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Military Treatises: Rees

John U. Rees
May 17 at 5:47pm

Good military treatises, if followed, enable an army to operate efficiently in camp, in the field and on campaign.
(See article link below.)

General George Washington to Colonel Alexander Spotswood, 2nd Virginia Regiment, 8 April 1777, “Embrace every opportunity to be drilling your men. Attend more to the manoeuvres, than the manual exercise. To march well; wheel in order; and go through the Platoon Exercise, are essential. The other parts of the Manual Exercise tho well enough to be known (if time would admit of it) is more useful on a parade than in actual service.” 1

Training essentials from a subordinate officer’s point of view: Ensign Thomas Anburey, 24th Regiment of Foot, noted on 12 July 1777, "In this action [near Fort Ticonderoga] I found all manual exercise is but an ornament, and the only object of importance it can boast of was that of loading, firing, and charging with bayonets …“ 2

Doggerel jotted on a letter home from Surgeon’s Mate Jonathan Todd, 7th Connecticut Regiment, “Valley Forge one Mile West [of the] SchuyllKill … Decr. 20th 1777”:3

Your heads up! Your Peices Dressed! ...
Close Your Ranks!
From the right & Left wings
form Battallion! March!
Grenadiers Front!
Light Infantry form!

The newly established American army began the War for Independence woefully ill-prepared for field operations against the British, with an officer corps comprising a few retired Crown officers, many more with French and Indian War experience, and a majority of military amateurs of varying ability. Only time, coupled with experience and study of suitable military manuals, would effect any change for the better. With that situation in mind, this monograph is intended to show some of the military manuals read by, or recommended to, interested Continental Army officers long before the spring 1779 publication of Maj. Gen. Friedrich Wilhelm de Steuben’s standardized manual of discipline.

“`Knowledge necessary to a soldier …’: The Continental Officer’s Military Reading List, 1775-1778,” Military Collector & Historian, vol. 59, no. 1 (Spring 2007), 65-71.

Good military treatises, if followed, enable an army to operate efficiently in camp, in the field an...

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