Not quite up to CGSC standards- But not bad, either.

We wrote a while back about the standard format 5-paragraph operations order used to plan operations throughout the Army, from the squad level to the highest echelons.

Craig, our resident expert on the American Civil War thought we (and you) might be interested in a look at what a written field order looked like in that war. As he notes, it’s not in today’s format, but still hits all the high points.

Charleston, S.C., December 17, 1863.
I. Lieut. Col. Del. Kemper will take command of and organize an
expedition for the destruction of the U.S. steamers Pawnee and
Marblehead in the Stono River, near Legateville, to which end
First. Brigadier-General Wise will place at his disposition at least
500 infantry, under competent field officers junior to
Lieutenant-Colonel Kemper, as well as one company of his reserve
cavalry from Adams Run, and the following batteries:
1. Schulz’s battery as temporarily organized.
2. Charles’ battery.
3. One section (two 12-pounder Napoleon guns) of Marion Artillery,
Captain Smith’s company of siege train (four 8-inch howitzers), and
Captain Webb’s company, siege train (two 30-pounder Parrotts), will
also report to Lieutenant-Colonel Kemper forthwith at Church Flats,
with one week’s rations and forage.
Second. General Wise will also direct Major Jenkins with his command
to report to Colonel Kemper, temporarily, at or about Legareville, to
be employed to the best advantage in guarding the approaches to his
position near that point.
II. The verbal instructions already given by the commanding general
must be carried out with the utmost secrecy and with dispatch.
III. The labor of throwing up the three batteries near Legareville
will be executed by the troops at night only where exposed to view,
care being taken to conceal the work done, with bushes, from
observation of the enemy during the day.
IV. Special precaution will be observed not to expose the troops to
the view of the enemy’s lookouts while marching toward Legareville or
to and from their work.
V. The three batteries thrown up for this operation will be armed each
with four pieces, as follows, to wit:
1. Upper Battery: One section of Marion Artillery, one 8-inch siege
howitzer, and one rifled gun of Schulz’s battery.
2. Middle Battery: Two 30-pounder Parrott guns and two 8-inch
howitzers of siege train.
3. Lower Battery: Three 10-pounder Parrotts (Schulz’s battery) and one
8-inch siege howitzer.
VI. The guns of these batteries will be placed in position at night,
and must open at daylight Christmas morning, if practicable, and will
endeavor to destroy or capture the two steamers in the Stono.
VII. The reserve infantry with Charles’ battery will be stationed
behind the hedge running across the peninsula of Legareville, and will
open fire upon that place simultaneously with the batteries, and, if
possible, must capture the enemy’s force stationed there, after which,
will burn what is left of that village.
VIII. After the accomplishment of these objects, as far as
practicable, the troops under Colonel Kemper will return,
respectively, to their present position.
IX. A sufficient number of ambulances will accompany the expedition.
X. Chiefs of staff, corps, or departments, will give all necessary aid
required for the prompt execution of these important orders.
By command of General Beauregard:
Chief of Staff.


Filed under history

8 responses to “Not quite up to CGSC standards- But not bad, either.

  1. I would point out, in the end this mission failed, in some part due to weapons failures but also due to some C2 problems. (But that’s part of a later scheduled posting.)


  2. Pingback: An expedition to destroy U.S. steamers near Legareville: Beauregard Plans an ambush | To the Sound of the Guns

  3. Says what needs to be said in fairly compact language that doesn’t hem in the people tasked with the mission.


  4. Esli

    Too simple. No go.


    • Hahahha. I wondered what our resident instructor would say.


    • Esli

      Good orders are written with an inverse ratio of thickness of order to time and staff available to read them. (Since I am being sarcastic, I mean that the thicker the higher headquarters’ order, the better.) Great orders also come late enough that nobody has any time to read anything but the base order. (Greatly simplifying the problem of “good” orders.) Ideally, the order is published as late in the game as possible and hides the most important details in the deepest parts of the order. For example, a critical task is best if hidden in Tab L to Appendix 9 to Annex V. This leads to the most frequently heard response to any question: “I wasn’t tracking that.”


    • Esli, it would be funny if it weren’t true.


  5. SFC Dunlap 173d RVN

    Always liked starting with Paragraph 3 (Commander’s Intent), as I wanted to know his ultimate goal (and not “mission success) everything else fell into place but then I was blessed with many more than less great commanders in my career.