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Forming the Company - Odd Man on the Left or Right?

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  • Forming the Company - Odd Man on the Left or Right?

    So for the last year my group have been following the procedure Silas have made in his booklets. (Gilham with some input from others)

    Since the men do a left face before forming the two ranks it is the tallest cpl on the right who will become the extra man if we are an uneven number.

    I was just looking at two pictures of 26th NY standing in column in companies.
    And I noticed that their 1st and 2nd company have the extra man in the second file from the left.

    This is the case in both companies.
    (In the 3rd company it did at first look like he was in the first file on the right, but after a closer look he is just blurred out because of movement... his feet are clear.)
    Click image for larger version

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    Thomas Aagaard

  • #2
    Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

    I could be wrong, and probably am, but weren't images mirrored, which would put the odd man opposite?
    Respectfully,

    Terence Vierling

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    • #3
      Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

      I looked for that, too. That photo was unreversed. Officers have swords on correct side.
      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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      • #4
        Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

        Ah, good point, didn't even look for that.
        Respectfully,

        Terence Vierling

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        • #5
          Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

          I did Look for that. Swords, drill, bayonets and so on are all as they should be.
          Was studying their way of doing right shoulder shift arms and support arms.(The other picture of them taken at the same time)

          But then I noticed this detail.

          It do solve the issue of the 1st sergent not having someone next to him when covering the captain.
          Thomas Aagaard

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          • #6
            Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

            If you follow Gilham's "to the letter", you will have an inappropriately-empty rear rank on the right flank of the company.

            If the company has an odd number of men (Cpl and Pvt):
            As I read it...
            On the command "1. In two ranks, form company. 2. Left - FACE. 3. MARCH.", Gilham directs that the second man in-line (faced to the left) should step to form the rear rank in the left-most file (step behind the man next to the 2nd Sgt).

            To correct for this issue, prior to the command...
            "1. In two ranks, form company. 2. Left - FACE. 3. MARCH."
            ...the orderly can count the men in-line. If it is an odd number, he can direct the leftmost man to stand fast, remain faced to the front, and prevent a rear rank from forming behind him.

            Unless the cryptic text of Gilham contains some other corrective instruction that I don't see.
            http://www.drillnet.net/GILHAM/Gilart4.htm

            This is the bit I find confusing:
            At the command left face, the whole company will face to the left, except the guide and man on the left, who stand fast.
            "The Guide" - that's the 2nd Sgt.
            "The man on the left" - the man at the right elbow of the 2nd Sgt.
            John Wickett
            Former Carpetbagger
            Administrator (We got rules here! Be Nice - Sign Your Name - No Farbisms)

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            • #7
              Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

              "The man on the left" should be the shortest corporal.
              Thomas Aagaard

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              • #8
                Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                I don't have Mr. G in front of me because I'm in court, but my recollection is that in his manual as well as the other primary manuals, the first platoon always contains an even number of files. Has to be finagled. To me, this meant having the first file of the second platoon having the odd man. Interesting discussion.
                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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                • #9
                  Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                  I think your memory is correct.

                  Here is the relevant part from Casey.
                  "Casey, SoC 5. (...) He will also cause the company divided into
                  platoons and sections, taking care that the first platoon is
                  always composed of an even number of files."
                  (and Hardee revised got almost the same)

                  To me the even files just tell us that.. it must be even files. Don't tell us that they must be full.
                  Also if the company form column of platoons we still end up with a one man file on the end of the formation.

                  After looking at the "math" I think I know how to do it rather easily.
                  We start our by having 8 corporals as described in Kautz instead of the 4 mentioned in the drillbooks.
                  The privates (and "middle" corporals) fall in to the right. So the extra private is by him self on the left in the front rank.
                  Then the two shortest corporals simply fall in to the left of him.

                  This naturally still goes against what Gilham tell us to do...


                  Btw the danish 1863 drill is very clear about dealing with this issue. the "blind spot" should be the in the 2nd file from the left... just like on the picture.
                  Last edited by thomas aagaard; 06-03-2016, 08:00 PM.
                  Thomas Aagaard

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                  • #10
                    Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                    I have found a description of this in a Massachusetts militia manual from 1810:

                    Click image for larger version

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                    This description deals with an odd man on the left. I am assuming this means a file on the left with no rear rank. The left-most rear rank man steps over to cover him, and leaves a blank file. I suspect this may have been a custom that was not written down, and was assumed, or maybe just not that common of a tactic.

                    It is interesting that it made it into the Civil War era in the picture, which proves someone did this for some reason.

                    Upton, post-Civil War, deals with blank files, but his tactics are different, with a different reason for the blank file. Instead of counting by twos, the company counts by fours. If the last file is a 1 or a 3, then the man in the rear steps over to make a new file, and the man in the rear rank third of the previous group file steps over to cover him. This is to even out the files.

                    Click image for larger version

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                    There is no description in Upton, on what to do about an odd man. However, in an Army and Navy Journal Gazette article from 1889 answers the question that an odd man may be put in the rank of file closers, and preferring a corporal be that man.

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                    The later citations don't directly help with the Civil War era pictures, but, it sounds like moving men around for the convenience of the formation may not have been that big of a deal.
                    Daniel Griego
                    "Elmer Divens"
                    High Private
                    Woodtick Mess

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                    • #11
                      Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                      It's been a while but I believe there's a previous discussion on this matter brought up by my own humble self. I'll search archives and see if memory serves.
                      John Duffer
                      Independence Mess
                      MOOCOWS
                      WIG
                      "There lies $1000 and a cow."

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                      • #12
                        Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                        It's here, Duffer : http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/...n-on-the-right
                        Silas Tackitt,
                        one of the moderators.

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

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                          Originally posted by john duffer View Post
                          It's been a while but I believe there's a previous discussion on this matter brought up by my own humble self. I'll search archives and see if memory serves.
                          When I made the topic, I remembered reading a debate about it somewhere. (was just nit sure if it was on this forum)
                          Thomas Aagaard

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                          • #14
                            Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                            Thanks for the reference to the other discussion. I read through that one, and did not see explicitly see the answer to the original question in this post. It did bring up a thought that I think will answer it, though.

                            In Scott's manual, he requires 8 corporals posted as follows:

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                            Therefore, when posted on the ends of the platoons, they will be in the front and rear ranks.

                            According to Gilham\Casey\Hardee, there are only four corporals, and they are posted in the front rank. When there is an odd man on the left, it is the fourth corporal, and it is no big deal.

                            If the company has been formed according to Scott's, and there is an odd man on the left, that would be the fourth corporal, but he would be covered by another corporal. This would leave a blank file in the rear rank, second from the left.

                            It's possible that the 26th was being drilled in Scott's, as this picture was most likely taken in 1861 at Fort Lyon early in the war, and their colonel was a Mexican War vet and a drillmaster, but that is just conjecture.
                            Daniel Griego
                            "Elmer Divens"
                            High Private
                            Woodtick Mess

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                            • #15
                              Re: Forming the company - odd man on the left or right?

                              Regarding how to post corporal in forming the company, go to my Gilham's for non-Gilhamites : http://www.authentic-campaigner.com/...ght=Gilhamites Emphasis was on Gilham's, but I also incorporated methods from Baxter and Root to fill in missing pieces.

                              I'm not convinced that the fourth corporal is always the left most soldier of a company. I'm speaking about when a company is part of a battalion and not the left most company of the battalion. (When a company stands alone or is the left most company of a battalion, the second sergeant's post is in the front rank and on the left. Otherwise, his post is in the rank of file closers toward the left of his company.) If you perform a search in the school of the battalion, you will find several instances when the soldier on the left - who should be the fourth corporal - is identified as, "the man on the left."

                              Instances in Hardee's Revised include :

                              - SoB 473 : "the man on the left of the preceding company" ;

                              - SoB 504 : "the man on the left of the front rank" ; and

                              - SoB 528 : "the man on the left of the second division."

                              You also find it on the right :

                              - SoB 71 which references SoC 173's, "the man on the right," and

                              - SoB 392 which references SoC 194's, "the man on the right."

                              The citations would also apply to the same paragraphs of Casey and Gilham, but under different paragraph numbers.

                              If it's always a corporal on the left or right, why not say such? Hmmmm.

                              Hey, Duffer. I'm currently compiling list of evolutions from an 1862 camp of instruction. This is being created for Ft. Pulaski.
                              It's a solid list of drill from the school of the battalion done as a series of lessons. The paragraphs from the school of the battalion are supplemented with sections from other paragraphs in the school of the battalion and the school of the company where necessary. Some paragraphs are revised to read as if they are left oriented, such as By Companies into Line - from the left. Thats the way the lesson plan was drafted, so I had to conform to it. I filled it with many illustrations adapted from llustrations in LeGal's, School of the Guides. When I complete the booklet, I can toss a version in pdf your way for your thoughts.
                              Silas Tackitt,
                              one of the moderators.

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

                              Comment

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