EFR Plan of Discipline and Tactics

I. All Rangers are subject to the RULES & ARTICLES OF WARS.
– Appear at rollcall every evening on their own parade, equipped each with a firelock, sixty rounds of powder and ball, hatchet, Knife and Light Kit.
– At which time an Officer is to inspect the same, to see they are in order, so as to be ready on any emergency to march at a minute’s warning.
– Before they are dismissed the necessary Guards are to be drafted, and Scouts for the next day appointed.

II. Discovery of the Enemy – Whenever you are ordered out to the enemy’s forts or frontiers for discoveries:
– If your number is small, march in a single file, keeping at such a distance from each other to prevent one shot from killing two men, sending one man, or more, forward, and the like on each side, at the distance of twenty yards from the main body.
– If the ground you march over will admit of it, give the signal to the Officer of the approach of an enemy, and of their number, direction, action, etc.

III. Marching Over Marshes or Soft Ground – march abreast of each other, to prevent the enemy from tracking you (as they would do if you marched in a single file), till you get over such ground, and then resume single file order.
– March until it is quite dark before you encamp. Encamp, if possible on a piece of ground that may afford your sentries the advantage of seeing or hearing the enemy at some considerable distance, keeping one half of your whole party awake alternately through the night.

IV. Reconnoiters – At the last covered/concealed place before you come to the place of reconnoiter, make a stand, and send one or two men in whom you can confide, to look out the best ground for making your observations.

V. Prisoners – If you have the good fortune to take any prisoners:
– Search & silence them.
– Keep them separate from your stand, Separate the officers.
– Safeguard them & Speed them to the fort,
– In your return take a different route from that in which you went out, that you may the better discover any party in your rear, and have an opportunity, if their strength be superior to yours, to alter your course, or disperse, as circumstances may require.

VI. Large Attack Marches – If you march in a large body of three or four hundred, with a design to attack the enemy:
– Divide your party into three columns, each headed by a proper officer, and let these columns march in single files, the columns to the right and left keeping at twenty yards distance or more from that of the center.
– If the ground will admit, and let proper guards be kept in the front and rear, and suitable flanking parties at a due distance as before directed, with orders to halt on all eminences, to take a view of the surrounding ground, to prevent your being ambushed, and to notify the approach or retreat of the enemy, that proper dispositions may be made for attacking, defending, etc.
– If the enemy approach in your front on level ground, form a front of your three columns or main body with the advanced guard, keeping out your flanking parties as if you were marching under the command of trusty Officers, to prevent the enemy from pressing hard on either of your wings, or surrounding you, which is the usual method of the savages, if their number will admit of it.
– Be careful likewise to support and strengthen your rear guard.

VII. Receiving the Enemy’s Fire – If you are obliged to receive the enemy’s fire, fall, or squat down, till it is over, then rise and discharge at them.
– If their main body is equal to yours, extend yourselves occasionally; but if superior, be careful to support and strengthen your flanking parties, to make them equal with theirs, that if possible you may repulse them to their main body, in which case push upon them with the greatest resolution, with equal force in each flank and in the center.
– Observing to keep at a due distance from each other, and advance from tree to tree, with one half of the party before the other (ten or twelve yards), if the enemy push upon you, let your front fire and fall down, and then let your rear advance thro’ them and do the like, by which time those who before were in front will be ready to discharge again, and repeat the same alternately, as occasion shall require; by this means you will keep up such a constant fire, that the enemy will not be able easily to break your order, or gain your ground.

VIII. Enemy in Retreat – f you oblige the enemy to retreat, be careful, in your pursuit of them, to keep out your flanking parties, and prevent them from gaining eminences, or rising grounds, in which case they would perhaps be able to rally and repulse in their turn.

IX. Actions When You Are Obliged to Retreat – Let the front of your whole party fire and fall back, till the rear has done the same, making for the best ground you can; by this means you will oblige the enemy to pursue you, if they do it at all, in the face of a constant fire.

X. Preventing Being Surrounded – If the enemy is so superior that you are in danger of being surrounded by them, let the whole body disperse, and every one take a different road to the place of rendezvous appointed for that evening.
– Every morning set a new Rendezvous for the evening ensuing, in order to bring the whole party, or as many of them as possible, together, after any separation that may happen in the day.
– If you should happen to be actually surrounded, form yourselves into a square, or if in the woods, a circle is best, and, if possible, make a stand till the darkness of the night favours your escape.

XI. Actions When Your Rear is Attacked:
– The main body and flankers must face about to the right or left, as occasion shall require, and form themselves to oppose the enemy.
– If attacked in either of your flanks, you will always make a rear of one of your flank-guards.

XII. Rally After a Retreat – If you determine to rally after a retreat, in order to make a fresh stand against the enemy, by all means endeavor to do it on the most rising ground you can come at, which will give you greatly the advantage in point of situation, and enable you to repulse superior numbers.

XIII. Holding Your Position – In general, when in possession of cover & concealment & when pushed upon by the enemy, reserve your fire till they approach very near, which will then put them into the greater surprise and consternation, and give you an opportunity of rushing upon them with your hatchets and blades to the better advantage. Avoid fixed fights on open ground where the enemy’s bayonets are of greatest effect.

XIV. Encamping at Night on a Scout/Reconnoiter or Attack – When you encamp at night, fix your sentries in such a manner as not to be relieved from the main body till morning.
– Profound secrecy and silence being of the most importance.
– Each sentry, therefore, should consist of three to six men, two of whom must be constantly alert.
– When relieved by their fellows, it should be done without noise.
– In case those on duty see or hear anything, which alarms them, they are not to speak, but one of them is silently to return, and acquaint the commanding officer thereof, so that proper dispositions may be made.

XV. Stand To – At the first dawn of day, awaken your whole detachment and stand to; that being the time when the savages choose to fall upon their enemies, you should by all means be in readiness to receive them.

XVI. Discovery of a Superior Enemy Force – If the enemy should be discovered by your detachments in the morning and their numbers are superior to yours, and a victory doubtful, you should not attack them till the evening, as then they will not know your numbers, and if you are repulsed, your retreat will be favoured by the darkness of the night.

XVII. Leaving your Encampment – Before you leave, send out small parties to scout round it, to see if there be an appearance or track of an enemy that might have been near you during the night.

XVIII. Stopping for Refreshments – When you stop for refreshments, choose some spring or rivulet if you can, and dispose your party so as not to be surprised posting proper guards and sentries at a due distance, and let a small party waylay the path you came in, lest the enemy should be pursuing.

XIX. Crossing Rivers – If, in your return, you have to cross rivers, avoid the usual fords as much as possible, lest the enemy should have discovered, and be there expecting you.

XX. Lakes – If you have to pass by lakes, keep at some distance from the edge of the water, lest, in case of an ambuscade, or an attack from the enemy, your retreat should be cut off.

XXI. Enemy Pursuit from the Rear – If the enemy pursue your rear, take a circle till you come to your own tracks, and there form an ambush to receive them, and give them the first fire.

XXII. Returning to the Fort – When you return from a scout, and come near our forts, avoid the usual roads and avenues thereto, lest the enemy should have headed you, and lay in ambush to receive you, when almost exhausted with fatigue.

XXIII. Pursuit of Enemy Discovered Near our Forts – When pursuing any party that has been near our forts or encampments, follow not directly in their tracks, lest you should be discovered by their rear guards, who, at such a time, would be most alert; but endeavor, by a different route, to head and meet them in some narrow pass or lay in ambush to receive them when and where they least expect it.

XXIV. Determining Enemy Strength – If you cannot satisfy yourself as to the enemy’s number and strength, from their fires, etc., conceal your party at some distance, and ascertain their number by a reconnoitering party, When they march, in the morning, marking their course, etc., when you may pursue, ambush, and attack them, or let them pass, as prudence shall direct you. In general, however, that you may not be discovered by the enemy at a great distance, it is safest to lay by, with your party concealed all day, without noise or show, and to pursue your intended route by night; and whether you go by land or water, give out parole and countersigns, in order to know one another in the dark, and likewise appoint a rendezvous point for every man to repair to, in case of any accident that may separate you.

~ As they would have been interpreted during the American Revolution

Print Friendly, PDF & Email