The Battalion Parade: a how to guide
The battalion parade is something many battalions in this hobby do not do and those who do the procedure often only follow the manual in fits and starts. Yet, the parade is something that the soldiers we emulate participated in many, many times during their years in service. In the “Regulations for the Army” of both forces the Dress Parade is called for daily at either the beginning of the day or the end. Though, it may have been less on active campaign in the field it was done daily in garrison and it is something we should make more efforts to learn.
The battalion parade is not just lining up to get ready for drill. There is a whole litany of procedures to follow. There are even specific things for the Adjutant, Lt. Col., and Major to do making these positions quite important for the properly recreated battalion parade. In the following I will present these procedures in layman’s terms but the Morning Parade procedures are delineated in Gilham’s at the very beginning of the school of the battalion. Also see “The Regulations for the Army” of either side under the Forms of Parade section or any of the other manuals. But one must read several manuals because it is not completely delineated, step by step in all of them.
The first thing to realize is that Battalion parade does NOT start by each company coming to the parade ground and lining up in a battalion front on their own. Naturally, being that it’s the army, there is a procedure to that, too.
Forming the line
The musicians will play “Adjutant’s call” which will alert the companies to march to the parade grounds under command of their captains and will await the directions of the battalion staff to take their place on the battalion line.
The staff will place the right and left general guides facing each other to mark the direction of the line proscribed by the Colonel (If you do not have battalion guides, use the First Sgt. and Second Sgt. Of the Color Company for this). Then the color company will align itself on those guides with it’s captain to the left of the company, in the front rank and ordering the company to,” Left, Dress.” After the company is properly dressed, the captain of the Color Company will order, “Front” and will then step to the rear rank position of his company.
Next, the company to the left of the Color Company will come to the line. This company’s Second Sgt. will place himself on the line of guides opposite the left general guide and will be properly aligned by the battalion staff. It’s officer will place himself on the right of the company and right in front of the officer of the color company and will order, “Right, Dress”. His company will take their place on the battalion line. He will then order, “Front” which will be the cue for the next company to begin to align on the battalion line. This company’s First Sgt. will place himself in the file closer position until he can take his proper place behind his Captain when the Colonel orders “Guides, post”.
The company to the right of the Color Company is the third company to align on the battalion line. The company First Sgt. will join the line of guides to mark his company front and will be aligned by the battalion staff. The company Captain will place himself on the left of the company, in front of the color company’s First Sgt. and will order, “Left, Dress”.
Each company will take their place in line, alternating one after the other as described above. The Adjutant will take his place two paces to the right of the front rank of the battalion line. The battalion Musicians will be formed in two ranks on the right of the battalion line two paces further from the Adjutant. The Sgt. Major will place himself in the front rank of the battalion and two paces to the left. The Lt. Colonel will place himself four paces opposite the center of his division and the Major his. The Colonel will place himself to the front center of the battalion a “suitable distance” from it, facing the battalion.
Once the companies are placed on line at the direction of the staff the Adjutant will order, “Guides, Post.” At this each Captain will take his proper place at the right of his company, in front of the First Sgt. as will the First Sgts. take theirs. The Second Sgts. will take their places at the rear of the battalion in the file closer positions. The Right and Left General Guides will take their place in the front rank on the right and left side of the battalion respectively.
The Adjutant will alert the Captain of the first company to order, “Order, Arms. Parade, Rest.” After that each company going down the line will order the same for their companies. This is how the battalion shall always form (unless under fire, of course).
The Dress Parade
Once the battalion is formed the Adjutant will order the music to, “Beat, Off”. The musicians will troop the front of the battalion, playing and back again to their place in line. The Adjutant will step forward two paces to the front and will face to the left so that the entire battalion may hear his orders. He will give the following orders:
1). Attention, Battalion
2). Shoulder, Arms
3). Prepare to open ranks,
4). To the rear, Open order
On “Prepare to Open Ranks”, the Lt. Colonel will go to the right of the battalion and next to the right of the line of file closers. The Major will take a position four paces from the front rank of the battalion behind the Lt. Colonel.
On “Open order”, the First Sgts. And the last company’s Second Sgt. will move backward and align themselves on the Major. The Second Sgt. on the far left of the battalion is to raise his rifle, inverted, between his eyes so that the Major may see he is in the right place.
On “March”, the rear rank will move backwards, pass the line of Sgts. and will then move back into alignment with those Sgts. The line of file closers will move to their proper place two paces further to the rear of the rear rank and will align on the Lt. Colonel who also moved to two paces from the rear of the rear rank on the order “March”. Also on March the company officers will step forward four paces forward from their positions in the front rank.
Once all ranks are aligned the Adjutant will order, “Front”. The Lt. Colonel and Major Sgt. will retake their positions six paces in front of their divisions. The left most Sgt. will retake his position in the front rank on the left of the battalion. After the Adjutant orders the battalion to front he will march inward to the center of the battalion, will turn to face the Colonel and March eight paces toward that officer, then about face to face the battalion. He will command, “Present, Arms.”
The Adjutant will turn to the Colonel, salute and say, “Sir, the Parade is formed.” Once the Colonel orders the Adjutant to post, the Adjutant will take his place three paces to the left and one pace to the rear of the colonel, facing the battalion.
The Colonel will order, “Battalion. Shoulder, Arms” At this point he may go through the manual of arms if he so desires and will end with, “Order, Arms.” The Colonel will sheath his sword and direct the Adjutant to receive the reports of the First Sgts.
The Adjutant will step in front of the Colonel half way between that officer and the line of company officers and will order, “First Sgts., to the front and center, March.” The First Sgts. will step two paces from the front rank and face inward toward the center of the battalion. They will march to the center of the battalion and will halt there. The Adjutant will order. “Front, Face. Report.” The First Sgts. will turn to face the Adjutant.
Beginning with the Sgt. on the right each Sgt. will salute by bringing their left hand across their chest, will report the numbers of Officers and men present and absent and will then finish the salute.
When each Sgt. is done with his report the Adjutant will order, “First Sgts., outward, face. To your posts, March.” Once the Sgts. are back in their proper positions the Adjutant will about face to the Colonel and give him the report of officers and men missing and present.
The Colonel will order the Adjutant to read the orders of the day. The Adjutant will order, “Attention to Orders”, and will read the orders of the day to the battalion. The Colonel may wish to say a word to the battalion after the report is given. When the Colonel shall decide that the battalion parade is over will let the Adjutant know this.
The Adjutant will order, “Parade is dismissed”. At this the officers will return their swords, face inward and March to the center. The Adjutant will order, “Front, Face. Forward, March.” They will march to the Adjutant with the Lt. Colonel on the right and the Major on the left of this line of officers. Once they are within six paces of the Colonel the Adjutant will command, “Halt.”
The company and staff officers will salute the Colonel with their right hands. They will await the Colonel’s orders for them. Meanwhile the First Sgts. will call their companies to attention and will close the ranks. Once the officers are done and are dismissed by the Colonel the First Sgts. will march their companies to their own company parade ground. The band will play from the time the Officers are dismissed by the Colonel until the companies leave the battalion parade grounds. This concludes the battalion parade.