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Civil War Reenactor Slang

ABATIS: An entrenchment of felled trees, with their branches sharpened so as to present a wall of pointed stakes to the enemy.

ADJUTANT: A staff officer who transmits orders, details and mounts guards, &c. The Adjutant-General is the principal staff officer of the army; he supervises the camp, and is the organ of the general commanding.

AIDE-DE-CAMP: Attendant of a general officer who receives and bears orders, &c.

ALARM POST: Place of assembly in case of alarm.

ALIGNMENT: Placing in line.

APPROACHES: Trenches by which besiegers approach a fortified place; they are opposed by counter-approaches.

APRON: The piece of leather or sheet lead which covers the vent of a cannon.

ASSEMBLY: Signal to form by company.

BANQUETTE: An elevation of earth within a fort, three or four feet wide, and less than five feet from the top of the parapet, to enable short men to fire over.

BARBETTE: Guns stand on raised platforms and fire over the parapet, thus having a free range.

BARRICADE: To block up, obstruct.

BASTION: A work at one of the angles of a fortification, consisting of two faces and two flanks.

BERM: A narrow space between parapet and ditch.

BIVOUAC: To camp round fires without the shelter of tents.

CADENCE: Uniform time and step in marching.

CAISSON: The ammunition wagon accompanying a cannon.

CALIBRE: Diameter of the bore of a piece.

CANTONMENTS: Soldiers' quarters in towns and villages.

CAPITULATE: To surrender on conditions.

CARTEL: Agreement for an exchange of prisoners.

CASOABEL: The knob at the breech of a gun.

CASEMATE: Bomb-proof chambers in fortifications from which guns are fired through windows, called embrasures.

CASHIER: To dismiss ignominiously.

CAVALIER: A work in the interior of a bastion.

CHASE OF A GUN: Its length from trunnions to muzzle.

CHEEK: The timber side of a gun-carriage.

CHEVAUX-DE-FRISE; Square beams, 6 to 9 feet long, from which pointed stakes project at right angles; used to stop breaches, &c.

CIRCUMVALLATION, LINE OF: A ow parapet and trench of earthwork encircling a besieged place.

CAMP COLORS: Flags eighteen inches square, to mark evolutions

COMMISSARY: Provision purchaser.

CONVOY: A detached guard to accompany supplies.

CORPS: A body of troops under one commander.

COUNTERSCARP: Outer wall or slope of the ditch of a fort.


CUIRASSIERS: Heavy cavalry with breastplates or cuirasses.

CURTAIN: The line of flat wall between two bastions.

DEPLOY: To manoeuvre troops from column into line of battle.

DRAGOONS: Cavalry who sometimes serve on foot.

ECHELON: An arrangement of troops, by which front and flanks are alike protected.

EMBRASURE: An opening in a wall or defense, through which to fire guns.

ENFILADE: To rake the whole length of a work or line.

EPROUVETTE: A small mortar for testing gunpowder.

ESCALADE: An assault with scaling ladders.

FALSE ATTACK: A strategic feint.

FASCINES: Bound bundles of long twigs used for fortifications, &c.

FIELD OFFICERS: Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Major.

FILE: A line of men on behind the other.

FLANKS: Sides.

FLYING SAP: A line of gabions, behind which man approach a defense.

FORAGE: Oats, hay and straw for horses.

FORLORN HOPE: A party selected to begin an attack.

FUGLE-MAN: A drilled soldier who acts as guide in the manual, &c.

FUSE: The means by which a shell is exploded.

GABION: A bottomless cylindrical basket, used in building entrenchments.

GENERAL OFFICERS: All above the rank of colonel.

GLACIS: Parapet of the covered way of fortifications.

GRAPE: Large shot packed in bags by nines, and used for cannon.

GRENADE: A shell thrown from the hand.

GUIDONS: Small cavalry and light artillery flags.

GUNPOWDER: Composition of 76 parts salt petre, 14 charcoal and 10 sulphur.

HAVERSACK: A cotton or linen bag for a soldier's rations.

HOLSTERS: Pistol cases on cavalry saddles.

HOWITZER: Chambered cannon for firing canister, hollow shot &c.

INTERVAL: Distance between platoons, companies, regiments, &c.

INVEST: To shut up within a town or camp.

KNAPSACK: Foot soldier's traveling bag, strapped on his back, and containing clothing and necessaries.

LIGHT INFANTRY: Infantry scattered as skirmishers.

LINKS: Thongs of leather to enchain cavalry horses.

MAGAZINE: Chamber for arms, ammunition, provisions, &c.

MINE: A passage dug under military works and stocked with powder to blow them up.

MORTAR: A short chambered gun with large bore for throwing shells

MUSTER: Parade of troops for inspection.

ORDERLY: A soldier attendant upon an officer.

ORDNANCE CORPS: A corps of officers in charge of arms and ammunition.

OUT-POST: A body of troops posted beyond the regular lines.

OUT-WORKS: Works outside the regular fortifications.

PAIXHAN: A large howitzer.

PARALLELS: The lines or trenches by which besiegers approach a fort.

PARAPET: A barrier of earth to intercept the fire of an enemy.

PARK: A number of cannon in close order.

PARLEY: Conference.

PAROLE: Word of honor given by a prisoner to his captor.

PATROL: Small guard under a non-commissioned officer, whose duty it is to preserve order in the encampment.

PICKET: A small out-post guard.

PONTOONS: Small boats to aid in the formation of bridges.

PORT-FIRE: A match for firing cannon.

PROVOST-MARSHAL: Army-sheriff.

QUARTERMASTER: Officer providing quarters and clothing.

RANK: A line of men side by side. Rank and file include privates and non-commissioned officer.

RATION: Daily allowance of food.

RECONNOITER: To survey, examine.

REDOUBT: A small fortification.

RELIEF: One-third of a guard. Each third is on duty two hours and off four.

RESERVE: Select body of troops retained in the rear.

REVEILLE: Beat of the drum at daybreak.

RICOCHET: Rebounding of shot from the ground at a very obtuse angle.

RIFLE: Any fire-arm with a curved groove in the barrel.

ROSTER: List of officers and men, by which to regulate their duties.

ROUND: A general discharge of cannon and musketry.

ROUNDS: Visiting or personal inspection of the guards and sentries.

SAFEGUARD: A passport.

SALIENT: An advanced angle.

SALLY-PORT: Chief entrance to a fort.

SAP: An excavation by which to approach a fort or between trenches.

SHELLS: Hollow balls filled with explosive material, fired by a fuse.

SKIRMISH: A loose, desultory kind of engagement between small detachments.

SORTIES: Sally parties.

SPHERICAL-CASE SHOT: Thin shells, loaded with musket-balls, for a howitzer.

SQUADRON: Two troops of cavalry.

STAFF: Officers attached to headquarters.

SUBALTERN: Any commissioned officer below a captain.

SURGEON: Army doctor.

TACTICS: Knowledge of the order, disposition and formation of troops.

TATTOO: Drum beat at 9 1/2 P.M., for retiring.

TRAVERSES: Parapets of earth thrown up as a protection against ricochet shots.

TRENCHES: Ditches.

TROOP: Company of cavalry.

VIDETTES: Out-post sentries on horseback.

VENT: The passage of a gun or cannon which connects with the charges, and through which the spark passes to discharge it.

WINDAGE: Difference between the diameter of the shot and bore.

WINGS: Right and left divisions of an army.

ZOUAVES: Light infantry, originally Arabs and Moors.

*****Taken from the page of the 6th Ohio Reenactors. Many Thanks.

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