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524
[HISTORY
INFANTRY


While such cavalry existed, the development of fire power was everywhere hindered by the necessity of self-defence. On the other hand the hitherto accepted defensive means militated against efficiency in many ways, and about 1670, when Louis XIV. and Louvois were fashioning the new standing army that was for fifty years the model for Europe, the problem fjjsgj was how to improve the drill and efficiency of the pike, musketeers so far that the pikes could be reduced to a minimum. In 1680 the firelock was issued instead of the matchlock to all grenadiers and to the four best shots in each French Company. The bayonet-in its primitive form merely a dagger that was fixed into the muzzle of the musket—was also introduced, and the pike was shortened. The proportion of pikes to muskets in Henry IV.'s day, 2 to I or 3 to 2, and in Gustavus's 2 to 3, had now fallen to 1 to 3.

The day of great causes that could inspire the average man with the resolution to conquer or die was, however, past, and the “ shallow order ” (Vordre mince), with all its demands on the individual's sense of duty, had become an integral part of the military system. How then was the sense of duty to be created? Louis and Louvois and their contemporaries sought to create it by taking raw recruits in batches, giving them a consistent training, quartering them in barracks and uniforming them. Henceforward the soldier was not a unit, self-taught and free to enter the service of any master. He had no existence as a soldier apart from his regiment, and within it he was taught that the regiment was everything and the individual nothing. Thus by degrees the idea of implicit obedience to orders and of espril 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 discipline was applied to an unimaginative army that the full possibilities of this' enforced sense of duty were realized.

The method of delivering fire originally used by the Spaniards, in which each man in succession f1red and fell back to the rear of the file to reload re uired for its continued and exact er 1 q . . . P

";e;;"°ds formance a degree of coolness and 1l'1d1VlCll13l smartness 2 I:Z which was probably rarely attained in practice. This was IZ; 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 ikemen, a more effective method had to be devised. First, the ffandiness of the muskct was so far improved that one man could reload while five, instead of as formerly ten, fired. Then, as the enhanced rate of fire made the file-firing still more disorderly than before, two ranks and three were set to fire “ volews " or “ salvees ” together, and before 1640 it had become the general custom for the musketeers to fire one or two volleys and then, along with the pikemen, to “ fall on." It was of course no mean task to charge even a disordered mass of pikes with a short sword or a clubbed musket, and usually after a few minutes the combatants would drift apart and the musketeers on either side would keep up an irregular fire until the officers urged the whole forward for a second attempt.

With the general disuse of the lance, the disappearance of the personal motives tha t formerly made the cavalryman charge home, The the adoption of the flmtlock musket and the invention of bayonet the socket bayonet (the fixing of which did not prevent fire being delivered), all reason for retaining the pike vanished, and from about 1700 to the present day, therefore, the invariable armament of infantry has been the muskct (or rifle) and bayonet. The manner of employing the weapons, however, changed but slowly. In the French army in 1688, for instance <15 years before the abolition of the pike), the old file-fire was still officially recognized, though rarely employed, the more usual method being for the musketeers in groups of 12 to 30 men to advance to the front and deliver their volle s in turn, these groups corresponding in size to one of the muskfzlteer wings (manches) of a company or double company. But the fire andfshockaction of infantry were still distinct, the idea of “push of pike" remained, the bayonet (as at Marsaglia) taking the place of the pike, and musketry methods were still and throughout the Var of the Spanish Succession somewhat halfhearted and tentative. Two generals so entirely different in genius and temperament as Saxe and Catinat could agree on this point, that attacking infantry ought to close with the enemy, bayonets fixed, without firing a shot. Catinat's orders to his army in 1690, indeed, seem rather to indicate that he expected his troops to endure the enemy's first fire without replying in order that their own volley, when it was at last delivered at a few paces distance, should be as murderous as possible, while Saxc, who was a dreamer as well as a practical commander of troops, advocated the pure ba onet charge. But the fact that is common to both is the relative ineffectiveness of musketry before the Prussian era, whether this musketry was delivered by groups of men running forward and returning in line or even by companies in a long line of battle.

This ineffectiveness was due chiefly to the fact that fire and movement were separate matters. The enemy's volle, that Catinat and others ordered their troops to endure without fiiinching, was sometimes (as at Fontenoy) absolutely crushing. But as a rule it inflicted an amount of loss that was not sufficient to put the advancing troops out of action, and experienced officers were aware that to halt to reply gave the enemy time to reload, and that once the fight became an interchange of partial and occasional volleys ora general trimillerie, there was an end to the attack.

Meanwhile, the tactics of armies had been steadily crystallizing into the so-called “linear ” form, which, as far as concerns the infantry, is simply two long lines of battalions (three, Linear four or five deep) and gave the utmost possible develop- tact, ” ment to fire-power. The object of the “ line”was to break or beat down the opposing line in the shortest possible time, whether by fire action or shock action, but fire action was only decisive at so short a range that the principal volley could be followed immediately by a charge over a few score paces at most and the crossing of bayonets. Fire was, however, effective at ranges outside charging distance, especially from the battalion guns, and however the decision was achieved in the end, it was necessary to cross the zone between about 300 yds. and 50 yds. range as quickly as possible. It was therefore the business of the regimental officer to force his men across this zone before fire was opened. If, as Catinat recommended, decisive range was reached with every musket loaded and the troops well in hand, their fire when finally it was delivered might well be decisive. But in practice this rarely happened, and though here and there such expedients as a skirmishing line were employed to assist the advance by disturbing the enemy's fire the most that was hoped by the average colonel or captain was that in the advance fire should be opened as late as possible and that the officers should strive to keep in their hands the power of breaking off the fire-fight and pushing the troops forward again. Theorists were already proposing column formations for shock action, and initiating the long controversy between l'ordre mince and l'ordre profonde, but this was for the time being pure speculation. The linear system rested on the principle that the maximum weight of controlled fire at short range was decisive, and the practical problem of infantry tactics was how to obtain this. The question of jfre versus shock had been answered in favour of the former, and henceforward for many years the question of jfre versus movement held the first place. The purpose was settled, and it remained to discover the means.

This means was Prussian fire-discipline, which was elaborated by Leopold of Dessau and Frederick William I., and practically applied by Frederick the Great. It consisted first in the combination, instead of the alternation, of fire and movement, and secondly in the thorough efficiency of the fire in itself. But both these demanded a more stringent and technically more perfect drill than had ever before been imagined, or, for that matter, has ever since been attained. A hundred years before the steady drill of the Spanish veterans at Rocroi, who at the word of command opened their ranks to let the cannon fire from the rear and againclosingd them, impressed every soldier in Europe. But such drill as this was child's play compared with the Old Dessauer's.

On approaching the enemythe 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 gglssian of 800-1200 yds. until the rear company had wheeled. discipline Then the whole together (or in the case of a deployment 1740 to the left, in succession) wheeled into line facing the enemy. These movements, if intervals and distances were preserved with proper precision, brought the infantry into two long wellcloscd lines, and parade-ground precision was actually attained, thanks to remorseless drilling and to the reintroduction of the march in step to music. Of course such movements were best executed on a firm plain, and as far as possible the attack and defence of woods and villages was left to light infantry and grenadiers. But even in

marshes and scrub, the line managed to manoeuvre with some