Hold your force well in hand for every emergency, and reconnoiter Yellow Creek without delay.
HDQRS. ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
Jackson, Tenn., March 17, 1862.
The following regulations are announced for the observance of the troops of this army while on outpost service:
1. The commanders of all detached army corps, divisions, brigades, or regiments of this army, on arriving at a position to be occupied, will carefully reconnoiter, personally and by staff officers, the ground in the vicinity, and all roads and approaches thereto, for a distance of several miles, especially in the known direction of the enemy. The best position for holding all such approaches, under vigilant observation and for the prevention of surprise, will be carefully selected for the advance line of picket sentries, which shall not be less than 1 mile distant from the main body of the command nor more than 3 miles. The force to be employed in this outpost service shall habitually be not less than one-fifth of the command from which it may be detached, and the tour of duty will be for three days.
2. The post of the regiment, battalion, or detachment on outpost service will be selected at a convenient central point about a half mile in rear of the front line to be occupied by sentinels, and there will be the reserve and place for baggage and cooking. One-third of the command or detachment will be thrown forward in three equal parties, equidistant from each other, to within 200 yards of the extreme picket front, and from these detachments smaller detachments, each of from three to six privates, with a commissioned or non-commissioned officer in charge, from which a continuous line of sentries will be established along the entire front to be held and observed, connecting at all times with the sentinels on the right and left, thrown forward either by the picket posts of the same regiment, battalion, or detachment, or established from other regiments, battalions, or detachments, on outpost service. At night the number of sentinels will be doubled.
3. Sentinels on picket should be so established as to observe as much and as far as possible while themselves concealed from observation by the enemy. Loud talking, singing, whistling, and fires, except at the reserve, and in very cold weather on the line of company or detachment reserves, are strictly prohibited. Citizens must not be allowed to stay or lounge about the picket posts or converse with pickets. This is particularly enjoined, for under the pretense of hospitality and the simulation of the simple countryman an insidious spy may be lurking to discover our signals of recognition, countersigns, pass-words, or other information to be betrayed to our injury.
4. Officers and non-commissioned officers and soldiers on picket service are at all times [to be] dressed and equipped.
The commander of each outpost command will make frequent visits and inspections of his advanced detachments, picket posts, and front line of sentinels, and he will be responsible for any surprise of his lines, or lax, negligent performance of picket service by his officers and men during the tour. He will give proper instructions to all under his command touching their several duties, and should satisfy himself that those instructions are well understood and rigidly executed. His adjutant, or some other officer selected for the duty, will also visit each