George Washington Papers

Baron von Steuben’s Directions for Maneuvers, 24 April 1780

24 April 1780

When the Troops arrive at the Place of exercise, the Officers must examine the Arms and Cartouch boxes, and distribute twelve blank Cartridges to each Man. The Artillery & Infantry must load their Pieces, the Officers taking Care to do it in Order. The Battalions must then be formed in open Ranks, and the Men order their Arms. The Officers must take care that no Soldier is suffered to leave the Ranks, The Commandants will take the Word of Command from the Brigadier to Shoulder, & the whole must do it togather.

Major Fish will be placed before the Stage, & will fix a Pistol as a Signal for the Artillery to begin the Salute. When the Ambassador has passed the Line & is advancing to the Stage, the Brigadier commands Rear Ranks close to the Front, Major Fish will fire a Pistol which must be followed by a Cannon Shot as the first first Sigl.

First Signl from the Centre. On this Signal the Colonels give the words for wheeling to the left and right, the Brigadier gives the word March which must be repeated by each Colonel to his Battalion and the whole begin to march at the same time. The Head of the Column must march very slow, and the Plattoons must take less than their proper Distance by lengthning their Step. The Head of the Column being arrived at the Trees, the Brigadier gives the word Attention to the Artillery on which they fire the second Signal.

Second signal from the Centre. Upon which the Colonels command Close Column! the Column closes, quick Step, but the Men must not run. the Brigadier gives the word march! and the Column advances. Col. Barber will notify the Brigadier when the Column is between the Points of View, on which he commands Halt! the head of the Column being dressed he commands Attention! on which the Artillery fires the Third signal.

Third Signal from the Centre. Upon which the Colonels command Display Column and the whole display immediately. When the second Plattoons from the Centre arrive at their Ground in the Line, the Artillery in the centre fire two Rounds, and then the Plattoons begin their fire, firing as they display two Rounds, the first Plattoon firing the second round as soon as the fourth has fired, the Artillery will also fire two rounds: As soon as they arrive on their Ground. The two rounds being fired, each Colonel dresses his Battalion, closing it towards the Colours; when this is done, and have taken their Posts, the Brigadier gives the word Attention! on which the Artillery fires the fourth Signal, which signifies to the Front march.

Forth signal from the Centre. Each Colonel commands to the front (on which the Colours step out) March! and the whole step off at once, the Line advancing in the common Step ’till they receive the word Halt! from the Brigadier. The Colonels repeat the Command and dress their Battalions, As soon as they have taken their Posts, the Brigadier gives the Word Attention! Charge! Upon this word the Artillery fires two rounds, and on the discharge of the last Gun each Battalion begins to fire two rounds by Plattoons. The Brigadier then commands Attention, on which they fire the Fifth Signal, which signifies to begin the Retreat.

Fifth Signal from the Centre. The first and third Battalions go immediately to the right about, and the Artillery of the second & fourth fire two rounds followed by two Rounds of Musquetry from the second & fourth by Plattoons. The first & third arrived at their Ground face to the front, the Col. of the first Battalion must dress & come about with the third. The second & fourth Battalion will go to the right about & retreat thro the Intervals. As soon as they pass the Intervals the first & third begin their fire, the Artillery first and afterwards the Infantry, two rounds each. When the second & fourth face to the Front, the first and third, go to the right about, march to their Places in the Line, and face to the front; The Brigadier will then command, Order Firelocks! and the Men rest themselves without moving from their Places.

The Brigadier will command Shoulder, and then Attention! upon which they fire the Sixth Signal.

Sixth Signal from the centre. The Colonels command, by Plattoons to the right wheel. March! the whole will march, and the Brigadier at the Head of the Column orders one of the Pieces at the head of the Column to fire the Seventh Signal.

Seventh Signal from the right. On this the Column closes. Col. Barber will then conduct it to the Place fixed on, and when there, the Brigadier will command Attention! on which they fire the Eight Signal which signifies to display the Column. Eigth signal betwen the first & second Battn. The Column displays, and the Battalions and Artillery fire as they display only one round. The Colonels dress their Battalions and taking their Posts, The Brigadier commands Attention! on which they fire the Ninth Signal.

Ninth Signal from the Centre. The whole whole which by Plattoons to the left the Brigadier being at the Head of the Column commands Attention on which they fire the Tenth Signal, and the Column closes.

Tenth Signal from the Left. Col. Barber will then conduct the Column to its proper Ground, & when there the Brigadier will command Attention! on which they fire the Eleventh Signal, Display Column.

Elventh Signal betwen the third & fourth Battn. The Column displays, the Artillery and Plattoons, as they display firing only one round. The Colonels then dress their Battalions, and having taken their Posts, the Brigadier commands Attention, on which they fire the twevth Signal. Twelvth Signal from the Centre. The whole wheels by Plattoons to the right & marches in four Columns to the Rear. The Colonels will take care that the Head of their Battalions, arrive at their Ground, & which at the same time—they must come on their Ground where their Left stood in the first Position.

When the Battalions are on their Ground they halt and the Brigadier commands Attention on which they fire the thirteenth Signal.

Thirteenth Signal from the Centre. The whole wheels & forms the Line, the Colonels dress their Battalions and the Brigadier commands Order Firelocks.

Fourteenth Signal from the Centre—After the Men have rested the Brigadier commands Shoulder! Attention! they then fire the Fourteenth Signal. The whole will advance to the front, the Drums beating a March—When Col. Johnston’s Battalion has passed the Trees, and is again dressed, Major Fish will fire a Pistol, as a Signal for March March! and on the firing a second Pistole by Major Fish, they charge Bayonets, The Colonels will then pay attention to the Major Genl who will give the Signal with his Sword, and command Halt. They there halt and dress, as quick as possible—The Major general will then command to Fire by Battalion! and each Battalion will fire four rounds in Succession After the fourth has fired its last round the Artillery will begin to fire two rounds each.

The Major general commands Attention & Rear ranks take Distance March! The ranks will open and Officers advance to the front. He then Commands Attention Present Arms! the whole Line present Arms, the Officers Colours and Drums giving a General Salute taking the time from the General, the Drums beat three Rolls—The Major General commands Shoulder! rear ranks close to the front March! By Plattoons to the right which march! the whole files off before the Ambasador.

DLC: Papers of George Washington.

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