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Baron Von Steuben's Revolutionary War Drill Manual: A Facsimile Reprint of the 1794 Edition (Dover Military History, Weapons, Armor) Paperback – Facsimile, September 1, 1985
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Top Customer Reviews
At the shallowest level, it is a primary source for Revolutionary War and War of 1812 reenactors. For 34 years, (1778-1812) this was THE book for the U.S. Army, so any reenactor interested in this period should start here.
Pertaining to the history of the U.S. Army, this was the first manual, the first set of standards in place in the army. The first of anything sets the tone for later developments, and any serious research about the U.S. Army or Army doctrine should start here.
As an enduring framework, the "Instructions" section is still echoed in U.S. Army leadership doctrine. The roles, responsibilities, and relationships of officers and non-commissioned officers haven't changed that much, especially when compared to the changes in tactics and technology in the intervening centuries. A regimental commander's "first and greatest care" should be "the preservation of the soldiers health", "A captain cannot be too careful of the company the state has committed to his charge", "the discipline and order of a company" depend upon the non-commissioned officers. All these ideas ring true whether the army was outfited with flintlocks or thermal-sighted gas-operated selective fire rifles. This continuity is of tremendous value to the spirit of a successful army.
This manual was also the instrument of a military transformation for the U.S. Army. Von Steuben arrived at the Continental Army's encampment, and popular legend in the U.S. Army is that he was so shocked by the lack of discipline and disorder that he sat down and wrote the first copy of this manual that very night. This is not true, as mentioned in the publisher's note, but by bringing military discipline to the Continental Army, a bunch of farmers and store clerks were able to turn the tides and defeat the premier ground forces of the era. Again, a significant event in the history of military science as well as American history.
As a fencer, I was a little disappointed. Although in the first chapter it mentions that officers and NCOs are to be armed with swords, there is no further mention of the use of swords. Other than this one shortcoming, this was a very enlightening book about the period, and is an influential manual with continuing significance to military science and U.S. Army history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As an Army veteran myself, it's always good to obviously gain insight on how and why we follow customs,...Read more