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The Actual Defense

Categories: PATROLLING
Military Handbooks: The Plattsburg Manual Advanced Training

Let us suppose now that our battalion, occupying this defensive

position, is a part of a larger force which is supported by artillery.

You see small objects one and a half to two miles to your front. You

know they are the enemy's troops because your artillery is firing at

them and your combat patrols are being driven in. Your entire company

has moved to its fire trench. You have plenty of ammunition, you know

exactly t
e range.

What happens? You open fire on the enemy at probably the extreme range

of 2000 yards. Only the hostile artillery can return this fire until

the enemy's firing line closes to within 1200 yards of your position.

While an attacking force is thus approaching you may inflict very

serious losses upon it. But it cannot stop, however serious its losses,

beyond 1200 yards; for we have seen that, if it stops advancing in order

to fire, it will probably never arrive at your position. When within

1200 yards the enemy will build up a strong rifle fire against you and

not attempt to advance until he has gained fire superiority. It is your

business not to let him get fire superiority, and if he does do so to

take it away from him when he withdraws parts of his rifles to advance

by rushing. Fight each rush. If your defense is active and you

permanently stop the enemy's advance by gaining fire superiority, and he

cannot regain it, even though he uses up his supports, his firing line

will become confused and demoralized and it will be the psychological

time for the proper commander to launch his counter attack. On the other

hand, if you cannot stop his advance, fix bayonets (firing line and

remaining supports) when he fixes bayonets and meet his charge in front

of your trench. All your supports will be moved up to assist you in

opposing the charge. If you are unsuccessful in the bayonet fight or

forced to retire from your trenches during the fire fight your

artillery, cavalry and any formed reserves in the rear will cover your

withdrawal, which, if possible, should be made straight to the rear, one

part covering the withdrawal of the other part, and so on. Reorganize at

the first opportunity.