Moving 17th Century Soldiers

Close Order - in the Files

As with Close Order in the ranks, this is the preferred spacing in the files for confronting the enemy.  Behind the File Leaders are their comrades in line to back them up; no longer are there individual soldiers but a single force.  The close spacing between each means that should the man in front fall, immediately behind is another to carry on the fight.

To close a unit for battle, Colonel Barriffe has the command "Rankes and files to your close order!" The entire unit is to draw in on both its X axis and its Y axis.  With a fight only moments away, an officer may shout nothing more than "Close Order," and he refers to both files and ranks. Should the officer simply wish the soldiers by ranks to come closer together, then he would elaborate on that command with something like "Files Close Order to the right/left." (Remember, a rank is 90 degrees to a file and consists of one soldier from each of several files.)

Close Order for files is suitable only for engaging the enemy.  For marching or maneuvering, this spacing is too close. A pikeman could trip his compatriot in front of him with the butt of the pike or a musketeer poke another in the file with a shouldered musket. For any activity other than combat, the minimum spacing in the files should be Order.

Some illustrated examples of distancing commands