Military TerminologyOver 150 years separate us from the Civil War. Some words had different meanings then; some words are not in our current lexicon; some words mean different things in military parlance than in the civilian world. "A Complete Dictionary of Military Terms and Science" Louis Le Grand's The Military Handbook & Soldier's Manual of Information, published in 1861, provides the initial input for this listing. Other terms will be added as documented 19th century meanings can be found. As always, contributions always welcomed
Occasionally, definitions of military terminology are noted in the various histories, journals and letters of Vermont soldiers. These are not necessarily the 'official' definitions found in professional military textbooks
Abattis - A kind of outer intrenchment, consisting of young trees, felled and laid upon the ground a short distance from the parapets of field works, with the points of their larger branches sharpened and extending outward, for retarding the enemy's advance.
Absence, with Leave and without Leave - Officers, non-commissioned officers and privates are said to be absent with leave, when they have obtained permission to that effect; absent without leave, when they fail to join their regiments on the expiration of their leave.
Accouterments - The belts, pouches, cartridge boxes, etc., of the soldier. The belts, sashes, etc., of the officers, are termed appointments, by the British authorities.
Acquittance-Roll - A roll containing the names and signatures of the privates of each troop or company of a regiment, and showing their respective debits and credits.
Adjutant - The assistant of a commanding officer of a regiment, in the details of regimental duty and discipline.
Adjutant-General - The officer who assists he general of an army in the general details of his duties.
Adjutant-General of the Forces - The chief officer of the general staff.
Advance Guard - The detachment of troops which precedes the march of the main body. The Rear Guard is that which covers its rear.
Agent (Army). The person who transacts the pecuniary business of regiments.
Aid-de-Camp - An officer on the personal staff of a general or field officer, to receive and distribute his orders.
Aiguillette - A decoration consisting of tagged points of bullion cord and loops, worn on the right shoulder of officers of the cavalry.
Aim (To Take). To mark out the object to be struck by a cannon or musket ball.
Alarm Post (in the Field). Is the ground appointed by the quarter-master-general for each regiment or detachment, to march to in case of alarm. In a garrison, it is the place allotted by the governor for the troops to draw up in, on any sudden alarm.
Alignment - A formation in straight lines. The alignment of a battalion is the position of a body of troops drawn up in line. The alignment of a camp signifies the relative position of the tents, etc., so as to form a straight line from given points.
Altimetry - The taking or measuring of altitudes or heights.
Altitude - In cosmography, is the perpendicular height of an object, or its distance from the horizon upward. Altitudes are accessible and inaccessible. Accessible altitude of an object is, that to whose base access can be had, to measure the distance between a given point and the foot of the object on the ground. Inaccessible altitude of an object is, that when the foot or bottom of the object can not be approached, on account of some obstacle, as water, etc. Altitude of a shot or shell is the perpendicular height of the vertex of the curve in which it moves above the horizon.
Ambulant - Changing positions according to circumstances. An ambulant hospital is that which follows an army.
Ambuscade - A detachment of troops placed in concealment to surprise or attack an enemy.
Ambush - A place of concealment from which an enemy may be surprised by a sudden attack.
Amende Honorable - Satisfaction for an offense committed against the rules of honor or military etiquette.
Amplitude - In gunnery, the range of shot, or the horizontal line which measures the distance it has reached.
Ammunition - Powder and ball, shells, bullets, cartridges, grapeshot, tin and case-shot, carcasses, grenades, etc. The ammunition for firearms is fixed and unfixed - The fixed comprises loaded shells, carcasses, and cartridges, filled with powder; also shot fixed to powder. Ball and blank cartridges are also termed fixed ammunition. Unfixed ammunition is round, case, and grape-shot, or shells, not filled with powder.
Approaches - Sunk works and passages carried on toward a besieged fortress, as the trenches, saps, mines, etc.
Armistice - A truce or temporary suspension of hostilities.
Arms (Bells of) or Bell Tents - Tents in the shape of a cone, in which each company's arms are piled in the field.
Army - Armies are (1) A covering army; (2) A blockading army; (3) An army of observation; (4) An army of reserve; (5) A flying army; (6) the grand and main army; (7) The "standing army," which, in the United States, is always limited by special acts of Congress.
Articles of War - Rules and regulations for the government of the army.
Arsenal - The place where warlike instruments of all kinds are deposited.
Artillery - All projectile machines of war, as cannons, mortars, howitzers, etc., with the requisite apparatus and stores for field and siege service. A Train of Artillery consists of the attendants and carriages which accompany the artillery into the field. A Park of Artillery is the place where the artillery ammunition is encamped ready for service. It is also used to imply a heavy complement of guns.
Back Step. The retrograde movement of a man or body of men without changing the front.
Backward - The retrograde movement of troops from line into column, and vice versa.
Baggage - The clothes, tents, utensils, etc., belonging to a regiment or an army.
Bags - In military operations, are either sand bags or earth bags; and are used either to repair breaches and the damaged embrasures of batteries, or to raise a parapet in haste, or to repair one that is beaten down by the enemy's fire.
Balls or Bullets - Consist of lead or iron for the use of small arms or artillery; or they are light or fire balls, and smoke balls. The light or fire ball, which is spherical or oblong, is used during sieges, for the purpose of discovering parties at work, etc. The smoke balls are thrown from mortars to annoy besiegers, continuing to smoke for about half an hour.
Band - The body of musicians attached to every regiment or battalion.
Banderols - Small flags used in marking out a camp, etc.
Banquette - An elevation or step constructed along the interior of the parapet, to enable the shortest men to fire over it.
Barbette - A platform raised behind a parapet or breast-work, that the guns mounted upon it may have a free range over the surrounding country. Guns so placed are said to be mounted en barbette.
Barricades - Obstructions formed in streets and highways, consisting of abattis, breast-works, overturned wagons, carts, etc., to prevent an enemy's access.
Barriers - Pointed stakes to prevent cavalry or infantry from suddenly rushing in on the besieged.
Base Line, or Base of Operations - The frontier or line of fortresses, on which all the magazines and means of supply of an army are established, and from which the lines of operation proceed.
Bastion - A projection or salient angle from the general outline of a fortress, with an opening toward the body of the place called a gorge.
Baton - The staff or truncheon which is the symbol of a field-marshal's authority.
Battalion - A body of infantry of two or more companies.
Battalion Men - The soldiers, except those of the two flank companies, belonging to the different companies of an infantry regiment.
Battering Train - A train of artillery used solely for besieging fortresses, inclusive of mortars and howitzers.
Battery - A number of pieces of ordnance, consisting either of guns, howitzers, or mortars, according to the service for which they are required.
Battle Array, or Line of Battle - The order or arrangement of troops in battle.
Battlements - Notches or indentures in the top of old castles or fortified walls, or other buildings, in the form of embrasures, for the greater convenience of firing or looking through.
Bayonet - A weapon first used by the French in 1671, and deriving its name from having been first manufactured in Bayonne. It is now an instrument of war, constructed of several shapes, that is considered of invaluable utility to infantry. It alone is regarded equal to cope with a cavalry charge, while in a direct charge it is used with terrible effect by a well trained soldiery. It was the favorite weapon of Napoleon; and by it Garibaldi has achieved his most brilliant victories. The sword bayonet, recently introduced, is a truly formidable instrument of death. It can be made use of either as a cutting or thrusting instrument. By poising it horizontally, like a quarter-staff, as high as the head of his adversary, the soldier, by a slight movement in the segment of a circle, can sweep its sharp blade across the neck, face and breast of three men opposed to him in line.
Besiege (To). To invest a fortified town with an armed force.
Billeting - The quartering of troops in the houses of towns and villages.
Bivouac - Troops are said to bivouac when they do not encamp, but lie under arms for the night.
Blackhole - A place for confinement of soldiers guilty of insubordination or criminality-more generally called the "Guard House."
Block-house - A wooden fort.
Blockade - Refers to the blockading of essential waterways, inlets, by ships of war.
Body of a Place - The main line of bastions and curtains, or the space inclosed by the enceinte of a fortress.
Boom - A cable or chain floated with masts or spars, placed across the mouth of a river or harbor, to bar the access of an enemy.
Break Ground (To). Commencing the siege of a fortress by opening the trenches.
Breach Loader - A piece which is loaded at the breach instead of at the muzzle. A Muzzle Loader is one which receives the charge at the muzzle.
Breast-work - A parapet breast-high.
Brevet-Rank - A rank in the army higher that that for which pay is received; and which gives precedence, according to the date of the commission, when corps are brigaded. (In the celebrated controversy between Generals Scott and Gaines (1828-29) Congress decided that a brevet did not confer actual rank, and that the order of promotion must follow only the official commission.)
Brevet (The). A term used to express promotion by honor.
Bridge - See Pontoon and Pontooning.
Bridge-Head - See Tete du Pont.
Brigade - A division of troops, consisting of two or more regiments, under command of a brigadier-general. Mixed Brigade is composed of infantry and cavalry, general used as advanced guards.
Brigade-Major - An officer charged with the detail of the duties of a brigade.
Brown Bess - A sobriquet or nickname, for the old regulation (English) musket.
Bugle-Calls - The sounds of the bugle used in the field or on parade, where the voice would be ineffectual to convey commands.
Bugler - The person who sounds the bugle for advancing, skirmishing, or retreating maneuvers.
Bulletin - The official account of public transactions and military operations. It is more commonly called "Official Report."
Cadence - In tactics, a uniform time and pace in marching.
Cadets - Youths educated at the Military Academy at West Point at the expense of the United States Government. They graduate, after a term of five years, with the rank of second lieutenant in the Unites States army.
Caisson - An ammunition wagon or tumbril. Also a wooden frame or chest, containing loaded shells, and buried at the depth of five or six feet under some work the enemy appears desirous to possess, and which, when he has become master of, is fired by means of the train conveyed through a pipe to it, when the shells becoming inflamed, the assailants are blown up.
Calibre - In gunnery, the diameter of the bore of a cannon.
Caltrops, or Crow's Feet - Pieces of iron having four points, so disposed that three of them always rest upon the ground, and the fourth stands upward in a perpendicular direction. Each point is three or four inches long. They are scattered over the ground and passages where the enemy is expected to march, especially the cavalry, in order to embarrass their progress.
Camp - The extent of ground occupied by the tents of an army when in the field.
Camp-Colors - The flags or ensigns which mark out the lines of an encampment. Also, small colors placed on the right and left of the parade of a regiment when in the field.
Camp-Color-Men - Those soldiers who carry camp-colors to the field on days of exercise, and plant them to mark out the lines.
Camp (Flying). A strong body of cavalry and infantry always in motion, to cover its own garrisons, and to keep the army of the enemy in continual alarm.
Cannon - Cannons were originally made of iron bars soldered together, and fortified with strong iron hoops. Others were made of thin sheets of iron rolled up together, and hooped; and on emergencies they were made of leather, with places of iron or copper! (More pending).
Canteen - A tin or wooden vessel, in which soldiers carry water or other liquid on the march. The term also signifies a suttling house kept in a garrison or barrack-yard, for the supplying of troops.
Cantonments - The situations in which troops are quartered in towns and villages.
Caponniére - A passage from the body of a place across the ditch to an outwork.
Carbineers or Carabineers - Horsemen armed with carabines (sic), who occasionally act as infantry.
Carcasses - Shells containing a composition of combustibles projected from mortars.
Carronade - A short piece of iron ordnance, originally made on the Carron in Scotland.
Cartel - An agreement for a mutual exchange of prisoners.
Case or Canister Shot - Bullets, pieces of iron, etc., inclosed in a circular tin case, and discharged from heavy pieces of ordnance.
Casemate - A Cave under the rampart, with loopholes through which artillery may be discharged.
Cashiered - Dismissed with ignominy from the service.
Castrametation - The planning and tracing out an encampment.
Casuals or Casualties - A term implying soldiers who die, desert, or have been discharged.
Cat-o-nine-Tails - A whip with five or nine knotted cords used for flogging military offenders.
Cavalry - Horse soldiers.
Chace of a Gun - Its entire length.
Chamade - See Drum.
Chamber of a Cannon - (or mortar). That part of the bore which receives the charge of powder. Chamber of a Mine, is the place where the charge of powder is lodged for the purpose of blowing up the works over it. Chamber of a Battery, is a place sunk under ground for holding powder, loaded shells and fuses, where they may be out of danger, and preserved from rain or moisture.
Chandelier - A moveable parapet, consisting of wooden frames, filled with facines laid to cover working parties in the trenches.
Cheeks of a Gun-carriage - The strong planks forming its sides.
Chevaux-de-Frize (Friesland Horses). Obstacles consisting of a beam of timber, with strong takes pointed with iron, driven through it in different directions, used for defending avenues and passages, for impeding river channels, stopping up breaches, and impeding assaults. [The terms takes its derivation fro the apparatus having been first used at the siege of Groningen, in Friesland, in the year 1658, against the cavalry of the enemy].
Chevrons - The marks on the sleeves of the coats of non-commissioned officers.
Circumvallation (Line of). A fortification of earth, consisting of a parapet or breastwork and trench, to cover the besiegers against any attempt of the enemy, in favor of the besieged.
Club (To). In a military sense, to through into confusion; to deform through ignorance or inadvertency. To Club a Battalion is to throw it into confusion. The more common use of the word, however, in this country, implies to use the musket or rifle as a club in a close fight.
Color-Sergeant - The regimental sergeant whose duty it is to attend to the colors in the field.
Colors (Regimental). Are two in each regiment, one the national ensign stars and stripes, the other the regimental color.
Column - A body of troops in deep file and narrow front. Troops are in close column when they are close together; in open column, when they are intervals sufficient for wheeling into line when requisite.
Commissary - That department of military economy which is charged with the care of the provisions, tents, etc., of an army.
Contribution - An imposition or tax paid, in provisions or money, by the inhabitants of a town or country to an enemy.
Convention - An agreement for the suspension of hostilities, or the evacuation of a post, etc.
Cordon - A chain of posts, or an imaginary line of separation between two hostile armies, either in the field or in winter-quarters. Also used to signify bodies of troops stationed at detached intervals filled up by unceasing patrolling, for preventing the escape of an enemy, or to prevent his sudden irruption into a country. Also used to express the coping of the escarp of the ditch of a fortress.
Corporal (in the army). A non-commissioned officer under the sergeant. His duty is to place and relieve sentinels and to take charge of a squad in drill. (In the navy), an inferior officer under the master at arms.
Corporal (Lance). A soldier who acts as corporal, with only the pay of a private.
Corps - A body of troops.
Corps d'Armée - A portion of a grand army possessed of all the constituents of a separate or an independent army.
Cover - In military parlance, signifies security or protection.
Covered Way - A space extending from the counterscarp to the crest of the glacis, and surrounding the boy of the fortress with its outworks.
Counter approach - A trench or passage carried out by the besieged to counteract the works of the besiegers.
Counterforts or Buttresses - Solid works of masonry built behind walls to strengthen them.
Counter-Guard. A work placed before bastions to cover the opposite flanks from being seen from the covered way.
Countermarch (To). To change the front of an army, battalion, etc., by an inversion of its several component parts.
Counter Mining - (See Mining).
Counterscarp - The exterior slope of the ditch of a fortress.
Countersign - A word or number exchanged between sentries on duty in camp or garrison. Also the watchword demanded by sentries from those who approach their posts.
Counter Trench - (See Trench).
Countervallation (Line of). A breastwork with a ditch before it to defend the besiegers against the enterprises of the garrison.
Coup-de-Main - A sudden and vigorous attack.
Coup-d'-oeil - The seeing at a glance of the eye, the features of a country, or the position of any enemy. The term also implies the judicious selection of the most advantageous position for an encampment, or a field of battle.
Court of Inquiry - A meeting of officers to inquire into the conduct of a command of an expedition, to ascertain whether there be ground for a court-martial.
Courts-Martial - Military courts appointed for the investigation and punishment of offenses committed by officers and soldiers in breach of the articles of war: they are three; 1. General; 2. District; and 3. Regimental.
Crémaillère - An indented or zigzag outline, resembling the teeth of a saw.
Crenellated - Loop-holed.
Crenaux - Loop-holes.
Culverin - A long cannon.
Cunette - A trench in the middle of a dry ditch.
Cuirass - Defensive armor, covering the body of the wearer from the neck to the waist. Not now used.
Cuirassiers - Heavy cavalry, clad in cuirasses. Not in service now.
Curtain - That part of the rampart which connects two contiguous bastions.
Cut-off - In military parlance, signifies to intercept, or hinder from union or return.
Cylinder of a Gun - The whole length of the bore of a piece of ordnance.
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.
Defaulter's 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
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 Drummers' 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.
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.
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 enemy's 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 opponent's 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 enemy's 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.
Gabion - A basket of a cylindrical form, filled with earth, either to carry on the approaches under cover during a siege, or in field-work. Parapets are often constructed of gabions. To construct gabions, some staves of the length of three or four feet are stuck into the ground, in the form of a circle, wattled together with osier twigs.
Gabionade - A retrenchment hastily thrown up. A parapet constructed of gabions is termed a parapet en gabionade.
Gallery - An underground passage leading to the mines. The term also is used for a communication between the interior and the exterior works of a fortified place.
Gantlet or Gauntlet - An iron glove. To throw down the gauntlet, in military acceptation, is to challenge; to take up the gauntlet is to accept the challenge.
General Officer - An officer above the rank of colonel.
Generalissimo - The chief officer in command in the field.
Glacis - The slope of the parapet of the covered way.
Grand Division - A body of troops composed of two companies. A regiment or battalion being told off in divisions of two companies, each is said to be told off in grand divisions - Grand division firing is when a battalion fires by two companies at the same time, and is commanded by only one officer.
Grappling Irons - Irons thrown at an object for the purpose of dragging it nearer.
Grenade - A hollow ball or shell of iron or other metal, about two and a half inches diameter, which being filled with fine powder, is ignited by means of a small fuse. It derives its name from having been formerly thrown by the grenadiers of regiments.
Guard - A body of men to protect an army or a place from being surprised. The Advance or Van Guard is a party of cavalry or infantry, or of both arms, which marches before the main body, for the purpose of apprising it of any approaching danger. A Rear Guard is that part of an army or body of men which brings up the rear of a march, for the purpose of preventing the enemy from gaining ground on the flanks of the main body. The term is also applied to a corporal placed in the rear of a regiment, to keep good order in that part of the camp. Main Guard, that from which all other guards are detached. Port Guard, a guard detached from the main guard. A Grand Guard is a guard composed of three or four squadrons of cavalry, commanded by a field-officer, and posted about a mile from the camp for its better security. An Advanced or Quarter Guard, is a guard or detachment intrusted with the guard of a post. Quarter Guard, is a small guard posted in front of each battalion in camp. Picket Guard, see Picket. Guards are either ordinary or extraordinary. Ordinary, when mounted in camp or garrison towns; extraordinary, when detached to cover foragers , escorts, etc. To Relieve Guard, is to put fresh men or sentries on guard. To turn out the Guard, is to form the guard for the purpose of receiving a general or commanding officer; also, on the approach of an armed party, or on the beat of the drum, sound of trumpet, or any alarm. To turn out the Guard, is to form the guard for the purpose of receiving a general or commanding officer; also, on the approach of an armed party, or on the beat of the drum, sound or trumpet, or any alarm.
Guard-Mounting - Is the hour at which a guard is mounted.
Guerrilla (Spanish for a little war). A partisan who is not enrolled and paid by the party for whom he serves. It is now, however, used to imply any irregular warfare.
Guides - Men who give information respecting the country, and the roads intersecting it.
Guidon - A cavalry standard or banner. Not used in our army parlance.
Gun (Morning and Evening). The gun fired every morning at sunrise, and every evening at sunset, to give notice to the drums and trumpets of troops in garrison, to beat and sound the reveillé, and the retreat.
Gunnery - The science of artillery, or the art of managing cannon and military projectiles.
Gun-Shot - The reach of point-blank range of a gun.
Gymnastics - The art or method of exercising the body so as to render is supple, and capable of much fatigue. Much used in the Zouave drill, recently introduced.
Halberd or Halbert - A kind of spear formerly carried by sergeants of infantry and artillery. Old Halbert, a term once used in the army to designate, a soldier who had risen to the rank of a commissioned officer. Not now in use.
Half-Pay - Allowance made to absent or retired officers.
Halting Days - Days allowed for repose when troops are on a march, and there is no necessity for exertion or dispatch.
Hang Fire (To). Fire-arms and trains of powder are said to hand fire, when a pause takes place between the ignition of the gun-powder and the application of the fire to it.
Herisson - A hedge or chevaux-de-friese, made of one stout beam, fenced with iron spikes, and fixed on a pivot, so that it revolves on being touched.
Hollow Square - The form in which a body of infantry is drawn up to resist a cavalry charge; with the colors, drums, baggage, etc., in the center.
Home Service - Military duty by citizens of towns, etc. Regular Service, is the performance of service in the army of the United States Government. Foreign Service, is service on a foreign station, beyond the limits of this country and its jurisdiction.
Honors of War - Terms granted to a capitulating enemy on evacuating a fortress.
Horn-Work - A kind of crown-work in advance of a fortress.
Hors-de-Combat (Put or Placed). Is to be killed, wounded, or disabled so as not to be capable of defense or attack.
Howitzer - A piece of ordnance for discharging shells at low angles, and shot in ricochet.
Hurdles - Oblong constructions of osier and willow twigs interwoven close together upon stakes for rendering batteries firm, or to consolidate a passage over muddy ditches, or to cover traverses and lodgments for the defense of workmen in trenches.
Impress Money - Money paid to men who have been compelled to serve. Not often used in our service.
Infantry - Foot-soldiers. The term having been applied to a body of men raised by an Infante of Spain, for the purpose of rescuing his father from the Moors; as a memorial of the deed the term was applied to foot-soldiers in general.
Inquiry (Board of). The meeting of a certain number of officers, for the purpose of ascertaining facts which may become matter of investigation by a court-martial.
Insconced - When a part of an army has fortified itself with a sconce, or small work, in order to defend a pass, etc., it is said to be insconced.
Intrenchment - A work which fortifies a post against attack. The term usually denotes a ditch or trench with a parapet. Intrenchments are sometimes made of fascines, with earth thrown over them, or of gabions, hogsheads, or bags filled with earth, as a protection from the enemy's fire.
Invalided (To be). Is to be discharged from the service in consequence of wounds, ill-health, or long service.
Invest - Investment. The investment of a fortress is the seizure of all the avenues leading to it, preparatory to its blockage or siege.
Judge Advocate - The public prosecutor of officers and soldiers tried by court-martial for breach of the articles of war or the general regulation.
Kit - The complement of a soldier's regimental necessaries.
Knights of the Round Table - A fraternity of twenty-four knights instituted by King Authur. In order to prevent among them controversies about precedence, the King caused a round table to be made for them when assembled; from which they were denominated Knights of the Round Table.
Lance Sergeant - A corporal who acts as sergeant, but receives only the pay of corporal.
Land Transport Corps - A body of men emplo9yed in conveyance of the wounded.
Laws of Arms - Certain acknowledged rules, regulations and precepts, which relate to war, and are observed by all civilized nations. The laws of arms also prescribe the method of proclaiming war and commencing hostilities.
Law (Military). A prompt and decisive rule of action by which justice is dispensed to the public or to individuals, without passing through the tedious channels of legal investigation.
Leading Column - The first column which advances from the right, left, or center of an army or battalion. The Leading File, the first two men of a battalion or company, that marches from right, left, or center, by files.
Levy (To). Has three distinct military acceptations; to levy or raise an army, to levy or make war, and to levy contributions.
Lie under Arms (To). To be in a state of preparation for action.
Light Bobs - A familiar term for light infantry.
Light Infantry - A company of the active, strong men of a battalion. A regiment employed as light infantry is divided into skirmishers, supports and reserve. The supports are in the rear of the skirmishers. The reserve is the point on which both the supports and skirmishers may rally.
Limber - The fore-part of a traveling gun-carriage, to which it is fastened by means of a pin-tail or an iron pin. The hooking or unhooking the gun or howitzer-carriages from the limbers is called, in the artillery service, for retreat or advancing, limbering up, that is making every thing ready in the gun-carriage; and for action, unlimbering.
Line of Battle - The arrangement or disposition of any army for battle.
Line of Communication - In military strategy, that line which corresponds with the line of operation, and proceeds from the base point. The term also denotes that space of ground which unites the citadel to the town.
Line of Direction - In gunnery, a line formerly marked upon guns, to direct the eye in pointing the gun.
Line of Fire - The space between contending armies, or any space from which objects may be hit by cannon or musketry.
Line of March - The regular and tactical succession of the component parts of an army in motion. The term also signifies the distance of ground over which armed bodies of men move in succession toward a given object.
Line of Operation - The line which corresponds with the line of communication, and proceeds form the base point; or the forward movements of an army, for the purpose of attacking the enemy, penetrating his dominions, etc.
Line (To) Men - Officers and non-commissioned officers are said to line the men belonging to their several battalions, divisions, or companies, when they arrive at their dressing points, and receive the word dress from the commanding officer.
Line (To Form the). To arrange troops in order of battle, or battle array.
Line (To Break the). To attack an opposing front, so as to throw it into confusion. The term also signifies to change the direction from that of a straight line, for the purpose of obtaining a cross fire.
Lines of Approach - See Trench.
Lines of Communications - The trenches which unite one work to another, so as to insure communication between two approaches at a siege, or between two posts or forts.
Lines of Intrenchment - Lines which are drawn in front of a camp, or a place indifferently fortified, to secure it from assault or surprise.
Lines of March - Bodies of armed men marching on given points for he purpose of arriving at any straight alignments on which they are to form.
Lines of Support - Lines of attack which are formed to support one another.
Lines - A series of field-works, either continuous or at intervals, contrived so as reciprocally to flank one another. When continuous they are termed Continual Lines; when at intervals Interrupted Lines, or Lines with Intervals.
Links (Connecting). The men sent out from a support , to keep up its connection with the skirmishers.
Lodgment - A retrenchment made for shelter in a captured post or outwork, for the purpose of maintaining the position. The term also signifies the possession of an enemy's work.
Loop-holes - Openings in the walls of a castle or fort, through which the garrison may fire. In general they are nine inches long, six or seven wide within, and two or three without, so that there may be a direct fire from them in front, or an oblique fire to right or left, according to circumstances.
Lying - In military parlance, signifies to be stationed or quartered in a given place.
Magazine - A place in which military stores, arms, ammunition, provisions, etc., are deposited.
Main-Body - The body of troops which march between the advanced and rear guards. In a camp, it is that part of the army which is encamped between the right and left wings.
Main Guard or Grand Guard - A body of cavalry posted in front of a camp for the security of the army. In garrison, it is a guard mounted generally by a subaltern officer and twenty-four men.
Malingerer - A soldier who feigns illness to avoid his duty.
Mammelon A round hillock of easy ascent, rising upon the surface of the ground. The word in French literally signifies a nipple.
Maneuvers - Military evolutions. To maneuver troops, is to habituate them to a variety of evolutions, accustom them to different movements, and to render them familiar with the principles of offensive and defensive operations. The term also signifies the management of an armed force, so as to derive sudden and unexpected advantages before an enemy.
Manual Exercise - A regulated method of rendering troops familiar with the musket, and of adapting their persons to military movements under arms. Platoon Exercise is the method of drilling soldiers in small numbers of sub-divisions. Sword-bayonet Exercise is that in which riflemen are taught to use their swords when fixed to the rifle.
Mantlets - Wooden fences, on rolling wheels, used during a siege to protect the sappers from the enemy's fire.
March (Dead). The strains of music played during the procession of a military funeral.
March (Rogue's). The beats of a drum when a criminal offender is expelled or drummed out of a regiment.
Marching - Is either in slow time, quick time, or double-quick time. In slow or quick time, the length of the step or pace is thirty inches, except in stepping out, when it is increased to thirty three inches, and in stepping short, when it is reduced to ten inches. In double-quick time, the step or pace is thirty-six inches. In slow time, seventy-five steps or paces are taken in a minute; in quick time, one hundred and eight, and in double-quick time, one hundred and fifty. The side or closing step, which is taken when it is necessary to move a small distance to either flank, is ten inches, and is always taken in quick time; but when taken to clear or cover another soldier, it is twenty-one inches. In stepping back, the step or pace is thirty inches.
Marching By Files - To march with the narrowest front, except that of rank entire or Indian file, of which bodies of troops are susceptible.
Marching, or Billet money - Money paid to officers and soldiers, for covering their expenses incurred when marching for the purpose of changing quarters.
March Regiments - A term given to those corps who have not any permanent quarters. Latterly, they have been denominated regiments of the line or line regiments.
Marines or Marine Forces - Troops raised for the naval service, and trained to fight either in a naval engagement, or in an action on shore.
Mark (To) Time - Is alternately to throw out each foot, bringing is back square with the other, without gaining ground, so that the cadenced step may be preserved until the obstacle is removed which required the necessity of marking time. Changing the feet in marching, by quickly bringing up the ball of the rear foot to the heel of the advanced one, and instantly making another step forward, is to recover the cadenced stop which has been lost.
Matial Law - The law of war.
Martinet - A strict disciplinarian, who gives officers and soldiers unnecessary trouble. The term is supposed to have had its origin from an adjutant of that name, who was in high repute, as a drill-officer, in the reign of Louis XIV.
Masked - Concealed.
Matériél - The appurtenants of an army, such as horses, cannon, ammunition, stores, provisions, etc.
Med-Surg - Medical-Surgical History of the Civil War
Melée - A confused hand-to-hand fight.
Mess - A kind of ordinary table d'hote, at which the officers of a regiment dine.
Military Fever - Humorously called the Scarlet Fever; an overweening fondness for the outward appendages of the soldier.
Military Messengers - Confidential men who are sent on messages, or with letters to and from head-quarters, etc.
Military Regulations - The rules and regulations by which the discipline, formation, field-exercise, and movements of the army are directed to be observed, according to a uniform system.
Militia - Citizen soldiers. Each State has its separate military organization, by which all citizens liable to bear arms are enrolled, and mustered into divisions, brigades, regiments, companies, etc. In most States, even the commissioned general officers are elective, each division electing its commanding officers, who are commissioned by the Governor on their certificates of election. The Governor nominates the adjutant-general, quartermaster-general, inspectors, etc., as well as his own staff. The militia, in time of peace, are only required to attend the various annual or semi-annual musters ordered by State laws. In event of war, the general Government issued its proclamation announcing war and its causes, when the Secretary of War makes his requisition on the Governors of the States for the needed troops. The Governors then accept volunteers for their quota, and send them forward at command of the War Department. If volunteers do not offer in sufficient numbers, then the requisite force is obtained by drafting - The militia are mustered, and the white and black bean, drawn from a box, indicates the men. These either go, or find substitutes-there is no other course. By this admirable system our Government is saved the expense of a large standing army, yet has, upon short call, several millions of troops. The facility of the organization has been made manifest in our recent internecine troubles. An army of very effective men 250,000 strong, was ready for the field in six weeks' time.
Minié Rifle. A rifle invented by Captain Minie, of France, carrying a conical ball, hollowed at its base. The powder exploding, expands the base of the ball closely into the grooves of the rifle-barrel. Additional force is thus gained for the ball.
Mining - The making of subterraneous passages under the wall or rampart of a fortification, for the purpose of blowing it up with gunpowder. Counter-mining, the making of galleries and mines by the besieged, to counteract the mines of the besiegers.
Missing - The expression used in military returns, especially in field-reports, after an engagement, to account for the general loss of men.
Mitraille - Small pieces of old iron, as heads of nails, etc., with which pieces of ordnance are loaded, commonly called grape-shot.
Mobilize (To). To embody or incorporate. Used in the French service vocabulary.
Mortars - Short brass or iron cannon, of a large bore, for throwing shells.
Mount (To) Guard - To go on duty.
Mount (To) Cannon. To put a piece of ordnance on its frame, for its more easy carriage, and the management of it in firing. To dismount cannon, is to remove it from its serviceable position.
Mount (To) a Gun - Is either to put the gun into its carriage, or when in the carriage, to elevate the mouth, or raise it higher.
Movements - In military parlance, signify the different evolutions, marches, counter-marches, and maneuvers made in tactics.
Musketry Range - Effective musketry range of fire is when delivered against infantry from 200 to 250 yards, and against cavalry from 30 to 60 yards. The reasons that the range of a cannon or a musket-ball is limited when fired from rifled artillery and musketry, or from the smooth-bored cannon and musket, are, that its momentum gradually diminishes in its range or flight, and is subject to the friction of the air in its passage through it. A ball fired in vacuo would have thirty-four times the range which it was when fired in air. Another reason that musketry fire does so little execution when delivered by troops aligned, is, that owing to the curvature of the earth, at the distance of 800 yards, a man of ordinary stature, presents a mark of only one-tenth of an inch in altitude or height, and at 1,000 feet, but little more than a twelfth. Colonel Schliminback, of the Prussian service, from a number of calculations extending over a series of battles during the wars which sprung out of the French Revolution, ascertained that a man's weight in lead, and ten times his weight in iron, are consumed before he is put hors de combat! At the battle of Vittoria, nearly four millions and a quarter of ball cartridges and 6,570 round shot and shell were fired by artillery, but the killed and wounded of the French army, consisting of 90,000 men, did not amount to 8,000. The same was true in the Crimean struggle. Notwithstanding the terribly destructive nature of the contest, it is proven that two hundred and eight shots were expended for every man killed! This makes no account of the vast amount of shot and shell used. If even one in ten shot proved fatal, an army would soon be annihilated.
Muster-Roll - A nominal return of the officers and men in every regiment, troop, or company in the service, forwarded monthly to the War Department.
Muting Act - A statute specifying military offenses, and by virtue of which the English army is continued on a peace or a war establishment.
Naval Camp - A fortification consisting of a ditch and a parapet on the land side, or a wall built in the form of a semi-circle, and extending from one point of the sea to the other.
Necessaries (Regimental). The boots, shirts, stockings, et cetera., issued to soldiers.
Non-commissioned Officers - Are those officers elected by the men, or those not served with commissions, either by the general Government of by the State authorities. See Officers. In infantry regiments are, the sergeant-major, the quartermaster-sergeant, the sergeants, corporals, and drum and fife majors.
Non-effective - The negative of effective.
Oblique (To). To move forward to the right or left, according to the word of command.
Oblique Deployment - Is when the component parts of a column extending into line, deviate to the right or left, for the purpose of taking up an oblique position; in which operation sits movements are termed obliqued deployments.
Oblique Fife or Defense - A fire under too great an angle.
Oblique Step - A step or movement in marching, taken gradually to the right or left, at an angle of about twenty-five degrees.
Obstacles - In a military sense, are narrow passes, or any impediments which present themselves when a battalion of other body of men is marching in front or rear.
Officers - Are commissioned or non-commissioned. Commissioned Officers are either general, field, staff, or subaltern. Staff Officers are the quartermaster-general, the adjutant-general, brigade officers, and aides-de-camp, etc.
Off-Reckonings. The account of money issued by Government to colonels of regiments, for the clothing of the men.
Opening of Trenches - The first breaking of ground by the besiegers, for the purpose of carrying n their approaches toward the place.
Order of Battle - The arrangement or disposition of the various component parts of an army for battle.
Orderly .A non-commissioned officer or private who attends an officer for the performance of orderly duty.
Orderly Book - A book into which the sergeants of companies transcribe the general and regiment orders, for the specific information of the officers and men.
Orderly Officer - The officer of the day.
Orderly Room - A room in barracks used as a regimental office.
Orders - In a military acceptation, are the lawful commands of superior officers relative to military affairs, and are:
General Orders, which are those issued by the commander-in-chief, for the government of the army at large, or for any specific purpose; Abbreviated G.O.
Garrison Orders, those issued by the governor of a garrison; Abbreviated Gar. O.
District Orders, those issued by a general commanding a district; Abbreviated D. O.
Brigade Orders, those issued by a general commanding troops brigaded; Abbreviated B. O.
Regimental Orders, those issued by the commanding officer of a regiment, arising out of general or garrison orders: Abbreviated R. O.
Standing Orders, general rules and instructions which are to be invariably followed, and are not subject to the temporary intervention of rank. Of this description are those orders which the colonel of a regiment may judge fit to have inserted into the orderly books, and which can not be altered by the next in command, without the colonel's concurrence; Abbreviated S.O.
Pass Orders, written directions to sentries, etc., belonging to outposts, etc., to allow the bearer to go through the camp or garrison; Abbreviated P. O.
Beating Order, an authority given to an individual, empowering him to raise men by beat of drum, etc., for a particular regiment, or for general service.
Ordnance - Heavy artillery, as cannon, howitzers, mortars, etc.
Outfit - The necessaries, uniform, etc., which an officer provides when appointed to a commission.
Outpost - A body of men posted beyond the grant guard, or the limits of a camp.
Outworks - The works constructed beyond the enceinte or body of a place, as revelins, half-moons, tenailles, horn and crown-works, lunettes, etc.
Pace - The military step. The word also signifies the relative distance in the formation of a battalion at close or open order.
Palisades - Wooden stakes, about nine feet long, and six or seven inches square, having one end sharpened in a pyramidical form to the extent of a foot. They are planted three feet deep in the ground. When placed in an inclined position, they are termed fraises.
Parallels - The trenches which connect the approaches and batteries carried on before a besieged fortress.
Parallel Lines - Lines drawn in the same direction, preserving equal distances form each other.
Parapet - A screen of a fortified post to protect troops from the enemy's fire.
Park of Artillery - A spot in an encampment in which the artillery is placed. The term also signifies the whole train of artillery matériél belonging to an army in the field.
Parley - A conference with an enemy by means of a flag or truce.
To Beat a Parley - Is to give a signal for holding a conference by beat of drum, or sound of trumpet.
Parole. The promise or word of honor given by a prisoner or war, when he has leave to go at large, of returning at an appointed time, or not to take up arms, if not exchanged. A paroled person, if taken with arms in his hands, is shot for violation of his parole.
Partisan - One dextrous in commanding a party for obtaining intelligence, surprising the enemy's convoys, etc. The term is used to denominate an officer who has he command of a partisan corps or party. It is also used, in American parlance, to signify a guerrilla leader-one who serves with no particular division or regiment.
Party - A small number or detachment of men either cavalry or infantry. Recruiting Party, a certain number of men, under an officer or a non-commissioned officer, detached from their battalions for the purpose of raising recruits. Working Parties, small detachments of men, under the command and superintendence of officers, who are employed on fatigue duties.
Passage - Openings cut in the passages of the covered way, to afford communication to all its parts.
Patrol - A small party under the command of a subaltern or a non-commissioned officer, detached from the main or quarter guard, to patrol, for the purpose of maintaining order and regularity in a camp or garrison.
Pause - The stop or intermission between the first and last words of a command.
Pay-Sergeant - The non-commissioned officer who pays the men of each company their pay.
Peace-Establishment - The reduced number of regulars when the country is in a state of peace.
Permanent Rank - In the army, which does not cease with a particular service or locality of service; a term in contradistinction to local or temporary rank, which ceases on the performance of the duty for which it was granted. Thus, officers I the regular service are of permanent rank - those in the volunteer or militia service are of temporary rank.
Petard - A pot charged with gunpowder, fixed against the gate of a fortress, for the purpose of blowing it open. In recent practice, leather bags containing powder have superseded the use of the petard.
Pickets - Sharp stakes for securing the fascines of batteries or fastening the tent ropes of camps. Picket Ropes are ropes twisted at given intervals round the several picket stakes, to confine the horses within a proper space of ground. Picket Poles are round pieces of wood, shod with iron, and driven firmly into the earth, to fasten the cavalry horses by, when at picket.
Picket - A small detachment of cavalry or infantry, which is either in-lying or out-lying - An In-lying Picket is within the lines of intrenchment of a camp, or within the walls of a garrison town, ready to turn out on alarm. An Out-lying Picket, is that which does duty without the limits of a camp or garrisoned town; being in the first-mentioned position, posted on the front and flanks of the army, to guard against surprise, or to oppose reconnoitering parties. They are also called In-Line and Out-Line pickets - Picket is often seen with the French spelling, picquet.
Picquet - French for Picket, (q.v.)
Pike - A shaft of wood, from ten to fourteen feet in length, pointed with a flat steel blade, about six inches in length. Men armed with pike, cutlass, and revolver are very formidable on charges, or in close conflict. In event of the negroes of the slave States rising in insurrection, almost their only reliance would be the pike, which they themselves would manufacture. The pike is much used in South American warfare. As a lance, it is used both by horse and foot soldiery. A regiment of pikemen is a very desirable organization for every grand army.
Piling Arms - Locking muskets together by means of that part of the ramrods near the muzzles of the pieces; and Unpiling Arms, is the unlocking or detaching them fro one another.
Pioneers - Soldiers selected from every regiment for mending the ways, removing obstacles, working on intrenchments and fortifications, and for making mines and approaches.
Pivot - The officer or soldier stationed at the flank of a company, on whom the different wheelings are made.
Place of Arms - When an army takes the field, every stronghold or fortress which supports its operations by affording a safe retreat to its depots, heavy artillery, magazines, hospitals, etc., is called a place of arms. In offensive fortifications, those lines are called places of arms or parallels, which unite the different means of attack, secure the regular approaches, etc., and contain bodies of troops who either do duty in the trenches, protect the workmen, or are destined to make an impression on the enemy's outworks.
Platoon - A term implying a subdivision of troops, either less or more than a company, who act in concert of fire.
Point of Alignment - The point on which troops form and dress by.
Point Blank Range - Is when a cannon or musket is leveled horizontally, so that the muzzle neither mounts nor sinks, but that the surface lines of the pieces and the object are in the same plane.
Police Guard - A regimental guard, detailed every day, commanded by a lieutenant that furnishes ten sentinels for special duty.
Pontoon - A kind of vessel hull formed of wood, and covered with copper, for the purpose of forming temporary bridges to cross rivers.
Pontooning - The art of constructing a temporary bridge by means of pontoons.
Pontoon Train - The whole equipment requisite for pontooning.
Portfire - Paper-cases filled with saltpeter, sulphur, and mealed powder, to serve as a slow match for artillery.
Post - A spot of ground, fortified or not, where a body of men can be in a condition to resist an enemy. An Advanced Post is a spot of ground seized by a party to secure its front and the post behind it. Post of Honor, an honorable position. The advanced guard is the post of honor, and the right of the two lines is entitled to the same distinction.
Prestige - Illusion, charm, moral force.
Profile - The drawing of a section of a parapet, or other work, sideways.
Projectiles - Shot or shell discharged from artillery.
Provost-Martial - An officer appointed to preserve good order and discipline, apprehend offenders, and superintend their punishment.
Punishment - In military usage means any infliction of sentence for dereliction of duty or transgression, and consists of arrests, confinements, deprival of arms, cashiering, drumming out of camp, etc. In cases of treason, desertion and spying, the penalty is death by shooting or hanging.
Pyrotechny - In a military acceptation, is the manufacture of bombs, grenades, rockets, fire-lights, etc.
Quarters - Military stations, as head-quarters, home-quarters, regimental-quarters, etc.
Raid or Razzia - A plundering or marauding incursion.
Raise (To) a Siege - To abandon the siege of a fortress.
Rally (To). To re-form troops disordered or dispersed. A Rallying-Square, is a square formed around an officer by skirmishers surprised by cavalry.
Rampart - The exterior elevation of a fortified place upon which guns are placed in position.
Random-Shot - Is when a piece is elevated an angle of forty-five degrees upon a level plane.
Ranging - Disposing troops in proper order for battle, maneuver, march, etc.
Rank and File - The horizontal and vertical lines of troops when drawn up.
Rappeler - A particular beat of the drum to recall soldiers to the defense of their colors.
Rations - A certain allowance either for officers or men, given in bread, meat, or forage, when troops are on service.
Revelin or Demilune - A work constructed on the counterscarp before the curtain of a fortress.
Ravine - In field fortification, a deep hollow.
Raw - In military acceptation, unseasoned, wanting knowledge in military tactics, etc. Raw Troops, inexperienced soldiers, who have been but little accustomed to the use of arms.
Razed - Works and fortifications when demolished, are said to be razed.
Recoil - Or, as it is properly termed, the Kick, is the rebound or backward motion which a cannon or gun takes from the explosion of an overcharge of powder.
Reconnoissance - The act of reconnoitering an enemy's position.
Reconnoiter (To). To view and examine a position. Balloon reconnoitering is by means of balloons.
Recruits - Men raised on the first formation of a corps, or to supply the places of those who have been disabled or killed.
Recruit Horses - The horses for completing regiments of cavalry.
Redans - In field fortification, are indented works, lines, or faces, forming sallying and re-entering angles, flanking one another, generally constructed on the side of a river running through a garrison town.
Redoubts - Works about musket-shot from a fortress, surrounded by a ditch. Field Redoubts are temporary defenses or fortifications, thrown up during a war of posts, or on account of sudden emergency.
Re-form (To). In a military acceptation, is, after some maneuver or evolution, to bring a line to its natural order, by aligning it on a given point.
Refuse (To). To throw back, or keep out of that regular alignment which is formed when troops are on the point of engaging an enemy.
Relief - A fresh detachment of troops who replace those on duty.
Relieve (To) the Guard - Is to put fresh men on guard. To relieve the trenches, is to relieve the guard of the trenches, by appointing those for that duty who have not been there already, or whose turn is next. To relieve the sentries is to put fresh men from the guard on that duty.
Rendezvous - The place appointed for the assembly of a body of troops in case of alarm.
Reserve - A select body of troops retained in the rear of any army, to support the attacking force, or to rally it in case of disaster.
Respited (To be) on the Muster Roll - Is to be suspended from pay, etc., during which period all advantages of promotion, pay, etc., are stopped. Not much used in our army parlance.
Retreat - The retrograde movement of an army or body of men. To be in full retreat is to retire expeditiously before the enemy.
Retrenchment - A work raised to cover a post, and fortify it against an enemy; such as fascines loaded with earth, gabions, barrels, etc., filled with earth, sand-bags, and generally all things that can cover the men, and stop the enemy; but it is more applicable to a ditch bordered with a parapet; and a post thus fortified, is called a retrenched post, or strong post.
Revétement - A strong wall built on the outside of the rampart and parapet, to support the earth, and prevent its falling into the ditch.
Revolver - Fire-arms which produce a series of successive discharges from the chambers of the barrel of a single arm or stock.
Ricochet - Boundings or leaps of round shot. Ricochet-Firing is firing at a slight elevation, in a direction enfilading the face of a work; so that when the shot falls over the parapet, it makes several bounds along the rampart, with destructive effect on the guns and gunners.
Rideau - A rising ground, or eminence, commanding a plain.
Rifle - A firelock of which the bore is furrowed or grooved in a spiral or screw-like form. The rifles of the highest repute are the Enfield, Minié, Sharpe's, Whitworth's, Colt's repeating rifle, etc.
Riflemen - Expert marksmen, armed with rifles.
Rifle Pits - Pits in which riflemen ensconce themselves, to pick off the gunners at the embrasures of a fortress.
Rocket - A firework, used either as a signal or a projectile.
Roll - A uniform beat of the drum.
Roll-Call - The calling over the names of the men.
Roster - A plan or table by which the duty of officers, battalions and squadrons is regulated.
Round - A general discharge of cannon or musketry.
Round of Ammunition - The number of ball-cartridges with which a soldier is supplied.
Round-Robin - A compact of honor which officers enter into, (when they have cause of complaint against their superior officer), to state their grievances, and to endeavor to obtain redress, without subjecting one individual more than another to the odium of being a leader, or chief mover. The term is a corruption of ruban rond, which signifies a round ribbond.
Rounds (Visiting). The visitation and personal inspection of guards and sentries on duty.
Rounds (Grand). The rounds which are gone by general officers, governors, commandants, or field-officers.
Route - The order for the march of a regiment or detachment, specifying its various stages.
Ruffle - A vibrating sound made by drummers on the drum, not so loud as the roll.
Running Fire - A rapid succession of fire.
Safeguard - A protection granted for the preservation of an enemy's lands or persons from insult or being plundered.
Salamanders and Serpents - Brittle earthern vessels, filled with serpents, which were thrown among a storming party on the point of ascending a breach, for the purpose of annoying them.
Salient - An angle projecting from a fortress toward the country.
Sally or Sortie - A sudden attack made by the besieged against the troops or works of the besiegers.
Sally-Ports - Openings in the glacis of a fortress, for the purpose of egress and regress of troops engaged in a sally or sortie.
Salute - A discharge of artillery or musketry, or of both, in honor of persons or events. The term also signifies the ceremony of presenting arms.
Sap - A trench or approach sunk underground to protect the work-men from the fire of the garrison. A flying sap is that in which the working parties place the gabions themselves, and instantly fill them themselves.
Sapping - The method of carrying on the approaches, by excavating trenches so as to protect the workmen from the fire of the garrison.
Sappers - Soldiers belonging to the corps of artificers and engineers who work at the saps. Sapping party, the men who form a brigade or party of sappers.
Saucisse, Saucisson - In mining, a long pipe, or bag, made of cloth, well pitched, or sometimes of leather of one and a half inch in diameter, filled with powder, laid from the chamber of a mine to the entrance of the gallery. The term also signifies a king of fascine, longer than those usually made, for the purpose of raising batteries, or repairing breaches. They are also used in making epaulements, stopping passages, making traverses over a wet ditch, etc.
Scaling Ladder - A ladder for scaling or mounting walls or ramparts.
Scarp (To). To render a slope accessible by cutting it down.
Sconce - A redoubt or small fort.
Scour (To). A term to express the act of firing a quick and heavy discharge of ordnance or musketry for the purpose of dislodging an enemy; as to scour the rampart or the covered way. The expression also signifies to clear, or to drive away, as to scour the streets, to scour the trenches, etc. To scour a line, is to so flank it so as to be able to see along it, and that a musket ball discharged at one end, may range to the other.
Scouts - Men employed to gain intelligence of the forces and movements of an enemy.
See the Elephant - Experience combat.
Sentinel, Sentry - A soldier posted to watch the approach of an enemy, prevent surprise, or to stop and challenge those who approach his post.
Sergeant (Covering). A non-commissioned officer, who during the exercise of a battalion, regularly stands or moves behind each officer commanding or acting with a company.
Shells - Hollow iron balls, filled with powder, thrown from mortars or howitzers. Message Shells are shells in the inside of which a letter or other papers are put.
Shot - A denomination given to all kind of balls used for artillery and fire-arms, whether round, grape, chain case, or canister.
Siege - The position which an army takes, on its encampment, before a fortified town, or place, for the purpose of reducing it. The first operations is investing the place, that is, taking possession of all the avenues, forming lines of circumvallation, opening the trenches, etc. In siege-operations, the rear of an attack is the place where the attack begins; the front or head of the attack, that part next to the place.
Sight - A small piece of brass or iron, which is fixed near the muzzle of a musket or pistol, to serve as a point of direction, and to assist the eye in leveling. Rifles have two sights, one at the breach, and the other at the muzzle; and some rifles have telescope sights.
Signal - A sign for conveying intelligence by balls, rockets, or flags. Signals are also given by the short and long rolls of the drum during the exercise of a battalion. They are frequently given for commencing a battle, either with drums and trumpets, sky-rockets, the discharge of cannon, etc. The term is also used for an order for marching, etc. Secret signals are in frequent use in our army, both for conveying orders and intelligence. A new "code" has recently been adopted by General Scott. "Codes" change as often as necessary to preserve their secrecy.
Signal-Staff - A flag planted upon the spot where the general, or commanding officer, takes his station.
Size-Roll - A list containing the names of the men composing a trop or company, with the height or stature of each specified.
Soldier's Thigh - A figurative expression for an empty purse or a pair of trowsers which set close and look smooth, because they have no pockets, or nothing in them.
Sobriquets (Regimental and Divisional). Are cognomens obtained for some special conduct or circumstance. The habit of naming regiments has become very general. We have, for instance, "The Advance Guard," "The Garibaldi Guard," "The Union Guard," "The Scott Guard," "The President's Guard," "The Invincibles," etc.
Spike (To) Cannon - To drive a large nail or iron spike into the vent.
Squad. A small number of men, cavalry, or infantry, who are collected together for the purpose of drill, etc. To squad, is to divide a troop or company into parts, for the purpose of drilling the men separately, or in small bodies. The awkward squad, consists not only of recruits at drill, but of soldiers who are ordered to exercise with them, in consequence of some irregularity while under arms.
Squad-Roll - A list containing the names of each squad.
Squadron - A body of cavalry, composed of two troops.
Staff - In military acceptation, is either general, personal, regimental, garrison, or district. A General Staff consists of a quartermaster-general, and adjutant-general, majors of brigade, aides-de-camp, etc. A Personal Staff consists of those officers who are constantly about the person of a governor or a general, as his military secretary, aides-de-camp, etc. A Regimental Staff, are the adjutant, paymaster and surgeon.
Station (Military). A place for the rendezvous of troops. The term is also used to designate the spot for offensive and defensive measures.
Step - The pace of the soldier while marching in slow, quick, or double-quick time. Stepping Out, is lengthening the pace to thirty-three inches, by leaning a little forward, without altering the cadence. Stepping Short, is taking but ten-inch paces. In Stepping Back, the pace and cadence are the same as in the slow march. The Diagonal Step, is carrying the left foot forward nineteen inches in the diagonal line to the left. The Balance Step, popularly termed the goose step, is alternately throwing out the feet, without gaining ground.
Stockade - A work consisting of palisades.
Stock Purse - A saving made in a corps, and which is applied to regimental purposes.
Stores (Military). Provisions, forage, clothing, arms, ammunition, etc.
Stormers - The troops who immediately follow the forlorn hope in the assault of the breach made in the walls of a fortress.
Strategy, Strategetics - The science of military command, and of planning and directing military movements.
Strategy - The art of conducting war; frequently confused with tactics, which is the art of handling troops.
SUB - substitute
Subaltern - An officer under the rank of captain. The term, in familiar expression, is abbreviated Sub.
Subdivision - A company told off for parade or maneuver into two equal parts.
Supernumerary Officers, and Non-Commissioned Officers - Those placed in the rear for supplying the place of those who fall in action, and for preserving order and regularity in the rear ranks while the front rank is engaged or is advancing.
Swivel - A small piece of ordnance which turns on a pivot or swivel.
Tactics - The arrangement and formation of troops by means of maneuvers and evolutions.
Take (To) Ground to the Right or Left - To extend a line toward either of those directions.
Tambour - A work formed of palisades.
Tampions or Tompions - Wooden cylinders to put into the mouths of guns, howitzers and mortars in traveling, to prevent dust or wet entering them.
Target - A mark employed in the practice of ball-firing.
Tarred (To be). A cant expression in use among the regiments of guards, to signify the punishment which privates undergo among themselves, when they have been tried and sentenced by their comrades.
Tirailleurs, Voltigeurs - In the French service tirailleurs are skirmishers or marksmen, advanced in front to annoy the enemy, and draw off his attention; or they are posted in the rear to amuse and impede his advance in pursuit. Voltigeurs (springers, leapers), are employed for the same purpose. The distinctive employment of tirailleurs and Voltigeurs is, that the first move irregularly and scattered; the second are formed and act in collective bodies.
Tire - Large guns, shot, shells, etc., placed in a regular form.
Tell (To) Off - To divide and practice a regiment or company in the several formations, preparatory to marching to the general parade for field-exercise. A regiment is told off into wings, grand divisions, divisions or companies, and subdivision or sections. A company is told off into subdivisions and sections.
Terre-Plein - In field fortifications, is the plane of a level country around a work; in permanent fortification, it signifies the broad surface of the rampart, which remains after constructing the parapet and bauquette.
Tête-de-Pont - A field-work or fortification, in front of a bridge, in the form of a redan, a system of crémailleres, a horn or crown-work, or portions of star or bastioned forts.
Touch (The). In a military sense, signifies the sensation felt by the soldier, when properly in line, at the thick part of the arm, immediately below the elbow, and which is communicated to him by his right or left-hand man, according to the point of direction in which the line is marching.
Tour of Duty - Duty by turn or succession.
Traverse - In siege operations, is a kind of retrenchment made in the dry ditch to defend the passage over it. To Traverse a Gun or Mortar, is to bring it about to right or left with handspikes, till it is pointed exact on the object.
Train - All the necessary apparatus and implements of war, as cannon, etc., required at a siege or in the field. Train of Artillery, the ordnance belonging to an army in the field. Field Train, a body of men, consisting chiefly of commissaries and conductors of stores, who belong to the artillery. Train, in mining, a line of gunpowder laid for the purpose of blowing up earthworks, etc.
Trenches - Passages or excavations made by besiegers, in order to approach more securely to the place attacked, on which account there are also termed Lines of Approach - The tail in rear of the trench is the place where it was begun; its head is where it ends. Returns of a Trench are elbows and turnings which form the lines of approach. To open the Trenches, is to break ground for the purpose of carrying on approaches to the place. To mount the Trenches, is to relieve the guard of the trenches. To scour the Trenches, is to make a vigorous sally on the guard of the trenches, force them to give way, and quit their ground, drive away the workmen, break down the parapet, fill up the trench, and nail or spike the cannon. Counter-trenches, are trenches made by the besieged against the besiegers. Trenches are also made to protect an encampment.
Troop - A company of cavalry.
Trooper - A horse soldier.
Trouee - An opening, a gap.
Trous-de-Loup, or Wolf-Holes - In field fortifications, are round holes about six feet deep, and four feet in diameter, pointed at the bottom, with a stake planted in the middle. They are frequently dug round a redoubt, to obstruct the enemy's approach.
Tumbrils - Covered carts, which carry ammunition for cannon, tools for the pioneers, miners and artificers; and sometimes the military chest.
Truncheon - A staff of command.
Trunnions - The arms by which a gun is attached to its carriage.
Turn (To) out the Line - To exhibit in battle array, men for the purpose of parade, or to bring them into action.
Under Arms - Troops are under arms when assembled, armed, and accoutered, on paraded.
Upshot (To). To extract a ball from a piece.
Van-Guard - That part of an army which marches in front.
Vedettes - Mounted sentries., stationed at the outposts of an army or an encampment.
Vent - The passage or opening in fire-arms, by which the fire is communicated to the powder composing the charge.
Visiting Officer - An officer whose duty it is to visit the guards, barracks, messes, hospital, etc., for the purpose of noticing whether the orders or regulations which have been issued respecting those matters are observed.
Volley - The simultaneous discharge of a number of fire-arms.
Volunteers - Those who enter the service of their own accord.
Wad - In gunnery, a substance made of hay or straw, and sometimes of tow rolled up tight, in the form of a ball.
Wadding - Hay or straw, or any other kind of forage, carried along with the guns to be made into wads.
War (Council of). An assembly of officers convened by a general to deliberate with him on enterprises, etc. The term is also used to designate an assembly of officers sitting in judgment on delinquent soldiers, deserters, cowardly officers, etc.
War-Cry - A cry formerly customary in the armies of most nations, when they were on the point of joining battle. Sometimes it consisted of tumultuous shouts, or horrid yells, uttered with an intent of striking terror into their enemies. At the battles of Crecy, Poictiers, and Agincourt, the war-cry of the English was "God and St. George," that of the French, "Monjoe and St. Denis." In our service, each regiment has its war-cry.
War Establishment - The number of effective men who compose the army in time of peace.
War (Seat or Theater of). The extent of country in which war prevails.
Watchword - The word given out in the orders of the day, in time of peace; but in time or war, every evening in the field, by the general who commands, and in garrison by the governor, or other officer commanding in chief, to prevent surprise, or the ingress and regress of a spy; it is generally termed the parole or sign, and to which is added the countersign.
Wheel (To). In a military acceptation, is to move forward or backward in a circular manner, round a given point.
Wheelings - Different motions made by cavalry and infantry, either to the right or left, or to the right or left about, etc., forward or backward.
Windage of a Gun, Mortar, or Howitzer - The difference between the diameter of the bore of the gun, and the diameter of the shot or shell fired from it.
Wings of an Army - The extreme right and left divisions.
Wool Packs - Bags filled with wool, for the purpose of making lodgments in places where there is but little earth to be thrown up to cover the besiegers and working parties from the fire of the garrison.
Words (Cautionary). Leading instructions which are given to designate a particular maneuver. The cautionary words precede the words of command, and are issued by the chiefs of corps.
Works - This term applies [to] all the fortifications about a place.
Zigzags - Trenches or paths with several windings, so cut, that the besieged are prevented from enfilading the besieger in his approaches.