So did this apply to both sides, I’d always assumed that if an NCO was taken out of action, the oldest or more experienced man would lead the section or platoon at least until someone was officially appointed. Like I said I’d ‘imagined’ that’s how things would be. It seems more likely that would happen in a confederate unit given that the men would have some kind of pecking order. There must have been situations on both sides where an NCO was killed or wounded, it makes sense to me that the younger more inexperienced men would look to the oldest guy to lead especially in regiments formed from towns where the men knew each other.That is a post war idea that make perfect sense in the much, much smaller peacetime army.
Where a company might very well be stationed on its own somewhere.
But you don't find in his book
"CUSTOMS OF SERVICE FOR NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS AND SOLDIERS"
That one is from 1864 and about the nco's
368. The most important duty of sergeant is that of file-closer. Posted in the rear of the company
when paraded, it is his duty to see that the men pay attention to their duty, preserve order, march
properly, and keep closed.
369. In time of battle, it is his duty to keep the men in ranks, not to allow them to fall out on any
pretext, and to prevent them from misbehaving before the enemy. He is even required to shoot
men down when they attempt to run away in times of danger.
There is nothing about leading anything in combat.
the 1st sergeant covers the captain, and is the right guide.
the 2nd sergeant is the left guide.
The rest are file closers.
And look in the drill books.
They do not use squads as any sort of tactical thing. It is the name given for a small group of soldiers doing drill.
It mention splitting the company into sections, but don't use them for anything. And there is no defined section leader.
But they do use platoons for a few things. Mainly If a battalion in line is marching and something get in the way of part of the line, a platoon can fall out of the line and behind the neighboring platoon to get past it.
In this case the 1st LT command the 2nd platoon. (and the captain the 1st platoon)