Moving 17th Century Soldiers

Facing Square, and
Entire versus Divisional

This example shows files only four deep.  Should the unit have deeper files, say, eight men deep, the first two ranks would stand as they are, the last two face about and ranks three through six face out by their half ranks.

For facings, Colonel Barriffe distinguishes between Entire* and Divisional: "[E]ntire Facings are so called, when the aspect of the whole company are directed one way.  Divisional Facings are so called, when the aspect of the souldiers are at one and the same time directed divers and several wayes; as, to the front and reere, the right and left, or to all four at once, &c."**

Half files or half ranks may be singled out for facings, in which case those portions of the unit become divisions.

There also are Angular Facings:

  • "Face to the right angle" All as one unit turn less than 90o to face toward the right corner man;
  • "Face to the left angle" All as one unit turn less than 90o to face toward the left corner man;
  • "Face to the Four Angles" The unit divides itself into four divisions, half ranks to the left and right AND half files to the front and rear, and each quarter turns to face its outside-corner man.

Colonel Barriffe, however, does not grant much weight to angular facings, which although "... were of great repute among the Ancients... in our modern discipline I conceive them to be of little or no use, onely thus we honour the memory of the Ancients..."**

Sergeant Subtlelus says:
Although the officer or sergeant may be tempted to abbreviate a command for a facing, potential confusion is avoided by including the word 'face' in the command.  Otherwise, should the soldiers be given a command such as "To the right double ranks" and then merely told "To your left," even seasoned men will puzzle whether to double again but to the left or to face to their left.  Good commands are distinguished by their lack of ambiguity.


*Col. Barriffe also spells this as "Intire."
**Chapt 10, The Young Artilleryman...