A comprehensive archive relating to the undertaking of the 1895 Infantry Drill Regulations; the replacing of the old Springfield Rifle for the new Krag Magazine Rifle, and the changes required.
The first piece of correspondence in this archive originally maintained by General Thomas H. Ruger, is a letter dated December 20, 1894, War Department, Washington, D.C., which by content introduced the on going revision of new drill manuals for the three branches of the Army. The Cavalry and Field Artillery were either in progress and or nearing completion, but that of the Infantry, “the most important of all because this arm must compose the bulk of the Army in the National Guard and Militia…” had not yet begun, due to the voluminous suggestions and criticisms that were pouring in from all commanders and interested parties.
This letter from the Secretary of War, further stated that he wished for Ruger’s views on how the undertaking of preparing the drill regulation should proceed. In essence, it was a “buttering up” precursor for the official orders that arrived several weeks later, dated;
“January 15, 1895, from Headquarters of the Army. “By direction of the Secretary of War, the new Infantry Drill Regulations, adopted by the War Department October 3, 1891, and subjected to experimental trial, under General Orders No. 29, 1892, together with all the criticisms that have been received from commanding officers as the result of practical tests made since those Regulations were adopted, are now submitted to you for your critical examination, and for such proposed revision of said Regulations as may result from such examination.
The presumption is that these Drill Regulations will only require such modifications in detail, not affecting the principles involved, as are suggested by the experience of the past two years. Nevertheless, if in your judgment, the Regulations require radical changes in any respect, you will please present your views thereon without reserve for the final action of the Secretary of War.
As heretofore explained to you, such assistance as you may need, by officers now within the limits of you department, or others not too remote from Chicago, will, so far as practicable, be afforded you. A report is desired as early as may suit your convenience, in view of the great importance of the work to be done, and of your other official duties.
Geo. D. Ruggles
For the next two years, Thomas Ruger, would be deluged with not only with the recommendations of change, and their reasons for such, but also the newly proposed regulations by numerous officers writing their own versions in printed and manuscript form that were submitted to Gen. Ruger.
The change in the service rifle, created problems with wear to parts of the uniform coat; the new magazine port on the Krag rifle caused change in how the weapon would be held, and inspected in formation. To call Ruger’s charge for overseeing the revision of this new manual a daunting task would certainly be understating his responsibility, notwithstanding the burden of commanding a department in the Army simultaneously.
To sum up the task, I use this extraction from;
“ The History of the Infantry Drill Regulations of the United States Army”, by Thomas Noxon Toomey (St. Louis, Mo, 1917).
Up to 1895 the interpretation of the new regulations had given rise to no real difficulties, and they had required no changes. However, when the old Springfield rifle was replaced by the Krag-Jorgensen rifle in 1895, a new manual of arms became necessary, and a suitable manual was made official on June 17, 1895. In this new manual “carry arms “ was omitted, “right shoulder arms,” was made to correspond with the old “left shoulder arms,” bayonets were fixed and unfixed in a different manner, the rifle salute at the carry was replaced by the old “sergeant’s salute “with the piece at the shoulder.” There were minute changes in the other positions of the piece, particularly “secure arms.” Owing to the rifle having a magazine, the movements of “open chamber” and close chamber” were introduced for the purpose of inspection. Due partly to the bolt mechanism of the rifle, the commands for loading, and firing were greatly changed. With the advent of modern field artillery, and the necessity of employing United States troops against forces armed with Mauser rifles, it was found that the regulation for extended order formations should be revised. As a result, an improved set of skirmish formations was published officially by Gen. Thomas H. Ruger in 1898.”
The above extract is a summation of the content of this archive, with all the observances and comments from the field, were the rubber meets the road so to speak. I will highlight some of these letters, but that would rob someone the pleasure of delving into this with great expectation of finding bits of historical tidbits. There are numerous manuals, original troop movement drawings prepared for the drill regs, a Church bugle call, so much more.
There are letters relative to the Cavalry and Artillery drill manual, questions after the adoption with the correspondence going into December of 1896.
This list represents nearly all the officers having played a roll in the manual’s development , and photographs used extensively where pictures can save me the thousand words.
Brigadier General Thomas H. Ruger, Fort Sheridan, Chicago, Ill.
General George D. Ruggles, Adjutant General of the Army.
Captain Frank F. Eastman, 14th Infantry, Vancouver Barracks, Wash.
Colonel Henry C. Merriam, commanding 7th Infantry, Fort Logan, Co.
Colonel H. S. Hawkins, 20th Infantry, Fort Leavenworth, Ks.
Lt. I.W. Liddell, Adjt., (for Col. Pearson), 10th Infantry, Fort Reno, Ok. Terr.
1st Lt. D.H. Boughton, 3rd Cavalry, Fort Reno, Ok. Terr.
Capt. A. H. Russell, Ord, R.I.A.
Major J.H. Hamilton, 1st Cavalry, HQ Dept. of the Platte, Omaha, NE
Capt. Henry Romeyn, 5th Infantry, Fort McPherson, Ga.
Colonel Simon Snyder, 19th Infantry, Fort Wayne, Mi.
Lt. Col. E.R. Kellogg, 10th Infantry, Fort Reno, Ok Terr.
Capt. H.H. Humphreys, 15th Infantry, Fort Sheridan, Ill.
Lt. Col. A. A. Theaker, 14th Infantry, Vancouver Barracks, Wash.
Capt. George Andrews, 25th Infantry, Fort Missoula, Mt.
Capt. Francis W. Mansfield, 11th Infantry, Fort Apache, A.T.
1st Lt. Ernest Hinds, 2nd Artillery, Fort Riley, Ks.
Gen. Henry C. Corbin, A. Adjt Gen., Hq, Wash.
Joseph B. Doe, Sec. of War, Wash.
Thomas C. Orndorff, Mills Woven Cartridge Belt Company, Worcester, Mass.
Colonel Anson Mills, 3rd Cavalry, San Antonio, Texas.
Major John Van R. Hoff, Surgeon, Governor’s Island, NY Harbor.
Dr. James E. Shellenberger, Ohio.
1st Lt. W.H. Hughes, 12th Infantry, Fort Porter, Buffalo, NY.
Colonel R.E.A. Crofton, 15th Infantry, Fort Sheridan, Il.
2nd Lt. John B. Battle, 11th Infantry, Fort Apache, A.T.
1st Lt. S.E. Smiley, Co. “D,” 15th Infantry, Fort Sheridan, Il.
Capt. E.S. Chapin, Co. “B,” 15th Infantry, Fort Sheridan,Il.
Capt. T.F. Davis, Co. “H,” 15th Infantry, do
Capt. C. H. Conrad, 15th Infantry, do
J.G. Gilmore, AAG, War Dept.
Thomas M. Vincent, AAG, War Dept.
James Rust Lincoln, Inspector Gen., Iowa National Guard
2nd Lt. W. Lacy Kenly, 4th Artillery, Fort Monroe, Va.
Major E.A. Garlington, Inspector Gen’s office, Wash.
Colonel John S. Poland, 17th Infantry, Columbia Barracks, Ohio
Colonel Robert H. Hall, 4th Infantry, Fort Sheridan, Il.
Lt. Col. Jacob Kline, 9th Infantry, Sackets Harbor, NY.
Thomas Howard Ruger (1833 – 1907) and was a graduate from West Point in 1854. At the beginning of the Civil War, Ruger was Lt. Colonel of the 3rd Wisconsin Infantry and promoted to full colonel soon after. He was wounded at the battle of Antietam, but returned to take a promotion as Brigadier General with command of a brigade. Ruger’s troops fought in many of the bloodiest battle of the war, including Gettysburg, where at war’s end, he was brevetted Brigadier General in the Regular Army. After the war, he remained in the Army, and held many commands during his career. He led the Army’s expedition into the Big Horn Mountains in the Crow War of 1887. An extremely accomplished officer, Ruger retired in 1897 with the rank of Major General.
Many of these officers, began their military careers during the Civil War, and brevetted for gallantry for various actions, no only in the Civil War, but in the Indian Wars, and in the Spanish American War. Henry Romeyn was awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry at Bear Paw Mountains, Mt, in 1877. Major John Morrison Hamilton was killed at San Juan, Santiago, Cuba, having seen a great of fighting the Apache;earlier in his career; Name a battle in the Civil War through the Indian Wars, and one of these officers probably received a brevet promotion for services there. It would be worth your time to research some of the soldiers.
There are several letters written by a good number of these officers, copy letters signed by Ruger, and other officers not mentioned here. Most are written on official letterhead, for department or regiment, etc.; some come with covers, the majority are typed letters or documents, then common for that period.
Several officers mentioned above had submitted their own versions of drill manuals, in print, or manuscript; most have some illustrations of formations. I will try to show the bulk of the interesting array of material present here in the archive.
Condition overall is very good, with some ink that has run being exposed to moisture. For the military buff, or someone who just likes finding out how things got done, this is the archive for you. Informative in content, great histories for many of the officers represented here, and all round an historical group in a important era of change for the U.S. Army on the verge of entering a new modern century.