I've been looking through my great great uncle's military records and see he was promoted to Corporal when he reenlisted January 1, 1864. Just curious what all did a Corporal do during and after battle? I know each company had 8 Corporals assigned to it. So I'm assuming they were like squad leaders. Really not finding much on google so I thought I 'd ask here.
The duties of a corporal (Pay grade E-4 in the U.S. Military) were probably pretty much the same in the Civil War era as they are now. A corporal is considered to be the lowest rank that is regarded as an NCO.
In a typical infantry squad of about ten men, a corporal might be assigned to lead a fire team, which is about half a squad. The squad would normally be led by a sergeant or staff sergeant. A corporal might be the second in command of the squad. He would be expected to lead his team, assist the squad leader in controlling the squad, and take over the squad if the sergeant went down.
"The duties of a corporal are simple and depend for their successful performance mainly upon his capacity to control and direct soldiers in the performance of their duty. They take charge of the smaller details for fatigue and police duty in camp and garrison duty: their most important duty is that of Corporal of the Guard. They frequently succeed to the responsibility of sergeant in his absence and should therefore be familiar with his duties."
There is a lot more about how to run the guard mounts and there is another section on leading small recon patrols. So, in regards to your question: take control of small details (like burial details, ammo resupply, etc) and take over when an NCO became a casualty. Hope that helps.
Now I really wish that website wasn't down, could post a link to the manual and maybe to the page. But I know Stackpole Books have reproduced several of the manuals from the Federal army, including the one Mark quoted from. Certainly worth having (think it was the one on Cavalry where I was scratching my head at some of the care for horses or maybe it was one of the others talking about the care of the soldiers)