Moving 17th Century Soldiers

A little note about navigation

Sergeant Subtlelus says:
It is the duty of every soldier to know HOW to do it.  It is the responsibility of the officer and sergeant to know WHEN to do it.

What's a File?  What's a Rank?

Position designations (or "Dignitie") within a file

Following in the file, and Aligning Yourself with Your File & Rank

Division of the ranks

Orders: Give and take


Order -
  - in the ranks
  - in the files
Open Order -
  - in the ranks
  - in the files
Close Order -
  - in the ranks
  - in the files
Query into just what is the spacing for Close Order
Closest Order
Other spacings
Examples of distancing commands with illustrated responses


Four directions for turning

Reference points for orientation, and proper and accidental fronts

Facing square, and Entire versus Divisional

Formations & Repositioning


Moving wide ranks through narrow passages

Filing in sequence

Transforming a battlefield formation into a marching column

Transforming a marching column into a battlefield formation

Battle formation

The hollow square



Maintain ground (a.k.a., Chorean)
    - Chorean countermarch with more than one file

Lose ground (a.k.a., Lacedemonian)
    - Lacedemonian countermarch with more than one file

Gain ground (a.k.a., Macedonian)

Abandon ground (a.k.a., Pandemonium)


To turn a unit: Introduction to wheeling

Wheeling upon the center

Frontage and maintaining rank alignment for wheeling



Doubling files

Doubling files by advancing to the left intire

Files Doubling the Front

Bringers-up, double ranks to the left/right (4-soldier file)

 - Bringers-up, double ranks (8-soldier file)
 - Reduction of this doubling
Half-files, double ranks to the left/right (4-soldier file)
 - Half-files, double ranks (8-soldier file)
 - Reduction of this doubling


Doubling ranks

Half files, doubling the front inward intire


Half ranks by countermarch doubling the flank

Combined Arms

Weapons Handling in Files

Charge for pike: Where to hold the pike for more than one rank

Firing by forlorn file

Musketeers Moving and Firing by Files

Forlorn files advancing and firing by outermost

By outermost files, advancing, ranking inward and presenting

Musketeers Moving and Firing by Ranks

Firing by two ranks, advanced before the front
 - Firing by two ranks, even with the pike block
 - Firing by two ranks, even with half file leaders of pike

Demi-Hearse Formation

Firing by extraduction

Firing and advancing by introduction (plus a note about the 'Horne-Battel' formation)

An integral part of drill - quite inseparable from it - is how the weapons are to be handled by individual soldiers.  A truly outstanding manual for this is The Exercise of Arms, handsomely illustrated by Jacob de Gheyn (1565-1625). First published in 1607, it is now available in several reprints.  Check online for an inexpensive copy, say, from or

Put to use is a recent reprint of Colonel William Barriffe's three works in one volume (Military Discipline: or the Young Artillery-Man, Mars his Triumph, and Some Brief Instructions for the Exercising of the Cavalry, or Horse-Troopes), 1661 ed.

Wisdom and experience of others has influenced this site.  Patrick Gaul and David Luckhardt (a.k.a., Thorne) have been especially helpful. Acknowledgement and gratitude is also extended to Mr. Tony Cullen who had made an online guide, "Bright's Guide to Barriffe," which (unfortunately) is no longer accessible.

Preparing these animations is a learning experience for me and I don't entertain the fantasy of knowing all.  If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact me at:

2006, Barry L. Siler