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Light Infantry Drill in Practice

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  • celer_et_audax_7_60th <fullerfamily@spri
    I went back and looked at a thread or two in the past about simplification of light infantry drill for Canadian militia. It might have not merely been a
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2003
      I went back and looked at a thread or two in the past about
      simplification of light infantry drill for Canadian militia. It might
      have not merely been a simplification for their sake, but likely to
      bring them in line with that of the regular army, at least for that
      used on active service? This is something that others may have
      already looked at, but I wasn't as aware of as I'd thought. I do
      recall, for example, that Peter Hofschröer has gone into some detail
      regarding the KGL and Hannoverian troops' variations in the British
      manual for light infantry, i.e., strict British manual for parades,
      their own manual, loosely based on de Rottenburg, for active service.
      There is also an abundance of privately printed light infantry and
      sharpshooter manuals, such as Cooper, Barber, Duke of Northumberland,
      Campbell, etc., but these are private works, not based on any
      specific governmental requirement.

      While doing some research at ASK Brown on Napoleonic British rifle
      regts., I came across this regimental order from Col W G Davy,
      colonel of the 5th Batt/60th Foot, the famed British army light
      infantry unit, armed w/ rifles, whose first colonel was Francis de
      Rottenburg, and whose manual this unit and all other light infantry
      and rifle units in the British army used, in progressing form. I
      imagine there were always some difficulties applying the specifics of
      a manual to reality. Davy's unit had already had much combat
      experience by 1808, and I wonder if other COs experienced the same
      frustrations and conclusions when putting the principles into

      It might be something to bear in mind when we are training and
      drilling our fellow reenactors in preparation for being on the field
      in simulated tactical demonstrations: the parade ground is one thing-
      reality is another.

      Cheers, comments, etc.,


      "On Board the 'Malabar',
      Cove of Cork,
      July 2d, 1808

      As it is not practicable in the field, when firing or advancing, for
      the serjeants to run out and mark the line on which the skirmishers
      are to form previously to their firing, the men must be instructed
      that, on the signal to fire being sounded, the rank which is to go
      forward moves twelve paces to the front, each man counting his own
      steps, and will wait for the signal to fire being given by the
      whistle. >>No time ought to be lost in scrupulous attention to
      dressing.<<(my emphasis- RF) Eight or more men of the flank files of
      the line must be kept back so that the whole may form a semi-circle,
      by which the flanks may be better covered. It is a matter of course
      that the men who will profit by any advantage which the ground will
      offer for their protection, and place themselves behind hedges,
      trees, fences, ditches, &c., and consequently the distance which one
      line of skirmishers has to pass when firing in advancing must be
      entirely regulated by these circumstances, and it must be clearly
      understood that it is only in open ground which affords no cover (if
      ever riflemen should be employed to act as such,) that the distance
      of twelve paces is to be observed. '

      'The fire in retreating is to be executed on the same principles as
      that in advancing.'

      W G DAVY
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