Age of Musket
Wargame rules covering the era of the Musket from 1690 - 1866

E mail the Author

In 1690 the Infantry of all armies in Europe were adopting linear formations as opposed to column
formations . This was for two reasons , to increase the fire power of the infantry and to reduce the casualties from artillery and Infantry fire .
There were various adaptions of the line formation. Some countries preferred four or five ranks such as the French and Spanish , others such as the British and Prussians preferred three ranks . Later in the Napoleonic Wars two ranks were adopted by Britain which proved effective time and again against the French columns . The deeper formation was seen as a balance between the weight of fire power and the amount of impact a unit had in a charge . This theory did not work in practice against trained and disciplined troops such as the British .

Once the armies of Europe had adopted the line formation some readopted the column formation in attack . This came about during the French Revolutionary Wars when France needed to get bodies of untrained National Guard to advance quickly . Once close enough the column would redeploy into line . The rapid advance combined with the rapid deployment into line to deliver a volley caused shock amongst Napoleons enemies . Napoleon also adopted the column formation for the Cavalry with devastating effect .

After the Napoleonic War a number of armies maintained the column formation . The country of note that kept the column formation and would not use any other was Russia . If troops were to be deployed into line they would be expected to think for themselves . To ensure that the doctrine of the bayonet before the bullet approach was kept all Infantry battalions deployed in column . this was okay against the Turks but during the Crimean War the Russian columns were devastated by the British line firing the new Minnies which had a range of 600 yards . France also kept the column and this proved a hinderance at Inkerman during the Crimean War when the French line Infantry were asked to form line but insisted that they only form up in column . The Zoaves though formed line and charged sweeping the Russian columns off the ridge into the valley below saving the day .

The Evolution of Infantry tactics saw the progressive use of the Infantry . In 1690 Light Infantry did not exist but by the mid 1700's Light units were deployed by Austria . These irregular light units caused so many casualties on the Prussian troops that Frederick formed a number of light units , these were the Frei corps troops . The virtue of the light Infantryman was seen in the colonies where these troops could move freely in the forests of America and Canada .
During the Napoleonic wars Light Infantry were formed into light companies attached to Line Battalions , there were Light Infantry Battalions and also there were the Rifle Battalions that excelled at hampering the advance of the enemy formations .
In America during the American Civil War the tactics of the Light Infantry was carried out by all the troops at some time . When a skirmish screen was required battalions would be deployed in front of the advancing troops to disrupt the enemy Infantry and Artillery fire . The screens became even more formidable when they were armed with breach loading or even repeating rifles or carbines .

The Musket
a brief outline of the history of the musket

Evolution of drill in the era of the Musket
Unit formation
Evolution to unit formations

Changes to Artillery in the era of the Musket  
A brief description of the Infantry
A brief outline of the Cavalry in this period

Age of Musket FAQ