Each company in the Glengarry Light Infantry was entitled to two buglers, who relayed signals from officers to men operating in the field. A series of sounds identified when the enemy was sighted, when to stop, advance, retreat, move to the left or right of the line of movement or to cease firing.

When recruiting began in 1812, boys were enrolled as buglers. In that year, all twenty two buglers were under the age of eighteen.

Listen and learn the calls.

Bugler kit



Advantages of sounds or signals.

The advantages to be derived from the use of the bugle in a close country, or where men are in extended order, are obvious, if a word of command cannot be heard. Signals or sounds are necessary in various situations; but particularly where an officer of a light infantry corps finds it necessary to proceed to an eminence at same distance in order to reconnoitre the adjacent country, and his enemy, and that advantages may be taken which depend entirely upon immediate execution, but which, by delay, would be lost, or would even afford an encreased advantage to the enemy.

Never to be used when the voice can answer.

Being intented, however, only as substitutes for the voice, where the latter cannot reach, they never ought to be resorted to excepting under such circumstance, as they are liable to be misunderstood.

Few and simple.

For this reason, and as the same sound upon different key or in different time, is apt to occasion mistakes, they ought to be as few and simple as possible, and the buglers should be very perfect in those.

Sound finished before it is executed.

No movement should be executed until the bugle sound is perfectly finished – and in the combinations of sounds with “the fire,” that sound should be last; otherwise they may immediately commence a fire upon the spot, and if the march or retreat was to follow, it would not be heard.

Sounds which are to be repeated by all the buglers.

The March, Retreat, Halt, Fire, Case firing, Assembly and Disperse, are the only sounds which should be repeated by all buglers upon every occasion.

Timer quicker or slower.

A few bars of a tune in ordinary time, while on the march, denote that the time is to be slower. A few bars in quick time denote that it is to be quicker, and those may be repeated or changed from time to time as the commanding officer judges necessary.

Time of movements.

When no particular time is specified all light infantry movements is close order, excepting formations from file, are in quick time; all formations from file, and closing, in double quick.

To denote when contrary to the usual time.

When the battalion, or a line of skirmishers, have been halt, a few bars of either of the marches, before the advance, the retreat, or the close has been sounded, will denote the time in which they are performed, if contrary to the general rule.

General rule as to the present front.

In conformity to the principle laid down in the file movements, by word of the command, “that all formations apply to the situation in which the companies are placed at the moment, without any reference to their previous order,” so it is in the application of the bugle to all movement, whether in line or in file, because in the frequent and rapid changes to which light infantry are exposed, it may impossible to recollect the former front, and the inversion of companies in the battalion dose not signify. Therefore, whether the battalion is advancing or retiring they invariably halt to the front upon which they are than marching; and if in file march, they form up to that front.

Retiring by file.

In retiring by files, they may at any time countermarch and resume the former front by sounding the retreat, – and if it is wished to form to that front (namely, what was the original front) the halt is sounded immediately afterwards. In short, if marching in line, whether advancing or retiring, the retreat implies “right about face,” – and if marching in file, the leading files countermarch.

Always countermarching round the rear rank.

They must take care always to countermarch round the rear rank, otherwise they will not be in so ready situation to form to the front, if the Halt follows instantly.

Bugle calls.

The following sounds appear sufficient for every situation

  1. To Extend – From that part of the line where the bugle sounds.
  2. To Close – To the spot from whence it proceeds, and for skirmishers to run in to supports.
  3. To March – In order of the present formation.
  4. To Halt – In the same, order, excepting in advancing or retiring from line by files, in which case they form up to the front.
  5. To Fire – If when halted, they fire upon the spot, skirmishers selecting their objects, – the battalion, if in close order, by platoons or files, as many be directed by word of command. If on the march, whether advancing or retiring, it will be by alternate ranks if in single files; by alternate files, if in double files.
  6. Cease Firing – Every man to cease firing and load.
  7. To Retreat – To retire immediately in quick time; the line, reserves, and skirmishers facing to the right about, if no other order or rate is specified.
  8. Assembly – This sound may be used on many occasions, as explained. To turn out a whole corps and form by companies in line or column, (according to the place of covering serjeants, or to previous order) at any time by day or night. When extended as skirmishers, and surprised by cavalry in open ground, and in many other situations as a place of rendezvous, where the sound is heard. For skirmishers, with their supports and reserves, to the close in upon the battalion.
  9. Disperse – The whole to disperse according to the object and orders given.
  10. Skirmish – To send out any portion to skirmish.
  11. Incline to the Right – Left shoulder forward.
  12. Incline to the Left – Right shoulder forward. Whether marching in close or in extended order, this is obeyed by bringing forward the shoulder gradually. It may be equally executed by a line, by a column filing to either flank, or by the whole of an advanced or rear guard. In the case of a rear guard, it applies to the front which it presents retiring from the enemy, bringing forward either shoulder as it stands when faced about.
  13. Forwards – When the direction has been sufficiently altered, the bugle will sound the “march,” which in this situation signifies “forwards.”
  14. Incline to the Right and Left – These two sounds immediately following, signify that a chain or line of skirmishers, an advanced or rear guard, should occupy more space to the right and left: when they have sufficiently encreased their distances, the “march” will be sounded. In encreasing their distances, they are to continue their front, and other operations, should they either be firing or advancing, and extend themselves by degrees.
  15. Fire Advancing – A combination, first the march and than the fire, – performed as more particularly explained in Part II. Sect. II.
  16. Fire Retreating – First the retreat and then the fire.
  17. March and Extend – To extend while advancing as explained Part II. Sect III.
  18. Retreat and Extend – To extend while retreating.
  19. March and Close – To advance and close towards the centre.
  20. Retreat and Close – To retreat and close towards the centre.
  21. Sound to Annual – Whenever the halt is sounded, it is considered annulling every previous sound, excepting the fire. Therefore if men are inclining to the right or left, or extending in any direction, upon the halt being sounded, they are to stand fast; and the subsequent movements will depend the sounds that may be thereafter given, – without any reference to the former sounds.

To slacken fire when the bugle sound.

If the men are firing while they hear a sound, they should diminish the fire for a little, in order to hear it more distinctly; and in case others may not have heard it at all, that the commanding officer may repeat it.

Detached buglers.

If the officer commanding any detached party has a bugler with him, the men under his immediate command should not pay attention to any sounds but those which are repeated by him; for the bugler with the commanding officer may sound orders which apply to the battalion or to some other detached party, and it will sometimes rest with the judgment of the officer commanding the party to make this distinction.

Distinguishing sounds for the center and flanks.

The use of the bugle may be considerably increased by adopting the use of three simple G’s distinguishing sounds.

One G – to denote the right of the line.

Two G’s – to denote the centre.

Three G’s – to denote the left.

This preceding any sound, denotes the part of the line to which it applies. For instance, two G’s before the extend, signifies to extend from the centre. One G, follow by the close, signifies to close to the right. If there is a sufficiency of buglers, one may be stationed in rear of each flank and one in rear of the centre, (under the immediate superintendance of three of the supernumerary officer’s,) who will be distinguished by each of those G’s and any sound from the commanding officer’s bugler will accordingly be repeated by either of the three to whom it applies. It may be used to advantage on many occasions, and applied to different situations and movements, taking particular care, in the first place, that it is well understood by the officers and men, otherwise it may occasion irretrievable mistakes.

Distinguishing G and skirmish

A party may be sent to the front, rear, or flank, to skirmish, but when detached at first it may be doubtful in what direction it may be necessary afterwards to extend. When the commanding officer has determined upon the disposition to be made, this distinguishing sound from his bugler to that of the officer commanding the skirmisher will enable him instantly to extend from either flank or from the centre.

Distinguishing G and assembly

In like manner when skirmishers are to be called in, one or more G’s before the Assembly will specify in what direction they are to run in so as to leave the front of the other part of the line clear for firing.

Distinguishing G, with a march

As one G, is the right wing, and three G’s the left wing; combining either of those sounds with a few bars of the march in ordinary time or that in quick time, will denote that either flank of a line is to quicken or slacken its pace.

Distinguishing G, with the march or the retreat

It may also be combined with the march, retreat, and many other sounds, applying of course to that wing only. But great care must be taken to encrease those sounds gradually, and with caution, as troops become more perfect and intelligent.

Cautionary sound

Previous to the communication of the sound which is to follow the note or notes in G. the bugler to whom it is addressed may repeat it as a reply to the commanding officer’s bugler, which will serve as a caution and may frequently prevent mistake.

Company sound

If a short distinct sound is fixed for each company, exclusively applying to it, the commanding officer of the whole may thereby, when at a distance, direct any movement which is to be executed by particular companies only.

Uniform sounds in the service

It is very desirable that the same bugle sounds should be adopted by all corps. The 43d, 52d and 95th, use those in the “Regulations for Riflemen,” &c. translated from the German; and those selected here are taken from that book, with the addition of No. 8 and 9. Other sounds were formerly used in the army, which are still adhered to by some regiments; but the notes for them never having been published, they are seldom sounded correctly, and frequently cannot be understood as the same sounds.