The British Soldier in 1774
Resources about British Soldiers in the 18th Century
Manuals for the management of armies and instruction of soldiers have been written and published for hundreds of years. The 18th century was no exception, and many management manuals and drill manuals were written to be studied by officers in England and America. Cuthbertson's and Simes' books were two of the most popular, including instruction on such minutia as how often the men should comb their hair, and how to prevent the companies' tailors from getting drunk on the job.
These links take you to pdfs in Google Books and on the web site of the 33rd Regiment. These links will open in a new window. You will need the free Adobe Reader program to read these files. You can download the reader through the link on the right of the page.
Thomas Simes, A Treatise on the Military Science, Which Comprehends the Grand Operations of War, and General Rules for Conducting and Army in the Field . . . (London: Printed for John Millan, Near Whitehall, 1780).
Guard Mount, Sentry Duty, and Relief. A pamphlet by the 33rd Regiment of Foot Reenactment Unit from California. This is a compilation from various sources of these highly important aspects of the British soldiers' daily duties should be carried out.
The Manual Exercise, or, Firing a Musket
Drill was one of the most important parts of a soldier's life. The quick, efficient loading of a flintlock musket could mean the difference between victory and defeat to a regiment on the battlefield. For an individual soldier, training meant that he could operate despite the fear and confusion of battle. The drill manual that was used by both the British army and the colonial militias in New England was the 1764 Manual Exercise. The following links go to a transcription of the full 35 count drill used for training, and two videos demonstrating first, just the firing procedure, and second, the full 35 count drill. The two gentlemen demonstrating the manual in the video are from Minute Man National Historical Park. Jim Hollister, the Education Coordinator and Historic Weapons Supervisor, is dressed as a member of the colonial militia, and Roger Fuller, park ranger, is dressed as a British grenadier.
The 1764 Manual Exercise transcribed (45 Kb pdf file). You will need the free Adobe reader program for this file. If you do not have Adobe Reader, you can download it using the link at the right of the page.