Infantry square

Infantry square

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An infantry square is a combat formation an infantry
Infantry
Infantrymen are soldiers who are specifically trained for the role of fighting on foot to engage the enemy face to face and have historically borne the brunt of the casualties of combat in wars. As the oldest branch of combat arms, they are the backbone of armies...

 unit forms in close order
Close order formation
A close order formation is a military tactical formation wherein soldiers are close together and regularly arranged for the tactical concentration of force. At about the time of the U.S. Civil War , such combat formations of soldiers became unnecessary, when improved small arms and artillery made...

 when threatened with cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

 attack.

Very early history


The formation was described by Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 and used by the Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

, and was developed from an earlier circular formation. In particular, a large infantry square was utilized by the Roman legions at the Battle of Carrhae
Battle of Carrhae
The Battle of Carrhae, fought in 53 BC near the town of Carrhae, was a major battle between the Parthian Empire and the Roman Republic. The Parthian Spahbod Surena decisively defeated a Roman invasion force led by Marcus Licinius Crassus...

 against Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

, whose armies contained a large proportion of cavalry. This is not to be confused with the testudo formation
Testudo formation
In Ancient Roman warfare, the testudo or tortoise formation was a formation used commonly by the Roman Legions during battles, particularly sieges. Testudo is the Latin word for "tortoise"...

, which also resembled a square, but was used for protection against ranged weapons such as arrow
Arrow
An arrow is a shafted projectile that is shot with a bow. It predates recorded history and is common to most cultures.An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other.- History:...

s.However, these formations were fundamentally different from the later square formations; they were not used to repel cavalry. These formations would be used if the Romans were disorganized or ambushed. The legionnaires would form into a giant square with the commanding officer in the middle; from there, they could catch their breath and come up with a response.

The Han Empire
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

's mounted infantry forces effectively utilized tactics involving highly mobile infantry square formations in conjunction with light cavalry
Light cavalry
Light cavalry refers to lightly armed and lightly armored troops mounted on horses, as opposed to heavy cavalry, where the riders are heavily armored...

 in their many engagements against the primarily cavalry Xiongnu
Xiongnu
The Xiongnu were ancient nomadic-based people that formed a state or confederation north of the agriculture-based empire of the Han Dynasty. Most of the information on the Xiongnu comes from Chinese sources...

 nomad armies in the 1st century CE. Infantry squares were used in the siege of the nomads' mountain settlements near the Gobi region, where Han forces repelled nomad lancer
Lancer
A lancer was a type of cavalryman who fought with a lance. Lances were used in mounted warfare by the Assyrians as early as and subsequently by Greek, Persian, Gallic, Han-Chinese, nomadic and Roman horsemen...

 attacks.

The square was revived in the 14th century as the schiltron
Schiltron
A sheltron is a compact body of troops forming a battle array, shield wall or phalanx....

, and later appeared as the pike square
Pike square
The pike square was a military tactic developed by the Swiss Confederacy during the 15th century for use by its infantry.- History :The pike square was used to devastating effect at the Battle of Nancy against Charles the Bold of Burgundy in 1477, when the Swiss defeated a smaller but more...

 or tercio
Tercio
The tercio was a Renaissance era military formation made up of a mixed infantry formation of about 3,000 pikemen, swordsmen and arquebusiers or musketeers in a mutually supportive formation. It was also sometimes referred to as the Spanish Square...

, and was widely used in the French Revolutionary
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

 and Napoleonic Wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

.

Forming square


As used in the Napoleonic wars
Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...

, the formation was constituted as a hollow square
Square (geometry)
In geometry, a square is a regular quadrilateral. This means that it has four equal sides and four equal angles...

, or sometimes a rectangle, with each side composed of two or more rank
Rank (formation)
A Rank is a line of military personnel, drawn up in line abreast .Commonly, troops called to 'On the right, fall in!' do so by forming in line abreast, determining their initial position in relation to a marker. This may be a position on the ground or a single person placed previously to the movement...

s of soldiers armed with single-shot musket
Musket
A musket is a muzzle-loaded, smooth bore long gun, fired from the shoulder. Muskets were designed for use by infantry. A soldier armed with a musket had the designation musketman or musketeer....

s or rifle
Rifle
A rifle is a firearm designed to be fired from the shoulder, with a barrel that has a helical groove or pattern of grooves cut into the barrel walls. The raised areas of the rifling are called "lands," which make contact with the projectile , imparting spin around an axis corresponding to the...

s with fixed bayonet
Bayonet
A bayonet is a knife, dagger, sword, or spike-shaped weapon designed to fit in, on, over or underneath the muzzle of a rifle, musket or similar weapon, effectively turning the gun into a spear...

s. Generally, a battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 (approx. 500 to 1,000 men) was the smallest force used to form a square. The unit's colours
Colours, standards and guidons
In military organizations, the practice of carrying colours, standards or Guidons, both to act as a rallying point for troops and to mark the location of the commander, is thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt some 5,000 years ago...

 and commander were positioned in the centre, along with a reserve force to reinforce any side of the square weakened by attacks. A square of 500 men in four ranks, such as those formed by Wellington's army at Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

, was a tight formation less than twenty metres in length upon any side.

Once formed in square, the infantry would volley fire at approaching cavalry, either by file
File (formation)
A file is a military term for a number of troops drawn up in line ahead, i.e. one behind the other in a column. The number of files is the measure of the width of a formation of troops in several ranks one behind the other.- Ancient Greek use :...

 or by rank
Rank (formation)
A Rank is a line of military personnel, drawn up in line abreast .Commonly, troops called to 'On the right, fall in!' do so by forming in line abreast, determining their initial position in relation to a marker. This may be a position on the ground or a single person placed previously to the movement...

. In successful actions, the infantry would often withhold fire until the charging
Charge (warfare)
A charge is a maneuver in battle in which soldiers advance towards their enemy at their best speed in an attempt to engage in close combat. The charge is the dominant shock attack and has been the key tactic and decisive moment of most battles in history...

 horses and men were some 30 metres from the square; the resulting casualties to the attackers would eventually form piles of dead and wounded horses and their riders which would obstruct further attacks.

Undisciplined or early fire by the infantry would be ineffective against the attacking cavalry and leave the foot soldiers with empty muskets. The cavalrymen could then approach to very short range while the infantry was reloading, where they could fire at the infantry with their pistol
Pistol
When distinguished as a subset of handguns, a pistol is a handgun with a chamber that is integral with the barrel, as opposed to a revolver, wherein the chamber is separate from the barrel as a revolving cylinder. Typically, pistols have an effective range of about 100 feet.-History:The pistol...

s, slash at them with sabre
Sabre
The sabre or saber is a kind of backsword that usually has a curved, single-edged blade and a rather large hand guard, covering the knuckles of the hand as well as the thumb and forefinger...

s or stab them with lance
Lance
A Lance is a pole weapon or spear designed to be used by a mounted warrior. The lance is longer, stout and heavier than an infantry spear, and unsuited for throwing, or for rapid thrusting. Lances did not have tips designed to intentionally break off or bend, unlike many throwing weapons of the...

s (if they were so equipped.)

Firing too late (with cavalry within 20 metres), although more effective in hitting the targets, could result in a fatally wounded horse tumbling into the infantry ranks and creating a gap, permitting the surviving horsemen to enter the square and break it up from within.

While it was vital for squares to stand firm in the face of a charge, they were not static formations. Astute commanders could, in suitable terrain, maneuver squares to mass fire and even trap cavalry, as the French managed against the Ottomans at Mount Tabor
Battle of Mount Tabor
The Battle of Mount Tabor, or Skirmish of Mount Tabor, opposed French forces under General Kleber to an Ottoman force led by the Pasha of Damascus on 16 April 1799. General Bonaparte was besieging Acre, and Damascus sent its army to relieve the siege...

 (1799). Squares would be arranged in a checkerboard
Draughts
Draughts is a group of abstract strategy board games between two players which involve diagonal moves of uniform pieces and mandatory captures by jumping over the enemy's pieces. Draughts developed from alquerque...

 formation to minimize the chances of soldiers from one square accidentally shooting the other.

At Waterloo
Battle of Waterloo
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in present-day Belgium, then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands...

 (1815) the four-rank squares of the Allied forces withstood eleven cavalry charges (unsupported by either horse artillery
Horse artillery
Horse artillery was a type of light, fast-moving and fast-firing artillery which provided highly mobile fire support to European and American armies from the 17th to the early 20th century...

 or infantry). At Lützen
Battle of Lützen (1813)
In the Battle of Lützen , Napoleon I of France lured a combined Prussian and Russian force into a trap, halting the advances of the Sixth Coalition after his devastating losses in Russia. The Russian commander, Prince Peter Wittgenstein, attempting to undo Napoleon's capture of Leipzig, attacked...

 (1813), despite infantry and light artillery support, Allied cavalry charges failed to break green French troops. Similarly, impressive infantry efforts were seen at Jena-Auerstedt
Battle of Jena-Auerstedt
The twin battles of Jena and Auerstedt were fought on 14 October 1806 on the plateau west of the river Saale in today's Germany, between the forces of Napoleon I of France and Frederick William III of Prussia...

 (1806), Pultusk
Battle of Pultusk
The Battle of Pułtusk took place on 26 December 1806 during the War of the Fourth Coalition near Pułtusk, Poland. Approximately 35,000 Russian soldiers with 128 guns under General Levin August, Count von Bennigsen resisted the attacks of 25,000 First French Empire soldiers under Marshal Jean...

 (1806), Fuentes de Oñoro
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
In the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro , the British-Portuguese Army under Viscount Wellington checked an attempt by the French Army of Portugal under Marshal André Masséna to relieve the besieged city of Almeida.-Background:...

 (1811) and first Battle of Krasnoi
Battle of Krasnoi
The Battle of Krasnoi was a series of skirmishes fought in the final stage of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. This encounter was noteworthy because of the heavy losses inflicted on the remnants of the Grande Armée by the Russians under General Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov...

 (August 14, 1812). If a square was broken, as happened at Rio Seco (1808), the infantry could suffer many casualties, although brave and well-disciplined infantry could recover even from this disaster.

Breaking a square



Attacking cavalry would attempt to "break a square" by causing it to lose its cohesion, either by charging
Charge (warfare)
A charge is a maneuver in battle in which soldiers advance towards their enemy at their best speed in an attempt to engage in close combat. The charge is the dominant shock attack and has been the key tactic and decisive moment of most battles in history...

 to induce poorly disciplined infantry to flee before making contact, or by causing casualties through close-range combat (see above).

Cavalry charges were made in closely packed formations, and were often aimed at the corners of the square (the weakest points of the formation.) Feints and false attacks would also be used to make the infantry "throw away their fire" by causing them to fire too early. However, if the infantrymen were well-disciplined and held their ground, the cavalryman's dream to "ride a square into red ruin" would not be realized, and such an event was the exception rather than the rule in the history of warfare.

However, the most effective way to break a square was not by direct cavalry attack, but by the use of artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

. To be truly effective, such artillery fire had to be delivered at close range. A 20-metre wide infantry square was a small and difficult target for field artillery firing from within or just in front of its own army's lines, typically 600 or more metres away, at which range most rounds could be expected to miss. Instead, the attackers would usually try to deploy horse artillery
Horse artillery
Horse artillery was a type of light, fast-moving and fast-firing artillery which provided highly mobile fire support to European and American armies from the 17th to the early 20th century...

 accompanying the cavalry. The presence of the cavalry would cause the infantry to form square, but the closely packed infantrymen would then become targets for the artillery - the cohesion of the square would break under their fire, making it much easier for the cavalry to press home the attack.

Combined attacks by infantry and cavalry would also have the same effect - the defending infantry unit would be placed in the difficult position of either forming square and being shot to pieces by the attacking infantry (which would usually be in line formation
Line (formation)
The line formation is a standard tactical formation which has been used in Early modern warfare.It continues the phalanx formation or shield wall of infantry armed with polearms in use during antiquity and the Middle Ages....

), or being ridden down by the cavalry if it decided to remain in line while trading volleys with the attacking infantry.

In addition, if the cavalry could catch an infantry unit before it formed square properly, the horsemen could usually inflict severe casualties, if not destroy the unit completely. Quatre Bras
Battle of Quatre Bras
The Battle of Quatre Bras, between Wellington's Anglo-Dutch army and the left wing of the Armée du Nord under Marshal Michel Ney, was fought near the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras on 16 June 1815.- Prelude :...

 (1815) saw several examples of this, with several British units being surprised at close range by French cavalry hidden by the terrain
Terrain
Terrain, or land relief, is the vertical and horizontal dimension of land surface. When relief is described underwater, the term bathymetry is used...

. Other circumstances that could lead to a successful cavalry attack included sudden rainstorms soaking the infantry's gunpowder
Gunpowder
Gunpowder, also known since in the late 19th century as black powder, was the first chemical explosive and the only one known until the mid 1800s. It is a mixture of sulfur, charcoal, and potassium nitrate - with the sulfur and charcoal acting as fuels, while the saltpeter works as an oxidizer...

 and effectively reducing their weapons to very short pikes
Pike (weapon)
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used extensively by infantry both for attacks on enemy foot soldiers and as a counter-measure against cavalry assaults. Unlike many similar weapons, the pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used regularly in European warfare from the...

, or a mortally wounded horse in full gallop crashing into the square, opening a gap that could be exploited, as happened at the battle of Garcia Hernandez
Battle of Garcia Hernandez
In the Battle of Garcia Hernandez on July 23, 1812, two brigades of Anglo-German cavalry led by Major-General George Bock defeated 4,000 French infantry led by Major-General Maximilien Foy...

, shortly after Salamanca
Battle of Salamanca
The Battle of Salamanca saw Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles south of Salamanca, Spain on July 22, 1812 during the Peninsular War....

 (1812).

Later use



The square continued in use into the late 19th century by European armies against indigenous warriors. However, this was different in form from the Napoleonic formation:
"The new square was not simply infantry in static defence but a large, close-packed formation of some 1,000 to 1,500 men, capable of slow movement with ranks of infantry or cavalry forming the four sides and artillery, wheeled machine guns, transport carts, baggage animals and their handlers in the centre. Such a square could only survive where the enemy were without modern firearms."

European colonial use


In a large battle of the colonial war
Colonial war
Colonial war is a blanket term relating to the various conflicts that arose as the result of overseas territories being settled by foreignpowers creating a colony...

s, a British square held out for two days in a remote area near Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria
Lake Victoria is one of the African Great Lakes. The lake was named for Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, by John Hanning Speke, the first European to discover this lake....

, fighting off assaults by French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

-armed native troops until reinforcements arrived.

On 7 February 1857, during the Anglo-Persian War
Anglo-Persian War
The Anglo-Persian War lasted between November 1, 1856 and April 4, 1857, and was fought between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and Persia . In the war, the British opposed an attempt by Persia to reacquire the city of Herat...

, Indian cavalry successfully attacked and broke a Persian square in the Battle of Khushab
Battle of Khushab
The Battle of Khushab took place on 7 February 1857 and was the largest single engagement of the Anglo-Persian War. Having taken Borazjan without a fight, the British expeditionary army under Sir James Outram was in the process of withdrawing to Bushehr when it was ambushed by a far larger Persian...

. Only twenty of the five hundred soldiers in the square escaped.

During the Anglo-Zulu War
Anglo-Zulu War
The Anglo-Zulu War was fought in 1879 between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom.Following the imperialist scheme by which Lord Carnarvon had successfully brought about federation in Canada, it was thought that a similar plan might succeed with the various African kingdoms, tribal areas and...

, infantry squares were used in most major battles such as Gingindlovu
Battle of Gingindlovu
The Battle of Gingindlovu was fought on 2 April 1879 between a British relief column sent to break the Siege of Eshowe and a Zulu impi of king Cetshwayo.-Prelude:...

 and the climatic Battle of Ulundi
Battle of Ulundi
The Battle of Ulundi took place at the Zulu capital of Ulundi on 4 July 1879 and was the last major battle of the Anglo-Zulu War. The British army finally broke the military power of the Zulu nation by defeating the main Zulu army and immediately afterwards capturing and razing the capital of...

.

Rudyard Kipling
Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English poet, short-story writer, and novelist chiefly remembered for his celebration of British imperialism, tales and poems of British soldiers in India, and his tales for children. Kipling received the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature...

's poem "Fuzzy-Wuzzy
Fuzzy-Wuzzy
Fuzzy-Wuzzy is a poem by the English author and poet Rudyard Kipling, published in 1892 as part of Barrack Room Ballads. It describes the respect of the ordinary British soldier for the bravery of the Hadendoa warriors who fought the British army in the Sudan.-Background:"Fuzzy-Wuzzy" was the term...

" refers to two battles in the Mahdist War
Mahdist War
The Mahdist War was a colonial war of the late 19th century. It was fought between the Mahdist Sudanese and the Egyptian and later British forces. It has also been called the Anglo-Sudan War or the Sudanese Mahdist Revolt. The British have called their part in the conflict the Sudan Campaign...

, Tamai
Battle of Tamai
The Battle of Tamai took place on March 13, 1884 between a British force under Sir Gerald Graham and a Mahdist Sudanese army led by Osman Digna....

 in 1884 and Abu Klea
Battle of Abu Klea
The Battle of Abu Klea took place between the dates of 16 and 18 January 1885, at Abu Klea, Sudan, between the British Desert Column and Mahdist forces encamped near Abu Klea...

 in 1885, where infantry squares were used by the victorious British. While in both battles the squares were partially broken, British losses remained very low in comparison to the losses of the attacking Mahdists.

In 1936, during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, the advancing Italians formed an infantry square to defend against a possible Ethiopian counter-attack in the Battle of Shire
Battle of Shire
The Battle of Shire was a battle fought on the northern front of what was known as the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. This battle consisted of attacks and counterattacks by Italian forces under Marshal of Italy Pietro Badoglio and Ethiopian forces under Ras Imru Haile Selassie...

. No counter-attack was launched.

Use outside of Europe



There is only one confirmed use of an infantry square against cavalry in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, formed by the Thirty-Second Indiana Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Rowlett's Station
Battle of Rowlett's Station
The Battle of Rowlett's Station was a land battle in the American Civil War, fought in the whistle-stop station of Rowlett's in Hart County, Kentucky, on December 17, 1861...

, December 17, 1861 and used against Terry's Texas Rangers
Terry's Texas Rangers
The 8th Texas Cavalry, , popularly known as Terry's Texas Rangers, was a group of Texas volunteers for the Confederate States Army assembled by Colonel Benjamin Franklin Terry in August 1861...

.

In 1867, one of the first battles of the U.S. 10th Cavalry was the Battle of the Saline River
Battle of the Saline River
The Battle of the Saline River in August 1867 was one of the first recorded combats of the Buffalo Soldiers of the U.S. 10th Cavalry. This battle occurred 25 miles northwest of Fort Hays in Kansas near the end of August 1867.-Prelude:...

. This battle occurred 25 miles northwest of Fort Hays
Fort Hays
Fort Hays was an important frontier outpost of the United States Army located in Hays, Kansas between 1865 and 1889. Fort Hays was the home of several well-known Indian wars regiments including the Seventh U.S. Cavalry, the Fifth U.S. Infantry, and the Tenth U.S. Cavalry, whose black troopers were...

 in Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

 near the end of August 1867. Captain George Armes, Company F, 10th Cavalry, while following an active trail along the Saline River
Saline River (Kansas)
The Saline River is a tributary of the Smoky Hill River in the central Great Plains of North America. The entire length of the river lies in the U.S. state of Kansas. The river takes its name from the French translation of its Native name Ne Miskua, referring to its salty content.-Geography:The...

 were surrounded by about 400 horse-mounted Cheyenne
Cheyenne
Cheyenne are a Native American people of the Great Plains, who are of the Algonquian language family. The Cheyenne Nation is composed of two united tribes, the Só'taeo'o and the Tsétsêhéstâhese .The Cheyenne are thought to have branched off other tribes of Algonquian stock inhabiting lands...

 warriors. Armes formed a defensive "hollow square" with the cavalry mounts in the middle. Seeking better defensive ground, Armes walked his command while maintaining the defensive square. After 8 hours of combat, 2,000 rounds of defensive fire and 15 miles of movement, the Cheyenne disengaged and withdrew. Company F, without reinforcements, concluded 113 miles of movement during the 30 hour patrol, riding the final 10 miles back to Fort Hays with only one trooper killed in action. Captain Armes commented later, "It is the greatest wonder in the world that my command escaped being massacred." Armes credited his officers for a "... devotion to duty and coolness under fire."

In 1869, during the War of the Triple Alliance
War of the Triple Alliance
The Paraguayan War , also known as War of the Triple Alliance , was a military conflict in South America fought from 1864 to 1870 between Paraguay and the Triple Alliance of Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay...

 in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

, the Paraguay
Paraguay
Paraguay , officially the Republic of Paraguay , is a landlocked country in South America. It is bordered by Argentina to the south and southwest, Brazil to the east and northeast, and Bolivia to the northwest. Paraguay lies on both banks of the Paraguay River, which runs through the center of the...

an defenders formed a square towards the end of the Battle of Acosta Ñu
Battle of Acosta Ñu
The Battle of Acosta Ñu or Campo Grande was a battle during the War of the Triple Alliance, where, on August 16, 1869, 20,000 men of the Triple Alliance fought Paraguayan forces made up of 6,000 soldiers, many of them children.-Background:...

. This square was formed too late and was broken by the Brazilian cavalry.

The square fell out of use in the late 19th century with the advent of modern repeating firearms (which made concentrated formations risky in the face of increased firepower), along with the parallel decline of horse cavalry.

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