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Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

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  • #46
    Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

    I question the left because of where the ready position puts the rifle, through the right. I have not seen the explaination on how to smoothly go from the right to the left at the ready. You have to tilt the rifle back, around a mans head and then tilt forward again. Seems dangerous with a loaded weapon. Manuals were written with safety in mind but this was left out? Maybe this was addressed and I missed it. I have tried it over the left. I have many times done it over the right. Actually following the manual I am not off balance, ever.

    Over the left makes sense with the straight up/down ready position.

    IF the intent between the lines was through the left. We should be asking what was the everyday soldier doing and knowing (PEC).
    Respectfully,

    Jeremy Bevard
    Moderator
    Civil War Digital Digest
    Sally Port Mess

    Comment


    • #47
      Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

      Originally posted by Matthew Joe Mallory View Post
      I think the problem is you're believing that people like Hardee and Gilham can't make mistakes. Even as they reinvented tactics in their time, they still drew from the previous ones such as Scott and the French. They left out a lot of things, which required many instances of where they had to find it from the earlier source, of which was primarily Scott's.
      No, the problem is I have a half dozen manuals that give explicit instructions that result in firing thru the right interval but they 'must be wrong' because they don't say what you want.and the other assumption that an regiment at Stones River using HARDEE'S wouldn't follow those explicit steps in their manual because folks in 2018 don't agree with it.

      And Hardee didn't reinvent any tactics, his 1855 TACTICS is just the 1845 ORDONNANCE DU ROI except in English and without the metric system (that about 8" step to the right is actually 22 cms or 8.67"). His Goetzel edition has a different manual of arms and stack but he borrowed those from other Americans. SCOTT'S 1835 is just the 1831 ORDONNANCE DU ROI except for forming the company which I couldn't find in either French manual and is different from his earlier 1825 TACTICS and 1829 ABSTRACT.

      - - - Updated - - -

      Originally posted by Jeremy Bevard View Post
      I question the left because of where the ready position puts the rifle, through the right. I have not seen the explaination on how to smoothly go from the right to the left at the ready. You have to tilt the rifle back, around a mans head and then tilt forward again. Seems dangerous with a loaded weapon. Manuals were written with safety in mind but this was left out? Maybe this was addressed and I missed it. I have tried it over the left. I have many times done it over the right. Actually following the manual I am not off balance, ever.

      Over the left makes sense with the straight up/down ready position.

      IF the intent between the lines was through the left. We should be asking what was the everyday soldier doing and knowing (PEC).
      A practical, reasonable and dispassionate point of view. Thank you.
      John Duffer
      Independence Mess
      MOOCOWS
      WIG
      "There lies $1000 and a cow."

      Comment


      • #48
        Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

        Originally posted by john duffer View Post
        No, the problem is I have a half dozen manuals that give explicit instructions that result in firing thru the right interval but they 'must be wrong' because they don't say what you want.and the other assumption that an regiment at Stones River using HARDEE'S wouldn't follow those explicit steps in their manual because folks in 2018 don't agree with it.

        And Hardee didn't reinvent any tactics, his 1855 TACTICS is just the 1845 ORDONNANCE DU ROI except in English and without the metric system (that about 8" step to the right is actually 22 cms or 8.67"). His Goetzel edition has a different manual of arms and stack but he borrowed those from other Americans. SCOTT'S 1835 is just the 1831 ORDONNANCE DU ROI except for forming the company which I couldn't find in either French manual and is different from his earlier 1825 TACTICS and 1829 ABSTRACT.
        How many of those manuals say to fire from the right interval at a left oblique? How many of them specified their change from the earlier tactics on the matter?

        It's very interesting that you're arguing that Hardee didn't reinvent the tactics because he followed the French, especially as the French manuals he copied uses the left interval themselves. As for reinventing the tactics, he very much reinvented American military tactics. He helped changed everything to a more Light Infantry style than Line Infantry, including the use of double quick-step. To say he didn't reinvent any tactics is just plain wrong.
        Captain Matthew Joe Mallory
        Co E, 35th Alabama Infantry Regiment
        Co E, 73rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry

        Comment


        • #49
          Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

          Originally posted by Matthew Joe Mallory View Post
          How many of those manuals say to fire from the right interval at a left oblique? How many of them specified their change from the earlier tactics on the matter?
          As I've mention ad nauseam you fire from the interval where your rifle happens to be when you get the command FIRE (unless you're ignoring the manual and making it up yourself). And no, manuals don't explain what they're changing. No doubt you don't double at right/left face since they didn't in 1831 and the manual doesn't explain the change.

          [/QUOTE]It's very interesting that you're arguing that Hardee didn't reinvent the tactics because he followed the French, especially as the French manuals he copied uses the left interval themselves. As for reinventing the tactics, he very much reinvented American military tactics. He helped changed everything to a more Light Infantry style than Line Infantry, including the use of double quick-step. To say he didn't reinvent any tactics is just plain wrong.[/QUOTE]

          You might want to study a little before before you teach others. Hardee didn't write a manual, he translated an 1845 French manual (which uses the right interval by the way). And it wasn't his idea, the United States government assigned him to it. There's not a single original thought in the 1855 edition. It was the French who sped up movements, etc and we adopted them.

          If you want to pick and chose what parts of the manual you use it's fine by me. Fire from the left, right, between their legs (it doesn't once say not to) My original contention was men using HARDEE'S would drill by HARDEE'S but you firmly believe that's just silly. You win, I see the error of my ways.
          John Duffer
          Independence Mess
          MOOCOWS
          WIG
          "There lies $1000 and a cow."

          Comment


          • #50
            Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

            Originally posted by john duffer View Post
            As I've mention ad nauseam you fire from the interval where your rifle happens to be when you get the command FIRE (unless you're ignoring the manual and making it up yourself). And no, manuals don't explain what they're changing. No doubt you don't double at right/left face since they didn't in 1831 and the manual doesn't explain the change.
            It's very interesting that you're arguing that Hardee didn't reinvent the tactics because he followed the French, especially as the French manuals he copied uses the left interval themselves. As for reinventing the tactics, he very much reinvented American military tactics. He helped changed everything to a more Light Infantry style than Line Infantry, including the use of double quick-step. To say he didn't reinvent any tactics is just plain wrong.[/QUOTE]

            You might want to study a little before before you teach others. Hardee didn't write a manual, he translated an 1845 French manual (which uses the right interval by the way). And it wasn't his idea, the United States government assigned him to it. There's not a single original thought in the 1855 edition. It was the French who sped up movements, etc and we adopted them.

            If you want to pick and chose what parts of the manual you use it's fine by me. Fire from the left, right, between their legs (it doesn't once say not to) My original contention was men using HARDEE'S would drill by HARDEE'S but you firmly believe that's just silly. You win, I see the error of my ways.[/QUOTE]

            The problem is that the manual did explain the change for doubling up at the right (left) face. It simply didn't for the firing of the left oblique. Even the 1845 Ordonnance du Roi didn't specify which interval. Yes Hardee copied the French, so did Scott, so did almost everyone. It doesn't mean they didn't change AMERICAN military tactics, because they did.

            But you just keep on doing what you want to do. It's not like new things are discovered frequently, or that people ever find out that they've done something wrong before. It's also not like it was confusing to the soldiers at the time...
            Captain Matthew Joe Mallory
            Co E, 35th Alabama Infantry Regiment
            Co E, 73rd Indiana Volunteer Infantry

            Comment


            • #51
              Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

              A few more comments seem in order here. I don't think a single line from the March 1865 edition of the U.S.S.M. can be taken as definitive in this case because it fails to address the two principal objections to this interpretation of Casey's -- i.e., aiming from the ready position without passing the piece through the head of the man in front, and foot position, which would have one step to the right to aim to the left at an acute angle.

              As I mentioned earlier these aren't objections with the manuals that specify the left interval because, whether written in 1835 or after the war, they address both problems in a clear, understandable fashion -- in each case stepping to the left, and having a different ready position. Scott's even specifies going back to the prime position after firing, and Upton mentions moving the piece over the head of the file leader both coming to aim and returning to ready.

              So maybe it's worth considering possible objections to the U.S.S.M. statement.

              First, they could simply have got it wrong and misprinted "left" for "right." There's no further elaboration of the answer beyond what interval you fire through so it's not like the answer couldn't be just that simple.

              Second, the editor of the Magazine is a personal hero of mine, R. B. Irwin, but he spent his whole war as an adjutant, then A.A.G. He left a wonderful serial novel about the adventures of a fictionalized version of himself, "Seeking the Bubble," unfortunately unfinished, but as good as he was in the office he was no tactician.

              I think the actual writer of the column was the Superintendent of West Point. At this time that would have been George W. Cullum, a Lieutenant Colonel of Engineers. Quite possibly he was looking at Scott's, as he was then 56, had graduated in 1833, and then spent his entire career as a military engineer, with no need to revisit infantry tactics, especially on a relatively obscure point.

              Because of the problems with trying to interpret Casey's to fire over the left shoulder, I think a simple error -- probably confusion over the manual in use -- is the easiest explanation for the U.S.S.M.'s one liner. I tried to quickly check out the following issue (for July 1865) to see if they had some further discussion, but it looks like the column had been dropped by then, which might itself tell us something.

              I suppose it should comfort us to know that people were also confused about this at the end of the war, but I don't see possibly getting someone hurt to make a point about how all the other reenactors before us "got it wrong." And I think that's a very real possibility just from the angle of the piece, that is, if you follow Casey's and not only step to the right, but bend the right knee and angle the body forward.
              Michael A. Schaffner

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              • #52
                Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                Been going through the left interval at left oblique for 5 years now and its never felt weird or been a problem going from the ready to aim for the rear rank. Sure feels weird trying to lean around your file mate though in years past. Its probably already been said but your vision is restricted using the reenactor method by trying to see around your file mate as well. I cannot envision inventing a movement that deranged (period term) the body and restricted the vision in firing.
                Soli Deo Gloria
                Doug Cooper

                "The past is never dead. It's not even past." William Faulkner

                Please support the CWT at www.civilwar.org

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                • #53
                  Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                  Originally posted by DougCooper View Post
                  Been going through the left interval at left oblique for 5 years now and its never felt weird or been a problem going from the ready to aim for the rear rank. Sure feels weird trying to lean around your file mate though in years past. Its probably already been said but your vision is restricted using the reenactor method by trying to see around your file mate as well. I cannot envision inventing a movement that deranged (period term) the body and restricted the vision in firing.
                  Doug

                  Just trying to catch up. What movements do you use to go from ready to left interval, do you step left rather than right and do you have to allow a couple seconds longer between AIM and FIRE?
                  John Duffer
                  Independence Mess
                  MOOCOWS
                  WIG
                  "There lies $1000 and a cow."

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                    Originally posted by john duffer View Post
                    Doug

                    Just trying to catch up. What movements do you use to go from ready to left interval, do you step left rather than right and do you have to allow a couple seconds longer between AIM and FIRE?
                    Okay, I'll put the same questions out to the general population. We've established that American manuals from 1855 to 1865 had a paragraph level typo about this subject. What are the correct instructions that should be inserted?
                    John Duffer
                    Independence Mess
                    MOOCOWS
                    WIG
                    "There lies $1000 and a cow."

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                      I have to agree with my former Captain, Mr. Duffer, on this. I remember this getting tested back at a Winter event at Vicksburg long ago and the oblique method recommended in the article here makes as little sense to me now as it did back then
                      Patrick Landrum
                      Independent Rifles

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Exploring the right interval

                        Many reasons have been stated here and other places why left oblique firing during the Civil War was performed through the right interval, not the left. Since that's the way they did it, so should we.

                        Scott's 1835 manual, many times reprinted, set the standard for left oblique firing. Scott expressly instructed that rear rank troops fire through the left interval. Along comes Hardee's Light Infantry Tactics (1855) which lacks some phrases found in Scott. In particular, Scott's express instruction to fire through the left interval is not found in Hardee. (I don't believe the omission was a typo or a mistake.)

                        The Light Infantry Tactics set the standard for subsequent manuals. The left oblique text in the 1855 manual was parroted in : Gilham (1861), Hardee's Revised (1861), US Tactics (1861), Baxter (1861), Casey (1862) and others.

                        Here is a summary of reasons why the right interval is said to be the correct method for left oblique firing. These reasons would not apply to a very small minority of troops which used manuals that instructed expressly that firing was through the left interval. These troops include, but are not limited to : 1861-63 Wisconsin infantry which used Chandler and militia troops from New York and Massachusetts which used Scott influenced manuals.

                        The list is not in any particular order of importance or strength. I've created the list to challenge and reevaluate my stated belief that firing is actually through the left interval.

                        (1) Each individual soldier's weapon is shouldered and fired from the right side of the body. Although not expressly stated, logic dictates that rear rank soldiers fire through the right interval for all firings, both direct and oblique. The text in the schools of the soldier seems to say this, too.

                        (2) Hardee's manual contains all text necessary to fire the weapon. In shifting the weapon from the ready position - on the right - to the left interval for aiming, the weapon needs to be lifted a tad to prevent the head of the front rank man from being struck by the weapon. Upton added a lift. Hardee didn't. Since the lift isn't in Hardee, there's no lift. Without a lift, there's no way go get to the left interval. The correct interval is the right.

                        (3) Scott, Upton and others move the left foot to gain access to the left interval. Hardee moves the right foot. Hardee's change means firing is through the right interval.

                        (4) Hardee instructs that troops incline the upper part of the body forward and bend a little the right knee. This instruction is designed to make easier the task of firing through the right interval.

                        (5) Scott instructed expressly that left oblique firing was through the left interval. Hardee removed that language. This significant change shows an intent to change the interval from the left to the right.

                        (6) Snapped percussion caps are loud. Left interval firing blows out left ear of one's partner in the front rank. Firing through the right interval saves that left ear.

                        (7) Each of these six reasons have great weight. Some overlap and reinforce the others. The sum of them all is overwhelming.

                        I believe this covers the strongest reasons why the right interval is believed to be the true and correct method for left oblique firing. In subsequent posts, I'll explain the counter arguments to each.
                        Silas Tackitt,
                        one of the moderators.

                        Click here for a link to forum rules - or don't at your own peril.

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                        • #57
                          Re: Exploring the right interval

                          A couple of observations.

                          I disagree with the above "(5) Scott instructed expressly that left oblique firing was through the left interval. Hardee removed that language. This significant change shows an intent to change the interval from the left to the right.".

                          The "Ordonnance du roi du 22 juillet sur l'exercise et les manoeuvres des bataillons de chasseurs a pied" was NOT a revision, rewrite, add on, extension, etc of the 1831 Ordonnance, it was a new, standalone manual designed to revise tactics to speed up troop movements - hence the different shoulder arms, doubling, etc. I don't believe the specific intent was to shift from left to right interval, I believe that was a byproduct. The main difference was the new position of READY - it was simply more expedient to fire to the right since the rifle was already there. That's the hinge point and the manuals that didn't use the old vertical READY didn't call for left interval again until Upton added a step postwar to shift over.

                          For simplicity of disussion, since Casey says in the front of his manual

                          "The following volumes of Infantry Tactics are based upon the French ordonnances of 1831 and 1845, for the manoeuvres of heavy infantry and chasseurs pied. Both of these systems have been in use in our service for some years; the former having been translated by Lieutenant-General Scott, and the latter by Lieutenant-Colonel Hardee."

                          henceforth I'll just use SCOTT'S and HARDEE'S and leave the French out of it.
                          John Duffer
                          Independence Mess
                          MOOCOWS
                          WIG
                          "There lies $1000 and a cow."

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                          • #58
                            Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                            One minor comment. The USSM question/answer at least implies that there was some discrepency over how Left oblique was being performed in the field. I am personally a supporter of the Left interval. However, clearly some commands were using or advocating the Right interval, hence the question to the USSM. So, although I believe the Left interval is correct, I would not view it as in unauthentic representation to do it over the Right.
                            Scott Sheets
                            Joliet, IL

                            36th Illinois
                            Dirty Shirts

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                            • #59
                              Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                              Originally posted by Matthew Joe Mallory View Post
                              To say he didn't reinvent any tactics is just plain wrong.
                              Originally posted by Matthew Joe Mallory View Post
                              The problem is that the manual did explain the change for doubling up at the right (left) face. It simply didn't for the firing of the left oblique. Even the 1845 Ordonnance du Roi didn't specify which interval. Yes Hardee copied the French, so did Scott, so did almost everyone. It doesn't mean they didn't change AMERICAN military tactics, because they did.
                              There is a big difference between "inventing" something and that he was central in changing something.

                              Since he just plagiarized/translated it from the french, Hardee did not invent anything with his 1855 book.
                              But he did do as he was ordered and the book did help improve american infantry tactics somewhat.

                              With his revised book he did make sure his book was made specifically to the situation the CSA army was in. And that surly did help change their drill for the better.
                              Last edited by thomas aagaard; 08-30-2018, 07:35 AM.
                              Thomas Aagaard

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                              • #60
                                Re: Debunked: Left Oblique Aiming Over Right Shoulders

                                Originally posted by thomas aagaard View Post
                                With his revised book he did make sure his book was made specifically to the situation the CSA army was in.
                                He just changed to a musket stack and manual of arms insread of rifles with saber bayonets. The stack seems to have come from Ellsworth or whoever Ellsworth got his from. I came across his same manual of arms in a slightly prewar New York State National Guard manual, not sure if that's original or secondary source.
                                John Duffer
                                Independence Mess
                                MOOCOWS
                                WIG
                                "There lies $1000 and a cow."

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