ARTICLE IV - On the Conduct of an Officer on an advanced Post
When an officer is ordered to go on the wing of an enemy's post or army with thirty or forty cavalry, in order to observe it's motions, or cover some part of the country, he should endeavor, by means of maps or more particular information, to gain a perfect knowledge of it. In the first place, he ought to know how to choose his post, which should be as much as possible on a height covered with trees, from whence he can discover all the motions of the enemy, without allowing himself to be perceived. The post being well chosen, he is to repair to it by night in the greatest silence possible, (particularly if the country be hostile,) avoiding all the villages, and every other means of discovering himself; when arrived, the kindling of fire and every kind of noise is strictly to be forbidden. At day-break he should place some dismounted men on the slope of the hill towards the enemy, behind trees or bushes, who may be able to discover all that is in their front. If sufficient information cannot be attained by this means, people must be placed on the tops of high trees to observed every thing with attention, and the officer is to be acquainted, in the most exact circumstantial manner, with all that they can discover.
He is also to observe in person all the enemy's motions, note them in his tablets, and mark the hour, and even the moment, when each particular circumstance happened, so that he may be enabled to render an exact account to the general commanding every evening.
As the chief design of a detachment is to discover others whilst it keeps itself concealed, it is essential that both men and horses should be provided with provisions and forage for three days: at the expiration of this time, it is generally relieved, but the officer who understands his duty will rather wish to remain on his post.
The new detachment is to be conducted by night with all the foregoing cautions by a man belonging to the old detachment, who knows where to find the officer who brings it: by this means he may remain making his observations a long time before he is discovered. But as soon as he finds himself perceived by any means, his attention and vigilance must be redoubled: by day he must strive to maintain his post to the best of his power, but as soon as it becomes dark, he should choose some other place in the neighborhood to pass his nights. From this place (of which no person should be informed beforehand) he will constantly send forward small patroles to secure himself both on the right and left. Before day-break he should quit his nocturnal situation, to prevent discovery, and secure for some nights to come quiet and peaceable possession. By day he must ascend some neighboring height from whence he can discover the enemy: through this means he will always be able to maintain his ground, being the only person informed where he shall pass the following day and night. The night post may be changed, now here and now there, as often as he deems necessary. His choice, however, must always be so made as to enable him to attain the object of his mission. He should have no fixed post, nor should any person have an idea of his designs. The detachment should only be informed of the rallying point at camp, or some other place, in case he should be obliged to disperse them.
No fire should, on any account, be permitted during the night, but in case that any thing is absolutely wanted, it should be sought for in the villages that are in the rear: even this however, is to be avoided if possible.
On the whole, an officer entrusted with so hazardous a commission, must do all in his power to get acquainted with the neighborhood, it's defiles, it's copses, and it's heights, that he may be enabled frequently to change his position. He is, however, always to keep himself concealed, that neither the enemy or the inhabitants may be absolutely certain of his situation. by this means the enemy, if they have any designs upon him, must first find him out, which attempt will discover their intentions.
On these occasions, the horses should never be unsaddled, or at farthest not more than one half at a time, should such indulgence prove absolutely necessary. With regard to the men, the officer's personal example and kind treatment will keep their spirits up by day, and their eyes open by night.
As the chief design of an officer commanding a detachment of this nature is to observe the enemy, and reconnoitre a country with which he is acquainted, he ought by no means to busy himself with prisoners or plunder, but execute with judgment the task which has been assigned him, without being discovered or obliged to abandon his post, and having the mortification to see his design miscarry. he ought (if the phrase may be allowed) to be constantly creeping round about the enemy, be very shy of entering any houses by day, and especially of putting the inhabitants to any expence, for in such case they will spare no pains and neglect no means to discover his lurking place, unkennel him, and drive him out of the neighborhood.
An officer with such a charge has to encounter, most undoubtedly, much of danger and fatigue: but on the other hand, his success will be eminently glorious, for he has to cover an extent of country with a handful of people, which would naturally require a much greater number, especially if the party have less activity than light troops: by this means, therefore, he performs a very essential service to the army.
As to what remains, he is to put in practice (if he well knew how to apply them) all the rules laid down for the conduct of patroles and of advanced guards.