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maintaining formation during combat

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calvo View Drop Down

Joined: 21 May 2007
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote calvo Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: maintaining formation during combat
    Posted: 24 Nov 2009 at 21:27
Most Eurasian armies prior to the 19th century fought in formation. From the Greek phalanx and the Roman legion to the Swiss Pikemen and the Spanish Tercios in the "Pike and shot" era; soldiers were generally deployed in ranks and columns so that they could confront the enemy as a single, coordinated mass.

While military manuals often describe the "battle formation" as rigid concepts; in that soliders would form sold or hollow, squares, wedges, circles etc with each man standing at an exact distance to his companios on the left and right; some military historians argue that such strict formations could not possibly be followed "to the book" on the battlefield, especially during close-quarter hand-to-hand combat.

Numerous theories have come up as to how the formations would "deform" during actual fighting. Some argue that infantry "squares" might deform into "elastic clouds"; soldiers would have to stick together for mutual support and protection and to maintain unit cohesion, but probably not standing exactly "in the ranks", especially when the enemy is pressing very hard.
Others argue that most of the time the textbook formations would be followed because the enemy would probably not "press too hard" anyway; because by doing so they would themselves be in danger of losing their formation and making themselves more vulnerable for attack.

I guess that most armies would probably try to stick to the formation for as much as they could, because that was why they existed in the first place and why soliders were drilled to "stay in the ranks".
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Sparten View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Sparten Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24 Nov 2009 at 21:32
Soldiers would be trained to stay in formation, especially from the 18th Century onwards. They had NCO's for this exact reason to ensure that they remained thus.
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toyomotor View Drop Down

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote toyomotor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Mar 2014 at 12:51
And what a display of discipline and bravery, to stand in a row, knowing that you life expectation was a matter of minutes.
I can never understand why they didn't use more ambush techniques, or hit and run.
Why didn't they think to use camouflage and concealment to their advantage?
Beats me!
From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.(Chief Joseph)
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