Topic: Canadian Militia
Instructions for Drill of the Canadian Volunteer Militia Rifle Companies (1865)
General Principles for Light Infantry Formations
Duties, Movements, training, etc.
Object of light infantry movements.
1. The duties of light troops in the field are both varied and important; to them the safe guard of the camp is usually intrusted, and by them the cantonments of the army are protected from the sudden or unexpected approach of the enemy. When the army is in motion, the light infantry reconnoitre the country in its front, feel for the enemy, or clear the way for columns in advancing, and protect them from being too closely pressed upon or harassed, in retreating. The conceal and cover the movements and manoeuvres of the line, watch the motions of the enemy, and ascertain the nature of the ground and country in advance of the main body; and upon their efficiency, the general, often very much, depends for the necessary information to enable him to regulate and direct his columns.
Requisite qualifications of light troops.
2. Judgment, tact, and decision on the part of officers, and individual intelligence and correctness of eye, whether in selecting cover, or in taking aim, are the chief requisites in good light troops, and which alone can insure the prompt and accurate performance of the duties enumerated in No. 1.
Battalions of the line required to practise movements in extended order.
3. When battalions of the line are in perfect order in all in all the detail of line movements, it is essential that they should be practised in certain extended formations. It is always desirable that a battalion of the line, in the absence of any force of light infantry beyond the light companies of regiments, should be competent to assist in protecting the front and flanks of a column of march; and the formation of an advanced guard and the posting of piquets apply to all descriptions of infantry corps.
4. The first thing to be attended to in the training of light infantry is the careful instruction of officers and non-commissioned officers. These points, indeed, constitute the elements of discipline in every corps, whose excellence or deficiency will ever be in proportion to the degree of information possessed by those who instruct the soldier and superintend his actions; but in light corps especially, the necessity of devoting additional time and attention to this object will become at once apparent, when we consider the liability of this branch of the service to be detached in small parties, demanding in consequence, in most junior grades, an extent of judgment and capacity, the exercise of which, circumstances may daily call for in the field. the light infantry officer who, on service, is constantly intrusted with command, and thrown upon his own resources, ought therefore to possess that quick and certain coup d'oeil (only to be acquired by practice), which will enable him readily to adapt his measures to the ground on which he may be acting, whether in driving back an enemy, in advancing, or in checking his progress in retiring:---in a word, he should be trained so as to prepare him for every contingency that may occur in the field, and be taught to know and feel that there are few situations in which a small body, ably conducted, may not retire in safety and with honour in presence of a large one.