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Drill Bits: Building a Company Front

By Brad Ireland, 4th Virginia, Co. A

When a battalion is marching in a column of fours (for sake of discussion, by the right flank), the battalion commander has the ability to build a company front to the left, right, and straight ahead of the column of march. Each scenario requires a different command, and the rank and file must be able to understand the command and execute it in an organized and timely manor. Lets break each of these three scenarios down.

Building a company front to the left of the column
(While marching at the right flank)
If the battalion commander wishes to build a company front to the left of the line of march, he can do this in one of two ways. This is the easiest of the three scenarios to perform.

  1. Company – Halt.       Front.   Upon this command, the column will halt, and then front as usual.
  2. By the left flank –       March.       Upon this command, the column will front with out halting and continue marching as a battalion in line of battle.

(When marching by the left flank, the commands will be the same but this will cause the company front to be to the right.)

Building a company front to the front of the line of march.
If the battalion commander wishes to build a company front in the same direction as the column is marching, he will order Company into line – March. At this command, the company will adjust their arms to the right shoulder shift position, and build the company front on the left of the first sergeant. The men will stay in the right shoulder shift position until ordered to change or the company is halted. Fortunately there is a great demonstration of this on the internet found of the web page of the 10th Battalion, ANV (a mainstream reenactment organization)

http://www.10thbattalion.org/by_company_into_line.php

(When marching by the left flank, the command will be the same but the men will build the front on the right of the second sergeant)

Building a company front to the right of the line of march.
If the battalion commander wishes to build a company front to the right of the company, he will order On the right by file into line – March. This is the most difficult of these three scenarios to accomplish and requires much practice. Again, the 10th Battalion website has a nice diagram that demonstrates how this is accomplished.

http://www.10thbattalion.org/sos_148.php

(When marching by the left flank, the command will be On the left by file into line – March.)

Test Yourself
Now that we have established how to build the company front to the left, right, and straight ahead of the column of march, how might a company commander build the company front to the rear?

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