The Plattsburg Manual - A Handbook for Military Training
by O.O. Ellis and E.B. Garey
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Before the present European War, machine guns were classified as emergency weapons. It was not believed that they could remain long in action, because they would soon be silenced by hostile fire (artillery and infantry). It was recommended, therefore, that a favorable opportunity be awaited before opening fire which was to be delivered with their utmost effectiveness. They were believed to possess very limited possibilities in an attacking line, hut as being most valuable in defensive works where protection and concealment could be found.

During this war they have lost, as a defensive weapon, no prestige. They have also proved of great value to the attacking side. They are being made light and portable to accompany the firing line in an attack. The supply of ammunition alone limits the number that can be used.

Each side in the present war has used them by the thousands with effectiveness. Machine guns are more worthy of consideration to-day than heretofore.


The present European War has revived the use of hand grenades and bombs. A certain number of soldiers in each British and French battalion are trained as grenade throwers. Their principal weapon is a bucket or bag of grenades or bombs. They operate not only from trenches but accompany the firing line in an attack and dispose of sheltered or isolated group of the enemy by smothering their position with a shower of hand grenades or bombs.

These weapons are in the first stages of development in this country. They offer to the service practically a virgin field of opportunities. Some Reserve Officers might make a specialty of this subject and assist in its development.


"By employing night operations troops make use of the cover of darkness to minimize losses from hostile fire, to escape observation, to gain time." (Infantry Drill Regulations.) They are dangerous because control is difficult and confusion is frequently unavoidable. Only trained troops should be used, and the formation must be simple. Don't attempt anything complicated.

Observe the following suggestions. For an attack or offensive movement:

(1) Study by daylight and after dark, if possible, the ground you are to cross.

(2) Make careful preparations with secrecy.

(3) Avoid fire action. Pieces should not be loaded. Rely on the bayonet.

(4) Give each unit a definite objective and direction. Avoid collision.

(5) Have each man wear a distinctive badge. (For instance, a white band on one arm.)

If on the defensive and you expect a night attack, place obstacles in front of your position, heavily patrol your front, fix bayonets, move up your supports, open fire as soon as results may be expected, and illuminate the foreground.


The main object in placing obstacles in front of a defensive position is to delay the enemy while he is under the defenders' fire, and thus make his advance as difficult as possible. To accomplish this result they must be so placed that the enemy must cross them. They must not interfere with the defenders' view or fire; they must not be easily destroyed by artillery fire; they must not afford concealment to the enemy; and they must be so made that they will not obstruct a counter attack on the part of the defenders. The present war has demonstrated that the barb wire entanglement fulfils more of these requirements than any other form of obstacle.—See Engineer Department's "Manual on Field Fortifications" on how to construct obstacles.


When two hostile forces suddenly meet we have what is termed a "meeting engagement." Very little or no reconnaissance is possible. There is an absence of trenches. Both sides deploy rapidly. The smaller the force the more frequently will it fight a meeting engagement. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to junior officers. A great advantage will accrue to the side which can deploy the faster. The leader who has intuition, initiative, who can make a quick decision and is willing to take a long chance, will have a great advantage.


"The withdrawal of a defeated force can generally be effected only at a heavy cost." (Infantry Drill Regulations.) When a withdrawal is necessary, make every possible effort to place distance and a rear guard between you and the enemy. Have one part of your line withdraw under protection of the fire of the other part and so on. Reorganize your command as soon as possible.


"Ordinarily infantry intrenches itself whenever it is compelled to halt for a considerable time in the presence of the enemy." (Infantry Drill Regulations.) Trenches are constructed with a view of giving cover which will diminish losses, but they must not be so built or placed as to interfere with the free use of the rifle. A good field of fire is the first consideration. The construction of a trench is simple, but the location of it is difficult. If possible, trenches are laid out in company lengths.

Intrenchments usually take the following form:

(1) Hasty Cover. Constructed by troops with the tools they carry on their person. It is a shallow trench with a parapet at least three feet thick and one foot high. It furnishes cover against rifle fire, but scarcely any against shrapnel.

(2) Fire Trench. It should be deep and narrow with the parapet flat and concealed. While in it, the troops fire at the enemy; hence the name fire trench.

Usual forms of fire trenches are as shown in the following illustration:

(3) Support Trenches. The supports sleep and live in these trenches; hence they are covered. The cover (roof) must be thick enough to afford protection from high angle artillery fire. It is placed as near the fire trench as possible.

(4) Approach Trenches. These connect fire trenches with the support trenches and the support trenches with any trenches in rear where natural covered communication is impracticable.

They are zig-zagged to escape being enfiladed. (That is, to prevent one explosion from doing too much damage in a single trench.) During an engagement, troops by using these trenches can go safely to the help of the troops in the fire trenches. They are usually deep and narrow.

(5) Intermediate Trenches. They are constructed in rear of the support trenches when the ground renders it possible to offer a stubborn resistance between the support and the reserve trenches. They are constructed like fire trenches.

(6) Reserve Trenches. Constructed like the fire trenches and occupied by the local reserves who live in deep dug-outs. The intermediate and reserve trenches are often merged into the support trenches. All are protected by barbwire entanglements. No set plan of trenches can be used. The topographical features of the ground must govern.


Definition. "A military map is a drawing made to represent some section of the country, showing the features that are of military importance, such as roads, bridges, streams, houses, and hills. The map must be so drawn that you can tell the distance between any two points, the heights of the hills, and the relative positions of everything shown." (Field Service Regulations.)

In the field the military maps are supplemented by sketches, or field maps, prepared from day to day. For facility in reading, military maps are made according to a uniform system of scales and contour intervals as follows:

Road Sketches. Three inches on the map is equal to 1 mile on the ground, contour intervals of 20 feet.

Position and Outpost Sketches. Six inches on the map arc equal to 1 mile on the ground, contour intervals of 10 feet.

Manoeuver or War Game Maps. Twelve inches on the map are equal to 1 mile on the ground, contour intervals of 5 feet.

Large Strategical maps for Extended Manoeuvers. One inch on the map is equal to 1 mile on the ground, contour intervals of 60 feet.

Every officer in the Reserve Corps should be able to read a military map and make a road, an outpost, and a position sketch.


Importance of the Bayonet. The infantry soldier is armed with a bayonet. He relies mainly on fire action to disable the enemy, but he should know that it is often necessary for him to cross bayonets with the enemy. Therefore he must be instructed in the use of the rifle and the bayonet in hand-to-hand encounters. The present European War is demonstrating the importance of this instruction. If you did not receive instruction in bayonet fighting at a federal training camp, it was not because it is unimportant, but because there was no available time to give it. Any Reserve Officer can well afford to specialize in this work.


An infantry soldier goes into battle carrying 220 rounds of rifle ammunition. He habitually carries in his belt 100 rounds and when a fight is imminent he gets 120 rounds (2 bandoliers) from his combat train. He keeps 30 rounds in the right pocket section of his belt to be expended only when ordered by an officer.

A cavalryman goes into battle carrying 150 rounds of rifle ammunition and 40 rounds of pistol ammunition. He habitually carries in his belt 90 rounds of rifle and 20 rounds of pistol ammunition. When about to go into a fight he gets 60 rounds of rifle and 20 rounds of pistol ammunition from his combat train.

All officers must train their men to economize in the use of ammunition. Train service, even by rail for ammunition, would be inadequate if this were not done.


Organization commanders are responsible for all unauthorized material or supplies that may be put on their wagons. You should therefore become acquainted with the transportation attached to the smaller organizations. The wagons that carry your ammunition are called the Combat Train. The wagons that carry your authorized baggage, kitchen equipment, and food are called the Field Train.


A ration is the allowance (money) for the subsistence of one person for one day. It is based on the cost of a fixed amount of certain foods (such as meat, potatoes, bread, etc.) necessary for a workingman. As the cost of food in the different sections of the country varies, so does the cost of the ration. There are several kinds of ration based on what the soldier is doing and the climate he is in. If you are ever in command of a company, whether in the field or in barracks, one of your most important duties will be to supervise the cooking and messing of your company. You should, therefore, become familiar with the following rations:

(1) Garrison rations. Used by troops in garrison and during peace and on manoeuvers.

(2) Reserve ration. Carried on the person and in the trains.

(3) Field ration. The ration prescribed by the commander of a field force.

(4) Travel ration. Used when traveling.

(5) Emergency ration. Used by troops on an active campaign in an emergency.

(6) Filipino ration. For use of Filipino Scouts.


In the absence of regulations on the subject, each Reserve Officer should own a good watch, a pair of field glasses, a compass, and a note book.


Guards are used in camp or garrison to preserve order, to protect property, and to enforce police regulations. The commander of the guard is an officer or non-commissioned officer. He performs his duties under the supervision of the officer of the day. A sentinel is on post two hours out of every six. And a tour of guard duty is twenty-four hours. As guard duty is of such utmost importance, and laxity, or failure to perform it properly, is very severely punished, the duties of all connected with it are clearly prescribed in the Guard Manual.

Orders for sentinels are divided into two classes, general and special. Each should be memorized. Special orders relate to particular posts and duties. General orders apply to all sentinels and are as follows:

"(1) To take charge of this post and all government property in view.

"(2) To walk my post in a military manner, keeping always on the alert and observing everything that takes place within sight or hearing.

"(3) To report all violations of orders I am instructed to enforce.

"(4) To repeat all calls from posts more distant from the guard house than my own.

"(5) To quit my post only when properly relieved.

"(6) To receive, obey, and pass on to the sentinel who relieves me all orders from the commanding officer, officer of the day, and officers and noncommissioned officers of the guard only.

"(7) To talk to no one except in line of duty.

"(8) In case of fire or disorder to give the alarm.

"(9) To allow no one to commit a nuisance on or near my post.

"(10) In any case not covered by instructions to call the corporal of the guard.

"(11) To be especially watchful at night, and, during the time for challenging, to challenge all persons on or near my post, and to allow no one to pass without proper authority." (Guard Manual.)


Saluting distance is that within which recognition is easy. In general it does not exceed thirty paces.

A junior, who is mounted, dismounts before addressing a senior who is dismounted. If the senior is mounted the junior does not dismount when addressing him.

A junior officer walks or rides on the left of his senior.

National Anthem. Whenever the National Anthem is played at any place when persons belonging to the military service are present all officers and enlisted men not in formation should stand at attention facing toward the music (except at retreat, when they should face toward the flag). If in uniform, covered, they shall salute at the first note of the anthem, retaining the position of salute until the last note of the anthem. If uncovered, stand at attention but do not salute. If not in uniform and covered they shall uncover at the first note of the anthem, holding the headdress opposite the left shoulder and so remain until its close, except that in inclement weather the headdress may be slightly raised.

The same rules apply when to the color or to the standard is sounded as when the National Anthem is played.

When played by an Army band, the National Anthem shall be played through without repetition of any part not required to be repeated to make it complete.

The same marks of respect prescribed for observance during the playing of the National Anthem of the United States shall be shown toward the national anthem of any other country when played upon official occasions.

Colors or Standards. Colors are the national and regimental flags of foot troops. Standards are the national and regimental flags of cavalry or field artillery. When passing colors or standards, uncased (not in a waterproof case), the prescribed salute must always be rendered. By the prescribed salute is meant, if unarmed or armed with a saber which is sheathed, the "hand salute"; if armed with a drawn saber, the "present saber". If you, wearing civilian dress, pass them, uncover and hold the headdress opposite the left shoulder with the right hand.


We recommend that all officers, non-commissioned officers and all privates who propose to work for advancement read the following books. All can probably be obtained from the Adjutant General of the Army, Washington, D. C. Any other military books (desired can be purchased from the United States Infantry Association, Union Trust Building, Washington, D. C.

(1) "The Military Policy of the United States," by Gen. E. Upton.

(2) "The Guard Manual, United States Army."

(3) "The Field Service Regulations, United States Army."

(4) The Drill Regulations of the arm of the service to which you are assigned.

(5) "Non-commissioned Officers' Manual" (War Department Publication).

(6) "First Aid to the Sick and Injured" (War Department Publication).

(7) "Army Regulations" (to be used as a book of reference when needed).

(8) "Small Arms Firing Regulations" (War Department Publication).

(9) "A Manual for Courts-Martial, U. S. Army."

It is highly desirable for every Reserve Officer to place his name on the mailing list at the Army Service School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This costs about $1 a year and in return the officer receives much valuable information. Write to the Secretary for any further information desired on this subject.


Field orders, whether written or oral, should follow a certain form. This decreases the probability of any vital part being left out and increases the probability of the receiver or reader understanding it.

In the following form for an advance, note the order in which the paragraphs occur. This is very important.


Field Orders (Title) No. —— (Place) (Reference to map used) (Date and Hour)

(1) (Information of enemy and of our Troops supporting troops) (2) (Plan of commander)

(a) Independent (3) (a) (Instructions for independent Cavalry: cavalry-place and time of departure, (Commander) roads or country to be (Troops) covered, special mission)

(b) Advance Guard: (b) (Instructions for advance (Commander) guard-place and time of departure, or distance at which it is to (Troops) precede the main body, route, special mission) (c) Main Body—in order (c) (Instructions for main body—distance of march: at which it is to follow (Commander) the advance guard, or place and time of departure)

(d) Right (left) Flank (d) (Instructions for flank guard—place Guard: and time of departure, (Commander) route, special mission) (Troops)

(e) Signal Troops: (e) (Instructions for signal troops—lines (Commander) of information to be established, special mission)

(x) (Instructions for outpost—when relieved subsequent duties)

(4) (Instructions for field train—escort, distance in rear of column, or destination when different from that of main body, if disposition not previously covered in "Orders")

(Instructions for sanitary, ammunition, supply and engineer trains when necessary)

(5) (Place of commander or where messages may be sent)

(How and to whom issued)


Notice in particular that the first thing in the body of the order is the information of the enemy and of supporting or friendly troops; 2d, the plan; 3d, the detailed instruction for executing the plan; 4th, the order to field train; 5th, the place where the commander can be found.

All orders, whether for a retreat, an attack, a defense, the establishment of an outpost and so on, should take this general form.


Field Orders "Hq. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, No. 6 Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Three inch Leavenworth 20 Aug. '08, 8 P. M. Map (1) Two regiments of hostile infantry Troops are reported to have occupied Valley (a) Advance Guard: Falls late this afternoon, en route for Major A. Easton. Small hostile cavalry patrols 1st Bn & 8 mtd. orderlies, were seen two miles east of Valley 1st Inf. Falls at 6 P. M. to-day. 1st. Plat. Tr. A. The remainder of our division is expected 7th Cavalry to reach Fort Leavenworth (b) Main Body——in order to-morrow. of March: (2) This brigade (less the 3d Inf. Colonel B. which has been directed to hold the 1st. Inf. (less 1st Bn.) Missouri river crossing at Fort Leavenworth) 2d Infantry will march to-morrow to Detachment 3d F. Easton to hold the crossings of the Hosp. Big Stranger creek.

(3) (a) The advance guard will clear D at 5-15 A. M., marching via the E—G—Atchison Pike—1—74—78—80—Q—R—Easton road. Patrols will be sent via Lowemont to reconnoiter the crossings of the Big Stranger near Millwood and via Mount Olivet to reconnoiter those near 114.

(b) The main body will follow at a distance of about 700 yards.

(4) The baggage train (less that of the 3d Inf.), escorted by one squad, 2d Inf., will start from D at 6-15 A. M. and follow to P where it will await further orders.

(5) Reports will reach the brigade commander at the head of the main body.

By command of Brig.-Gen. X: Y, Adjt. Gen."

Copies by Adjutant to Col. B. 1st Inf. Col. C. 2d Inf. Col. D. 3d Inf. Maj. A. 1st Inf. Capt. E. Tr. A 7th Cav. Capt. F. Hospital Corps.


The cave man knocked over his foe with a rude club. The operation is greatly refined to-day. The technique of war changes with the ages, but human nature remains the same. Whether with grenade or gas, from submarine or aeroplane, a man after all possible woe and suffering is no more than killed. Human nature will submit to losses in battle up to a certain point, after that the frailties are asserted. The instinct of self-preservation dominates. Organization and discipline and reason are dissipated. A condition ensues similar to that which we have in theaters during fires.

Napoleon's success as a military leader was due to his knowledge of men and how to handle them, common sense, and in a lesser degree to what he learned from books. Upon such a basis the young managers of industrial concerns would be most valuable material from which to select and train successful military leaders. They know men, and it is necessary to possess a world of common sense to acquire any such knowledge. Many of those elements that make success in a military man are exactly the same as those that make a man successful anywhere. A president of a university, a lawyer or banker or merchant or engineer, has exactly the same kind of daily problems to solve, and requires much the same talents as those possessed by a military leader.

Since success in battle is the thing at which we are driving in all military training, it is common sense to prepare a machine that will do the business. Every officer and noncommissioned officer has got to know how to play the game. A good private makes a good corporal, a good corporal makes a good sergeant, a good sergeant makes a good lieutenant—a good colonel makes a good brigadier general—all exactly as in civil life.

Prussia has had her greatest military success when she devoted her energies to manoeuvers and to the solution of tactical problems. Her defeats and humiliations have come when she has neglected this work. And there's nothing mysterious about the way Prussia or Napoleon or anybody else has solved their military problems. No occult forces are involved, any more than there is in building a canal or hunting tigers. The real general is, in a sense, a postgraduate hunter, or an advanced, all-American quarterback.

One phase of the military work is significant and should cause reflection. The punishment for errors in war is very severe. A leader who makes mistakes may not only pay for them with his own blood but others too may suffer with him. In war we must obey our leaders whether they are right or wrong. How great, do you suppose, are those hordes that have been sacrificed on history's battlefields to the goddess of ignorance?

Napoleon says in one of his maxims, "Read and reread the campaigns of Alexander, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Turrenne, Eugene, and Frederick; take them for your model; that is the only way of becoming a great captain, to obtain the secrets of the art of war." To read more intelligently such history we should know something about solving problems in minor tactics. We must know how to solve such problems if we are to master our duties as officers.

Whether, as general or corporal, you are solving a problem on a map or on the ground, your methods will be, in principle, the same. In the former case your soldiers understand thoroughly all orders and do exactly as directed. In the latter case your soldiers are human. They get tired and sick. They go in the wrong directions and get lost sometimes. One forgets, another is late, and the third misinterprets an order, etc.

Here is the common-sense way in which an all-American quarterback performs his duties. He studies carefully the opposing team (enemy) by reports beforehand and on the field of the contest, to determine his weak and strong points. The latter he wishes to avoid in directing his attack. He considers his position on the field, the wind and weather, if raining, etc., and then his different plays to hit the weaker parts of the opposing line with the advantages and disadvantages of each. To his well-trained mind all this is done in a flash, but the logic and causes and effects of action are none the less present. This quarterback has analyzed the conditions of his problems, he has figured out what he is up against; that is to say, he has estimated the situation.

He is now ready for a decision. He determines where he is going to strike and with what kind of a play he will do it.

He gives a signal, 44—11—17—5. That is to say, he issues his orders.

That is exactly the way a military man, whether he be a corporal or a general, goes about handling a problem, whether on paper or on the ground. When he goes into battle he finds the only difference is that the problem is complicated by bullets and excitement.

Don't think that you are going to learn to solve problems from books alone, any more than you can learn to play tennis or build bridges on paper. You have got to get out into the country and work with actual troops. But first study map problems. Come to a decision slowly until you have had considerable practice, then write out your order with no guides or references. Then check yourself up. Common sense and simple plans are the safest guides.

To frame a suitable field order you must make an estimate of the situation, culminating in a decision upon a definite plan of action. You must then actually draft or word the orders which will carry your decision into effect.


1st. Consider exactly what you are to do, i.e., your mission as set forth in the orders or instructions under which you are acting or as deduced by you from your knowledge of the situation.

2d. Consider all available information of the enemy. What is his strength? How is he situated? What is he going to do? etc.

3d. Consider all conditions affecting your own troops. What advantages in numbers and position have you over the enemy? What is their morale? etc.

4th. Consider the terrain in so far as it affects the situation.

5th. Consider the various plans of action open to you and decide upon the one that will best enable you to accomplish your mission (carry out your task); that is to say, come to a decision.

It is now necessary to express that decision in the form of an order as the quarterback did in giving the signal, 44—11—17—5.

To enable the will of the commander to be quickly understood, and to secure prompt cooeperation among his subordinates, field orders are required to follow a general form.

Under the stress and strain of an engagement there are many causes of excitement. Unless we have trained ourselves to act along certain lines in issuing orders, we may forget some important considerations. We have known people of superb intelligence to do poorly before a large audience simply from lack of training and experience.


1st. Give the information of the enemy and of our own supporting troops (i.e., those who may come to our assistance in case of need) to your subordinates that will give them a clear understanding of the problem and enable them intelligently to cooperate with you.

2d. Now state what you are going to do. That is to say, give your plan.

3d. Next, how you are going to put that plan into effect. That is, the assignment of duties to each subordinate.

4th. Give instructions for the ammunition trains, stations for the slightly wounded, etc.

5th. State where you can be found or where messages may be sent.


Clear and decisive orders are the logical result of definite and sure decisions. To guage[B] a man's caliber read his orders.

You must not be hazy and indefinite in your order. You must be clear and definite. Be careful about your phrasing and expressions. An order should be like a cablegram: convey every idea but contain no unnecessary words.

Don't break up the squads or platoons or the companies. Keep the tactical units together as much as possible.

It is marvelous how many mistakes can occur on the battlefield. Attempt a complicated plan and its failure is reasonably assured. Have your plan simple. The enveloping attack is the best. That is to say, have your line longer than the enemy's so that you can attack one of his flanks. He knows this quite as well as you and he will endeavor to perform the same operation upon you. The leader, all else being equal, who has the wit to out-manoeuver the other will win the engagement.

As a rule, an affirmative form of expression is used. Such an order as: "The supply train will not accompany the division," is defective, because the gist of the order depends upon the single word "not."

Write your order so it can be read. Don't go about it as though you were a doctor writing a prescription. Things will go wrong if you do. You will find some of your troops moving in the wrong direction when you need them badly.

Be brief. Short sentences are good. They are clear. Conjectures, expectations, and reasons for measures adopted are weak. They do not inspire confidence. They should be avoided.

Accept the entire responsibility of your command. If things go wrong, it's your fault. Correct them. A large number of military men make it their particular business to find faults in others, with scarcely a thought for their own. Don't join this club. Reverse the matter.

Avoid such expressions as "attempt to capture," "try to hold," "as far as possible," "as well as you can," etc. Tell a man what he is to do. Don't divide any responsibility with any one.

Officers and men of all ranks and grades are given a certain independence in the execution of the tasks to which they are assigned and are expected to show initiative in meeting the different situations as they arise. Every individual, from the highest commander to the lowest private, must always remember that inaction and neglect of opportunities will warrant severe censure. Do something that will help carry out the plans of your commander. The Japanese regulations caution their commanders to avoid inaction and hesitation.

If you were hunting tigers and permitted a wounded one to move to your rear and spring upon you, unaware of its presence, you would probably pay a heavy price for not being on the alert. For a military leader to be caught unawares is unpardonable.

Napoleon said in another of his maxims: "if the enemy's army were to appear on my front, or on my right or left, what would I do?" If the question is difficult for the commander to answer, his troops are not only poorly placed but are poorly led.

Don't let your force be divided up into detachments and roam all over the country. This is a very common error with beginners. Avoid dispersion. Keep your troops together.

You cannot fire on the battlefield with the same accuracy as you do on the target range. Fear dilates the pupil of the eye. Men cannot shoot well when they are under great excitement. Don't count on killing too many of the enemy with a carload of ammunition.

Never forget that Fire Superiority is the thing that wins battles. If you let the other fellow get it and keep it, he's going to win, not you.

Don't trespass upon the province of a subordinate. He will handle his job if you will handle yours.

Remember that your flanks are just as vulnerable as the enemy's. He has his eyes on your flanks just as much as you are observing and considering his own.

Keep cool about starting the action. Don't put all your men in before you understand thoroughly the condition confronting you. Hold a large part of your force out as supports and reserves until you know definitely the enemy's position.

Don't get killed unless necessary; your usefulness to the State comes to an end when that occurs. Take advantage of cover, hug the ground. Learn what is good and what is poor cover.

It is a common fault to forget about the service of information once the action has begun. Keep up your patrolling. Keep yourself posted on what the enemy is about. Otherwise he may have some unpleasant surprise for you.

Be particularly careful about details of time and place. Regulate your watch by the time kept at headquarters.

When you've got the enemy on the run don't let up for an instant. Pursue him without mercy. Turn his retreat into a rout. Capture or destroy his forces.

Scarcely any of these things we are telling you are new. They are as old as war itself. The boxer of a thousand years from now may know a little more about the technique of the game, but the essentials will not change. To wear the champion's belt, he will have to suffer some lusty blows and be able himself to deliver some more powerful. There will be no easy road to the title. So it is with all wars.


We recommend that each officer become familiar with the following summary:

"1. Avoid combats that offer no chance of victory or other valuable results.

"2. Make every effort for the success of the general plan and avoid spectacular plays that have no bearing on the general result.

"3. Have a definite plan and carry it out vigorously. Do not vacillate.

"4. Do not attempt complicated manoeuvers.

"5. Keep the command in hand; avoid undue extension and dispersion.

"6. Study the ground and direct the advance in such a way as to take advantage of all available cover and thereby diminish losses.

"7. Never deploy until the purpose and the proper direction are known.

"8. Deploy enough men for the immediate task in hand; hold out the rest and avoid undue haste in committing them to the action.

"9. Flanks must be protected either by reserves, fortifications, or the terrain.

"10. In a decisive action, gain and keep fire superiority.

"11. Keep up reconnaissance.

"12. Use the reserve, but not until needed or a very favorable opportunity for its use presents itself. Keep some reserve as long as practicable.

"13. Do not hesitate to sacrifice the command if the result is worth the cost.

"14. Spare the command all unnecessary hardship and exertion."

—Infantry Drill Regulations.


For convenience, military information is considered under two heads, namely (1) that collected in time of peace by the body of army experts in Washington called the General Staff; and (2) that obtained by troops in the field after war has begun. The former relates to general conditions such as the geography, resources, and military strength of the various nations, information necessary to enable the General Staff to act intelligently in the event of war. The latter relates to more local and detailed conditions out on the firing line.

For a general to act intelligently he must possess information of the position, strength, dispositions, intentions, etc., of his opponent. This may be obtained from a number of sources—adjoining troops, inhabitants, newspapers, letters, telegraph files, prisoners, deserters, spies, maps, but mostly from information-gathering groups, called reconnoitering patrols. When the available maps do not show all the military features of the country, officers and soldiers must go on ahead and make maps that do.


There is a special committee of the Great General Staff called the Intelligence Section, whose business it is to weigh and classify all information sent to it. Members of this committee are placed on duty with large organizations (for instance, a division, a field army, etc.).


When reliable information of the enemy cannot be obtained, it must be assumed that he has sense and will act with excellent judgment.


Unless instructions have been given to spread false information, all persons connected with the military service are forbidden to discuss the military situation, plans, movements, etc., with, or in the presence of, civilians of any age, sex or nationality.


There are three kinds of fire:

(1) Volley Fire. Every one fires at the command FIRE. It is used at funerals and occasionally in the first part of an action when the enemy presents a large, compact target.

(2) Fire At Will. In this each soldier fires, loads, and fires again independently of the others. He fires fast or slow as the occasion demands.

(3) Clip Fire. The soldier stops firing when he has finished his clip of five cartridges. This assists in preventing an undue expenditure of ammunition and in abating excitement.


The main difficulty in seeing the distinction between Independent and Divisional Cavalry consists in our forgetting that we have different kinds of organizations in the army as well as we have anywhere else. Let us clearly understand this:

(1) An Infantry Division is composed of nine regiments of infantry, two of artillery, and one of cavalry.

(2) A Cavalry Division is composed of nine regiments of cavalry, one regiment of horse artillery, and no infantry.

The cavalry attached to an Infantry Division is, in general, called Divisional Cavalry. It operates at but comparatively short distances from its division, its duties being of a somewhat local nature.

The Independent Cavalry, because it can move so rapidly, is sent far in advance (thirty, forty, or even fifty or more miles) of the main army to obtain general information, such as the approximate strength and location of the enemy's forces. The Division Commander, since he is so far away from the Commanding General of the army in rear, and since he has broad general duties to perform, must of necessity have broad powers and, in general, be permitted to act as the occasion demands. He is, therefore, said to act independently, and his cavalry is called Independent Cavalry.


Strategy is generalship in its broadest conception. A strategist conceives and projects campaigns. He determines where armies and navies are to be sent. He is not concerned with the handling or manoeuvers of armies and fleets. He turns over those details to tacticians. He is the master mind, far removed, generally, from the battle line, who picks up an army or fleet here, and puts it there.

Tactics is the act and science of disposing (arranging) armies and fleets in order for battle. A tactical commander (tactician) solves local details.

Strategy pertains to conception, to policy; tactics, to technique.

The great General Staff in Washington inaugurates the problems to be solved (strategy), and details commanders (tacticians) to solve them.


Airplanes will move far out, perhaps hundreds of miles, in front of our most advanced cavalry for the purpose of gathering general information of large bodies of the enemy's forces. This is called Strategical Reconnaissance. Other airplanes do more local scouting. They go but comparatively short distances from the firing line for the purpose of determining the location of trenches, supports, reserves, artillery positions, etc. This is called tactical reconnaissance. They give their artillery commanders information as to where their projectiles are falling.

During siege operations (as in Europe, where some trenches have remained in about the same place for long periods) photographers go up in airplanes each morning and photograph the enemy's trench lines. Blue prints are made of these lines. By comparing these with the lines of the previous day it is easy to determine the changes that have been made during the night.

Other airplanes are detailed for the purpose of combat. They prevent opposing airplanes from gathering information.


For marches to be entirely successful three conditions must be fulfilled: (1) the troops must get there; (2) they must get there on time; (3) and they must get there in good condition.

Now suppose that you were ordered to conduct the march of a company of green men for a distance of 200 miles, just how would you solve the problem?

Before starting, very careful preparations should be made. Your men should be in good physical condition; they must be given so much work that they are athletes.

Keep these points in mind:

1. Always have, when possible, the comfort of your men in mind. Their work in carrying a load of nearly forty pounds and marching around fifteen miles a day will be hard enough. Don't give them any extra hardships.

2. Make the conditions of the march pleasant. Encourage the men to laugh and sing.

3. Use wagons, automobiles, etc., to carry heavy loads (burdens) whenever possible.

4. It is a custom of the service to help a man who may not be strong physically but who is straining every nerve to get there. Be the first to volunteer to carry for him his rifle or part of his burden.

5. Look out especially for the feet of your men and the hoofs of your animals.

6. On long marches one day in seven should be a day of rest and recreation.

7. Never take an extremely hard and long (forced) march unless imperative.

8. As a rule troops pay no compliments on the march. They have enough to do without that.

9. Let the object to be accomplished determine the general conduct of the march (the time of starting, the rate, length of march, halts, etc.)


When troops are sheltered under canvas (in tents), they are in camp. When they are resting on the ground without tents (for instance, on the firing line the night before or during a battle), they are in what is called bivouac. When they occupy buildings in towns or villages, or huts especially erected, they are in cantonment. When they are assigned to public (such as post-offices, town halls, court houses, hotels, etc.) or private buildings they are said to be billeted.


Suppose that you were sent on ahead of troops on the march to select a camp ground for them, what big ideas should you bear in mind.

1. The ground should be large enough for the troops without crowding. In case of rain it should be easily drained. And there should be no stagnant water near (say, within 300 yards).

2. There should be plenty of pure water.

3. There should be good roads around.

4. Wood, grass, forage, and supplies for the men and animals must be at hand or obtainable. Closely cropped turf with sandy or gravelly subsoil is best.

Let us not forget that good old-fashioned guide, common sense. Men are as human in camp as elsewhere. In hot weather shade trees are desirable. In cold weather ground sloping to the south, with woods to break the winds is fine.

Avoid old camp grounds, marshy ground, and places where mosquitoes are plentiful.


A company of infantry is composed of three officers and one hundred and fifty non-commissioned officers and privates. What a shame to have a private the mental and moral superior of those above him!

The average American makes a first-rate soldier. He wants his officers to be efficient and high-toned leaders. It thrills him to have their actions pitched in a high key. He wants to be well instructed. He wants to be led with tact and diplomacy. He wants them to be neat, to dress immaculately, and to be military in bearing. He wants to feel that there is no favoritism; that justice prevails.

Be stern in discipline. Exact nothing less than the best in a man. Tolerate no slovenliness. Deal laziness a sharp rebuke. The great majority of your men are doing their level best. Let them know that this is what you expect, but at the same time you appreciate them for it.

When a thing is wrong, say so. Explain the correct method. Do so calmly and efficiently. You have made worse mistakes yourself. Your men did not want to make the mistake. They did so from ignorance. It is possible that you have not made the matter clear to them, or the fault is yours not theirs.

Don't be too intimate with your men. Experience has proven that you cannot fraternize with an enlisted man one minute and then punish him for misconduct the next.

When you discipline a man, first make him see his error from your point of view, and then, reprimand him or decide on his punishment in an absolutely impersonal manner.

Grow impatient, become excited, and irritable, rebuke too severely an uninstructed man who has made a small, unintentional mistake, use any words unworthy of your position—and you demonstrate clearly to your men your unworthiness to hold your office.

When there is peace and harmony and efficiency in your organization, you are responsible for it. When there are grumblings, lack of enthusiasm and esprit-de-corps, be honest and sensible and see if you are also not responsible for it. No matter how badly things are going at drill, never lose your temper with the company.

When things are going well, let your men feel that you are proud of them. A company should be like a good football team: every man in it right behind the captain.


Now it is proper to consider your relation to your immediate superiors. You have no business commanding unless you have first learned how to obey. The finer the training and caliber of an officer, the more sensitive is he to the wishes of his commanding officer, however, informally they may be expressed.

The ideal officer is a Christian gentleman who has no task too small to faithfully perform, whose country's welfare is above his own, ready for any sacrifice great or small; whose thoughtfulness and efficiency last twenty-four hours a day, whose relations with his superiors are based on modesty, cheerfulness, and loyalty.

A message from the Father and Mother whose son is to serve under you:

"I want my boy to do his bit. I want him to willingly submit to all sacrifices. I don't limit them. I expect him to become efficient. I expect him to obey orders. That means all orders. Wrong orders as well as right orders.

But I want him to have a fighting chance. I don't want him to serve under an inefficient officer who is playing to the galleries; who is in the habit of doing things wrong instead of right. If the worst should come, I want my boy to perish for a good cause. I don't want there to be any blunders about it.

In willingly placing my boy under your orders, I charge you with a sacred task. I charge you to lead him efficiently."






(Copied from the Field Service Regulations)


Security embraces all those measures taken by a command to protect itself from observation, annoyance, or surprise by the enemy.

Ordinarily this security is provided in part by cavalry. But as a command is not always preceded by cavalry, and as this cavalry can not always prevent sudden incursions of the enemy or discover his patrols, additional security becomes necessary. This is obtained by covering the immediate front of the command with detachments.

On the march these detachments are called advance, flank, or rear guards; in camp or bivouac they are called outposts.

The object of the former is to facilitate the movement of the main body and to protect it from surprise and observation; the object of the latter is to secure the camp or bivouac against surprise and to prevent an attack upon it before the troops can prepare to resist.

On the march these detachments facilitate the advance of the main body by promptly driving off small bodies of the enemy who seek to harass or delay it; by removing obstacles from the line of advance; by repairing roads, bridges, etc., thus enabling the main body to advance uninterruptedly in convenient marching formations.

They protect the main body by preventing the enemy from firing into it when in close formation; by holding the enemy and enabling the main body to deploy before coming under effective fire; by preventing its size and condition being observed by the enemy; and, in retreat, by gaining time for it to make its escape or to reorganize its forces.

As the principal duty of these bodies is the same, viz., that of protecting the main body, there is a general similarity in the formations assumed by them. There is (1) the cavalry covering the front; next, (2) a group, or line of groups, in observation; then (3) the support, or line of supports, whose duty is to furnish the observation groups, and check the enemy pending the arrival of reinforcements; still farther in rear is (4) the reserve.

An advance or flank guard commander marches well to the front, and, from time to time, orders such additional reconnaissance or makes such changes in his dispositions as the circumstances of the case demand.

In large commands troops from all arms are generally detailed, the proportion from each being determined by the tactical situation; but commanders detail no more troops than the situation actually requires, as an excessive amount of such duty rapidly impairs the efficiency of a command. As a general rule troops detailed on the service of security vary in strength from one twentieth to one third of the entire command, but seldom exceed the latter. When practicable, the integrity of tactical units is preserved.

In mixed commands infantry usually forms the greater part of the troops detailed to the service of security. Cavalry is assigned to that duty whenever advantage can be taken of its superior mobility. The kind and amount of artillery are determined by circumstances.

The field trains of troops on this duty generally remain with the field train of the command, but if conditions permit they may join their organizations.

Troops on the service of security pay no compliments; individuals salute when they address, or are addressed by, a superior officer.


An advance guard is a detachment of the main body which precedes and covers it on the march.

Its duties are:

(1) To guard against surprise and furnish information by reconnoitering to the front and flanks.

(2) To push back small parties of the enemy and prevent their observing, firing upon, or delaying the main body.

(3) To check the enemy's advance in force long enough to permit the main body to prepare for action.

(4) When the enemy is encountered on the defensive, to seize a good position and locate his lines, care being taken not to bring on a general engagement unless the advance-guard commander is empowered to do so.

(5) To remove obstacles, repair the road, and favor in every way possible the steady march of the column.


Subject to variation according to the situation, one twentieth to one third of a command may be assumed as a suitable strength for the advance guard. The larger the force, the larger in proportion is the advance guard, for a large command takes relatively longer to prepare for action than a small one. In large commands it is usually composed of all arms, the proportions depending on the nature of the work, character of the country, etc.


While the distance between these two bodies should be great enough to prevent needless interruptions in the march of the main body, and to give the latter time to deploy should the enemy be encountered, it should never be so great that timely support of the advance guard becomes impracticable.


An advance-guard order generally describes the following distribution of troops:

Advance cavalry. Support. Reserve.

The manner in which the advance-guard cavalry is employed depends upon the situation. Its proper place is in the direction of the enemy, and generally all or the greater part is used as advance cavalry. If weak in numbers, it may be assigned to the support.


The advance cavalry is that part of the advance-guard cavalry preceding the support. It reconnoiters far enough to the front and flanks to guard the column against surprise by artillery fire, and to enable timely information to be sent to the advance-guard commander.


Following the advance cavalry is the support, varying in strength from one fourth to one half of the advance guard. In mixed commands it consists of infantry, to which engineers may be attached. If there is no advance cavalry, some cavalry should be attached to the support for reconnoitering duty.

As the support moves out it sends forward an advance party several hundred yards, the distance varying with the terrain and the size of the command.

The advance party supplements the work of the advance cavalry, reconnoitering to the front and flanks to guard the support against surprise by effective rifle fire. The patrol preceding the advance party on the line of march is called the point, and is commanded by an officer or an experienced noncommissioned officer.

With the advance cavalry in front but little reconnoitering by infantry is necessary, and the advance party is relatively small—one eighth to one third of the support. If there is no advance cavalry, the advance party is made stronger (about one half of the support) and the flanks are guarded, if necessary, by additional patrols sent out from the support and even from the reserve.

The support commander ordinarily marches with the advance party, but goes wherever needed. He sees that the proper road is followed; that guides are left in towns and at crossroads; that necessary repairs are made to roads, bridges, etc., and that information of the enemy or affecting the march is promptly transmitted to the advance-guard commander. He endeavors promptly to verify information of the enemy.


The reserve follows the support at several hundred yards' distance. It consists of the remainder of the infantry and engineers, the artillery, and the ambulance company. The artillery usually marches near the head of the reserve, the engineers (with bridge train, if any) and special troops at the rear.


In conducting the reconnaissance the patrols are, as a rule, small—from two to six men. If additional protection is necessary, a flank guard covers the threatened flank. The flanking patrols, whether of the advance cavalry or advance party, are sent out to examine the country wherever the enemy might be concealed. If the nature of the terrain permits, these patrols march across country or along roads and trails paralleling the march of the column. For cavalry patrols this is often possible; but with infantry patrols and even with those that are mounted, reconnaissance is generally best done by sending the patrols to high places along the line of march to overlook the country and examine the danger points. These patrols report or signal the results of their observations and, unless they have other instructions, join their units by the most practicable routes, other patrols being sent out as the march proceeds and as the nature of the country required.

Deserters, suspicious characters, and bearers of flags of truce, the latter blindfolded, are taken to the advance-guard commander.

Civilians are not permitted to precede the advance guard.

Communication between the fractions of an advance guard and between the advance guard and main body is maintained by wire, messenger service, or signals.


In forming the advance guard of a command smaller than a brigade, the foregoing distribution is modified, depending upon the situation. A company or troop usually sends forward only a point, a battalion or squadron, an advance party; but a battalion or squadron at war strength should put a company or troop in the advance guard and a regiment should put a battalion or squadron, if an enemy is liable to be met. Whenever the advance guard is less than a battalion, there is no reserve.


The rear guard is charged with the important duty of covering the retreat.

When a commander decides to retreat, he issues the necessary order. During a retreat the outpost for the night usually forms the rear guard of the following day.


The strength of a rear guard depends upon the nature of the country and the strength and character of the pursuing force. It can not, like the advance guard, count on the support of the main body.

Machine guns are especially useful in the passage of defiles and in covering the crossings of rivers.

Engineers and ambulance companies are usually assigned to rear guards.

The troops of a rear guard are selected from those that have had previous local successes, or have suffered little loss and are comparatively fresh.


The proximity and conduct of the enemy control, to a large extent, the formation of a rear guard. When it is not necessary to withdraw in deployed lines, the greater part of the rear guard marches on the road in column of route, taking up a formation resembling that of an advanced guard faced to the rear. The distribution of troops is therefore similar to that of an advance guard, namely:

Reserve. Support. Rear cavalry.

The rear cavalry is that portion of the rear-guard cavalry following the support. The support, as in an advance guard, is divided into two parts; that part nearest the enemy is called the rear party and marches with a rear point.


The distance of the rear guard from the main body and between the fractions of the rear guard are about the same as in the case of an advance guard. If marching at night, the rear guard draws nearer the main body.


If there is a possibility that the rear of the column may be attacked, a rear guard of suitable strength and composition is provided, its conduct is practically the same as that of the rear guard of a retreating force. It generally marches in rear of the trains, those organizations following the combatant troops without distance.


The size and disposition of the outpost will depend upon many circumstances, such as the size of the whole command, the proximity of the enemy and the situation with respect to him, the nature of the terrain, etc.

A suitable strength may vary from a very small fraction to one third of the whole force. For a single company in bivouac a few sentinels and patrols will suffice; for a large command a more elaborate outpost system must be provided. It should be no stronger than is consistent with reasonable security.

The most economical protection is furnished by keeping close contact with the enemy by means of outpost patrols, in conjunction with resisting detachments on the avenues of approach.

The outpost should be composed of complete organizations.

The positions held by the subdivisions of the outpost should generally be prepared for defense, but conditions may render this unnecessary.

Troops on outpost keep concealed as much as is consistent with the proper performance of their duties; especially do they avoid appearing on the sky line.


A mixed outpost is composed principally of infantry. The infantry is charged with the duty of local observation, especially at night and with resisting the enemy long enough for the main body to prepare for action. The cavalry is charged with the duty of reconnaissance, and is very useful in open country during the day. If the infantry has been severely taxed by marching or fighting, a large part of the outpost may be temporarily formed of cavalry.

Artillery is useful to outposts when its fire can sweep defiles or large open spaces and when it commands positions that might be occupied by hostile artillery. The guns are carefully concealed or protected and are usually withdrawn at night.

Machine guns are useful to command approaches and check sudden advances of the enemy.

The field trains of troops on outpost duty generally join their organizations; if an engagement is probable, they may be held in rear.


The outpost will generally be divided into four parts. These, in order from the main body, are the reserve, the line of supports, the line of outguards, and the advance cavalry.

The distance separating these parts, and their distance from the main body, will depend upon the object sought, the nature of the terrain, and the size of the command. There can be no uniformity in the distance between supports and reserve, nor between outguards and supports, even in the same outpost. The avenues of approach and the important features of the terrain will largely control their exact positions.

The outpost of a small force should ordinarily hold the enemy beyond effective rifle range of the main body until the latter can deploy. For the same purpose the outpost of a large force should hold the enemy beyond the artillery range.

The reserve constitutes the main body of the outpost and is held at some central point from which it can readily support the troops in front or hold a rallying position on which they may retire. The reserve may be omitted when the outpost consists of less than two companies.

The reserve may comprise one-fourth to two-thirds of the strength of the outpost.

The supports constitute a line of resisting and supporting detachments, varying in size from a half company to a battalion. They furnish the line of outguards.

The supports are numbered consecutively from right to left. They are placed at the more important points on the outpost line, usually in the line on which resistance is to be made in case of attack.

As a general rule, roads exercise the greatest influence on the location of supports, and a support will generally be placed on or near a road. The section which it is to cover should be clearly defined by means of tangible lines on the ground and should be such that the support is centrally located therein.

The outguards constitute the line of small detachments farthest to the front and nearest to the enemy. For convenience they are classified as pickets, sentry squads, and cossack posts. They are numbered consecutively from right to left in each support.

A picket is a group consisting of two or more squads, ordinarily not exceeding half a company, posted in the line of outguards to cover a given sector. It furnishes patrols and one or more sentinels, double sentinels, sentry squads, or cossack posts for observation.

Pickets are placed at the more important points in the line of outguards, such as road forks. The strength of each depends upon the number of small groups required to observe properly its sector.

A sentry squad is a squad posted in observation at an indicated point. It posts a double sentinel in observation, the remaining men resting near by and furnishing the reliefs of sentinels. In some cases it may be required to furnish a patrol.

A cossack post consists of four men. It is an observation group similar to a sentry squad, but employs a single sentinel.

At night it will sometimes be advisable to place some of the outguards or their sentinels in a position different from that which they occupy in the day time. In such case the ground should be carefully studied before dark and the change made at dusk. However, a change in the position of the outguard will be exceptional.

Sentinels are generally used singly in daytime, but at night double sentinels will be required in most cases. Sentinels furnished by cossack posts or sentry squads are kept near their group. Those furnished by pickets may be as far as 100 yards away.

Every sentinel should be able to communicate readily with the body to which he belongs.

Sentinel posts are numbered consecutively from right to left in each outguard. Sentry squads and cossack posts furnished by pickets are counted as sentinel posts.

By day, cavalry reconnoiters in advance of the line of observation. At night, however, that the horses may have needed rest and because the work can be done better by infantry, the greater part of the cavalry is usually withdrawn in rear of the supports, generally joining the reserve, small detachments being assigned to the supports for patrolling at a distance.

With efficient cavalry in front, the work of the infantry on the line of observation is reduced to a minimum.

General instructions for the advance cavalry are given by the outpost commander, but details are left to the subordinate.

Instead of using outguards along the entire front of observation, part of this front may be covered by patrols only. These should be used to cover such sections of the front as can be crossed by the enemy only with difficulty and over which he is not likely to attempt a crossing after dark.

In daylight much of the local patrolling may be dispensed with if the country can be seen from the posts of the sentinels. However, patrols should frequently be pushed well to the front unless the ground in that direction is exceptionally open.

Patrols or sentinels must be the first troops which the enemy meets, and each body in rear must have time to prepare for the blow. These bodies cause as much delay as possible without sacrificing themselves, and gradually retire to the line where the outpost is to make its resistance.

Patrols must be used to keep up connection between the parts of the outpost except when, during daylight, certain fractions or groups are mutually visible. After dark this connection must be maintained throughout the outpost except where the larger subdivisions are provided with wire communication.

In addition to ordinary outguards, the outpost commander may detail from the reserve one or more detached posts to cover roads or areas not in the general line assigned to the supports.

In like manner the commander of the whole force may order detached posts to be sent from the main body to cover important roads or localities not included in the outpost line.

The number and strength of detached posts are reduced to the absolute needs of the situation.


The outpost is posted as quickly as possible, so that the troops can the sooner obtain rest. Until the leading outpost troops are able to assume their duties, temporary protection, known as the march outpost, is furnished by the nearest available troops.

The halt order of the commander, besides giving the necessary information and assigning camp sites to the parts of the command, details the troops to constitute the outpost, assigns a commander therefor, designates the general line to be occupied, and, when practicable, points out the position to be held in case of attack.

The outpost commander, upon receipt of this order, should issue the outpost order with the least practicable delay. In large commands it may often be necessary to give the order from the map, but usually the outpost commander will have to make some preliminary reconnaissance, unless he has an accurate and detailed map.

The order gives such available information of the situation as is necessary to the complete and proper guidance of subordinates; designates the troops to constitute the supports; assigns their location and the sector each is to cover; provides for the necessary detached posts; indicates any special reconnaissance that is to be made; orders the location and disposition of the reserve; disposes of the train if same is ordered to join the outpost; and informs subordinates where information will be sent.

After issuing the initial orders, the outpost commander inspects the outpost, orders the necessary changes or additions, and sends his superior a report of his dispositions.

The reserve is marched to its post by its commander, who then sends out such detachments as have been ordered and places the rest in camp or bivouac, over which at least one sentinel should be posted. Connection must be maintained with the main body, the supports, and nearby detached posts.

The supports march to their posts, using the necessary covering detachments when in advance of the march outpost. A support commander's order should fully explain the situation to subordinates, or to the entire command, if it be small. It should detail the troops for the different outguards and, when necessary, define the sector each is to cover. It should provide the necessary sentinels at the post of support, the patrols to be sent therefrom, and should arrange for the necessary intrenching. Connection should be maintained with the adjoining supports and with the outguards furnished by the supports.

In posting his command the support commander must seek to cover his sector in such manner that the enemy cannot reach, in dangerous numbers and unobserved, the position of the support or pass by it within the sector intrusted to the support. On the other hand, he must economize men on observation and patrol duty, for these duties are unusually fatiguing. He must practise the greatest economy of men consistent with the requirements of practical security.

As soon as the posting of the support is completed, its commander carefully inspects the dispositions and corrects defects, if any, and reports the disposition of his support, including the patrolling ordered, to the outpost commander. This report is preferably made by means of a sketch.

Each outguard is marched by its commander to its assigned station, and especially in the case of a picket, is covered by the necessary patrolling to prevent surprise.

Having reached the position, the commander explains the situation to his men and establishes reliefs for each sentinel, and, if possible, for each patrol to be furnished. Besides these sentinels and patrols, a picket must have a sentinel at its post.

The commander then posts the sentinels and points out to them the principal features, such as towns, roads, and streams and gives their names. He gives the direction and location of the enemy, if known, and of adjoining parts of the outpost.

He gives to patrols the same information and the necessary orders as to their routes and the frequency with which the same shall be covered. Each patrol should go over its route once before dark.

Every picket should maintain connection by patrols with outguard on its right and left. Each commander will take precaution to conceal his outguard and will generally strengthen his position by intrenching.


Evening and shortly before dawn are hours of special danger. The enemy may attack late in the day in order to establish himself on captured ground by intrenching during the night; or he may send forward troops under cover of darkness in order to make a strong attack at early dawn. Special precaution is therefore taken at those hours by holding the outpost in readiness, and by sending patrols in advance of the line of observation. If a new outpost is to be established in the morning, it should arrive at the outpost position at daybreak, thus doubling the outpost strength at that hour.



Combat is divided into two general classes, the offensive (attack) and the defensive.


Decisive results are obtained only by the offensive. Aggressiveness wins battles. If you want to thrash a man go after him; don't wait for him to come to you. When attacking use every available man. Have every man in the proper place at the proper time and in a physical and moral condition to do his utmost.


(1) You can elect the point of attack while the defender must be prepared to resist at all points.

(2) The fact that you are advancing in spite of the defender's fire stimulates you and depresses the enemy.

(3) You leave your dead behind while the defender must fight among his fallen comrades, which is demoralizing.

(4) You usually are conscious of the fact that you have more men on your side than the defender. You have more rifles on the line than the enemy.

(5) Your fire is usually more efficacious than that of your opponent because it is usually converging while his is diverging.

These advantages alone will not necessarily insure success, but fire superiority, if gained and maintained, does insure success. By gaining and maintaining fire superiority you remove all doubt as to the final outcome of the attack.


The most usual kinds of attack are:

Frontal Attack. This attack is delivered directly against the front of the enemy. It offers little opportunity to bring more rifles against the enemy than he can bring against you. Decisive results can only be expected when your force is larger than your opponent's or when his is unduly extended. It is a dangerous and costly method of attacking.

Enveloping Attack. Cover the front of the enemy with sufficient force to hold his attention and, with the rest of your command, strike a flank more or less obliquely. Since your line is now longer than his, and you have more rifles in action your fire is converging while that of your enemy is diverging. Never attempt the envelopment of both flanks unless you greatly outnumber your enemy. Cooeperation between the frontal and enveloping attack is essential to success. The fraction of the command that envelops the enemy is generally larger than that part in his front. A wide turning movement is not an enveloping movement. It is dangerous because your troops are separated and can be defeated in detail. In an enveloping movement your line will usually be continuous; it simply overlaps and envelops the enemy. An enveloping attack will nearly always result locally in a frontal attack, for it will meet the enemy's reserve. Let us repeat: do not attempt a wide turning movement. Your forces will be separated, they may not be able to assist each other, and can be defeated in detail. The tendency of a beginner is to attempt a wide turning movement. The error of dispersion is then committed.


Deployment. To deploy means to extend the front. When does a column extend its front or prepare to fight? When open terrain, which will probably expose the troops to hostile artillery fire, is reached. This place may be two or more miles from the enemy. What is done? Strong patrols are sent out to clear the foreground of the enemy's patrol. The plan of the attack is inaugurated. Extra ammunition is issued. Each organization is assigned its task. The organizations in the firing lines are assigned objectives and move out, followed by local supports and reserves. Don't understand that they go "as skirmishers." They usually march in column of squads. Strong combat patrols are sent out to protect each flank. This is very important even with small commands.


It is now necessary to advance the attack to a point where the rifle is effective, so the attacking line can gain fire superiority. The attack which halts to open fire at extreme range (over 1200 yards) is not likely to ever reach its destination (the enemy). Effort should be made to arrive within 800 yards of the enemy before opening fire. How can this be done? How can we pass over a mile or more of ground, swept or likely to be swept, first by the enemy's artillery fire and finally by rifle fire? Answer.—By using all the cover the terrain offers (escape the enemy's view), by using inconspicuous formations, by using such formations as to minimize the effect of the enemy's fire. Discipline at this stage of the attack is essential. Each company in the firing line will probably start its advance upon its objective in column of squads, but taking advantage of all cover. If thick underbrush is found, squad columns would probably be used. If the enemy's artillery fire becomes too effective platoon columns or thin lines are used, dependent upon terrain, cover and the time element. Every opportunity is taken to assemble the companies and continue the advance in column of squads when cover is available. The supports, following the firing line, adopt the same methods to advance as the firing line. In this stage of the attack your own artillery will he assisting you by replying to the enemy's artillery and infantry fire that is directed at you.


The fire attack commences when the infantry in the firing line first opens fire and it usually ends with the charge. A charge is sometimes not necessary because the enemy withdraws from his position. The fire attack does not start until the firing line cannot advance without ruinous and demoralizing losses. It should not be over 1200 yards from the enemy. At this time fire superiority must be gained. This may necessitate a steady, accurate fire for many hours. For this purpose the commander puts more men on the firing line than the enemy and then some more if necessary. Local supports are used if required. Having gained fire superiority, the advance by rushes commences, but each rush must leave behind or have in front of it enough rifles to maintain fire superiority. This determines the size of the rush. You cannot lose this fire superiority and advance; and once it is lost, hours may be required to regain it. The number of men in each rush will usually decrease as the enemy's position is approached. If the firing line is stopped, if fire superiority is lost and cannot be regained, the firing line intrenches and holds on until darkness or until a favorable turn in the situation develops. It is suicidal to turn back. During the advance, supports move up as close to the firing line as cover will permit, adopting those formations best suited to keep down losses. They may be as close as fifty yards to the firing line. They should not be as far as 500 yards in rear of it.


There can be no rule to tell you when to charge. It may be from 25 to 400 yards. The common sense (tactical instinct) of the senior ranking officer on the firing line must tell him the psychological moment to order the charge. That moment will be when your fire has broken down the enemy's fire, broken his resistance, and destroyed his morale. The artillery increases its range. The firing line and remaining supports fix bayonets. The former increases the rate of fire, the latter rush forward under the protection of this fire, join the firing line and give it the necessary impetus. Together they rush at the enemy's position. No restraint is placed upon their ardor. Confidence in their ability to use the bayonet gives the charging troops the promise of success. If the charge is successful, the nearest formed bodies are sent instantly in pursuit and under cover of them the commands are reorganized, order restored, and arrangements made to resist a counter attack. If the charge is unsuccessful the artillery or any formed troops in rear cover the withdrawal.


The defensive is divided into the purely passive defense and the active defense.

The passive defense seeks merely to delay the enemy. The results can never be other than negative. It is usually for the purpose of gaining time and most frequently used by a rear guard. Since the idea of taking up the offensive is absent, no strong reserves are held out for a counter attack; the firing line is as strong as possible from the first; every advantage is taken of obstacles, natural or artificial. The flanks must be made secure.

The active defense seeks to attack the other side at some stage of the engagement. It seeks to win and only the offensive wins. It is often necessary for a commander to assume the defensive (active) either voluntarily, in order to gain time, or to secure some advantage over the enemy; or involuntarily, as in a meeting engagement where the enemy gets a start in deployment for action or where the enemy's attack is impetuous and without sufficient preparation. In either case the defensive force contents itself with parrying the blows of the enemy, while gathering and arranging its strength, looking and waiting for the right place and time to deliver a decisive blow which is called the counter attack. Hence, a counter attack is the offensive movement of an active defense. Its success greatly depends on being delivered with vigor and at the proper time. It may be delivered in two ways: 1st—straight to the front against a weak point in the attacking line, or 2nd—by launching the reserves against the enemy's flank after he is fully committed to the attack. The latter method offers the greatest chances for success and the most effective results.


The defense has the following advantages over the attack:

(1) Troops attacking afford a better target than the troops on the defensive.

(2) A larger amount of ammunition is usually available.

(3) The men can shoot better because they are not fatigued by advancing.

(4) Losses will be less if good cover is secured.


(1) The defender surrenders the advantage of the initiative as the attacker can elect the point of attack and the defender must be prepared at all points.

(2) The defender must fight amidst his dead and wounded which is depressing.

(3) The defender, seeing the enemy continually advancing, becomes conscious of his inability to stop him. This is depressing to the defender and is injurious to his morale.


If you were looking for a good defensive position, what points would you have in mind and of these points, which would be the most important? The requisites to be sought in a good defensive position are:

"(1) A clear field of fire up to the effective range of the artillery.

"(2) Flanks that are naturally secure or that can be made so by the use of the reserves.

"(3) Extent of ground suitable to the strength of the force to occupy it.

"(4) Effective cover and concealment for the troops, especially reserves.

"(5) Good communications throughout the position.

"(6) Good lines of retreat."

—Field Service Regulations.

All of these advantages will seldom if ever be found in the position selected. The one should be taken which conforms closest to the description, but you should bear in mind that a good field of fire and effective cover, in the order named, are the most important requisites. In tracing the lines for the trenches, avoid salients (a hill, spur, woods, etc., that juts out from the general line in the direction of the enemy). Avoid placing the fire trench on the skyline. Locate it on or below the military crest. [The crest from which you can see all the ground to the front.]


Now let us suppose ourselves as part of a battalion that is to occupy a defensive position. What would probably be done? How and in what order would it be done? What would the major do? He would decide upon the kind of defense (active or passive) to offer, and then find a suitable defensive position in harmony with his plans. He would determine exactly where the firing and other trenches are to be dug. He would then call up the company commanders and issue his defense order in which the task of each company would be made clear. Those to occupy the firing line would each be assigned a sector of ground to the front to defend and a corresponding section of the fire trench to construct. The supports would construct their trenches and the communicating trenches. He would, if necessary, issue the necessary orders to protect the front and flanks by sending out patrols. He would indicate how the position is to be strengthened and make arrangements for distributing the extra ammunition. If time is a serious consideration, the major would direct the work to be done in the order of its importance, which is ordinarily as follows:

(1) Clearing of foreground to improve the field of fire and construction of fire trench.

(2) Head or overhead cover concealment.

(3) Placing obstacles and recording ranges.

(4) Cover trenches for supports and local reserves.

(5) Communicating trenches.

(6) Widening and deepening of trench; interior conveniences.

Now having cleared the foreground, dug the trenches, recorded ranges to the important objects in each sector, etc., the position can be occupied. The citizen ordinarily pictures the firing trench full of soldiers when he is told the trenches are occupied. Not so. Patrols would be operating well to the front to give timely warning to one or two sentinels in each company fire trench of the approach of the enemy. These sentinels would in turn inform the company which would probably be resting in the trenches in the rear.


Let us suppose now that our battalion, occupying this defensive position, is a part of a larger force which is supported by artillery. You see small objects one and a half to two miles to your front. You know they are the enemy's troops because your artillery is firing at them and your combat patrols are being driven in. Your entire company has moved to its fire trench. You have plenty of ammunition, you know exactly the range.

What happens? You open fire on the enemy at probably the extreme range of 2000 yards. Only the hostile artillery can return this fire until the enemy's firing line closes to within 1200 yards of your position. While an attacking force is thus approaching you may inflict very serious losses upon it. But it cannot stop, however serious its losses, beyond 1200 yards; for we have seen that, if it stops advancing in order to fire, it will probably never arrive at your position. When within 1200 yards the enemy will build up a strong rifle fire against you and not attempt to advance until he has gained fire superiority. It is your business not to let him get fire superiority, and if he does do so to take it away from him when he withdraws parts of his rifles to advance by rushing. Fight each rush. If your defense is active and you permanently stop the enemy's advance by gaining fire superiority, and he cannot regain it, even though he uses up his supports, his firing line will become confused and demoralized and it will be the psychological time for the proper commander to launch his counter attack. On the other hand, if you cannot stop his advance, fix bayonets (firing line and remaining supports) when he fixes bayonets and meet his charge in front of your trench. All your supports will be moved up to assist you in opposing the charge. If you are unsuccessful in the bayonet fight or forced to retire from your trenches during the fire fight your artillery, cavalry and any formed reserves in the rear will cover your withdrawal, which, if possible, should be made straight to the rear, one part covering the withdrawal of the other part, and so on. Reorganize at the first opportunity.

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