Hardee’s Skirmish


General principles and division of the instruction.

1. The movements of skirmishers should be subjected to such rules as will give to the commander the means of moving them in any direction with the greatest promptitude.

2. It is not expected that these movements should be executed with the same precision as in closed ranks, nor is it desirable, as such exactness would materially interfere with their prompt execution.

3. When skirmishers are thrown out to clear the way for, and to protect the advance of, the main corps, their movements should be so regulated by this corps, as to keep it constantly covered.

4. Every body of skirmishers should have a reserve, the strength and composition of which will vary according to circumstances.

5. If the body thrown out be within sustaining distance of the main corps, a very small reserve will be sufficient for each company, whose duty it shall be to fill vacant places, furnish the line with cartridges, relieve the fatigued, and serve as a rallying point for the skirmishers.

6. If the main corps be at a considerable distance, besides the company reserves, another reserve will be required, composed of entire companies, which will be employed to sustain and reinforce such parts of the line as may be warmly attacked; this reserve should be strong enough to relieve at least half the companies deployed as skirmishers.

7. The reserves should be placed behind the centre of the line of skirmishers, the company reserves at one hundred and fifty, and the principle reserve at four hundred paces. This rule, however, is not invariable. The reserves, while holding themselves within sustaining distance of the line, should be, as much as possible, in a position to afford each other mutual protection, and must carefully profit by any accidents of the ground to conceal themselves from the view of the enemy, and to shelter themselves from his fire.

8. The movements of skirmishers will be executed in quick, or double quick time. The run will be resorted to only in cases of urgent necessity.

9. Skirmishers will be permitted to carry their pieces in the manner convenient to them.

10. The movements will be habitually indicated by the sounds of the bugle.

11. The officers, and, if necessary, the non-commissioned officers, will repeat, and cause the commands to be executed, as soon as they are given; but to avoid mistakes, when the signals are employed, they will wait until the last bugle note is sounded before commencing the movement.

12. When skirmishers are ordered to move rapidly, the officers and non-commissioned officers will see that the men economize their strength, keep cool, and profit by all the advantages which the ground may offer for cover. It is only by this continual watchfulness on the part of all grades, that a line of skirmishers can attain success.

13. This instruction will be divided into five articles, and subdivided as follows:

Article First
A. To deploy forward
B. To deploy by the flank
C. To extend intervals
D. To close intervals
E. To relieve skirmishers

Article Second
A. To advance in line
B. To retreat in line
C. To change direction
D. To march by the flank

Article Third
A. To fire at a halt
B. To fire marching

Article Fourth
A. The rally
B. To retreat in line
C. The assembly

Article Fifth
A. To deploy a battalion as skirmishers
B. To rally the battalion deployed as skirmishers

14. In the first four articles, it is supposed that the movements are executed by a company deployed as skirmishers, on a front equal that of the battalion in order of battle. In the fifth article, it is supposed that each company of the battalion, being deployed as skirmishers, occupies a front of one hundred paces. From these two examples, rules may be deduced for all cases, whatever may be the numerical strength of the skirmishers, and the extent of the ground they ought to occupy.

Illustrated Hardee’s
Mahan’s Outpost
Skirmish Primer
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