INFANTRY, the collective name of soldiers who march and fight on foot and are armed with hand-weapons. The word is derived ultimately from Lat. infans, infant, but it is not clear how the word came to be used to mean soldiers. The suggestion that it comes from a guard or regiment of a Spanish infanta about the end of the i5th century cannot be maintained in view of the fact that Spanish foot-soldiers of the time were called soldados and contrasted with French fantassins and Italian fanteria. The New English Dictionary suggests that a foot-soldier, being in feudal and early modern times the varlet or follower of a mounted noble, was called a boy (cf. Knabe, garden, footman, etc., and see VALET).
HISTORICAL SKETCH The importance of the infantry arm, both in history and at the present time, cannot be summed up better and more concisely than in the phrase used by a brilliant general of the Napoleonic era, General Morand " L'infanterie, c'est I'armee."
It may be confidently asserted that the original fighting man was a foot-soldier. But infantry was differentiated as an " arm " considerably later than cavalry; for when a new means of fighting (a chariot or a horse) presented itself, it was assimilated by relatively picked men, chiefs and noted warriors, who ipso facto separated themselves from the mass or reservoir of men. How this mass itself ceased to be a mere residue and developed special characteristics; how, instead of the cavalry being recruited from the best infantry, cavalry and infantry came to form two distinct services; and how the arm thus constituted organized itself, technically and tactically, for its own work these are the main, questions that constitute the historical side of the subject. It is obvious that as the " residue " was far the greatest part of the army, the history of the foot-soldier is practically identical with the history of soldiering.
It was only when a group of human beings became too large to be surprised and assassinated by a few lurking enemies, that proper fighting became the normal method of settling a quarrel or a rivalry. Two groups, neither of which had been able to surprise the other, had to meet face to face, and the instinct of self-preservation had to be reconciled with the necessity of victory. From this it was an easy step to the differentiation of the champion, the proved excellent fighting man, and to providing this man, on whom everything depended, with all assistance that better arms, armour, horse or chariot could give him. But suppose our champion slain, how are we to make head against the opposing champion? For long ages, we may suppose, the latter, as in the Iliad, slaughtered the sheep who had lost their shepherd, but in the end the " residue " began to organize itself, and to oppose a united front to the enemy's champions in which term we include all selected men, whether horsemen, charioteers or merely specially powerful axemen and swordsmen. But once the individual had lost his commanding position, the problem presented itself in a new form how to ensure that every member of the group did his duty by the others and the solution of this problem for the conditions of the ancient hand-to-hand struggle marks the historical beginning of infantry tactics.
Gallic warriors bound themselves together with chains. The Greeks organized the city state, which gave each small army 1 See Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Classes, " Supplementary Report on Interment in Towns," by Edwin Chadwick (Part. Papers, 1843, xii. 395); and The Social Condition and Education of the People, by Joseph Kay (1850).
solidarity and the sense of duty to an ideal, and the phalanx, in which the file-leaders were in a sense champions yet were f1, e made so chiefly by the unity of the mass. But the phalanx Romans went farther. Besides developing solidarity and the an( j a se nse of duty, they improved on this conception legion. of the baule to suc }, a degree that as a nation they may be called the best tacticians who ever existed. Giving up the attempt to make all men fight equally well, they dislocated the mass of combatants into three bodies, of which the first, formed of the youngest and most impressionable men, was engaged at the outset, the rest, more experienced men, being kept out of the turmoil. This is the very opposite of the " champion " system. Those who would have fled after the fall of the champions are engaged and " fought out " before the champions enter the area of the contest, while the champions, who possess in themselves the greatest power of resisting and mastering the instinct of self-preservation, are kept back for the moment when ordinary men would lose heart.
It might be said with perfect justice that without infantry there would never have been discipline, for cavalry began and continued as a crowd of champions. Discipline, which created and maintained the intrinsic superiority of the Roman legion, depended first on the ideal of patriotism. This was ingrained into every man from his earliest years and expressed in a system of rewards and punishments which took effect from the same ideal, in that rewards were in the main honorary in character (mural crowns, etc.), while no physical punishment was too severe for the man who betrayed, by default or selfishness, the cause of Rome. Secondly, though every man knew his duty, not every man was equal to doing it, and in recognition of this fact the Romans evolved the system of three-line tactics in which the strong parts of the machine neutralized the weak. The first of these principles, being psychological in character, rose, flourished and decayed with the moral of the nation. The second, deduced from the first, varied with it, but as it was objectively expressed in a system of tactics, which had to be modified to suit each case, it varied also in proportion as the combat took more or less abnormal forms. So closely knit were the parts of the system that not only did the decadence of patriotism sap the legionary organization, but also the unsuitability of that organization to new conditions of warfare reacted unfavourably, even disastrously, on the moral of the nation. Between them, the Roman infantry fell from its proud place, and whereas in the Republic it was familiarly called the "strength" (robur), by the 4th century A.D. it had become merely the background for a variety of other arms and corps. Luxury produced " egoists," to whom the rewards meant nothing and the punishments were torture for the sake of torture. When therefore the Roman imperium extended far enough to bring in silks from China and ivory from the forests of central Africa, the citizen-army ceased to exist, and the mere necessity for garrisoning distant savage lands threw the burden of service upon the professional soldier.
The natural consequence of this last was the uniform training of every man. There were no longer any primary differences between one cohort and another, and though the value l of the three-line system in itself ensured its continuance, Army. any cohort, however constituted, might find itself serving in any one of the three lines, i.e. the moral of the last line was no better than that of the first. The best guarantee of success became uniform regimental excellence, and whereas Camillus or Scipio found useful employment in battle for every citizen, Caesar complained that a legion which had been sent him was too raw, though it had been embodied for nine years. The conditions which were so admirably met by the old system never reappeared; for before armies resumed a " citizen " character the invention of firearms had subjected all ranks and lines alike to the same ordeal of facing unseen death, and the old soldiers were better employed in standing shoulder to shoulder with the young. In brief, the old Roman organization was based on patriotism and experience, and when patriotism gave place to " egoism," and the experience of the citizen who spent every other summer in the field of war gave place to the formal training of the paid recruit, it died, unregretted either by the citizen or by the military chieftain. The latter knew how to make the army his devoted servant, while the former disliked -military service and failed to prepare himself for the day when the military chief and the mercenary overrode his rights and set up a tyranny, and ultimately the inner provinces of the empire came to be called inermes unarmed, defenceless in contrast to the borderland where the all-powerful professional legions lay in garrison.
In these same frontier provinces the tactical disintegration of the legion slowly accomplished itself. Originally designed for the exigencies of the normal pitched battle on firm open fields, and even after its professionalization retaining its character as a large battle unit, it was soon fragmented through the exigencies of border warfare into numerous detachments of greater or less size, and when the military frontier of the empire was established, the legion became an almost sedentary corps, finding the garrisons for the blockhouses on its own section of the line of defence. Further, the old heavy arms and armour which had given it the advantage in wars of conquest in which the barbarians, gathering to defend their homes, offered a target for the blow of an army were a great disadvantage when it became necessary to police the conquered territory, to pounce upon swiftly moving bodies of raiders before they could do any great harm. Thus gradually cavalry became more numerous, and light infantry of all sorts more useful, than the old-fashioned linesman. To these corps went the best recruits and the smartest officers, the opportunities for good service and the rewards for it. The legion became once more the " residue." Thus when the " champion " reappeared on the battlefield the solidarity that neutralized his power had ceased to exist.
The battle of Adrianople, the "last fight of the legion," illustrates this. The frontal battle was engaged in the ordinary way, and the cohorts of the first line of the imperial army were fighting man to man with the front ranks of the Gothic infantry (which had indeed a solidarity of its own, unlike the barbarians of the early empire, and was further guaranteed against moral over-pressure by a wagon laager), when suddenly the armoured heavy cavalry of the Goths burst upon their flank and rear. There were no longer Principes and Triarii of the old Republican calibre, but only average troops, in the second and third lines, and they were broken at once. The first line felt the battle in rear as well as in front and gave way. Thereafter the victors, horse and foot, slaughtered unresisting herds of men, not desperate soldiers, and on this day the infantry arm, as an arm, ceased to exist.
Of course, not every soldier became a horseman, and still fewer could provide themselves with armour. Regular infantry, too, was still maintained for siege, mountain and forest warfare. But the robur, the kernel of the line of battle, was gone, and though a few of the peoples that fought their way into the area of civilization in the dark ages brought with them the natural and primitive method of fighting on foot, it was practically always a combination of mighty champions and " residue," even though the latter bound themselves together by locked shields, as the Gauls had bound themselves long before with chains, to prevent " skulking," These infantry nations, without any infantry system comparable to that of the Greeks and Romans, succumbed in turn to the crowd of mounted warriors not like the Greeks and Romans for want of good military qualities, but for want of an organization which would have distributed their fighting powers to the best advantage. One has only to study the battle of Hastings to realize how completely the infantry masses of the English slipped from the control of their leaders directly the front ranks became seriously engaged. For many generations after Hastings there was no attempt to use infantry as the kernel of armies, still less to organize it as such beforehand. Indeed, except in the Crusades, where men of high and of low degree alike fought for their common faith, and in sieges, where cavalry was powerless and the services of archers and labourers were at a premium, it became quite unusual for infantry to appear on the field at all.
The tactics of feudal infantry at its best were conspicuously illustrated in the battle of Bouvines, where besides the barons, knights _ . and sergeants, the Brabancon mercenaries (heavy foot)
" and the French communal militia opposed one another. On the French right wing, the opportune arrival of a well-closed mass of cavalry and infantry in the flank of a loose crowd of men- atarms which had already been thoroughly engaged, decided the fight. In the centre, the respective infantries were in first line, the nobles and knights, with their sovereigns, in second, yet it was a mixed mass of both that, after a period of confused fighting, focussed the battle in the persons of the emperor and the king of France, and if the personal encounters of the two bodies of knights gave the crowded German infantry a momentary chance to strike down the king, the latter was soon rescued by a half-dozen of heavy cavalrymen. On the left wing, the count of Boulogne made a living castle of his Brabangon pikes, whence with his men-at-arms he sallied forth from time to time and played the champion. Lastly, the Constable Montmorency brought over what was still manageable of the corps that had defeated the cavalry on the right (nearly all mounted men) and gave the final push to the allied centre and right in succession. Then the imperial army fled and was slaughtered without offering much resistance. Of infantry in this battle there was enough and to spare, but its only opportunities for decisive action were those afforded by the exhaustion of the armoured men or by the latter becoming absorbed in their own single combats to the exclusion of their proper work in the line of battle. As usual the infantry suffered nine-tenths of the casualties. For all their numbers and apparent tactical distribution on this field, they were " residue," destitute of special organization, training or utility; and the only suggestion of " combined tactics " is the expedient adopted by the count of Boulogne, rings of spearmen to serve as pavilions served in the tournament to secure a decorous setting for a display of knightly prowess.
In those days in truth the infantry was no more the army than to-day the shareholders of a limited company are the board of directors. They were deeply, sometimes vitally, interested in the result, but they contributed little or nothing to bringing it about, except when the opposing cavalries were in a state of moral equilibrium, and in these cases anything suffices the appearance of camp followers on a " Gillies Hill, "as at Bannockburn or the sound of half-a-dozen trumpets to turn the scale. Once it turned, the infantry of the beaten side was cut down unresistingly, while the more valuable prisoners were admitted to ransom. Thereafter, feudal tactics were based principally on the ideas of personal glory won in single combat, champion against champion, and of personal profit won by the knight in holding a wealthy and well-armed baron to ransom and by the foot-soldier in plundering while his masters were fighting. In the French army, the term bidaux, applied in the days of Bouvines to all the infantry other than archers and arblasters, came by a quite natural process to mean the laggards, malingerers and skulkers of the army.
But even this infantry contained within itself two halfsmothered sparks of regeneration, the idea of archery and the idea of communal militia. Archery, in whatever ^ orm Poetised, was the one special form of military activity with which the heavy gendarme (whether he fought on horseback or dismounted) had no concern. Here therefore infantry had a special function, and in so far ceased to be " residue." The communal militia was an early and inadequate expression of the town-spirit that was soon to produce the solid burgher-militia of Flanders and Germany and after that the trained bands of the English cities and towns. It therefore represented the principles of solidarity, of combination, of duty to one's comrade and to the common cause principles which had disappeared from feudal warfare. 1 It was under the influence of these two ideas or forces that infantry as an arm began once again, though slowly and painfully, to differentiate itself from the mass of bidaux until in the end the latter practically contained only the worthless elements.
The first true infantry battle since Hastings was fought at Courtrai in 1302, between the burghers of Bruges and a feudal army under Count Robert of Artois. The citizens, arrayed in heavy masses, and still armed with miscellaneous weapons, were careful to place themselves on ground difficult of access dikes, pools 1 At Bouvines, it is recorded with special emphasis that Guillaume des Barres, when in the act of felling the emperor, heard the call to rescue King Philip Augustus and, forfeiting his rich prize, made his way back to help his own sovereign.
and marshes and to fasten themselves together, like the Gauls of old. Their van was driven back by the French communal infantry and professional crossbowmen, whereupon Robert of Artois, true feudal leader as he was, ordered his infantry to clear the way for the cavalry and without even giving them time to do so pushed through their ranks with a formless mass of gendarmerie. This, in attempting to close with the enemy, plunged into the canals and swamped lands, and was soon immovably fastened in the mud. The citizens swarmed all round it and with spear, cleaver and flail destroyed it. Robert himself with a party of his gendarmerie strove to break through the solid wall of spears, but in vain. He was killed and his army perished with him, for the citizens did not regard war as a game and ransom as the loser's forfeit. As for the communal infantry which had won the first success, it had long since disappeared from the field, for when count Robert ordered his heavy cavalry forward, they had thought themselves attacked in rear by a rush of hostile cavalry as indeed they were, for the gendarmerie rode them down and melted away.
Cr6cy (q.is.) was fought forty-four years after Courtrai. Here the knights had open ground to fight on, and many boasted that they would revenge themselves. But they encountered not merely infantry, but infantry tactics, and were for the second, and not the last, time destroyed. The English army included a large feudal element, but the spirit of indiscipline had been crushed by a series of iron-handed kings, and for more than a century the nobles, in so far as they had been bad subjects, had been good Englishmen. The English yeomen had reached a level of self-discipline and self-respect which few even of the great continental cities had attained. They had, lastly, made the powerful long-bow (see ARCHERY) their own, and Edward I. had combined the shock of the heavy cavalry with the slow searching preparatory rain of arrows (see FALKIRK). That is, infantry tactics and cavalry tactics were co-ordinated by a general, and the special point of this for the present purpose is that instead of being, as in France, the unstable base of the socalled " feudal pyramid," infantry has become an arm, capable of offence and defence and having its own special organization, function in the line of battle and tactical method. This last, indeed, like every other tactical method, rested ultimately on the moral of the men who had to put it into execution. Archer tactics did not serve against the disciplined rush of Joan of Arc's gendarmerie, for the solidarity of the archer companies that tried to stop it had long been undermined.
Yet we cannot overrate the importance of the archer in this period of military history. In the city militias solidarity had been obtained through the close personal relationship of the trade gilds and by the elimination of the champion. ^"ush Therefore, as every offensive in war rests upon boldness, archer. these militias were essentially defensive, for they could only hope to ward off the feudal champion, not to outfight him (Battle of Legnano, 1176. See Oman, p. 442). England, however, had evolved a weapon which no armour could resist, and a race of men as fully trained to use it as the gendarme was to use the lance. 2 This weapon gave them the power of killing without being killed, which the citizens' spears and maces and voulges did not. But like all missiles, arrows were a poor stand-by in the last resort if determined cavalry crossed the " beaten zone " and closed in, and besides pavises and pointed stakes the English archers were given the support of the knights, nobles and sergeants the armoured champions whose steady lances guaranteed their safety. Here was the real forward stride in infantry tactics. Archery had existed from time immemorial, and a mere technical improvement in its weapon could hardly account for its suddenly becoming the queen of the battlefield. The defensive power of the " dark impenetrable wood " of spears had been demonstrated again and again, but when the cavalry had few or no preliminary difficulties to face, the chances of the infantry mass resisting long-continued pressure was small. It was the combination of the two elements that made possible a Crecy and a Poitiers, and this combination was the result of the English social system which produced the 2 Crossbows indeed were powerful, and also handled by professional soldiers (e.g. the Genoese at Crecy), but they were slow in action, six times as slow as the long bow, and the impatient gendarmerie generally became tired of the delay and crowded out or rode over the crossbowmen.
camaraderie of knight and yeoman, champion and plain soldier. Fortified by the knight's unshakeable steadiness, the yeoman handled his bow and arrows with cool certainty and rapidity, and shot down every rush of the opposing champions. This was camaraderie de combat indeed, and in such conditions the offensive was possible and even easy. The English conquered whole countries while the Flemish and German spearmen and vougiers merely held their own. For them, decisive victories were only possible when the enemy played into their hands, but for the English the guarantee of such victories was the specific character of their army itself and the tactical methods resulting from and expressing that character.
But the war of conquest embodied in these decisive victories dwindled in its later stages to a war of raids. The feudal lord, The like the feudal vassal, returned home and gave place Hundred to the professional man-at-arms and the professional Years' captain. Ransom became again the chief object, War ' and except where a great leader, such as Bertrand Du Guesclin, compelled the mercenaries to follow him to death or victory, a battle usually became a melee of irregular duels between men-at-arms, with all the selfishness and little of the chivalry of the purely feudal encounter. The war went on and on, the gendarmes thickened their armour, and the archers found more difficulty in penetrating it. Moreover, in raids for devastation and booty, the slow-moving infantryman was often a source of danger to his comrades. In this guerrilla the archer, though he kept his place, soon ceased to be the mainstay of battle. It had become customary since Crecy (where the English knights and sergeants were dismounted to protect the archers) for all mounted men to send away their horses before engaging. Here and there cavalry masses were used by such energetic leaders as the Black Prince and Du Guesclin, and more often a few men remained mounted for work requiring exceptional speed and courage, 1 but as a general rule the man-at-arms was practically a mounted infantryman, and when he dismounted he stood still. Thus two masses of dismounted lances, mixed with archers, would meet and engage, but the archers, the offensive element, were now far too few in proportion to the lances, the purely defensive element, and battles became indecisive skirmishes instead of overwhelming victories.
Cavalry therefore became, in a very loose sense of the word, infantry. But we are tracing the history not of all troops that stood on their feet to fight, but of infantry and the special tactics of infantry, and the period before and after 1370, when the moral foundations of the new English tactics had disappeared, and the personality of Du Guesclin gave even the bandits of the " free companies " an intrinsic, if slight, superiority over the invaders, is a period of deadlock. Solidarity, such as it was, had gone over to the side of the heavy cavalry. But the latter had deliberately forfeited their power of forcing the decision by fighting on foot, and the English archer, the cadre of the English tactical system, though diminished in numbers, prestige and importance, held to existence and survived the deadlock. Infantry of that type indeed could never return to the " residue " state, and it only needed a fresh moral impetus, a Henry V., to set the old machinery to work again for a third great triumph. But again, after Agincourt, the long war lapsed into the hands of the soldiers of fortune, the basis of Edward's and Henry's tactics crumbled, and, led by a greater than Du Guesclih, the knights and the nobles of France, and the mercenary captains and men-at-arms as well, rode down the stationary masses of the English, lances and bowmen alike.
The net result of the Hundred Years' War therefore was to re-establish the two arms, cavalry and infantry, side by side, the one acting by shock, and the other by fire. The lesson of Crecy was " prepare your charge before delivering it," and for that purpose great bodies of infantry armed with bows, arblasts and handguns were brought into existence in France. When the French king in 1448 put into force the " lessons of the war " and organized a permanent army, it consisted in the main of heavy 1 As for instance when thirty men-at-arms " cut out " the Captal de Buch from the midst of his army at Cocherel.
cavalry (knights and squires in the " ordonnance " companies, soldiers of fortune in the paid companies) and archers and arblasters (francs-archers recruited nationally, arblasters as a rule mercenaries, though largely recruited in Gascony). To these armes de jet were added, in ever-increasing numbers, hand firearms. Thus the " fire " principle of attack was established, and the defensive principle of " mass " relegated to the background. In such circumstances cavalry was of course the decisive arm, and the reputation of the French gendarmerie was such as to justify this bold elimination of the means of passive defence. 2 The foot-soldier of Germany and the Low Countries had followed a very different line of development. Here the rich commercial cities scarcely concerned themselves with the quarrels or revolts of neighbouring nobles, mimias. but they resolutely defended their own rights against feudal interference, and enforced them by an organized militia, opposing the strict solidarity of their own institutions to the prowess of the champion who threatened them. The struggle was between " you shall " on the part of the baron and " we will not " on the part of the citizens, the offensive versus the defensive in the simplest and plainest form. The latter was a policy of unbreakable squares, and wherever possible, strong positions as well. Sometimes the citizens, sometimes the nobles gained the day, but the general result was that steady infantry in proper formation could not be ridden down, and as yeomenarchers of the English type to " prepare " the charge were not obtainable from amongst the serf populations of the countryside, the problem of the attack was, for Central Europe, insoluble.
The unbreakable square took two forms, the wagenburg with artillery, and the infantry mass with pikes. The first was no more, in the beginning, than an expedient for the safe and rapid crossing of wider stretches of open country e than would have been possible for dismounted men, burg. whom the cavalry headed off as soon as they ventured far enough from the shelter of walls. The men rode not on horses but on carriages, and the carriages moved over the plains in laager formation, the infantrymen standing ready with halbert and voulge or short stabbing spear, and the gunners crouching around the long barrelled two-pounders and the " ribaudequins " the early machine guns which were mounted on the wagons. These wagenburgen combined in themselves the due proportions of mobility and passive defence, and in the skilled hands of Ziska they were capable of the boldest offensive. But such a tactical system depended first of all on drill, for the armoured cavalry would have crowded through the least gap in the wagon line, and the necessary degree of drill in those days could only be attained by an army which had both a permanent existence and some bond of solidarity more powerful than the incentive to plunder that is, in practice, it was only attained in full by the Hussite insurgents. The cavalry, too, learned its lesson, and pitted mobile three-pounders against the foot-soldiers' one- and two-pounders, and the wagenburg became no more than a helpless target. Thus when, not many years after the end of the Hussite wars, the Wars of the Roses eliminated the English model and the English tactics from the military world of Europe, the French system of fire tactics masses of archers, arblasters and handgun-men, with some spearmen and halberdiers to stiffen them was left face to face with that of the Swiss and Landsknechts, the system of the " long pike."
A series of victories ranging from Morgarten (1315) to Nancy (1477) had made the Swiss the most renowned infantry in Europe. Originally their struggles with would-be oppressors had Tllf swlt*. taken the form, often seen elsewhere, of arraying solid masses of men, united in purpose and fidelity to one another rather than by any material or tactical cohesion. Like the men of Bruges at Courtrai, the Swiss had the advantage of broken ground, and the still greater advantage of being opposed by reckless feudal cavalry. Their armament at this stage was not peculiar voulges, gisarmes, halberts and spears though they were specially adept in the use of the two-handed sword. But as time went on the long pike (said to have originated in Savoy or the Milanese about 1330)
! This tendency of the French military temperament reappears at almost every stage in the history of armies.
became more and more popular until at last on the verge of their brief ascendancy (about 1475-1515) the Swiss armed as much as one quarter of their troops with it. The use of firearms made little or no progress amongst them, and the Swiss mercenaries of 1480, like their forerunners of Morgarten and Sempach, fought with the arme blanche alone. But in a very few years after the Swiss nation had become soldiers of fortune en masse, the more open lands of Swabia entered into serious and bitter competition with them. From these lands came the Landsknechts, whose order was as strong as, and far less unwieldy than, that of the Swiss, whose armament included a far greater proportion of firearms, and who established a regimental system that left a permanent mark on army organization. The Landsknecht was the prototype of the infantryman of the 16th and 17th centuries, but his right to indicate the line of evolution had to be wrung from many rivals.
The year 1480 indeed was a turning-point in military history. Within the three years preceding it the battles of Nancy and The la Guinegate had destroyed both the old feudalism of pike."" Charles the Bold and the new cavalry tactics of the French gendarmerie. The former was an anachronism, while the latter, when -the great wars came to an end and there was no longer either a national impulse or a national leader, had lapsed into the old vices of ransom and plunder. With these, on the same fields, the franc-archer system of infantry tactics perished ignominiously. It rested, as we know, on the principle that the fire of the infantry was to be combined with and completed by the shock of the gendarmerie, and when the latter were found wanting as at Guinegate, the masses of archers and arblasters, which were only feebly supported by a few handfuls of pikemen and halberdiers, were swept away by the charge of some heavy battalions of Swabian and Flemish pikes. Guinegate was the debut of the Landsknecht infantry as Nancy was that of the Swiss, and the lesson could not be misread. Louis XI. indeed hanged some of his franc-archers and dismissed the rest, and in their place raised " bands " of regular infantry, one of which bore for the first time the historic name of Picardie. But these " bands " were not self-contained. Armed for the most part with armes de jet they centred on the 6000 Swiss pikemen whom Louis XL, in 1480, took into his service, and for nearly fifty years thereafter the French foot armies are always composed of two elements, the huge battalions of Swiss or Landsknechts, 1 armed exclusively with the long pike (except for an ever-decreasing proportion of halberts, and a few arquebuses), and for their support and assistance, French and mercenary " bands."
The Italian wars of 1494-1544, in which the principles of fire and shock were readjusted to meet the conditions created by firearms, were the nursery of modern infantry. The combinations of Swiss, Landsknechts, Spanish " tercios " and French " bands " that figured on the battlefields of the early 16th century were infinitely various. But it is not difficult to find a thread that runs through the whole.
The essence of the Swiss system was solidity. They arrayed themselves in huge oblongs of 5000 men and more, at the corners The ^ which, like the tower bastions of a 16th-century Italian fortress, stood small groups of arquebusiers. The Wars, Landsknechts and the Romagnols of Italy, imitated '1525" atl( ^ "vailed them, though as a rule developing more front and less depth. At this stage solidity was everything and fire-power nothing. At Fornuovo (1495) the mass of arquebusiers and arblasters in the French army did little or nothing; it was the Swiss who were I'esperance de I'ost. At Agnadello or Vaila in 1509 the ground and the " encounterbattle " character of the engagement gave special chances of effective employment to the arquebusiers on either side. Along the front the Venetian marksmen, secure behind a bank, picked off the leaders of the enemy as they came near. On the outer flank of the battle the bands of Gascon arquebusiers, which would otherwise have been relegated to an unimportant place in the general line of battle, lapped round the enemy's flank 1 The term landsknecht, it appears, was not confined to the right bank of the Rhine. The French " lansquenets " came largely from Alsace, according to General Hardy de Perini. In the Italian wars Francis I. had in his service a famous corps called the " black bands " which was recruited in the lower Rhine countries.
in broken ground and produced great and almost decisive effect. But this was only an afterthought of the king of France and Bayard. In the rest of the battle the huge masses of Swiss pikes were thrown upon the enemy much as the old feudal cavalry had been, regardless of ditches, orchards and vineyards.
Then for a moment the problem was solved, or partially solved, by the artillery. From Germany the material, though not at least to the same extent the principle, of the wagenb-urg penetrated, in the first years of the 16th century, to Italy and thence to France. Thus by degrees a very numerous and exceedingly handy light artillery " carts with gonnes," as they were called in England came into play on the Italian battlefields, and took over from the dying franc-archer system the work of preparing the assault by fire. For mere skirmishing the Swiss and Landsknechts had arquebusiers enough, without needing to call on the masses of Gascons, etc., and pari passu with the development of this artillery, the " bands," other than Swiss and Landsknechts, began to improve themselves into pikemen and halberdiers. At Ravenna (1512) the bands of Gascony and Picardy, as well as the French avenluriers (the " bands of Piedmont," afterwards the second senior regiment of the French line) fought in the line of battle shoulder to shoulder with the Landsknechts. On this day the fire action of the new artillery was extraordinarily murderous, ploughing lanes in the immobile masses of infantry. At Marignan the French gendarmerie and artillery, closely and skilfully combined, practically destroyed the huge masses of the Swiss, and so completely had " infantry " and " fire " become separate ideas that on the third day of this tremendous battle we find even the " bands of Piedmont " cutting their way into the Swiss masses.
But from this point the lead fell into the hands of the Spaniards. These were originally swift and handy light infantry, capable like the Scottish Highlanders at Prestonpans and Falkirk long afterwards of sliding Spanish under the forest of pikes and breaking into the close- /nfaatiy locked ranks with buckler and stabbing sword, ana the For troops of this sort the arquebus was an ideal """">* weapon, and the problem of self-contained infantry was solved by Gonsalvo de Cordoba, Pescara and the great Spanish captains of the day by intercalating small closed bodies of arquebusiers with rather larger, but not inordinately large, bodies of pikes. These arquebusiers formed separate, fully organized sections of the infantry regiment. In close defence they fought on the front and flanks of the pikes, but more usually they were pushed well to the front independently, their speed and excellent fire discipline enabling them to do what was wholly beyond the power of the older type of firing infantry to take advantage of ground, to run out and reopen fire during a momentary pause in the battle of lance and pike, and to run back to the shelter of their own closed masses when threatened by an oncoming charge. When this system of tactics was consecrated by the glorious success of Pavia (1525), the " cart with gonnes " vanished and the system of fighting everywhere and always " at push of pike " fell into the background.
The lessons of Payia can be read in Francis I.'s instructions to his newly formed Provincial (militia) Legions in 1534 and in the battle of Cerisoles ten years later. The " legion " was ordered .. to be composed of six " bands " battalions we should ., call them now, but in those days the term " battalion " was consecrated to a gigantic square of the Swiss type each of 800 pikes (including a few halberts) and 200 arquebusiers. The pikes, 4800 strong, of each legion were grouped in one large battalion, and covered on the front and flanks by the 1200 arquebuses, the latter working in small and handy squads. These " legions " did not of course count as good troops, but their organization and equipment, designed deliberately in peace time, and not affected by the coming and going of soldiers of fortune, represent therefore the theoretically perfect type for the 16th century. Cerisoles represents the system in practice, with veteran regular troops. On the side of the French most of the arquebuses were grouped on the right wing, in a long irregular line of companies or strong squads, supported at a moderate distance by companies or small battalions of corselets " (pikes of the French bands of Picardy and Piedmont); the rest of the line of battle was composed of Landsknechts, etc., similarly arrayed, except that the arquebusiers were on the flanks and immediate front of the" corselets "and behind the arquebuses and corselets of the right wing came a Swiss monster of the old type. On the imperial side of the Landsknechts, Spanish and Italian infantry were drawn up in seven or eight battalions, each with its due proportion of pikes and " shot." The course of the battle demonstrated both the active tactical power of the new form of fire-action and the solidity of the pike nucleus, the former in the attack and defence of hills, woods and localities, the latter in an episode in which a Spanish battalion, after being ridden through from corner to corner by the French gendarmes, continued on its way almost unchecked and quite unbroken. This combination of arquebusiers supported by corselets in first line and corselets with a few arquebusiers in second, reappeared at Renty (1554).. ar >d St Quentin (1557), and was in fact the typical disposition of infantry from about 1530 to 1600.
By 1550, then, infantry had entirely ceased to be an auxiliary arm. It contained within itself, and (what is more important) within its regimental units, the power of fighting effectively and decisively both at close quarters and at a distance the principal characteristic of the arm to-day. It had, further, developed a permanent regimental existence, both in Spain and in France, and in the former country it had progressed so far from the " residue " state that young nobles preferred to trail a pike in the ranks of the foot to service in the gendarmerie or light horse. The service battalions were kept up to war strength by the establishment of depots and the preliminary training there of recruits. In France, apart from Picardie and the other old regiments, every temporary regiment, on disbandment, threw off a depot company of the best soldiers, on which nucleus the regiment was reconstituted for the next campaign. Moreover, the permanent establishment was augmented from time to time by the colonel-general of the foot " giving his white flag " to temporary regiments.
The organization of the French infantry in 1570 presents some points of interest. The former broad classification of au dela and en de$a des monts or " Picardie " and " Piedmont," representing the home and Italian armies, had disappeared, and instead the whole of the infantry, under one colonel-general, was divided into the regiments of Picardie, Piedmont and French Guards, each of which had its own colonel and its own colours. Besides these, three newer corps were entretenus far le Roy " Champagne," practically belonging to the Guise 1 family, and two others formed out of the once enormous regiment of Marshal de Coss6-Brissac. At the end of a campaign all temporary regiments were disbanded, but in imitation of the Spanish depot system, each, on disbandment, threw off a depot company of picked men who formed the nucleus for the next year's augmentation. The regiment consisted of 10-16 " ensigns " or companies, each of about 150 pikemen and 50 arquebusiers. Each company had a proprietary captain, the owners of the first two companies being the colonelgeneral and the colonel (mestre de camp). The senior captain was called the sergeant-major, and performed the duties of a second in command and an adjutant or brigade-major. Unlike the regimental commander, the sergeant-major was always mounted, and it is recorded that one officer newly appointed to the post incurred the ridicule of the army by dismounting to speak to the king ! " Some veteran officers," wrote a contemporary, are inclined to think that the regimental commander should be mounted as well as the sergeantmajor." The regiment was as a rule formed for parade and battle either in line 10 deep or in " battalion " (i.e. mass), Swiss fashion. The captain occupied the front, the ensigns with the company colours the centre, and the lieutenants the rear place in the file. The sergeants, armed with the halbert, marched on each side of the battalion or company. Though the musket was gradually being introduced, and had powerful advocates in Marshal Strozzi and the duke of Guise, the bulk of the " shot " still carried the arquebus, the calibre of which had been, thanks to Strozzi's efforts, standardized (see CALIVER) so that all the arms took the same sizes of ball. The pikeman had half-armour and a 14-ft. pike, the arquebusier beside the fire-arm a sword which he was trained to use in the manner of the former Spanish light infantry. The arquebusiers were arrayed in 3 ranks in front of the pikes or in 10 deep files on either flank.
The wars in which this system was evolved were wars for prestige and aggrandizement. They were waged, therefore, by mercenary soldiers, whose main object was to live, and who were officered either by men of their own stamp, or by nobles eager to win military glory. But the Wars of Religion raised 1 This practice of " maintenance " on a large scale continued to exist in France long afterwards. As late as the battle of Lens (1648) we find figuring in the king of France's army three " regiments of the House of Conde."
questions of life and death for the Frenchmen of either faith, and such public opinion as there was influenced the method of operations so far that a decision and not a prolongation of the struggle began to be the desired end of operations. Hence in those wars the relatively immobile " battalion " of pikes diminishes in importance and the arquebusiers and musketeers grow more and more efficient. Armies, too, became smaller, and marched more rapidly. Encounter-battles became more frequent than "pitched" battles, and in these the musketeer was at a great advantage. Thus by 1600 the proportions between pikes and musketeers in the French army had come to be 6 pikes to 4 muskets or arquebuses, and the bataillon de combat or brigade was normally no more than 1200 strong. In the Netherlands, however, the war of consciences was fought out between the best regular army in the world and burgher militias. Even the French fantassins were second in importance to the Spanish soldados. The latter continued to hold the pre-eminent position they had gained at Pavia. 2 They improved the arquebus into the musket, a heavier and much more powerful weapon (fired from a rest) which could disable a horse at 500 paces.
At this moment the professional soldier was at the high-water mark of his supremacy. The musket was too complicated to be rapidly and efficiently used by any but a highly Alva ^ trained man; the pike, probably because it had now to protect two or three ranks of " shot " in front of the leading rank of pikemen, as well as the pikemen themselves, had grown longer (up to 18 ft.); and drill and manoeuvre had become more important than ever, for in the meantime cavalry had mostly abandoned the massive armour and the long lance in favour of half-armour and the pistol, and their new tactics made them both swifter to charge groups of musketeers and more deadly to the solid masses of pikemen. This superiority of the regular over the irregular was most conspicuously shown in Alva's war against the Netherlands patriots. Desperately as the latter fought, Spanish captains did not hesitate to attack patriot armies ten times their own strength. If once or twice this contempt led them to disaster, as at Heiligerlee in 1568 (though here, after all, Louis of Nassau's army was chiefly composed of trained mercenaries), the normal battle was of the Jemmingen type seven soldados dead and seven thousand rebels.
As regards battles in the open field, such results as these naturally confirmed the " Spanish system " of tactics. The Dutch themselves, when they evolved reliable field armies, copied it with few modifications, and by degrees it was spread over Europe by the professional soldiers on both sides. There was plenty of discussion and readjustment of details. For example, the French, with their smaller battalions and more rapid movements, were inclined to disparage both the cuirass and the pike, and only unwillingly hampered themselves with the long heavy Spanish musket, which had to be fired from a rest. In 1600, nearly fifty years after the introduction of the musket, this most progressive army still deliberately preferred the old light arquebus, and only armed a few selected men with the larger weapons. On the other hand, the Spaniards, though supreme in the open, had for the most part to deal with desperate men behind fortifications. Fighting, therefore, chiefly at close quarters with a fierce enemy, and not disposing either of the space or of the opportunity for " manoeuvre-battles," they sacrificed all theirformer lightness and speed,and clung to armour, the long pike and the heavy 2$ oz. bullet. But the principles first put into practice by Gonsalvo de Cordoba, the combination, in the proportions required in each case, of fire and shock elements in every body of organized infantry however small, were maintained in full vigour, and by now the superiority of the infantry arm in method, discipline and technique, which had long before made the Spanish nobles proud to trail a pike in the ranks, began to impress itself on other nations. The relative value of horse and foot became a subject for expert discussion instead of an axiom of class pride. The question of cavalry versus infantry, hotly disputed in all ages, is a matter affecting general tactics, and does not come within the scope of the present article (see further CAVALRY). Expert opinion indeed was still on the side of the horsemen. It was on their cavalry, with its speed, its swords and its pistols that the armies of the 16th century relied in the main to produce the decision in battle. Sir Francis Vane, speaking of the battle of Nieupoort in 1600, says, " Whereas most commonly in battles /a/fi0ol tne success f the foot dependeth on that of the horse, here it was clean contrary, for so long as the foot held good the horse could not be beaten out of the field." The " success " of the foot in Vane's eyes is clearly resistance to disintegration rather than ability to strike a decisive blow.
 Even as late as 1645 a battalion of infantry in England was called a tercio or tertia " (see ARMY; Spanish army).
It must be remembered, however, that Vane is speaking of the Low Countries, and that in France at any rate the solidity which saved the day at Nieupoort was less appreciated than the elan which had won so many smart engagements in the Wars of Religion. Moreover, it was the offensive, the decision-compelling faculty of the foot that steadily developed during the lyth century. To this, little by little, the powers of passive resistance to which Vane did homage, valuable as they were, were sacrificed, until at last the long pike disappeared altogether and the firearm, provided with a bayonet, was the uniform weapon of the footsoldier. This stage of infantry history covers almost exactly a century. As far as France was concerned, it was a natural evolution. But the acceptance of the principle by the rest of the military world, imposed by the genius of Gustavus Adolphus, was rather revolution than evolution.
In the army which Louis XIII. led against his revolted barons of Anjou in i62o,theoldregiments(/e.swett:r Picardie, Piedmont, etc.) seem to have marched in an open chequer-wise formation of companies which is interesting not only as a deliberate imitation of the Roman legion (all soldiers of that time, in the prevailing confusion of tactical ideas, sought guidance in the works of Xenophon, Aelian and Vegetius), but as showing that flexibility and handiness was not the monopoly of the Swedish system that was soon to captivate military Europe. The formations themselves are indeed found in the Spanish and Dutch armies, but the equipment of the men, and the general character of the operations in which they were engaged, probably failed to show off the advantages of this articulation, for the generals of the Thirty Years' War, trained in this school, formed their infantry into large battalions (generally a single line of masses). Experience certainly gave the troops that used these unwieldy formations a relatively high manoeuvring capacity, for Tilly's army at Breitenfeld (1631) " changed front half-left " in the course of the battle itself. But the manceuvring power of the Swedes was higher still. Each party represented one side of the classical revival, the Swedes the Roman three-line manipular tactics, the Imperialists and Leaguers those of the Greek line of phalanxes. The former, depending as it did on high moral in the individual foot-soldier, was hardly suitable to such a congeries of mercenaries as those that Wallenstein commanded, and later in the Thirty Years' War, when the old native Swedish and Scottish brigades had been annihilated, the Swedish infantry was little if at all better than the rest.
But its tactical system, sanctified by victory, was eagerly caught up by military Europe. The musket, though it had finally driven out the arquebus, had been lightened by Gustavus Adolphus so far that it could be fired without a rest. Rapidity in loading had so far improved that a company could safely be formed six deep instead of ten, as in the Spanish and Dutch systems. Its fire power was further augmented by the addition of two very light field-guns to each battalion; these could inflict loss at twice the effective range of the shortened musket. Above all, Gustavus introduced into the military systems of Europe a new discipline based on the idea of exact performance of duty, which made itself felt in every part of the service, and was a welcome substitute for the former easy-going methods of regimental existence. 1 The adoption of Swedish methods indeed was facilitated by the disrepute into which the older systems had fallen. Men were beginning to see that armies raised by contract for a few months' work possessed inherent vices that made it impossible to rely upon them in small things. Courage the mercenary certainly possessed, but his individual sense of honour, code of soldierly morals, and sometimes devotion to a particular leader did not compensate for the absence of a strong motive for victory and for his general refractoriness in matters of detail, such as march-discipline and punctuality, which had become essential since the great Swedish king had reintroduced order, method and definiteness of purpose into the conduct of military operations. In the old-fashioned masses, moreover, individual weaknesses, both moral and physical, counted for little or were suppressed in the general soldierly feeling of the whole body. But the six-deep line used by Gustavus demanded more devotion and exact obedience in the individual and a more uniform method of drill and handling arms. So shallow an order was not strong enough, under any other conditions, to resist the shock of cavalry or even of pikemen. Indeed, had not the cavalry (who, after Gustavus's death, were uninspired mercenaries like the rest) ceased to charge home in the fashion that Gustavus exacted of them, it is possible that the newfashioned line would not have stood the test, and that infantry would have reverted to the early 16th-century type.
The problem of combining the maximum of fire power with the maximum of control over the individual firer was not fully solved until 1740, but the necessity of attempting the problem was realised from the first. In the Swedish army, before it was corrupted by the atmosphere of the Thirty Years' War, duty to God and to country were the springs of the punctual discipline, in small things and in great, which made it the most formidable army, unit for unit, in the world. In the English Civil War (in which the adherents of the " Swedish system " from the first ousted those of the " Dutch ") the difficulty was more acute, for although the mainsprings of action were similar, the technical side of the soldier's business the regimental organization, drill and handling of arms had all to be improvised. Now in the beginning the Royalist cavalry was recruited from "gentlemen that have honour and courage and resolution"; later, Cromwell raised a cavalry force that was even more thoroughly imbued with the spirit of duty, " men who made some conscience of what they did," and throughout the Civil War, consequently, the mounted arm was the queen of the battlefield.
The Parliamentary foot too " made some conscience of what it did," more especially in the first years of the war. But its best elements the drilled townsmen were rather of a defensive than of an offensive character, and towards the close of the struggle, when the foot on both sides came to be formed of professional soldiers, the defensive element decreased, as it had decreased in France and elsewhere. The war was like Gustavus's German campaign, one of rapid and far-ranging marches, and the armoured pikeman had either to shorten his pike and to cast off his armour or to be left at home with the heavy artillery (see Firth's Cromwell's Army, ch. iv.). Fights " at push of pike " were rare enough to be specially mentioned in reports of battles. Sir James Turner says that in 1657, when he was commissioned with others to raise regiments for the king of Denmark, " those of the Privy Council would not suffer one word to be mentioned of a pike in our Commissions." It was the same with armour. In 1658 Lockhart, the commander of the English contingent in France, specially asked for a supply of cuirasses and headpieces for his pikemen in order to impress his allies. In 1671 Sir James Turnersays," When we see battalions of pikes, we see them everywhere naked unless it be in the Netherlands." But a small proportion of pikes was still held to be necessary by experienced soldiers, for as yet the socket bayonet had not been invented, and there was still cavalry in Europe that could be trusted to ride home.
1 In France it is recorded that the Gardes françaises, when warned for duty at the Louvre, used to stroll thither in twos and threes.
of the pike.
While such cavalry existed, the development of fire power was everywhere hindered by the necessity of self-defence. On the other hand the hitherto accepted defensive means militated against efficiency in many ways, and about 1670, when Louis XIV. and Louvois were fashioning the new standing army that was for fifty years the model for Europe, the problem Disuse was now to i m p r ove the drill and efficiency of the musketeers so far that the pikes could be reduced to a minimum. In 1680 the firelock was issued instead of the matchlock to all grenadiers and to the four best shots in each French Company. The bayonet in its primitive form merely a dagger that was fixed into the muzzle of the musket was also introduced, and the pike was shortened. The proportion of pikes to muskets in Henry IV.'s day, 2 to i or 3 to 2, and in Gustavus's 2 to 3, had now fallen to i to 3.
The day of great causes that could inspire the average man with the resolution to conquer or die was, however, past, and the " shallow order " (I'ordre mince), with all its demands on the individual's sense of duty, had become an integral part of the military system. How then was the sense of duty to be created? Louis and Louvois and their contemporaries sought to create it by taking raw recruits in batches, giving them a consistent training, quartering them in barracks and uniforming them. Henceforward the soldier was not a unit, self-taught and free to enter the service of any master. He had no existence as a soldier apart from his regiment, and within it he was taught that the regiment was everything and the individual nothing. Thus by degrees the idea of implicit obedience to orders and of esprit de corps was absorbed. But the self-respecting Englishman or the quick ardent Frenchman was not the best raw material for quasiautomatic regiments, and it was not until an infinitely more rigorous system of discipline was applied to an unimaginative army that the full possibilities of this enforced sense of duty were realized.
The method of delivering fire originally used by the Spaniards, in which each man in succession fired and fell back to the rear of the file to reload, required for its continued and exact perMethods formance a degree of coolness and individual smartness which was probably rarely attained in practice. This was not of serious moment when the " shot " were simple auxiliaries, but when under Gustavus the offensive idea came to the front, and the bullets of the infantry were expected to do something more than merely annoy the hostile pikemen, a more effective method had to be devised. First, the handiness of the musket was so far improved that one man could reload while five, instead of as formerly ten, fired. Then, as the enhanced rate of fire made the file-firing still more disorderly than before, two ranks and three were set to fire " volews " or " salvees " together, and before 1640 it had become the general custom for the musketeers to fire one or two volleys and then, along with the pikemen, to " fall on." It was of course no mean task to charge even a disordered mass of pikes with a short sword or a clubbed musket, and usually after a few minutes the combatants would drift apart and the musketeers on either side would keep up an irregular fire until the officers urged the whole forward for a second attempt.
With the general disuse of the lance, the disappearance of the personal motives that formerly made the cavalryman charge home, The the adoption of the flintlock musket and the invention of ba oaet. tn ? soc ket bayonet (the fixing of which did not prevent fire being delivered), all reason for retaining the pike vanished, and from about 1700 to the present day, therefore, the invariable armament of infantry has been the musket (or rifle) and bayonet. The manner of employing the weapons, however, changed but slowly. In the French army in 1688, for instance (15 years before the abolition of the pike), the old file-fire was still officially recognized, though rarely employed, the more usual method being for the musketeers in groups of 12 to 30 men to advance to the front and deliver their volleys in turn, these groups corresponding in size to one of the musketeer wings (manches) of a company or double company. But the fire and]shock'action of infantry were still distinct, the idea of " push of pike" remained, the bayonet (as at Marsaglia) taking the place of the pike, and musketry methods were still and throughout the War of the Spanish Succession somewhat halfhearted and tentative. Two generals so entirely different in genius and temperament as Saxe and Catinat could agree on this point, that attacking infantry ought to close with the enemy, bayonets fixed, without firing a shot. Catinat's orders to his army in 1690, indeed, seem rather to indicate that he expected his troops to endure the enemy's first fire without replying in order that their own volley, when it was at last delivered at a few paces distance, should he as murderous as possible, while Saxe, who was a dreamer as well as a practical commander of troops, advocated the pure bayonet charge. But the fact that is common to both is the relative ineffectiveness of musketry before the Prussian era, whether this musketry was delivered by groups of men running forward and returning in line or even by companies in a long line of battle.
This ineffectiveness was due chiefly to the fact that /ire and movement were separate matters. The enemy's volley, that Catinat and others ordered their troops to endure without flinching, was sometimes (as at Fontenoy) absolutely crushing. But as a rule it inflicted an amount of loss that was not sufficient to put the advancing troops out of action, and experienced officers were aware that to halt to reply gave the enemy time to reload, and that once the fight became an interchange of partial and occasional volleys or a generaHzroiV/erte, there was an end to the attack.
Meanwhile, the tactics of armies had been steadily crystallizing into the so-called " linear " form, which, as far as concerns the infantry, is simply two long lines of battalions (three, Linear four or five deep) and gave the utmost possible develop- tactics. ment to fire-power. The object of the " line "was to break or beat down the opposing line in the shortest possible time, whether by fire action or shock action, but fire action was only decisive at so short a range that the principal volley could be followed immediately by a charge over a few score paces at most and the crossing of bayonets. Fire was, however, effective at ranges outside charging distance, especially from the battalion guns, and however the decision was achieved in the end, it was necessary to cross the zone between about 300 yds. and 50 yds. range as quickly as possible. It was therefore the business of the regimental officer to force his men across this zone before fire was opened. If, as Catinat recommended, decisive range was reached with every musket loaded and the troops well in hand, their fire when finally it was delivered might well be decisive. But in practice this rarely happened, and though here and there such expedients as a skirmishing line were employed to assist the advance by disturbing the enemy's fire the most that was hoped by the average colonel or captain was that in the advance fire should be opened as late as possible and that the officers should strive to keep in their hands the power of breaking off the fire-fight and pushing the troops forward again. Theorists were already proposing column formations for shock action, and initiating the long controversy between I'ordre mince and I'ordre profonde, but this was for the time being pure speculation. The linear system rested on the principle that the maximum weight of controlled fire at short range was decisive, and the practical problem of infantry tactics was how to obtain this. The question of fire versus shock had been answered in favour of the former, and henceforward for many years the question of fire versus movement held the first place. The purpose was settled, and it remained to discover the means.
This means was Prussian fire-discipline, which was elaborated by Leopold of Dessau and Frederick William I., and practically applied by Frederick the Great. It consisted first in the combination, instead of the alternation, of fire and movement, and secondly in the thorough efficiency of the fire in itself. But both these demanded a more stringent and technically more perfect drill than had ever before been imagined, or, for that matter, has ever since been attained. A hundred years before the steady drill of the Spanish veterans at Rocroi, who at the word of command opened their ranks to let the cannon fire from the rear and again closed them, impressed every soldier in Europe. But such drill as this was child's play compared with the Old Dessauer's.
On approaching the enemy the marching columns of the Prussians, which were generally open columns of companies 4 deep, wheeled in succession to the right or left (almost always to the right) prus^,, and thus passed along the front of the enemy at a distance tlre of 800-1200 yds. until the rear company had wheeled, discipline, Then the whole together (or in the case of a deployment 1740. to the left, in succession) wheeled into line facing the enemy. These movements, if intervals and distances were preserved with proper precision, brought the infantry into two long wellclosed lines, and parade-ground precision was actually attained, thanks to remorseless drilling and to the reintroduction of the march in step to music. Of course such movements were best executed on a firm plain, and as far as possible the attack and defence of woods and villages was left to light infantry and grenadiers. But even in marshes and scrub, the line managed to manoeuvre with some Leuthen.
approach to the precision of the barrack square. 1 Now, this precision allowed Frederick to take risks that no former commander would have dared to take. At Hohenfriedberg the infantry columns crossed a marshy stream almost within cannon shot of the enemy; at Kolin (though there this insolence was punished) the army filed past the Imperialist skirmishers within less than musket shot, and the climax of this daring was the " oblique order " attack of Leuthen. With this was bound up a fire discipline that was more extraordinary than any perfection of manoeuvre. Before Hohenfriedberg the king gave orders that " pelotonfeuer " was to be opened at 200 paces from the enemy and continued up to 30 paces, when the line was to fall on with the bayonet. The possibility of this combination of fire and movement was the work of Leopold, who gave the Prussian infantry iron ramrods, and by sheer drill made the soldier a machine capable of delivering (with the flintlock muzzle-loading muskets, be it observed) five volleys a minute. This pelotonfeuer or company volleys replaced the old fire by ranks practised in other armies. Fire began from the flanks of the battalion, which consisted of eight companies (for firing, 3 deep). When the right company commander fave " fire," the commander of No. 2 gave ready," followed in turn y other companies up to the centre. The same process having been gone through on the left flank, by the time the two centre companies had fired the two flank companies were ready to recommence, and thus a continuous series of rolling volleys was delivered, at one or two seconds' interval only between companies. In attack this fire was combined with movement, each company in turn advancing a few paces after " making ready." In square, old-fashioned methods of fire were employed. Square was an indecisive and defensive formation, rarely used, and m the advance of the deployed line, the offensive and decision-seeking formation par excellence, the special Prussian fire-discipline gave Frederick an advantage of five shots to two against all opponents. The bayonet-attack, if the rolling volleys had done their work, was merely " presenting the cheque for payment " as a modern German writer puts it. The cheque had been drawn, the decision given, in the fire-fight.
For some years this method of infantry training gave the Prussians a decisive superiority in whatever order they fought. But their enemies improved and also grew in numbers, while the Prussian army's resources were strictly limited. Thus in the Seven Years' War, after the two costly battles of Prague and Kolin (i7S7)especially,itbecamenecessary to manoeuvre with the object of bringing the Prussian infantry into contact with an equal or if possible smaller portion of the enemy's line. If this could be achieved, victory was as certain as ever, but the difficulties of bringing about a successful manoeuvre were such that the classical " oblique order " attack was only once completely executed. This was at Leuthen, December 5th, 1757, perhaps the greatest day in the history of the Prussian army. Here, in a rolling plain country occasionally broken by marshes and villages, the " oblique order " was executed at high speed and with clockwork precision. Frederick's object was to destroy the left of the Austrian army (which far outnumbered his own) before the rest of their deployed line of battle could change front to intervene. His method was to place his own line, by a concealed flank march, opposite the point where he desired to strike, and then to advance, not in two long lines but in echelon of battalions from the right (see LEUTHEN). The echelon was not so deep but that each battalion was properly supported by the following one on its left (100 paces distance), and each, as it came within 200 yds. of the Austrian battalion facing it, opened its " rolling volleys " while continuing to advance; thus long before the left and most backward battalions were committed to the fight, the right battalions were crumbling the Austrian infantry units one by one from left to right. It was the same, without parade manoeuvres, when at last the Austrians managed to organize a line of defence about Leuthen village. Unable to make an elaborate change of front with the whole centre and right wing for want of time, they could do no more than crowd troops about Leuthen, on a short fighting front, and this crumbled in turn before the Prussian volleys.
One lesson of Leuthen that contemporary soldiers took to heart was that even a two-to-one superiority in numbers could not remedy want of manoeuvring capacity. It might be hoped 1 About this time there was introduced, for resisting cavalry, the well-known hollow battalion square, which, replacing the former masses of pikes, represented up to the most modern times the defensive, as the line or column represented the offensive formation of infantry.
that with training and drill an Austrian battalion could be made equal to a Prussian one in the front-to-front fight, and in fact, as losses told more and more heavily on Frederick's army as years went on, the specific superiority of his infantry disappeared. From 1758 therefore, to the end of the war, there were no more Rossbachs and Leuthens. Superiority in efficiency through previous training having exhausted its influence, superiority in force through manoeuvre began to be the general's ideal, and as it was a more familiar notion to the average Prussian general, trained to manoeuvre, than to his opponent, whose idea of manoeuvre " was to sidle carefully from one position to another, Prussian generalship maintained its superiority, in spite of many reverses, to the end. The last campaigns were indeed a war of positions, because Frederick had no longer the men available for forcing the Austrians out of them, and on many occasions he was so weak that the most passive defensive and the most elaborate entrenchments barely sufficed to save him. But whenever opportunity offered itself, the king sought a decisive success by bringing the whole of his infantry against part of the enemy's the principle of Leuthen put in practice over a wider area and with more elastic manoeuvre methods. The long echelon of battalions directed against a part of the hostile line developed quite naturally into an irregular 6chelon of brigade columns directed against a part of the enemy's position. But the history of the " cordon system " which followed this development belongs rather to the subject of tactics in general than to that of infantry fighting methods. Within the unit the tactical method scarcely varied. In a battle each battalion or brigade fought as a unit in line, using company volleys and seeking the decision by fire.
In this, and in even the most minute details of drill and uniform, military Europe slavishly copied Prussia for twenty years after the Seven Years' War. The services of ex- Coatm , Prussian officers were at a premium just as those of verefc* and Gustavus's officers had been 1 50 years before. Military deveiopmissions from all countries went to Potsdam or to ^*' the " Reviews " to study Prussian methods, with I790 ~ as simple a faith in their adequacy as that shown to-day by small states and half-civilized kingdoms who send military representatives to serve in the great European armies. And withal, the period 1763-1792 is full of tactical and strategical controversies. The principal of these, as regards infantry, was that between "fire" and "shock" revived about 1710 by Folard, and about 1780 the American War of Independence complicated it by introducing a fresh controversy between skirmishing and dose order. As to the first, in Folard's day as in Frederick's, fire action at close range was the deciding factor in battle, but in Frederick's later campaigns, wherein he no longer disposed of the old Prussian infantry and its swift mechanical fire-discipline, there sprang up a tendency to trust to the bayonet for the decision. If the (so-called) Prussian infantry of 1762 could be in any way brought to close with the enemy, it had a fair chance of victory owing to its leaders' previous dispositions, and then the advocates of " shock," who had temporarily been silenced by Mollwitz and Hohenfriedberg, again took courage. The ordinary line was primarily a formation for fire, and only secondarily or by the accident of circumstances for shock, and, chiefly perhaps under Saxe's influence, the French army had for many years been accustomed to differentiate between " linear " formations for fire and " columnar " for attack thus reverting to 16th -century practice. While, therefore, the theoreticians pleaded for battalion columns and the bayonet or for line and the bullet, the practical soldier used both. Many forms of combined line and column were tried, but in France, where the question was most assiduously studied, no agreement had been arrived at when the advent of the skirmisher further complicated the issues.
In the early Silesian wars, when armies fought in open country in linear order, the outpost service scarcely concerned the line troops sufficiently to cause them to get under arms at the sound of firing on the sentry line. It was performed by irregular light troops, recruited from wild characters of all nations, who were also charged with the preliminary skirmishing necessary to clear up the situation beto the deployment of the battle-army, but once the line opened fire their work was done and they cleared away to the flanks (generally in search of plunder). Later, however, as the preliminary manoeuvring before the battle grew in importance and the ground taken into the manoeuvring zone was more varied and extended than formerly, light infantry was more and more in demand in a " cordon " defensive for patrolling the intervals between the various detachments of line troops, in an attack for clearing the way for the deployment of each column. Yet in all this there was no suggestion that light troops or skirmishers were capable of bringing about the decision in an armed conflict. When Frederick gained a durable peace in 1763 he dismissed his " free battalions " without mercy, and by 1764 not more than one Prussian soldier in eleven was an " irregular, either of horse or foot. 1 . , But in the American War of Independence the line was pitted against light infantry in difficult country, and the British and French officers who served in it returned to Europe full of en, , t thusiasm for the latter. Nevertheless, their light infantry **' was, unlike 'Frederick's, selected line infantry. The light infantry duties skirmishing, reconnaissance, outposts were grafted on to a thorough close-order training. At first these duties fell to the grenadiers and light companies of each battalion, but during the struggle in the colonies, the light companies of a brigade were so frequently massed in one battalion that in the end whole regiments were converted into light infantry. This combination of " line ' steadiness and " skirmisher " freedom was the keynote of Sir John Moore's training system fifteen years later, and Moore's regiments, above all the 52nd, 43rd (now combined as the Oxfordshire Light Infantry) and 95th Rifles (Rifle Brigade), were the backbone of the British Army throughout the Peninsular War. At Waterloo the 52nd, changing front in line at the double, flung itself on the head and flank of the Old Guard infantry, and with the " rolling volleys ' inherited from the Seven Years' War, shattered it in a few minutes. Such an exploit would have been absolutely inconceivable in the case of one of the old " free battalions." But the light infantry had not merely been levelled up to the line, it had surpassed it, and in 1815 there were no troops in Europe, whether trained to fight in line or column or skirmishers, who could rival the three regiments named, the " Light Division " of Peninsular annals. For meantime the infantry organization and tactics of the old regime, elsewhere than in England, had been disintegrated by the flames of the French Revolution, and from their ashes a new system had arisen, which forms the real starting-point of the infantry tactics of to-day.
The controversialists of Louis XVI. 's time, foremost of whom were Guibert, Joly de Maizeroy and Menil Durand (see Max The Jahns, Gesch. d. Kriegswissenschaflen, vol. iii.), were French agreed that shock action should be the work of troops Revolu- formed in column, but as to the results to be expected from shock action, the extent to which it should be facilitated by a previous fire preparation, and the formations in which fire should be delivered (line, line with skirmishers or " swarms ") discussion was so warm that it sometimes led to wrangles in ladies' drawing-rooms and meetings in the duelling field. The drill-book for the French infantry issued shortly before the Revolution was a common-sense compromise, which in the main adhered to the Frederician system as modified by Guibert, but gave an important place in infantry tactics to the battalion " columns of attack," that had hitherto appeared only spasmodically on the battlefields of the French army and never elsewhere. This, however, and the quick march (too paces to the minute instead of the Frederician 75) were the only prescriptions in the drill-book that survived the test of a " national " war, to which within a few years it was subjected (see FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY WARS). The rest, like the " linear system " of organization and manoeuvre to which it belonged (see ARMY, 3-33> CONSCRIPTION, etc.) was ignored, and circumstances and the practical troop-leaders evolved by circumstances fashioned the combination of close-order columns and loose-order skirmishers which constituted essentially the new tactics of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic infantry.
The process of evolution cannot be stated in exact terms, more especially as the officers, as they grew in wisdom through experience, learned to apply each form in accordance with ground and circumstances, and to reject, when unsuitable, not only the forms of the drill-book, but the forms proposed by themselves to replace those of the drill-book. But certain tendencies are easily discernible. The first tendency was towards the dissolu- 1 The Prussian Grenadier battalions in the Silesian and Seven Years' Wars were more and more confined strictly to line-of-battle duties as the irregular light infantry developed in numbers.
tion of all tactical links. The earlier battles were fought partly in line for fire action, partly in columns for the bayonet attack. Now the linear tactics depended on exact pre- Tactical servation of dressing, intervals and distances, and evolution what required in the case of the Prussians years of '" France steady drill at 76 paces to the minute was hardly "^j attainable with the newly levied ardent Frenchmen marching at 100 to 120. Once, therefore, the line moved, it broke up into an irregular swarm of excited firers, and experience soon proved that only the troops kept out of the turmoil, whether in line or in column, were susceptible of manoeuvre and united action. Thus from about 1795 onwards the forms of the old regime, with half the troops in front in line of battle (practically in dense hordes of firers) and the other half in rear in line or line of columns, give way to new ones in which the skirmishers are fewer and the closed troops more numerous, and the decision rests no longer with the fire of the leading units (which of course could not compare in effectiveness with the rolling volleys of the drilled line) but with the bayonets of the second and third lines the latter being sometimes in line but more often, owing to the want of preliminary drill, in columns. The skirmishers tended again to become pure light infantry, whose role was to prepare, not to give, the decision, and who fought in a thin line, taking every advantage of cover and marksmanship. In the Consulate and early Empire, indeed, we commonly find, in the closed troops destined for the attack, mixed line and column formations combining in themselves shock and controlled closeorder fire absolutely regardless of the skirmishers in front.
In sum, then, from 1792 to 1795 the fighting methods of the French infantry, of which so much has been written and said, are, as they have aptly been called, " horde-tactics." From 1796 onwards to the first campaigns of the Empire, on the other hand, there is an ever-growing tendency to combine skirmishers, properly so called, with controlled and well-closed bodies in rear, the first to prepare the attack to the best of their ability by individual courage and skill at arms, the second to deliver it at the right moment (thanks to their retention of manoeuvre formations), and with all possible energy (thanks to the cohesion, moral and material, which carried forward even the laggards). Even when in the long wars of the Empire the quality of the troops progressively deteriorated, infantry tactics within the regiment or brigade underwent no radical alteration. The actual formations were most varied, but they always contained two of the three elements, column, line and skirmishers. Column (generally two lines of battalions in columns of double-companies) was for shock or attack, line for fire-effect, and skirmishers to screen the advance, to scout the ground and to disturb the enemy's aim. Of these, except on the defensive (which was rare in a Napoleonic battle), the " column " of attack was by far the most important. The line formations for fire, with which it was often combined, rarely accounted for more than one-quarter of the brigade or division, while the skirmishers were still less numerous. Withal, these formations in themselves were merely fresh shapes for old ideas. The armament of Napoleon's troops was almost identical with that of Frederick's or Saxe's. Line, column and combinations of the two were as old as Fontenoy and were, moreover, destined to live for many years after Napoleon had fallen. " Horde- tactics " did not survive the earlier Revolutionary campaigns. Wherein then lies the change which makes 1792 rather than 1740 the starting-point of modern tactics? The answer, in so far as so comprehensive a question can be answered from a purely infantry standpoint, is that whereas Frederick, disposing of a small and highly finished instrument, used its manceuvre power and regimental a efficiency to destroy one part of his enemy so swiftly ao a that the other had no time to intervene, Napoleon, artillery who had numbers rather than training on his side, only delivered his decisive blow after he had "fixed" all bodies of the enemy which would interfere with his preparations i.e. had set up a physical barrier against the threatened intervention. This new idea manifested itself in various forms.
In strategy (q.v.) and combined tactics it is generally for convenience called "economy of force." In the domain of artillery (see ARTILLERY) it marked a distinction, that has revived in the last twenty years, between slow disintegrating fire and sudden and overpowering " fire-preparation." As regards infantry the effect of it was revolutionary. Regiments and brigades were launched to the attack to compel the enemy to defend himself, and fought until completely dissolved to force him to use up his reserves. " On s'engage partout et puis 1'on voit " is Napoleon's own description of his holding attack, which in no way resembled the " feints " of previous generations. The self-sacrifice of the men thus engaged enabled their commander to " see," and to mass his reserves opposite a selected point, while little by little the enemy was hypnotized by the fighting. Lastly, when " the battle was ripe " a hundred and more guns galloped into close range and practically annihilated a part of the defender's line. They were followed up by masses of reserve infantry, often more solidly formed at the outset than the old Swiss masses of the 16th century. 1 If the moment was rightly chosen these masses, dissolved though they soon were into dense formless crowds, penetrated the gap made by the guns (with their arms at the slope) and were quickly followed by cavalry divisions to complete the enemy's defeat. Here, too, it is to be observed there is no true shock. The infantry masses merely " present the cheque for payment," and apart from surprises, ambushes and fights in woods and villages there are few recorded cases of bayonets being crossed in these wars. Napoleon himself said " Le feu est tout, le reste peu de chose," and though a mere plan of his dispositions suggests that he was the disciple of Folard and Menil Durand, in reality he simply applied " fire-power " in the new and grander form which his own genius imagined.
The problem, then, was not what it had been one hundred and fifty years before. The business of the attack was not to break down the passive resistance of the defence, but to destroy or to evade its fire-power. No attack with the bayonet could succeed if this remained effective and unbroken, and no resistance (in the open field at least) availed when it had been mastered or evaded. In Napoleon's army, the circumstance that the infantry was (after 1807) incapable of carrying out its own fire-preparation forced the task into the hands of the field artillery. In other armies the 18th-century system had been discredited by repeated disasters, and the infantry, as it became " nationalized," was passing slowly through the successive phases of irregular lines, " swarms," skirmishers and line- andcolumn formations that the French Revolutionary armies had traversed before them none of them methods that in themselves had given decisive results.
In all Europe the only infantry that represented the Frederician tradition and prepared its own charge by its own fire was the The British. Eye-witnesses who served in the ranks of British the French have described the sensation of powerlessPeaiosuiar ness tnat tnev f e [ t as tne ; r attacking column approached in aotry. ^g ]j ne anc j wa t c hed it load and come to the present. The column stopped short, a few men cheered, others opened a ragged individual fire, and then came the volleys and the counter-attack that swept away the column. Sometimes this counter-stroke was made, as in the famous case of Busaco, from an apparently unoccupied ridge, for the British line, under Moore's guidance, had shaken off the Prussian stiffness, fought 2 deep instead of 3 and was able to take advantage of cover. The " blankness of the battlefield " noted by so many observers to-day in the South African and Manchurian Wars was fully as characteristic of Wellington's battles from Vimeiro to Waterloo, in spite of close order and red uniforms. But these battles were of the offensive-defensive type in the main, and for various reasons this type could not be accepted as normal by the rest of Europe. Nonchalance was not characteristic of the eager national levies of 1813 and 1814, and the Wellington method of 1 Even when the hostile artillery was still capable of fire these masses were used, for in no other formation could the heterogeneous and ill-trained infantry of Napoleon's vassal states (which constituted half of his army) be brought up at all.
infantry tactics, though it had brought about the failure of Napoleon's last effort, was still generally regarded as an illustration of the already recognized fact that on the defensive the firepower of the line, unless partly or wholly evaded by rapidity in the advance and manoeuvring power or mastered and extinguished by the fire-power of the attack, made the front of the defence impregnable. There was indeed nothing in the English tactics at Waterloo that, standing out from the incidents of the battle, offered a new principle of winning battles.
Nor indeed did Europe at large desire a fresh era of warfare. Only the French, and a few unofficial students of war elsewhere, realized the significance of the rejuvenated " line." For every one else, the later Napoleonic battle was the model, and as the great wars had ended before the " national " spirit had been exhausted or misused in wars of aggrandizement, infantry tactics retained, in Germany, Austria and Russia, the characteristic Napoleonic formations, lines of battalion or regimental columns, sometimes combined with linear formations for fire, and always covered by skirmishers. That these columns must in action dissolve sooner or later into dense irregular swarms was of course foreseen, but Napoleon had accustomed the world to long and costly fire-fighting as the preliminary to the attack of the massed reserves, and for the short remainder of the period of smooth-bore muskets, troops were always launched to the attack in columns covered by a thin line of picked shots as skirmishers. The moral power of the offensive " will to conquer " and the rapidity of the attack itself were relied upon to evade and disconcert the fire-power of the defence. If the attack failed to do so, the ranges at which infantry fire was really destructive were so small that it was easy for the columns to deploy or disperse and open a fire-fight to prepare the way for the next line of columns. And after a careful study of the battle of the Alma, in which the British line won its last great victory in the open field, Moltke himself only proposed such modifications in the accepted tactical system as would admit of the troops being deployed for defence instead of meeting attack, as the Russians met it, in solid and almost stationary columns. Fire in the attack, in fact, had come to be considered as chiefly the work of artillery, and as artillery, being an expensive arm, had been reduced during the period of military stagnation following Waterloo, and was no longer capable of Napoleonic feats, the attack was generally a bayonet attack pure and simple. Waterloo and the Alma were credited, not to fire- infantry power, but to English solidity, and as Ardant du method*, Picq observes, " All the peoples of Europe say ^*" ' no one can resist our bayonet attack if it is made resolutely ' and all are right. . . . Bayonet fixed or in the scabbard, it is all the same." Since the disappearance of the " dark impenetrable wood " of spears, the question has always turned on the word " resolute." If the defence cannot by any means succeed in mastering the resolution of the assailant, it is doomed. But the means (moral and material) at the disposal of the defence for the purpose of mastering this resolution were, within a few years of the Crimean War, revolutionized by the general adoption of the rifle, the introduction of the breech-loader and the revival of the " nation in arms."
Thirty years before the Crimea the flint-lock had given way to the percussion lock (see GUN), which was more certain in its action and could be used in all weathers. But fitting a copper cap on the nipple was not so simple a matter for nervous fingers as priming with a pinch of powder, and the usual rate of fire had fallen from the five rounds a minute of Frederick's day to two or three at the most. " Fire-power " therefore was at a low level until the general introduction 2 of the rifled barrel, which while further diminishing the rate of fire, at any rate greatly increased the range at which volleys were thoroughly effective. Artillery (see ARTILLERY, 13), the fire-weapon of the 2 Rifles had, of course, been used by corps of light troops (both infantry and mounted) for many years. The British Rifle Brigade was formed in 1800, but even in the Seven Years' War there were rifle-corps or companies in the armies of Prussia and Austria. These older rifles could not compare in rapidity or volume of fire with the ordinary firelock.
attack, made no corresponding progress, and even as early as the Alma and Inkerman (where the British troops used the Minie rifle) the dense columns had suffered heavily without being able to retaliate by " crossing bayonets." Fire power, therefore, though still the special prerogative of the defence, began to reassert its influence, and for a brief period the defensive was regarded as the best form of tactics. But the low rate of fire was still a serious objection. Many incidents in the American Civil War showed this, notably Fredericksburg, where the key of the Confederate position was held against a simple frontal attack unsupported by effective artillery fire by three brigades in line one behind the other, i.e. by a six-deep firing line. No less force could guarantee the " inviolability of the front," and even when, in this unnatural and uneconomical fashion, the rate of fire was augmented as well as the effective range, a properly massed and well-led attack in column (or in a rapid succession of deployed lines) generally reached the defender's position, though often in such disorder that a resolute counterstroke drove it back again. The American fought over more difficult country and with less previous drill-training than the armies of the Old World. The fire-power of the defence, therefore, that even in America did not always prevail over the resolution of the attack, entirely failed in the Italian war of 1859 to stop the swiftly moving, well-drilled columns of the French professional army, in which the national <e/an had not as yet been suppressed, as it was a few years later, by the doctrine that " the new arms found their greatest scope in the defence." The Austrians, who had pinned their faith to this doctrine, deserted their false gods, forbade any mention of the defensive in their drill-books, and brought back into honour the bayonet tactics of the old wars.
The need of artillery support for the attack was indeed felt (though the gunners had not as yet evolved any substitute for the case-shot preparation of Napoleon's time), but men remembered that artillery was used by the great captain, not so much to enable good troops to close with the enemy, as to win battles with masses of troops of an inferior stamp, and contemporary experience seemed to show that (if losses were accepted as inevitable) good and resolute troops could overpower the defence, even in face of the rifle and without the aid of case shot. But a revolution was at hand.
In 1861 Moltke, discussing the war in Italy, wrote, " General Niel attributes his victory (at Solferino) to the bayonet. But The that does not imply that the attack was often followed breech- by a hand-to-hand fight. In principle, when one makes a bayonet charge, it is because one supposes that the enemy will not await it. ... To approach the enemy closely, pouring an efficacious fire into him as Frederick the Great's infantry did is also a method of (he offensive." This method was applicable at that time for the Prussians alone, for they alone possessed a breech-loading firearm. The needle-gun was a rudimentary weapon in many respects, but it allowed of maintaining more than twice the rate of fire that the muzzleloader could give, and, moreover, it permitted the full use of cover, because the firer could lie down to fire without having to rise between every round to load. Further, he could load while actually running forward, whereas with the old arms loading not only required complete exposure but also checked movement. The advantages of the Prussian weapon were further enhanced, in the war against Austria, by the revulsion of feeling in the Imperial army in favour of the pure bayonet charge in masses that had followed upon Magenta and Solferino.
With the stiffly drilled professional soldier of England, Austria and Russia the handiness of the new weapon could hardly have been exploited, for (in Russia at any rate) even skirmishers had to march in step. The Prussians were drilled nominally in accordance with regulations dating from 1812, and therefore suitable, if not to the new weapon, at least to the " swarm " fighting of an enthusiastic national army, but upon these regulations a mass of peace-time amendments had been superposed, and in theory their drill was as stiff as that of the Russians. But, as in France in 1793-1796, the composition of their army a true " nation in arms "and the character of the officers evolved by the universal service system saved them from their regulations. The offensive spirit was inculcated as thoroughly as elsewhere, and in a much more practical form. Dietrich von Billow's predictions of the future battle of " skirmishers " (meaning thereby a dense but irregular firing line) had captivated the younger school of officers, while King William and the veterans of Napoleon's wars were careful to maintain small columns (sometimes company l columns of 240 rifles, but quite as often half-battalion and battalion columns) as a solid background to the firing line. Thus in 1866 (see SEVEN WEEKS' WAR), as Moltke had foreseen, the attacking infantry fought its way to close quarters by means of its own fire, and the bayonet charge again became, in his own words, " not the first, but the last, phase of the combat," immediately succeeding a last burst of rapid fire at short range and carried out by the company and battalion reserves in close order. Against the Austrians, whose tactics alternated between unprepared bayonet rushes by whole brigades and a passive slow-firing defensive, victory was easily achieved.
But immediately after Koniggratz the French army was served out with a breech-loading rifle greatly superior in every respect to the needle-gun, and after four years' tension latantry France pitted breech-loader against breech-loader, lathe In the first battles (see WORTH, and METZ: Battles) war of the decision-seeking spirit of the " armed nation," the inferior range of the needle-gun as compared with that of the chassepot, and the recollections of easy triumphs in 1864 and 1866, all combined to drive the German infantry forward to within easy range before they began to make use of their weapons. Their powerful artillery would have sufficed of. itself to enable them to do this (see SEDAN), had they but waited for its fire to take effect. But they did not, and they suffered accordingly, for, owing to the ineffectiveness of their rifle between 1000 and 400 yds. range, they had to advance, as the Austrians and Russians had done in previous wars, without firing a shot. In these circumstances their formations, whether line or column, broke up, and the whole attacking force dissolved into long irregular swarms. These swarms were practically composed only of the brave men, while the rest huddled together in woods and valleys. When, therefore, at last the firing line came within 400 or 500 yds. of the French, it was both severely tried and numerically weak, but the fact that it was composed of the best men only enabled it to open and to maintain an effective fire. Even then the French, highly disciplined professional soldiers that they were, repeatedly swept them back by counterstrokes, but these counterstrokes were subjected to the fire of the German guns and were never more than locally and momentarily effective. More and more German infantry was pushed forward to support the firing line, and, like its predecessors, each reinforcement, losing most of its unwilling men as it advanced over the shot-swept ground^ consisted on arrival of really determined men, and closing on the firing line pushed it forward, sometimes 20 yds., sometimes 100, until at last rapid fire at the closest ranges dislodged the stubborn defenders. Bayonets (as usual) were never actually used, save in sudden encounters in woods and villages. The decisive factors were, first the superiority of the Prussian guns, secondly, heavy and effective fire delivered at short range, and above all the high moral of a proportion of resolute soldiers who, after being subjected for hours to the most demoralizing influences, had still courage left for the final dash. These three factors, in spite of changes in armament, rule the infantry attack of to-day.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)