IV. Loading and Firing

This chapter is taken from Gilham's instructions for the rifle-musket (three-bander). Many reenactment groups use
Hardee's Light Infantry drill which was designed for the two banded rifle with a sword bayonet. It is also very
important to follow the directions exactly, since they are designed to protect the body in case of an accidental
discharge while loading.

Loading is begun from the position of Shoulder-Arms.

A. Load in Ten Times

(After this preparatory command, the commands for the steps are then given.)


Drop the piece by extending the left arm, while grasping it with the right hand just above the lower band. At the
same time, move the right foot forward, turning the heel into the hollow of the left foot. Lower the piece further with
the right hand along the left thigh, retaking it in the left hand just below the top band. Bring the muzzle in front of
the body. Open the cartridge box with the right hand.


Sieze a cartridge with the thumb and next two fingers, and place it between the teeth.


Tear the paper, exposing the powder. Hold the open cartridge upright, with the thumb and forefingers, in front of the
muzzle, the back of the hand to the front.


Pour the powder into the barrel by turning the hand over towards the body and raising the elbow to the level of the
wrist. Kepp the hand reversed at the muzzle, fingers loosely clenched.


Drop the right elbow and grip the rammer with the right thumb and fore-finger, the other fingers closed. Pull the
rammer about two thirds of the way out, steadying it with pressure from the left thumb, and retake it in the middle
with the right thumb and fore-finger, palm to the front. Raise the rammer clear of its channel, and spin it, top to the
front, closing the fingers, bringing the butt of the rammer over the muzzle. The rammer of the rear rank men should
just graze past the right shoulder of the man in front of him. Insert the butt of the rammer and force it down as low
as the hand.


Extend the right arm to take the rammer at the small end with the thumb and fore-finger, and with force, ram home
the charge twice. Take hold of the rammer with the right thumb and fore-finger at the small end, but do not raise the

7. Return-RAMMER

Withdraw the rammer briskly, retaking it in the middle with the thumb and fore-finger, the palm to the front. Extend
the right arm to clear the rammer from the barrel, and soin it to the front, as before, to bring the small end over the
channel. Insert the rammer to about the middle, then return it the rest of the way with the little finger of the right
hand. Leave the little finger on top of the rammer and slide the left hand down the barrel to arm's length.

8. Cast-ABOUT

With the left hand, bring the piece up to the left shoulder and take hold of the stock just below the trigger-guard,
with the right hand. Make a half face to the right by turning on the left heel, bringing the toes to the front, moving
the right foot behind the left, the hollow of the right just behind the left heel. Carry the musket to the right side, and
drop the muzzle forward to eye level, while sliding the left hand back to the bottom band. The butt is brought up
under the arm and held against the right side above the belt, balancing the weight of the piece on the left hand.


Pull the hammer back to half-cock with the right thumb, and remove the old cap. Take a new cap from the pouch and
seat it firmly on the nipple. Gently lower the hammer back down on the cap, making sure the muzzle is pointed in a
safe direction.

 10. Shoulder-ARMS

Face to the front by turning on the left heel, bringing the right foot up. Bring the piece to the left shoulder with the
righ hand, dropping the left hand under the butt. Drop the right hand to the side, adjusting to the position of

B. The Firing Commands

The preparatory commands for firing are given for different volleys that the commander may want. These will be
learned in company drill. The execution commands remain the same and are as follows.

(from Prime)

Place the right thumb on the hammer, with the fingers behind the trigger-guard.

(from Shoulder-Arms)

Turn the piece with the left hand, lock to the front, and grasp it at the same time with the right hand below the
trigger-guard. At the same time, half face to the right on the left heel, toes to the front, and placing the right foot at
a right angle behind the left, the hollow of the right behind the left heel. Bring the piece with the right hand to the
middle of the body, placing the left hand above the lock, with the thumb extended along the stock, the bottom band
at chin height, and lock-plate out. Place the thumb on the hammer, and the fingers under the trigger-guard, with the
elbow raised to the height of the hand.

3. AIM

Raise the butt to the shoulder, pulling the hammer back to full-cock indoing so. The body remains half faced to the
right, the musket aimed across the body, left elbow a little down, finger on the trigger. The rear rank will step about
eight inches with the right foot toward the man on his right, bringing his musket down between the shoulders of the
front rank men. They must also take care to keep the middle band at the shoulder of the front rank to avoid injury
from muzzle and nipple flash.


Pull the trigger quickly on the command, and remain in position.


Bring the piece down quickly with both hands, carrying it to the left side, and turning the barrle to the front. Face to
the front and move the right heel into the hollow of the left foot. Lower the musket into the position of Load as
described above, and proceed with loading without further commands.

6. Shoulder-ARMS
(from Fire)

Bring the piece back with both hands, lowering the hammer gently onto the nipple, face to the front, carry the piece
against the left shoulder, and place the left hand under the butt. drop the right hand to the side.

7. Recover-ARMS
(from Aim)

Lower the hammer gently with the thumb, throw the muzzle up to the position of Ready from the shoulder.

8. Shoulder-ARMS
(from Ready)

Face to the front, carrying the piece to the left shoulder, lowering the left hand under the butt, and drop the right
hand to the side.
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