572.— The platoon being supposed to form a part of the squadron, it is dispersed as skirmishers, in order to cover the front and flanks of the squadron.
The platoon being in line at the extremity of the ground, the instructor causes the shabraques to be raised, the holsters to be uncovered, and the arms loaded; he marches the platoon forward, and when he wishes to disperse the troopers as skirmishers, he commands:
1. Six files from right - as skirmishers.
3. Guide right.
(Plate 76.) At the first command, the file-closer places himself in front of the six files of the left, of whom he takes command.
These six files are destined to support the skirmishers and to relieve them.
At the command MARCH, the file-closer commands HALT to the six files of the left, and causes them to draw the sabre.
At the same command, the six files of the right continue to march forward; after going 10 paces, they disperse as skirmishers, extending themselves so as to cover the supposed front of a squadron, in passing beyond each of its flanks. The right trooper obliques to the right, the left trooper to the left. The troopers of the rear rank come up as soon as possible, abreast of the front rank, each one placing himself on the left of his file leader, and as soon as they are in line all take the position of advance— CARBINE, or raise—PISTOL. They continue to march until the signal halt, NO. 2.
The instructor causes the halt to be sounded when the skirmishers are at 100 or 150 paces from the reserve.
The troopers keep at 5 paces apart, regulating themselves toward the guide during the whole time they act as skirmishers.
The assistant instructor places himself in rear of the skirmishers, in order to superintend their movements.
573—The chief of the platoon, followed by his trumpeter, places himself half-way between the skirmishers and the reserve; he moves along the line wherever he thinks his presence most necessary. The reserve and the skirmishers execute their movements at the signals of the trumpeter who follows the officer.
If the chief of the platoon wishes the skirmishers to move forward he causes forward, No. 1, to be sounded; each skirmisher moves forward, regulating his movements by those of the guide and preserving his interval; the reserve follows them, keeping at its proper distance.
To move the skirmishers towards the right, to the right, No. 4, is sounded; each trooper turns to the right, and marches in the direction of those who precede him, taking care to preserve his distance; the reserve also turns to the right.
To face the skirmishers again to the front, to the left, No. 3, is sounded; the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the left.
To move the skirmishers toward the left, to the left, No. 3, is sounded; each skirmisher turns to the left and marches in the direction of those who precede him, taking care to preserve his distance. The reserve also turns to the left.
To face the skirmishers again to the front, to the right, No. 4, is sounded; the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the right.
If, after having turned to the right, the instructor wishes the skirmishers to move toward the opposite side, he orders, the about, No. 5, to be sounded: the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the left-about, and move forward.
If, after having turned to the left, the instructor wishes the skirmishers to move toward the opposite side, he orders, the about, No. 5, to be sounded: the skirmishers and the reserve turn to the right-about, and move forward.
During the flank movements, if the troopers are to continue firing, they leave the column and face to the enemy for that purpose. As soon as they have fired, they resume their places in the column in doubling the gait.
(Plate 77.) The skirmishers are marching to the front or at a halt; if the instructor wishes the line to move to the rear, the chief of platoon orders the retreat to be sounded. At this signal, the troopers of the front rank move forward 5 paces, fire, then turn to the left-about in order to move to the rear, and retire loading their pieces. When they have marched 50 paces, or more if necessary, the chief of platoon causes the about, No. 5, to be sounded. At this signal, the troopers, who were retiring, face to the front by turning to the right-about. The troopers who are in the first line fire and turn to the left-about, retire in loading their pieces, pass in the intervals of the line which is in rear, move 50 paces further, and face to the front at the signal, the about, No 5.
The troopers of the line which is in rear move 5 paces to the front the moment the troopers who retire pass into their intervals; they then commence firing by the flank indicated.
The alternate movement of the two lines continues as long as skirmishers move to the rear. When the instructor wishes the retreat to cease, the chief of platoon orders forward, No. 1, to be sounded. The skirmishers who are in rear move up, in doubling the gait, abreast of those the most advanced, and all march forward until the signal, to halt, No. 2, is sounded.
If the instructor wishes the whole line of skirmishers to retire at once, he orders the about, No. 5, to be sounded.
The reserve retires and faces to the front, regulating its movement by that of the skirmishers, so as to remain always at 60 paces from the 2d line. It executes its rear movement at the moment the retreating line passes into the intervals of the line which moves forward.
574.—The rallying of skirmishers is always made on the point occupied by the officer.
To rally the skirmishers, the officer places himself habitually in front of the reserve, and causes the rally, No. 6, to be sounded. At this signal the skirmishers turn-about, rally on the reserve by the shortest route, and draw the sabre.
If the officer is not with the reserve when the rally, No. 6, is sounded, the skirmishers rally upon him, and the reserve comes up and joins them. The troopers are thus exercised to rally upon any point whatever the line.
575.—If a defile is presented in advance of the front of the line, and orders are given to pass it, the troopers who are opposite first enter it; they are followed at some distance by the other troopers, who turn by trooper to the left, and to the right, in order to put themselves in file.
As soon as the first have passed the defile, they move 50 or 60 paces to the front; the others come up abreast of them in obliquing, those of the right to the right, and those of the left to the left. The reserve enters the defile when the first skirmishers have reconnoitred it.
If the skirmishers are to pass a defile placed in rear, they commence by approaching it; when the reserve is at a suitable distance it passes rapidly, and posts itself 50 or 60 paces from, and on the side of the passage.
The two troopers who are on the flank, turn-about to the left, move to the rear so as to arrive together at the entrance to the defile, which they pass immediately. They are followed closely by the other troopers, who execute successively the same movement; the centre troopers, who execute successively the same movement. The centre troopers, who cover the defile, enter it last.
At the going out of the defile, the two troopers who are in front turn, one to the left and the other to the right; and when all troopers have passed the defile, they stop at the signal to halt, No. 2, and face to the front.
The instructor sometimes rallies the skirmishers immediately after having passed the defile, either to the front or to the rear.
576.—These movements are first executed at the walk, then at the trot, and finally at the gallop. When the troopers have learned to perform those movements well, they are exercised at them in executing the manual of arms, and in firing; and finally, with the overcoats rolled and carried over the shoulder. When the troopers are at the gallop, and the instructor wishes them to pass to the trot, he orders the trot, No. 7, to be sounded; when they are at the trot and he wishes them to pass to the walk, he orders, the halt, No. 2, and then forward, No 1, to be sounded.
577.—To commence or cease firing, the signal is sounded. All troopers do not fire at once, but one after another, commencing on the side of the guide. They afterwards continue firing without waiting for, or being governed by each other. Each rear-rank man has an understanding with his file-leader that, as far as practicable, the piece of one may always be charged while the other is loading; the troopers of the same file should give mutual support to each other.
When the platoon skirmishes without gaining ground to the front, the skirmishers should nevertheless keep in motion always; each trooper of the front rank, after having fired, moves some steps to the rear, at the same time loading his piece; and as soon as he returns to the line, the rear-rank man of the same file fires, and moves in his turn to the rear.
In the charge as foragers, the men of the rear rank approach within 1 or 2 paces of their file leaders, to be able to support each other mutually.
As soon as the skirmishers charge, the reserve moves forward to support them.
The skirmishers retire by turning-about to the left, and face again to the front by turning-about to the right. When they have reformed in platoon, they return the pistol to the holster, or drop the carbine, and draw sabre. (Lancers carry the lance.)
578.—To relieve skirmishers, the instructor commands to the reserve:
1. Six files from left - as skirmishers.
3. Guide right.
At the command MARCH, the reserve disperses and moves up upon the line of old skirmishers. The right trooper of the front rank passes on the right of the right skirmisher of the front rank; the right trooper of the rear rank on the right of the right skirmisher of the rear rank, and so on throughout, each one passing to the right of the one he relieves, and 5 paces beyond him. The old skirmishers turn-about and rally at the gallop on the officer, who, during the movement, is placed at the point where the six files, now become the reserve, should reform.
The non-commissioned officer who commanded the six files of the left, now takes command of the six files of the right.
If there are two non-commissioned officers with the platoon, each one follows, the portion of the platoon to which he is attached.
DRAGOONS. - The dragoons having been sufficiently exercised in all the movements of skirmishing, will be taught to dismount and form with celerity to fight on foot.
At the commencement, all the movements of this instruction with be decomposed, in order to make them better understood.
The platoon being in line, the instructor commands:
Prepare to fight - ON FOOT.
1 time, 4 motions
1. At the last part of the command, which is ON FOOT, prepare to dismount as prescribed, No. 292.
2. Execute what is prescribed, to dismount, No. 292; Nos. 4, of each rank, will remain mounted.
3. Return to the ranks as prescribed, No. 292, face to the right, pass the reins with the right hand over the head of the horse, seize the extremity of the reins with the left hand, seize them again with the right hand, 6 inches from the mouth of the horse, the nails upward; face to the front and hook up the sabre without letting go the reins.
4. Face-about to the right, seizing the reins with the left hand, 6 inches from the mouth of the horse, the nails downward; slip the right hand to the extremity of the rein; Nos. 3 of each rank give the reins to Nos. 4, who remain mounted; Nos. 2 and 1 engage the end of the reins with both hands in the head-stall of the bridle of the horse which is on the left, passing them under the noose-band and the cheek-piece of the bridle, and tying them in a slip-knot, so that each horse may be about one foot from the one to which he is tied; face again to the front by the right, unsling the carbine, and come to a carry.
The instructor commands:
Dragoons - INTO LINE.
At the last part of the command, which is INTO LINE, move 12 paces to the front, turning the back upon the platoon of horses; half the rear rank pass to the right by the right flank, the other half to the left by the left flank, and place themselves behind their file-leaders.
Nos. 4, who remain on horseback, have charge of the dismounted horses; they take the end of the reins of the first dismounted horse in the left hand, holding them near the bit with the right hand, the nails downward; an assistant instructor, or file-closer of the platoon, remains with the dismounted horses to direct them.
The dragoons having been sufficiently exercised at the different movements of this instruction, will be required to execute them rapidly without stopping at the several motions, and at the single command, prepare to fight on foot, given by the instructor.
The two ranks being formed, the platoon will be conducted where it is to fight on foot, and will be there exercised in what has been prescribed, Nos. 211, 215, 239.
The dismounted horses will also be exercised in changing position, by marching by rank and by fours.
When the instructor wishes the dragoons to remount, he will rally them, if they are dispersed, as skirmishers, as prescribed, No. 239.
The platoon being rallied and formed, the instructor commands:
Dragoons about - FACE.
He conducts the platoon rear rank in front; having come within 12 paces of the horses, he commands:
Dragoons - MOUNT.
At this command, the dragoons return to their horses rapidly, without alarming them; they sling carbine, mount, and draw sabre.
The command, Dragoons - MOUNT, at the commencement, will be executed in 4 motions and from a halt, that the troopers may better understand it. For this purpose the platoon, being rallied and marching with the rear rank in front, is halted 12 paces from the horses; the instructor then commands:
Dragoons - MOUNT.
1 time, 4 motions.
1. At the last part of the command, which is MOUNT, sling carbine.
2. Rejoin the horses, the rear-rank men passing to the left and right, as prescribed in dismounting; untie the horse, pass the reins over the neck, unhook the sabre, and take the position of the trooper before mounting, prescribed No. 267.
3. Execute the two times of prepare to mount, as prescribed, No. 268.
4. Execute the two times of mount, as prescribed, No. 268; adjust the reins, return to the ranks, and draw the sabre.
The platoon being formed, the instructor will exercise it again in what has been prescribed, No. 569 and following.