Friday, March 20, 2009

Company Sergeants and Corporals

Returning to the theme of the enlisted soldiers of a cavalry regiment, I thought I'd work my way down from the sergeant major and provide a description of the duties and responsibilities of the company sergeants in the words of one who filled the various positions during the war.

"The first sergeant out-ranked all other warrant officers of the company. Very many of the duties of the captain have by custom fallen to the sergeant to do. The captain is responsible but the first sergeant relieves him of a great many burdens, or rather of the performance of many duties. The first sergeant becomes a quite important person in a company and enjoys a great many privileges. The discipline of the company is largely his work.

"The next sergeant in rank in a cavalry company is the sergeant who looks after the provisions or rations of food for the men and forage for the horses. he drills with the company at least until thoroughly instructed in the use of arms and in the prescribed movements for men and horses.

"The other four sergeants are 'duty' sergeants who serve with the company always in all of its duties. The sergeants usually have command of small working parties, and may have one or more corporals with them. The sergeants perform important parts in drills, and are very necessary under officers."

"The corporals rank below sergeants, and take rank among themselves from first to eighth."

"Often a sergeant or corporal may be such only in name, not having received an appointment. this is often done to reward a specially good enlisted man when there is no vacancy to be filled, or when the captain may wish to more fully acquaint himself with a soldiers (sic) capacity before finally determining to appoint him to the position."

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