ARTICLE V. On the Conduct of an Officer who is sent out to make Prisoners
This business is to be executed in a variety of ways, depending on the officer's particular idea, local situation, it's being day or night, &c. &c. The task itself is not very arduous, but often of great service and utility to the general commanding, when he is unable by spies or other means to gain intelligence of the enemy.
The approach to the enemy is to be conducted in the manner already laid down for the patroles by day. In order to keep concealed, all the villages and high roads are to be avoided, and he must steal across the defiles and villages, from copse to copse and height to height, keeping a sharp look-out on every road that the enemy may take.
If he wish to make any discovery from a height, he must ascend it alone, and on foot, leaving his horse at the bottom of the ascent: if the height be entirely void of shelter, he must not wear his hat or any kind of clothing that will make him distinguishable at a distance. He should also alter his appearance, when on the height, to that of husbandman for instance: in a word, he should have nothing about him that looks soldier-like, as a man who sees at a good distance will easily distinguish a military man from a rustic.
In this manner he must examine very minutely on all sides, and if he discover a party of the enemy of nearly his own force, fall on them with fury, and take some of them prisoners.
During their first surprise, he will ask the most material questions, promising them their liberty if they speak truth and threatening them with death if they refuse: he is not, however, to place implicit confidence in all they say, but be able to distinguish the possible and the likely from the untrue, to avoid doing himself an injury by making a false report. In an expedition of this nature, an officer must not allow his patience to be exhausted by waiting, lest by being too precipitate, he fall into the snare which he had designed for others.
If he be posted in a copse, and see many people coming towards him from the enemy's country, a man should be sent softly forward in a round-about way, (to conceal from whence he came,) who in some thick part of the copse should put the necessary questions to them; for if he went on strait forward, and a party of the enemy happen to be in the neighborhood, the detachment would run the risk of being discovered.
In general, it is necessary on these occasions to make use of many little stratagems, which must depend entirely on the ingenuity of the officer.
When it is dark, the rules laid down for the night patroles are to be observed: the officer must keep a sharp lookout in the enemy's advanced guards, to see if it be not possible to take advantage of the night to approach them as near as possible, fall on them with the greatest activity, and carry off all that he can lay hold of.
If any of the officer's party speak the language of the country, he must suffer them to go in front, close to the vedettes, where, by calling themselves deserters, and speaking to them on indifferent subjects, they may often approach very near to their posts.
When an officer goes on an expedition of this kind, he should always have with him people on whom he can depend; and that neither he nor they may lose their money, they had better be cautioned before hand, and have it lodged in the regimental chest, or some safe hands, taking a proper security for it: for it will sometimes happen that a man, who on other occasions is very brave, will neglect to execute his duty where there is a chance of losing his property.
If the detachment want provisions or forage, they are to be procured by night, in the manner already mentioned.