1863: Col. Alexander Piper’s Order No. 5

Col. Alexander Piper, 10th New York Heavy Artillery (Find-A-Grave)

These orders were penned by Lt. Eugene A. Chapman who served as adjutant to Col. Alexander Piper of the 10th New York Heavy Artillery. The orders were issued in January 1863 while the 10th manned Fort Wagner—an earthen fort in southeast Washington D. C. that was sometimes called Fort Good Hope. Eugene was 22 years old when he enlisted in August 1862 in the Black River Artillery. He was made Lieutenant and Adjutant in September, and became a Captain of Co. C by July 1, 1863. He was later discharge for promotion to serve as an Asst. Surgeon in the 127th USCT.

The 10th N. Y. artillery regiment was organized on Dec. 31, 1862, of the 1st, 2nd and 4th battalions, Black River artillery, the battalions having been organized at Sacket’s Harbor in September, and the consolidation took place on Dec. 27. The men were recruited in the counties of Jefferson and Lewis and were mustered into the U. S. service for three years as follows: Cos. A, B, C, D, E, F, G and M on Sept. 11, at Sacket’s Harbor; H and I on Sept. 12; at Staten island; Co. K on Nov. 12, and Co. L on Dec. 27, at Fort Schuyler. The 2nd and 4th battalions left the state on Sept. 17, 1862, and were at once assigned to garrison duty in the forts about Washington; the 1st battalion garrisoned Fort Richmond and Sandy Hook, N. Y. harbor until June, 1863, when it joined the others at Washington.

Order No. 5 pertained to the requirements and responsibilities of those carrying out the duties of the battery’s picket guard. Col. Alexander Piper, an 1851 West Point graduate with many years of military experience under his belt was a stickler for discipline.

“The Picket Guard” by N. C. Wyeth, painted in 1922


Headquarters 10th New York Artillery
Near Fort Wagner
January 26th 1863

Order No. 5

The following orders relating to Guards and Sentinels at the different posts are published for the information of all concerned. They will be read to the Guard at least once every day by the senior non-commissioned Officer of the Guard.

I. At least two non-commissioned officers should be detailed with every guard—one of whom must be awake and with the guard at all times day and night.

II. The officer or senior on-commissioned officer of the guard is responsible for the carefulness and efficiency of the sentinels. A sergeant or corporal should inspect every relief before it is posted to ascertain if the men have their belts, clothing, and accoutrements in order. Every sentinel should be visited at least once in every ten hours to communicate to him new orders if necessary and to ascertain if he is acquainted with the orders already given, and is properly executing them.

III. When not on a post, members of the guard must remain at the guard house or tent. None should be allowed to leave it without the authority of the Sergeant in charge and then not more than two at a time.

IV. Where “prisoners” are confined under charge of the guard, they must in no account be allowed to leave except to go to work or to the sink. If it is necessary for prisoners to go to their quarters for any purpose, permission must first be obtained from the officer of the day. Meals for prisoners must be sent to the guard house or tent. When prisoners are sent out to work, they must be accompanied by a sentinel who will have orders to let them have no communication with any person except by authority of the officer of the day or commanding officer. The sentinel will see that the prisoners under his charge work well and steadily. If any of them trifle or neglect their work, he will report them to the sergeant or corporal of the guard.

V. During a “term” of guard duty which lasts 24 hours, neither non-commissioned officers or privates must remove their belts or any part of their clothing.

VI. The duties of a sentinel are most important and most responsible. On him depends the safety of the command. If he is vigilant, and army can rest in security. But if he is careless or indifferent, his companions are at the mercy of an enemy. Officers and non-commissioned officers cannot therefore be too careful in seeing that sentinels discharge their duties properly and execute strictly the orders that are given them.

All persons, whatever their rank may be in the service, are required to observe respect towards sentinels. Sentinels will walk their posts briskly with the bayonet fixed, carrying the musket at a shoulder arms, right shoulder, shift arms, or support arms. They must not quit their post without being regularly relieved not must they hold any conversation that is not necessary for the proper discharge of their duty.

VII When an officer passes across the post of a sentinel, the latter (the sentinel) will halt face outward and salute according to the rank of the officer. The Commanding Officer, Officer of the Day, and all officers above the rank of Captain are entitled to “present arms.” Captains and all officers below that grade are entitled to “shoulder arms.” The rank of officers is indicated by the shoulder straps. After retreat, sentinels do not salute but they stand at attention when an officer passes. When a sentinel is being relieved is giving or receiving orders or whenever he speaks on post, he must come to “arms post.”

VIII In addition to the above orders the following articles of the Revised Army Regulations will be read once a day to the guard. Articles 399, 400, 401, 407, 408, 409, 411, 413, 414, 415, 416. 417, 418, 419, 420, 421, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 427, 428, 429.

These orders will be neatly attached to a piece of board for better preservation and will be kept with the guard.

By order of Col. A. Piper
E[ugene] A. Chapman, Lieut. & Act. Adjt.

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