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Military Terminology

D/DIS - died of disease

D/WDS - Died of wounds

Debouch - The outlet of a wood or narrow pass. To debouch, is to march out of a defile, narrow pass, or wood. Debouchment is the marching out of a defile, etc., into open ground.

Debris - The wreck or remains of a routed army.

Decimation - The infliction of death on every tenth man of a corps; used also to imply great slaughter.

Decoy - A stratagem to carry off the horses of a foraging party of the enemy, or from pasture. Also implies any deception.

Defaulterís Book - A regimental record of the offenses and irregularities of the privates and non-commissioned officers of a regiment.

Defilement or Defilading - The arrangement of the plan and profile of the works of a fortress, so as to prevent their being enfiladed.

Defile - A narrow passage or road, through which troops can not march, otherwise than by making a small front, and filing off. To Defile is to move off in a line, or file by file. The term also implies the reduction of divisions and subdivisions of troops to a small front, to enable them to march through a defile.

Deliver Battle (To). Is when hostile armies are in sight of each other, to commence an attack.

Deploy (To). To display or spread out. A column is said to deploy, when the divisions open out or extend, for the purpose of making a flank march, or to form in line on any given division. Deployment is the act of unfolding, or expanding a given body of troops, so as to extend their front.

Depót - A place where military stores are deposited. The term also signifies the station of the reserve companies of regiments.

Depression - The pointing of a piece of ordnance so that the shot may be projected under the point blank line. Also, what Edwin Stoughton felt after Mosby captured him!

Depth of a Battalion or Squadron - The number of men in rank and file.

Detach (To). To send out a body of men on some particular service, distinct from that of the main body.

Detachment - A number of men drawn out from several regiments or companies.

Detonating Powder - That part of the cartridge which is detached for priming.

Diminish (To) the Front of a Battalion - To adapt the column of march or maneuver, according to the obstructions and difficulties which it meets in advancing.

DIS/DISAB - discharged for disability

DIS/WDS - discharged for wounds

Disengage (To) a column or Line - To clear a column or line which may have lost its proper front by the overlapping of any particular division, company, or section, when ordered to form up.

Disengage (To) the Wings of a Battalion - When the battalion countermarches from its center, and on its center, by files.

Dislodge (To). To drive an enemy from his post.

Dismantle a Fortification (To). To render it incapable of defense.

Dismantle a Gun (To). To render it unfit for service.

Dismount (To) Cannon - To break their carriages, wheels, axle-trees, etc., so as to render them unfit for service.

Disobedience of Orders. Any infraction, by neglect or willful omission, of general or regimental orders.

Division of an Army - A body of troops, consisting of two or more brigades, under the command of a general of division.

Dock-Yard Battalions - A defensive force, consisting of the superintendents, clerks, and laborers of the respective navy or dock-yards.

Draw Up (To). To form in battle array.

Drawn Battle - A battle in which both sides claim the victory.

Dress (To). To arrange a company or a battalion in such a position or order, that an exact continuity of line is preserved in the whole front, or in whatever direction it is to be formed. Dressing is effected by each man taking short quick steps, until he gradually obtains his position in the rank or line.

Dressers - Those men who take up direct or relative points by which a corps is enabled to preserve a regular continuity of front, and to exhibit a straight alignment.

Drill (To). To teach recruits the first principles of military movements and positions, etc.

Drum (Beats of). The various beats of the drum are: The General, to give notice to the troops that they are to march; The Assembly, The Troop, to order the troops to repair to the place of rendezvous, or to their colors; The March, to command them to move, always with the left foot first; Tat-too or Tap-too, to order all to retire to their quarters; To Arms! For soldiers who are dispersed, to repair to them: The Reveillé always beats at break of day, to warn soldiers to rise, and sentinels for forbear challenging, and to give leave to come out of quarters; The Retreat, a signal to draw off from the enemy; also, a beat in both camp and garrison a little before sunset, when the gates are shut, and soldiers repair to their barracks; The Alarm, to give notice of sudden danger, that all may be in readiness for immediate duty; The Parley, (Chamade) a signal to demand some conference with the enemy; The Sergeants Call, a beat for calling the sergeants together in the orderly-room, or in camp to the head of the colors; The Drummersí Call, a beat to assemble the drummers at the head of the colors, or in quarters at the place where it is beaten; The Preparative, a signal to make ready for firing. As soon as it commences, the officers step out of the rank, and when it has ceased, the several firings commence. When the General is beat, they fall back into the front rank; The Long Roll, a signal for the assembly of troops at any parade. These beats are either ordinary or extraordinary.

Drum-Major - The instructor of the drummers in the beats.

DSRTD - deserted

Echelon - A formation of divisions of a regiment, or of entire regiments, resembling the steps of a ladder. Echelon movements and positions are not only necessary and applicable to the immediate attacks and retreats of large bodies of troops, but also to the previous oblique and direct changes of situation, which a battalion, or larger corps of troops already formed in line, may be compelled to make to the front or rear, or on a particular fixed division of the line.

Effective - Fit for service, in contradistinction to non-effective, or unfit for service.

Empilement - The act of disposing of balls, grenades, and shells, in the most secure and convenient manner.

Embrasures - The openings which are made in the parapets of a work, for the purpose of pointing cannon against objects.

Encampment - The pitching of a camp.

Enceinte - The outline of a fortress, including the ramparts, wall, ditches, etc.

Enfilade (To). To sweep or rake the whole length of any work, or a line of troops, by a fire from a battery on the prolongation of that line.

Engarrison (To). To protect a place by a garrison.

ENL - enlisted

Enrol (To). To enlist men to serve as soldiers.

Entrepôts - Magazines, as also places appropriated in garrison towns, for the reception of stores, etc.

Epaulement - A mound of earth thrown up to cover troops from the enemyís fire.

Eprouvette - A machine to prove the strength and quality of gunpowder.

Equalize (To) a Battalion - To tell off a certain number of companies in such a manner that the several component parts shall consist of the same number of men.

Equipage (Camp or Field). Tents, cooking utensils, saddle horses, bat-horses, baggage-wagons, etc.

Equipment - The complete dress of a soldier, including arms, accouterments, etc.

Escalade (To). To scale the walls of a fortress.

Escarp - The sides of the ditch next to the rampart.

Escort - Troops who guard prisoners on a march to prevent their escape.

Esplanade - An open space of ground separating the citadel from the town.

Estaffette - A military courier, sent express from one part of an army to another.

Evolutions - The changes of the position of troops, either for attack or defense.

Exempts - Persons exempted from certain services, or entitled to peculiar privileges.

Extraordinaries - Allowances for the expenses of barracks, marches, encampments, etc.

Faces of a Square - The four sides of a battalion when formed in square.

Facings - The different movements of a battalion, or any other body of troops, to the right, to the left, or to the right (or left) about, or to the right (or left) half face, or to the right (or left) three-quarter face. The term also implies the different facings the recruit it taught while at drill.

Fall (To) Back - To recede from a position recently occupied.

Fall (To) In - To form in ranks in parade, line, division, etc.

Fall (To) Out - To quit the rank or file.

False Attack - A feigned attack for the purpose of diverting the enemy from the real point of attack.

Fascines - Faggots made of brushwood or small branches of trees, of various dimensions, according to the purposes for which they are intended.

Feint - A false or mock attack or assault made for the purpose of concealing a real one. A Feint, when in an aggressive attitude, is threatening one part of an opponentís person, when it is intended to try his vulnerability on another part.

Feu de Joie - A discharge of musketry, or of salvos of artillery in celebration of some important event.

Field-Days - Days on which troops are taken out to the field, to be instructed in field exercises and evolutions.

Field-Officer - An officer above the rank of captain, and under that of general, namely; majors, lieutenant-colonels, and colonels.

File - A line of soldiers drawn up one behind another. The term also signifies two soldiers, the front and rear rank men. To file is to advance to or from a given point by files, and to file off or defile, is to wheel off by files. File leader is the front man of a battalion or company standing two deep. File-marching is when soldiers so follow one another that every man in the first rank appears to lead a file. Filings are movements to the front, rear, or flanks, by files.

Fire (Running). Is when a line of troops fire rapidly in succession, or one after another.

Flag of Truce - A flag carried when some pacific communication is to be made to the enemy. It is generally white colored.

Flank (To). Is to take up a position without being exposed to all the enemyís fire. To outflank, is the increasing the front of a boy of troops, till it outstretches the opposing forces.

Flank en Potence - Is where the extremity of the right or left wing is thrown back at an obtuse angle in the rear of the line.

Forlorn Hope - The party or body of men and officers, who lead the storm of a fortress. In the French service, this devoted band is emphatically styled les enfants perdus.

Formation - The arrangement or drawing up of troops according to prescribed rules. Formations are in close order and open order - The term also signifies the constituent or component parts of a regiment. An infantry regiment consists of companies and battalions; a cavalry of troops and squadrons. A squadron consists of two troops, and a regiment of two, three, or more squadrons.

Fortification - The art of defending and attacking fortresses and military positions, and of intrenching camps and outposts. It is either natural or artificial, regular or irregular - Natural fortification is the strength and security which nature has afforded to places (such as mountains, steep rocks, marshes, etc.,) by the advantages of situation and the difficulties of approach. Artificial fortification is contrived and erected to increase the advantages of a natural situation, and to remedy its defects. Fortification is regular when erected according to the rules of art, on the constructions made from a figure or polygon which is regular, or has all its sides and angles equal; irregular, when the sides and angles are not uniform, equidistant, or equal, on account of the irregularity of the ground, rivers, hills, valleys, etc.

Fortifications (Subterraneous). Consist of the different galleries and branches which lead to mines, to the chambers belonging to them, and which are requisite when it is necessary to explode them fro the purposes of attack or defense.

Fortifications (Field). Consist in the art of fortifying, constructing, attacking, and defending all kinds of temporary field-works during a campaign; as redoubts, field-forts, start-forts, triangular and square forts, heads of bridges, and various kinds of lines, etc.

Fort-Major - The commandant of a fort, in the absence of the regular commanding officer.

Fossé - A ditch, either with or without water in it.

Fougass - A small mine in the front of the weakest point of a fortification; generally under the glacis or dry ditches.

Fraise - A row of stakes or plaisades placed in an inclined position, on the edge of a ditch, or the outward slope of an earthern rampart. To fraise a battalion, is to line or cover it on every part with pikes or bayonets, to enable it to withstand the shock of a body of cavalry.

Furlough - Leave of absence granted to non-commissioned officers and soldiers.

Fuse. The tube of wood fixed to a loaded shell.

Fusil - A light musket or firelock.

Fusileer - A soldier armed with a fusil.