18th Century Military Etiquette
posted Tue Feb 19 2002
Respect and Compliments
18th Century Military etiquette
The following information is taken from "A System for the Complete Interior Management and Oeconomy of a Battalion of Infantry", by Captain Bennett Cuthbertson of His Majesty's 5th Regiment of Foot. It was published in1768 and is widely accepted by most for the French and Indian War until some new data becomes avaible.
The extract that we will be looking into is: "Of Respect and Compliments from the Soldiers to the Non-commission-officers and from both to the Officers." The following is a summary of the text:
Soldiers should treat the Officers with Respect and Honor on all occasions. This is to establish the strictest discipline.
Soldiers should be discouraged from speaking ill of their Officers and Non-commissioned officers at anytime. By allowing this is to lessen their authority and respect.
Soldiers should show their respect (if without musket) to Officers by removing their hats with the left hand. They should let it fall gracefully down the left thigh with the crown inwards. They should keep their body erect, looking full at the officer and walking by him very slow.
For those that wear caps, they should abide by Article III with the exception of removing the headgear. They should use a hand salute, by using the hand farthest from him. He should bring the back of the hand to the front of the cap.
Non-commissioned Officers, Drummers and Soldiers should show this show of respect. This is part of their duty. It is one of the first things a new recruit should be taught.
If a soldier is under arms, he is not to remove his hat or give a hand salute. Instead he will "Advance His Firelock". He should move slow and erect, looking the Officer full in the face as he passes. If a sergeant has a Halbert, it should be advanced also.
A soldier should avoid acting like a clown or being unsure of himself when spoken to by an Officer. He should hold himself in a steady position with his hat on his left thigh and looking at the Officer with confidence.
When a sergeant or a soldier is under arms and he is addressing an Officer he is immediately to come to "Recover Arms". They remain there until dismissed.
Never pass between an Officer and a wall.
A soldier should show respect to all that have the appearance of an Officer, not just those that are from your own corps.
When an Officer passes by a Sentry, the Sentry is to stand steady, upright and at shouldered arms until he passes by or acknowledges by the compliment of his hat.
Non-commissioned Officers should also be shown some respect while being addressed. If without arms, lay the back of the left hand to the hat. With arms, lay the firelock across the body. If carrying Halbert, it is to be clubbed.
It is suggested that saluting the Company Officers in camp the first time you meet them. The rest of the time, just stand steady until they acknowledge you by a "Rest" or etc.
If a group are drilling or at work, the NCO or one in charge, is the only one that salutes or comes to attention. An NCO can warn his men on all occasions, should warn his men by the following: "Take Care" or "Officer in Camp".
by Brian Wilson