by David J. Murphy
We in re-enacting appear to constantly fall prey to "re-enactment" drill commands. These are commands that seem to have always been around and everyone accepts as "correct" and yet no one knows where they come from.
These mystery commands appear everywhere. The Brigades decision to use Caseys Drill Tactics as a standard has helped tremendously in unifying and standardizing unit drill. However, "re-enactment" commands continue to survive.
One example is the common, and accepted "at the AIM, the rear rank steps forward with their right foot". We have all been there, your in the ranks at the ready, preparing to aim and fire. At the AIM command the file closers (and commanding officers) are telling the rear rank men to step forward with the right foot. Where does this come from?
Apparently it is someones concept of a geek idea without any basis in the Drill Manuals. This maneuver never seemed correct to me, it is a very awkward and unnatural position. Not only is it awkward, it is also incorrect. A review of the Drill manuals leads to the correct position. The following are excerpts from Scotts Hardees and Caseys on the correct rear-rank AIM position. Scottss-221. the rear rank alone will... carry the right foot about eight inches toward the left heel of the man next on the right.
(This is accompanied by two figures showing the correct position.)
Hardees-176. The rear rank men, in aiming, will each carry the right foot about eight inches to the right, and towards the left heel of the man next on the right, inclining the upper part of the body forward. Caseys-183. the rear rank men, in aiming, will each carry the right foot about eight inches to the right, and towards the left heel of the man next on the right, inclining the upper part of the body forward.