Okay I am not getting this , I have asked several people over the past few years and have gotten numerous answers . I still don't get it . Mainly as I have as many answers as people I have asked. Johan I am counting on you to get it though my thick skull.
What is a right shoulder shift. I first read it in the book on Patrick Cleburne Stonewall of the West. Now I am reading Harvard's Civil War for the book discussion on line. Nobody on line last week could answer my question. In the book it says
"A line reorganized as a left facing column would likely be carrying their rifles at a right shoulder shift , rendering them useless for defense. "
This is at the Battle of Ball's Bluff. I read this over and over . I don't understand it at all. Would the soldiers be totally facing left and if so left of what ? I am assuming they are carrying their rifles on their right shoulders . But I don't understand the sift part. Help me Obi wan Johan.
As for your column facing left, Here is a possible explanation. Imagine a line of men given the command: "Left face." Now they are standing one behind the other. (A column). Then they are given command: "To right shoulder, shift-Arms." Then they are given the command :"Forward march." Now if they head in the direction of the enemy (or vice versa), they aren't in a position to fire a volley at the enemy. To do that, they would have to be put in a line perpendicular to the enemy, kind of like an old sailing ship lining up to fire a broadside.
TD. thank you soooooo much I finally got it. I just spent some time studying the page you sent , and then rereading you comments about left face , Now it makes so much sense.
Only took two or three years to figure it out.
Susan a unit at right shoulder shift would be no more vulnerable than a unit at shoulder arms. It doesn't take a second to come back to the shoulder. Frankly the passage makes no sense at all to me either.
Whenever a unit was at the double quick they were supposed to be at the right shoulder shift, jogging at shoulder or port arms is unhealthy for everybody involved. In fact I recall an incident where a line of battle was moved rapidly to fill a gap after having taken advantage of an attack of opportunity by taking an assaulting CS Regiment in flank. They had to cover a couple hundred yards to get into a copse of trees to deny the enemy that bit of advantageous cover.
"Company, Right Face." Brought the Regiment into a column of fours from their battle line and apparently confused the hell out of a particular Sgt, the author. Then "At the double quick, Forward March" was given. And they brought their weapons to the right shoulder shift and were off to the races.
Oh and Susan... according to my daughter I'm Darth Dad.