During the Victorian Era there were several manuals used to instruct and train the infantrymen. The manuals were produced after lessons were learnt during conflicts like the Crimea or when advances in technology meant that an earlier manual was no longer relevant as it gave instruction on the use of an obsolete weapon.
The manual through text and illustration gave instruction on a series of exercises that the infantrymen would learn and practice, with sections being taught almost every day while the soldier was in barracks. The exercises described by the manual were designed to teach the soldier how to fight during a battle. The soldier would learn how to move his rifle by orders given by his superior in a set pattern and to time so not to impede his comrades, he would learn how to fire his rifle and how to use his bayonet.
The drill the Victorian soldier was taught was not like the drill you see performed by the modern British army, which is largely ceremonial, it was practical. For this reason the drill was less dramatic, there was no foot stamping, hand slapping of rifles through the exercise or swinging of arms (unless marching at ease) that you see with modern drill. These ideas developed later. The swinging of the arm was used in World War One drill manuals but foot stamping was not introduced until the 1920s. If you you click on the following link it will introduce you to the Field Exercise Book 1877; PART I, RECRUIT OR SQUAD DRILL. Further sections of the manual will be added in the future.
For our Zulu War and home service displays we use the “Field Exercise and Evolutions of Infantry: 1877” manual which instructs the soldier in the use of the Martini Henry rifle.