used in the presence of this officer the most disrespectful language, nor do the officers pay the least attention to these instances of disrespect & insubordination, for the sake of security I would rather have in other respects a less efficient corps.

Personal journal entry from September 2nd, 1815:

… the 52nd is seen to great disadvantage under Sir J. Colborne, he knows nothing of manoeuvring and seems to higher himself upon gaining no information on instruction by means of any superior officer.

Inspection of the 52nd in Clety (January 13th, 1816):

This is so fine a body of men that out of 900, there are only two men at all exceptionable as to their fitness for service & these were as from accidents, but if this regiment is superior in efficiency, it is greatly deficient in a very important quality, viz insubordination, there is an air in these men generally which bear very much the character of mutinous spirit, they require different means of making some stand from Colonel Colborne, excellent, as in some respects he is, to manage them.

Inspection of the 52nd in Therouanne (April 19th, 1816):

This regiment has no pioneers, it seems this part of the establishment was taken from it when it was made light regiment. Lt. Colonel Rowan who has commanded the regiment during the last 4 months, is a reliable commanding officer, it bears the mark of great attention having been paid to its wellbeing since my inspection of it in July last. In the most minute inspection I am able to make nothing appears to give rise to a single infraction, the number in each company either exactly agrees with the state or the commander is ready to explain the reason of any deviation. The arms, accoutrements, ammunition, all are in good order, the clothing through old & worn out is still made to look well, this regiment performs all its movements with expedition & accuracy, in this it is seen to much greater advantage under Colonel Rowan than under Sir J Colborne. It is so healthy that out of 955 rank & file there are only 32 sick, including present & absent & convalescent. Another striking superiority in this regiment over the most if not all regiments in our army, is in the appearance & qualities of the whole of the officers. The late Sir J. Moore has bequeathed a valuable legacy to the British army in this proof of the excellence of the system which he introduced.

*The Correspondence of Sir Henry Clinton in the Waterloo Campaign, Vols. 1 & 2, ed. Gareth Glover (Ken Trotman Pub., 2015).

EKW

“A desire to form something quite different from the rest of the Army”

With all the current discussion on light infantry in the hobby, I recently went back to this post on Mr. O’Keeffe’s blog, 1812 and all that.

Sir John Moore’s December 1803 inspection of the 95th Rifles reminds me of two observations that Sir Henry Clinton made of Adam’s brigade shortly before the Battle of Waterloo. In a May 31st letter to his brother he wrote:

“I am working hard to get my division into some kind of order, the young Hanoverians [in Halkett’s 3rd Hanoverian Brigade] progress of improvement not [only] on the Legion [du Platt’s 1st KGL Brigade] but even Adam’s Brigade [52nd, 71st, 2/95th, 3/95th], which like many other of our best regiments, fancy themselves so perfect that they have nothing to learn which might serve to improve them.”*

Within a fortnight of this letter, Clinton would further write:

“These Battalions [the 71st, 6 coys. 2/95th, and 2 coys. 3/95th] having the name light infantry and strong in officers, are slower & move more incorrectly than any troops that I have had anything to do with. The filing, wheeling & marching in line of the soldiers are defective from the want of proper instruction and from great apparent inattention. The officers very generally speaking are awkward & unable to command … from having acquired an high reputation in the late war, [the 71st] is animated with a firmness that it has nothing to learn & is not susceptible of amendment … all they do is wrong. They seldom deploy in a straight line, or march in one, in no circumstances preserve their distances, give incorrect words of command & show no desire to improve … The 95th under Colonel Norcott … are very faulty, they are loose, slow & incorrect & here [I] observed wrong words of command are introduced.”*

*The Correspondence of Sir Henry Clinton in the Waterloo Campaign, Vol. 2, ed. Gareth Glover (Ken Trotman Pub., 2015), pp. 60.

*Ibid., pp 81-2.

EKW

A Look at Light Infantry Manuals

As some of you already know, one of the aims for the school this year was to focus on light infantry drill. What prompted this was that some of us on the staff have observed an increased emphasis on light infantry drill at the unit level and wanted to take an opportunity at the school to codify and regulate what is being practiced so as to better harmonise inter-unit manœuvres on the field.

Now you might be rightly asking which manuals were we intending to instruct from. What with the plethora of early nineteenth century light infantry/riflemen manuals that are now available online, it can be a little confusing to determine which ones we should emphasise and which ones we can consider supplementary. This post will address this question.

The 1792 Rules and Regulations (AKA Dundas, after its author, Sir David Dundas) forms the basis of the drill used by British infantry from the early 1790s to the early 1820s. Although the light infantry exercise only takes up nine pages of it (and one and a half pages of the complementary 1804 Manual and Platoon Exercise), all re-enacting groups that represent British soldiers from this era should see these instructions as foundational to their understanding of the light infantry drill practiced by the British Army at that time.

That said, army officers entrusted with the training of light troops often developed their own takes on the instructions outlined by Dundas. Francis de Rottenburg‘s manual, Regulations for the Exercise of Riflemen and Light Infantry, and Instructions for their Conduct in the Field, was historically the most influential of these treatises. Translated from the original German in 1798, it would remain the official riflemen/light infantry manual for the army until the 1820s and thus had considerable influence on all later light infantry manuals. Nevertheless, de Rottenburg’s work, as with the later works I will be addressing below, merely supplemented the 1792 Regulations. As de Rottenburg wrote in the Regulations for the Exercise of Riflemen: “WHEN a company or battalion of riflemen is to act with closed ranks and files, the same regulations which are given to infantry in general serve for them [emphasis mine]. And before the soldier is instructed in the manœuvres of light troops, he must be taught how to hold himself, to march, face, wheel, &c. as in regular infantry.” Therefore, even if one’s re-enactment unit is already using de Rottenburg as the basis of their drill, they still should have a full grasp of the 1792 Regulations to stay true to their historical counterparts.

Other than de Rottenburg, probably the most influential light infantry manual among modern re-enactors is Thomas H. Cooper’s A Practical Guide for the Light Infantry Officer (1806). Likely the main reason this work has become the “go to” for so many re-enactors is because it was beautifully reproduced in 1970 and thus became far more readily available than other, more historically important works from the same era. Along with including remarkably clear diagrams, Cooper adds accessible commentary on the light infantry manœuvres laid out by Dundas and de Rottenburg.

Despite being a regular officer, Cooper writes that the “principal design” of his study was to “exhibit and compress [emphasis mine]” light infantry manœuvres for the “benefit of the British Volunteers.” So unlike the 1792 Regulations, de Rottenburg, and the authors addressed below, the intended audience for A Practical Guide was Britain’s auxiliary forces – militia, volunteers, and yeomanry.

Although it is true that A Practical Guide was recommended reading for British infantry officers at the time of its publication, we must remember that Cooper’s work never attained official recognition by the army. Consequently, modern re-enactors need to be careful when using this and other supplementary light infantry manuals from the era, especially if they contradict or stray from official regulations. Like Cooper, many of these manuals often simplified drill to accommodate their intended audience – namely irregular part-time soldiers.

So to quickly recap: the authorised sources for light infantry drill in the British Army during era we represent were the 1792 Rules and Regulations by Dundas and the Regulations for the Exercise of Riflemen by de Rottenburg, which, since 1798, had become the official advanced textbook on light infantry drill (see General Regulations and Orders for the Army).* Nevertheless, there are two additional manuals that probably best represent the light infantry drill practiced during the closing years of the Napoleonic Wars, and thus the ones we as re-enactors of the War of 1812 should be using along with the Dundas and de Rottenburg:

A Course of Drill and Instruction in the Movements and Duties of Light Infantry, by a “Field Officer” (1808) & A System of Drill and Manoeuvres As Practised in the 52nd Light Infantry Regiment, by John Cross (1823).

Although grounded in the instructions found in the 1792 Regulations and de Rottenburg, these manuals build upon these earlier works. They embody the system of drill and manœuvre perfected under Sir John Moore at Shorncliffe Camp and the apotheosis of experience gained fighting the French in the 1790s. Furthermore, the exercises laid down in these manuals were tried and tested on the battlefields of the Peninsula and the Low Countries. Even more importantly, these manuals received degrees of official recognition and were highly influential in the lead up to the publication of the 1824 Field Exercise and Evolutions of the Army.

Although intentionally uncredited, the author of A Course of Drill was Neil Campbell. A close friend of Moore, he served in both the 95th and 43rd and was present at Shorncliffe Camp. In the introduction to the second edition published in 1813, entitled Instructions for Light Infantry and Riflemen, Campbell acknowledges that the previous publication appeared without his name because he did not want to receive any credit for merely compiling the light infantry drill practiced by the 95th Rifles and subsequently the “Light Infantry Brigade” under Moore. He goes on to write that this same system of instruction was used for the training of Portuguese caçadores in the Peninsula.

Reputedly from the year of its first publication in 1808 right through to 1824, when the new infantry manual was issued, Campbell’s work was used in “all Light Infantry Regiments as the only standard of reference for uniformity of movement and practice.”* This seems to be confirmed by the following June 1823 General Order by the C-in-C Bombay:

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Until fairly recently, we as a hobby were mainly unaware of Campbell’s manual as both editions are still not readily available (that is unless you knew that the US Army manual, Regulations for Light Infantry and Riflemen, by C. K. Gardiner [1816] copied Campbell verbatim). The same goes for the next manual as well.

Although published in 1823, A System of Drill and Manoeuvres As Practised in the 52nd is purportedly based on earlier regimental practice. Indeed, the drill described in the book is declared to be that adopted by the 52nd during the Shorncliffe Camp exercises of 1804. Soon after the end of the Napoleonic Wars, at least one light infantry regiment, the 90th, was being taught the “light infantry drill” according to “the system of the 52nd.”* Its author, John Cross, served with the 52nd throughout the Peninsula campaign and at Waterloo. He was also apparently the person who gave all the instructions of Moore, & c. to the author of the 1824 Field Exercise, Sir Henry Torrens, and subsequently he commanded the 68th Light Infantry.

Now that we have copies of both editions of Campbell’s manual, as well as Cross’s A System, I feel we as a hobby have finally reached a stage where we can be almost certain of the drill practised by the light infantry and riflemen in Wellington’s army, and thus have a better sense of what was practised here in British North America during the War of 1812. Therefore, it was our intention for the now cancelled school to instruct primarily from Campbell and Cross while also acknowledging that these manuals supplemented the 1792 Regulations and de Rottenburg by expanding, as opposed to deviating, from them.

I know that some of you have copies of these manuals already, but if you do not, let me know and I will be happy to send you digital versions of Campbell’s A Course of Drill and/or Cross’s A System.

EKW

*There was also the 1797 Light Infantry Exercise, but this tract is merely the light infantry drill that was added to the second edition of the 1792 Regulations published separately. It was eventually added to later additions of de Rottenburg:

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*Quoting from Napoleon at Fontainebleau and Elba … &c (1869), pp. 11.

*Quoting from the Personal Memoirs & Correspondence of Colonel Charles Shaw, K.C.T.S., &c., vol. 1 (1837), pp. 105.

“The Sweeps”

Colour-Serjeant Joseph Miller, Rifle Brigade

Sjt (7)

According to his attestation form, Joseph Miller was born in Coleraine, Co. Derry and was a “nailor” by trade. He was sworn in for service with the 50th (West Kent) Regiment of Foot in Londonderry, aged 20, on 8 October, 1816. He was promoted corporal on 5 March 1818, but on the regiment’s reduction resulting from peace-time economies, he was discharged only eight months later. After a three-year period as a civilian, in April 1821 he re-enlisted in Armagh, this time with the 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade. He voluntarily enlisted for unlimited service for a bounty of £3, receiving 2s 6d upon his attestation. Miller rose rapidly to corporal in 1824, to serjeant in 1826, and became colour-serjeant in August 1832.

Miller was ordered to London from the reserve companies of the 1st Battalion at Chatham, where he was painted by Drahonet wearing the new double-breasted coatee with black horn buttons ordered in April 1833. The falling black horsehair plume atop his shako was not replaced by a wool ball tuft until 1836. Notice his bronzed pouch belt badge and whistle, as well as the plug in the muzzle of his Baker Rifle.

In 1844, when Miller was aged 47, he was discharged from the army at Athlone, being unfit for service. He was described as having a fresh complexion with brown hair and grey eyes, being five foot eight-and-a-quarter inches tall. The medical officer avoided reporting his symptoms, recording only that “… this man’s strength and activity are so much impaired as to render him unfit to perform the duties of a soldier.” It seems that his disability, whatever it was, had not been caused by vice or intemperance. During his 25 years’ service in the army, his character and conduct were exemplary.

Source:

Portraits for a King: The British Military Paintings of A-J Dubois Drahonet (Jenny Spencer-Smith, 1990).

EKW

 

File Marching (Part Deux)

This season I noticed that there was some confusion regarding where officers and NCOs should place themselves when the Battalion moves off by fours by breaking to the left. When marching, either by files or by fours, the dressing is “always taken from the hand the division should face if ordered to front, and therefore always towards the side where the front rank of the division is placed.” Therefore, it does not matter if the Battalion breaks right or left, the command file always leads ahead of the front rank.*

*Remember, all changes of position are to take place behind the rear rank. Officers are never to pass in front of their men for the purpose of shifting from one flank to the other.

Source: A Treatise on the British Drill … by A. Suasso (1816).

EKW

Ich Dien

Armourer-Serjeant William Sime, 23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers)

Sjt (4)

The colour of the serjeant’s four chevrons has been interpreted as being intended to illustrate white, thus indicating quartermaster-serjeant. However, William Sime held the appointment of armourer-serjeant in 1833. Thus this portrait may provide evidence that, in at least the 23rd Foot, this appointment was distinguished by four instead of three white chevrons at this time.

Sime was stationed with his regiment in Gibraltar throughout 1832 and 1833, but, although not recorded in the muster rolls, it is possible he travailed to England in this period. In the sequence of Drahonet’s work, this painting should date from the last quarter of 1833. Early in 1834, Sime committed some offence, for which he was tried by regimental court martial, being reduced to private after a week’s imprisonment.

The most distinctive feature of this uniform is the large plate worn at the front of the fusilier’s 14-inch high bearskin cap. The caps lost their brass plates in 1835. Since 1824, the wearing of bearskins was officially confined to the United Kingdom and North America and shakos were permitted to be worn by fusilier regiments when serving in “warm climates.” 

Source:

Portraits for a King: The British Military Paintings of A-J Dubois Drahonet (Jenny Spencer-Smith, 1990).

EKW