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Swedish Tactics

The tactical formation were altered as well. The Tercios of the spanish tactical school were abolished. The tercio was a huge square formation with the pikemen in the core and the musketers forming an outer brim of the square. Containing several thousand men ( 1580 a tercio numbered 3000 men while in 1630 it had only 1200 men) it was a slow lumbering giant with low firepower since only 25% of the musketers faced the enemy at a given opportunity. The strength was in the pure offensive weight in a melee situation. Of course a single tercio cant be outflanked as well. The pikemen were passive targets whatever happened except for that they sometimes lowered their pikes to form a fence around the musketeers. Tactic also made little use of the melee, drawn out firefights were the pikemen were a waste was the common method. The tercio was very vulnarable to artillery firing ball since it was packed so very deep giving the bouncing cannon ball a huge target and the opportunity to maim scores of men standing in the deep squareformation. Gustafs infantry instead used linear formations. These were much more mobile by the quick change from line to column by ordering right or left face. The offensive firepower was greater since 100% of the musketers could fire at the same target. The drawback was the possibility of being flanked and the lack of sufficient men in a melee situation since the stretched line lacked weight at the point of contact with the tercio.

The swedsih musketeers were also taught to fire in salvos. All at the same time rather than individually. While the enemys musketers kept a steady stream of fire the swedish unleashed sudden storms of fire at the enemy greatly magnifying the psychological effect. Coupled to the higher rate of fire this was decisive. The crushing effect was used by charging with the pikemen after the salvo with their shorter more maneuvrable pikes and swords. Coupled to the regimental guns it was a good example of cooperatíon between the different functions to achieve maximum effect. It brought back the offensive element to the infantry that the tercios lacked. Since the late dark ages warfare in western europe had been dominated by sieges and battleshad been shunned to the extreme end of it. This was due to the tactic used and the lack of offensive action with the tercios. While the enemys cavalry (except the polish) used the caracolle, the swedish cavalry favored the shock effect of the charge. The caracolle centered on the pistol. In formation of several lines the cavalry rode up to the enemy within effective range of the pistol (about 10 meters) and fired their pistols. After that they rode to the side and back to the rear of the formation reloading their pistols while the next line repeated the maneuver. The name caracolle has a resamblence to carousel for that very reason. This was highly inneffective since the lethality of the pistol was low. The swedes instead advanced on the trot firing their pistols and then charged at full speed with drawn swords into the caracolling enemy disrupting all of their finely tuned timing. The cavalry was supported by units of musketeers making them much stronger defensively since the caracolling enemy came into the effective range of muskets firing salvos followed by a fierce charge by the cavalry. The supporting musketeer units lowered the tactical speed of the cavalry however.

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