GRAND GUARD DUTY AS REQUIRED BY GENERAL ORDERS
NO. 69, 1862, HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC.
IN CAMP - Each Brigade will furnish daily the guard for its own front, connecting with the guards of the Brigades on its right and left. Each guard will be under the direction of a Field Officer of the Day, to be detailed at Brigade Headquarters. Senior Captains may be added to the roster of field officers for field officers of the day, when necessity requires.
The guards of each division will be under the direction of a General Officer of the Day, who shall receive his orders directly from the Division Commander. Colonels will be added to the roster of General Officers for this duty.
Brigade Commanders may be excused from serving on this detail. Each guard shall consist of a line of sentinels called PICKETS, of a line of SUPPORTS, from which the sentinels are furnished for the front of the Brigade, and of a RESERVE, posted in the following manner: The Reserve will occupy a commanding position, and be stationed about a mile or a mile and a half in front of the main body of the Brigade.
The Supports, two or more, as the nature of the ground and the length of the lines may require, will be thrown about one mile further to the front. They will be placed in such positions as easily to communicate with each other and with the Reserve, and as near the avenues of approach from the front as practicable. From these Supports the line of Pickets is thrown out about two hundred yards to the front. As, upon the position of this line, and the manner in which the Pickets perform their duty, the safety of the entire Army depends, no pains must be spared to ensure their being properly posted and instructed in their duties; and the utmost vigilance must be observed to enforce a proper performance of them.
The line will be formed by posting groups of three men each; these groups to he not more than 150 yards apart, and much closer when the nature of the ground or the attitude of the enemy requires. These groups will keep up constant communication with each other; which will be readily accomplished by one man of each group walking half way to the group on his left, another half way to the group on his right; thus always leaving one of the three at the original station. None of the men stationed on this line will be allowed to sit or lie down on their post, nor will they quit their arms, or relax the vigilance of faithful sentinels by day or night. These Pickets will be relieved every two hours, and being furnished by the Supports, the latter will be divided into three reliefs for this purpose. The Supports will be relieved from the Re-serve every six hours.
The Reserve will also furnish a line of sentinels to communicate with the Supports, as well as a line communicating with the Headquarters of the Brigade. The sentinels on these lines will be posted within easy call of each other, so that intelligence may be passed from the Pickets to the Camp with the utmost celerity. They are to be relieved every two hours, and while on post must keep constantly on the alert, never being allowed to sit or lie down.
The duties of the Pickets are to keep a vigilant watch over the country in front, and over the movements of the enemy, if in sight; to prevent any unauthorized persons from passing in or out of the lines, and to arrest all suspicious individuals. In case of an attack, they will act as a line of skirmishers, and hold their ground to the last moment. If forced to retire, they will slowly close their intervals, and fall back upon their Supports.
The Supports, being placed in strong positions, will hold themselves in readiness to receive the Pickets and repel an attack, retiring in good order upon the Reserve, when unable any longer to hold their ground. One relief of the Supports will be allowed to sleep. One must constantly be on the alert. One commissioned officer must also be up and awake at all hours.
No fires will be allowed on the line of the Supports, or outside the line of Reserves. Any fires found burning will be promptly extinguished.
The Reserve, stationed in a strong position, and one which commands, as far as practicable, all approaches to the camp, shall be of sufficient strength to check the advance of the enemy, thus affording the main body of the Army ample time to form and prepare for attack. It will give a rallying point for the Pickets and their Supports, if driven in, and, being reinforced by them, will hold its ground until ordered by the Division Commander to retire. At least one commissioned officer and one-third of the men of the Reserve must be on the alert at all hours. Fires may be built on this line in such places as are screened from the view in front by the nature of the ground.
The position of the Reserve should be strengthened by the use of all such defenses as the country affords. When near the enemy, abattis should be constructed whenever practicable.
The Reserve shall, in addition to the lines of sentinels already mentioned, send out patrols between the lines and a short distance to the front of the line of Pickets, to examine such portions of the country as are not fully in view of the Pickets.
A detachment of Cavalry should be attached to each Reserve, which shall send several mounted men to remain with each of the Supports, to act as messengers in case of necessity. These men shall be relieved every six hours, and while on duty with the Support shall keep their horses saddled and bridled. The detachment with the Reserve shall keep one half of their horses saddled and bridled, prepared to mount at the command. This Cavalry is to be used for mounted patrols, and such other duty, in connection with the guard, as the Field Officer of the Day may direct.
Field Artillery may sometimes be used to strengthen the position of the Reserves, whenever the nature of the ground gives it an effective range. In all cases, when Artillery forms a portion of the guard, it will be constantly in readiness for immediate use. The horses will never be unhitched, and their drivers will remain within reach of them.
As a general rule, the Advanced Guard will consist of about one-tenth of the effective strength of the command. But this, of course, varies with circumstances. The Reserve (with the sentinels and patrols it furnishes) will comprise two-thirds of the entire guard. The other third being subdivided for the Supports and their Pickets.
The positions of Pickets, Supports, and Reserves, will be designated by the Field Officer of the Day for each Brigade, under the supervision and control of the General Officer of the Day for the Division.
Each Commander of a Division will have an understanding with the commander on his right and left as to where they are to unite with the adjoining Guards.
On arriving at the position to be occupied by the Reserve, the Commander of the Guard will advance with and station the Supports and point out the position of the line of Pickets. The Commanders of the Supports will, accompanied by the non-commissioned officers of the reliefs, post the Pickets of the first relief, and explain to them their duties. They will be careful to observe that the whole ground is covered, and that perfect connection is made with the lines on their right and left. After the Pickets are posted, the Commander of the Guard himself will visit them, see that they understand their du-ties and occupy proper positions, and connect with the lines to the right and left. Should the position of the Pickets be changed, the order must pass through the Commander of the Support to which they belong. The Commander of the Guard will make himself thoroughly acquainted with the ground which his Guard occupies, with the approaches and communications. He will keep up constant communication from front to rear, and from right to left, by means of lines of sentinels and patrols. In case of alarm, he will promptly investigate the cause, and be careful not to exaggerate the danger. Should the enemy advance, he will, by personal observation, endeavor to discover whether they are in force, and beware of causing unnecessary alarm. He will communicate all important intelligence to the Field Officer of the Day, who will report the same to the General Officer of the Day, and, if the case be urgent, directly to Division and Brigade Headquarters. He will see that all the duties of his Guard are performed in a prompt and soldierly manner, and enforce the strictest discipline.
The Field Officer of the Day will visit the Reserves, Supports, and Pickets, soon after they are posted, and at least once during the night. He will see that they are in proper positions, and connect through the whole line of his Brigade, and with the Pickets of the Brigades on the right and left, and that they understand and perform their duties. He will study the nature of the ground, and prepare himself to make a vigorous defense in case his Pickets are attacked or driven in. He will communicate his dispositions and arrangements to the General Officer of the Day and his Brigade Commander, and keep them informed of everything of importance which may transpire.
The line of Pickets should be located with a view to the most extensive observation possible of the country in front. To secure this, the line during the day should pass over the highest points, and in front of such ground as is covered by timber or brushwood. The sentinels should be instructed to observe carefully the nature of the ground, and to select such places of protection for them-selves as their post will afford, to occupy in case the enemy appears within range. At nightfall the line should be drawn somewhat closer to the Supports, and should pass through the lower ground, and just within the front of any timber or brush. By this means the intervals are diminished and the line strengthened; and while the Pickets are themselves secured from sight, the enemy cannot approach without being seen distinctly. Patrols will be sent frequently from the Reserve along the lines, and all directions within the Pickets. They will not pass beyond the line of Pickets at night, unless especially ordered by the General or Field Officer of the Day.
All sentinels of Advanced Guards must be given the countersign before sunset, and commence challenging immediately thereafter.
At night, care and vigilance must be redoubled by of-ficers and men of the Guard. Communications between the Reserves, Supports, and Pickets must be constant; and all circumstances Out of the ordinary routine must be at once reported to the Field Officer of the Day, who will report everything of special importance to the General Officer of the Day. Too much care cannot be urged upon all concerned to avoid creating false alarms.
The unnecessary discharge of firearms will be severely punished.