William Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford
General William Carr Beresford, 1st Viscount Beresford, 1st Marquis of Campo Maior, was an Anglo-Irish soldier and politician. A general in the British Army and a Marshal in the Portuguese Army, he fought alongside The Duke of Wellington in the Peninsular War and held the office of Master-General of the Ordnance in 1828 in Wellington's first ministry. Beresford was the illegitimate son of the 1st Marquess of Waterford, he was the brother of Admiral Sir John Beresford, 1st Baronet, the half-brother of the 2nd Marquess of Waterford, Archbishop Lord John Beresford and General Lord George Beresford. Beresford entered the British Army in 1785 as an ensign in the 6th Regiment of Foot and the next year he was blinded in one eye due to an incident with a musket, he remained in the service being promoted to captain by 1791 with the 69th Regiment of Foot. He distinguished himself in Egypt and in South Africa. From there crossed the South Atlantic to South America to invade the River Plate region, with a small British force of 1,500 men, departing on 14 April 1806.
Following his move to Cape Town in Cape Colony, spurred on by Home Popham, R. N. decided to attack Buenos Aires in Spanish South America. No attempt was made to gain authorization from the Crown for this undertaking. In the invasion of the River Plate, Buenos Aires was occupied for 46 days. However, the British force could not maintain itself against the army gathered by Santiago de Liniers. After a relentless two-day fight with the Buenos Aires and Montevideo militias between 10 and 12 August 1806, the British were defeated and forced to capitulate. Beresford had to surrender, remaining prisoner for six months. In that same year Beresford was sent to Madeira, which he occupied in name of the King of Portugal, remaining there for six months as Governor and Commander in Chief; the exiled Portuguese Government in Rio de Janeiro, whereto the Portuguese Royal Family had transferred the Court, realised the necessity of appointing a commander-in-chief capable of training and disciplining the demoralised Portuguese Army.
The Portuguese government asked Britain to appoint Arthur Wellesley to this role, Wellesley indicated he could not do the role justice due to his prior engagements and recommended Beresford. He was appointed Marshal and Commander in Chief of the Army by Decree of 7 March 1809 and took the command on 15th of the same month. At that time, French general Marshal Soult had crossed into Portugal where he occupied Porto. Beresford overhauled the Portuguese forces, bringing them in line with British discipline and organization, from the General Headquarters, he dispatched many "daily orders" altering points of the infantry ordnance, creating a general command of artillery, establishing the separation of the battalions, firing incompetent or corrupt officers and promoting or appointing appropriate replacements. On 22 April 1809 Sir Arthur Wellesley Duke of Wellington, disembarked in Lisbon, took over the command of all the Anglo-Portuguese troops whereupon Beresford was nominated Marshal General of the Portuguese Army.
The allied armies marched to the North. Wellington moved from Coimbra directly to Porto, which he entered on 12 May, Beresford marched through the Province of Beira, arriving that same day at the banks of the Douro river, in the area of Lamego. Wellington's troops made a forced crossing of the Douro and defeated the French, forcing their Marshall-general Jean-de-Dieu Soult to withdraw from Porto. Soult was expelled from Portugal, they managed to cross the border only after sacrificing their artillery and baggage, faced numerous difficulties during the evacuation. The Second French Invasion of Portugal was defeated and the allied armies moved back to the South, the British concentrating at Abrantes and the Portuguese at Castelo Branco. With the intention of cooperating with the Spanish against Marshal Victor, the Anglo-Portuguese forces under Wellesley moved into Spain in the Talavera campaign while Beresford remained on the Águeda River covering the Spanish-Portuguese border. After Wellesley's return, now as Viscount Wellington, following the Battle of Talavera, Beresford re-entered Portugal, where he distributed the army at various locations and established his General Headquarters in Lisbon.
From Lisbon he dispatched numerous orders and instructions for the reform of the Portuguese military. In the same year, the one following he made tours of inspection of the corps that were found quartered in the various provinces and he corrected any defects he noticed and established rules for the functioning of the different branches of the military service. In this way he improved the functioning of the Portuguese Army so that they might face the forces of Napoleon invading the country for the third time; the beneficial results of his efforts were proven at the campaign against Masséna in particular at the Battle of Buçaco on 27 September 1810 where the Portuguese troops played a prominent part, in the defence of the Lines of Torres Vedras). The most notable action in which Beresford held independent command occurred in 1811 when a combined Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish army under his command, intercepted a French army commanded by Marshal Soult, ordered by Marshal Auguste Marmont to move to protect the important Spanish fortress-city of Badajoz.
As the French forces retreated from the Lines of Torres Vedras, Beresford marched towards Badajoz, whic
A bayonet is a knife, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit on the end of a rifle's muzzle, allowing it to be used as a spear. From the 17th century to World War I, it was considered the primary weapon for infantry attacks. Today, it is considered a weapon of last resort; the term bayonette itself dates back to the second half of the 16th century, but it is not clear whether bayonets at the time were knives that could be fitted to the ends of firearms, or a type of knife. For example, Cotgrave's 1611 Dictionarie describes the bayonet as "a kind of small flat pocket dagger, furnished with knives. Pierre Borel wrote in 1655 that a kind of long-knife called a bayonette was made in Bayonne but does not give any further description; the first recorded instance of a bayonet proper is found in the Chinese military treatise Binglu published in 1606. It was in the form of the Son-and-mother gun, a breech-loading musket, issued with a plug bayonet, 57.6 centimetres in length and have an overall length of 1.92 meters with the bayonet attached.
It was labelled as a "gun-blade" with it being described as a "short sword that can be inserted into the barrel and secured by twisting it slightly" that it is to be used "when the battle have depleted both gunpowder and bullets as well as fighting against bandits, when forces are closing into melee or encountering an ambush" and if one "cannot load the gun within the time it takes to cover two bu of ground they are to attach the bayonet and hold it like a spear". Early bayonets were of the "plug" type, where the bayonet was fitted directly into the barrel of the musket; this allowed light infantry to hold off cavalry charges. The bayonet had a round handle; this prevented the gun from being fired. The first known mention of the use of bayonets in European warfare was in the memoirs of Jacques de Chastenet, Vicomte de Puységur, he described the French using crude foot-long plug bayonets during the Thirty Years' War. However, it was not until 1671, that General Jean Martinet standardized and issued plug bayonets to the French regiment of fusiliers raised.
They were issued to part of an English dragoon regiment raised in 1672, to the Royal Fusiliers when raised in 1685. The major problem with plug bayonets was that when attached they made it impossible to fire the musket, requiring soldiers to wait until the last possible moment before a melee to fixing bayonets; the defeat of forces loyal to William of Orange by Jacobite Highlanders at the Battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 was due to the use of the plug bayonet. The Highlanders closed to 50 metres, fired a single volley, dropped their muskets, using axes and swords overwhelmed the loyalists before they had time to fix bayonets. Shortly thereafter, the defeated leader, Hugh Mackay, is believed to have introduced a socket bayonet of his own invention. Soon "socket" bayonets would incorporate both socket mounts and an offset blade that fit around the musket's barrel, which allowed the musket to be fired and reloaded while the bayonet was attached. An unsuccessful trial with socket or zigzag bayonets was made after the Battle of Fleurus in 1690, in the presence of King Louis XIV, who refused to adopt them, as they had a tendency to fall off the musket.
Shortly after the Peace of Ryswick, the English and Germans abolished the pike and introduced socket bayonets. The British socket bayonet had a triangular blade with a flat side towards the muzzle and two fluted sides outermost to a length of 15 inches; however it had no lock to keep it fast to the muzzle and was well-documented for falling off in the heat of battle. By the 18th century, socket bayonets had been adopted by most European armies. In 1703, the French infantry adopted a spring-loaded locking system that prevented the bayonet from accidentally separating from the musket. A triangular blade was introduced around 1715 and was stronger than the previous single or double-edged models, creating wounds which were harder to treat due to the propensity of healing scar tissue to pull apart the triangular incision; the 19th century introduced the concept of the sword bayonet, a long-bladed weapon with a single- or double-edged blade that could be used as a shortsword. Its initial purpose was to ensure that riflemen could form an infantry square properly to fend off cavalry attacks when in ranks with musketmen, whose weapons were longer.
A prime early example of a sword bayonet-fitted rifle is the British Infantry Rifle of 1800–1840 known as the "Baker Rifle". The hilt had quillons modified to accommodate the gun barrel and a hilt mechanism that enabled the bayonet to be attached to a bayonet lug. A sword bayonet could be used in combat as a side arm; when attached to the musket or rifle, it turned any long gun into a spear or glaive, suitable not only for thrusting but for slashing. While the British Army discarded the sword bayonet, the socket bayonet survived the introduction of the rifled musket into British service in 1854; the new rifled musket copied the French locking ring system. The new bayonet proved its worth at the Battle of Alma and the Battle of Inkerman during the Crimean War, where the Imperial Russian Army learned to fear it. From 1869, some European nations began to develop new bolt-action breechloading rifles and sword bayonets suitable for mass production and for use by police and engineer troops; the decision to redesign the bayonet into a short sword was viewed by some as an acknowledgement of the decline in
Skirmishers are light infantry or cavalry soldiers in the role of skirmishing—stationed to act as a vanguard, flank guard, or rearguard, screening a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances. They are deployed in a skirmish line—an irregular open formation much more spread out in depth and breadth than a traditional line formation, their purpose is to harass the enemy—engaging them in only light or sporadic combat in order to delay their movement, disrupt their attack, or weaken their morale. Skirmishers' open formations and smaller numbers can give them superior mobility over the regular forces, allowing them to fight on more favorable terms, taking advantage of better position or terrain and withdrawing from any threat of superior enemy forces. Skirmishers can be either regular army units temporarily detached to perform skirmishing, or specialty units armed and trained for such low-level irregular warfare tactics. Light infantry, light cavalry, irregular units specialize in skirmishing.
Though critical in screening the main army from sudden enemy attacks, skirmishers are poor at taking and defending ground from heavy infantry or heavy cavalry. In modern times, following the obsolescence of such heavy troops, all infantry has become indistinguishable from skirmishers, the term has lost military meaning. A battle with only light indecisive combat is called a skirmish. In ancient warfare, skirmishers carried bows, javelins and sometimes light shields. Acting as light infantry with their light arms and minimal armour, they could run ahead of the main battle line, release a volley of arrows, sling stones, or javelins, retreat behind their main battle line before the clash of the opposing main forces; the aims of skirmishing were to disrupt enemy formations by causing casualties before the main battle, to tempt the opposing infantry into attacking prematurely, throwing their organization into disarray. Skirmishers could be used to surround opposing soldiers in the absence of friendly cavalry.
Once preliminary skirmishing was over, skirmishers participated in the main battle by shooting into the enemy formation, or joined in melée combat with daggers or short swords. Due to their mobility, skirmishers were valuable for reconnaissance in wooded or urban areas. In classical Greece, skirmishers had low status. For example, Herodotus, in his account of the Battle of Plataea of 479 BC, mentions that the Spartans fielded 35,000 armed helots to 5,000 hoplites yet there is no mention of them in his account of the fighting. Greek historians ignored them altogether, though Xenophon distinguished them explicitly from the statary troops, it was far cheaper to equip oneself as armed as opposed to a armed hoplite – indeed it was not uncommon for the armed to go into battle equipped with stones. Hence the low status of skirmishers reflected the low status of the poorer sections of society who made up skirmishers. Additionally, "hit and run" tactics contradicted the Greek ideal of heroism. Plato gives the skirmisher a voice to advocate "flight without shame," but only to denounce it as an inversion of decent values.
Skirmishers chalked up significant victories in this period, such as the Athenian defeat at the hands of the Aetolian javelin men in 426 BC and, in the same war, the Athenian victory of Sphacteria. Skirmisher infantry would gain more respect in the subsequent years as their usefulness was more recognised and as the ancient bias against them waned. Peltasts, light javelin infantry, played a vital role in the Peloponnesian War and well equipped skirmisher troops such as Thureophoroi and Thorakites would be developed to provide a strong mobile force for the Greek and Macedonian armies. Celts did not, in general, favour ranged weapons; the exceptions tended not to include the use of skirmishers. The Britons used the sling and javelin extensively, but for siege warfare, not skirmishing. Among the Gauls the bow was employed when defending a fixed position; the Celtic lack of skirmishers cost them dearly during the Gallic Invasion of Greece of 279 BC, where they found themselves helpless in the face of Aetolian skirmishing tactics.
In the Punic Wars, despite the Roman and Carthaginian armies' different organisations, skimishers had the same role in both: to screen the main armies. The Roman legions of this period had a specialised infantry class called Velites that acted as skirmish troops, engaging the enemy before the Roman heavy infantry made contact, while the Carthaginians recruited their skirmishers from native peoples across the Carthaginian Empire; the Roman army of the late republican and early imperial periods recruited foreign auxiliary troops to act as skirmishers to supplement the citizen Legions. The medieval skirmishers were armed with crossbows or longbows wielded by commoners. In the fourteenth century, although long held in disdain by Castilian heavy cavalry manned by the aristocracy, the crossbowmen contributed to the Portuguese victory at the Battle of Aljubarrota. English archers played a key role in the English victory over French heavy cavalry at Crécy. In the next century they repeated the feat at the Battle of Agincourt.
Such disasters have been seen as marking the beginning of the end of the dominance of the medieval cavalry in particular and heavy cavalry in general. The Seven Years' War and American Revolutionary War were two early conflicts in which the modern rifle began to make a significant contribution to warfare. Despite its lower rate-of-fire, its accuracy at long range offered advantages over the smoothbore musket in common use among regular armies of the time. In both t
In military terminology, a squad is a sub-subunit led by a non-commissioned officer, subordinate to an infantry platoon. In countries following the British Army tradition, this organization is referred to as a section. In most armies, a squad consists of eight to fourteen soldiers, may be further subdivided into fireteams. Standard NATO symbol – squad – in NATO armed forces: two single dots. During World War 2 the German Wehrmacht infantry squad or Gruppe was a general purpose machine gun based unit; the advantage of the general purpose machine gun concept was that it added to the overall volume of fire that could be put out by a squad-sized unit. The MG 34 or MG 42 GPMGs were used in the light machine gun role. An infantry Gruppe consisted of ten men; as personal small arms the squad leader was issued a rifle or as of around 1941 a submachine gun, the machine gunner and his assistant were issued pistols and the deputy squad leader, ammunition carrier and the riflemen were issued rifles. The riflemen carried additional ammunition, hand grenades, explosive charges or a machine gun tripod as required and provided security and covering fire for the machine gun team.
Two of the standard issue bolt-action Karabiner 98k rifles in the squad could be replaced with semi-automatic Gewehr 43 rifles and StG-44 assault rifles could be used to re-arm the whole squad, besides the machine-gun. A "squad" in the US Army was a sub-unit of a section, consisting of from as few as two soldiers to as many as 12 and was used for drill and administrative purposes; the smallest tactical sub-unit being the section, known as a half-platoon. Depending upon the time period, the squad "leader" could be a sergeant, a corporal, a lance corporal, a private first class. Or a "senior" private. In 1891, the US Army defined a rifle "squad" as consisting of "seven privates and one corporal." The US Army employed the eight-man rifle squad through WWI and until the late 1930s under the Square Division organizational plan, in which sergeants continued to lead sections consisting of two squads. Under the Triangular Division organization plan in 1939 rifle squads were no longer organized into sections.
Instead, the squads were reorganized into a 12-man unit of three elements, or teams, Able and Charlie, reporting directly to the platoon commander, assisted by a sergeant assigned as the "assistant to platoon commander" The squad leader was still only a corporal but the squad was assigned a PFC as the assistant to the squad leader. This soldier could serve as either the squad leader's messenger to the platoon commander or could be used to relay orders to other squad elements, as needed. While not a noncommissioned officer the PFC was an experienced soldier, as prior to WWII the majority of enlisted men remained privates for the entire term of their enlistment since promotion opportunity was scarce. However, the obvious command weakness of so large a squad under one NCO became obvious in light of the pre-war mobilization and was corrected in 1940 when a second NCO was added to the squad; this adjustment raised the squad leader to the assistant squad leader to a corporal. The "platoon leader" now became a staff sergeant.
This squad organization included two men serving as “scout,” who along with the squad leader, formed the security element, designated as “Able.” The second element was a three-man Browning Automatic Rifle team consisting of an automatic rifleman, an assistant automatic rifleman and an ammunition bearer. This element formed the “base of fire” and was designated as “Baker.” Lastly, there were five riflemen and the assistant squad leader, who formed the “maneuver element”, designated as “Charlie.” In 1942, the Army h
A flying wedge is a configuration created from a body moving forward in a triangular formation. This V-shaped arrangement began as a successful military strategy in ancient times when infantry units would move forward in wedge formations to smash through an enemy's lines; this principle was used by Medieval European armies, as well as modern armed forces, which have adapted the V-shaped wedge for armored assault. In modern times the effectiveness of flying wedge means it is still employed by civilian police services for riot control, it has been used in some sports, although the use of wedges is sometimes banned due to the danger it poses to defenders. The wedge, was used by both cavalry; the men deployed in a trapezoid formation with the tip leading the way. According to Arrian and Asclepiodotus, the wedge was first used by the Scythians, the Thracians. Philip II of Macedon adopted it from them as the main formation of his Companion cavalry and Alexander the Great faced Persian cavalry arrayed thus, as Arrian attests.
The advantage of the wedge was that it offered a narrow point for piercing enemy formations and concentrated the leaders at the front. It was easier to turn than a square formation because everyone followed the leader at the apex, "like a flight of cranes"; as an infantry formation it is attested by Frontinus to have been used by the Romans in Pydna against the Macedonian line of Perseus. It was used to great effect by the Roman legions, with the wedge proving effective in campaigns in Britain, such as during Boudicca's Revolt, where a outnumbered Roman army used it to defeat the Iceni. In the Late Roman army, several cavalry units were designated as cuneus. Keilerkopf or Keil is a German phrase to describe the attack formation of the prehistoric infantry of the Celts and Germanic tribes, it is believed that the Germanic tribes were more successful with this tactic than the Celts. It was used to force the Roman forces to split and was applied to the weakest units. Due to the high discipline this formation required and the high probability of failure, it is assumed that the front lines were filled with the best and most armoured warriors of the Germanic sibbs who had to break the Roman front line.
Here the individual warrior tried to gain glory in the battle. The most distinguished princes and their acolytes stood at the head of the Keil. However, this was the most dangerous point, whence the need to be armoured, but an army leader who survived a lost battle forfeited his life. Warriors who had fled were slain. According to the Roman historian Tacitus, the Keil was a packed crowd, strong on all sides, not only in front and back, but on the flanks; the formation was not like a wedge but more like a rectangle with forty warriors in the first line and 1,600 men strong. In this formation, the wingmen are at most risk, it was therefore well possible that the wing marched with some caution and held back a bit, so that the center stormed further and looked like a wedge. The outer ranks of the rear on the other hand swelled slightly; the goal was to hit hard at the same time and to drive a 40 yard wide hole into the enemy line, according to the German historian Hans Delbrück. According to Richard Burton, the central body consisted of armed, warriors protecting less-armored archers to the sides.
The triangular formation was used to overwhelm an enemy with a frontal assault. Family groups and tribes were placed side-by-side in units to maintain its cohesion in battle; the tactic was a formidable assault strategy against defenders in line or column, attackers faced annihilation in the event of retreat because the wedge became an ill-defined mob if its forward momentum collapsed. When the Germanic Keil was advancing against the enemy, they sang the baritus or barditus, the battle song. According to Germanic legend and Tacitus, Hercules once visited German soil and they sang of him first of all heroes. In the Middle Ages, the tactic was effective against defensive shield wall formations when defenders would link their shields together to form an all-but impenetrable barrier. Armored armed infantry could use their momentum in wedge formation to drive open small sections in the shield wall; this would break up the shield wall exposing the defenders to flank attacks. Two complete descriptions of an infantry wedge are given by Saxo Grammaticus in his Gesta Danorum.
In Book I, he describes a shallow wedge, with the front rank of two men each thereafter doubled. In Book VII, he depicts a sharper pointed formation 10 men deep with the first rank being composed of 2 men, each rank composed of 2 more. Thus, each wedge was composed of 110 men, 10 deep, 2 men on its tip, 20 on its base. According to the Vikings, the wedge formation, called by them svinfylking, cf. the Latin caput porcinum, was invented by Odin himself. A triangular or wedge formation was used in the medieval period by the Flemish and Swiss infantry. Deep wedges of cavalry were used by German armies in the Middle Ages. At the Battle of Pillenreuth in 1450, both the armies of Albrecht Achilles and Nuremberg fought in wedge formation; the Nuremberg cavalry was drawn up in a wedge led by 5 picked knights seven nine 11. The following twenty ranks held 250 ordinary men-at-arms a final rank of 14 picked men t
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain and several other monarchies, they are divided in the War of the Second Coalition. Confined to Europe, the fighting assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe; as early as 1791, the other monarchies of Europe looked with outrage at the revolution and its upheavals. Anticipating an attack, France declared war on Prussia and Austria in the spring of 1792 and they responded with a coordinated invasion, turned back at the Battle of Valmy in September; this victory emboldened the National Convention to abolish the monarchy.
A series of victories by the new French armies abruptly ended with defeat at Neerwinden in the spring of 1793. The French suffered additional defeats in the remainder of the year and these difficult times allowed the Jacobins to rise to power and impose the Reign of Terror to unify the nation. In 1794, the situation improved for the French as huge victories at Fleurus against the Austrians and at the Black Mountain against the Spanish signaled the start of a new stage in the wars. By 1795, the French had captured the Austrian Netherlands and knocked Spain and Prussia out of the war with the Peace of Basel. A hitherto unknown general named Napoleon Bonaparte began his first campaign in Italy in April 1796. In less than a year, French armies under Napoleon decimated the Habsburg forces and evicted them from the Italian peninsula, winning every battle and capturing 150,000 prisoners. With French forces marching towards Vienna, the Austrians sued for peace and agreed to the Treaty of Campo Formio, ending the First Coalition against the Republic.
The War of the Second Coalition began in 1798 with the French invasion of Egypt, headed by Napoleon. The Allies took the opportunity presented by the French effort in the Middle East to regain territories lost from the First Coalition; the war began well for the Allies in Europe, where they pushed the French out of Italy and invaded Switzerland – racking up victories at Magnano and Novi along the way. However, their efforts unraveled with the French victory at Zurich in September 1799, which caused Russia to drop out of the war. Meanwhile, Napoleon's forces annihilated a series of Egyptian and Ottoman armies at the battles of the Pyramids, Mount Tabor and Abukir; these victories and the conquest of Egypt further enhanced Napoleon's popularity back in France and he returned in triumph in the fall of 1799. However, the Royal Navy had won the Battle of the Nile in 1798, further strengthening British control of the Mediterranean. Napoleon's arrival from Egypt led to the fall of the Directory in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, with Napoleon installing himself as Consul.
Napoleon reorganized the French army and launched a new assault against the Austrians in Italy during the spring of 1800. This brought a decisive French victory at the Battle of Marengo in June 1800, after which the Austrians withdrew from the peninsula once again. Another crushing French triumph at Hohenlinden in Bavaria forced the Austrians to seek peace for a second time, leading to the Treaty of Lunéville in 1801. With Austria and Russia out of the war, the United Kingdom found itself isolated and agreed to the Treaty of Amiens with Napoleon's government in 1802, concluding the Revolutionary Wars. However, the lingering tensions proved too difficult to contain and the Napoleonic Wars began a few years with the formation of the Third Coalition, continuing the series of Coalition Wars; the key figure in initial foreign reaction to the revolution was Holy Roman Emperor Leopold II, brother of Louis XVI's Queen Marie Antoinette. Leopold had looked on the Revolution with equanimity, but became more and more disturbed as the Revolution became more radical, although he still hoped to avoid war.
On 27 August and King Frederick William II of Prussia, in consultation with emigrant French nobles, issued the Declaration of Pillnitz, which declared the interest of the monarchs of Europe in the well-being of Louis and his family, threatened vague but severe consequences if anything should befall them. Although Leopold saw the Pillnitz Declaration as a non-committal gesture to placate the sentiments of French monarchists and nobles, it was seen in France as a serious threat and was denounced by the revolutionary leaders. France issued an ultimatum demanding that the Habsburg Monarchy of Austria under Leopold II, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire renounce any hostile alliances and withdraw its troops from the French border; the reply was evasive and the Assembly voted for war on 20 April 1792 against Francis II, after a long list of grievances presented by foreign minister Charles François Dumouriez. Dumouriez prepared an immediate invasion of the Austrian Netherlands, where he expected the local population to rise against Austrian rule as they had earlier in 1790.
However, the revolution had disorganized the army, the forces raised were insufficient for the invasion. Following the declaration of war, French soldiers deserted en masse and in one case murdered their general, Théob
The line formation is a standard tactical formation, used in early modern warfare. It continued the phalanx formation or shield wall of infantry armed with polearms in use during antiquity and the Middle Ages; the line formation provided the best frontage for volley fire, while sacrificing maneuverability and defence against cavalry. It came to the fore during the Age of Reason, when it was used to great effect by Frederick the Great and his enemies during the Seven Years' War. An infantry battalion would form "in line" by placing troops in several ranks, ranging in number from two to five, with three ranks being the most common arrangement; each rank was half a metre apart from the next, soldiers in a rank were positioned to each other, with just enough room to present their weapons and reload. The line formation required that the troops be well-drilled and supervised by officers and non-commissioned officers. In 17th- and 18th-century European armies, NCOs were positioned to the rear of the line.
They were equipped with long polearms, which they used to "dress" or arrange the ranks, a practice which included pushing down the weapons of any soldier, aiming too high, as well as ensuring that the rank remained well-organized and placed. Movement in line formation was slow, unless the battalion was superbly trained, a breakdown in cohesion was assured in any kind of uneven or wooded terrain; as a result, line was used as a stationary formation, with troops moving in columns and deploying to line at their destination. In addition, the line formation was vulnerable to cavalry charges, from the flanks and rear, these attacks resulted in the complete breakdown of cohesion and destruction of the unit unless it was able to "form square". During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Army famously adopted a thin two-rank line formation; this was adopted to maximize their fire frontage. The British continued to use a two-rank line until the late 19th century; the famous "Thin Red Line" of the 93rd Regiment at the Battle of Balaklava held against a Russian cavalry attack, a rare occurrence.
A loose line formation called a skirmish line is used by many modern forces during assaults as it enables maximum firepower to be directed in one direction at once, useful when attacking an enemy position. It enables the use of fire and movement; the line formation was used by certain types of cavalry. The Sassanid Persians, the Mamluks, Muslim cavalry in India used the tactics named "shower shooting", it involved a line of well-armoured cavalrymen standing in a massed static line or advancing in an ordered formation at the walk while loosing their arrows as as possible by reducing their draw length. In the 16th century, the heavy cavalry attacked in a line formation. Dragoons began to use linear tactics, being on foot in the defence. Accordingly, the name "line cavalry" has moved from heavy cavalry to the dragoons. Hussars in the 15th-17th centuries wore armor, attacked in close line formation, but hussars became a light cavalry and stopped using linear tactics. Cossacks never used linear tactics.
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