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The School of the Soldier for the Fort McHenry Guard


"The School of the Soldier for the Fort McHenry Guard" was compiled in 1982 by Capt. Ernest Wilson Peterkin,USNR (Ret.) (1920-1985) to assist in the interpretation of the soldiers daily duties in a garrison post of the War of 1812. Captain Peterkin was the country's foremost 17th and 18th century military manual expert in the United States, having trained the U.S. Army's Commander-In-Chief's Guard of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard); Sergeant Major of the 1st Maryland Regiment during the American Revolution Bicentennial at Yorktown and Paris. He was the author of The Exercise of Arms in the Continental Infantry (1989) upon which the ideas of this 1812 manual was based upon.

In Captain Peterkin's own words the "the tactics for using these weapons were undergoing an evolution from the discipline of Von Steuben, introduced during the American Revolution, to those popularized by the successes of the French army under Napoleon. Early in 1815 the United States War Department finally adopted the English translation of the French Regulations of 1791. In 1814 the "Regulations for Infantry" of 1812 were still in effect and were a mix of the "Regulations for the Discipline of the Troops" of 1779 heavily modified to conform with the French Discipline."

Captain Peterkin selected The "Regulations for the Government of the Infantry of the Army of the United States," as approved by Secretary of War WIlliam Eustis on March 30, 1812 as the foundation of drill for The Fort McHenry Guard, supplemented with a set of drawings to assist the young recruit in learning through discipline and precision the complexity of interpreting one of the soldiers duties during the War of 1812.

The infantry drill of the Fort McHenry Guard is currently based almost entirely on The Regulations for the Field Exercise, Manoeuvrres, and Conduct of the Infantry of the United States as printed by Fry and Kammerer in 1812. Use of other infantry manuals to supplement the 1812 Regulations has since been discontinued.