In a message dated 5/3/99 6:54:23 PM Central Daylight Time,
Interesting stuff Betsy,
<< FYI-- (for Tim)
The US manual was very explicit in its instructions to soldiers
regarding "taking aim"-- that the soldier was not to put his finger
through the guard/onto the trigger until he had picked his target.>>
The only US manual I have is the Infantry Exercise Abridged for the Militia
(1817) and this states, as you say, that the order is 'Aim', and that the
soldier was actually to take aim, however there is nothing about not firing
until one had found a target and the last instruction of the movement is ";
and place the fore finger on the trigger."
<<Aiming slowed US troops less than the smaller windage may have. >>
How does windage slow troops? Affect their accuracy yes but it has no effect
whatsoever on the rapidity of fire.
My question is how does the officer know when to give the order to fire if he
has to wait until all; of his men have picked a target?
If the men are not supposed to fire until they have picked a target, and the
order is given before they have picked one, do they disobey the order to fire?
I had always assumed that the order 'aim' was just a convention that in
practical terms meant exactly the same thing as the British present, if not I
now see a good reason why US troops usually came off worst in open field,
line to line actions.