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Rfn.Deering J

Make Ready!

Hi 2nds

A rumour has reached me that you are thinking about changing the make ready position from which you move to the present.

When mentioned to me this reminded me of something that I had read recently in a memoir called "Recollections of an Old 52nd man" and I wondered whether what it describes is essentially what you are changing over to.

Here is the full quote below anyway for info:

Quote:
"...when Sir Stapleton Cotton, coming in from the front, did not hear the sentry's challenge and continued to advance, on which the sentry fired and shot him through the leg. Such was not the practice of the army, as I may safely say that not one shot in a hundred told. Sir John Moore's system of raising the musket from the "Rest", instead of letting it fall from the "Present", I believe to be the cause of this surprising difference. The double sight might have some effect, but I do not think it was much used."


Have you guys read this before?
Either way interested to hear your thoughts on its description!

James
Ben Townsend

Hi James!

Yes, the piece you reproduce describes the alteration. There are a few snippets that mention it, but the clincher was coming across the notebooks of an officer undergoing training in Light Infantry methods  by MacKenzie in 1813 at Shorncliffe. These are essentially his notes from lectures by MacKenzie, and as we know, MacKenzie trained the Light Division, and was Sir John Moore's instrument of training per excellence.

In the notes, the officer describes not only how, but why the change was made. If you are able to come to March training I'm sure the Military Council will fill you in.

Cheers, Ben
Eddie

Ben  
On the same subject - do we have a copy of "Drill and Manoeuvres as practised by the 52nd Light Infantry" by Capt John Cross ?
Just wondering if it has a Bugle call appendix.
Ben Townsend

I don't have it on the bookshelf. I have a feeling Blakey does, or perhaps an electronic copy. And we really ought to put a definitive list of what we're holding together, yes!
Rfn.Deering J

Sounds good to me Ben! I'll be there, so will be interesting to hear the detail!

Cheers
Greg Renault

Ben, I presume that you are referring to Maunsell's notes on MacKenzie, where he states that when aiming the soldier is to "raise his firelock from the priming position" (note 16).  Much earlier (1806) Cooper also describes this new Ready position: "

The front and rear ranks respectively bring their firelocks down to the priming position, as hereafter explained, cock, and replace their right hands on the small of the butt.... (p.14)

That said, it is dissappointing to note the Weddeburn (1804, p. 1Smilie_PDT, Campbell (1813, p. 110), and Gardner (1816, from Campbell), all prescribe the old Ready position for rifles and light infantry.
Paul Durrant

Initially, we have 2 situations prescribing the low 'Ready';

In Rules & Regs 1807 (For NCOs), Light infantry procedure for loading with two ranks kneeling;
[On kneeling] "The front and rear ranks respectively bring their firelocks down to the priming position... On the word present both ranks bring their firelocks to the present..."

Campbell 1812 (p56) describes the same but for extended order;
"In all firings (when in extended order) whether upon the spot, in advancing or in retreating, the piece is cocked and brought up to the present from the trail - See Manual and Platoon Exercise, His Majesty's Regulations, Pages 37 and 38"

Then, as Greg points out in Lt Frederick Maunsell's notes on Division Orders by MacKenzie ("...for the Information & guidance of the 95th Rifle Regt. & Lt. Infy. Corps under his command."), we have Maunsell stating that when teaching the soldier how to aim he is to "raise his firelock from the priming position..."

However he then goes on to talk about firing (in close order);
"As the rear Rank must of necessity move their right foot to the rear in loading they will be guided by the Front Rank in coming to the present if the Enemy is obscured.
              There is another thing to be mentioned in favour of this mode of Firing & which is of most material consequence Viz. By raising the Firelock from the priming position, all accidents are in favour of the Shot going in the direction of the Enemy, for should the Firelock go of during the operation of raising it, the hand having acquired the habit of being directed by the Eye, will always have it in a line with the object he is looking at, and will always ensure the Balls flying in the proper Direction.
      Whereas in Bringing the Firelock from the recover all accidents of premature Firing are against the Shot hitting the Enemy it will go over, the Rear Ranks Men being lower than the front Rank & knapsacks in their way the greatest number in the heat & hurry of Action always Fire before they are near low enough for the level of the Enemy's Heads."


In practising this, one thing will definitely come in to play that has probably been hitherto neglected (from instructions for loading when kneeling for LI in Rules & Regs 1807);
"...The firelocks of the front ranks are in line with haunches: and those of the rear rank are placed four inches above the haunches.The elbows of both ranks must be as close to the body as possible."

I foresee lots of bruised elbows. Watch this space...
Ben Townsend

Greg,
Yes, Maunsell's notes from MacKenzie's lectures. I haven't found any more notes from officer's attending his class yet!
havercakelad

Thain of the 33rd recorded the following on January 24th, 1814 at Rozendaal~

'The companies are now drilled every day by the non-comissioned officers of the 52nd regt in the light infantry mode of firing and loading.'

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