Saturday, November 19, 2011

“Line vs. Column," 2

About 3:30 in on the film!


“Column of Divisions”

Or with half the depth and frontage of two companies, styled a “column of divisions”

(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007


Forming a column, each platoon is deployed as in a line, with the following differences:

-The captain, chief of the platoon, stands ahead of the center of his platoon, replaced on the right of the 3rd rank by the “non-commissioned-officer of replacement” (the 1st sergeant. “of replacement” because he replaces the captain in this case), who leaves then the right of the 3rd rank. -The 2nd sergeant, who was behind the left of the platoon, places himself on the left of the 1st rank. -The “framing corporal” (“caporal d’encadrement”) leaves his position on the left of the 4th platoon, and places himself “en serre-fille” (“holding the rows”) two paces behind the left of the 4th platoon. 

A regiment of the line (of 6 platoons, four shown here) willing to assault the enemy would form a “column by division”, in this case a “division” being two platoons, meaning that the column would have a front of two platoons and a depth of three.

If we deploy our battalion in a “column by division” we can see that the formation we form looks rather like a “double line” than a “column”, which doesn't seem to have the potential of jostling the enemy very well, when the “column by platoon” looks much more able to serve this purpose. (Previous slide)

In a column by platoon, the position of the Major is not fixed, he can either walk ahead of his men, or on the side, 8 or 10 paces away from the battalion’s guides, level with the center of the column. The battalion adjutant is on the left of the 1st platoon, the second battalion adjutant on the left of the 4th platoon, they are 2 paces away from the guides of the platoons (the 2nd sergeants), and are checking on the alignment of these four guides and the direction the battalion follows.

The pennon’s guard stays on the left of the 2nd section of the 2nd platoon.

The drummers don’t stand in between two peloton's, were they would be an obstacle when the column closes. They walk either on the right hand side of the 3rd platoon, or behind the whole formation, more rarely ahead of it.


“Column of Companies (Peloton's) 
(à distance ou ouverte)”

Column “at a distance” or “open”


(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007


The column will be either “at a distance”, or “open”, in this case the distance in between 2 platoons will be equal to the platoons frontage;

Column of pelotons (à distance ou ouverte) w/ voltigeur en tirailleur 1808 decree
(c) Nigel P. Marsh, Carnage & Glory II, 05/Aug/2009


“Column of Peloton's (à demi distance)”


Column of peloton's “at half a distance”

(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007


Or “at half a distance”, when the distance in between 2 platoons is equal to a section (half a platoon);


“Column of Divisions (serrée en masse)”

Column of pelotons “closed up”


(c) Emmanuel Roy-Créé à l'aide de Populus.Modifié en dernier lieu le 26.06.2007

Or “closed in mass”, in this last formation, usually taken just before contacting the enemy, the intervals between the platoons are reduced to the minimum, 3 paces between the 3rd rank of a platoon and the 1st rank of the next following platoon, the “serre-files" are just 1 pace behind the 3rd rank of their platoon.

“Close order Formations”


“The Bayonets of the Republic, Motivation and Tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France 1791-94”, John A. Lynn, University of Illinois Press, , p.245.



“Ecole de Bataillen Column of Divisions (to en ligne)”


Eight companies, or six fusilier, one grenadier (R) and one voltigeur (L)





“Bataillon (en ligne) w/ voltigeur en tirailleur ”

(c) Nigel P. Marsh, Carnage & Glory II, 05/Aug/2009


“Brigade Column of Battalions (en colonne divisions, to en ligne) w/ voltigeur en tirailleur”


Possible French Brigade formation of six battalions
(c) Nigel P. Marsh, Carnage & Glory II, 05/Aug/2009


“Brigade Column of Battalions (en e'chiquier)”


Possible French Brigade formation 'En Echiquier'
(c) Nigel P. Marsh, Carnage & Glory II, 05/Aug/2009

Column of Attack had a 1 company frontage, these would be column of divisions

CONTINUED...