The Manual Exercise,
As ordered by his
Majesty,
In 1764.
Together with
Plans and Explanations
Of the Method generally Practis'd
At
Review and Field-Days, &c.

(Transcribed by Glenn Valis. Comments are in parenphasis)

(Shoulder)


The Position of a Soldier under Arms.
To stand streight and firm upon his Legs; Head turned to the Right: Heels close: Toes a little turned out; the Belly drawn in a little, but without constraint; the Breast a little projected ; Shoulders square to the Front, and kept back; the right Hand hanging streight down the Side, with the Palm close to the Thigh; the left Elbow not to be turned out from the Body; the Firelock to be carried on the left Shoulder, as low down as can be admitted without Constraint; the three last Fingers under the Butt; the Fore-Finger and Thumb before the Swell; the Flat of the Butt to be supported against the Hip-Bone, and to be pressed so that the Firelock may be felt against the left Side, and that it may stand before the Hollow of the Shoulder, not leaning towards the Head nor from it; the Barrel almost perpendicular.
To be exact in counting a Second of Time, or One, Two, between each Motion.

 

 

The Manual Exercise,
As ordered by his
Majesty,
In 1764.

 

(Used by most military units in America until the Continentals went to Von Stueben's manual in 1778. Militia continued to use it until the end of the war. The style of the period was for the men to move exactly together, like a chorus line. This kept the men from interfering with each others movements, and was the safest way to handle black powder. Remember, both sides fought in lines to get the most out of the inaccurate muskets, while being able to defend against horse or bayonet charges.)

(poise)

#1- Poise your Firelocks! (2 Motions)
1st Seize the Firelock with your right Hand, and turn the Lock outwards, keeping the Firelock perpendicular.
2nd. Bring the Firelock with a quick Motion from the Shoulder, and seize it with the left Hand just above the Lock, so that the little finger may rest upon the Spring, and the Thumb lie upon the Stock; The Firelock must not beheld too far from the Body, and the left Hand must be of an equal Height with the Eyes.

#2- Cock your Locks! (2 Motions)
1st. Turn the Barrel opposite your Face, and place you Thumb upon the Cock, raising the Elbow square at this Motion.
2nd. Cock your Firelock, by drawing your Elbow down, placing your Thumb upon the Breech Pin, and the Fingers under the Guard.

#3- Present! (1 Motion)
Step back about six inches to the Rear with the Right Foot, bringing the left Toe to the Front; at the same Time the Butt end of the Firelock must be brought to an equal Height with your Shoulder, placing the left Hand on the Swell, and the Fore-Finger of the right Hand before the Tricker, sinking the muzzle a little.

#4- Fire! (1 Motion)
Pull the Tricker briskly, and immediately after bringing up the right Foot, come to the Priming Position, with the Lock opposite to the Right Breast, the Muzzle the Height of the Hat, keeping it firm and steady, and at the same Time seize the Cock with the Fore-Finger and Thumb of the right Hand, the Back of the Hand turned up.

(the priming position)

#5- Half Cock your Firelocks! (1 Motion)
Half bend the Cock briskly with a draw back of the right Elbow, bringing it close to the Butt of the Firelock.

#6- Handle your Cartridge! (1 Motion)
Bring your right Hand with a short Round to your Pouch, slapping it hard; seize the Cartridge, and bring it with a quick Motion to your Mouth, bite the top well off and bring the Hand as low as the Chin, with the Elbow down.

#7- Prime! (1 Motion)
Shake the Powder into the Pan, Placing the three last fingers behind the Hammer, with the Elbow up.

#8- Shut your Pans! (2 Motions)
1st. Shut your pan briskly, drawing your right Arm at this Motion towards your Body, holding the Cartridge fast in your Hand, as in the former Position.
2nd. Turn the Piece nimbly round to the loading Position, with the Lock to the Front, and the Muzzle the Height of the Chin, bringing the right Hand behind the Muzzle; both Feet kept fast in this Motion.

#9- Charge with Cartridge! (2 Motions)
1st. Turn up your Hand and put the Cartridge into the Muzzle, shaking the Powder into the Barrel.
2nd. Place your Hand, closed, with a quick and strong Motion, upon the Rammer.

#10- Draw your Rammers! (2 Motions)
1st. Draw the Rammer with a quick Motion, half out, sexing it at the Muzzle back-handed.
2nd. Draw it quite out, turn it, and enter it into the Muzzle.

#11- Ram down Cartridges! (2 Motions)
Ram the Cartridge well down the Barrel, instantly recovering and seizing the Rammer back-handed at the Center, turning it and enter it as far as the lower pipe, placing at the same Time the Edge of the Hand on the Butt End of the Rammer, Fingers extended.

#12- Return Rammers! (1 Motion)
Return the Rammer, bringing up the Piece with the left Hand to the Shoulder, seizing it with the right Hand under the Cock, keeping the left Hand at the Swell, turning the Body square to the Front.

#13- Shoulder your Firelocks! (2 Motions)
1st. Quit the left Hand and place it strong upon the Butt.
2nd. Quit the right Hand and throw it down the right Side.

(rest or, with bayonet, present arms)

#14- Rest your Firelocks! (3 motions)
1st. Seize the Firelock with the right Hand, turning the Lock outwards.
2nd. Raise the Firelock from your Shoulder, and place your left Hand with a quick Motion above the Lock, holding the Piece right up and down in both Hands before you, and your left Hand even with your Eyes.
3rd. Step briskly back with your right Foot, placing it a Hand's breadth distant from you left Heel, at the same Time bring down the Firelock as quick as possible to the Rest, sinking it as far down before your left Knee as your right Hand will permit without Constraint; your left Hand at the Feather Spring, and your Right with Fingers extended held under the Guard, taking care to draw in the Muzzle well towards your Body, and to dress in a Line with the Butt-End.

(going to order, motion one,two, three)

#15- Order your Firelocks! (3 Motions)
1st. Place your Firelock nimbly with your left Hand against your right Shoulder.
2nd. Quit the Firelock with your right Hand, and sinking it at the same Time with your left, seize it the Muzzle, which must be of an equal Height with your Chin, and hold it close against your right Side.
3rd. Lift up your right Foot and place it by your Left; at the same Time throw back you left Hand by your left Side, and with your Right, bring down the Butt-End strong upon the ground, placing it even with the Toe of your right Foot; the Thumb of your right Hand lying along the Barrel, and the Muzzle kept at a little distance from your body.

#16- Ground Your Firelock! (4 Motions)
1st. Face to the Right upon your Heels, and at the same Time turn the Firelock so that the Lock point to the rear, and the flat of the Butt-End lie against the inside of your Foot, at the same Time, slipping the right Foot behind the Butt of the Firelock, the right Toe pointing to the Right, and the Left to the Front.
2nd. Step directly forward with your left Foot about as far as the Swell of the Firelock, and lay it upon the Ground, your left Hand hanging down by your left Foot, and your Right kept fast with the Butt-End against it.
3rd. Raise yourself up again nimbly, bringing back your left Foot to its former Position, keeping your Body faced to the Right.
4th. Face again to the Left upon your heels, and come to your proper Front, letting your Hands hang down without Motion.

#17- Take up your Firelocks! (3 Motions)
1st. Face to the Right upon both Heels.
2nd. Sink your Body down, and come to the Position described in the second Motion of Grounding.
3rd. Raise yourself, and Firelock, bringing it close to your right Side.
4th. Come to your proper Front, seizing the Firelock at the Muzzle, as in explanation fifteen.

#18- Rest your Firelocks! (3 Motions)
1st. Slip your right Hand down the Barrel as far as the Swell.
2nd. Raise the Firelock high up in a perpendicular Line from the Ground with your right Hand, and seize it with the left above the Spring, the Cock the Height of the Waist-Belt.
3rd. Step back with your right Foot, placing it behind your left Heel, and come to the Rest.

#19- Shoulder your Firelocks! (2 Motions)
1st. Lift up your right Foot and place it by your Left; bring the Firelock at the same Time to your left Shoulder, and seize the Butt-End with the left Hand, Keeping it in the same Position as above described.
2nd. Throw your right Hand briskly back.

#20- Secure your Firelocks! (3 Motions)
1st. Bring the right Hand briskly up, and place it under the Cock, keeping the Firelock steady in the same Position.
2nd. Quit the Butt with the left Hand, and seize the Firelock with it at the Swell, bringing the Elbow close down under the Lock; The right Hand kept fast inthis Motion, and the Piece still upright.
3rd. Quit the right Hand and bring it down your right Side, bringing the Firelock nimbly down to the Secure; the left Hand in a Line with the Waist-Belt.

#21- Shoulder your Firelocks! (3 Motions)
1st. Bring the Firelock up to a perpendicular Line, seizing it with the right Hand under the Cock.
2nd. Quit the left Hand, and place it strong upon the Butt.
3rd. Quit the right Hand, and bring it smartly down the right Side.

(fixing)(fixed -waiting order to shoulder)

#22- Fix your Bayonets! (3 Motions)
1st and 2nd. Motions as in the two first of the Secure.
3rd. Quit the right Hand, and bring the Firelock smartly down to the left Side with the left Hand, as far as it will admit without Constraint, seizing the Bayonet at the same Time with the right Hand, and fixing it, placing that Hand just below the Brass, with the Piece close to the hollow of the Shoulder.

#23- Shoulder your Firelocks! (3 Motions)
1st. Quit the right Hand, and bring up the Firelock with the Left, seize it again under the Cock with your Right, as in the Second Motion of Secure.
2nd. Quit the left Hand, and place it strong upon the Butt.
3rd. Quit the right Hand, and bring it down the right Side.

#24- Present your Arms! (3 Motions)
As explained in the three Motions of the fourteenth Word of Command.

#25- To the Right Face! (3 Motions)
1st. Bring up the Firelock, with a quick Motion high before you, till your left Hand come even with your Eyes, with the Fingers of that Hand extended along the Stock, just above the Feather Spring. The right Foot to be brought close up to the left Heel in this Motion.
2nd. Face to the Right, taking care in Facing to hold the Firelock right up and down, and steady in your Hands.
3rd. Step back with your right Foot, and come down to your Present.

#26- To the Right Face! (3 Motions)
As in the foregoing explanation.

#27- To the Right about Face! (3 Motions)
As in the foregoing Explanation, coming to the Right about, instead of to the Right.

#28- To the Left Face! (3 Motions)
1st. Bring the right Foot briskly to the Hollow of your Left, with the Firelock in same Position as in the first Motion of facing to the Right.
2nd. Face to the Left.
3rd. Come down to your Present.

#29- To the Left Face! (3 Motions)
As before.

#30- To the Left About Face! (3 Motions)
As before, coming to the Left about, instead of to the Left.

#31- Shoulder your Firelocks!
As in the Motions of Explanation nineteen.

(Charge-front rank with lowered bayonets- rear holds them up ready)

#32- Charge Bayonets! (3 Motions)
1st. As in Explanation one.
2nd. Bring the Swell of the Firelock down strong upon the Palm of the Hand, turning upon both Heels to the Right, the right Hand grasping the Piece at the Small behind the Lock, and as high as the Waist-Belt; The Firelock upon a level with the Barrel upwards.

#33- Shoulder your Firelocks! (2 Motions)
1st. Bring up the Firelock to the Shoulder, place the left Hand upon the Butt, bringing the Feet square to the Front.
2nd. Quit the right Hand, and throw it down the right Side.

(advanced arms)

#34- Advance your Arms! (4 Motions)
1st. and 2nd as in Explanation one.
3rd Bring the Firelock down the right Side with the right Hand, as low as it will admit without Constraint, slipping up the left Hand a the same Time to the Swell, the Guard between the Thumb and Forefinger of the right Hand, the three last fingers under the Cock, with the Barrel to the Rear.
4th. Quit the left Hand.

#35- Shoulder your Firelocks! (4 Motions)
1st. Bring up the left Hand and seize it at the Swell.
2nd. Come smartly up to a Poise.
3rd. and 4th. Shoulder.

 

 

(Positions used not covered in particular)

(ready-lock out)(recover-lock in) (trail firelock)

(slope firelock- used when overhead objects prevent vertical muskets)

 

 

Explanations of Priming and Loading

Prime and Load! Number of Motions 15
1st. Come smartly to the Recover, by springing the Firelock streight up with the left Hand, turning the Barrel inwards to the proper Height of the Recover; at the same Time that the left Hand springs the Firelock, the right Hand is raised briskly from the right Side, and seizes the Firelock a-cross the Breast; as it rises below the Cock, the left Hand comes with a quick Motion from the Butt, and seizes the Firelock strong above the Lock, the little Finger of the left Hand at the spring of the Lock, the left Hand at an equal Height with the Eyes, the Butt close to the left Breast, but not pressed, the Firelock perpendicular, opposite the left Side of the Face.
2nd. Bring the Firelock down with a brisk Motion to the Priming Position, the left Hand holding the Firelock as in Priming, the Thumb of the right Hand palced against the Face of the Steel, the Fingers clenched, and the Elbow a little turned out, that the Wrist may be clear of the Cock.
3rd. Open the Pan by throwing up the Steel with a strong Motion of the right Arm, turning the Elbow in, and keeping the Firelock steady in the left Hand.
4th Handle the Cartridge!
5th. Prime!
6th. Shut Pans!
7th. Cast about!
8th and 9th. Load!
10th and 11th. Draw Rammers!
12th Ram down Cartridge!
13th. Return Rammers!
14th and 15th. Shoulder!
N.B. The Motion of Recover and coming down to the priming Position and opening Pans, to be done in the usual Time.
The Motion of handling Cartridge, to shutting the Pans, to be done as quick as possible; when the Pans are shut, a small Pause is to be made, and cast about together; then the loading Motions are to be done as quick as possible; but before the Rammer is return'd, another small Pause is to be made, counting one, two, between each Motion, 'till the Firelock is shouldered.

 

 

 

 


Explanations of the Position of each Rank for the Firings

(Before the war the British used a three rank formation- three lines of men, one behind the other. The Americans used a two rank formation. When the war started, the British switched to a two rank formation. A rank is a line of men going across the field. A file is the set of men lined up one behind the other, as in "single file". During the war both sides used a two rank formation, making a file equal to two men.)

 

Front rank

Make Ready!
Spring the Firelock briskly to the Recover, keeping the left Foot fast in this Motion: as soon as the Firelock is at the Recover, without an stop sink the Body briskly without stooping forward, with a quick Motion down upon the right Knee, the Butt-End of the Firelock at the same Time falls upon the Ground, the front Part of the Butt to be in a Line with the Heel of the left Foot; as soon as the Butt comes to the Ground, the Firelock is to be cocked, immediately seizing the Cock and Steel in the right Hand, the Firelock to be held firm in the left Hand, about the Middle of that Part of the Firelock between the lock and the Swell of the Stock; the Point of the left Thumb to be close to the Swell pointing upwards.
As the Body is sinking, the right Knee is to be thrown so far back as the left Leg may be right up and down, the right Foot to be thrown a little to the Right, the Body to be kept streight, the Head up, looking to the Right along the Rank, the same as if shouldered; the Firelock to be upright, and the Butt about four inches to the Right of the Inside of the left Foot.

Present!
Bring the Firelock briskly down to the Present, by extending the left Arm to the full Length with a strong Motion; at the same Time spring up the Butt by the Cock with the right Hand, and raise up the Butt so high upon the right Shoulder, that you may not be obliged to stoop too much with the Head, the right Cheek to be close to the Butt, and the left Eye shut, and look along the Barrel with the right Eye from the Breech Pin to the Muzzle; keep the left Elbow down in an easy Position, and stand as steady as possible, the Thumb of the right Hand to remain in the Position as described in the third Explanation of the Manual.

Fire!
Pull the Tricker as directed in the Manual, and as soon as the Piece is fired, give yourself a strong Spring upon your left Leg, raising your Body briskly and streight up, keeping your left Foot fast, and bringing the right Heel close to the Left; at the same time the Firelock is to be brought up to the priming Position, and half cocked immediately; a short Pause is to be made, then handle Cartridges, and go on with the loading Motions described in the Explanations of Prime and Load.

 

Center Rank

Make Ready!
Spring the Firelock briskly to the Recover; as soon as the left hand seizes the Firelock above the Lock, the right Elbow is to be nimbly raised a little, placing the Thumb of that Hand upon the Cock, the Fingers open by the Plate of the Lock, and as quick as possible force the Piece to the Cock, by dropping the Elbow, and forcing down the Cock with the Thumb, stepping at the same Time a moderate Pace, or two Feet to the Right, keeping the left Foot fast; as the Firelock is cocked, the Thumb is to fall below the Cock, the right Hand seizing the Firelock close under the Cock firmly; the Fore-finger mot to be before the Tricker: The Piece to be held in this Position perpendicular opposite the left Side of the Face, the Butt close to the left Breast, but not pressed, the Body to be streight, and as full to the Front as possible; the Head kept up, looking to the Right of the Rank, that the Body and Firelock may not stoop forward, nor lean much out of the Rank.

Present!
Spring the Firelock from the Body to Arms length with a quick Motion, pressing down the Muzzle with the left Hand, and spring up the Butt with the right Hand, as in the foregoing explanation of the Front Rank

Fire!
As in Explanation four in the Manual, with this Differencethat the left Foot is to be brought up to the Right at the same Time that the Firelock is brought down to the priming Position.
The loading Motions as in the Explanations of Priming and Loading, and at the last Motion of shouldering, to spring to the Left again and cover the File-leaders.

 

Rear Rank

Make Ready!
Recover the Firelock and Cock as before directed for the center Rank. As the Firelock is recovered and cocked, step briskly streight to the Right with the right Foota full Pace, bring the left hell about six inches before the right Foot, the Body streight and as square to the Front as possible.

Present!
As in Explanation of the center Rank.

Fire!
As in Explanation of the center rank, and as the Firelock is coming down to the priming Position, the left Foot is to be brought back to the Right, and at the last Motion of shouldering, to spring to the left again, and cover the File-leader.


(A French drawing of two rank firing. The British and Americans normally did not use a kneeling front rank during the war, but only two standing ranks. In three ranks firing, each rank is offset slightly to the right of the rank in front. Two ranks in close order- each line of men about 9 inches apart- or open order- about 18 inches apart- were the standard during the Revolution. Two ranks allowed a smaller number of troops to effectively cover more ground. )


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