On Saturday’s drill at Billie Creek a question on drill came to my mind during the maneuver of going company into line to then form columns of companies.
I noticed that many if not all of the company commanders automatically dressed to the left once the company finished their company into line so that they could gain the battalion guide left.
I had thought that this would be incorrect as I was thinking that the Col. should order the battalion to guide left after the companies are all in line. Therefore, the shift to the left guide order comes only after the Col orders it, not automatically. However, I wanted to do a little research before I said anything about it.
Let me cite chapter and verse:
1.) Casey’s, School of the Battalion, page 24, par. 98… Even though this section addresses Breaking to the right into column by right wheeling, it instructs the companies to right wheel into line on the First Sgt.
Then the Col. commands a Guide Left at which time the second Sgts. cover the battalion left guide and the company shifts to that second Sgt. This left guide is also done on the march. All of this is referenced in School of the Company no. 190. In no 190 it instructs the platoons to finish their wheel before they guide left as well as the guide left being ordered by the instructor.
-Hardee’s, School of the Battalion, page 21, par. 81
-Gilham’s, School of the Battalion, page 246, par. 300
**Remember, all these maneuvers were written assuming that the companies are all the same size and does not anticipate the problem of having to shift as far as we do in reenacting since we can have companies differing by up to 4 files or even more.
Now, the reason that this is so and that the left guide (only when marching by the right , by the way) is gained only upon order of the Col. and not automatically is because of cohesiveness. If companies are moving around by them selves the guide will be very apt to move around, too. How will you know which guide left is the correct guide left if all the other companies are shifting around? No, the companies HAVE to finish their movement on the First Sgt. FIRST to establish their own cohesiveness before they try to shift to the left. I think we have all seen companies snaking back and forth as they try to go company into line at the same time that they try to gain a left guide in the battalion.
So, from now on, instruct your First Sgts. to keep the guide right until the company is fully in line BEFORE the left guide is gained. AND the left guide should only be gained at the order of the Col. (or instructor) so that we can be sure that all are in position and it is easy to find the biggest company to guide left to for the company commanders, their Second Sgts. AND the staff.
Yours in service, Warner Todd Huston, Col. cmmdng the INDEPENDENT GUARD