Discipline is not merely compliance with a set of rules and regulations drawn up for the purpose of preserving order in an organization. This is only one phase of discipline. In its deeper and more important sense discipline may be defined as the habit of instantaneous and instinctive obedience under any and all circumstances ‑ it is the habit whereby the very muscles of the soldier instinctively obey the word of command, so that under whatever circumstances of danger or death the soldier may hear the word of command, even though his mind be too confused to work, his muscles will obey. It is toward this ultimate object that all rules of discipline tend. In war, the value of this habit of instantaneous and instinctive obedience is invaluable.

Experience shows that drill, routine, military courtesy, attention to details, proper rewards for good conduct, and invariable punishment of all derelictions of duty, are the best methods of attaining good discipline and the most effective means to that end. 

History shows that the chief factor of success in war is discipline, and that without discipline no body of troops can hold their own against a well‑directed, well-disciplined force.

As discipline disappears morale becomes low – and without morale success in battle is practically impossible.

Under the stress and excitement of battle the habits of obedience created on the drill ground save an organization from becoming a mob.

All duty should be performed cheerfully and willingly. Soldiers are sometimes required to perform duties that are not pleasant - for instance, doing guard duty on a cold, rainy night, when tired and sleepy; digging ditches or cleaning up Dirt and filth that have accumulated around the camp, etc. However, by doing everything required of him in a cheerful manner, a soldier will soon earn the respect of his comrades and the commendation of his officers.

2. Military authority is to be exercised with firmness, but with kindness and justice to inferiors. Punishments shall be strictly conformable to military law.


It is the duty of an officer or non-commissioned officer who gives an order to see that it is obeyed; carrying out orders received by him does not end with their perfunctory transmission to subordinates - this is only a small part of his duty. He must personally see that the orders so transmitted are made effective.


3. Superiors of every grade are forbidden to injure those under them by tyrannical or capricious conduct, or by abusive language­.


78. It is enjoined upon all officers to be cautious in reproving non-commissioned officers in the presence or hearing of privates, lest their authority be weakened.

The treatment of soldiers should be uniform and just, and under no circumstances should a man be humiliated unnecessarily or abused. Reproof and punishment must be administered with discretion and judgement, and without passion; for an officer or non-commissioned officer who loses his temper and flies into a tantrum has failed to obtain his first triumph in discipline.  He who can not control himself can not control others.

In the orders and directions that they give, company non-commissioned officers represent the company commander and they must be obeyed and respected at all times and under all circumstances.

A soldier should obey first and if aggrieved complain afterward.

It is not for a private to question in any way the fairness, justice, propriety or wisdom of an order received from a non-commissioned officer. When ordered by a non-commissioned officer to do a thing, whatever it may be, do it promptly and thoroughly, and then if you feel that you have been injured in any way, report the matter to your company commander, who will see that you receive justice. if a non-commissioned officer made a mistake, exceeded his authority, or treated you unfairly, he will be punished by the company commander. The company commander and not the privates of the company, is to judge the conduct of his non­-commissioned officers, who are directly responsible to him for every act of theirs. If every subordinate were to question the fairness, justice, propriety or wisdom of orders received from non-commissioned officers or other superiors, there would be no discipline, and the Army would soon degenerate into a mob.



A soldier should be soldierly in dress, soldierly in carriage, soldierly in courtesies.

The soldier should take pride in his uniform. A civilian owes it to himself to be neat in dress. A soldier owes it to more than himself - he owes it to his comrades, to his company - he owes it to his country, for just so far as a soldier is slack, so far does his company suffer; his shabbiness reflects first upon himself, then upon his company and finally upon the entire army.

It is a well known fact that laxity in dress and negligence in military courtesy run hand in hand with laxity and negligence in almost everything else.

93. The utmost attention will be paid by commanders of companies to the cleanliness of their men, as to their persons, clothing, arms, accoutrements, and equipments, and also as to their quarters or tents.


100. Where conveniences for bathing are to be had, the men should bathe once or twice a week. The feet to be washed at least twice a week. The hair kept short, and beard neatly trimmed.


101. Non-commissioned officers, in command of squads, will be held more immediately responsible that their men observe what is prescribed above; that they wash their hands and faces daily; that they brush or comb their heads; that those who are on duty put their arms, accoutrements, dress, etc, in the best order.


1459. On all occasions of duty, except fatigue, and when out of quarters, the coat or jacket shall be buttoned. 


114. Officers at their stations, in camp or in garrison, will always wear their proper uniform.




Military courtesy is simply an application of common, everyday courtesy and common sense. The form of salutation and greeting for the civilian consists of raising the hat. The form of salutation for the military man consists of rendering the military salute.

In all armies of the world, all officers and soldiers are required to salute each other whenever they meet or pass, the subordinate saluting first. The salute on the part of the subordinate is not intended in any way as an act of degradation or a mark of inferiority, but is simply a military courtesy that is as binding on the officer as it is on the private, and just as the enlisted man is required to salute the officer first, so is the officer required to salute his superiors first.

254. Courtesy among military men is indispensable to discipline. Respect to superiors will not be confined to obedience on duty, but will be extended to all occasions. It is always the duty of the inferior to accost or to offer first the customary salutation, and of the superiors to return such complimentary notice.


255. Sergeants, with muskets, will salute by bringing the left hand across the body, so as to strike the musket near the right shoulder. Corporals out of ranks, and privates not sentries, will carry their muskets at a shoulder as sergeants, and salute in like manner.


256. When a soldier without arms, or with side-arms only, meets an officer, he is to raise his hand to the right side of the visor of his cap, palm to the front, elbow raised as high as the shoulder, looking at the same time in a respectful and soldier-like manner at the officer, who will return the compliment thus offered.


In saluting, the hand or weapon is held in position of salute until the salute has been acknowledged or until the officer has passed or has been passed.                                                

Saluting distance is that within which recognition is easy; usually about six paces. If they do not approach each other that closely, as when they are not walking directly towards each other, the salute is exchanged as the point of nearest approach. If a soldier passes an officer from the rear, the hand is raised as he reaches the officer; if an officer passes a soldier from the rear, the soldier salutes just as the officer is about to pass him. 

257. A noncommissioned officer or soldier being seated, and without particular occupation, Will rise on the approach of an officer, and make the customary salutation. If standing, he will turn toward the officer for the same purpose. If the parties remain in the same place or on the same ground, such compliments need not be repeated. 

When an officer approaches a number of enlisted men out of doors, the word "attention" should be given by someone who perceives him, when all stand at attention and ALL salute. 

When an officer passes a soldier engaged in carrying wood or water buckets, or other duty where both hands are occupied, the soldier should acknowledge the presence of the officer by a verbal greeting, such as "Good morning, sir. " 

Soldiers actually at work do not cease work to salute an officer unless addressed by him. 

A soldier riding in a government or private wagon should salute officers whom he passes. He should salute without rising. Likewise, a soldier driving a wagon should salute, unless both hands are occupied. 

Before addressing an officer, or when addressed by an officer, an enlisted man makes the prescribed salute with the weapon with which he is armed; or if unarmed, with the hand. He also makes the same salute after receiving a reply. 

An officer armed with the sabre renders the sabre salute, if the sabre is drawn; otherwise he salutes with the hand. 

A soldier salutes with the "present arms" only when actually on post as a sentinel doing interior guard duty. At all other times when armed with the rifle he salutes with the prescribed rifle salute. 

When several officers in company are saluted, all entitled to the salute return it. 

A man in formation does not salute when directly addressed, but comes to attention if at rest. 

Salutes are not rendered when marching in double quick time or at the trot or gallop. The soldier must first come quick time or walk before saluting. 

The question of gait applies to the person saluting and not to the one saluted - so; a soldier would salute an officer passing in double quick time or at a trot or gallop. 

253. It is equally the duty of non-commissioned officers and soldiers, at all times and in all situations, to pay the proper compliments to officers of the Navy and Marines, and to officers of other regiments, when in uniform, as to officers of their own particular regiments and corps. 

A soldier accompanying an officer walks on the officer's left and a pace or two to his rear. 

Prisoners do not salute officers. They merely stand at attention. 

It is very unmilitary to salute with the coat unbuttoned or with the hand in the pocket, or a cigar or pipe in the mouth. 

The headdress may be raised to ladies, or they may be given the military salute. 

If a soldier is late for a formation, he should ask permission of the commanding officer or non‑commissioned officer of that formation to join the ranks.  This keeps the commander aware of who is in ranks. 

A soldier is not to leave ranks without permission.  Whether sick, or whether to get water, or for any reason, he should obtain permission of the company commander. During halts soldiers will not leave the immediate vicinity of the company without permission. 



The carry. The gripe in the right hand, which will be supported against the right hip, the back of the blade against the shoulder. 


Three times. 

One. At the distance of six paces from the person to be saluted, raise the sword or sabre perpendicularly, the point up, the flat of the blade opposite to the right eye, the guard at the height of the shoulder, the elbow supported on the body. 

Two. Drop the point of the sword or sabre by extending the arm, so that the right hand may be brought to the side of the right thigh, and remain in that position until the person to whom the salute is rendered shall be passed, or shall have been passed, six paces. 

Three. Raise the sword or sabre smartly, and resume the position first prescribed. 



It is customary for civilians to address all seniors, whether by age or station, by "sir". The same courtesy is applied to the military.                                                                                                             

In speaking to an officer it is not proper for a soldier to say, "You" but the third person should always be used. As for example, "Does the captain want his horse this morning?" - do not say, "Do you want your horse this morning?"

In beginning a conversation with an officer, a soldier should use the third person in referring to himself instead of the pronouns “I” or “me”. However, after the conversation has commenced, it is perfectly proper for the soldier to use the pronouns "I" or "me" in speaking to an officer, an enlisted man should refer to another enlisted man by proper title, as "Sergeant Jones", "Corporal Smith”, “ Private Wilson".

Privates and others should always address non-commissioned officers by their titles. "Sergeant Smith", and not "Smith".

When asked his name, a soldier should answer, for instance, "Private Jones, Sir"

When given an order or instruction of any kind by an officer or non‑commissioned officer, a soldier should always say "Yes, Sir," thus letting the officer or non‑ commissioned officer know that the soldier understands the order or instruction. Do not say, "Very well, Sir," or "All right, Sir."

Do not use slang in speaking, to an officer.                                                             

Never interrupt an Officer while he is speaking.  Always wait until he is through talking before you begin to speak.       

After a soldier has finished a thing that he was ordered to do, he should always report back to the officer who gave him the order, i.e. “The captain's message to Lieutenant Smith has been delivered."

When an officer calls a soldier who is some distance away, the soldier should immediately salute, and say, "Yes, Sir" and approach the officer with a quickened step.

Always salute an officer when he leaves you after a conversation or at any other time. And always salute just as soon as the officer makes the first move to leave.

In entering an office or tent a soldier should give two or three knocks at the door (whether it be open or closed); when told to come in, enter, taking off the hat (if unarmed), close the door (if it was closed before you entered) and remain just inside the door until asked what is wanted; then go within a short distance of the officer, stand at attention, salute, and make known your request in as few words as possible. On completion, salute, face toward the door, and go out, being careful to close the door if it was closed when you entered. If it was not closed, leave it open.

Complaints must never be made directly to the captain unless the soldier has the captain's permission to do so, or the first sergeant refuses to have the matter reported.  If dissatisfied with his food, clothing, duties, or treatment, the facts should be reported to the first sergeant, with the request, if necessary, to see the captain.

It is also customary for soldiers who wish to speak to the captain about anything to inform him that they have the first sergeant's permission to do so. Thus: "Private Smith has the first sergeant's permission to speak to the captain", etc.

When an enlisted man receives a message, verbal or written, from an officer for delivery, he will salute, and say: "Yes, sir'', execute an about face, and proceed immediately to the officer for whom the message is intended. He will halt three or four paces directly in front of the officer, and will salute before he begins to address the officer and will hold his hand in the position of salute while he says, "Sir, Captain Smith presents his compliments", etc. If the officer sending the message be junior to the one receiving it, the soldier will not present his compliments, but will say, for instance, "Sir, Lieutenant Smith directed me to say to the captain," etc. As soon as the message has been delivered, the soldier will salute, execute an about face, and proceed at once to the officer who sent the message, and will similarly report to him, "Sir, the Lieutenant's message to Captain Smith has been delivered", and leave.

Before leaving an officer to whom you delivered a message always ascertain whether there is a reply.

The compliments of a junior are never presented to a senior. For instance, never say to a captain that a lieutenant presents his compliments to him.



Cooper, Samuel.  Tactics and Regulations for the Militia.  Philadelphia: R.P. Desilver, Publisher, 1836.

Gilham, William.  Manual of Instruction for the Volunteers of the United States.  Philadelphia, Charles Desilver, 1861.

Hardee, William J.  Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics.  New York: J.O. Kane, Publisher, 1862.

Regulations for the Military Academy at West Point.  New York: John T. Trow, Printer, 1857.

Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1860.  Philadelphia: J.G.L. Brown, Printer, 1860

Viele, Egbert L. Handbook for Active Service.  New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1861.