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 Platoon Fireing

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PostSubject: Platoon Fireing   Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:38 pm

Platoon Firing
This firing plan for musketry ensures an infantry unit keeps up a continual barrage of shots against an enemy.
Nearly all line infantry carry smoothbore, muzzle-loading muskets. These take considerable time to reload after firing: anything up to a minute for poorly trained or nervous troops. During that time, the enemy can close or return fire unmolested. In the time it takes to reload, a unit can be cut down, its half-loaded weapons useless in the face of an aggressive foe. It is sensible to make sure that not everyone in an infantry unit is reloading at the same moment; this, in turn, means that not everyone should be firing at the same time.

Platoon fire is a way of dividing a unit into smaller groups that each fire, reload and fire again in turn. The result is a “rippling fire” down a line formation and, as the last platoon fires its muskets, the first is ready to fire again. A unit can always give some fire to the enemy at all times, even if this is less than a complete volley. When more than one unit is involved all the troops in every first platoon fire, followed by all the second platoons, and so on, creating several rippling barrages down the battle line.

The word “platoon” in this context does not have the modern meaning of being a sub-unit of a military company. Platoon assignment to what was a “fire group” was made on an ad hoc or informal basis, and could mean a whole regiment being assigned to a “platoon”.

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