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General Salute ?

I was looking at period Bugle calls recently ( untitled but I think a photocopy of Potters 1817 Bugle Horn Majors' companion)
and the call for "General Salute" is shown - I think for the first time - the first few bars are identical to the present day call. There is also another call "Salute for the Guard".

In later Bugle manuals - I have a 1969 copy of Army calls - its states that General Salute is used only as a salute for those of Field Marshall and General rank and that "Salute for Guard" is used for all other occasions that Bugles are required to sound a salute. I assume this reflects a practice of long standing.

This set me thinking for I had thought that "General salute" meant a salute in general terms not to honour the actual rank!

General Salute is also the term traditionally used when Flags are raised and the Guard presents arms.

The term in our drill commonly used at the end of a display is "General salute......Present.......arms!"  - and we salute the crowd.

So where does the wording of this command come from ? I have not seen it in Dundas or any other period manual.
Why do we not just say "Present Arms" if a General is not being honoured?
Another topic in my "ask the obvious"  series !

I just thought I would add a couple of images from the Bugle manuals re General Salute  and Guard Salute to back up what I have said above;

1966 Trumpet and Bugle sounds:

The manual for 1895 has the same calls but no stiplulation as to use

And the Napoleonic calls:

So is a "General salute" during our period just for a General? Or is this a later development?

In later times and indeed to the present day there are "musical salutes" played by Bands to salute various high ranking officers on parade when Arms are Presented - these are fragments of tunes - for example a Commander in Chief gets a few bars of "Rule Britannia"  - I think Cavalry Generals get "Cavalry Brigade" and  Naval Admirals a bit of "Iolanthe"
Of course Royalty gets a  few bars of "God save the Queen" and Her Majesty gets the whole thing - the Present Arms on such occasions being preceded by the words "Royal Salute"

I suspect much of this came about in Victorian times - but I have a recollection of reading "somewhere" (!!!) that Wellington was saluted by a Band playing "See the conquering Hero"

The "Regimental companion" Charles James Vol 1 edn 7 1811 goes into some detail about the honours that are to be accorded to the various ranks of General officer -  varying combinations of  "marches" "Ruffles" on the drum and from the Cavalry - "Flourishes" on the trumpet. No mention of the Bugle but Rifles and L I didn't have drums (well other than a Bass drummer or Time Beater in the "music" or Band) so this accounts for the Salutes I mentioned earlier.

There is mention that only Field Officers and above get a Present Arms.

There is no mention of the term "General Salute" and I would be interested if any one out there comes across a reference to the term in contemporary literature.
Greg Renault

I found this mention in the NCO manual (my emphasis):

No flugel man is ever to remain advanced from a battalion, except to give the time of the General Salute, or during the performance of the Manual Exercise.

Not sure what motion is performed, but I have a feeling that it refers to Present Arms.
Ben Townsend

Have a look at the required salutes in the 1802 Garrison standing Orders for Gibralter. p.82. Available on google books.
Cheers, Ben

Thanks Ben
Had a look at that - yes I have seen similar elsewhere about the entitlement of various senior Officer ranks to a combination of Presented Arms with varying "ruffles" and/or  "a march". Exactly what was played on the drum I have not seen written down or referred  to in period manuals.

Still  can find no reference there to the term "General Salute" though!
Ben Townsend

Well, yes, it does rather support your original point, that was my intention. Smilie_PDT

ben wrote:
Well, yes, it does rather support your original point, that was my intention. Smilie_PDT

Ah Ben - there you are again - and one jump ahead as always!

Therefore -

Believe me Sir, I remain,
Yr mst obt svt,

Edwards P  Bugler  295432    
Ben Townsend

Not ahead of you at all Eddie! Just trotting along with you on this one, trying to keep up. Your point that the command 'General salute' may be anachronistic seems pretty good to me, so I've been keeping my eyes open for information or examples either way.
There are plenty of re-enactorisms that creep into our portrayal, and its alerts like yours that give us the opportunity to re-evaluate what we do and why we do it. The more of us looking out for these inconsistencies the better, its by dealing with them that we move forward in our understanding.
Of course, you also run the risk of being stoned to death as an iconoclast ;)  Perhaps by a hail of discarded 'stovepipe' caps?
Greg Renault

The term in our drill commonly used at the end of a display is "General salute......Present.......arms!"  - and we salute the crowd.

So where does the wording of this command come from ? I have not seen it in Dundas or any other period manual.
Why do we not just say "Present Arms" if a General is not being honoured?

I think I have it.  Short version: the General Salute is found at the conclusion of Dundas' 18th Maneouvre, and consists of opening ranks, then presenting arms towards the reviewing general, or the camp colour (where the general would be).

Dundas, in the 1788 Principles of Military Movement, p.71, simply states "Open Ranks.  General Salute".  Similarly the Rules and Regs (1798, 1811 edn., p. 268) states "Open ranks--Advance within (30 paces)--Halt--General salute."

However, Dickinson, Instructions for Parade and the 18 Manoeuvres (1799), p. 122; Oneil, A treatise on the Eighteen Manoeuvres (1805), p. 46; and Russell, Instructions for the Drill and Eighteen Manoeuvres (1805), p. 249--all state that the salute involves presenting arms.  Dickinson and Russell also state that the music plays God Save the King.

It strikes me that saluting the crowd in this manner after a demonstration is very much in the spirit of all this.

Regimental Companion Vol 1 1811

Page 162 Conclusion of a Field day or Review

"When preparing for the last general slaute, the officers being in front of their several companies, the commanding officer will give the word march on which the music of each battalion plays its regimental march, and the line advances in slow time"

The idea of a  " General salute" here again still seems to be a salute to the reviewing officer - and presumably of General rank  - in line with Gregs' citing of Dundas above.

Two other points but straying from the topic - sorry -

The term " Regimental march "  is also worthy of note. I had the impression that it was late in the Victorian period that Regiments adopted a specific "regimental" march as their signature tune to march past to. My understanding was that up to that time popular tunes of the day were used ad lib.

The term "slow march" is intriguing  - Dundas Regs  - only state  three rates of marching  Ordinary 75 pace per minute, Quick  108 p p m and Quickest or Wheeling time   120 p p m

A danish royal order in 1808 gives this, (a rifle bugler even managed to sneak in there), today called the Colour march or "old salute march" as the regimental march for all regiments not in possession of their own unique march at that time, to be used for parades and general salute.

This tune is possibly 1600s vintage, while some other of the traditional danish marches alledgedly are based on note sheets left after the departure of the British in 1807, with similarities to british folk tunes...

In line with my general theory of small states like us copying practises in Prussia and other great powers, I'd think tunes associated with certain units comes around a lot earlier than the victorian era.
I can't remember where, but I think I've read about spats between regiments caused by one unit playing tunes given by royal privilege to the other.

An amusing case of early copyright problems, will try and remember where I saw it.

However, it could very well be that they were more open to change due to "pop" music trends every now and then, or the employment of a new bandmaster/drum major, and that things were not as written in stone as it was to be during the Victorian era.
Greg Renault

In the lengthy introduction to his common-sense adaptation of the 1764 British drill for Massachusetts militia, An Easy Plan for  Discipline of a Militia (1774), Timothy Pickering indicates that the practice of a general salute to the reviewing officer was already well-established:

Pickering has many entertaining comments regarding ornamental and impractical aspects of drill ("useless", "fit only for the amusement of school-boys"), and a number of practical suggestions.  His manual was used by the Patriot forces in the AWI until superseded by the series of Steuben's general orders, later compiled as the Blue Book.

Nice find Greg  - thanks

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