In the early days of the American Revolution, little standardization of NCO ditties or
responsibilities existed. In 1778, during the long, hard winter at Valley Forge, Inspector
General Friedrich von Steuben standardized NCO duties and responsibilities in his
Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States
(printed in 1779). Among other things this work (commonly called the Blue Book)
set down the duties and responsibilities for corporals, sergeants, first sergeants,
quartermaster sergeants, and sergeants major, which were the NCO ranks of the period,
It also emphasized the importance of selecting quality soldiers for NCO positions.
(*von Steuben) This work served for 30 Years as the primary regulations for the Army.
The duties of the noncommissioned officer, as set forth by von Steuben, were:
The Sergeant Major served as the assistant to the regimental adjutant. He kept rosters,
formed details, and handled matters concerning the "interior management and discipline of the regiment." (*von Steuben)
The Quartermaster Sergeant assisted the regimental quartermaster, whose duties he assumed during the quartermaster's absence. He also supervised the proper loading and transport of the regiment's baggage when on march. (*von Steuben)
The First Sergeant enforced discipline and encouraged duty among troops, maintained the duty roster, made morning report to the company commander, and kept the company descriptive book. This document listed the name, age, height, place of birth, and prior occupation of every enlisted man in the unit. (*von Steuben)
Sergeants and Corporals were expected to instruct recruits in all matters of military training, including the order of their behavior in regard to neatness and sanitation. Outbreaks of disturbances were to be punished. Listings of sick were to be forwarded to the First Sergeant.
The sword adopted in 1859 and subsequently carried by...