By daybreak on the 74th, the anniversary of Elchingen, upwards of 60,000 men stood densely battalions were sent forward, and these, delaying their advance till the fog had sufficiently lifted, were met by French skirmishers, and small columns, who rapidly overlapped their flanks and drove them back in confusion.
With these numbers it was impossible to attain the high degree of individual efficiency required for the old line tactics, hence they were compelled to adopt the French methods of skirmishers and columns, but as yet they had hardly realized the increased density necessary to be given to a line of battle to enable it to endure the prolonged nervous strain the new system of tactics entailed.
The advantage of the breech-loader now began to assert itself, for the Austrian skirmishers who covered the front of the guns could only load when standing up, while the Prussians lay down or fired from cover.
The Prussians, having seen the cavalry whilst yet at a distance, ceased firing, formed their skirmishers into groups, and the closed supports standing in deployed lines, two deep, shattered the cavalry with volleys and file-firing, as with blown and exhausted horses they endeavoured to close with their adversaries.
In a few minutes the batteries on the extreme Prussian left were completely overwhelmed, and suddenly dense lines of French skirmishers emerged from a fold in the ground upon their flank and front, and the gunners were compelled to resort to case-shot, so imminent was their danger.
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