View Full Version : GREAT on-line article about 'Support Arms" - great pics
03-02-2006, 09:21 AM
GREAT on-line article about support arms and how to PROPERLY execute this command... check it out.
03-02-2006, 08:25 PM
03-02-2006, 10:25 PM
This has been around for awhile and was referenced on a thread before Remembrance Day on the AC Forum. Never, and I mean never, hurts to repeat such a great little monograph.
Now we try for the hard part, putting this kind of information into practice.
I heard a great homily on Ash Wednesday. Our priest referred to his eyesight deteriorating slowly, over such a long period of time that he did not notice it. Isn't this the case in reenacting? If you do not return to the fundamentals often, test your habits, you devolve into reenacting reenactments.
Sometimes, we forget how much they drilled. How precise they became.
Rationalizations are an easy way to formulate an excuse. Thanks for posting it here.
Yes I saw this on the AC forum too. Its an excellent article. Well researched and backed up with pictures. This is such a simple thing to fix. I have been often dismayed at the lack of uniformity at reenactments when coming to support arms, right shoulder shift and parade rest. It can be a mess. I include many of the more authentic events in this, where the drill is many times just as bad as the mainstream events. However this may be a function of many different messes coming together to form a company.
03-03-2006, 11:31 AM
This is a highly useful article, made all the more so by the large number of period images. I have referred a number of friends to it.
A friendly amendment: I find it more helpful to focus on placement of the butt of the piece than on the placement of the left hand. When doing Support Arms, the butt should be held against the outside of the left hip. This will pull the piece into the hollow of the left shoulder, and align it with the vertical plane your body. The left hand will naturally fall to the correct position on the chest.
With the above in mind, take another look at the pics. I suspect that the reenactors shown in the article pics have the butts of their pieces in front of their left hip joint. This will force an angle to the Support Arms carry, especially when marching.
Another tip: The position of Support Arms is retained, unchanged, from the old musket manual of arms. Go to the musket carry (Shoulder Arms), with the piece held vertically on the left shoulder by the left hand. (Note that the butt will be against the outside of your pelvis.) Then, without changing the position of the piece, seize the small of the stock with your right hand, and assume the position of Support Arms. You're there.
03-03-2006, 12:44 PM
I'm planning a few revisions/additions to the page, and will certainly be placing emphasis on the location of the butt flat against the hip. I've found that some people comprehend it different ways -- for some, it rings a bell with the hand placement, for others, it's the location of the butt.
I will be adding some earlier musket manual references, including some Napoleonic era artwork.
Another addition I will be placing in is the use of Support Arms on the march, and whether or not it is to be considered better suited for stationary use, i.e. standing post. It is stipulated in the methods of relieving guards, however it is difficult to find references to it being used by a large body of troops on the move.
This past Remembrance Day, I was quite dismayed by the overwhelmingly poor manual of arms positions in the parade. It was lousy across the board, and although I have obscured the identities of people in past photographs, I have half a mind to post unedited ones from the parade. :shock: Something seriously needs to be done!
Spread the word at your COI's. Also, don't forget John Stillwagon's work on Right Shoulder Shift, which is linked from the Support Arms page.
On page 77 of The Civil War Chronicle - The Only Day-By-Day Portrait of America's Tragic Conflict (edited by J. Matthew Gallman), we see a Missouri (U.S.) regiment, in column of eight, at Support Arms. Twenty-two soldiers, not including officers, are visible.
Most rifle barrels are straight up, and three or four are tilted backwards, perhaps as much as ten degrees. A couple of these gents actually have their rifle barrels slanting forward.
Most of them have their left hands on their right breast, just to the right of their buttons. None of them are grabbing their right shoulder.
03-03-2006, 08:35 PM
A personal thanks for fine work. No joke. Great work.
03-03-2006, 08:41 PM
Hey, yeah! Thanks for reminding me of this bit of research. I saw it at the tail of last season, but have not been on the drill field since I first saw it. Tis a good reminder what with the new season fast arriving!!
Great little tidbit.
03-09-2006, 10:46 PM
As a new recruit to the hobby, I appreciate helpful tips like this. It prompted me to order a copy of Baxter's Volunteer Manual (the one used by my unit) for study at home.
As an educator, I really appreciated the various ways the information was presented: verbal directions, photographs and drawn diagrams, and a description of how it should feel, when done properly. Different folks catch on better with different methods.
03-17-2006, 12:44 AM
"Another addition I will be placing in is the use of Support Arms on the march, and whether or not it is to be considered better suited for stationary use, i.e. standing post. It is stipulated in the methods of relieving guards, however it is difficult to find references to it being used by a large body of troops on the move. "
For what it's worth, Scott, Hardee and Casey definitely intended for Support Arms to be used on the march. Here is Winfield Scott, in the School of the Soldier:
"278. This lesson, like the preceding one, will be practiced with arms carried; but the instructor may, to give relief by change, occasionally order support arms, and he will require of the recruits marching in this position, as much regularity as in the former."
Here is Hardee (SoS 367):
"This lesson, like the preceding one, will be practiced with pieces at a shoulder; but the instructor may, to give relief by change, occasionally order support arms, and he will require of the recruits marching in this position, as much regularity as in the former."
The exact same language is found in Casey, SoS, 378.
Later comments in Remarks on the School of the Battalion suggest that Support Arms is preferred to Right Shoulder Shift for providing relief. Here is Scott:
"When it may be desired to give relief to the left arm at a halt, or marching by the flank, arms may be supported.
In marches by the front (in column or in line of battle) arms may be shifted to the right shoulder; but not in the march in line of battle until the battalions shall be well instructed. See Nos. 246, 767, 768.
After marching for some time, with arms on the right shoulder, they may be shifted, and borne, in like manner, on the left shoulder."
And here is the same language in Hardee:
"When it may be desired to give the men relief, arms may be supported, if at a halt, or marching by the flank.
In marching by the front, arms may be shifted to the right shoulder; but not in march in line of battle until the battalions shall be well instructed.
After arms have been carried for some time on the right shoulder, they may be shifted, in like manner, to the left shoulder."
By the way, note the last sentence in the above, which is exactly the same in Scott and Hardee: "After marching for some time, with arms on the right shoulder, they may be shifted, and borne, in like manner, on the left shoulder." For Scott, returning arms to the left shoulder most likely means a return to the musket carry, but what does it mean for Hardee, who only provides Support Arms for the left shoulder? Does "shifted, in like manner, to the left shoulder" imply Left Shoulder Shift? Or were Scott's remarks retained in error by Hardee? Interestingly, the whole "Remarks on the School of the Battalion" section is dropped in Casey.
Take a look at these photos, taken in Washington at the Grand Review:
We see several groups of soldiers at Right Shoulder Shift, and one group which, indeed, appears to be at "Left Shoulder Shift".
03-18-2006, 11:12 PM
Yes, it appears that at least one company in this column (the color company, I believe) has their weapons at what, from the angle of the weapon, and position on the shoulder, could only be "left shoulder shift". Thank you for posting this.
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