In an age when infantry units manoeuvred and fought in rigid blocks, the idea of encouraging initiative and allowing a unit to 'skirmish' was regarded as revolutionary and fell out of favour in the years following the French-Indian and American Revolutionary wars. It was revived by far-sighted British and foreign-mercenary officers, who observed the way in which French Revolutionary armies deployed skirmishers to prepare the way for their assault columns.
Offering a detailed analysis of the tactics, this book is studded with period 'battle descriptions' quoted from eye-witness accounts, creating a comprehensive guide to the Light and Rifles units of Wellington's Light Division. As the result of the first tentative experiments in skirmishing the units achieved an unsurpassed peak of efficiency – they marched faster, were versatile in any sort of tactical situation and could shoot more accurately than either friend or foe. No other national army, either allied or enemy, achieved these standards.