Deportment & Acting
Compiled by:
Colonel Mark Griffin
Material included in this pamphlet was taken from the Customs of Service
or pirated from other sources.

(Deportment = How to carry one’s self with the proper military bearing).

How to Pay Respect to Officers

To Salute or Not to Salute

Other Deportment Issues

On Corporals and Sergeants

Battlefield Acting

First Person Impressions

Period Slang
1.) How to pay respect to Officers:

a.)  The Salute: raise right hand to side of the visor, palm to the front; elbow at the height of the shoulder. Look to the officer in a respectful soldierly manner and hold the salute until the officer returns it.

b.)  With Arms: Sergeants, Corporals and Privates come to shoulder and bring the left hand across the body as to strike the musket near the right shoulder. Look to the officer in a respectful soldierly manner and hold the salute until the officer returns it.

c.)  Guards: Come to the shoulder for Captains and below; to present arms for Majors and up including the officer of the day.

i.)  Guards also salute armed bodies of men. If commanded by a NCO, come to the shoulder. If commanded by an officer, then present arms.

2.) When to Salute

a.)  Salute when meeting an officer.

b.)  When addressing an officer salute upon the first communication and then again before turning away.

c.)  When seated, without a particular occupation, rise and make the salutation. When standing, turn and face the officer with the same purpose.

3.) When NOT to Salute

a.)  When the officer remains in the same area.

b.)  When on guard duty between retreat and reveille.

c.)  When employed in a work detail.

d.)  When in formation.

4.) Other points on Deportment

a.)  When entering officers quarters under arms, make the proper salute. Without arms, simply remove your cap and hold the position of a soldier.

b.)  Remain standing until invited to sit down.

c.)  Soldiers in a room should rise when an officer enters and remain standing until invited to sit.

d.)  When meeting with an officer, keep your bearing and be short and to the point in speech.

"The foregoing regulations should be strictly observed by enlisted men, and their faithful performance will add much to the military reputation of a company or regiment."
– Customs of Service



On Corporals and Sergeants

1.)  Corporals examples of soldiers in neatness and order.

a.)  Should be the first to fall in for roll call – punctual

b.)  Familiar with the School of the Soldier and prepared to teach it.

c.)  Familiar with the duties of sentinels.

2.)  Sergeants examples to Corporals and men.

a.)  File closers – see that men pay attention to duty, preserve order, march properly & keep closed.

b.)  During battle they keep men in line and do not allow them to fall out for any reason – including helping the wounded!

c.)  See to the filling of the canteen and to the conservation of the rations.



Battlefield Acting

1.)  Focus on the situation. See yourself ACTUALLY in battle!

2.)  Do not see the event as a "show".

3.)  Avoid joking while in combat. Would you be laughing in a hailstorm of lead?

4.)  Practice flinching and ducking. Remember, shells filled with little lead balls are bursting overhead.

5.)  Be intense. Try being afraid but courageous. There’s no turning back; it’s either fight or die.

6.)  Most of all be aware of the situation. This is no "walk in the park". Men are trying their best to make YOU a casualty!



First Person Impression

This is the art of "acting" as if you are a man from the 1860’s.  Purpose: To achieve that "you are there" feeling and to educate the public.

1.)  Develop your character.   Avoid trying to portray a historical figure. Write up a history of yourself as yourself in 1861.

a.)  When and where were you born?

b.)  What is your occupation?

c.)  Family?

d.)  Why did you join the fight against the US?

e.)  How do you feel about the issues at hand?

2.)  Forget about 20th century stuff.   Talk about the past (before 1860), current 1860 events, battles, HOME, or anything not related to the 20th century!

a.)  Use 1860 slang words.

b.)  Make yourself aware of etiquette of the period.

c.)  Be natural. You are YOU in the 1860’s.

d.)  STAY IN CHARACTER! It looks silly to talk in first person one minute and switch over to the Ranger game the next.

We must:

Look like soldiers

Drill like soldiers

And ACT like soldiers

This is our mission as reenactors.



Period Slang

  1. Chief cook and bottle washer ( multi talented person)

  2. Sheet iron cracker (hardtack)

  3. Sardine box (cap box)

  4. Bread basket (stomach)

  5. Greenbacks (money)

  6. Graybacks (CS soldiers, lice)

  7. Arkansas toothpick (large knife)

  8. Pepper box (pistol)

  9. Zu-Zu (zuoave soldier)

  10. Fit to be tied (angry)

  11. Horse sense (smarts)

  12. Top rail #1 (1st class)

  13. Hunkey dorey (great)

  14. Greenhorn, bugger, skunk (officer)

  15. Snug as a bug (cozy)

  16. Sawbones (surgeon)

  17. Skedaddle (run, scatter)

  18. Hornets (bullets)

  19. Bully (hurrah, yeah)

  20. Possum (buddy, pal)

  21. Blowhard (big shot)

  22. Fit as a fiddle (in good shape)

  23. Uppity (conceited)

  24. Scarce as hen’s teeth (rare)

  25. Grab a root (have dinner, potatoes)

  26. Tight, wallpapered (drunk)

  27. Bark juice, tar water (liquor)

  28. Nokum stuff, joy juice (liquor)

  29. Hard case (tough)

  30. Bluff (cheater)

  31. Jailbird (criminal)

  32. Hard knocks (beaten up)

  33. Been through the mill (done a lot)

  34. Quick-step (diarrhea)

  35. Played out (worn out)

  36. Toeing the mark (doing the job)

  37. Jonah (bad luck)

  38. Goobers (peanuts)

  39. Sunday soldiers, kid glove boys, parlor soldiers (insults for soldiers)

  40. Fresh fish (raw recruits)

  41. Whipped (beaten)



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