Maneuver of the Month
By Company, Right Wheel
This is a battalion maneuver used to change from line of battle to a column of companies right in front.
The reference is the two-volume Hardee's manual, volume 2, School of the Battalion Part II, paragraph 68 (page 18) with figure 32, and para. 80 (page 21).
Here is the starting point: Battalion in line of battle, facing to the left of the page as you see it:
Here is the ending point: Battalion in column of companies, facing to the original right flank with the right company in front. (That's what "right in front" means):
It may seem to you that the method below is an excessively complex way to accomplish the task, and indeed we skip the complex steps if the column is to continue marching after the wheel.
But if we are to halt after forming column, the maneuver is done with great precision.
Note that this is one of the maneuvers on which the 2nd Sergeant earns his pay.
How to do it: The rest of this explanation is at company level.
The line of battle is at a halt,
The Colonel orders: "By company, right wheel".
[*If the column is to continue marching immediately after forming, which would mean that we skip steps, the Colonel will first caution that we will continue moving, and then commands "By company, right wheel".]
The company commander will move to the center of the company and caution "prepare to right wheel".
The First Sergeant will step up into the commander's vacated right flank / right guide position.
The Colonel orders "March".
The company commander will quickly move to the place where the left of the company will be after we complete the 90-degree wheel, lining himself up with the First Corporal and facing the corporal.
At the same time, the company does these three things:
The 1st Sergeant remains facing forward but
the First Corporal faces right (with his breast against the left arm of the Sergeant.)
The company does a fixed pivot wheel, pivoting on the First Corporal, not the sergeant.
The Second Sergeant rapidly moves out to become the left man of the company, to guide the wheel.
When the Second Sergeant is three steps from the company commander, the company commander orders "Company [K], Halt". The company halts immediately.
The Second Sergeant steps up and positions himself with his left arm against the commander's chest. This will put him on the line between the 1st corporal and the commander. Note that this is different from the guide position in "forward into line", when the guide is forward of the company. Here the 2nd sergeant is on line with the company.
The first sergeant turns to face the new direction of the company, and dresses on the corporal.
The company commander then commands "Left, dress!".
The company then dresses left (and slightly front) onto the 2nd sergeant.
The company commander commands "Front" and moves to the center of the company.
You can then expect that the colonel will start the column moving forward with
"column forward, guide left, march".
Now, note the implications of that "guide left":
If our company is smaller than those companies ahead of us, then
When the company begins moving, expect that the 2nd sergeant (company left guide) will move to the left, because when we move ahead in a column of companies the dress is left and the second sergeants / left guides follow one behind the other. Keep touching elbows to the left! If our company is smaller than those ahead of us, you can expect to move left by the width of a few men during the first few steps of marching.
*What steps do we skip if the column is to continue marching after the wheel?
In that case, the company commander does not move out to the left of the company to exactly measure the 90 degree angle. Instead he stays in the center of the company, and the 2nd sergeant moves out and regulates the wheel alone.
The colonel watches the wheel, and when he judges that the companies are near the perpendicular to their original line, the colonel orders "column forward, march!"
The 1st sergeant turns to face with the rest of the company, and on "march" we all step off. The colonel will command "guide left".
When we move in a column of companies the dress is left and the second sergeants / left guides follow one behind the other. Keep touching elbows to the left!