Manual of arms
A manual of arms was an instruction book for handling and using weapons in formation, whether in the field or on parade
A parade is a procession of people, usually organized along a street, often in costume, and often accompanied by marching bands, floats or sometimes large balloons. Parades are held for a wide range of reasons, but are usually celebrations of some kind...

. Such manuals were especially important in the matchlock
The matchlock was the first mechanism, or "lock" invented to facilitate the firing of a hand-held firearm. This design removed the need to lower by hand a lit match into the weapon's flash pan and made it possible to have both hands free to keep a firm grip on the weapon at the moment of firing,...

 and flintlock
Flintlock is the general term for any firearm based on the flintlock mechanism. The term may also apply to the mechanism itself. Introduced at the beginning of the 17th century, the flintlock rapidly replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the doglock, matchlock and wheellock...

 eras, when loading and firing was a complex and lengthy process typically carried out in close order
Close order formation
A close order formation is a military tactical formation wherein soldiers are close together and regularly arranged for the tactical concentration of force. At about the time of the U.S. Civil War , such combat formations of soldiers became unnecessary, when improved small arms and artillery made...

. When capitalized, the term has reference to one of several important manuals, such as the British
Kingdom of Great Britain
The former Kingdom of Great Britain, sometimes described as the 'United Kingdom of Great Britain', That the Two Kingdoms of Scotland and England, shall upon the 1st May next ensuing the date hereof, and forever after, be United into One Kingdom by the Name of GREAT BRITAIN. was a sovereign...

 Army manual of 1764, the manual of Frederick the Great
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuch√Ętel...

 or Von Steuben
Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben
Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben , also referred to as the Baron von Steuben, was a Prussian-born military officer who served as inspector general and Major General of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War...

's manual
Revolutionary War Drill Manual
The Revolutionary War Drill Manual was written by Major General Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben in 1778 and 1779, during the American Revolution. Commissioned to train troops at Valley Forge, Steuben formed a model drill company of 100 men, who were to in turn train others, thus causing the new drill...

, adopted by the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 in 1777. The positions and evolutions contained in such manuals have become the standard for parade drill throughout most of the world.

Typical examples of rules and procedures can be found in the 1764 manual. It was used by both sides at the start of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

  • Stance: stand straight, head right, shoulders square, stomach in, chest out, heels close, toes turned out a little.
  • Holding the weapon: on the left shoulder, forefinger and thumb to the side of the stock, the other three holding the butt.
  • Timing: each motion to be done on a count of "one, two".

Such manuals contain various evolutions, such as the twelve or so steps needed to load, ready and fire, and steps for fixing bayonets, forming line
Line (formation)
The line formation is a standard tactical formation which has been used in Early modern warfare.It continues the phalanx formation or shield wall of infantry armed with polearms in use during antiquity and the Middle Ages....

 (for firing), column
Column (formation)
A military column is a formation of soldiers marching together in one or more files in which the file is significantly longer than the width of ranks in the formation...

 (for bayonet charges) or square
Infantry square
An infantry square is a combat formation an infantry unit forms in close order when threatened with cavalry attack.-Very early history:The formation was described by Plutarch and used by the Romans, and was developed from an earlier circular formation...

(for repelling cavalry).
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