Description: This great letter was written in October of 1859 to Hardee's friend, then Adjutant General of New York, Frederick Townsend. Hardee had become quite famous in military circles in the 1850s, after the 1855 publication of his Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics for the Exercise and Manoeuvres of Troops When Acting as Light Infantry or Riflemen. This book, known colloquially as "Hardee's Tactics," was the most widely used drill manual of its time. It was updated at the turn of the decade, and continued to be used by both sides during the American Civil War.
Hardee writes: "My Dear General, The only part of the new manual used by me here is the right shoulder shift, this latter is necessary to prevent the coat & shoulders of the men from being torn by the hammer of the piece." He advises Townsend to adopt this practice, then notes that "Neither manual is suited to the present rifle-musket, and we must wait until a new manual for this special arm is devised." After a note about troops armed with short rifles and bayonets, he switches topics to marching: "The cadets march at the double quick step when the band plays "pop goes the weasel," and at the rate of 165 steps per minute. The run is never used at drill..." and "...only used as prescribed in tactics on extraordinary occasions."
Hardee closes by telling Townsend that he feels "most complimented" that Townsend has ordered such a supply of his tactics, and is going to use his methods to drill all of his troops. He signs "With best wishes, truly your friend, W.J. Hardee"
William J. Hardee (1815-1873) graduated from West Point in 1838 and spent a career of nearly 30 years in the army. Between the Seminole Wars and the Mexican War, he studied military tactics in France, at the behest of the US Army. In 1853, he returned to West Point as a tactics instructor, and wrote his famous tactics manual. Hardee also invented the "Hardee Hat," also used on both sides of the War, during his tenure at West Point. When his home state of Georgia seceded from the Union, Hardee joined the Confederate Army. Promoted to Lieutenant General, he fought in a number of major battles, inlcuding Perryville and Stones River in 1862, where he fought against his old friend, Frederick Townsend.
Frederick Townsend (1825-1897) was an attorney and gold prospector before beginning his military career in the New York militia. He was named Adjutant General of New York in 1857. He was appointed a Major in the 18th US Infantry in 1861, and fought in several significant battles, including those mentioned above.
Written in ink on three pages of a single sheet of plain white writing paper with a soldier embossed at upper left. Measures approximately 9.75" x 15.25" when unfolded. Item #A00735
Condition: There is some paper loss along the upper edges, where the letter was chewed on, at some point, by a small rodent. This loss only affects three letters of text in one word on page three; most of what is affected is blank margin space. Short tears along the upper edge have been neatly repaired with archival tissue/tape. Light soil on the blank fourth page. In good condition overall with a large bold signature.