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Estimate of amount required to cover arrearages for allowances of fuel, quarters, transportation, and per diem to officers,
for which there is no appropriation available.
Amount dae December 31, 1854.
Additional amount which will probably be due June 30, 1855.
J. J. ABERT, Colonel Corps Topographical Engineers.
BUREAD OF TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS, January 25, 1855.
Estimate of funds that will probably be required during the fiscal year
ending 30th June, 1856, for the payment of commutation of transportation of baggage, and of quarters and fuel of officers, in cases not provided for by the Quartermaster's department, and for allowances to meet extra expenses under the special direction of the Secretary of
$2,500 For transportation...
1,500 For allowances to meet extra expenses under the special direction of the Secretary of War..
J. J. ABERT,
Colonel Corps Topographical Engineers. BUREAU OF TOPOGRAPHICAL ENGINEERS,
January 25, 1855.
Washington, January 10, 1855. SIR: I have the honor to recommend that an appropriation of thirty thousand dollars be made in the army appropriation bill, now pending in the Senate, “for printing a new system of light infantry and rifle tactics, to be stereotyped, with engraved plates, and for procuring, for distribution to the militia of the United States, books of tactical instruction, including the system of regulations now in course of preparation.”
With regard to the first of these objects, I have to refer the committee to the report herewith transmitted, of the board of officers by which the system of light infantry and rifle tactics was prepared and adapted to our service, and to the enclosed copies of communications from other experienced officers, respecting the value of the system.
The distribution of works of tactical instruction to the militia has been heretofore recommended in the annual reports from this department and the commanding general, and I deem it unnecessary to repeat the considerations therein set forth as to the propriety of this measure. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
Secretary of War. Hon. R. M. T. HUNTER,
Chairman of Committee on Finance, Senate.
Proceedings of a board of officers convened at West Point, New York,
by virtue of the following order, viz : [Special Orders No. 131.]
WAR DEPARTMENT, Adjutant General's Office, Washington, August 2, 1854. A board of officers will assemble at West Point, New York, on the 15th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable, to examine and report upon a system of rifle and light infantry tactics, prepared by Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W. J. Hardee, captain 2d dragoons, under the instructions of the War Department.
DETAIL FOR THE BOARD,
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W. H. T. Walker, captain 6th infantry.
Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Hardee will repair to West Point, and remain there during the session of the board, in order to furnish such information in relation to the system as may, from time to time, be called for by the board. By order of the Secretary of War:
[Special Orders No. 136.]
WAR DEPARTMENT, Adjutant General's Office, Washington, August 9, 1854. Brevet Lieutenant Colonel W. H. T. Walker, captain 6th infantry, and Brevet Major R. S. Garnett, captain 7th infantry, are relieved from the operation of special orders No. 131, of August 2, 1854; and Brevet Lieutenant Colonel Silas Casey, captain 20 infantry, and First Lieutenant J. M. Jones, 7th infantry, are detailed as members of the board instituted by that order. By order of the Secretary of War:
[Special Orders No. 178.]
WAR DERARTMENT, Adjutant General's Office, Washington, November 6, 1854. The board of officers instituted by “special orders" Nos. 131 and 136, of August 2 and 9, 1854, will assemble in this city on the 13th instant, or as soon thereafter as practicable, for the transaction of such business as may be brought before it. By order of the Secretary of War:
WASHINGTON, December 13, 1854. The board of officers instituted by special orders Nos. 131 and 136, dated 2d and 9th of August, 1854, and afterwards reassembled at Washington by special orders No. 178, dated November 6, 1854, to act upon certain instructions from the War Department, having finished the duty assigned it, respectfully submit the following report:
In pursuance of instructions, Lieutenant Colonel Hardee, of the 2d dragoons, appeared before the board, and presented a system of tactics for light infantry, riflemen, and skirmishers, prepared by him in great measure from the French drill for the chasseurs a pied.
The board caused the work to be read to them, and investigated and studied its general character and merits.
The board then entered upon a more minute and thorough examination, passing carefully over, and deciding upon, every motion, command, and movement, in the several schools, which constitute the entire work.
This consideration of the theory was frequently laid aside, while the board witnessed the practical illustration of the system; and all doubtful points were tested by their execution on the field.
The Superintendent of the Military Academy, having directed the corps of cadets, and the company of sappers and miners, to be instructed in this drill, afforded the board an opportunity to see, not only the details, but also the general character and features of the entire system.
The board will endeavor to present concisely a view of this system and its general harmony with the existing drill for heavy infantry.
A battalion instructed in this system can perform all the movements embraced in our present drill for heavy infantry, and, with two exceptions, in the same manner.
1. The slowest time for maneuvring a light battalion is one hundred and ten paces in a minute.
2. Whenever a sub-division faces by a flank, it forms a depth of four, retaining the interval made by the file which stepped up to form that depth.
This latter is an admirable device to facilitate the movements of the sub-division, when in double quick time or a run.
A battalion instructed in this system can take its place in a line of battle composed of heavy infantry, and perform all the movements required in the evolutions of the line, as prescribed by our present system.
In fact, should the movement be a change of front, with light battalions on the flanks, it would, by their quickened pace, be facilitated.
Besides the method of maneuvring which this system has, in common with the drill for heavy infantry, it has methods peculiar to itself, and which constitute its strength and power.
They consist in moving the line or column formed in quick or double quick time without halting, in the following movements :
1. Deployment of columns.
5. Closing in mass, or to half distance, and retaking wheeling distance.
The differences of method thus far pointed out, involve no difference of principle in the two systems.
It is the same principle, with the slight modifications required by continuing the march without halting, and the accelerated pace incident to light infantry movements.
The following new and useful movements are embraced in this system :
1. The formation in four ranks of sub-divisions, with a view to a square.
2. The constitution of a reserve for a square composed of a single battalion.
3. Marching a square by either front without breaking.
The system under examination differs from the drill of heavy infantry but in two points, which are radical, or where principle is involved.
1. The habitual formation is in two ranks, with the power to increase, when desirable, the depth to four, rapidly and without confusion, either when marching or when at a halt.
2. The change in the manner of obliquing. It is theoretically correct, and believed to be, in practice, a great improvement. It consists in obtaining the new direction by a half-face, moving forward until the requisite degree of obliquity is gained, and then resuming the original direction.
On a comparison with the light infantry and rifle tactics of 1825, it is the opinion of the board that this drill is decidedly superior, and principally for the following reasons :
1st. The formations into line by the old system were chiefly by flank movements, methods generally to be deprecated in presence of an enemy.
2d. The prompt formations being made on either the flank or centre file of a sub-division, render necessary the resort to an uncadenced step in coming into line, which tends (the position of the files at the same time being much disjointed) to produce confusion, and is to be avoided on the field of battle.
The drill for skirmishers, as laid down in this system, presents some striking advantages.
In that drill, but one-half of the company habitually skirmish at the same time, the other half being in reserve.
In extending as skirmishers, which is done in groups of four men, (called comrades in battle,) it is the groups which first take the intervals, and between the limits of twenty and forty paces. After attaining the interval required, the men of each group deploy at distances from each other of never more than five paces.
When rallying to resist scattered cavalry, it is the group of four comrades which forms square and protects itself by its fire and by the bayonet. The
group in square forms also the nucleus of rally to the section or platoon in forming circle, to resist a more serious attack of cavalry.
This method of acting in groups is a very great improvement;