Maneuver of the Month (Feb. 2003)

"On the right, into Line" - by 1stLT Ian Straus

"On the right, into line" is a battalion maneuver found in paragraph 416 (page 94 of vol. 2) of the two-volume Hardee's Tactics. It is used to convert a battalion marching in column of companies in line, into a battle line facing to the right:


Bn. in column of companies in line







Bn in line of battle


The colonel will begin this maneuver by sending the lieutenant-colonel forward along the line of march to mark the "position of rest" with two "markers" (that is, with men, possibly corporals, to mark the desired line). The lieutenant colonel will place these men where they can mark the corners of the first company: The first marker for where the right front rank man will stand, and the second where one of the left three files will stand. The markers will stand so their right shoulders will be toward the battalion when it is formed.

The colonel will then command: "On the right, into line. Battalion, guide right."

The companies will then dress to the right, that is toward the first sergeant / right guide (and not to the left / on the 2nd sergeant as we usually do when marching in column of companies.)

The right guides of the second and following companies will march in trace behind the right guide of the first company, so if companies are of uneven lengths you can expect to "dress right" so as to move everyone sideways.

Recall that the company commanders will be marching in front of the centers of their companies, because the battalion is in column.

When the first company is nearly up to the first marker, the company commander commands: "right turn," and when the company is exactly up to the marker he utters the command of execution, " march."

At "March" the company will turn to the right, that is it will execute a fast wheel to the right without worrying too much about alignment. The right guide (first sergeant) will so direct himself as to bring the first corporal (that is, the man next to him) up to the right - hand marker.

Before the turning company gets on line, at three paces from being on line / from being lined up on the left marker, the company commander commands: "First company, halt." The company will halt immediately in its tracks.

The left guide of the first company (second sergeant) will retire to the rear of the company as a file closer. The company commander will then command "right dress" and the first company will step forward to the markers and align itself, with the chests of the first corporal and the man opposite the other marker, against the markers' shoulders.

The second and following companies will march straight forward as the preceding events go on. When each company arrives opposite the left flank of the company ahead of them,

2nd company opposite the left flank


 The company commander will command "right turn, march" and the right guide (first sergeant) will so direct himself as to come on to the line of battle next to the left flank man of the preceding company.

"Right turn, march!"

 When the company is three paces away from the line of battle, the commander will command "Halt". The company will halt immediately in its tracks. But the second sergeant will keep moving - see below - and the company commander must move quickly to the right.

The company commander will place himself beside the left man in the front rank of the preceding company. (The first sergeant remains at the corner of the company for a few seconds.)

The second sergeant (who now has to work, unlike 2nd sergeant of the first company), will place himself in front of one of the three left files, and facing to the company's right, he will align himself with the guides and markers who have defined the battalion front before him. (He sights down the line of their heads.)

The company commander then commands "right dress". The company steps forward and dresses forward on the line (that is, they right dress on the commander). The other end of the line is defined by one of the left flank men placing his chest against the shoulder of the 2nd sergeant (left guide).

When all the companies are in line of battle, the colonel commands "guides, post".

The second sergeants then fall back to the rear, passing through the holes where neighboring company commanders and 1st sergeants step aside. The markers will also retire to the rear.

During this maneuver the colonel will direct the companies to dress to correct any error in turning too soon or too late, while the lieutenant colonel will operate in front of the battalion making sure the guides are lined up correctly before each company dresses on line.

This maneuver can also be done left in front:

Situation: If the battalion were to begin by marching left in front, and then were to do "company into line" which would put us marching left in front in column of companies in line, and if the colonel needed to face an enemy on the left,

Then the colonel's command would be "On the left, into line. Left dress." In this way the battalion would come onto line facing left, without being inverted.