Academic journal article Military Review

The 1865 Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers: A Handbook for the Rank and File of the Army

Academic journal article Military Review

The 1865 Customs of Service for Non-Commissioned Officers and Soldiers: A Handbook for the Rank and File of the Army

Article excerpt

THE 1865 CUSTOMS OF SERVICE FOR NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS: A Handbook for the Rank and File of the Army, August V. Kautz, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2001, 303 pages, $14.95.

Stackpole's reprint of the 1865 handbook is a valuable reference tool for Civil War historians or reenactors. This edition contains essential information that soldiers and noncommissioned officers needed to know about military responsibilities at the time. The practical subjects helped them survive the rigors of campaigning.

August V. Kautz, a German immigrant who graduated from West Point in 1852, was a career officer. During his service, he recognized that the enlisted soldier was "dependent upon tradition for a knowledge of his specific duties." There was no written guide for learning what soldiers needed to know to perform their duties proficiently. Kautz wrote, therefore, what he referred to as a "handbook," and Congress authorized its publication in 1864, with a revised edition being published the following year.

The handbook included instructions on how to seek an appointment to West Point and a summary of the courses that a cadet would take during his four years there. For soldiers desiring to become officers, Kautz gives an abstract of the pertinent regulation along with a list of subjects to be covered during an examination. …

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