Moving 17th Century Soldiers

Reference Points for Orientation, and
Proper and Accidental Fronts


The formation of soldiers arrayed by rank and file has its four points of orientation: Front, Rear, Left, Right.   Those points are maintained even if each soldier turns to his right, say.  That is, the Front Proper is still the Front Proper even though the soldiers are no longer facing in that direction.  Compare to a compass: despite the markings at the rim going every which way depending upon how the instrument is held, the needle remains true to the magnetic north.

Colonel Barriffe defines a facing: "Facing is a particular turning of the Aspect from one part to another, whereby the Front-proper becomes a Front-accidentall: and a Front-accidentall may be reduced to his proper Front."*

Sergeant Subtlelus says:
Before the soldiers turn, the pikemen are to advance their pikes and the musketeers shoulder their guns.  A soldier's weapon must not entangle others when all move.

*Chapt 9, The Young Artilleryman...