Generals on the Staff
Everyone knows it is the major's business to exercise the regiment on horseback. It appears, therefore, that the principal, and indeed the only requisites for this office are the lungs of a Stentor and a good seat in the saddle.
If you were ignorant of your business when promoted to this post, you need not give yourself much trouble to acquire a knowledge of it. The study of the manoeuvres you may leave to the sergeant-major, and that of the exercise to the drill sergeants: all that it is necessary for you to learn, is how to drop the point of your sword.
Whenever you are to exercise the regiment, get the adjutant or sergeant-major to write out on a small card the words of command in the proper order: and if you cannot retain the manoeuvres in your head, you may at least keep them in your hat; which will answer the same purpose.
When it is your turn to be field-officer of the day in camp, be sure to keep the picquets waiting as long as you can, particularly if it should rain: this will accustom the soldiers to stand this weather, and will make them glad to see you.
But however convenient it may be to keep your card in the crown of your hat, when you exercise the regiment on foot, it will not do quite so well on horseback. In this case you may fix it on the saddle or holster-pipe, or, which I would rather recommend, on the cap of the orderly drummer: but then you must take care that he sticks as close to you as Eo, Mea, and Area.
In exercising the regiment, call out frequently to some of the most attentive men and officers to dress, cover, or something of that nature: the less they are reprehensible, the greater will your discernment appear to the bystanders, in finding out a fault invisible to them.
When it is your turn to be field-officer of the day in camp, be sure to keep the picquets waiting as long as you can, particularly if it should rain: this will accustom the soldiers to stand this weather, and will make them glad to see you. When you come, contrive by spurring your horse to make him prance, so that he may be near overturning the captain of the picquet; by which means you will get the credit of riding a spirited charger. But this must be done with caution; I knew a major, who, by an attempt of this kind, wound up a spirit in his horse that he could not lay, but was himself deposited in the dirt.
In going the rounds in the night, do not fail to keep the sergeant and escort in a good round trot. This will prevent their catching cold, and may be done without the least inconvenience, if you are on horseback.
Be sure to report any non-commission officer's guard, where the countersign is pronounced wrong; especially, if it be a foreign word; that will demonstrate your knowledge of the language. That you may have some one to find fault with, hide your lanthorn, and steal upon them as privately as possible: but in visiting a quarterguard, take care to give sufficient notice of your approach; and, should the officer be asleep, absent, or drunk, it would be ill-natured to mention it, and would, besides, injure the service, by making the corps of officers less respectable.
You must leave all the troublesome parts of your business to your deputy, the adjutant—for you have a property in him, as well as the commanding officer. Your authority, however, extends only to the field; the other can command his services also in the closet. I take for granted, then, that you will contrive to throw all the detail upon his shoulders; and shall therefore proceed to give him a few directions for his conduct.