|Leads To||Cadenced Marching|
A defensive posture for musket-armed infantry units, creating an impassible wall of steel to fend off cavalry attacks.
As the name suggests, this is four two- or three rank lines of infantry arranged as a hollow square, with everyone facing outwards. It is a version of the obsolete pike "hedgehog", making any cavalry charge a suicidal advance. Bayonets are fixed to muskets when appropriate and possible.
Forming a square requires good order in the ranks. The outer companies of an infantry unit in line have to "fold back" to form the sides and back of the square, without losing cohesion in the process. The unit colours take up station in the centre, a final rallying point should the square be broken. It is also possible to form larger squares with more than one unit.
The square is, of course, a tempting target for enemy artillery. Whether it is better to form square in the face of cavalry and risk an artillery barrage, or stay in line to mitigate artillery fire and risk a cavalry charge can be a tactical conundrum!
Theoreticians argued infantry could defeat a cavalry charge by firepower alone. Brigadier General Richard Kane (later Military Governor of Gibraltar) remarked, "If a body of Foot have by Resolution and keep their Order, there is no Body of Horse dare venture within their Fire..." but for him that fire was to be delivered from a square, not a line. He was arguing for discipline as the key to success.
As its name implies, square formation causes a regiment to form into a square with soldiers (and bayonets) facing out, granting the regiment a high defensive bonus against charging enemies, particularly cavalry. It takes some time to perform, and when completed, the regiment cannot be ordered to move until it is no longer in square formation. In addition, the regiment suffers a reduction in firepower as only one quarter of the soldiers are available to fire in one direction at any time. Artillery is the most feared weapon against the square formation, as the line infantry concentrate, making them more vulnerable to most types of ordnance.
Squares can be formed and deformed fairly quickly, but should still be made in advance as infantry only get the full defense bonus against charges once they have finished forming the square. Although square formation is a powerful tool against charging cavalry, a prepared line of infantry with muskets ready is even better. Square formation is best used when infantry are being flanked or attacked from the rear.
Utilizing square formation increases the regiment's range somewhat, although given the great reduction of firepower, this is generally not a valid alternative to standard rank firing.
Elephants are cavalry units, but due to their high defense and charge statistics, an elephant formation can basically smash right through a square. In addition, line infantry can utilize Fire by Rank against elephants; thus, a prepared line is a far more effective counter against elephants than square formation.
Only line infantry and their variants may use square formation, and of these, certain types of line infantry (such as Beylik Janissary Musketeers) cannot. All Militia, Skirmishers, Grenadiers, Cavalry, and Artillery are barred from using square formation.