review of standard reenacting practices for the commands
of parade-rest, in place-rest, and rest reveal discrepancies
between past and present practices. Reenactors should
be use actual commands from period manuals, not commands
from the last reenactment.
the command, "Parade - Rest," is ordered during
parade, reenactors generally follow the rule as stated
on parade or at order arms, if it be wished to give the
men rest, the command will be:
the command rest, turn the piece on the heel of the butt,
the barrel to the left, the muzzle in front of the centre
of the body; seize it at the same time with the left hand
just above, and with the right at the upper band; carry
the right foot six inches to the rear, the left knee slightly
Infantry Tactics (1861), pp. 191-92.
this command is taken directly from the pen of William
Hardee, it is removed from context. This command is found
in the manual for relieving sentinels, not for attending
parade. The men should stand in the manner prescribed
by the army regulations for parade, not for some other
surprisingly, the regulations for both the Federal and
Confederate armies are identical. Each states:
all parades of ceremony, such as Reviews, Guard-mounting,
at Troop or Retreat parades, instead of the word "Rest,"
which allows the men to move or change the position of
their bodies, the command will be "PARADE-REST!"
At the last word of this command, the soldier will carry
the right foot six inches in rear of the left heel, the
left knee slightly bent, the body upright upon the right
leg; the musket resting against the hollow of the right
shoulder, the hands crossed in front, the backs of them
outward, and the left hand uppermost. At the word "ATTENTION!"
the soldier will resume the correct position at ordered
arms. In the positions here indicated, the soldier will
remain silent and motionless; and it is particularly enjoined
upon all officers to cause the commands above given, on
the part of tale soldier, to be executed with great briskness
on all duties under arms are to have their swords drawn,
without waiting for any words of command for that purpose.
United States Army Regulations of 1861, with an Appendix
Containing the Changed and Laws Affecting Army Regulations
and Articles of War to June 25, 1863 (Washington, U.S.
Gov't Printing Office), para's 335-36; "Regulations
for the Armies of the Confederate States", (Richmond,
War Department, 1863), para's 322-23 (Emphasis added).
the regulations, the musket should be leaned against the
hollow of the right shoulder rather than the standard
reenacting practice of holding the musket away from the
body. Also, the hands should be placed across the body
at the waist rather placed on the musket towards the upper
is a period photo of two soldiers standing in the regulation
manner. The three soldiers are the Booth brothers: Lt.
Willam, Pvt. George, and Sgt. Samuel, all of the 2nd Wisconsin
V.I. Company C, likely taken in May or early June 1862
caveat: Although the against-the-shoulder method is taken
directly from the regulations, photos of soldiers standing
in this manner are rare. The against-the-shoulder method
is seen more frequently in early war photos than late
war photos. Some argue the shoulder method was a holdover
from the smoothbore days which was also practiced by companies
using the two band rifle with the sword bayonet. The bulk
of wartime photos picture individual soldiers or entire
units standing in the typical, musket-across-the-body
method. The across-the-body method is frequently seen
with companies using the rifle musket. So, what is proper?
Depends upon the manual, small arm, theater, and year
portrayed by the reenacting unit.
In Place - Rest
manner in which reenactors stand is identical to parade
rest: the right foot is carried six inches in rear of
the left heel, the left knee slightly bent, and the body
upright upon the right leg. The musket remains in its
former position without turning or moving. The right hand
seizes the musket at the upper band, and the left hand
placed on the forearm of the right and near the wrist.
Below is a photo of reenactors performing said movement:
problem with this practice is that it is a reenactorism.
This practice does not exist in any period manual. It
has been attributed to the U.S. Volunteers reenactment
unit which created the command in the 1980's. The idea
behind the practice is that it created a semi-formal manner
to stand but which allowed the reenactor to speak freely.
Unfortunately, it has become the accepted method method
most reenactors use when standing in a parade-type formation.
relevant manuals provide a less formal manner of standing
than is presently practiced. According to the U.S. Tactics:
The instructor, wishing to rest the men, without deranging
the alignment, will first-cause arms to be supported,
or ordered, and then command: In place-REST.
At this command, the men will no longer be constrained
to preserve silence or steadiness of position; but they
will always keep one or other heel on the alignment.
Infantry Tactics (School of the Company), pg. 96.
to Hardee's Revised Tactics:
the instructor wishes merely to relieve the attention
of the recruit, he commands, in place-REST; the soldier
is then not required to preserve his immobility, but he
always keeps one of his feet in its place.
and Infantry Tactics, Revised and Improved by Brig. Gen.
W.J. Hardee, C.S. Army (1862), (School of the Soldier),
these two manuals, the soldier may stand with either foot
on the line. As no provision is made for the handling
of the musket, it may be held at will. In theory, a front
rank soldier could pivot on the right foot, face soldiers
in the rear rank, and maintain a conversation with them.
Rest from the Support Position.
resting position similar to in-place rest is the command
of rest while the men are at the support. Typically, a
junior commander at a reenactment will order the command,
"Rest," when the men are standing in formation
waiting for some other unit to complete some task. The
idea is to relieve the weight of the musket by using both
arms to support it. Silence is not demanded, but it is
expected. Regarding placement of the feet, they are usually
placed in the Parade Rest position. Although well intentioned,
this command is wrong.
to Winfield Scott's manual, if the troops are at support
arms, the instructor may command: "REST".
At this command, the recruits will bring up smartly the
right hand to the handle of the piece, (small of the stock,)
when they will not be required to preserve silence, or
steadiness of position. They, however, will not quit their
rank without special permission.
To pass from rest to the prescribed fixed position, the
instructor will command: 1. Attention. 2. SQUAD.
para's 167-69. Similar provisions are found in U.S. Tactics
(School of the Soldier), 136-39.
often receive this command, but few of the men avail themselves
of its full power. The allowances in the commands for
in-place rest and "support rest" are the same:
men will no longer be constrained to preserve silence
or steadiness of position..." (in-place rest)
will not be required to preserve silence, or steadiness
of position..." ("support rest")
both commands contain essentially the same terminology,
they should be executed in the same manner: the men may
stand with either heel on the line and they may speak.
command is frequently used, but not to its fullest advantage.
If, [ ] the instructor should wish to rest the men without
constraining them to preserve the alignment, he will command:
At which command, the men will not be required to preserve
immobility, or to remain in their places.
Infantry Tactics (1861), p. 96, para's 39-40 of the School
of the Company.
method is essential the same in Hardee's revised manual
At the command REST, the soldier is no longer required
to preserve immobility, or to remain in his place.
receive this command from a regular formation. Upon receiving
the command, all formation is lost while the men scatter
to the shade of the trees. Reforming the ranks takes time.
To preserve the alignment of the unit, arms should be
first stacked then the command given. Sets of stacked
arms preserve the battalion's alignment while giving men
concept is contained in Scott's Evolutions of the Line
which is tactics designed for a "corps d'armee of
two divisions or four brigades." See, Vol. 3, Scott,
para 1716. As noted in paragraphs 1766 - 67 of Scott's
after arms are ordered, the general wishes to cause arms
to be stacked, he will command: Stack arms.
having been repeated, the colonels will cause the stacks
to be formed; which being executed, each will immediately
cause ranks to be broken, without regulating himself by
any other colonel....
individual company may reform its ranks quickly by either
method. However, the reformation of a battalion, regiment,
brigade, or division without first stacking arms would
take a long time. Accordingly, each company should stack
arms or before receiving the command of rest.
concept is also contained in the U.S. Tactics:
At which command [Rest], the men will not be required
to preserve immobility, or to remain in their places.
The instructor may, also, when he shall judge. proper,
cause arms to be stacked, which will be executed as prescribed,
school of the soldier.
Infantry Tactics (1861), p. 96, para's 40 - 41 of the
School of the Company.
do not need to recreate the wheel. The "how's"
on the various forms of rest are contained in the texts
noted above. One text, Baxter's Manual for Volunteers,
contains three of the four commands in a few consecutive
this, the recruit will not be required to preserve the
steadiness of his position. Neither is he required to
keep silent. If he leave his position, it should not be
out of sight or hearing of his commanding officer, without
permission. If the command,
be given, instead of the above, the same freedom will
be permitted except that no man shall leave his place.
If, on the other hand, strict silence is required, and
the men should be brought to a position of rest, the command
back the right foot about four inches to the rear, (without
moving the left); rest the weight of the body on that
leg, bending the knee but slightly; cross the hands on
front of the body, the left hand on top and supporting
the right wrist; shoulders square to the front; head erect,
and the eyes meeting the ground fifteen paces in advance.
In this position, remain steady until the command:
given. At the word SQUAD, bring up the right heel beside
the left, drop the hands, and take the position of a soldier