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William Duane's "Origin of the Rifle Corps" in A Handbook for Riflemen (1812)

As with Colonel Alexander Smyth (wiki), the first Colonel of the Regiment of Riflemen, formed in 1808, Lieutenant Colonel William Duane was a Jeffersonian republican political appointee with no previous regular military service. Some additional background on his "political" and "military" career, not discussed in his wiki bio is, provided below.* He was on the US Regiment of Riflemen roll from 1808-1810 and later produced, for intended personal profit,  "A Handbook for Riflemen" (1812), as well as a "Handbook for Infantry (1814)," the latter which was ultimately not accepted by the Army (although approved by Congress).

Thomas Noxon Toomey, in his 1917 article "THE HISTORY OF THE INFANTRY DRILL REGULATIONS OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY," made note that only two articles, one unattributed and another a mere note, had  previously been published on the history of the United States Infantry drill. Toomey, therefore, was breaking historical ground. In setting the context of  Smyth and Duane's doctrinal efforts, he relates:  
"The first of the unofficial systems to be introduced was the French system of 1791 as modified by Napoleon in 1805. The Napoleonic system was introduced by Mac Donald who published in 1807 a quite poor translation of the French tactics. This translation was republished in 1809 by Lieut Col William Duane, of the Rifles, in his American Military Library (6).  A somewhat corrected edition was published in Boston by Colonel De Lacroix in 1810.(7) A work published in Boston in 1811 by Gen Isaac Maltby met with some favor in Masschussetts.(8) Smirk's "Review of a Battalion" was also used in this country(9). At the outbreak of the War of 1812 Colonel Alexander Smyth, Inspector-General of the Army, published a set of drill regulations (10) at the request of the Secretary of War. Smyth's work was a good improvement and abridgement of Mac Donald's translation of the French tactics. On March 30, 1812 they were ordered to superceed Steuben's tactics in the regular army. In the Same year was published a second edition of the work to which Smyth put his name. This system was probably used somewhat up to 1815 although Duane's Handbook was made regulation on March 19, 1813.

In the "Hand-book for Infantry"(ll) of William Duane, a former editor, we have the work of an enthusiast who undertook to diffuse military knowledge in America.**** His system of drill was largely original and at first incomplete. The first part was finished in 1808 but not published until 1812, after it had been voted on favorably by the House of Representatives, while his system was under consideration by the Senate Colonel Duane promised its completion. It was then made the regulation drill for the army by a General Order of the War Department on March 19, 1813. The system was completed in 1814 but the War Department order had done little to spread its employment, as only four regiments of regulars and some of the Virginia, New York, Jersey, and Pennsylvania militia used it. A small book based on Duane's first publication was printed in South Carolina. Duane's plan of drill met with much opposition due to politics, and because it was impractical, it resembling a fancy exhibition drill.

In 1813 Congress, either uninformed of the official status of Duane's tactics or considering them unsuitable, passed a resolution requesting the President "to cause to be prepared and laid before Congress, as soon as practicable, a military system of discipline for the infantry of the army and militia of the United States". Owing to the occupation of all the principal officers with the war, no action was taken on this resolution, and every tactical officer continued to use the system he preferred. The real step towards training the army was made in 1814 when Major General Scott instructed in person the two brigades of Brown's division in camp at Buffalo. He used an edition of MacDodald's translation of the French tactics, probably Smyth's abridgement, and a copy of the original French with which to correct them. It was to that instruction that the victories which followed are ascribed.
****Besides his Handbook he published the American Military Library 1809 and a large Military Dictionary 1810 without prospects of profit " pp. 1-2

The history of the infantry drill regulations of the United States Army, by Thomas Noxon Toomey, 1917

Or  go here for that article.


Noxon was being generous to Duane in characterizing his efforts as "enthusiastic" and not for "prospects of profit," although he does not comment on Duane's original "intent" behind the handbook  - as did John Quincy Adams and Worthingon C. Ford (below).

Nevertheless, I found Duane's 2nd section in Chapter 1 - "Origin of the Rifle Corps," interesting, not the least because he denotes,  from a somewhat formal American perspective, the alternate use of the term "Sharp-shooters" (or Sharpshooters) with Rifle units of the day - long before the combination of the introduction of the Sharps rifle and the popularity of so-naming units, north and south during the Civil War, confused the origins of the name. He also provides a useful French-English glossary translation for units such as the Voltigeurs, an American version of which, The U.S. Regiment of Voltigeurs and Foot Riflemen, would be formed in 1847, for service in the war with Mexico.


Rifle corps called also Sharp-shooters and Tirailleurs, sometimes Chasseurs a pied, and Yagers, and also Voltigeurs, and Eclaireurs, according to the service upon which they are employed; owe their rise and importance to the American revolution. They were the creation of accidents, but of accidents, proceeding from natural circumstances, and became important from actual experiment, before they were adopted into military establishments.

 In the war of the American revolution, the use of rifle men was demonstrated and, soon improved upon by those European officers, who had, by being allies or enemies of America in the contest, witnessed the effect of the desultory and direct fire with smooth barrels at Bunker's hill, with rifle barrels at Saratoga, and in all the subsequent actions of the revolutionary war.

 The habits of life of the American farmer and the early necessity of self defence against the rude men of the wilderness and the beasts of the forests ; gave the rifle gun or grooved carabine, a preference over the plain fusil or gun ; it was found more certain in its execution than the smooth bore of the fowling piece, and firelock by those who were always armed.

The habits which grew out of he state of early settlement in a country yet uncultured and uncivilized, made every man a good shot. The dangers from the Indians and the wild beasts of the desert, were then the first incentives to expertness, and the causes of skill in the use of the rifle. The pursuit of the deer and other animals, and all the various birds which furnish what is understood by the comprehensive term sport, administered to the habits which were necessary to defence, and each to the other. No game laws, nor religious jealousies, retarded or checked the alacrity of the American farmer. The youth at the moment he was able to pull a trigger, was educated to the sports of the field, and the expertness of the American farmer became proverbial, as the use of the rifle was an indispensible qualification to every man who had occasion to defend himself, or a taste for ths sports of the field and the forest.

In this situation of the country the American revolution commenced. A foreign veteran army, led on by generals schooled in the tactics of Prussia, appeared amongst a people strangers to the concert of battalions or brigades ; to whom the tactics and manoeuvres of the scientific soldier, and the arts of the engineer, were alike unknown. But there was not a man in the country Who could not hit a space of a foot diameter, at one hundred and fifty yards, with a single ball. The great mass of the settlers remote from cities could shoot a squirrel, and shoot it in the head from choice, and with confidence and certainty.

From such materials, ready prepared, the sagacity of the first founders of American independence, formed a force new in its character, and more fatal in its tactics to the armies of Britain, than the Hungarian hussars had been to the opponents of Austria, the Prussian artillery to the enemies of Frederic, or the French echellons to the coalesced powers of Europe. The first operations of the new species of light corps, were conducted and regulated by the mode of Indian warfare, by the judgment of the citizens who associated together, and agreed to act on particular points of the British lines, on their columns of march, and on their outposts and foraging parties, and in such numbers as accident brought together.

The momentary experience of the Massachusetts yeomanry in their pursuit of the British corps at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, and the effect of their spirit and perseverance in pursuing and routing a more numerous body of disciplined soldiers, inspired an auspicious confidence in this new mode of warfare; subsequent events confirmed these early prepossessions, and the application of this species of action to operations of the line, at the battle of Bunker's hill, where the British suffered in the loss of officers and men to an extent unexampled, inspired the British during the remainder of the war, with such constant apprehension, that the officers were thenceforth clad and accoutred like the rank and file, to evade if possible, the dextrous fatality of the expert sharp-shooters. The confidence of Americans was encreased in proportion to their success—and soon after the campaign which was fatal to Burgoyne, corps of rifle men assumed a more consistent organization ; they were formed into companies, embodied into regiments, and placed under skilful and intrepid officers—and in the course of the war were eminently distinguished by their gallantry under a Morgan, a Mifflin, a Steele, and other brave officers.

The British endeavored to collect bodies of tories and refugees, to form similar corps, to counteract this species of force ; and the auxiliaries from Hesse and other parts of Germany, brought some who were employed under the denomination of Yagers or hunters, in an analogous warfare.

The French who had been engaged in the wars of the revolution had seen the effects produced by these light troops; they had not forgotten them; and on the first movements of the French revolution, endangered by the defection of so many military men of the old school, they saw the necessity of a new organization for raw troops; experience pointed out to the French the fitness and utility of these detached corps, who were called tirailieurs ; a term significant of one who fires at random, or at his own discretion, and without a special command ; in a desultory manner, but with deliberation. To give them the consistency of infantry they were disciplined as infantry of the line, or were selected from the most expert of the whole army ; various corps were embodied under the denomination of Chasseurs a pied, or foot hunters; Voltigeurs or Vaulters, from the agility' required in a particular branch of exercise on service.

The Austrian and Prussian, and other German armies, have adopted the system of rifle corps ; and very soon after the British engaged in the war on the European continent against France, they found the necessity of adopting them likewise.

The celebrated general Lloyd, during his services in the Austrian army, particularly in the wars in Saxony, Bohemia, and Silesia, against Prussia; very sagaciously perceived the defects of the prevailing military dispositions, and although he did not immediately organize any corps upon the principles which he recommended, he very plainly points oat those services, for which some troops were required, to which rifle-men have been' since applied with all the success which his judgment anticipated. General Lloyd frequently in the progress of his work, called Military Reveries, points out the uses of this species of light troops, particularly in these terms.

"Armies, he says, are now :usually formed in two or three lines; between their lines and the enemy, light troops often amounting to twenty thousand, form a chain of observation, to prevent the enemy from attacking unexpectedly. Frequently they are sent out on detachments, to cover or cut off convoys,  while the main army is acting in a certain line of operation.  These light troops are considered as mere scouts, which  seldom take a part in the battle. When you advance, or when the enemy advances, these light troops retire by files  to the right and left, and are no more heard of till the action  terminates. Why they do not form on the enemy's flanks, and create a diversion there, has been often a matter of, surprize to judicious military characters. Small bodies of :  tight troops stationed between hedges, near the high roads, and behind clumps of trees, or in woods, would observe and  harrass the enemy and annoy his columns, and aid a decisive attack by the army, more effectually than ten or fifteen thou sand men acting in a straggling chain of observation. A regular chain is' easily observed by the enemy who manoeuvres under cover of it, whereas a broken chain of detached  parties unites or disperses in an instant, becomes as it were invisible, and gives immediate information of the minutest movement made by the enemy."
This little extract gives a perspicuous view of the duties of rifle-men.

Baron Gross, an able officer, who has published an useful tract on the dudes of an officer in the field, thus illustrates the utility of the American discovery in the art of war, and shews the effects which were realized by the French through this means.

"The French since the revolution, have so successfully introduced a new military system, that it becomes impossible to " oppose them effectually, by any other mode than adopting one, founded on similar principles. They send a number of rifle-men in front of their line to annoy their adversary, and " conceal behind them the different movements of their columns. Nothing can be effected against this disposition but by opposing light troops of a similar description."

It is here obvious that the means recommended by Lloyd upon theory, and adopted from the American practice, have been momentous.

An English writer, who blends more aspersity than becomes an officer, in a didactic work, gives very strong evidence of the truth which he reluctantly admits in the success of the French rifle corps, and the causes which gave rise to them ; in the following remarks:

"The art of war during the French revolution has undergone a considerable change. Pitched battles and regular engagements are now in a great measure avoided, and a constant series of unremitting operations are directed against the flanks and rear of an enemy, to retard or prevent his progress in front. To light movements the French are indebted for much of their success in the war; and they adopted them more from necessity than choice. Their numberless conscripts, undisciplined, marched raw to the armies, were thrown in swarms on the flanks of the Austrian columns to act irregularly, and their success answered the expectation. The Austrian columns, unaccustomed to this novel species of attack, when they looked for a regular battle, fell into confusion and retreated before a undisciplined rabble. Such is the origin of the war of posts which the French found it convenient to carry on, till tactical habits rendered their troops capable of acting in the line. Nations adopt from each other what sad experience proves to be an obvious advantage in carrying on war. The action of rifle corps and light troops is now much depended on, and not unfrequently decides the contest. The tactics of light troops have now necessarily become an important branch of general discipline."

This short sketch of the origin and character of rifle corps was a necessary preface to their mode of discipline and exercise.

After their introduction into the armies of Europe, they we're first formed into companies, and subsequently into regiments, in the campaigns of Switzerland and Italy, against the Austrians ahd Russians, and subsequently in the battles which determined the war against Austria, Russia, and Prussia. The French corps susceptible of being employed as rifle men, amounted to forty•thousand men in the grand army, and greatly contributed . to the victory in the memorable battle of Jena. They were composed of men selected from the line, and denominated corps d'elite, or select troops.

European nations being our imitators in this branch of military force, renders it necessary in America to pay the more attention thereto, because should a War occur on our shores, we shall be opposed by the weapons which we have ourselves invented. Upon rifle corps, and horse or flying artillery, artillerie legere, we shall have to rely much in conducting war, because these are the means best suited to the nature of our country.

The service of rifle corps is properly a branch of the service of light troops, generally, so called, as well as the chasseurs of the French, and what is called light infantry. In the old establishments of Europe, prior to the American revolution, light infantry consisted of a single flank company attached to each regiment. The French had embodied before the revolution a few corps wholly of that description. They now have grenadier riflemen as well as battalion ; and they select men of particular expertness, and form them into distinct companies of the same half brigade ; such as swimmers, vaulters, etc

During the American revolution, some of the most active British officers had suggested the employment of the flank corps of the regiments in a collective manner. Among these were general Howe, general Williamson, and general Gray, memorable for their midnight expeditions. Since the French revolution, the European nations generally have pursued the system, and whole regiments and divisions of armies have been formed of infanterie legere, or light infantry, chasseurs a pied, tirailleurs, or sharp shooters, or rifle corps, all of which bear some analogy to each other."
Duane, pp. 2-8


Selected excerpts from Duane's 108 page handbook (note - descriptive table of contents does not match perfectly with internal chapter sections headings, e.g. Chap VI):

CHAP I - Of Military Discipline 

1 Difference between an army and a mob consists in discipline which produces the effect of one will, through subordination. 
All troops should learn infantry movements first otherwise fatal errors arise.
2 Origin of rifle corps...American revolution...Yagers...French revolution...tirailleurs...voltiguers General Lloyd... Baron...Gross...Colonel Macdonald...General Howe...General Williamson [see verbatim above]

CHAP II - On the Drill of Riflemen

1 How it should be conducted Prejudices which prevent rifle discipline...The opinion of an enemy... Colonel Ehwakl of the Hessians...Fatal effects of sycophancy in obstructing military knowlege
2 The first drills exactly as infantry of the line...ranking and sizing...telling off marking time.
3 Facing with moving feet...Indian file...Indian pace.
4 Marching and facing 

5 Marching and wheeling in single files

"...although as marksmen, the American rifle men surpass all others ; in what regards discipline and the strength and confidence arising from discipline, they are interior to the rifle men of other nations, and for this reason, that in European armies the rifle men are selectcd out of infantry corps already disciplined, and it is by the skill which they display in the target practice as infantry, that they are chosen for the tirailleurs or rifle men ; so that their appointment to rifle corps takes place only after they have had an infantry discipline.
On the other hand, the American rifle men are not made acquainted with infantry movements....very little care has been bestowed on any part of the rifle discipline but what relates to the mere firing, while the importance oi discipline is never made known, and therefore remains unknown, and they have consequently no ideas of the effect of discipline, and are led to believe that all their military effect is in distinct military action, and not at all dependent on action combined...." p. 9

CHAP III - Movements by half platoons or half companies

1 Use of dividing into what consists the difference of the movements of riflemen and the infantry in line, applied to drills...telling off from right to left by the voice and wheeling in sections.
2 Movements in files by the centre 

3 Movements from the flanks
4 Countermarching
5 Movements in sections of three
6 Movements in sections of three from half platoons 
7 Sections of five and movements by heads of sections, in open order to the rear
8 Movements in echellons to the front in ranks of sections...rule for determining this movement... accurately advancing by echellons from the centre and by heads of sections...retiring in the same order 
9 Augmenting and diminishing front...manner of executing it...first use of the indispensible oblique, or line of science...rules for augmenting and reducing front

CHAP IV - The Fire of Rifle Corps 

1 How their discipline is rendered effective, introductory to the use of the rifle
2 Manual exercise of the riflemen...the firing motions to be minutely practised...none omitted nor slurred over
3 Of firing on the spot
4 Another method 

"...There is one pace however peculiar to the rifle corps is better understood by Americans under the of the Indian fiace or Indian file step. This step or pace is required only when rifle men act alone or are detached from main body of the army. The rifle is then carried on the horizontal or sloped trail and a word of command suitable to rifle.....The trail step or Indian file flace is usually made without any violence of the body, a regular constant even movement of the foot twenty four inches at a step ; and after practice is to be performed in every position, whether in single or double ranks, in Indian file, or in open or extended order...."pp. 38-39

"...Whenever it is practicable riflemen will load with powder measure and loose ball...taught to fire at a target without a rest...practice...should begin by firing at fifty yards distance and increase it by degrees to 100 ISO 200 and 300 yards...officers of rifle corps should be as expert as the privates and should be competent to instruct as well as correct error...The proper charge of the rifle must be particularly attended to ; a measure provided to contain an exact charge attached to his powder flask. And riflemen must be practised to load and to fire as they lie on the ground and to fire from behind tree and stone fences and in every species of covered ground...."pp. 42-44

CHAP V - Formation of the Company 

1 Corresponding with the infantry in every particular
2 The pivot...its use in wheeling
3 Duties of light to proceed in particular circumstances...retreating across a plain... how they manoeuvre
4 Offensive evolutions...coup de main..advanced parties...occupy defiles...surprizes...harrass convoys...cover foragers...occupy bridges ambuscades...covering manoeuvres in action 

"...The movements of riflemen it has been observed before are conducted in a method more open or in a looser or more extended order than the movements in the column of attack column of march or the line Their habitual order is in two ranks or files of two deep and their distance when not manoeuvring in the close order is 36 inches front and depth for each man This is their uniform parade distance which...."p. 53

"...The movements of rifle corps with an army are in advance or on flanks and in various dispositions analogous to the operations of the line but in their own peculiar mode of movement On the parade drill they learn the side step..." p. 58

"Light troops act offensively in general but on special occasions defensively They may also be included in the order of battle in detached divisions or companies or as in the French dispositions occasionally as parts of the line or they may be left wholly out of the order of battle and reserved for particular auxiliary services for a coup de main or for diverting the attention of an enemy from the manoeuvres of the main army The general duties of light troops may be simply stated under the following heads
1 To form advanced parties and patroles where an enemy is expected or military movements apprehended
2 To occupy defiles and elevated positions and prevent surprises or to communicate intelligence of the positions and movements of an enemy
3 To annoy an enemy drawn up or moving into order of battle by disconcerting its movements and depressing the advanced posts and patroles of an enemy
4 To take an enemy in the rear or on a flank by surprise and to turn a flank by rapid and bold enterprises in action
5 To harrass an advancing enemy on a march seize magazines and convoys
6 To forage and cover the movements of cavalry foraging parties
7 To form ambuscades and other bold enterprises
8 To occupy bridges and passes in advancing and to destroy bridges on a retreat
9 To harrass an enemy on his retreat
10 To rally from a dispersed order in cases of exigency and act as solid columns or lines of manoeuvre like infantry
It is a general rule in relation to light infantry that they are to act whenever required with light cavalry or hussars ami that the movements of light infantry and light cavalry should be co operative and reciprocal their services on so many occasions being essential to each other...."pp. 60-61

CHAP VI - Formation of the Regiment 

1 Of what number it should consist how officers are posted in close and open order

"...The rifle corps, for the observance of order in military arrangement, should be organized on the same principles as a regiment of the line. The French, who have carried military arrangements to the greatest perfection, have half brigades of riflemen, with a grenadier company to each battalion, who act as flankers lo every description of military men en foot. This organization is founded on the power and principles of emulation, and the graduated esprit de corps. An American rifle regiment should on this plan consist of two battalions, or ten companies, on the war establishment, consisting of one thousand men. Two of these companies should be select, and it should be an object of emulation in the regiment, to be enrolled in these companies. The staff of every description the same as the infantry ; each company one captain, one first, one second, and one third lieutenants; the regimental staff a colonel, lieutenant colonel, major, and adjutant...." p. 62-63

"...With a view to the operations of a regiment or battalion it is not practicable to define with precision the number of men that may be required for a given service as it depends on local circumstances and the judgment of the commanding officer The same is to be said of the proper distance to advance....." p. 64

"...In advancing, the signal being given co advance, it is followed immediately by the order fire.
The men of the rear rank advance by the right of their file leaders, to the front ten paces, make ready, mark their object, take aim, and fire, without command.
The officers being provided with a whistle for a signal, with which the men should be previously exercised ; that officer who is stationed on the flank of the front rank, gives the signal for his rank to move forward in like manner ten paces,passing by the left elbow of the rear rank man ; and so alternately.
The front rank is under the guidance of the subalterns, and the rear rank under the most expert non-commissioned officers; the captains of companies are between the ranks, and direct the whole as occasion requires.
As soon as the men have fired, but not before, the proper officers dress their ranks quickly as possible and correct their distances where necessary.
After the signal to cease firing is given....not a shot is to be fired, and the men arc halted.
A scheme of signals by the whistle for riflemen, is annexed to this work....."p. 66

"...Rifle men, advanced in front of a line for the various purposes of tactics are called tirailleurs in the French movements from a French term signifying irregular shooters on other occasions when employed to make discoveries and report them called eclaireurs from the celerity of their motion and their attack coming like lightning In their extended position they are denominated altogether the chain The object of the chain is to scour a tract of country by means of a detached body more or less numerous as occasion may require to clear woods thickets morasses and enclosures to shew the way towards the advance posts of an enemy and counteract their out scouts and report both their position and movement's to occupy as far as circumstances will admit every advantageous spot or position in front either for annoyance of an enemy to prevent the enemy's occupying it or to form ambuscades...."p. 66

"...It is a good rule that no more than halt of a company of rifle men must be advanced to skirmish at one time The other half is reserved and formed ready to support those advanced..."p. 67

"...Unevenness of ground is always in favor of riflemen thus advanced, and it is their duty to take advantage of every means that offers to cover themselves from the enemy's fire, while they can perform their duty in annoying the enemy. They must not be detained from taking their proper positions by any avenues or openness of ground, where they may chance to be placed..."p. 68
"....The general duties of rifle corps apply to every description of light infantry and the attentive and judicious military student will be able to combine the instructions for both where they are analogous Their movements are perspicuously explained in the several plates attached to this work The general duties of riflemen are also comprehended under the other remaining heads...but all the duties of light infantry will much depend upon locality, the nature of the country, the force and composition of the enemy's troops and the activity and intelligence of your own officers...." p. 69

"...When the leaders of the next rank see the rank that has retired formed and loading in their rear they give the whistle signal for their rank to fire and on firing come to the right pursue their retreat through the intervals the given distance come to the left about load and dress and so on alternately. Both in advancing and retreating arms are trailed and when the signal for halting is given each rank preserves the ground which it is upon facing towards the enemy...."p. 69


"...In the heat of battle, light corps often decide the conflict. They annoy the enemy by a galling fire on his flanks. They form in various small but compact bodies on numerous points, and sustain cavalry or horse artillery. They gain the rear of an enemy in force, and attack his rear, his baggage* or his ammunition. They attack a general officer and carry him or his suite off prisoners. They intercept the aid-decamps, and then send the orders they intercept to their own head quarters, or to the quarters or post of the most contiguous chief officer of division of their own army. They carry off as prisoners commissaries or other intelligent persons, who appear competent to give intelligence of the enemy's affairs. They seize all papers and send them unopened to head quarters...." pp. 69-70

 "...Light troops being always in advance and being the most Hardy, they are usually dextrous in passing rivers. If it should be necessary far an army to pass, and the construction of bridges occupy much time, light infantry are sent across in advance, to reconnoitre, to report on all that is interesting, to establish themselves if requisite in good positions, to occupy posts near the rivers, woods, hedges, houses, villages, and to prevent any communication with an enemy, so that in the passage of the river the main army may be unmolested..."p. 70

1 Maxim of Lafayette that an effective system of defence must be offensive

"...The United States cannot be attacked but from the sea, or from Canada, Florida, or Louisiana, attention should be particularly paid to the duties o f those who would have to guard t he sea coast, and to repel, annoy, impede, or watch an invading enemy. In every instance regarding the service as defensive, we must always keep in mind the solid maxim of the general La Fayette, " that there is no effective system of defence which does not act on the offensive ;" light corps being always preferred in advanced service, their duties apply to every corps employed in the like service...."p. 75


"...This description of light troops is in every respect excepting being mounted the same as riflemen on foot. They are peculiar to the United States.  French Voltiguers  bear a close resemblance to them."p. 82

"...prevent going to or coming from the enemy without leave. The nature of the ground or extent of the country must determine whether these posts are to consist of cavalry or infantry bat the same general rules will serve for either horse or foot...These main guards will be placed in preference upon the most important posts roads or openings of the country. If they cannot see one another they will sometimes in the day and often during the night send patroles from one to the other The eldest captain will therefore be placed in the centre of them to receive the advices or reports of the others. The officer commanding at each of these posts, must know the quarters of the general or field officer of the day, or of the Commanding officer named for the out posts if there is one that be may send information to him by some orderly men of the cavalry of any matter of importance which may happen during the day or night...."pp. 83-84


"...All these denominations may be applied to military persons of the same description, to infantry or cavalry, light infantry, or riflemen ; they only describe the particular service ; but the particular term vidette, though it may mean equally a centinel and an eclaireur, is generally applied only to a centinel on horseback ; which is also very generally understood by eclaireur, though the distinction between one and the other, consists in that the videttes are fixed centinels, the eclaireurs may be eiher fixed or occasional out scouts: so a patrole may; consist of a body of moving eclaireursj or one or two or more scouts.
The term eclaireur has been given to those who have been selected by officers for their intelligence and steadiness, (pour eclairer) to keep an eye on, to watch, to observe, to reconnoitre, to grade. Vidette had originally the same signification.
The duties of centinels is understood under the general scheme of service and guards. These few descriptions of troops, which are usually selected men, ascend heights, examine' passes and defiles, pass through villages, if required, to obtain intelligence, search thickets, hollow ways, bye roads, a word, see, hear, and examine every thing, necessary to be known for the purposes of military service by an officer acting offensively or defensively.
Videttes and eclaireurs are always detached two or more together, with orders not to separate out of sight, nor more than one or two hundred paces, so that they may not both be surprized, that they may know the routes, and act, if occasion requires, as guides.
When they enter villages, it must be in separate files. If they meet an enemy by night, and are compelled to fire, they must act so as to disconcert the enemy by a scattered and reiterated fire, constantly changing their own positions, and acting still in concert with their comrades ; and, if obliged to retreat, must even, rather than be taken, make a large circuit to avoid the enemy, and rejoin the next day. Videttes, above all things, must avoid offending, much less plundering, the people in whose neighborhood they are on duty. A conciliatory conduct is one of their first duties; they must be mild, but firm....kind to strangers, but faithful to their command. Videttes are stationed on the rear as well as in advance, and it is their duty to report every discovery they make to their commander...." pp. 83-85

"...The gallant enterprise of colonel Barton of the Rhode Island militia in seizing the British general Prescott should be kept before the minds of those who embark in gallant enterprizes and an officer in his military reading which ought to be the leisure occupation of every officer will find numerous matters of precaution as well as of counsel in gallant undertakings....
during night...double preparation made...The destruction of the American troops at Paoli and the Billet and the massacres at Egg Harbour during the revolution could not have been accomplished had there been a good look out by videttes or had due precaution been taken to watch traitors and disaffected persons...attack at a time little expected. Corps of American cavalry have frequently entered the lines of the enemy during the revolution after repeated false attacks and carried off horses and baggage This has been effected in noon day on some occasions..."p.86

"An officer of light troops detached in front of the line of the army at the very moment when the enemy meditates an attack whether to cover an important manoeuvre or a deployment will first receive clear orders from the general commanding His own discretion must determine how far he ought to advance in front of the line according to what kind of troops the enemy may offer to his view His conduct must also be regulated by the nature of the ground..."p. 88

"The escort of a convoy is commonly divided into three at the head one at the centre and one at the rear...To pursue an enemy very far in such service would be imprudent lest it should be a stratagem of the enemy to draw off the escort and in the mean time attack the convoy whose march should be continued if possible For this reason cavalry is useful to ascertain the exact number of the enemy and whether he is in sufficient force to be dangerous or only comes to reconnoitre the march...."p. 90

"An officer who is ordered to attack a convoy will go himself with a strong patrole or proper escort and reconnoitre the enemy's motions and number avoiding being discovered by him if possible."p. 93 

CHAP VIII Of the Rifle and Rifle Equipments                                                                       95
1 Properties of the rifle
2 Of loading the rifle
3 Of cleaning the rifle
4 Of the lock
5 Of Gunpowder
6 Of the patch
7 To preserve the rifle from the weather
8 Dress and equipments of riflemen
9 Of evolutionary bugle signals
10 Music for the signals
11 Musical signals by the whistle for out posts at night

"It must be obvious that the rifle barrel should not be bright; that the equipments of riflemen should be free from every thing that is glittering or of a striking color must be perceived upon every consideration of their duties. Great care, however, must be taken in the frequent inspection of the rifle to guard against any neglect of keeping it in order, when it has been browned, greened, or blacked...." p. 97  


"...Uniformity is essential so is simplicity there should be nothing glaring or bright about the rifleman or his equipments Warmth durability and sufficiency so that the body may be neither exposed to unnecessary inclemency of weather nor constrained in the free exercise of limbs and muscles but at ease in all its motions
His arms shoulders elbows ribs his knees the calves of his legs and feet should be entirely free from pressure or restraint for this reason breeches should not be permitted to riflemen nor to any other soldier neither should they wear low quartered shoes or buckles on the instep they should wear either the hunting or
Jefferson shoe....The coat should be short and well fitted, the skirt reaching to the line of the fork , the color dark green, pantaloons the same ; buttons yellow; waistcoat of the same color, or at least not white on service ; collar black. The head coveting a black cap of leather with a vizor in front, and an oil cloth of 24 inches square, folded within the crown, to be let down on an emergency of rainy weather to cover the neck behind ; a green or black plume—the cord of the cap and the regimental letters plum and not shewy. 

The knapsack square, with a square case for a blanket forming the cover, and the cap of the knapsack to contain necessaries. 
His arms should be the rifle, with a short sword of 30 inches, worn close to the left side, perpendicular to the body, and susceptible of being used as a bayonet, he might have a small axe and a knife in his powder belt.
A cartridge box of flexible leather containing two rows of tin unsoldered cases, to contain 30 to 36 rounds ball cartridge ; a double pouch slung over his right shoulder and under Kis left arm, one partition containing 60 loose well smoothed balls, and in the other partition his turn screw, knife, scouring brush, oil rag,
patches. Over his left shoulder and under his right arm hang his powder horn with the best powder.
Three white shirts, two flannel shirts with sleeves reaching four inches below the elbows, and opening like a coat at the front, closed by two pair of tape strings at the breast and about the waist; two pair flannel drawers reaching to the calf of the leg ; two pair of socks for winter only—none to be worn from June to October. The feet to be washed in cold water every morning as a rule of  discipline; would preserve health, assure vigor, and render stockings and socks totally unnecessary.
The hair cut close to the head once a month.
The pantaloons for winter, woollen cloth ; for summer grey unbleached linen or cluck ; and for an undress an unbleached hunting shirt with green fringe ; the pantaloons by boiling with vegetable substances may be made a dark green; or with bark a dark brown; but the discipline should rigidly guard against dirt with such colors...."pp. 98-99

"It now remains to explain a very important object in the discipline of light corps that of signals by which the various duties may be performed beyond the range of the voice by signals The infantry of the line have for a great length of time been exercised by the beat of the drum ; and cavalry manoeuvres have been performed by the trumpet, Rifle corps have been moved by bugle horn signals ; but no perfect or adequate system has yet been adopted in our service....This bugle has been universally used for light troops and it is therefore proper to provide some method by which there may be a determined system of bugle signals...." p. 100 [history of the bugle]

"Some mistakes in numbering the plates having taken place, owing to their being in the hands of the engraver while the work was printing, the following explanation is given to prevent errors from that source:The four plates first in order are illustrations by human figures and are numbered No 1 5 6 4.....The next four plates are No 1 2 3 4 and explain the movements of Riflemen in different modes These plates are from the American Military Library The remaining four plates are also from the American Military
Library and are numbered in the following order X...XI...XII...XIII..."  

example of graphics from Duane's plates:

  (Duane was seemingly prescient in depicting the "interception of a fleet of boats on a river" witness"The Battle of Big Sandy Creek" on May 30th, 1814, when Rifle Regiment Major Daniel Appling, in command of 150 Riflemen, accompanied by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Melancthon Taylor Woolsey and five officers and twenty-five sailors , and perhaps 130 Oneida Indians, hid his forces in the brush and trees along the banks of the Creek, and surprised a British flotilla of three gun-boats (one with a 24-pounder and a 63-pounder), two cutters and one gig -  at the cost of  2 wounded: an Oneida Indian and a U.S. rifleman; British casualties were reported as 13 killed; 2 lieutenants of the Royal Marines and 28 sailors and marines wounded and captured; 7 officers and 133 others taken prisoner)

  A Handbook for Riflemen: containing the first principles of military discipline, founded on rational method; intended to explain in a familiar and practical manner, the discipline and duties of rifle corps: conformable to the system established for the United Stated military force, and the latest improvements in the modern art of war, by William Duane, printed by the author 1812


*"In the expectation of obtaining these contracts Duane opened a store in Washington, which was entirely unsuccessful from every point of view and left him in debt. Harassed by lawsuits and by finding increasing difficulty in obtaining the necessary credit or in continuing the old credits, he turned to other occupations, and the troubles with England pointed to a military career as possible and even profitable. His Military Library is but little known and is less esteemed. As a moneymaking scheme it would not have succeeded had he not sold an edition to the government, a sale based more upon favoritism than upon the merits of the work. His career in the army was of little credit to himself, and is told in brief in the Memoirs of John Quincy Adams.1 Poor, embarrassed, and by his conduct deprived of friends, Duane sought many ways of bettering his condition, but with little success....The " Aurora " had a large circulation in its first years, but the actual advent of the Jefferson administration raised competitors, and Duane had a hard struggle to maintain himself by the newspaper. He sought aid again and again from Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, of whose cause he regarded himself the champion. Having suffered in the " reign of terror," — the Republican name for the administration of John Adams, — and having been persecuted by the Senate for his writings, he looked to his patrons for rewards adequate to his own idea of the debt. His wish to obtain government contracts for printing and stationery met with the approval even of Gallatin, who was personally above any suspicion of wrong intent....
As his financial troubles became worse, his temper became more uncertain and irascible. No one appeared to trust him, his friends fearing him quite as much as did his enemies, and never knowing the day when he would turn upon them and abuse them with the knowledge he had gained in their intercourse. He criticised Madison and opposed Monroe; he fought Gallatin for reasons which had little foundation and were peculiarly exasperating to Gallatin's friends. His course in State politics was marked by a personal and intemperate bias that made him feared and hated. He was on the losing side, and the " Aurora" became less and less influential and profitable, and ceased to be the organ of Republicanism. Jefferson remained his friend, seeking opportunities to aid him, and Duane remained loyal to Jefferson ; yet even Jefferson recognized his errors. He wrote in 1811: " I believe Duane ! to be a very honest man, and sincerely republican; but his passions are stronger than his prudence, and his personal as well as general antipathies render him very intolerant." Thirteen years worked no change, and Duane transferred his pen to the aid of the opponents of the Republicans." pp. 258-259

Worthington C. Ford, ed., “The Letters of William Duane,” Massachusetts Historical Society Proceedings 20 (1906–1907)

fn 1-
"Pennsylvania has been for about twenty years governed by two newspapers in succession : one, the Aurora, edited by Duane, an Irishman, and the other, the Democratic Press, edited by John Binns, an Englishman. Duane had been expelled from British India for sedition, and Binns had been tried in England for high treason. They are both men of considerable talents and profligate principles, always for sale to the highest bidder, and always insupportable burdens, by their insatiable rapacity, to the parties they support. With the triumph of Jefferson, in 1801, Duane, who had contributed to it, came in for his share, and more than his share, of emolument and patronage. With his printing establishment at Philadelphia he connected one in this city; obtained by extortion almost the whole of the public printing, but, being prodigal and reckless, never could emerge from poverty, and, always wanting more, soon encroached upon the powers of indulgence to his cravings which the heads of Departments possessed, and quarrelled both with Mr. Madison and Mr. Gallatin for staying his hand from public plunder. In Pennsylvania, too, he contributed to bring in McKean, and then labored for years to run him down—contributed to bring in Snyder, and soon turned against him. Binns in the mean time had come, after his trial, as a fugitive from England, and had commenced editor of a newspaper. Duane had been made by Mr. Madison a Colonel in the army; and as Gibbon, the Captain of Hampshire Militia, says he was useful to Gibbon, the historian of the Roman Empire, so Duane, the Colonel, was a useful auxiliary to Duane, the printer, for fleecing the public by palming upon the army, at extravagant prices, a worthless compilation upon military discipline that he had published. But before the war with England was half over, Duane had so disgusted the army and disgraced himself that he was obliged to resign his commission, and has been these seven years a public defaulter in his accounts, to the amount of between four and five thousand dollars, for which he is now under prosecution...."pp. 116-117
Memoirs of John Quincy Adams: comprising portions of his diary ..., Volume 5, by John Quincy Adams, 1875

A.C. Clark rebutted J. Q. Adams thusly:
 "That Mr. Adams' criticism is ill-founded and that he is not as strong in soldier erudition as in other things is conclusively convincing by this excerpt from Duane's Principles of Military Discipline:
"The great perfection of military discipline is to be found in the art of marching well, or, as the celebrated Marshal Saxe expressed it: 'All the mystery of military discipline is to be found in the legs, and he who thinks otherwise is a fool.'''
The Handbook for Infantry has this title page and following this official order:
19th March, 1813. General Orders.
The "Hand Book for Infantry," compiled and published by William Duane, of Philadelphia will be received and observed as the system of Infantry Discipline for the Army of the United States. By order of the Secretary of War,
T. E. Cushing,
Adjt. Genl.
Duane was appointed by President Jefferson, Lieutenant Colonel of Rifles, July 8, 1808, he resigned July 31, 1810; and, by President Madison, Adjutant General with the rank of Colonel, March 18, 1813, and he was honorably discharged June 15, 1815. William Bache in The Franklin Ancestry and Descendants in the Col. Louis Bache line states that during the War of 1812 defences were erected on the Delaware in the nature of fortified posts and earth works to prevent an attack on Philadelphia; and that Col. Duane commanded the troops at Dupont, New Jersey, one of these posts.
Charles Jared Ingersoll, in his History of the Second War says " Colonel Duane was a man of extensive military theoretical information...."pp. 36-38
William Duane, by Allen Culling Clark, 1905

for more on Duane's controversial life see
"Philadelphia Story, How a newspaper took on the Federalist Government in the 1790's," by WILLIAM LEE MILLER, New York Times, May 18, 1997 

William Duane's American Military Library, by Fred K. Vigman, Military Affairs, Vol. 8, No. 4 (Winter, 1944), pp. 321-326
Vigman asserts Duane."'s "pioneer effort in evolving a theoretical and practical system of military science in the Early years of the republic" and thus improperly evaluated because critics incorrectly listed his American Military Library as being published in 1819 when it was published in 1809. The "indifference to his labors," which came out of devotion to the nation, Jefferson the president he helped elect, and at considerable personal cost and time, was coupled with "abuse from his political enemies." Duane's style, if not brilliant, was factual and properly subservient to its subject-matter with no journalistic flourishes and with only a few interpolations stressing the needs for systematized discipline and a recognized standard of training and battle tactics, and urging the importance of military study." The historical shortcomings of Duane's treatises may be said to be his too great dependence on the experience of the Old World, and his failure to assess the campaigns of the War of Independence...This omission is all the more regrettable because of of Duane's historical propinquity to the subject and its freshness in the national mind."

 “Early U.S. Riflemen: Their Arms and Training,” by Lewis Berkeley, American Rifleman 106, no. 12 (December 1958): 30-33
Col Berkeley quotes at length from Duane's Handbook for Riflemen in this illustrated article featuring six pictures of early American rifles.

"'Dry Books of Tactics': US Infantry Manuals of the War of 1812 and After," by Donald E. Graves, Pt 1. Mil Coll & Hist 38 (Summer 1986): pp. 50-61., Part II, Military Collector and Historian 38(4), Winter 1986, pp. 172-175 
 "'Dry Books of Tactics' Re-Read: An Additional Note on U.S. Infantry Manuals of the War of 1812," by John C. Fredriksen and Donald E. Graves, Military Collector and Historian, 39, No. 2 (Summer 1987)
"The Flood Tide of French Influence: The Work of Tousard and Duane, 1807-1810," For want of this precaution so many Men lose their Arms:" Official, Semi-Official and Unofficial American Artillery Texts, 1775-1815 Part 8
By Donald E. Graves, The War of 1812 Magazine, Issue 15: May 2011 

“A French Army in America: The US Army’s Adoption of a French Way of Warfare
from 1814 through 1835,” by Michael Andrew Bonura, PhD, Major, United States Army, Pre-Circulated as part of the Transatlantic Currents in Military Theory Session 8, Panel 5, of the Society for Military History Annual Meeting, May 2012

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