INFANTRY, the collective name of soldiers who fight on foot. The word is derived ultimately from Lat. in f ans, 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 Span ish infanta about the end of the 15th century cannot be main tained in view of the fact that Spanish foot-soldiers of the time were called soldados and contrasted with French fantassins and Italian fanteria. The Oxford 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, garcon, footman, etc.).
Although it may be confidently asserted that the original fight ing man was a foot-soldier, infantry was differentiated as an "arm" considerably later than cavalry; for when a new instrument of fighting (a chariot or a horse) was discovered, it was assimilated by relatively picked men, 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 the "residue" was far the greatest part of the army the history of the foot-soldier is practically identical with the history of soldiering.
The natural evolution of primitive fighting was towards 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 evolve a method of fighting which enabled it, or at least the better part of it, to oppose a firm and united front to the enemy's champions—in which term we include all selected men, whether horsemen, charioteers or merely specially powerful axe men and swordsmen. But once the individual had lost his com manding 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 condition of the ancient hand-to-hand struggle marks the historical beginning of infantry tactics.
Gallic warriors bound them selves together with chains. The Greeks organized the city state, which gave each small army solidarity and the sense of duty to an ideal, and the phalanx in which the file-leaders were in a sense champions yet were made so chiefly by the unity of the mass. But the Romans went further. Besides developing solidarity and a sense of duty, they improved on this conception of the battle to such a degree that as a nation they may be called the best tacticians who ever existed. They split 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 resist ing 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. 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. As the Roman imperium ex tended the burden of foreign service became too heavy for the ordinary citizen, the citizen-army ceased to exist, and the mere necessity for garrisoning distant 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 of the three-line system in itself ensured its continuance, 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. 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, unre gretted 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 prof essionalization 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 con quered 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." The battle of Adrianople (q.v.), the "last fight of the legion," illustrates this. The frontal battle was engaged in the ordinary way, and the first line of the imperial army was fighting man to man with the front ranks of the Gothic infantry, 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, and on this day the infantry arm, as an arm, ceased to exist.
Regular infantry 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, these infantry nations, without any infantry system com parable to that of the Greeks and Romans, succumbed in turn to the crowd of mounted warriors—not 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 unusual for infantry to appear on the field at all.
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.
But even this infantry contained within itself two half-smothered sparks of regeneration, the idea of archery and the idea of communal militia. Archery, in what ever form practised, was the one special form of military activity with which the heavy gendarme (whether he fought on horseback or dismounted) had no concern, in sharp contrast to the Byzantine army in its heyday and to the Mongols who inflicted such sharp lessons on European chivalry in the i 3th century. Here therefore infantry had a special function, and 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 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 worthless "residue." Courtrai.—The first true infantry battle since Hastings was fought at Courtrai in i3o2, 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 and marshes—and to fasten themselves together, like the Gauls of old. Their van was driven back by the French cross bowmen, 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, became immovably fastened in the mud. The citizens swarmed all round it and with spear, cleaver and flail destroyed it.
Crecy (q.v.) 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 yeomen had reached a level of self-discipline and self-respect which few even of the great continental cities had attained. They had, further, 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 is that instead of being, as in France, the unstable base of the so-called "feudal pyramid," infantry had 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 execu tion. Archer tactics did not serve against the disciplined rush of Joan of Arc's gendarmerie, for the solidarity of the archer com panies that tried to stop it had long been undermined.
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 relation ship of the trade gilds and by the elimination of the champion. Therefore, as every offensive in war rests upon boldness, these militias were essentially defensive, for they could only hope to ward off the feudal champion, not to outfight him (see LEGNANO). 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. 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. The long bow 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 imme morial, and a mere technical improvement in its weapon could hardly account for its suddenly becoming the queen of the battle field. 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 camaraderie of knight and yeoman, champion and plain soldier. Fortified by the knight's unshakable 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 strategic offensive was possible and even easy. The English conquered whole countries while the Flemish and German spearmen and vougiers merely held their own.
But the war of conquest em bodied in these decisive victories dwindled in its later stages to a war of raids. The feudal lord, like the feudal vassal, returned home and gave place to the professional man-at-arms and the professional captain. Ransom became again the chief object, and except where a great leader, such as Bertrand Du Guesclin, com pelled the mercenaries to follow him to death or victory, a battle usually became a mêlée of irregular duels between men-at-arms. 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 main stay 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—as for instance when thirty men-at-arms "cut out" the Captal de Buch from the midst of his army at Cocherel —but as a general rule the man-at-arms was practically a mounted infantryman, and when he dismounted he stood still.
Cavalry therefore became, in a 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 13 7o, 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 sur vived 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, of ter Agincourt, the long war lapsed into the hands of the soldiers of fortune, the basis of Edward's and Henry's tactics crumbled, and, under Joan of Arc, the French cavalry 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 pur pose great bodies of infantry armed with bows, arblasts and hand guns 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 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 prin ciple of "mass" relegated to the background. In such circum stances cavalry was of course the decisive arm, and the reputation of the French gendarmerie was such as to justify this bold elimini ation of the means of passive defence. This tendency of the French military temperament reappears at almost every stage in the history of armies.
The foot-soldier of Germany and the Low Countries had followed a different line of development. Here the rich commercial cities scarcely concerned themselves with the quarrels or revolts of neighbouring nobles, 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 threat ened 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 where ever 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 yeomen-archers 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 than would have been possible for dismounted men, 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 infantry men 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 perma nent 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." The Swiss.—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 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 reck less feudal cavalry. Their armament at this stage was not peculiar —voulges, gisarmes, halberts and spears—though they were spe cially 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 133o) 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. 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 Lands knechts, whose order was as strong as, and far less unwieldy than, that of the Swiss, whose armament included a far greater propor tion 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 i6th and 17th centuries, but his right to indicate the line of evolution had to be wrung from many rivals.
The year 148o was a turning point in mili tary history. Within the three years preceding it the battles of Nancy and Guinegate had destroyed both the old feudalism of Charles the Bold and the new cavalry tactics of the French gen darmerie. 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 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 6,000 Swiss pikemen whom Louis XI., 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, armed with the long pike, and for their support and assistance, French and mercenary "bands." The term Landsknecht 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.
The Italian wars of 1494 to
in which the use of "fire" and shock was 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 i6th 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 5,00o men and more, at the corners of which, like the tower bastions of a i6th-century fortress, stood small groups of arquebusiers. The Landsknechts and the Romag nols of Italy, imitated and rivalled them, though as a rule develop ing more front and less depth. At this stage solidity was every thing and fire-power nothing. At Fornuovo (14Q C) the mass of arquebusiers and arblasters in the French army did little or nothing; it was the Swiss who were l'esperance de l'ost. 4t Agnadello or Vaila in 1509 the ground and the "encounter-battle" 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 other wise have been relegated to an unimportant place in the general line of battle, lapped round the enemy's flank in broken ground and produced 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. Thus by degrees a very numerous and exceed ingly 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 pre paring the assault by fire. At Ravenna (q.v.) (1512), the fire action of the new artillery was extraordinarily murderous, plough ing lanes in the immobile masses of infantry. At Marignan (q.v.) the French gendarmerie and artillery, closely and skilfully com bined, 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 under the forest of pikes and breaking into the close-locked ranks with buckler and stabbing sword. 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 re-open fire during a momen tary pause in the battle of lance and pike, and to run back to the shelter of their own closed masses when threatened by an oncom ing 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.
By 155o infantry had ceased to be an auxiliary arm. It con tained 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. 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.
The wars in which this system was evolved were wars for pres tige and aggrandizement. But the wars of religion raised ques tions of life and death for the Frenchmen of either faith, and thus endowed operations with a new decisive spirit. Hence the relatively immobile "battalion" of pikes diminishes in importance and the arquebusiers and musketeers grow more and more effi cient. 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
and the bataillon de combat or brigade was normally no more than 1,200 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. 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 compli cated to be rapidly and efficiently used by any but a highly 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 f t.) ; 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 conspicu ously shown in Alva's war against the Netherlands patriots. Desperately as the latter f ought, Spanish captains did not hesitate to attack patriot armies ten times their own strength. If once or twice this contempt led them to disaster, the normal battle was of the Jemmingen type—seven soldados dead and seven thousand rebels.
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. The French, however, 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 their former lightness and speed, and clung to armour, the long pike and the heavy 2-1 oz. bullet. But during the 17th century solidity, and the powers of passive resistance were, little by little, replaced by a more offensive armament and faculty, until at last the long pike disappeared altogether and the firearm, provided with a bayo net, was the uniform weapon of the foot-soldier. 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 1620, the old regiments seem to have marched in an open chequer-wise formation of com panies which is interesting not only as a deliberate imitation of the Roman legion (all soldiers of that time, in the prevailing con fusion of tactical ideas, sought guidance in the works of Xenophon, Aelian and Vegetius), but as showing that flexibility and handi ness was not the monopoly of the Swedish system that was soon to captivate military Europe. But the generals of the Thirty Years' War who were trained in the Spanish 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 (q.v.) "changed front half-left" in the course of the battle itself. But the manoeuvring 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 in the later stages of 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. The adoption of Swedish methods indeed was facilitated by the disre pute into which the older systems had fallen. Courage the mer cenary 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.
The problem of combining the maxi mum of fire power with the maximum of control over the indi vidual firer was not fully solved until 1740, but the necessity of attempting the problem was realized from the first. In the Swed ish 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 sys tem" 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; 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.
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 while there was still cavalry in Europe that could be trusted to ride home, the development of fire power was everywhere hindered by the necessity of self-de fence. On the other hand the hitherto accepted defensive means militated against efficiency in many ways, and about 167o, when Louis XIV. and Louvois were fashioning the new standing army that was for fifty years the model for Europe, the problem was how to improve the drill and efficiency of the musketeers so far that the pikes could be reduced to a minimum. In 168o the fire lock 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 "shal low order" (l'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 re cruits 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 quasi-automatic regiments, and it was not until an infinitely more rigorous system of dis cipline was applied to an unimaginative army that the full possi bilities of this enforced sense of duty were realized.
The method of delivering fire originally used by the Spaniards, in which each man in suc cession fired and fell back to the rear of the file to reload, required for its continued and exact performance 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 164o it had become the general custom for the musketeers to fire one or two volleys and then, along with the pikemen, to "fall on." The Bayonet.—With the decay of cavalry methods and moral the adoption of the flintlock musket and the invention of the socket bayonet (the fixing of which did not prevent fire being delivered) , all reason for retaining the pike vanished, and from about i 70o the invariable armament of infantry became the musket and bayonet. The manner of employing the weapons, however, changed but slowly. But 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 half-hearted and tentative.
Meanwhile the tactics of armies had been steadily crystallizing into the so-called "linear" form, which, as far as concerns the infantry, was simply two long lines of battalions (three, four or five deep) and gave the utmost possible development 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 30o yd. and so yd. 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. 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 com bination, 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.
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) and thus passed along the front of the enemy at a distance of 800-1,2oo yd. until the rear company had wheeled. Then the whole together (or in the case of a deployment 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 well-closed lines, and parade-ground precision was actually attained, thanks to remorseless drilling and to the re introduction of the march in step to music. Of course such move ments 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 approach to the precision of the barrack square'. This precision allowed Frederick to take risks that no former commander would have dared to take cul minating in the oblique order attack of Leuthen (q.v.). With it 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 3o 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 bat talion, which consisted of eight companies (for firing, 3 deep). When the right company commander gave "fire," the commander of No. 2 gave "ready," followed in turn by 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 con tinuous 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 the advance of the deployed line 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 num bers, while the Prussian army's resources were strictly limited. Thus in the Seven Years' War, after the two costly battles of Prague and Kolin (I 7 5 7) especially, it became necessary to ma noeuvre with the object of bringing the Prussian infantry into '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.
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 com pletely executed. This was at Leuthen (Dec. 5, 1757), perhaps the greatest day in the history of the Prussian army. 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 sup ported by the following one on its left (I oo paces distance) , and each, as it came within 200 yd. 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.
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 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. 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 pas sive defensive and the most elaborate entrenchments barely suf ficed to save him. But whenever opportunity offered itself, the king sought a decisive success by bringing the whole of his in fantry against part of the enemy's—the principle of Leuthen put in practice over a wider area with more elastic manoeuvre meth ods. In a battle each battalion or brigade fought as a unit in line, using company volleys and seeking the decision by fire.
Controversies and Developments, 1700-1790.—In this, and even in the most minute details of drill and uniform, military Europe slavishly copied Prussia for twenty years after the Seven Years' War. 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 178o the American War of Independence complicated it by introducing a fresh controversy between skir mishing and close 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 in any way be 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 I 6th-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 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 before 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, light infantry became more in demand and wider in scope. Yet there was no suggestion that light troops or skirmishers were capable of bringing about the decision in an armed conflict.
Light Infantry.—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 enthusiasm for the latter. Nevertheless, their light in fantry was, unlike Frederick's, selected line infantry. The light infantry duties—skirmishing, reconnaissance, outposts—were grafted on to a disciplined 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 regi ments 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 Ox fordshire Light Infantry) and 95th Rifles (Rifle Brigade), were the backbone of the British Army throughout the Peninsular War. 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.
The French Revolution.—The controversialists of Louis XVI.'s time, foremost of whom were Guibert, Joly de Maizeroy and Menil Durand (see Max Jahns, Gesch. d. Kriegswissenscha f ten, vol. iii.), were agreed that shock action should be the work of troops 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 compromise, which in the main adhered to the Frederician system as modified by Guibert, but gave an im portant 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, how ever, and the quick march (Ioo 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; 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 but certain tendencies are easily discernible. The first tendency was towards the disso lution 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 preservation of dressing, intervals and distances, and what required in the case of the Prussians years of steady drill at 75 paces to the minute was hardly attainable with the newly levied ardent Frenchmen march ing at 10o 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 were suscep tible of manoeuvre and united action. Thus from about
onwards the forms of the old regime gave 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 marks manship.
In sum, then, from 1792 to 1795 the fighting methods of the French infantry were, as they have been aptly called, "horde tactics." From 1796 onwards to the first campaigns of the Em pire, on the other hand, there was 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 con tained 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 skir mishers 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 Na poleon 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? Napoleon's Infantry and Artillery Tactics, 1807-1815. 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 manoeuvre power and regimental efficiency to destroy one part of his enemy so swiftly that the other had no time to intervene. Napoleon, 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 inter vention. This new idea manifested itself in various forms, strate gic as well as tactical. 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 l'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 op posite a selected point, while little by little the enemy was hypno tized 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 i 6th century. 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 cav alry 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, 'Perhaps a still more significant cause was that Napoleon as a tac tician reveals himself as more scientist than artist. His victories owed more to superiority of method and scientific calculation than to supe riority of art—expressed in stratagem and surprise. Unlike Hannibal, Scipio, Cromwell, Wellington and other great tactical artists through out the greater part of his career he had, or his strategy gave him, the advantage of numbers. Thus he tended, and was able to expend this fund of man-power more freely in battle than others among the Great Captains, who used surprise and ground as a means both to economise, and to obtain the highest dividend from, their limited capital.—Mili tary Editor.
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 r 8th-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," skir mishers and line-and-column formations that the French Revolu tionary 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 British. Eye-witnesses who served in the ranks of the French have described the sensation of powerlessness that they felt as their attacking column approached the line and watched it load and come to the present. The col umn 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" that distinguished the South Afri can and Manchurian Wars was 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
and the Wellington method of 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 fire-power 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.
Thus the later Napoleonic battle became the model for military Europe, and infantry tac tics retained, in Germany, Austria and Russia, the characteris tic Napoleonic formations, lines of battalion or regimental col umns, sometimes combined with linear formation for fire, and always covered by skirmishers. The moral power of the offen sive "will to conquer" and the rapidity of the attack itself were relied upon to evade and disconcert the fire-power of the de fence. 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 pre pare 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 pro posed such modifications in the accepted tactical system as would admit of the troops being deployed for defence instead of meet ing 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-power, but to English solidity, and as Ardant du 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." But the means (moral and material) at the disposal of the defence for the purpose of mas tering 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 Crimean War 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 nerv ous fingers as priming with a pinch of powder, and the usual rate of fire had fallen from the five rounds a minute of Fred erick's day to two or three at the most. "Fire power" therefore was at a low level until the general introduction' of the rifled barrel, which while further diminishing the rate of fire, at any rate greatly increased the range at which volleys were effective. Artillery, the fire-weapon of the 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 pre rogative 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 Americans 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 18S9 to stop the swiftly moving well-drilled col umns of the French professional army—and the Austrians were thus induced to abandon their new "defensive" doctrine and restore "bayonet tactics." But a revolution was at hand.
The Breech-loading Rifle.—In 1861 Moltke, discussing the war in Italy, wrote, "General Niel attributes his victory (at Solferino) to the bayonet. But that does not imply that the attack was often followed 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 the 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 main taining more than twice the rate of fire that the muzzle-loader 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 '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 'Soo, 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.
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 suit able, 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 superimposed, and in theory their drill was as stiff as that of the Russians. But, as in France in 1793-1796, the citizen composition of their army saved them from their regulations. 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 columns of 240 rifles, but quite as often half-battalion and battalion col umns) 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.
Tmmediately after the Aus trian overthrow at 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 France pitted breech loader against breech-loader. In the first battles (see WORTH and METZ : Battles) 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. In these cir cumstances their formations 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 Soo yd. of the French, it was both severely tried and numerically weak, but, fortunately for it, the French 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 yd., 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 de cisive 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 in fluences, had still courage left for the final dash.