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DateOriginal Topic
18th March 2005formations
By kieran
hi you know the formtion when the back row is standing up and the front row is crouching can u tell me what this formation is called and is it true that in some occasions the back row actualy killed some members of the front plz reply

19th March 2005Paul Cubbin
Basic formations (greatly simplified) :

Line - a line of riflemen two or three deep, firing in turn.
Advantages - a lot of firepower can be brought to bear across a wide frontage.
Disadvantages - it is easy to outflank and often needs disciplined troops to effectively use against determined attacks.

Square - ideally, four Lines in a square, facing outwards (often with artillery in corners and vulnerable troops in the centre).
Advantages - excellent in defence as it offers all round firepower.
Disadvantages - unwieldy, vulnerable against artillery, requires well drilled soldiers to perform in the field.

Column - largely a non-combat formation of troops with a small frontage compared to a larger depth.
Advantages - soldiers can move swiftly and maintain formation easily. Rookie troops can gain morale from being packed together closely. The sheer weight of numbers makes this effective when charging into hand to hand combat.
Disadvantages - limited firepower can be used against opposition, formation is extremely vulnerable to both artillery and rifle fire.

Skirmishing / Open order - soldiers (often in pairs) moving independently, taking advantage of available cover and sniping at enemy formations.
Advantages - can disrupt enemy formations and remove leaders prior to main engagement. Skirmishers are difficult to shoot and can be devastating on an enemy's morale.
Disadvantages - skirmishers require specialist training and are often elite troops. They are vulnerable to massed hand to hand attack, especially by cavalry.

As time progressed most of the more archaic formations dwindled and were rarely seen on the battlefield. The Square was seen as extremely old-fashioned even in Victorian times but was resurrected for use against sword and spear-armed troops, where it was very effective.
19th March 2005kieran
oh thank u