The Sergeant

(from Kautz NCO Guide)

365. IT is difficult to draw the line between the duties of the corporal and those of the sergeant. There is really no great difference in their duties. Sergeants generally have larger details under their charge, and have corporals under their direction to assist them. They are usually entrusted with more responsible duties, and they are supposed to have greater experience, and to approach nearer the commissioned officer in a knowledge of all military matters.

366. Sergeants generally have a more general supervision of the men, whilst corporals have more of the detail to attend to. The company should be divided into a number of squads proportionate to the number of duty-sergeants in the company, with a proportionate number of corporals, who should have charge when the sergeants are absent.

367. They are responsible for the camp and garrison equipage which the squad has in general use. They have charge of the preliminary instruction of the men in their various duties, and must preserve order in their squad, and see that the men do not absent themselves without proper authority.

368. The most important duty of sergeant is that of file-closer. Posted in the rear of the company when paraded, it is his duty to see that the men pay attention to their duty, preserve order, march properly, and keep closed.

369. In time of battle, it is his duty to keep the men in ranks, not to allow them to fall out on any pretext, and to prevent them from misbehaving before the enemy. He is even required to shoot men down when they attempt to run away in times of danger.

370. The men must not be permitted to fall out to attend the wounded without orders; the battle must be won first, and then the wounded can be taken care of without endangering the safety of the entire command.

371. On the march he must see that the men do not fall out unnecessarily, and, when absolutely necessary, that the soldier turns over his gun and accoutrements to a comrade to be carried until he can overtake his company again.

372. He must see that the men fill their canteens with water, and not whiskey, before the march commences, and that they do not eat up their rations at improper hours on the march; for the habit of munching at all hours on the march, besides being injurious to the health of the soldier, may defeat the purpose of an expedition based on the necessity that a limited supply of food must last a given number of days.

373. Sergeants are usually appointed, by the commanding officer of the regiment or post, from the corporals, on the recommendation of the company commander.

374. In advancing non-commissioned officers from one grade to another, no claim of seniority is considered, except where the merits of the two candidates are equal; then the senior in date should be appointed. The pay of duty-sergeants of infantry, cavalry, and artillery is seventeen
dollars per month, with an allowance of clothing and one ration.


375. SERGEANT OF THE GUARD. — The sergeant of the guard has general supervision of the corporals and members of the guard. He sees that the reliefs are turned out at the proper time, that the corporals obey the calls of the sentinels, receives the prisoners and sees that they are properly secured, that sentences of prisoners are carried out each day, prepares the guard report for the officer of the guard, and, in general, is responsible that all the members of the guard under him perform their duty.

376. Where the posts are numerous, sergeants assist the corporals in posting the sentinels. They must see that the corporals comprehend the orders and are capable of instructing the sentinels; and when a sentinel calls for the corporal of the guard, it is the duty of the sergeant to see that the corporal obeys the call promptly.

377. The sergeant carries the keys of the prisons, sees that the prisoners are duly locked up at night and sent out to work in the morning, and that those sentenced to close confinement on bread and water are not visited or fed by any of the other prisoners or members of the guard. When prisoners are brought to the guard-house to be confined, he takes charge of them, takes down their names, company, and regiment, the charges against each, by whom preferred, and by whose order confined.

378. Prisoners undergoing sentence he must attend to, and see that the penalty is executed; also that those whose sentences expire are reported to the officer of the guard or officer of the day, in order that they may be released; also that the prisoners are supplied by the cooks with their victuals. Prisoners are usually supplied from their company by the cooks. Citizen prisoners, or prisoners of war, are either assigned to some of the companies, where their rations are cooked, or else, where they are numerous, someone is detailed to cook for them.

379. The sergeant should verify the list of prisoners, and see that they are all present when he marches on guard. He should also see that all the articles on the guard-book, for which he or the officer of the guard receipts, are on hand. These are usually, the furniture of the guard-room, the utensils for labor used by the prisoners, and the handcuffs or shackles, &c.

380. The guard report is usually made out in a Guard Report Book, furnished from post or regi- mental head-quarters. In the absence of such a book, a report must be ruled out on a sheet of foolscap, according to the prescribed form in the Regulations, page 63.

381. Whatever happens during the tour of guard is mentioned in the column of remarks. These are usually the visits of the officer of the day, the visits of the officer of the guard to the sentinels, the manner in which they have performed their duty, and the incidents of note that have occurred during the tour.

382. The attention of the commanding officer may also be called to any changes that may be thought necessary of matters or things over which the officer of the day or officer of the guard exercises supervision. When there is no officer of the guard, the report is signed by the sergeant and countersigned by the officer of the day.

383. In the absence of cavalry, infantry is sometimes used on picket-duty, to furnish the outer sentinels, particularly where the contending armies are in close proximity, as immediately preceding a battle, or during a siege.

384. In this case, the same precautions are necessary in selecting positions, remaining concealed, and being constantly on the alert, as are enjoined upon cavalry. The same system of posting and relieving sentinels is pursued. The sentinels patrol in the same way in the night and during foggy weather.

385. During the day it is not generally considered proper to patrol. The sentinels are usually posted in commanding positions, where they have a good view to the front, and can see the posts on the right and left.

386. Sometimes, especially where the men would be exposed to the enemy’s fire, the reliefs are dispensed with, and the three sentinels of each post are posted together and relieve each other, — two sleeping on their arms, whilst the third keeps watch. This is particularly recommended in Indian warfare.

387. When cavalry is used for the outer sentinels, the infantry is usually posted in small de- tachments in rear, each under an officer or non-commissioned officer, according to its strength, forming a line of supports to which the vedettes retire on the approach of a superior force, and with which they are connected by a chain of sentinels within call of each other


388. POLICE — The policing of camp is usually performed by two kinds of details. The roster for the company police is kept in the company, and the duty-sergeants and the corporals alternate in taking charge of this detail, whose duty it is to police the company-grounds twice a day, and they are turned out by the non-commissioned officer when the police-call sounds.

389. General police is usually performed by the in general use by all the regiment or detachment, the quarters of the field officers, and, generally, to perform all the clearing up that it is necessary to do outside of the company-grounds. The police-call sounds usually twice during the day, — once in the morning, immediately after reveille, and again in the afternoon, just before retreat parade.

390. The sergeant of the guard that has marched off the previous morning parades his men, and, with the corporals to assist him, proceeds to collect all the rubbish that has accumulated since the last detail, and to do any other cleaning that the officer of police may direct. Sometimes the officer of the day acts as officer of police, and gives the instructions to the sergeant.

391. This duty is performed by collecting the rubbish in heaps by one part of the detail, whilst another portion is engaged with handbarrows in transporting it to some place of general deposit, where, if necessary, it may be again removed in wagons.
392. The men who are absent from this detail from sickness, or any other legitimate cause, are not usually replaced. It is, however, the duty of the non-commissioned officers to see that all the members of the old guard parade, or are properly excused.

393. Where prisoners are numerous, the general police may be dispensed with, and the work be performed by the prisoners, under the direction of the provost-sergeant; and this is usually the case where there is no other work for the prisoners to be employed at.

394. A provost-sergeant is one who is detailed permanently to take charge of the prisoners, to attend to the execution of sentences, and perform all the duties relating to the prisoners prescribed for the non-commissioned officers of the guard. He is often charged with making arrests of non-commissioned officers and soldiers.

395. In barracks, besides being chiefs of squads, sergeants take their turns with the corporals, a week at a time, as room-orderlies, and are required to keep the room in order, and see that the men have every thing prepared for inspection every morning. (See Par. 341.)

396. The kitchen must be supplied with wood and water This may be done either by special de- tails for the purpose each day, or by the company police. In either case a sergeant or corporal is in charge of the party, and is responsible that the wood and water are properly furnished.


397. FATIGUE — Sergeants are usually placed in charge of larger details for fatigue than corporals and have perhaps one or more corporals to assist them. The same general principles that are laid down for corporals on fatigue duty apply to sergeants. The sergeant may be under the direction of an officer immediately over him, or may have exclusive charge of the party and of the execution of the duty.

395. Fatigue duty, including as it does the entire range of labor likely to fall to the lot of troops, may sometimes require peculiar knowledge and special experience. The construction of a bridge, the repairing of a railroad, or the management of a boat, at a critical moment when there is no time to look for competent men, may involve a success the accomplishment of which might win an undying laurel for some sergeant who has stored up the knowledge or experience for the favorable moment.

399. On all occasions of police, fatigue, or guard duty, the details are marched to and from their work in an orderly and military manner; and any disorderly conduct or neglect of duty on the part of the men should be promptly reported for punishment. The neglect to enforce these minor requirements of service soon leads to more serious dereliction of duty.