1799 Baron Francis de Rottenberg wrote the British Army’s first manual
for the Riflemen entitled Regulations for the Exercise of Riflemen
and Light Infantry and the Instructions for their Conduct in the Field.
, de Rottenberg
served in nine years in the French army and in 1791 returned to his
to fight in the
unsuccessful struggle to turn back foreign encroachments into his
wounded in 1794 at the Battle of Praga, De Rottenberg left
again and joined the
British Army the following year.
a lieutenant colonel, De Rottenberg was instrumental in the forming of
Hompesch’s Light Infantry.
years later in 1798 this corps was combined with the 60th
Regiment and became that regiment’s 5th Battalion.
That same year de Rottenberg’s Battalion was called into
service in the Irish Rebellion.
was after the rebellion that de Rottenberg found time to pen his manual
after it went to print, de Rottenberg and 60th Riflemen were
off to serve in the capture of
) in August 1799.
De Rottenberg eventually rose to the rank of Brigadier General
and served in
during the War of
The manual itself was universally adopted by the Army and saw
following are orders and explanations for the loading and firing of the
Baker Rifle, commonly referred to at the time as the Platoon Exercise.
EXERCISE FOR THE RIFLE
words of command for firing and loading are as follows:
– Prime and Load
which the flugelman steps in front.
Prepare to Load
1st. Is the same as the first motion in the present.
[The rifle is to be raised about two inches by the right hand, and
brought forward a little from the shoulder, at the same time the left
hand is brought briskly across the body, and seizes the rifle with a
full grasp even with the shoulder.]
2d. The soldier half faces to the right, and in the motion brings
down the rifle to an horizontal position just above the right hip, the
left hand supports it at the swell of the stock, the elbow resting
against the side, the right thumb against the hammer, the knuckles
upwards, and elbow pressing against the butt, the lock inclining a
little to the body to prevent the powder form falling out.
The pan is pushed open by the right thumb; 2d. the
right hand then seizes the cartridge with the three first fingers and
draws it from the pouch; 3d. the cartridge is
brought to the mouth, and placed between the two first right double
teeth, the end twisted off and brought close to the pan.
1st. The priming is shaken into the pan; in doing
which, to see that the powder is properly lodged, the head must be bent;
2d. the pan is sut by the third and little
finger, the right hand then slides behind the cock, and holds the small
part of the stock between the third and little finger and ball of the
(Cast about) for brevity “’Bout.”
The soldier half faces to the left; the rifle is brought to the ground
with the barrel outwards, by sliding it with care through the left hand,
which then seizes it near the muzzle, the thumb stretched along the
stock, the butt is placed between the heels, the barrel between the
knees, which must be bent for that purpose; the cartridge is put into
the barrel, and the ramrod seized with the fore finger and thumb of the
ramrod is drawn quite out by the right hand,
the left quits the rifle and grasps the ramrod the breadth of a hand
from the bottom, which is sunk one inch into the barrel.
The cartridge will be forced down with both hands, the left then
seizes the rifle about six inches from the muzzle, the soldier stands
upright again, draws out the ramrod with the right hand, and puts the
end into the pipe.
The right hand brings the rifle to the right shoulder; turning the guard
outwards; 2d. the left seizes it above the
hammer-spring till the right has its proper hold round the small of the
stock; 3d. the left is drawn quickly to the
fire on the spot with closed ranks, the following words of command will
– The Company will Fire.
this word, the right hand file of each platoon takes three quick paces
to the front, the rear rank man steps to the right of his file leader.
this word, the rifle is brought by the right hand before the centre of
the body, the left seizes it, so that the little finger rests upon the
hammer spring, and the thumb stretched along the stock raising it to the
height of the mouth, the right thumb on the cock, and four fingers under
the guard; when cocked, which must be done gently, the right hand grasps
the small of the stock.
The soldier half faces to the right, the butt is placed in the
hollow of the right shoulder, the right foot steps back about eighteen
inches behind the left, the left knee is bent, the body brought well
forward, the left hand, without having quitted its hold, supports the
rifle close before the lock, the right elbow raised even with the
shoulder, the fore finger on the trigger, the head bent, and cheek
resting on that of the rifle, the left eye shut, the right taking aim
through the sight: as soon as the rifleman has fixed upon his object, he
fires without waiting for any command.
When he has fired, the right hand quits its hold in facing to the
right about, the left swings the rifle round into an horizontal position
with the barrel downwards; the rifleman resumes his post in the platoon,
in fronting to the left about, brings his rifle into the position to
prime and load, half cocks, and proceeds to load, going through the
motins as above without further words of command.”