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Conducting Sentry Duty at Out Posts, 1814
Ed. by Robert Henderson

        There are numerous regulations covering guard duty in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. However the following order is quite interesting because it deals with sentries away from forts and garrisons and incorporates light infantry and rifle drill into its procedures. In particular, the description of how to carry the musket are rifle manual of arms movements with the "Advance" position of musket drill becoming the "Shoulder" when arms were "Carried".

Library and Archives of Canada, Record Group 8, Series I, Vol. 1171, pg. 305

"General Order, Head Quarters, Montreal, 4th July 1814

         It being expedient that an uniform System should be observed by all Troops employed on outpost duties, whether of Light Corps, or of the Line, The Commander of the Forces directs that the following rules and regulations be Strictly observed.

        On advanced Posts the Bayonet are never to be fixed, as they form a Conspicuous object visible at a great distance, are an inconvenient incumbrance in the Woods, and from the nature of the duties of Light Troops can be rarely required, and never so suddenly but that the Soldier will have ample time to fire his Bayonet, unless he is negligent in the first and most important of his duties—Vigilence.—

        The firelock is to be carried by Sentries with the Barrel inward resting on the hollow of the Elbow, and for relief may be Shifted to either Arm,when a Stranger or Suspected Person approaches his Post, the Sentry is to raise his piece to the port, prepared to Cock,in that position he will ascertain who is approching, he will not suffer any one to come near enough to Spring upon him to seize his Arms, nor to loiter near his Post--when he ascertains that an Officer is passing,he is to carry his Arms advanced, stand steady on his post, looking towards the Enemy, or such point or Communication as may have been pointed out for his more particular attention.—

        When a General or Commanding Officer approaches Out Post Guards or Piquets, the party are to get under Arms and to form in that position which they would occupy in the event of their Post being attacked--their Arms advanced, no compliment to be paid,but the Officer or Serjeant Commanding reports his Guard, and any occurrences which may have taken place.—

        It is to be Strongly impressed upon Troops in advanced Posts,and their detached Sentries: that the duties required of them are of the most important and Confidential nature, on their Vigilence and circumspection depends in a great degree the Safety of the Army--the first object of their attention must ever be, to Watch the movements of the Enemy, and to give timely notice of his approach-- advanced Sentries are always to be posted double, if the Strength of the parry will admit of it, and in case of any occurrence of importance, one of the Sentries is instantly to be sent in to report; every report is to be taken down in writing by the first Officer or intelligent Non Commissioned Officer who receives it, to prevent the errors so likely to occur from frequent repetition of verbalcommunications.—

    Files or double Sentries are never to give their fire together when the one who has fired returns his ramrod, he gives the word to his Comrade ready.—

    It is never expected of advanced Sentries,and but Seldom of advanced Posts, that they can materially check or retard the advance of the Enemy, they are therefore to be cautious not unnecessarily to sacrifice themselves in vain attempts, they are to retire as slowly as they can, consistant with the ultimate Security of their Retreat, Keeping up a constant fire for the double purpose of checking the enemy, and giving intelligence of his advance— the most advanced Sentries fall back upon each other in Succession, taking advantage of every favorable position to gall the Enemy in his advance, for which purpose every Officer ought to make himself perfectly acquainted with the Country he has to occupy, and to improve and Strengthen by every means in his Power, all the Strong features of defence it may present— these are to be defended in Succession, but not persevered in beyond their relative importance.—

        The defeat of the Enemy at La Cole and Chateauguay, afford Brilliant examples of the efficacy of well established advanced Posts occupied with judgement, and defended with Valour.—

        The Officers in Command of Posts that constitute the Reserve, or appui of those in advance, and are susceptible of receiving prompt and eacient Support, will always be provided with Specific Instructions for their Guidance.—

Edward Baynes
      Adjutant General"

 

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