Procedures for Posting and
Relieving Sentries

The following procedures are intended as a supplement to Instructions for Guard Duty & Dress Parade, January 4, 1862 ed., which was prepared and distributed to the various companies of Colonel William Rambo's Battalion of Infantry by Lt. Mark Brainard, Adjutant. Sgt. Major Mark Mershimer, with the unanimous support of the non-commissioned officers present during the Battalion's garrisoning of Ft. Gaines in January of 1862, asked that guard mount be standardized so that the Battalion may, henceforth, consistently post and relieve its Police and Grand Guard sentinels. These procedures are primarily for the use and benefit of the non-commissioned officers who are responsible for the guard mount, subject to the supervision of the Officer of the Guard. The above-mentioned Instructions for Guard Duty & Dress Parade address the general nature of and specific duties associated with standing Police Guard or Grand Guard, and should be consulted for all guard duty purposes, save the task of posting and relieving sentinels.

These procedures are derived from Paragraphs 377-82 of Regulations for the Army of the Confederate States, 1863 ed. Original language quoted from the Regulations will appear in italics. Interpretations, explanations and departures from the Regulations, which the author deems warranted by the special circumstances under which the Battalion is currently operating, appear in standard type and, if inserted into original language of the Regulations, bracketed.

The Colonel, or such other officer of his staff as may be delegated the task, wishing to post a guard in or about the camp will so inform the Adjutant, who will so inform the Sgt. Major and provide him with a schedule reflecting the duties which must be performed. The Sgt Major shall assign periods of duty to the several companies of the Battalion. The Orderly Sergeant of each company is responsible for ensuring that a detail of men adequate to the task and under the direction of a Corporal of the Guard and, if so instructed, a Sergeant of the Guard (usually the Second Sergeant) is provided at the designated time. Guard Mount should be carried out as closely in adherence to the schedule as is possible, so as to fairly distribute the duties among the several companies and so as to avoid leaving the sentinels of a relief on duty for an excessive period of time.

Posting of the First Relief

As a practical matter, the First Relief shall normally be posted with the assistance of the Sgt. Major, the Officer of the Guard, the Sergeant of the Guard or any or all of them, who will be responsible for designating the location and number of the sentinel posts, and who will provide the Corporal of the Guard with such instructions as he shall need to mount the First Relief. The Corporal of the Guard shall mount his guard in general adherence with the instructions below, except that he shall not be relieving a previous set of sentinels, and must himself provide any necessary instructions to his sentinels.
Posting of Subsequent Reliefs

The Corporal of the new guard shall form his men several minutes prior to the time designated for his relief, shall report to the guard-tent or guard- house, and shall act accordingly:

377. ... (T)he Corporal of the new guard will take charge of it, and go to relieve the sentinels, accompanied by the corporal of the old guard, who will take command of the old sentinels, when the whole are relieved.

379. The relief, with arms at a support {Note the general use of support arms in the guard-mount; bayonets should be fixed at all times}, in two ranks, will march by flank {this would indicate the use of the command Without Doubling. Right - FACE; because of the small size of the Battalion's usual relief, and in response to conditions which restrict ability to manoeuver the relief, a single-file formation may be utilized at the discretion of the Corporal of the Guard, unless he has been instructed otherwise}, conducted by the Corporal on the {left} side of the leading front rank man; and the men will be numbered alternately..., the man on the right of the front rank being No. 1 {See diagram; note that the men should be numbered prior to posting; also note that there is no direction as to the position of the Corporal of the old guard. As a practical note, since he is not in command of the relief, but will usually have a better knowledge of the posts to be relieved, and thus need to instruct the Corporal of the new guard as to where exactly to proceed, and since when the Corporal of the new guard posts his last sentinel, he is automatically in position to assume command of his own sentinels, the Corporal of the old guard should post himself on the left of the second front rank man.} Should an officer approach, the Corporal will command carry arms, and resume the support arms when the officer is past. {Carry arms, or the "marching salute" -- from the support, raise the right hand and seize the small of the stock; lower the left arm and clasp the butt of the piece in the palm of the left hand. Reverse the movement to resume the support arms.}

380. The sentinels at the guard-house, or guard-tent, will be the first relieved and left behind; the others are relieved in succession {Note that the sentinels relieved at this point should fall in at the rear of the relief and accompany it; the Regulation does not provide for these men to be relieved without the necessity of following the relief, nor is it consistent with the guard-mount for privates to return to camp from the guard when not escorted by the Corporal who is responsible for them.}.

381. When a sentinel sees the relief approaching, he will halt and face to it, with his arms at a shoulder. At six paces, the corporal will command, Relief. HALT., when the relief will halt and carry arms {note old sentinel at the shoulder, relief at carry.}. The Corporal will then add, "No.1," or "No. 2," or "No. 3," according to the number of the post, Arms - Port! The two sentinels will, with arms at port, then approach each other, when the old sentinel, under the correction of the corporal, will whisper the instructions to the new sentinel. This done, the two sentinels will shoulder arms {the Corporal should wait to ensure instructions are complete and then order the sentinels to come to the shoulder}, and the old sentinel will pass, in quick time, to his place in the rear of the relief. The Corporal will then command: Support -- ARMS! Forward. MARCH!, and the relief proceeds in the same manner until the whole are relieved. {Recall that at the point the last new sentinel relieves the last old sentinel, the old guard immediately passes to the command of its own Corporal of the Guard.}

382. The... sentinels from the old guard having come in, it will be marched, at shouldered arms, in quick time... to its own parade line to be dismissed by the Corporal of the Guard, or, in the alternative if the Corporal of the Guard has been so instructed, to the guard-house, or guard-tent, to report to the Sgt. Major, Officer of the Guard or Sergeant of the Guard, and then thence to its own parade line to be dismissed by the Corporal of the Guard.
Respectfully submitted for consideration this 3rd day of February, 1862, by 1st Sgt. David Neel, Co. E, 33rd Alabama volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Diagram 1. Illustrates proper guard-mount relief, or "new guard" with sentinels properly numbered ("N" for new guard, number corresponds to sentinel post). The relief is moving by the right flank in two ranks with the Corporal of the new guard ("CNG") and the Corporal of the old guard ("COG") properly positioned.

Diagram 2. Illustrating relief of old guard sentinel number 1 ("0-1") by new guard sentinel number 1 ("N-1").

Diagram 3. Illustrating relieved sentinel falling-in at rear of the relief. The formation will continue as shown, posting sentinels in numeric order.

Diagram 4. Illustrating relief of the final sentinel of the old guard.

Diagram 5. Illustrating the last sentinel of the old guard falling-in at the rear of the relief. At this point, the Corporal of the old guard is properly positioned to assume control of his sentinels, and the Corporal of the new guard is free to supervise his sentinels.

The information presented above was gleened from "The Florida Star"