The Manual Exercise1
Take care to perform the Manual Exercise!
Every soldier must give the greatest attention to the words of command. He is to stand straight and firm upon his legs, with his heels close together, and toes a little turned out; the belly drawn in a little, but without constraint; the breast a little projected; the shoulders square to the front, and kept back; the head erect, and turned to the right, so as to look easily at the fuglar; the right hand hanging straight down by the side with the palm towards the thigh, in its natural, unconstrained position; he is to carry the firelock against the left shoulder, almost upright, and so low down that the guard will be just under the left breast; the barrel outwards; the left elbow drawn back (but without constraint) and not thrust out from the side; the three last fingers of the left hand under the butt, and the forefinger and thumb on the fore side of it; thus grasping it strongly, and with the upper part of the palm of the hand pressing the piece to the side, that it may be kept steady; by this means bringing the backs of the fingers which are under the butt and turn up on the inside of it, close against the projecting top of the thighbone; and lastly turning the lock a very little to the front so that the piece may not lean towards the head nor from it.
I. Fix your Bayonet! 3 motions.
Keeping the firelock steady at the shoulder, seize it briskly with the right hand under the cock, the thumb on the side of the stock, and pointing upwards.
Throw up your left hand, and seize the firelock at the swell of the stock below the tail pipe, bringing your left arm, from the hand to the elbow, close along the outside of the firelock, which will be brought about four inches forwards from the shoulder, without moving the butt.
Quitting the right hand, with your left hand sink the firelock (letting it flip a little) on the left side till the butt strikes the ground, as far back as the heels; the muzzle coming about five inches before the hollow of the shoulder; the left arm is to be straight, the left hand holding the firelock a little above the swell of the tail pipe; at the same instant seizing the socket, or the handle of the bayonet with the right hand, (the curved neck of it coming between the thumb and fore finger) and the thumb in the hollow of the bend, draw it, and bringing the notch of the sight on the muzzle, thrust it down, turn it from you, (carrying your hand downwards) and fix it.
II. Shoulder! 3 motions.
Quit the right hand, and bringing up the firelock with the left, seize it again with the right hand under the cock, at the same time flipping the left hand down upon the swell at the tail pipe, so as to be in the position of the 2nd motion of the 1st explanation.
Quit the left hand, and place it smartly upon the butt, at the same time bringing the piece against your shoulder with your right hand.
Throw your right hand down by your side, with the palm towards the thigh, in its natural unconstrained position.
III. Charge your Bayonet! 2 motions.
Seize the firelock with the right hand below the cock, as in explanation 1st, motion 1st.
Make a half face to the right, turning upon both heels (keeping them both together) till the right toe points to the right, and the left toe to the front, at the same time giving the firelock a set off by the butt, and quitting it with the left hand, bring it with the right hand to the right side, pulling up the butt briskly, thereby bringing the piece down with smartness upon the palm of the left hand, with which you meet it (just as it falls to a level) about half way between the hammer spring and the tailpipe, the thumb on the inside, pointing forwards, along the stock, the fingers clasped round the piece; with your right hand you grasp strongly the small of the stock behind the lock, pressing the piece to you, the back of the thumb touching the lowermost rib, the two last fingers bearing on the top of the hip; the bayonet is presented directly to the front, upon a level, the left hand supporting the firelock, to do it more easily, as well as strongly, press the left arm from the shoulder to the elbow, close to the body.
IV. Shoulder! 2 motions.
Pulling up the muzzle with the left hand, and pushing down the butt with your right hand, spring the piece over to the left side, turning the barrel to the front, quitting the left hand and placing it strong upon the butt; and bringing the firelock against the left shoulder; thus coming to the position of explanation 1st, motion 1st. 2. Throw your right hand down by your side.
V. Prime and Load! 10 motions.
Throw up your firelock briskly, giving it a turn so as to bring the barrel inwards, or looking to the rear, by smartly pushing the thick part of the butt to the right with the fore part of the hand, and pulling the thin part of the butt round to the front with the two last fingers, the cock as high as, and directly before the left breast, catching the piece with both hands, the right hand below the lock with the thumb close under the cock, and the fingers below the guard, and the left hand just above the hammer spring, with the thumb upright. This position is called a Recover; the barrel of the firelock is to be perpendicular.
Make a half face to the right, turning upon both heels (keeping them close together) till the right toe points to the right, and the left toe to the front, at the same time bringing the firelock to the right side, pulling the butt up under the right armpit, thereby bringing down the piece briskly, but stopping it with the left hand before it can fall to a level; at the instant the piece is brought down, quit the right hand, and place the right thumb against the face of the hammer, under the flint, the fingers neither clinched, nor extended, but just as they naturally fall; the left arm lays against the body, with the elbow carried to the right almost to the center of the body; and from the elbow up to the hand the arm is nearly perpendicular; the firelock pointing straight to the front, and its muzzle so high as to clear the man’s head in the rank before you, when the ranks are in close order, rests on the palm of the left hand, (which is just forward of the hammer spring) the thumb extending along the stock, and the fingers clasping the piece. This attitude is called the priming position. Open the pan, pushing back the hammer with your thumb.
Handle your cartridge, bringing down your right hand briskly, with a slap upon your pouch; and taking out a cartridge with your two forefingers and thumb, bring it up to your mouth, the elbow a little turned up, and open it, by biting off the top of the paper so as to feel the powder in your mouth; then, placing your thumb upon the top of your cartridge, bring it down close to and even with the pan (the first joint of the forefinger touching the underside of the pan) the thumb uppermost.
Prime, by turning up the hand and shaking some of the powder into the pan; and again placing your thumb upon the cartridge, bring your two last fingers behind the hammer. 6. Shut the pan with a quick motion, drawing back the elbow.
Cast about your firelock briskly, sinking the butt by a strong push with the two last fingers of the right hand against the hammer; at the same time bringing down the left hand with the piece, let it slip through it till the butt touches the ground on the outside of the left toe, and about five inches from it, in such a direction that the toes and the butt of the firelock may be about on the same range, with the lock to the front, the left arm straight, the left hand before the left thigh, holding the piece between the thumb and fingers; as soon as you have pushed down the butt, as before mentioned, you meet the muzzle of the firelock with the hollow of the right hand, keeping the muzzle before the center of the body, and about five inches from it.
Load, turning up your hand, putting the cartridge into the muzzle, the open end downwards, giving it a sudden shake that the powder may run out of it, and pushing it into the barrel with the forefinger; then instantly turning the stock a little towards you, so as to come at the rammer easily, seize the butt of it with the thumb and forefinger, all the fingers being clenched (the thumb and forefinger uppermost) and the elbow down. 9. Draw your rammer with a quick motion half out, catching it instantly with your right hand, the back of it towards you, the thumb turned downwards and on the outer side of the rammer, the back of the thumb just above, or touching the muzzle; immediately clear the rammer of the pipes, turn it, and bringing the butt of it into the muzzle upon the cartridge, instantly thrust it down till the hand comes to the muzzle.
Slip up your hand up to the small end, and thrusting down the rammer, drive the cartridge home; then nimbly draw the rammer half way out of the barrel, catch it backhanded (as in the ninth motion) the forefinger and back of the thumb just above, or touching the muzzle, clear it of the barrel, turn it, and bring the small end into the pipes, and with one push, thrust it down till your hand comes to the muzzle; then slipping up the hand, place the first joint of the forefinger on the top of the butt, holding the rammer between the thumb and middle finger about two inches below the forefinger, and immediately with one more push thrust the rammer home, letting the middle finger, when it comes to the muzzle, slip under the barrel, the thumb and forefinger being still kept upon the rammer. Be careful, from the entering of the first pipe till the rammer is completely returned, to bear it upwards with your hand, so as to keep the point of it close in the groove of the stock.
VI. Shoulder! 3 motions.
With great briskness throw up the firelock with the left hand, to the left side, and, opening the hand a little, instantly slip it down till it comes to the swell by the tail pipe, then closing it again, (the thumb pointing upwards and the fingers clasping the piece); at the same time with the right hand seize the firelock below the lock, the forefinger close under the cock, and the thumb on the side of the stock pointing upwards, the left arm, from the hand to the elbow, lying against the firelock; and at the same instant as you throw up the firelock you turn upon both heels to your proper front; thus coming to the position of the 2d motion of the 1st explanation.
As in explanation 2d, motion 2d.
As in explanation 2d, motion 3d.
VII. As Front Rank, make ready! 1 motion.
Throw up your firelock briskly to the Recover, as in explanation 5th, motion 1st; then (making a scarcely sensible pause) sink the body with a quick motion, (turning the left toe to the front, but keeping the heel fast) and kneel upon the right knee, throwing the right foot so far back (which will be from three feet to three and a half, according to the length of the limbs) as that the left leg may be straight up and down, and the right knee about ten or twelve inches behind the left heel, and in such a direction, that, if a straight line be drawn from front to rear, touching the inside of the left heel, and the inside of the right toe, then the inside of the right knee shall be about five inches to the right of that line. At the same time that you kneel, bring the butt upon the top of the left thigh, and cock the firelock (having brought the thumb over the cock the instant you begin to kneel;) hold the piece upright, and so near the body that the cock may almost, or quite touch the left breast; keep the body also perfectly upright, and both elbows down, the left coming close to the firelock. VIII. Present! 1 motion. Throw down the muzzle of your piece with the left hand, and spring up the butt with the right, bringing the butt end into the hollow, between the right breast and shoulder, and pressing it hard against the shoulder; at the same time place the forefinger before the trigger; slip the left hand forward as far as the swell by the tailpipe, supporting the firelock at an exact level, the thumb pointing forwards to the muzzle; put the elbows down, but in easy positions; lean the right cheek against the butt of the firelock, shut the left eye, and look with the right along the barrel, from the breech pin to the sight near the muzzle, at the object you would hit; or, in three words (to use the well known phrase) take good sight.
IX. Fire! 9 motions.2
Pull the trigger strongly and at once with the forefinger, that the piece may be sure to go off; and having fired, instantly raise up your body, by a smart spring upon your left leg, and a sudden push against the ground with your right toe, keeping the left foot fast, and bringing the right heel close to the left; at the same time bring the butt of the firelock up under the right armpit, and the muzzle to its proper height; slipping back the left hand towards the hammer spring, and seizing the cock, above the flint, with the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, all the fingers being bent inwards, but not clenched hard, the back of the hand up, and the right elbow down: thus coming to the priming position; as directed in explanation 5th, motion 2d.
Half cock your firelock, by drawing back the right arm.
Handle your cartridge. As in the 4th motion of the fifth explanation.
Prime. As in the 5th motion of the fifth explanation.
Shut your pan. As in the 6th motion of the fifth explanation.
Cast about. As in the 7th motion of the fifth explanation.
Load. As in the 8th motion of the fifth explanation.
Draw your rammer. As in the 9th motion of the fifth explanation.
Ram and return. As in the 10th motion of the fifth explanation.
X. Shoulder! 3 motions.
Proceed as directed in the sixth explanation.
XI. As Center Rank, make ready! 1 motion.
Throw up your firelock briskly to the Recover, as in explanation 5th, motion 1st, then instantly turning the left toe to the front, at the same time step back with the right foot about eighteen inches to the rear, planting the heel five or six inches to the right of a line drawn from the left heel straight into the rear, pointing the right toe to the right; also place the right thumb upon the cock, immediately upon coming to the recover, and cock the piece at the instant the right foot, in stepping back, strikes the ground, and keep it upright, at a recover.
XII. Present! 1 motion.
As in explanation 8th, presenting the piece somewhat to the right of the front rank, and sinking the muzzle a little, so as to aim at a man’s breast if a gun shot off. When you bring down the muzzle, you slip forward the left hand to the swell by the tailpipe.
XIII. Fire! 9 motions.
As in explanation 9th, immediately upon having fired bringing the right heel up close to the left, coming to the priming position, and without delay proceeding to prime and load. XIV. Shoulder! 3 motions. Proceed as directed in the 6th explanation.
XV. As Rear Rank, make Ready! 1 motion.
As in explanation 9th, only this rank steps to the right so far that their right toes come directly behind, and eight or ten inches in the rear of, the left heels of their righthand men; bending the right knees a little, so as to bring the right legs nearly straight up and down; this will throw their bodies into the intervals of the file leaders and files upon the right, and enable them to present with more ease and advantage, and to spring back with briskness after they have fired.
XVI. Present! 1 motion.
As in explanations 8th and 12th, but presenting a little to the right of the center rank, as that rank did to the right of the front rank.
XVII. Fire! 9 motions.
As in explanations 9th and 13th.
XVIII. Shoulder! 3 motions.
Proceed as directed in the sixth explanation.
XIX. Ranks! make Ready! 1 motion.
The three ranks make ready together; the front rank as in explanation 7th, the center rank as in explanation 11th, and the rear rank as in explanation 15th.
XX. Present! 1 motion.
As in explanations 8th, 12th, and 16th.
XXI. Fire! 1 motion.
The three ranks fire together; then instantly spring to the position of Recover, described in explanation 5th, motion 1st.
XXII. Charge your Bayonet! 1 motion.
Bring down your firelock, and make a half face to the right, coming at once to the position of explanation 3d, motion 2d.
XXIII. Recover your Arms! 1 motion.
Bring your firelock at once up to the position of the Recover, described in explanation 5th, motion 1st, facing square to the front.
XXIV. HalfCock your Firelock! 1 motion.
Place the right thumb upon the cock, raising the elbow a little, and instantly half cock, bringing the elbow down, and then dropping the thumb upon the breech pin.
XXV. Shoulder! 2 motions.
With both hands give the piece a sudden turn till the barrel comes to the front (turning it first to the right, and to round to the front) quitting instantly the left hand and placing it under the butt as the piece is sinking in the right hand; and with both hands (but principally with the right) bring the firelock against your left shoulder; thus coming to the position of explanation 1st, motion 1st.
Throw your right hand down by your side.
XXVI. Shut your Pan! 2 motions.
Bring up your right hand just above the hammer, with the fingers extended, and the forefinger touching the barrel; and instantly thrusting the two fore fingers behind the hammer, force it down smartly.
Throw your right hand down by your side.
XXVII. Return your Bayonet! 3 motions.
As in explanation 1st, motion 1st.
As in explanation 1st, motion 2d.
Sink the firelock with your left hand, till the butt strikes the ground, as in explanation 1st, motion 3d, quitting the right hand and bringing it up to the muzzle, with the upper joint of the forefinger under the neck of the bayonet (which brings the back of the hand to the front) striking it up strongly, clapping down the thumb in the hollow of the neck, turning the bayonet towards you (bringing the neck to the front) pushing it up again briskly, fetching it off from the muzzle, and returning it into the scabbard; which being done, instantly thrown up to your right hand and seize the firelock at the muzzle.
XXVIII. Shoulder! 3 motions.
Do precisely as is directed in the 2d explanation.
XXIX. Secure your Firelock! 3 motions.
1 and 2, As in explanation 1st, motions 1st and 2d.
3. Throw down your left hand briskly along with the firelock, the barrel downwards, the muzzle pointing straight to the front, and coming within about a foot of the ground, and the butt close up to the hind part of the armpit; the firelock, where it touches your side, rests about half way between the top of the hip bone and the top of the thighbone; and you cover the lock with the left arm, which, for that end, is to be kept, from the elbow to the wrist, close against the piece.
XXX. Shoulder! 3 motions.
Raising your firelock with your left hand, (throwing up the muzzle till the barrel be perpendicular) and seizing it instantly with the right hand under the cock, come to the position directed in the 2d motion of the 1st explanation.
2 and 3, As in explanation 2d, motions 2d and 3d.
XXXI. Slope your Firelock! 1 motion.
With the left hand push the firelock upwards, slipping it upon the shoulder; and at the same time raising the butt forward, let the muzzle drop behind, but not so low as to interfere with the head of the man behind you if you are at close order. In doing this motion you will naturally point the firelock to the right, in an oblique position; and it may properly be held so far obliquely, as that the muzzle shall be behind the right shoulder, in a range from front to rear. In this position you will balance and carry the firelock in the manner you find most easy.
XXXII. Erect your Firelock! 2 motions.
With your left hand pull down the butt of the firelock to the hipbone, at the same time throwing up the right hand against the stock below the lock, to keep the piece to the shoulder.
Throw your right hand down by your side.
XXXIII. Support your Firelock! 2 motions.
Without stirring the firelock, seize it with your right hand so far below the lock as to give room for the left arm to be brought under the cock at the next motion, the thumb on the inside, pointing upwards, the ball of it only touching the piece, the upper joints of the fingers on the front of the small of the stock, and the lower joints clasped round on the outside of it.
Quitting the butt with the left hand, bring your left arm close up under the cock, resting the left hand upon the right arm, the palm nearly on the upper side, the fingers mostly on the fore side of it, extended towards the elbow, and the thumb between the arm and the body; the left arm is to be straight across the body, in the most easy position; and the cock resting upon it near the bend of the elbow supports the piece. The position of the firelock at the support, if well carried, does not differ materially from its position when shouldered.
XXXIV. Shoulder! 2 motions.
Seize the butt with your left hand.
Throw your right hand down by your side.
XXXV. Advance your Firelock! 3 motions.
Throw up the firelock to a recover; as in explanation 5th, motion 1st.
With a quick motion bring your piece before your right side, letting it sink, and slipping up the left hand to about the middle of the barrel; at the same time draw the thumb from under the cock, placing it above the guard, and the three last fingers from below the guard, bringing the little finger under the cock, with that, and the forefinger which is under the guard, chiefly supporting the firelock; the small of the stock lies between the forefinger and middle finger, the second joint of the thumb rests upon the guard, the back of the hand is turned to the right, and the palm of it, near the wrist, bears upon the hammer spring and the edge of the hammer; at the instant you slip up the left hand, and shift the right hand, coming to the position just described, you bring the barrel of the piece into the hollow between the right breast and shoulder, the left hand slipped up, being as high as the armpit, and the right arm hanging straight down by your side in an easy, unconstrained position.
Throw your left hand down by your side.
XXXVI. Shoulder! 3 motions.
With your right hand throw up the firelock before the left breast, catching it with both hands, and bringing it to a proper recover.
Turning the barrel by the right round to the front, and quitting the left hand, sink the piece with the right hand by the left side, and seize the butt with the left hand, bringing the piece against the shoulder; thus coming to the position of explanation 1st, motion 1st.
Throw your right hand down by your side.
XXXVII. Carry your Firelock in your right hand! 2 motions.
Throwing up the right hand, seize the firelock just below the swell by the tailpipe, the little finger touching, or being near, the left shoulder, and almost as high as the top of it.
Quit the left hand and bring the firelock with the right hand down by your right side, holding it in a sloping position, the butt coming within a few inches of the ground, and the muzzle about a foot and a half before the right shoulder.
XXXVIII. Shoulder! 2 motions.
Bring the firelock against the left shoulder, coming to the position of explanation 37th, motion 1st.
Throw your right hand down by your side.
XXXIX. Order your Firelock! 2 motions.
Seize the firelock with your right hand, just below the swell by the tailpipe, as in explanation 37th, motion 1st.
Quitting the left hand, bring down the firelock briskly with the right hand, by your right side, letting it slip through the hand till the butt strikes the ground on the outside of , but near to the right toe, the barrel coming behind, and resting against the hollow between the thumb and forefinger of the right hand, with which you hold the piece upright; keeping the hand as low as may be without constraint.
XL. Shoulder! 2 motions.
With your right hand bring up the firelock against your left shoulder, and place the left hand under the butt, taking care to give the piece a little toss up, and to slip down your hand below the swell by the tailpipe, just as you are bringing the piece against your shoulder; thus coming to the position of explanation 37th, motion 1st.
Throw your right hand down by your side. XLI. Ground your Firelock! 4 motions. 1st and 2d motions as in explanation 39th.
Slip the two forefingers of the right hand over the stock till their ends are on the left side of the rammer, and instantly turn the firelock on the butt till the lock points to the rear; then, without making the least pause, step with the left foot directly forward a moderate pace, (or so far, that when the firelock is laid on the ground, the right hand and left heel may be about on a line) and bending the right knee till it comes down by the piece within an inch or two of the ground, and placing the left hand on the left knee, (by way of support to the body) lay the firelock on the ground, the barrel in a straight line to the front, the lock upwards, and your head sufficiently erect to see the fugle man, or posture master.
Quitting the firelock, raise up your body and bring back your left foot to its former position, letting both hands hang by your sides, easy and unconstrained.
XLII. Shoulder! 4 motions.
Step forward with the left foot, and bending the right knee and placing your left hand on your left knee, seize the firelock where you held it in grounding; thus coming to the position of the 3d motion of explanation 4.
Raise up yourself and firelock, stepping back again with the left foot, and as soon as the piece comes nearly perpendicular, with your thumb pulled back and two fore fingers pushed forward turn the barrel behind; coming to the position of the 2d motion of explanation 39.
3 and 4, Bring the firelock to your shoulder as in explanation 40.
- taken from “An Easy Plan of Discipline For A Militia” by Timothy Pickering, jun. Printed 1775 [↩]
- There is really but one motion in firing; yet, as no time is to be lost in action, and as the men would, after discharging, immediately proceed to load again, almost involuntarily, from a principle of self defense; so they are to be taught to do the same thing at exercise; as soon as they have fired, going on to prime and load again, without the particular word of command therefor being given. [↩]