Duties of the Sergeant Major
from Customs of Service
by August V. Kuatz

as transcribed by Old 28th Vet

541. The sergeant major is the ranking non-commisioned officer of the regiment: he is appointed by the regimental commander. Each regiment in service is entitled to one sergeant major, and the nine new regiments of infantry are allowed one to each battalion. His pay is twenty-one dollars per month, an allowance of clothing and one ration.

542. The sergeant major assists the adjutant in the performance of his duties; he makes the details for the guard, fatigue, &c. under his direction, parades them, verifies the number required from each company, and sees that they are properly equipped for the duty for which they have been detailed.

543. He superintends the clerk, and assists him in making out the various returns, rolls, and reports required, and in keeping the books and records of the regiment.

544. He keeps the rooster of the sergeants and corporals and of the various details for guard, fatigue, detachments, &c. and is responsible that these duties are equally required from the various companies.

545. He generally keeps the time at headquarters, and seed that the musician detailed for the purpose at headquarters sounds the calls at the proper time.

546. At orderly call, he returns the morning report books to the first sergeants, gives the orders for the day, and furnishes them with the details required from their respective companies for the morrow. The orders, to be copied in the company order-book, are also furnished by them.

547. In the absence of a drum-major or principal musician, the musicians of the companies are controlled and directed by him, and he attends to their instruction. He sees that they attend practice, and that they do not absent themselves without authority.

548. He keeps their rooster for the various duties of orderly, guard, fatigue &c. Should there be a regimental band and no authorized leader or drum major, he performs a similar duty as in the case of company musicians.

549. The sergeant major attends at guard-mounting, taking post in front and on the right of the line on which the guard is to form, facing to the left. As each first sergeant marches his detail upon the line, and having brought it "To rear open order", and "right dress", he receives the report from the first sergeants,"all present",or, so many sergeants, corporals, or privates "absent". He then verifies the reports of the first sergeants, after which the sergeant major brings his sword to a "present arms", and reports, "Sir, the guard is formed, all present", or, so many sergeants, corporals and privates "absent". The adjutant then gives the command "front", and the sergeant major takes post two paces on the left of the guard, and the guard, mounting, then proceeds as prescribed in Regulations.

550. At dress parade, the sergeant major posts the left guide or marker, and after all the companies have formed, he takes his post two paces on the extreme left of the regiment. When the guard or regiment marches in review, the sergeant marches on the left of the guard or rear platoon, two paces, or on the left of the rear company or platoon.

551. The sergeant major should be a model soldier for the rest of the regiment in his dress and military deportment. His example and punctual requirements of duty go far towards influencing a proper discipline in the regiment. If a due regard for the merits of the non-commissioned officer of the regiment is maintained, he will be the first to succeed to a commission in the regiment.

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Last updated 23 January 2002 at 1915 hrs.

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