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Old July 17, 2004, 11:43 AM   #6
4V50 Gary
Join Date: November 2, 1998
Location: Colorado
Posts: 19,292
The Napoleonic Era Infantryman

We know how linear tactics were used up to the time of the American Civil War. Touch the elbows boys. Close up the ranks. Fill that gap left by your fallen comrades. Here's what one British officer wrote about standing in the ranks:

It is perhaps needless to observe, that it is scarcely in the power of an individual foot soldier to perform any enterprising feat of action, unless he be on some detached duty in front, such as is frequently the case with the skirmishers. If he is with the battalion, he must keep in his ranks; it is on the united movement of the whole body that general success depends; and he that rushes forward is equally blameable with him who lags behind, though certainly the former may do so with less chance of censure, and no dread of shame. A man may not drop behind in the field, but this is a dreadful risk to his reputation, and even attended with immediate personal danger, while within the range of shot and shells: and woe to the man that does it, whether through fatigue, sudden sickness, or fear; let him seek death, and welcome it from the hand of the foe, rather than give room for any surmise respecting his courage; for when others are boasting of what they have seen, suffered, or performed, he must remain in silent mortification. If he chances to speak, some boaster cuts him short; and, even when he is not alluded to, he becomes so sensitively alive to these merited or unmerited insults, that he considers ever word, sign, or gesture, pointed at him, and he is miserable among his comrades."
Vigilantibus et non dormientibus jura subveniunt. Molon Labe!
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