The Strategypage is a comprehensive summary of military news and affairs.
December 7, 2022

CIC 477

Past Issues
CIC 476
CIC 475
CIC 474
CIC 473
CIC 472
CIC 471
CIC 470
CIC 469
CIC 468
CIC 467
CIC 466
CIC 465
CIC 464
CIC 463
CIC 462
CIC 461
CIC 460
CIC 459
CIC 458
CIC 457
CIC 456
CIC 455
CIC 454
CIC 453
CIC 452
CIC 451
CIC 450
CIC 449
CIC 448
CIC 447
CIC 446
CIC 445
CIC 444
CIC 443
CIC 442
CIC 441
CIC 440
CIC 439
CIC 438
CIC 437
CIC 436
CIC 435
CIC 434
CIC 433
CIC 432
CIC 431
CIC 430
CIC 429
CIC 428
CIC 427
CIC 426
CIC 425
CIC 424
CIC 423
CIC 422
CIC 421
CIC 420
CIC 419
CIC 418
CIC 417
CIC 416
CIC 415
CIC 414
CIC 413
CIC 412
CIC 411
CIC 410
CIC 409
CIC 408
CIC 407
CIC 406
CIC 405
CIC 404
CIC 403
CIC 402
CIC 401
CIC 400
CIC 399
CIC 398
CIC 397
CIC 396
CIC 395
CIC 394
CIC 393
CIC 392
CIC 391
CIC 390
CIC 389
CIC 388
CIC 387
CIC 386
CIC 385
CIC 384
CIC 383
CIC 382
CIC 381
CIC 380
CIC 379
CIC 378
CIC 377
CIC 375
CIC 374
CIC 373
CIC 372
CIC 371
CIC 370
CIC 369
CIC 368
CIC 367
CIC 366
CIC 365
CIC 364
CIC 363
CIC 362
CIC 361
CIC 360
CIC 359
CIC 358
CIC 357
CIC 356
CIC 355
CIC 354
CIC 353
CIC 352
CIC 351
CIC 350
CIC 349
CIC 348
CIC 347
CIC 346
CIC 345
CIC 344
CIC 343
CIC 342
CIC 341
CIC 340
CIC 339
CIC 338
CIC 337
CIC 336
CIC 335
CIC 334
CIC 333
CIC 332
CIC 331
CIC 330
CIC 329
CIC 328
CIC 327
CIC 326
CIC 325
CIC 324
CIC 323
CIC 322
CIC 321
CIC 320
CIC 319
CIC 318
CIC 317
CIC 316
CIC 315
CIC 314
CIC 313
CIC 312
CIC 311
CIC 310
CIC 309
CIC 308
CIC 307
CIC 306
CIC 305
CIC 304
CIC 303
CIC 302
CIC 301
CIC 300
CIC 299
CIC 298
CIC 297
CIC 296
CIC 295
CIC 294
CIC 293
CIC 292
CIC 291
CIC 290
CIC 289
CIC 288
CIC 287
CIC 286
CIC 285
CIC 284
CIC 283
CIC 282
CIC 281
CIC 280
CIC 279
CIC 278
CIC 277
CIC 276
CIC 275
CIC 274
CIC 273
CIC 272
CIC 271
CIC 270
CIC 269
CIC 268
CIC 267
CIC 266
CIC 265
CIC 264
CIC 263
CIC 262
CIC 261
CIC 260
CIC 259
CIC 258
CIC 257
CIC 256
CIC 255
CIC 254
CIC 253
CIC 252
CIC 251
CIC 250
CIC 249
CIC 248
CIC 247
CIC 246
CIC 245
CIC 244
CIC 243
CIC 242
CIC 241
CIC 240
CIC 239
CIC 238
CIC 237
CIC 236
CIC 235
CIC 234
CIC 233
CIC 232
CIC 231
CIC 230
CIC 229
CIC 228
CIC 227
CIC 226
CIC 225
CIC 224
CIC 223
CIC 222
CIC 221
CIC 220
CIC 219
CIC 218
CIC 217
CIC 216
CIC 215
CIC 214
CIC 213
CIC 212
CIC 211
CIC 210
CIC 209
CIC 208
CIC 207
CIC 206
CIC 205
CIC 204
CIC 203
CIC 202
CIC 201
CIC 200
CIC 199
CIC 198
CIC 197
CIC 196
CIC 195
CIC 194
CIC 193
CIC 192
CIC 191
CIC 190
CIC 189
CIC 188
CIC 187
CIC 186
CIC 185
CIC 184
CIC 183
CIC 182
CIC 181
CIC 180
CIC 179
CIC 178
CIC 177
CIC 176
CIC 175
CIC 174
CIC 173
CIC 172
CIC 171
CIC 170
CIC 169
CIC 168
CIC 167
CIC 166
CIC 165
CIC 164
CIC 163
CIC 162
CIC 161
CIC 160
CIC 159
CIC 158
CIC 157
CIC 156
CIC 155
CIC 154
CIC 153
CIC 152
CIC 151
CIC 150
CIC 149
CIC 148
CIC 147
CIC 146
CIC 145
CIC 144
CIC 143
CIC 142
CIC 141
CIC 140
CIC 139
CIC 138
CIC 137
CIC 136
CIC 135
CIC 134
CIC 133
CIC 132
CIC 131
CIC 130
CIC 129
CIC 128
CIC 127
CIC 126
CIC 125
CIC 124
CIC 123
CIC 122
CIC 121
CIC 120
CIC 119
CIC 118
CIC 117
CIC 116
CIC 115
CIC 114
CIC 113
CIC 112
CIC 111
CIC 110
CIC 109
CIC 108
CIC 107
CIC 106
CIC 105
CIC 104
CIC 103
CIC 102
CIC 101
CIC 100
CIC 99
CIC 98
CIC 97
CIC 96
CIC 95
CIC 94
CIC 93
CIC 92
CIC 91
CIC 90
CIC 89
CIC 88
CIC 87
CIC 86
CIC 85
CIC 84
CIC 83
CIC 82
CIC 81
CIC 80
CIC 79
CIC 78
CIC 77
CIC 76
CIC 75
CIC 74
CIC 73
CIC 72
CIC 71
CIC 70
CIC 69
CIC 68
CIC 67
CIC 66
CIC 65
CIC 64
CIC 63
CIC 62
CIC 61
CIC 60
CIC 59
CIC 58
CIC 57
CIC 56
CIC 55
CIC 54
CIC 53
CIC 52
CIC 51
CIC 50
CIC 49
CIC 48
CIC 47
CIC 46
CIC 45
CIC 44
CIC 43
CIC 42
CIC 41
CIC 40
CIC 39
CIC 38
CIC 37
CIC 36
CIC 35
CIC 34
CIC 33
CIC 32
CIC 31
CIC 30
CIC 29
CIC 28
CIC 27
CIC 26
CIC 25
CIC 24
CIC 23
CIC 22
CIC 21
CIC 20
CIC 19
CIC 18
CIC 17
CIC 16
CIC 15
CIC 14
CIC 13
CIC 12
CIC 11
CIC 10

War and the Muses - “The Militia Company Drill”

Remembered today, if at all, as the uncle and sometime mentor to Confederate Lt. Gen. James Longstreet, in his day Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790-1870), known as “Judge Longstreet,” was a prominent political figure in Georgia and a nationally known humorist, his dialect tales of Southern life being widely circulated.  In his most famous work, Georgia Scenes, Characters, Incidents, Etc., in the First Half-century of the Republic (New York: 1842), Longstreet provided an eyewitness account of a militia company at drill from about twenty years’ earlier.  Although Longstreet said the piece was “from the pen of a friend” named Timothy Crabshaw, it had actually been written by Oliver Hillhouse Prince (1787-1837), who was for a time U.S. Senator from Georgia.  Though a mite long, and characterized by some very funny spelling, intended to convey the local accent, it provides an amusing picture of a militia muster during the early Republic, and may also strike a cord with anyone who’s had to do his bit of weekend duty.

The Militia Company Drill

I HAPPENED, not long since, to be present at the muster of a captain's company in a remote part of one of the counties; and as no general description could convey an accurate idea of the achievements of that day, I must be permitted to go a little into detail, as well as my recollection will serve me.

The men had been notified to meet at nine o'clock, “armed and equipped as the law directs;" that is to say, with a gun and catridge box at least, but, as directed by the law of the United States, "with a good firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, and a pouch with a box to contain no less than twenty-four sufficient catridges of powder and ball."

At twelve, about one third, perhaps one half, of the men had collected, and an inspector's return of the number present, and of their arms, would have stood nearly thus: 1 captain, 1 lieutenant; ensign, none; fifers, none; privates, present, 24; ditto, absent, 40; guns, 14; gunlocks, 12; ramrods, 10; rifle pouches, 3; bayonets, none; belts, none; spare flints, none; catridges, none; horse-whips, walking canes, and umbrellas, 10.  A little before one, the captain, whom I shall distinguish by the name of Clodpole, gave directions for forming the line of parade.  In obedience to this order, one of the sergeants, whose lungs had long supplied the place of a drum and fife, placed himself in front of the house, and began to bawl with great vehemence, " All Captain Clodpole's company parade here!  Come, GENTLEMEN, parade here !" says he; "all you that hasn't got guns fall into the lower eend."  He might have bawled till this time, with as little success as the sirens sung to Ulysses, had he not changed his post to a neighbouring shade.  There he was immediately joined by all who were then at leisure; the others were at that time engaged as parties or spectators at a game of fives, and could not just then attend.  However, in less than half an hour the game was finished, and the captain enabled to form his company, and proceed in the duties of the day.

"Look to the right and dress!"

They were soon, by the help of the non-commissioned officers, placed in a straight line; but, as every man was anxious to see how the rest stood, those on the wings pressed forward for that purpose, till the whole line assumed nearly the form of a crescent.

"Why, look at 'em," says the captain; "why, gentlemen, you are all a crooking in at both eends, so that you will get on to me by-and-by! Come, gentlemen, dress, dress!"

This was accordingly done; but, impelled by the same motives as before, they soon resumed their former figure, and so they were permitted to remain.

"Now, gentlemen," says the captain, "I am going to carry you through the revolutions of the manual exercise; and I want you, gentlemen, if you please, to pay particular attention to the word of command, just exactly as I give it out to you.  I hope you will have a little patience, gentlemen, if you please; and if I should be agoing wrong, I will be much obliged to any of you, gentlemen, to put me right again, for I mean all for the best, and I hope you will excuse me if you please.  And one thing, gentlemen, I caution you against, in particular, and that is this: not to make
any mistakes if you can possibly help it; and the best way to do this will be to do all the motions right at first; and that will help us to get along so much the faster; and I will try to have it over as soon as possible. Come, boys, come to a shoulder.

"Poise, foolk !” [firelock]

“Cock, foolk ! Very handsomely done.

“Take, aim'  

“Ram down, catridge!  No! No!  Fire!  I recollect now that firing comes next after taking aim, according to Steuben; but, with your permission, gentlemen, I'll read the words of command just exactly as they are printed in the book, and then I shall be sure
to be right."

"Oh, yes! read it, captain, read it!" exclaimed twenty voices at once; "that will save time."

" ‘Tention the whole!  Please to observe, gentlemen, that at the word 'fire!' you must fire; that is, if any of your guns are loaden'd, you must not shoot in yearnest, but only make pretence like; and you, gentlemen fellow-soldiers, who's armed with nothing but sticks, riding-switches, and corn-stalks, needn't go through the firings, but stand as you are, and keep yourselves
to yourselves.

Half cock foolk!  Very well done

S-h-e-t . . . Shet, pan!  That too would have been handsomely done, if you hadn't handled catridge instead of shetting 'pan; but I suppose you wasn't noticing. Now 'tention one and all, gentlemen, and do that motion again.

Shet, pan!  Very good, very well indeed; you did that motion equal to any old soldier; you improve astonishingly.

"Handle, catridge!  Pretty well, considering you done it wrong end foremost, as if you took the catridge out of your mouth, and bit off the twist with the catridge-box.

"Draw, rammer!  Those who have no rammers to their guns need not draw, but only make the motion; it will do just as well, and save a great deal of time.

"Return, rammer! Very well again. But that would have been done, I think, with greater expertness if you had performed the motion with a little more dexterity.

"S-h-o-u-l—Shoulder, foolk!  Very handsomely done indeed!  Put your guns on the other shoulder gentlemen.

Order, foolk!  Not quite so well, gentlemen; not quite altogether; but perhaps I did not speak loud enough for you to hear me all at once.  Try once more, if you please. I hope you will be patient, gentlemen; we will soon be through . . . ."

Order, foolk!  Handsomely done, gentlemen!  Very handsomely done! and all together too, except that one half of you were a leetle too soon, and the other half a leetle too late.

"In laying down your guns, gentlemen, take care to
lay the locks up and the other side down.

" ‘Tention the whole!  Ground, foolk!  Very well.

Charge bayonet!”

(Some of the men) — "That can't be, captain: pray look again; for how can we charge bayonet without our guns ?"

(Captain) — "I don't know as to that, but I know I'm right, for here 'tis printed in the book;  c-h-a-r—yes, charge, bayonet, that's right, that's the word, if I know how to read. Come, gentlemen, do pray charge bayonet!  Charge, I say!  Why don't you charge!  Do you think it aint so?  Do you think I have lived to this time o' day, and don't know what charge bayonet is? Here, come here, you may see for yourselves; it's as plain as the nose on your fa—stop—stay—no—halt! no!  Faith, I'm wrong!  I turned over two leaves at once.  I beg your pardon, we will not stay out long; and we'll have something to drink as soon as we have done.  Come, boys, get off the stumps and logs, and take up your guns; we'll soon be done: excuse me if you please.

"Fix, bayonet!"

Advance, arms!  Very well done: turn the stocks of your guns in front, gentlemen, and that will bring the barrels behind; hold them straight up and down, if you please; let go with your left, and take hold with your right hand below the guard.  Steuben says the gun should be held p-e-r—pertic'lar; yes, you must always mind and hold your guns very pertic'lar.  Now boys 'tention the whole!

“Present, arms!  Very handsomely done! only hold your gun over t'other knee — t'other hand up — turn your hands round a little, and raise them up higher — draw t'other foot back — now you are nearly right — very well done.

"Gentlemen, we come now to the revolutions.  Men, you have all got into a sort of snarl, as I may say; how did you all get into such a higglety pigglety?"

The fact was, the shade had moved considerably to the eastward, and had exposed the right wing of these hardy veterans to a galling fire of the sun. Being poorly provided with umbrellas at this end of the line, they found it convenient to follow the shade; and in huddling to the left for this purpose, they changed the figure of their line from that of a crescent to one which more nearly resembled a pair of pothooks.

"Come, gentlemen," says the captain, "spread yourselves out again into a straight line; and let us get into the wheelings and other matters as soon as possible."

But this was strenuously opposed by the soldiers.  They objected to going into the revolutions at all, inasmuch as the weather was extremely hot, and they had already been kept in the field upward of three quarters of an hour.  They reminded the captain of his repeated promise to be as short as he possibly could, and it was clear he could dispense with all this wheeling and flourishing if he chose.  They were already very thirsty, and if he would not dismiss them, they declared they would go off without dismission, and get something to drink, and he might fine them if that would do him any good; they were able to pay their fine, but would not go without drink to please anybody; and they swore they would never vote for another captain who wished to be so unreasonably strict.

The captain behaved with great spirit upon the occasion, and a smart colloquy ensued ; when at length becoming exasperated to the last degree, he roundly asserted that no soldier ought ever to think hard of the orders of his officer; and, finally he went so far as to say, that he did not think any gentleman on this ground had any just cause to be offended with him.  The dispute vas finally settled by the captain sending for some grog for their present accommodation, and agreeing to omit reading the military law, and the performance of all the manoeuvres, except two or three
such easy and simple ones as could be performed within the compass of the shade. After they had drank their grog and had spread " themselves," they were divided into platoons.

" ‘Tention the whole ! To the right wheel!"

Each man faced to the right about.

"Why, gentlemen, I did not mean for every man to stand still and turn himself na'trally right round; but when I told you to wheel to the right, I intended you to wheel round to the right, as it were.  Please to try again, gentlemen; every right-hand man must stand
fast, and only the others turn round."

In the previous part of the exercise, it had, for the purpose of sizing, been necessary to denominate every second person a "right-hand man."  A very natural consequence was, that, on the present occasion, these right-hand men maintained their position, all the intermediate ones facing about as before.

" Why, look at 'em, now !’ exclaimed the captain, in extreme vexation ; "I'll be d—d if you understand a word I say.  Excuse me, gentlemen, it rayly seems as if you could not come at it exactly. In wheeling to the right, the right-hand eend of the platoon stands fast, and the other eend comes round like a swingle-tree.  Those on the outside must march faster than
those on the inside.  You certainly must understand me now, gentlemen ; and please to try it once more."  In this they were a little more successful.

“ ‘Tention the whole! To the left—left, no—right—that is, the left—I mean the right—left, wheel, march!"

In this he was strictly obeyed; some wheeling to the right, some to the left, and some to the right-left, or both ways.

"Stop! halt!  Let us try it again!  I could not just tell my right hand from my left!  You must excuse me, if you please; experience makes perfect, as the saying is. Long as I have served, I find something new to learn every day; but all's one for that.  Now, gentlemen, do that motion once more."

By the help of a non-commissioned officer in front of each platoon, they wheeled this time with considerable regularity.

"Now, boys, you must try to wheel by divisions; and there is one thing in particular which I have to request of you, gentlemen, and that is, not to make any blunder in your wheeling. You must mind and keep at a wheeling distance, and not talk in the ranks, nor get out of fix again; for I want you to do this motion well, and not to make any blunder now.

" ‘Tention the whole! By divisions, to the right wheel, march!"

In doing this it seemed as if Bedlam had broke loose: every man took the command.  Not so fast on the right!  Slow now!  Haul down those umbrellas!  Faster on the left!  Keep back a little there!  Don't scrouge so!  Hold up your gun, Sam!  Go faster
there!  faster!  Who trod on my ____ ?  D___­­­­ n your huffs!  Keep back!  Stop us, captain, do stop us!  Go faster there!  I've lost my shoe!  Get up again, Ned!  Halt! halt! halt!  Stop, gentlemen! stop! stop!

By this time they had got into utter and inextricable, confusion, and so I left them.

© 1998 - 2022 All rights Reserved.,, FYEO, For Your Eyes Only and Al Nofi's CIC are all trademarks of
Privacy Policy