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Tactics

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TACTICS. Tactics has regard to the evo lutions of an army in the actual presence of an enemy, and may be defined as the strategy of the battlefield or the science of manoeuvring and combining those military units which drill, discipline and the regimental system have brought to the perfection of machines. It was admirably described by Napoleon as the art of being the stronger —that is, of bringing an overwhelming force to bear on any given point whatever may be the relative strength of the entire armies opposed. The earliest records of battles are those of mere single combats, in .which the chiefs, fighting either on foot or in chariots,' performed great deeds; and the com monalty, who apparently were without disci pline, were held in profound contempt. With the growth of democracy arose the organiza tion of the phalanx, the advance of which was irresistible; and its firmness equally so, if charged in front. It, however, changed front with great difficulty; was much deranged by broken ground; and failed entirely in a pur suit, or if attacked in flank. Far lighter, more mobile was the Roman legion. Among Roman tactics was also the admirable entrenchment, which they scarcely ever omitted as an addi tional source of strength for their position.

Events reproduce themselves in cycles; and with decay of Roman civilization came again the mail-clad heroes and cavaliers — mounted this time on horses — who monopolize the hon ors of battle, while the undisciplined footmen had an undue share of the dangers. Later in the feudal period, this disparity between knight and footmen was diminished by the employ ment of bodies of archers, whose shafts car ried distant death. The adoption of gunpowder for small arms altogether neutralized the su periority of the armored knight. This change brought infantry into the front place in battle, and threw cavalry into the status of an aux iliary. The French Revolutionary Wars tended much to the development of artillery as a field weapon and Napoleon employed this terrible engine to its fullest extent, a practice followed by the best modern generals, who never risk a man where a cannon ball can do the work.

Frederick the Great was considered an innova tor for fighting with infantry four deep. Dur ing the French war, the formation of three deep became general. Before the battle of Waterloo, the British leaders had acquired suf ficient confidence in their troops to marshal them in a double line.

In the battles of Gravelotte and Sedan, the turning tactics came prominently forward. At Sedan the turning movement was complete, The losses of the tenth German division at Worth prove what a serious matter it is to make a direct attack against the breech-loader. They amounted to about 4,000 men, It was of course necessary to make vigorous attacks on some points of the French position, so as to take off their attention from the circular enclosing movement of the Germans. Although they (the Germans) were frequently obliged to make front attacks, the principle of the turning move ment always asserted itself. In any case, how ever, a direct infantry attack should always have been undertaken in sufficient force. But this was too often not the case, so that weaker forces exposed themselves to suffer great losses in long-continued doubtful conflicts, gaining at the same time but little ground.

On the defensive the shooting-tactics of the Germans consisted simply in firing at short range, apractice which always had the best results. The main position selected was gen erally strongly occupied in first line. It was rightly judged that a strong development of fire at the commencement of an action was necessary and advisable. Separate strong masses in reserve, not a great many little re serves, were formed. If there was sufficient time, the position was divided into sections and prepared for defense as well as possible. On the approach of the enemy the artillery was at once deployed into a connected line. The cavalry, having at first been pushed forward to check the enemy's advance was then withdrawn behind the line of defense.

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