Philadelphia: Anthony Finley, 1812.
Hardcover. Very good. 8vo, xii, 225 pp, with 34 folding plates. Contemporary full leather binding (scuffed) with red spine label. Dark staining to top edge/gutter of first few leaves, one plate (No. 10) with partial loss. All else very good. Born in Ireland in 1767, Smyth moved to Virginia with his family at the age of 7. He became an attorney and was elected several times to the Virginia House of Delegates. In 1808, he left politics to accept an invitation from Thomas Jefferson to serve as colonel of the newly formed U.S. Rifle Regiment. He “rendered effective military service, and in 1811 President James Madison's secretary of war, William Eustis, approached him to compile a new system of military discipline to replace the venerated Blue Book of Baron Friedrich von Steuben. Smyth complied by writing [this book], which became the army's first official drill manual in thirty years. This abridgement of the French 1791 Reglement, though much criticized by [some of Smyth’s political enemies], was adopted on 3 March 1812, the first of a series of French manuals that would dominate American military tactics until the Civil War” (ANB). Grodzinski 1507; Sabin 85188.